How to Get Help With Your College Application?

How to Get Help With Your College Application?

College applications can be both difficult and stressful, especially if you don’t have someone in your life who’s familiar with the process.  But there are all kinds of resources for college application help—you just have to know where to look.

Not all help with the college application process is created equal.  Some are a little too hands-on, which can mean your application doesn’t sound like you.  Others may not offer the kind of help you need. When you’re looking for assistance, you need services that help boost your own skills, not ones that do the work for you.

It’s perfectly okay to get college application help.  This guide will walk you through some options for assistance, including what you should seek help for, what you shouldn’t, and some of the best places to find reliable assistance with your college application.

Should You Get Help With Your College Application?

If you feel like you’re not understanding your college applications or that you aren’t really doing as well on one portion as you’d like to be, you should absolutely seek outside help.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of—college applications are difficult! Because they’re meant to be one-size-fits-all, sometimes your needs and questions may not be addressed.

But no matter what questions you have, you should ask them!  Regardless of your circumstances, you deserve the opportunity to go to college.  Don’t let fear or a lack of understanding stop you from applying.

There are lots of reasons to want or need help.  The process can be pretty opaque, even with lots of tutorials and guides.  And if you feel like you don’t need any assistance with your college application, it’s still not a bad idea to look into it!  With so many resources available, you might as well take advantage of them.

What’s OK to Get College Application Help On?

The short answer to what parts of your college application it’s okay to get help with is pretty much everything.  The key word is help—getting someone to do the work for you is a big mistake. But if you want assistance, including guidance, brainstorming, or even some constructive criticism, you shouldn’t be afraid to seek it out.

Where Can You Get Help With Your College Application?

There are so many resources available that it can be difficult to figure out which ones you should pursue.  Do you need an all-around coach for your application? A tutor? Will a visit to a guidance counselor cut it, or do you need to spend money on a complete assistance package?

Don’t panic.  Take a moment to outline what problems you’re having so you can better solve them.  Even if you feel like you’re writing down every single thing about your application, it’s worth doing—if you can see the problem, you can come up with a plan to fix it.

Depending on what problems you’re having, you have a few options to handle it. Some common hangups are:

  1. You can’t figure out what colleges to apply to
  2. You don’t understand your application
  3. You’re not sure you can afford college
  4. Your grades aren’t where you’d like them to be
  5. You don’t know who to ask for letters of recommendation
  6. You’re not sure how to write your essay
  7. Your standardized test scores aren’t ready to apply

These problems may all feel insurmountable at first, but there’s always help available.  No matter what you’re struggling with, there are resources available—if you need help, consider asking:

  • Your school guidance counselor
  • The admissions office of the school you’re applying to
  • Teachers
  • A tutor

They may not have all the answers, but chances are that they can point you in the direction of someone who does.  Don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you from seeking the education you dream of.

These are just a few ideas—if what’s giving you trouble isn’t covered below, keep reading anyway!  A lot of issues overlap, and you may find your answer in a surprising place.

What If You Can’t Figure Out Which Colleges to Apply To?

Figuring out which college to go to is a huge decision—one that can be paralyzing if you don’t know where to begin.  But there are lots of resources to help you make your choice, even if you’re not sure what you want to study, whether you want to stay in your state, or whether you want to start at a four-year university.

However, this is a big question.  If you still have lots of time to make a decision—such as if you’re in your junior year—it’s time to start doing research.  There are lots of online resources to help with this, including college websites and our own guides, including how to figure out which schools to apply to, how many colleges you should apply to, and how to calculate your admission chances.

Fall of your senior year is typically when you’ll be applying to colleges, so if that deadline has passed, you may be looking at taking a little time off.  Taking some time off isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re struggling with your application, the extra time can help you narrow down what schools you want to apply to rather than forcing you to rush to a decision.  Don’t panic about running late; you still have good options!

Take time to do your research, don’t just apply to schools that come to mind.  Seek out college fairs if you can, and consult with your school’s guidance counselor to find schools that are right for your needs.

What If You Don’t Understand Your Application?

College applications can be a little dense, particularly if you’re not familiar with a lot of the language they use.  But there are lots of resources to help in this department, too—with social media and blogs, you can find all kinds of people online discussing how to handle a college’s application.

If you want something a little more personal, try speaking to your school’s guidance counselor (if there is one).  They’re experienced in this field, and can help walk you through the parts that are confusing. If speaking with your school’s guidance counselor doesn’t give you enough information, look up the admissions department of the college you’re applying to.  Some schools have direct liaisons between high school students and the admissions office, or they may just be able to answer general questions for you. One of the biggest challenges for students in Vietnam is that few schools have experienced college counselors who understand the process and requirements to excel in applying to overseas universities.

Contact our Everest Education team for a free consultation, looking over your application profile with our ATES framework (Academics, Testing, Extracurricular, and Skills Development).

It’s better to ask your question and know for certain than to not fill something out for fear of being wrong, so hang up your fear of the telephone or email and reach out.  

