Parents often ask when to become angst-ridden about the college process. Most experts agree that the right time is the last Wednesday in April of your child’s sophomore year in high school.
Appropriately, the tenth grade parents in our school are kicking off their two years of panic with an College Coffee this morning. They will discuss standardized testing, junior-year class selection, early action vs. early decision and, of course, college touring. As a service, I thought I’d share my checklist of essential resources. (Check back for ads soon.)
- SAT Tutor – Good ones must be booked by eighth grade. But good luck finding out who the good ones are (Parents don’t like to share – fear of competition and fee inflation). Although the super tutors have no qualifications other than being smart kids who performed well on their own SATs, their fees are similar to what you would be charged by a junior partner in a corporate law firm. $150 – $550 an hour.
- Highlight Reel Producer (for athletes) – Bring this guy a pile of blurry videos and he will edit them to make it look as if your kid has better ball skills than David Beckham. $2500 for the ones who add "Hey There, You’re an All-star" as the soundtrack, more for those with better musical taste.
- Audition Coach (for actors) – Although we live in Southern California where there are thousands of audition coaches, it is necessary to fly one in from Dallas so your child won’t come off as "too Hollywood". (I swear, this is true.) In just three two-hour sessions, this expert middle-American will help your young thespian seem more conservative. She will provide hair and wardrobe advice, as a well as a recommendation for a Head-Shot Photographer from Oklahoma. Once the Texan receives her kickback, the Oklahoman will make sure your child will look wholesome in his or her photos. Fees are very reasonable – $1500 for the Audition Coach; $800 for the Head-shot Photographer (plus airfare), but hire them quickly, before they find out how much everyone else is charging.
- Wait-list Specialist – Arguably the most important resource on this list. Call her immediately after your senior is deferred. She will help your bombard each college with heartfelt letters about how that school was your child’s absolute first choice. $500 per letter.
- Independent College Counselor – Most high schools provide excellent guidance, but many parents like to hire an independent counselor so they won’t have to nag their kids about deadlines or make phone calls to get them internships at cancer research facilities. Parents who say they "never even glanced at any of Tyler’s eighteen applications" used independent counselors. Book by ninth grade. $1500 – $40,000.
- Co-dependent College Counselor – Similar to an independent counselor, but instead of relieving anxiety, creates more. Fees vary.
Of course, tenth grade parents, you are in the enviable position of having kids who are not applying to college in the most difficult year in the history of the world. So enter your child in a robotics competition, then try to relax. And be grateful that you don’t have an eleventh grader.