Opinion: Start college planning at start of high school

Margene Walz

Parents, think back to your college admissions process.  Because you were qualified, you were under no stress knowing schools would accept you.  You most likely applied to one or two schools and were admitted to both.  Now jump forward to the college experience your child will go through. Today more students are applying to college. With the ease of online applications, universities across the USA are receiving double, sometime triple the amount of applications over previous years.  Receiving so many admission inquiries, most colleges are very selective. This makes the college admission process extremely stressful and competitive.

Even though Long Beach State receives 40,000+ applications a year, if your student attends high school in Los Alamitos or Long Beach and has the minimum requirements needed to attend, Long Beach will most likely accept them.  You will not get the same consideration from other Cal-State schools.  According to the California State University, 12 out of the 23 CSU campuses are now impacted.  Those campuses include: Fullerton, Long Beach State, Northridge, Pomona, San Diego State and San Luis Obispo.  San Luis Obispo accepts approximately 30 percent of their applicants.  In addition, with the acceptation of Merced, all University of California campuses are impacted.   UCLA and Berkeley only accept approximately 22 percent of the applications received.

Because of the economy more students are attending state schools, fewer classes are being offered and tuition costs are rising.  For many students, graduating from a state school is pushing six years.  This increases the cost of a public education, making private school more attractive.  Most private schools will guarantee graduation in four year.

Why are these statistics important?  Because of the competitive nature of the admissions process, parents and students should start researching colleges as early as the student’s freshman high school year. Having high GPA and SAT scores are no longer enough. Students should start the process early by charting a successful course needed to get into their “best fit” colleges.

The average number of students a California high school counselor assists is 500.  Due to this high volume, most counselors track theirs students toward the CSUs and UCs.  Not all high school graduates are meant to attend large public schools.   Many students need a smaller more intimate environment.  It is the family’s responsibility to research the colleges and requirements.  Remember, the goal is not to get into college, the goal is to graduate from college.

Don’t count on admission to safety schools.  Even if students are well qualified they may be rejected.  Reasons range from: colleges received too many applications from a certain high school; to not enough interest was shown and the spot was given to a student who appeared more enthusiastic.  Many colleges waitlist or reject an applicant thought to be using the school as a backup.

Though college admissions will be a stressful time, remember, if you start the process early your student will be under less pressure.  By the end of the high school junior year, while your child’s friends are rushing to make college choices, your student should have a firm grasp on where to apply, what requirements are needed and the topic of the college essay.

The senior year of high school should be filled with happy memories.  Although it takes time, energy and a commitment, by starting the college process early your family will be less stressed and can enjoy this final year.

For more information, please contact (562) 280-0460.

Information for this article was collected from www.collegeboard.com a web site dedicated to assisting and advising college-bound students and the www.CalState.edu Web site.

Margene Walz is an academic and athletic counselor for Quest College Counseling.  For more information call 562-280-0460.