What If You’re Not Sure You Can Afford College?

College is expensive—that’s just a fact.  But there is lots of financial aid available, including grants, loans, and scholarships.  However, it’s rare that that money will offer itself up to you. You have to apply for it.

There are many different types of scholarships and contests you can apply to, many of which can offer a great deal of money for things you already do

Again, your school’s guidance counselor is a good resource if you’re feeling a little unsure about where to start.  Don’t be afraid to set up a meeting with them if you’re not sure how to apply or what documents you’ll need. No matter what your circumstances are, there are resources available to help you pay for college.  Students with no financial assistance from parents or guardians, undocumented students, and even students who may not be eligible for grants all have options, even if you have to make some concessions about where you want to go. Also refer to this “U.S. Financial Aid for international students” guidebook to be guided every detail about the process of applying for financial aid.

What If You’re Struggling With Grades?

Grades are one of the most important parts of your college education.  But if yours aren’t where they should be, that doesn’t mean you can’t get into college.

The earlier you get started on fixing your grades, the better.  But even if deadlines are looming, it’s never too late to make changes in your work process and study habits to improve things.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from teachers or counselors.  If you can demonstrate that you’re serious about improving, your teachers may be able to help you make a plan for how to do better.

Obviously, you can’t just change your grades.  But working hard to improve them is totally possible, and colleges want to see you actively working on self-improvement.  If you can show that you’re putting in the effort through an upswing in your GPA, a year of bad grades may not look as bad to admissions offices.

If you’ve experienced a slip in grades because of outside circumstances, be sure to address that in your college application.  Transparency and honesty are good things, especially when you can show through improvements that you’re working to do better.

Aside from teachers and counselors, a tutor may also be valuable. Tutors can help you identify weak points in your knowledge and address them, not only helping you fix your grades right now, but also preparing you with improved study habits and learning foundations that will help you in college, too.  Through Everest Education’s academic courses and private tutoring options, students are able to get extra help in almost any subject. At the same time, our teachers will help develop strong learning habits and study skills.

What If You’re Struggling With Letters of Recommendation?

Teachers are the standard for letters of recommendation, but if you’re struggling to find teachers to write your letters, don’t panic.  This may be particularly difficult for homeschooled students or those who may not have as close of relationships with their instructors.

But teachers aren’t the only people who can write a great letter.  You’ll want to stay away from family members and friends, who can’t really offer an objective view, but other people in positions of authority who know you and your work ethic can be good options, too.

Consider school counselors, athletic coaches, instructors outside of school (such as a piano teacher), or even supervisors at work as possible alternatives.  A good letter of recommendation will tell the school you’re applying to about your work ethic and your strengths, and any of those figures could be a great alternative to a teacher if you need one.


What If You’re Struggling With Your Essay?

College essays are an important part of the application, but they can also be intimidating to write. One of the most important things to know about seeking help for your essay is that you shouldn’t look for help writing or even coming up with topics—instead, look for help once you’ve written a draft.

Too much help can actually be a hindrance.  If a college doubts that you’re the sole author of your essay, it could count against you.  Feedback is great, and you should absolutely seek it out, but be sure that your essay is by you, not by whoever has helped you with it.

Essentially, always be sure that the sentences you write are your sentences.  Take any advice you get to heart, but don’t feel like the way that others suggest to write your work is inherently better than the way that you’d write it.

We offer an intensive personal essay course to help students identify their best stories and share them in a persuasive, engaging way.  This course is available standalone or part of our broader College Compass Admissions Consulting packages.


What If You Need Help With Standardized Tests?

SAT and ACT scores are a big part of your college application, but it’s easy to get intimidated by the process of studying and analyzing your strong and weak points.

First of all, know which test is going to benefit you most. Depending on what you want to study and what your strengths are, the ACT or SAT may be more beneficial to you. The simplest difference is that the ACT may be more beneficial for students who prefer the sciences, but the two tests are increasingly similar in format and skills. The earlier you start studying and practicing, the better. You can take both tests multiple times to make sure you get the best score you can. Take advantage of this, so that you’re not stuck with an unimpressive score down the road.

If you find that you’re not improving as much as you’d like, consider a test prep course or tutoring service.  Everest Education offers a SAT classes, with the personalized learning approach focuses on topics, skills, and strategies where you need the most support to give you the biggest possible; and a complete tutoring program to give you one-on-one coaching.

There are many books and other resources available, so start early and take advantage of them!

What Shouldn’t You Get Help With?

There’s nothing that’s entirely off-limits in seeking college application help, but be sure that you’re getting help, not having someone do the work for you.  Many college applications are reviewed holistically, meaning that though they may weigh one aspect more heavily than others (such as grades), the entire application is considered important.  If things don’t match up—such as your essay having a different writing style—it could give a bad impression.

That’s why if you’re going to use essay writing services, they should be geared toward helping you find ideas and refine your work, not helping you write the essay itself.

