In the first part of this series you learned about the important role of applications, essays, and evaluations in college admissions. By now you should appreciate the truly monumental task that your son or daughter has ahead. In part two of this two-part series we look at the rest of the requirements to get into college and how you can help.
Interviews. Interviews, required by many schools, can be downright frightening. Unlike the other components, they require interaction with real life admissions officers or alumni. Interview topics include everything from academic interests to hobbies to current events. They are also the time for students to ask questions of the colleges' representatives.
One of the best ways you can help prepare your child is to do a mock interview. At first, your son or daughter may be hesitant or embarrassed to do a mock interview with you as the interviewer, but encourage him or her to try it. The most important thing to remember is to give your child constructive feedback on his or her performance. Do not concentrate on weaknesses as much as strengths. Tell your child which questions he or she answered particularly well so that he or she will be confident during the real interview.
Also, never under any circumstances go with your child to see the interviewer. Some parents have the mistaken idea that it will help their child if they go in and explain what a good son or daughter they have and why he or she deserves to attend X university. Such attempts have a 100% chance of failing.
Realize that the college interviewer wants to interview your child, not you. If you intervene, the interviewer will think your child is too dependent on you and not ready for the independence of college. Thus, unless you are planning to attend college together, restrict yourself to helping your son or daughter prepare for--not do--the interview.
Grades And Coursework. This is not a radical idea, but naturally the harder the courses and the higher your child's grades the better. Be supportive and encourage your son or daughter to take challenging courses. Avoid demanding that your child take the hardest courses offered all of the time, especially if they really are too difficult for him or her. (Most students take between two and four honors courses a year depending on what is offered and what they can handle.)
Also avoid making your son or daughter do nothing else besides study. From friends' experiences, this usually results in triple bypass level arguments at best and total rebellion at worst. What seems to work best in instilling good study behavior is positive reinforcement through praise.
Test Scores. Your child will take what we call an alphabet soup of standardized tests. There are many books available for helping your child prepare for the tests as well as numerous test preparation courses. In general, if you can afford it and your child wants to go, allow him or her to take a test preparation class. The best time for students to take these courses is a couple of months before they plan to take the actual test.
Most students who take the tests in the fall of their senior year, usually take the test preparation courses during the summer between the 11th and 12th grades.
Although they have been known to happen, don't expect miracles from any test preparation course. However, by virtue of systematically studying for the exams and becoming familiar with their structure, your child will perform better.
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