We’re behind! We’re behind! Steve said with more than a hint of panic.
A couple of months ago, Steve and I divided up the evening meetings. I went to a special ed meeting, and he went to the high school junior parents’ college meeting. At that point, Jonah (and our) college preparation consisted of one tour. We visited SUNY Binghamton last summer, because it was sort of on our way to Cleveland. He took the SATs a couple of times. And that was about it.
We hadn’t made a list of schools. He definitely hadn’t hired a college counselor. Steve came back from this meeting completely freaked out, because I guess other parents have already done all that, plus taken their kids on a dozen tours.
The guidance counselor told Steve that college tours are now mandatory. And we’ve done one.
Colleges applications to schools have skyrocketed, because most kids now apply to schools using the Common Application. Remember filling in those forms with a little bottle of WiteOut? Yeah, that’s no more.
The Common App is actually a great thing. It has lowered the obstacles to getting into college. And anything that increases access is a great thing.
However, colleges hate it because now they are swamped with applications. It means that they have to hire more people to read all those bloody things. People are needed to keep track of declines, accepts, and wait lists. It means that they may not know exactly who’s going to their college until mid-August. And it fucks up the college rankings, which uses the ratio of applications to admits as a variable in determining selectivity.
So, colleges want to make sure that they are accepting people who are likely to attend. They do that by keeping track of the kids who call the admissions office to ask questions and the kids who go on the tours.
On College Night at the high school, about 50 schools set up tables in the gym. Kids walk around with their parents whispering in their ears, pick up applications, and fill out cards to request more information. (Don’t even get me started on the money spent on marketing to kids and parents.) My niece’s private school recommended arriving at College Night with preprinted labels w/name, address, phone, and e-mail. That way, the kids can hit all the tables, and not waste time writing out that information by hand at all 50 tables. Because the colleges are keeping track of who fills out those forms.