Obviously, you shouldn’t pay anybody money to do anything on your behalf, whether it’s writing your essay, improving your grades, or taking tests for you.  All your work should be original and completed by you.

Seek help if you need it, but be sure that the help you get is aimed at your growth, not doing work for you!

How to Get the Best Help

Any kind of service, including essay help and tutoring, can be expensive.  Be sure that you look into what a service offers in detail, including if there are free trials, money-back guarantees, or other offers to take advantage of.  Trials help ensure that a system will work for you, meaning you’re more likely to get the help you need.

Reviews can be a big help, especially because so many other students are experiencing the same thing that you are.  You can consult people you know or online reviews to find services that sound right for you.

One of the best things you can do is find people in your own life who have experience with applying to college, whether they’re teachers, counselors, family, or friends.  These people know you best, and are likely already invested in your success. It’s important that whoever you consult with understand that you should succeed on your own terms—that is, they should help you reach your goals by coaching and giving you feedback, not by doing work for you.

What’s Next?

Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. College Compass is a college admissions consulting program for the most ambitious rising Grade 12 students in Saigon who aspire to attend top universities and colleges abroad.  The program is led by the two co-founders of Everest Education, Tony Ngo and Don Le, both of whom graduated from Stanford University and have served as alumni interviewers for Stanford.  We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit, and we want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about College Compass to maximize your chance of getting in.  We are now offering scholarships covering 100% of the tuition for the entire College Compass program worth $3,500 each.

Source: PrepScholar Admissions

What to Do If You’re Waitlisted by a College?

What to Do If You’re Waitlisted by a College?

Getting waitlisted at a college certainly isn’t a bad thing—your application was good enough to not get rejected!—but it’s definitely an uncomfortable place to be.  After all, when you’re on the college waitlist, you don’t know whether you’ll be admitted or not, and that alone is anxiety-inducing.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to increase your odds of getting off a waitlist.  This article explains how the college waitlist works, what steps to take if you’ve been waitlisted, and how to raise your college waitlist chances so you can attend your dream school.

What Is the College Waitlist and How Does It Work?

What exactly does it mean if you’ve been waitlisted by a college or several colleges?

The college waitlist is a list of applicants whom a school might or might not offer admission to.  These applicants are essentially put on hold by a college and would have been admitted had space allowed.  The total number of applicants offered a place on the college waitlist varies each year and at different schools.

If you are offered a spot on the college waitlist, you may either accept the invitation and allow your name to be added to it or decline it right away if you’d rather not wait for an admission decision or have already decided to attend a different college.

Applicants are typically only admitted off a waitlist starting after May 1, or the date by when admitted students must submit their decisions to attend the college of their choice along with the non-refundable deposit.  Colleges usually begin to admit students off the waitlist if and only if they need to fill more spots in their freshman class. Essentially, once the May 1 deadline has passed, if not enough applicants have decided to attend, the school will start to admit applicants off the waitlist with the hope they’ll accept the offer.  Waitlist acceptances often roll out gradually throughout May, June, July, and sometimes even August right before the school year starts.

Of course, not everyone on the waitlist will be admitted.  In fact, some colleges might admit just a few students or even none at all one year!

Finally, some college waitlists rank the applicants on it.  So if you’re ranked highly, you’re more likely to be accepted off the waitlist.  Nevertheless, most colleges don’t rank waitlist applicants and instead make their admissions decisions based on other factors such as what majors they want to have represented and which applicants will be most likely to attend if admitted.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Off the College Waitlist?

If you’ve been waitlisted at your dream school, you’re probably wondering what exactly your odds are of getting off the waitlist and moving on to a full-blown acceptance.  Your chances of getting off the college waitlist primarily depend on five factors:

  • How many spots the school needs to fill for its freshman class.  The fewer the spots there are, the less likely it is you’ll be admitted off the waitlist.  In contrast, the more spots available, the more likely it is you’ll be offered a placement.
  • What majors, locations, etc., the school wants to have represented in its freshman class.  If a school didn’t admit enough engineering majors, for example, it will most likely admit engineering majors off its waitlist first.
  • How likely you are to attend the school if admitted.  This factor mainly depends on how interested you are in the college and whether you’ve actively demonstrated your continued interest in attending.  Carnegie Mellon maintains a Priority Waiting List, for example, for applicants whose first choice is CMU.
  • How strong your overall application is, especially compared with other waitlist applicants.  While this is impossible to know, if you have strong qualities such as an SAT score well above the school’s 75th percentile, then it’s likely you’re a top candidate for admission.
  • How highly ranked you are on the waitlist (if the school ranks applicants).

Ultimately, how likely it is you’ll be admitted off a waitlist really depends on the particular school you’ve been waitlisted at.  Very popular and selective schools get applications from thousands of qualified students each year – many of whom end up on the waitlist – making it super difficult to determine how good your odds are of being admitted.

Moreover, the year you apply can have a big effect on how many applicants a college decides to admit off its waitlist.  This happens because both the quality and number of applicants usually changes slightly each year, along with the specific needs of the school (for example, a school might want to admit more majors one year than it did the previous year).

