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CPR January Newsletter:
Admissions News Not Fit To Print

Hello Fellow Parent, and Welcome!

What a great way to start 2024 for the winners of my New Year’s Book Giveaway Sweepstakes:  Heather, Kim, Karina, and E.F.! Sweepstakes winner or not, you’re still a winner in my book (boomer pun intended, though I’m technically Gen X). You can still snag yourself a copy of College Admissions Cracked as well as download as many free resources as you need from my website. What’s mine is yours.

There’s so much college admissions-adjacent news right now, I’m devoting this newsletter to my take on some biggies.

In the news…

The new Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) rollout was nothing short of a debacle: late to launch, glitchy, and now we’ve learned the creators neglected to factor inflation into their algorithm (can you believe it?). This mistake means you may deserve more aid than initially offered. Remember that asking the college financial aid office (nicely) for more money is always an option once your child is admitted. Was the new, supposedly improved FAFSA form easy to fill out (or easier if it’s your second or seventh time)? Please share the real scoop on the user experience with me!

The lowest acceptance rates ever happened again this year, same old, same old. I know it seems like it’s harder than ever to get into college, but it’s not. In fact, many colleges are now offering generous “merit” aid to attract students and fill their enrollment goals. Entering the college admission “rat race” is optional (only includes applications to about 100 out of 4000 colleges). I’m not judging if you’re opting in. I do, however, suggest you order College Admissions Cracked for advice on handling teen emotions (and yours) in the face of such unfavorable odds. And have a listen to Keeping Your Cool During the College Application Process: A Talk with Jill Shulman, my guest appearance on Lynn Lyons’ podcast Flusterclux: For Parents Who Worry. While you’re at it, listen to all the Flusterclux episodes because Lynn is brilliant and hilarious.

A couple of articles came out recently claiming standardized tests help with diversity. A long history of data proves otherwise. Regardless, my main aversion to those tests comes from how much extra stress they pile onto already anxious students during a nationwide teen mental health crisis. If you think I exaggerate, check out the alarming statistics from the CDC’s Division on Adolescent and School Health (DASH). With test optional admission policies, students who think the SAT or ACT could help them can take the test, while students who want to curl into the fetal position at the thought of them can skip testing and stand tall. I’m a fan of empowering students to make the choice.

I want to reassure you that wherever you stand on the ban on Affirmative Action, upholding the SCOTUS decision is the colleges’ problem, not yours. I know it’s causing a lot of stress, especially when it comes time to write the personal essay. I got real as a guest on the podcast Alopecia Life about how to handle “differences” on college applications in the episode How to Share Your Story & Have It Make an Impact with Your College Essay, with Jill Shulman. If the topic speaks to you, please have a listen.

Legacy Admissions practices, which unfairly advantage caucasian children with financial means, are making headlines nowadays. This and other unfair advantages boiled into the college admissions process are not new news. My thoughts about the media scrutinizing this unfair admissions advantage more publicly than, say, favoring recruited athletes who play exclusive sports offered mostly in expensive private high schools (think: lacrosse, sailing, crew, etc.) could take up another newsletter (and it might).

Sanity Saver…

I’m proud to report that I invented a recipe that has been the winner at potlucks this winter! It looks fancy, but it’s simple to make. It also stars a vegetable, so at first glance you might think it’s good for you. (It’s not, but still 100% worth it.) Please let me know how your gratin turns out, and if you’ve invented variations I should know about.

Jill’s Butternut Squash Gratin

Ingredients:
1 Large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1  large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1 cup of heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee onions and garlic in small saucepan.
Grease 3-quart baking pan or casserole, then layer as follows: 1. squash, 2. sauteed onion and garlic, 3. cheeses.
Pour the cream over the top and sprinkle salt to taste.
Bake uncovered until squash is tender and gratin is bubbly and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes (depending on squash cube size).
Let sit for 10 minutes (so liquids gel).
I would add “enjoy” but it’s a given.

In conclusion…

Much of the college admissions news is not really newsworthy, so ignore any and every headline that makes your heart race. Mental health for you and your kid always takes priority. College will come and go, but your relationship with your child is forever. Be the much loved parent who talks more about your kid’s swim meet or choir concert or debate tournament than college, college, college, so your child will think of you fondly (and call every so often) after they fledge.

Warmly,

Jill

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