For many parents and students, the college application process can be overwhelming. There is so much to consider as your child chooses the right school, keeping in mind application deadlines to meet, forms to fill out, and visits to plan. We spoke with Janet Johnson, a college counselor and consultant for more than 20 years, about what parents and students need to know as they navigate this season.
What would you say is the number-one thing parents or students overlook, or the biggest mistake they make, in the college search process?
The biggest problem I’ve seen is just not being ready for the application process. So many parents have put it off and thought they would wait for the senior year, and they haven’t been learning about the process. They really need to be spending all of high school learning about it and going to as many college meetings as their high school offers. That’s where they start getting the big picture.
Another mistake is thinking that just one school is the best one. Students shouldn’t think that there is only one “right” school for them, because in reality, there are probably several schools they could be happy in. They should choose schools they want to go to and know all of them could be the “best,” that way they’re not disappointed to get a rejection letter. A lot of times a rejection isn’t because of your grades or test scores; it’s because they have too many people like you, and they just choose someone else.1