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples.  At Dartmouth, a highly selective school that’s also part of the Ivy League, “the number of candidates offered admission from the waitlist varies, from zero in some years to dozens in others.”

Similarly, here’s what the UC system says on the topic: “The number of students who are ultimately admitted varies from year to year, campus to campus. There is no way to tell how many students, if any, will ultimately be offered admission for any particular year.”

As you can see, in general, there’s no easy way to determine your odds of getting admitted off a college waitlist.  College waitlist acceptances can vary dramatically from year to year, mainly as a result of the changing number of qualified applicants and the school’s needs.

Got Waitlisted? 4 Steps Everyone Must Take

If you’ve been waitlisted at a college, you’ll need to take certain steps to ensure you’re ultimately able to attend college without issue. Regardless of whether you choose to stay on the waitlist or not, here’s exactly what you’ll need to do if you’re offered a waitlist spot.

Step 1: Make a Decision About the Waitlist
Do you want to stay on the college waitlist in the hopes you’ll get admitted, or would you rather decline the invitation and just go with a different college?

After you’ve gotten a waitlist invitation, take time to consider whether you truly want to be on the waitlist for this school.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this your dream school?
  • Are you comfortable with not hearing back from the school right away and feeling stuck in a sort of limbo state throughout the summer?
  • Are you OK with potentially losing money on a non-refundable deposit to a different school if you do end up getting admitted off the waitlist?
    Once you’ve made your decision about whether to stay on the college waitlist, it’s time to move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Officially Accept or Decline Your Waitlist Invitation

If you’ve been offered a spot on the waitlist, know that you won’t be automatically added to it—you need to officially accept the invitation to confirm your spot.  This usually needs to be done by a certain deadline, typically in mid-April or by May 1. Check with the school or look at your waitlist notification letter to figure out when the deadline is.

If you fail to confirm your placement by this deadline, you will not be placed on the waitlist and will have indirectly declined your spot on it.  If you’ve decided to not have your name put on the college waitlist and would rather decline your spot, be sure to notify the college of your decision by the deadline, ideally as soon as possible.

Step 3: Pick a College to Attend and Submit Your Deposit

Regardless of whether you’ve decided to stay on the waitlist or not, you’ll need to pick a college you’ve been admitted to that you want to attend, even if it’s not your top choice and you’re still hoping to get off the waitlist at the other school.

Go through all the schools where you’ve been accepted (not waitlisted) and, for each, consider important factors, such as what kinds of majors it offers, what kinds of professors work there, what extracurriculars are available, what its campus is like, where it’s located, etc.  You can do research on the schools you’re considering attending by looking at their official websites, visiting their campuses, and talking to current or former students. Once you’ve decided where you want to go to college – even if you’re holding out hope that you’ll get admitted off the waitlist at your top choice – it’s time to accept your offer of admission and submit your non-refundable deposit.  Both your acceptance of admission and deposit must be submitted no later than the May 1 deadline.

Step 4: Wait for Your Waitlist Decision

After you’ve decided on a college to attend, all that’s left for you to do is wait to get your waitlist decision notification.  When you hear back from a college regarding its waitlist decisions can vary considerably, from as early as May to as late as August, and there is no way of telling when you’ll receive your decision (and whether it’ll be a positive or negative result!).  If you do get admitted off the college waitlist, congratulations! You now have to make the decision between accepting this offer of admission and withdrawing your previous acceptance, or rejecting this offer and continuing with the other college you’ve agreed to attend.  If you decide to accept the offer of admission, note that you will not be able to get a refund on the deposit you submitted to the other school. If you don’t get admitted off the college waitlist, not much will change. You’ll still have the other college you agreed to attend waiting for you!

5 Key Tips to Raise Your College Waitlist Chances

Getting waitlisted doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting (as the word implies). Rather, there are several actions you can take at this time to increase your odds of getting off the college waitlist.

Here are our top fix tips to help you raise your chances of securing an acceptance from the waitlist at your top-choice school.

#1: Write a Letter of Interest

One of the best things you can do during this time is to write a letter to the school you’ve been waitlisted at emphasizing your continued interest and how the school is your top choice.  Remember that colleges want to admit applicants who are very likely to attend. And by confirming that you’ll 100% attend the school if admitted, you are effectively increasing your odds of getting off the waitlist.  (Note that this type of letter is non-binding, so you’re still allowed to change your mind later on!)

Your letter of interest can be an email to your admissions officer or regional dean, or even a note on your college’s waitlist response form (many schools use this form or a similar form to confirm whether an applicant wants to remain on the waitlist or not).

#2: Send Important Updates (on Accomplishments)

If you’ve had any notable accomplishments since getting waitlisted, you can actually enhance your application by sharing these successes with the school that’s waitlisted you.  In general, these should be highly relevant accomplishments and updates. If you’re not applying for a science major, it might not be that beneficial to tell the school about your successful science project, for instance.  You can typically update your school on what you’ve been up to via either the waitlist response form (which most schools will give you online) or a letter or email.

