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22December2012

Tips From Parents

by Originally published in Hindustan Times Education

While 12th grade students and high school counselors are ready for the college admission process, parents sometimes wake up a little late and are surprised by the rigor of the process. Applying to college abroad requires a tremendous amount of work and often the brunt of it gets shifted to parents as students get busy with exams and compulsory activities over the next 4 months. Here is some advice from parents who went through the process last year that will help this year’s support their 12th graders who are applying to study abroad. Strategize your application deadlines – Though there are common deadlines – e.g. Jan 1 for the U.S. Oct 15/Jan 15 for UCAS. If you opt for earlier deadlines offered by some colleges you may have admissions in hand before the main dates come around. For example, if Georgia Tech, Univ of Illinois, Purdue, or U-Michigan are in your target zone you can apply for these in September and October and get your decision by November. If you are admitted, you can skip safety school applications and focus on reach schools for the Jan 1 deadline. This makes the process more efficient and targeted. Early deadlines can also make you eligible for scholarships or limited interview slots.

 

SAT preparation – Mentally prepare your child to take the SAT test at least twice. Besides a good test prep class, eight weeks before the SAT exam date organize 8 mock SAT tests at home, starting at 9 am until 1 pm – locked up in a room without disturbance. This helps condition students for the actual SAT. Each mock test must be evaluated and corrected, so the student can focus preparation on the weak sections. One mother reported that this method helped her son go from 2090 to 2200!

 

For the SAT2 choose 2 subjects for the Oct test date and study over the summer. But, if you are taking the Physics SAT2 wait until your school has finished the syllabus (typically not before Oct). If possible take 2-3 weeks of Diwali holidays to study for later SAT2 dates. If you can, take 3 SAT2 subjects and strategically submit your best 2 scores.

 

Prepare a resume. It is a useful ready reference when filling in details in the on-line application.Set up all your child’s online accounts with Common App and other colleges as soon as possible.

 

The physical packets should be prepared and sent to Universities by October, irrespective of whether you are finally going to apply to all the programs. This way you will avoid multiple trips to school collecting transcripts, certificates, etc. One parent reports that each physical packet should contain the following (check this against your specific school and college requirements):

  • Resume
  • Bank Letter
  • Parental Undertaking
  • Secondary School Report with the Counselor’s Recommendation
  • International School Supplement
  • Teacher Evaluation/Recommendation (2)
  • Official Transcripts and Mark Sheets of Grade 9 & 10
  • Board Certificates from 10th
  • Official Transcripts of Grade 11
  • Profile of School/College (11th & 12th)
  • Copy of passport
  • 2-3 Certificates of students achievement or participation

 

The US applications are much more cumbersome than the UK. Many parents recommend applying in the UK instead of or as an easy back-up option to the US.

 

After applying, maintain a single spreadsheet with link, IDs and passwords to save time as you track the status of your applications.

 

Finally, one parent cautioned that applications and admissions can seem like a ‘crapshoot’ so try your best and distribute your chances across a wide range of colleges so that you have a good set of choices in the end. Oh, and try to keep your cool…

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