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Butterflies in Flight: Parenting and Metamorphosis in the College Process

Butterflies in Flight: Parenting and Metamorphosis in the College Process
Lauren Watson
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The other day on our drive home, my nine-year-old son blurted out, “Mom! Did you know that if you try to help a butterfly come out of its chrysalis too soon, it won’t ever be able to fly? Did you know that, Mom?” He went on to explain that his teacher shared, while imploring a group of fourth-graders not to touch their classroom visitors, that the oil from human skin can ruin a butterfly’s ability to fly before even leaving the chrysalis.

When he returned to looking out the window, I couldn’t help but think about some of the well-meaning adults who I’ve encountered in my almost twenty-year run in college counseling. Parents who, with good intentions, end up spilling their own concerns, priorities, insecurities even, onto their child’s college process. And, not unlike the curious and well-meaning fourth-grader, in doing so, risked jeopardizing their child’s opportunity for flight.

After guiding hundreds of families through this experience, I am certain of the following truth: the college admission process can either bring a family and teenager closer together or, mishandled, can create troubling cracks in the foundational relationship families have carefully nurtured. Back in 2017, Ben Stiller starred in a mediocre yet fascinating film called Brad’s Status. Stiller plays a dad who is surprised when college visiting with his son unearths waves of self-doubt and causes him to question his own understanding of success.  Despite a lack of critical cinematic acclaim, the movie is worth watching for parents who seem self-aware enough to appreciate the message.

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Feature It: Reframing the "Lost" College Visit

Feature It: Reframing the "Lost" College Visit

Kate Peltz
Director of College Counseling
Concord Academy

In a rusty, light grey station wagon, my father and I traversed New York and Pennsylvania. The year was 1995. The month was April. Our objective was to use school vacation week to help me build a college list. Certainly, my family’s thinking about college tours was informed by the environment in which I grew up: an affluent, white, suburb with college decals on SUV windows.

As we find ourselves in pandemic spring 2.0, college visiting is not possible for the majority of juniors just beginning their college journeys and seniors finalizing enrollment plans. When my mother was alive she would say, “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” Her sound advice reminds me to invert the problem of cancelled college tours. Instead of wringing hands over the lost college road trip, we can emphasize the opportunity facing institutions and students. Covid is inviting us to reinvent college discovery and student engagement.

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College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus

College Visits 101: Maximizing Your Time On Each Campus 

Bekka Goldberg
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Benjamin School 

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The Property Brothers as a Metaphor for the College Visit

 

The Property Brothers as a Metaphor for the College Visit

Peter Jennings
Director of College Counseling
Concord Academy

For most college counselors, the demands of school year limit TV time, but everyone needs a little escapism: mine, I’ll confess, is Property Brothers. Aided by the twin skills of negotiating real estate deals and orchestrating a renovation, Drew and Jonathan Scott help families find and furnish homes.

Maybe this show isn’t complete escapism. After all, to observe the twins listen, assess the needs, and construct a plan, mirrors much of what college counselors do with their students.

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