Even if you haven’t had any major achievements recently, try to draw attention to any positive changes in your life, such as awards you’ve received, good or better grades you’ve gotten, and so on.  Some schools, such as Johns Hopkins, allow you to send an updated resume if you wish to highlight any changes to or accomplishments in your extracurricular activities.

However, some colleges will not accept additional materials or information than what you originally submitted for your application.  In these cases, you won’t be able to update the school on any new achievements you have, so don’t try to send an update since it won’t have any effect on your chances of getting admitted!

#3: Keep Up Your Grades

Even though you’ll only have a month or two of high school left by the time you’ve been waitlisted, it’s still important to get good grades in all your classes.  Many colleges allow (and encourage!) waitlisted applicants to send updates relating to any (positive) changes in their grades or GPA. This could be a major improvement to a specific grade in a class you’re taking or new grades or transcripts that have only recently been released (and that are more recent than your mid-year report).  For example, Vanderbilt recommends that waitlisted applicants “consider submitting any substantially relevant new information (e.g., new grades that might be available).”  You can send an updated transcript or write a brief email or letter detailing your recent grades.

#4: Stay in Contact

Some schools give slight preference to waitlisted applicants who make an effort to stay in contact with the school, specifically the admissions committee/officer or regional dean.  This generally just means keeping in touch via email. You might occasionally send an email to notify the school/dean of any recent updates about you or to elaborate on your continued interest in the school.

On its official website, Franklin & Marshall College states that “continuing to maintain and achieve outstanding grades, as well as having occasional email contact with your Regional Dean, will supplement your interest in the College”.

#5: Get an Interview (If Possible)

Schools don’t typically allow this, but if a college is willing to interview waitlisted applicants or let them come to campus to interview, it’s worth it to take them up on this offer.  Make sure you prepare for the interview and are able to answer key questions such as why you want to go to this school and what you hope to do with your education in the future.

Recap: What to Do If You Are Waitlisted at a College

The college waitlist is a list of applicants who might or might not be offered admission to a particular college.  Schools usually start to admit applicants off the waitlist after May 1 and will continue to admit applicants until they’ve filled their entire freshman class.  How likely it is you’ll be admitted off the college waitlist depends mostly on the following factors:

  • The number of remaining spots in the freshman class
  • What types of students schools want to admit in terms of majors, locations, etc.
  • How likely you are to attend the school if accepted
  • How strong your application is overall
  • How highly ranked you are on the waitlist (if the school ranks waitlisted applicants)

If you’re waitlisted at a school, there are four steps you should take in this order:

  1. Make a decision about the waitlist
  2. Officially accept or decline your waitlist invitation
  3. Pick a college to attend and submit your non-refundable deposit
  4. Wait for your waitlist decision

Finally, here are five tips you can use to try to raise your chances of getting admitted off the college waitlist:

  • Write a letter of interest
  • Send important updates (on accomplishments)
  • Keep up your grades and GPA
  • Stay in contact with the school, specifically the (head of the) admissions committee
  • Get an interview (if offered by the college)

What’s Next?

Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help.  College Compass is a college admissions consulting program for the most ambitious rising Grade 12 students in Saigon who aspire to attend top universities and colleges abroad.  The program is led by the two co-founders of Everest Education, Tony Ngo and Don Le, both of whom graduated from Stanford University and have served as alumni interviewers for Stanford.  We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit, and we want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about College Compass to maximize your chance of getting in.  We are now offering scholarships covering 100% of the tuition for the entire College Compass program worth $3,500 each.

Source: PrepScholar Admissions


How Many Colleges Should You Really Apply To?

How Many Colleges Should You Really Apply To?

Many students stress over the same question: “How many colleges should I apply to?” How many is too many? How few is too few? There is so much disagreement on this topic, even among experts, that many students are left confused and unsure.

This article will give you an idea of how many schools you should apply to and explain the factors to consider when deciding how many colleges to apply to.  After reading this guide, you’ll feel confident about crafting your own college list and how long it will be.

There’s No Magic Number

The number of colleges you should apply to depends on your specific situation.  The standard thinking from counselors has been that the average college-bound student should apply to about 6-8 colleges: 2-3 reach colleges, 2-3 target colleges, and 2 safety schools.  Reach schools are colleges that are unlikely to offer you admission (less than a 30% chance), target schools are colleges that you have a decent chance of gaining admission to (a 30%-80% chance), and safety schools are colleges to which you’re almost guaranteed of admission based on your qualifications (greater than an 80% chance).

However, we have clearly seen a big trend in the number of applications colleges are receiving due to (1) rapidly increasing competition from international students, and (2) the rise in popularity of the Common App making it simple for one student to easily send one application to many more schools than before.  From our own experiences at Everest, we have seen many of our early students from years ago apply to 5-10 schools, while many from our most recent college applicant class applied to more than 20 schools.

