Facebook Chat with @AnneHolmdahl First-in-Family College Questions Pt. 2

On February 17, 2014, I was grateful to host a Facebook chat with independent college counselor, Anne Holmdahl. Anne answered specific questions regarding first-in-family or first generation college bound students. We had a great audience of parents and educators and others interested in helping prepare students for the college admission process. I’m making the transcript available in 3 parts. ~ ges

Is 11 or 12 too young to begin motivating students to prep for college?

Claudine Turner And if it is not, how does a parent accomplish it without turning their child off by the time (s)he graduates from high school?

Anne Mallon Holmdahl Nope. Truly, it’s never too young. Just talking about college as if it is a given (you go to kindergarten, then 1st grade, off to middle school, off to high school, off to college – THEN you get to make choices) is a great start.

It’s not about making college a horrible thing, it’s about making college a wonderful capstone to their educational career. I love to take kids on college visits. That can really motivate a kid (take them to the cafeteria and let them eat college food!).

And there is a difference between “prepping” for college and “planning” for college. Make sure the kids understand what the expectations are (you WILL take 2 years of Spanish, you WILL take 4 years of math), then have fun looking at options. I love the College Board site (www.collegeboard.org). You can play around in there and look at almost every college in the country! Let them get involved in the process.

Nicole Nikki Green A lot of colleges offer family centered tours & festivities year round, because they want to attract future students.

Patricia Bridges-Whitfield

What are some of the activities I should encourage my child do outside of school. How will this help her with college admissions?

There are 3 types of activities. School-based (like sports, clubs), outside activities (like music groups or non-school sports), and work/volunteer. I encourage kids to try to get involved in at least one of each if possible.

Colleges want to see that kids are taking initiative and getting involved in activities for two reasons: first, it shows that they are “go-getters”, and second it shows that they will likely get involved at the college – and they want students who do more than just go to class. Colleges are trying to create a “class” – not just a group of individuals.

The more you do, the more leadership roles you take, and the more interests you have, the more interesting you are to the colleges!

Please explain what a proprietary school is?

Well that’s opening a whole new can of worms, isn’t it! Proprietary schools are for-profit institutions. You will often see them advertised on TV.

Some are amazing. We have a for-profit school locally called DigiPen that focuses on game development and the video game world. They have amazing success, they offer financial aid, and they are very well-respected in the industry.

Others are a bit of a scam. Students walk out with huge debt and a “degree” (or licensure or certificate” that may or may not be helpful.

Robin Caldwell

Is accreditation the best way to figure out if it is a good school or a scam?

Anne Mallon Holmdahl My best advice is to do your due diligence. Again, high school counselors can be a great resource, especially for local schools. For some students, especially students who are a more vocational path, these schools can be wonderful. Just don’t plunk down a lot of money until you are very very sure that you will be able to get a job at the end of the program.

Cartina Gilbert-Jackson

How soon should your child start preparing to take SAT/ACT? What are some courses or test child can take to help prepare?

Anne Mallon Holmdahl If you have the opportunity to take a “fear free” or “no fear” SAT or ACT in your area, I highly recommend doing that in the sophomore year. These are tests that are “real” exams, no longer in circulation, and the results are for your eyes only.

There are some of these exams online for free (Princeton review has some; I’m sure other places do, also). Many local tutoring places will offer inexpensive ($25 – $40) opportunities to take a test.

This, plus the PSAT or PLAN, will give you a really good idea as to what your child might need for additional preparation. For some students, it is the testing itself that is difficult, and a test-prep class might be worthwhile. having said that, these classes can be exorbitantly expensive and should be considered carefully.

For other students, it may be that they have forgotten or missed out on a piece of a subject – geometry, for example, Perhaps a few hours with a tutor would address those issues and be enough to get the student ahead.

For other kids, it’s just getting a copy of an SAT practice book (available at any bookstore) and doing a section or two every week just to keep in practice. These tests are LONG and just being more in practice is often the key to great success.

[Part 3 will be posted on Tuesday, March 11. In the meantime, visit Anne’s site for more information – Common Sense College Counseling – and if you’d like to join the first-in-family Facebook group go HERE.]

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