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Sneaky News That Could Impact Your Child

Hello fellow parents, and welcome!

I’ve loved meeting many of you on the road. Let me know here if you’d like me to visit your community to talk truth, provide tips (knowledge is power!), and add a dose of laughter to your college admissions odyssey with your teenager. (Admit it. There’s humor.) If you live somewhere warm, I will come for a visit tomorrow.

I’ve also loved connecting with those of you who have reached out online with inquiries, or to share which parts of my book spoke to you, or to vent, or to induct me as an honorary member of your appletini-fueled support group on the snowy prairie (gratitude). I am honored to be part of your journey. Don’t hesitate to ask me here for answers or support. I am at your service.


I can see how all the drama of scandals and lawsuits have stolen your attention. But a sneaky little news story that’s flown under the radar could have a far greater impact on you and your child. You can get the fuller scoop here or here, but I’ll give you the short version.

For the past couple of years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has pressured the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) to lift restrictions from their Code of Ethics and Professional Practices that have limited colleges’ ability to market to students. A few months ago, NACAC caved to allegations that their restrictions broke antitrust laws, and those provisions were eliminated. The upshot? Your child is about to receive more mail from colleges (both IRL and virtual) than any other group of college applicants since the beginning of time.

Fear not! It’s on your radar now, so your inner superhero can take charge to guard against the confusion this onslaught could cause you and your child. Some tips:

  • Colleges are now allowed to offer special incentives for Early Decision applicants. They can ask your child to commit to a college in October of senior year (instead of May) in exchange for an attractive scholarship or better housing or—I don’t know—an emotional support puppy (I’m sure some colleges will get creative with their incentives). Carefully weigh the costs as well as the benefits of these offers (like do these offers extend beyond freshman year?). If your child is not ready to make a commitment so early, don’t let these added incentives seduce him. You know as well as I do how much teenagers can change in seven months. If he is ready, grab them and go for it.
  • Colleges may require a larger deposit on May 1 (National College Decision Day) because now other colleges are allowed to try and poach students even after they’ve pledged to enroll elsewhere. No one knows if this will happen, but it makes sense to put aside a little extra cash now in case the college your child chooses wants financial assurance your child’s commitment will stick.
  • On the bright side, the shake-out from these changes might provide students with more choices, as the DOJ asserts. Just wanted to throw in something positive before I give you the worst-case scenario.
  • The worst side effect (in my opinion) of the DOJ’s best intentions: the college admissions process could go on and on forever if your child lets it. Colleges can now continue marketing to enrolled students to tempt them to transfer even after they arrive at college. Yes, our children can always transfer if it doesn’t work out, but we parents can help empower them to enter college with a positive attitude to try to make it work, despite emails from competing colleges baiting them while they’re still adjusting.


I found this informative blog post, Juniors: A Guide to Senior Schedules Colleges Will Love, on the Tufts University website that could come in handy when your junior registers for next year’s classes. And read Should I Take Calculus in High School? before she signs up for Calculus senior year.  

If your child is an athlete, the recruiting basics you’ll need to know appear on the National Collegiate Athletic Association‘s website, and more succinctly on p.59 of College Admissions Cracked. Fun fact: I wrote lots more on athletic recruitment than we could fit into the book. This article on Navigating College Athletics fills in some blanks.

I’m asked all the time about Ways Students Can Use Demonstrated Interest to Their Benefit. This useful Forbes list left out the opportunity many students have to attend a ½ hour information session when a college representative visits their high school that can provide your child additional insight and save your family time and money on travel. Note that many colleges don’t bother tracking demonstrations of student interest at all. For those who do, demonstrated interest is never their top concern, and it shouldn’t be yours. You’ve got enough to worry about. 


Substitute “anxious” for “angry,” take 3 minutes to watch this video, and feel your blood pressure lower.

Also, as some families begin touring colleges in the next few months, take this helpful mantra on the road with you:

We are fellow travelers going through a big transition together.

The student you meet in the admissions office lobby during a campus visit is more likely to become your child’s college classmate than to steal your kid’s spot in the freshman class. All it takes to preserve sanity and humanity throughout this process is to approach college admissions, including campus visits, as a community instead of a cutthroat competition. Happy trails to you.



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