The number of colleges you should apply to is dependent on your personal situation and your priorities when selecting a college.  For example, if you have a dream school that offers early decision or early action, then you may only have to apply to one college.  If you apply early decision, you’ll typically be submitting your application in November and should receive an admissions decision by December, before the application deadlines for most colleges.  If you’re accepted to a school that you apply to early decision, you have to attend.

You should still have a list of colleges to apply to in case you aren’t accepted or if you’re applying to any colleges, like University of California schools, that have an application deadline before December.  If you’re admitted early decision, you have to withdraw your applications to any other colleges.

Why You May Want To Apply to More Schools

If you’re determined to go to a very selective college, then you may want to apply to more colleges than the average person. If you apply to 10 colleges to which you have a 25% chance of gaining admission, then you’re likely to gain admission to at least one of them. In fact, if you apply to 16 colleges with an average chance of admission of 25%, then you have a 99% chance of gaining admission to at least one of them, statistically.

If you take this approach, though, you should prepare yourself emotionally to be rejected from most of the schools you apply to.  If, on the other hand, you’re not as concerned with selectivity and are extremely confident that you’ll be admitted to at least a couple of the colleges you apply to, you may only need to apply to two to four colleges.

Be Aware of the Costs of Applying in Time and Money

Applying to college can be costly. The application fee for each college you apply to can be up to $75.  However, students with financial hardship should absolutely apply for fee waivers, which will make it easier to apply to enough schools.  

Additionally, there can be costs associated with sending standardized test scores and AP scores to colleges.The SAT and ACT allow you to send four free score reports to colleges.  Each additional score report currently costs $11.25 per report for the SAT and $12 per report for the ACT. Also, you’re allowed to send one free AP score report, which contains all of your AP scores, to one college each year you take AP exams.  Each additional score report costs $15.

Therefore, if you apply to 20 colleges, you may have to pay over $2,000.  Consider your budget (or ask your parents how much they’re willing to pay) when deciding how many schools to apply to.  However, you should also view the costs of applying as an investment. If you get into a great college that fits your needs, then you’ll have an invaluable college experience that will enable you to have future professional success, and the money you spend on applying may end up being insignificant compared to the return on your investment.  Furthermore, keep in mind that the cost of applying will probably be much, much less than the cost of attending college.

Additionally, the application process takes time.  Even though more and more colleges are using The Common Application, which allows you to apply to many schools with one application, many colleges still have their own applications or require supplemental essays.  Each college application that requires additional essays will probably take you at least a few additional hours to complete. However, if well-planned, once you cross about 8 applications, you will find patterns in the questions, and you should be able to re-use the vast majority of your essays with slight modifications for each school.

Make sure you have enough time to complete all the applications successfully without sacrificing the quality of your schoolwork or neglecting any other priorities.

Important Rules Regardless of the Number of Colleges You Apply To

Follow these guidelines, regardless of the exact number of schools you end up applying to.

Rule #1: Have at Least 2 Safety Schools
It’s wise to prepare for a worst-case scenario.  If you only get into your safety schools, you still want at least a couple of options to consider.

Rule 2: Don’t Apply to Any Colleges You Wouldn’t Want to Attend
Considering the time and cost associated with applying to college, it’s pretty pointless to apply to a college that you have no desire to attend.  Even if your safety schools aren’t your top choices, they should be colleges that you’d be willing to attend.

Rule 3: Do the Majority of Your College Research Before You Apply
Before applying to college, you should have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a school.  There are about 2,500 4-year colleges. Use college finders, college search websites, guidebooks, ranking lists, and campus visits to help decide which colleges you should apply to.  Also, you can talk to your teachers, counselors, parents, current students, and alumni to help you narrow down your list of schools.

Rule 4: Rank the Schools You Apply to Before You Receive Acceptances
After you apply, continue to do your research and try to rank the schools assuming you were offered admission to all of them.  This will make the selection process easier. Once you receive your acceptances and review your financial aid packages (if you apply for need-based aid), you can factor in the cost of attendance for each school into your decision.

Rule 5: Be Realistic About Your Chances of Admission
Even though it’s perfectly fine to apply to reach colleges, at a certain point, a college may be too much of a reach, and you’d be better served to focus on schools that are more likely to admit you.  

Usually, if your GPA and standardized test scores are well below those of the average student at a very selective college (less than a 25% acceptance rate), your odds of gaining admission will be extremely low, and in some cases, virtually nil.

For example, in 2014, at Princeton University, only 2% of admitted students had a GPA below a 3.5.  At Yale, out of high schools that provided class rank, 97% of admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their class.

You may still have a realistic chance if there’s something exceptional in your application.  If you’re a world-class athlete, the child of a major donor, or you’ve overcome incredibly unique obstacles, you may still have a legitimate shot at admission with subpar grades and test scores.  Also, if your grades are on par but you have below average test scores for a selective college, you may still have a shot of getting in, especially if you’re from a disadvantaged or underrepresented background.

Final Advice

While there’s no cap on the number of schools you can apply to, some students, especially those from affluent backgrounds who want to go to a selective college, can consider applying to more than 20 colleges.

If you do the necessary research before you apply, you should be able to limit your list of schools to 25 or fewer.  On the other hand, some students, especially those who are low-income or the first in their families to go to college, often apply to too few colleges. If you don’t have very specific needs that are limiting your college options, and if selectivity is a factor in your college decision, try applying to at least 6 schools.

What’s Next?

Want to build the best possible college application?

We can help. College Compass is a college admissions consulting program for the most ambitious rising Grade 12 students in Saigon who aspire to attend top universities and colleges abroad.  The program is led by the two co-founders of Everest Education, Tony Ngo and Don Le, both of whom graduated from Stanford University and have served as alumni interviewers for Stanford.  We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit, and we want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Learn more about College Compass to maximize your chance of getting in.  We are now offering scholarships covering 100% of the tuition for the entire College Compass program worth $3,500 each.

Source: PrepScholar Admissions

5 Reasons Why Going to a Top University Matters

5 Reasons Why Going to a Top University Matters

As hundreds of thousands of students rush to fill out college applications to meet end-of-the-year deadlines, it might be worth asking them: Is where you spend the next four years of your life that important?

State universities and community colleges rock, but elite institutions offer many benefits you just can’t get at state universities or community colleges.  If a student has a choice between attending a state university or an elite university, she should definitely go with the latter option! Why?

The truth is, top universities still reign supreme among exclusive industries such as tech, consulting, and finance.

So, what advantages does going to a top university give you and why does it matter?

First off, what does a “top university” mean?

Before we begin, it’s important to understand what top universities mean in the context of this blog.

Top universities do not only refer to the top 10 or top 20 universities as listed by US News and World Reports or QS World University Rankings for the following reasons.

Stagnant rankings are inherently unhelpful.  As objective as they try to be, none of them capture the true essence of US colleges.  Picking US universities to apply to is an extremely personal process; one that requires you to think about numerous factors and their overall importance to your happiness, your education, and your success.  In order to find the right university, you need to compile your own list of “best-possible” universities based on your preferences.

So, for the sake of this blog, top universities refers to universities whose graduates tend to get high-paying jobs at large, lucrative companies.  These universities include, but are not limited to:

  • The Ivy League
  • A few “Public Ivies” (a term referring to public universities which are akin to the Ivy League in terms of selectivity, education quality, resources and image) such as University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Michigan) and University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin).
  • New York University (NYU), University of Chicago (UChicago), Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford

As stated above, these universities are the top universities when it comes to lucrative industries such as tech, finance and consulting, they are in no way the only path to success but they can help you succeed more quickly.

Why applying to a top university matters?

#1. Access to virtually every resource

Most schools offer a variety of resources to their students, including libraries and study space, but the resources offered by elite universities and Ivy League schools are especially amazing!

Elite institutions are home to a variety of historic documents and artifacts, as well as state-of-the-art labs and research facilities.  Not only do elite universities offer these resources to their own students, but they also offer them to students of other elite universities as well!  Need access to an unfinished, unpublished Shakespeare manuscript? At an elite university, you can get it by the following week!

If students attend an elite university, they too will be a part of this academic community and have access to all of these amazing resources as well.

#2. Access to Alumni

Every single school has alumni who make their schools proud.  Do you know where Bill Gates went to college? You’ve probably heard it was Harvard (even though he dropped out).  How about Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google? You might have heard that they went to Stanford. And President Barack Obama went to Columbia as an undergrad and Harvard for law school.  Nearly all of the world’s most prominent leaders attended elite universities or Ivy League institutions. Oftentimes, these notable alumni return to their schools and make speeches, hold master classes, and sometimes they just come to hang out.

This really can generate positive feedback loops: the better the achievements at a school, the better the reputation it has; the better the reputation, the more funding it gets and the better the students who want to attend. The better the students, the better the achievements the school creates. And this continues perpetually so that places like Harvard will likely remain at the top of the education game for a very long time.

Attending top universities and colleges can help you build influential networks that open doors after graduation.  Faculty members and alumni can help you obtain references and job leads, and you can build a large network of friends at a top college that could eventually lead to job opportunities.

In addition, conferences and seminars at top colleges provide opportunities for you to connect with experts and specialists, which could lead to internships and full-time employment.

And, who knows – maybe someday, you will get to be one of these awesome alumni!

#3. Socialization amongst other elite students

You may be familiar with that old phrase, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” So why not surround yourself with brilliant people?

It goes without saying that the professors at elite universities are brilliant (most professors are), but elite universities are unique in that every student is brilliant as well.  What makes these students so special? They really are the cream of the crop. These schools are incredibly tough to get into, and often having good grades is not enough. Each of these students proved to admissions that they are spectacular.

These are the students who strive to make change, and go out of their way to make the world a better place.

#4.  Job offers at prestigious big companies

Prestigious universities feed students into prestigious big companies.  Representatives from prestigious ‘name-brand’ big companies like Google and Microsoft would come to top schools career fair several times a year and do on-campus interviews to fill summer internship and full-time job openings.  Most of the students who wanted summer internships at such companies would be able to get offers after their sophomore and junior years. Although some companies are attempting to widen their recruiting network, elite universities do offer an advantage that most other universities do not.

You may be asking why don’t big companies do more outreach to students from normal (lesser-known) universities?  Aren’t they passing up lots of great candidates by not paying much attention to the vast majority of universities?  Yes, they are probably passing up lots of great candidates, but they don’t care because they can still get more than enough great candidates from name-brand universities.  Companies are not social charities dedicated to fair representation; they are out to maximize profits! If it’s most cost-effective to recruit at a name-brand school because they get a higher ‘hit rate’ of good employees, then so be it!  They will ignore lesser-known schools while fully knowing that they are passing up some great people. For example, if IBM can find 35 great candidates for every 50 they interview at MIT, but they can only find 5 great candidates for every 50 they interview at a normal school, then it makes financial sense to direct much more recruiting efforts to schools like MIT.

#5. More favorable starting positions and higher salaries

The most prestigious and super-high-paying front-office jobs (e.g., investment bankers, traders, quantitative analysts) are only offered to graduates of name-brand universities like Harvard and MIT, whereas the less prominent support jobs (middle-office and back-office) are open to graduates from normal schools.

In 2017, 11% of students at the University of San Diego went into finance/business with an average starting salary of $56,250 USD. In comparison, 8.6% of students at MIT went into finance and 4.3% went into investment banking with average starting salaries of $116,083 USD and $105,000 USD, respectively.

Let’s compare the income of an average Harvard graduate with than of an average ASU graduate:

As you can see, the average Harvard graduate has a higher starting salary than that of the average ASU graduate, and the average Harvard graduate has a significantly higher mid-career salary!

One of the main qualms parents have with sending their kids off to elite universities and Ivy League schools is that they are so expensive!

But if you think about it in terms of the return you’ll be making on your investment, you’ll realize that it is well worth it—a good education really is priceless.

The Real Advantages

In the aforementioned industries, the top universities have the upper hand when it comes to access to opportunities, recruiting and salary.  These universities (coupled with hard work) open doors to top internships, top jobs and ultimately top salaries.

Today, most people change careers at least three times before they are 32 so being part of an alumni network that will give you access to the top of any industries gives you the freedom you need to take risks.

“A low-tier school may get you in the door at a tech company but top universities get your foot in the door at banks, consulting firms, tech companies, government agencies, non-profits; wherever you want to work, a degree from a top university can get you there. The elite networks get you in the door in the long run,” says Crimson Strategist and Harvard alum, Bryan Moore.

At the end of the day, top universities give you the option to fail.

And having that option, in today’s fast-paced entrepreneurial world, is what you need to become successful.

Now that you’re aching to go to a top US university, you need to figure out how to get accepted, sign up for our College Compass program to be guided through the whole application process.

Also check out our ebook of U.S. Financial Aid for International Students to gain more understanding about the basic types of financial aid and how to apply for them.


7 most important social skills for kids

7 most important social skills for kids

Good social skills allow kids to enjoy better peer relationships.  But the benefits of robust social skills reach far beyond social acceptance.  Children with better social skills are likely to reap immediate benefits. For example, a 2019 study found that good social skills may reduce stress in children who are in daycare settings.

Why developing social skills is important?

Being away from family places stress on children, and not having the social skills to interact with others likely compounds that stress.  The researchers found that children experienced a decrease in cortisol once they learned new social skills. Additionally, kids who can get along well with peers are likely to make friends more easily.  According to a 2015 study published in the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, childhood friendships are good for kids’ mental health.

Friendships also give children opportunities to practice more advanced social skills, like problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Good social skills can also help kids have a brighter future.  According to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten might be the biggest predictor of success in adulthood.  Researchers from Penn State and Duke University found that children who were better at sharing, listening, cooperating and following the rules at age five were more likely to go to college.  They were also more likely to be employed full-time by age 25.

The children who lacked social and emotional skills were more likely to have substance abuse issues, relationship issues, and legal trouble.  They were also more likely to depend on public assistance. Fortunately, social skills can be taught. It’s never too soon to start showing kids how to get along with others.  And it’s never too late to sharpen their skills either. Learn the most important social skills for kids to learn and how you can help teach them.

1. Sharing

A willingness to share a snack or share a toy can go a long way to helping kids make and keep friends.  According to a 2010 study published in Psychological Science, children as young as age two may show a desire to share with others—but usually only when their resources are abundant.

However, children between the ages of three and six are often selfish when it comes to sharing resources at a cost to themselves.  For example, a child with only one cookie might be reluctant to share half with a friend since it means he’ll have less to enjoy. On the other hand, he might readily share a toy that he’s no longer interested in playing with.

Around age seven or eight, most children become more concerned with fairness and are more willing to share.  Furthermore, research shows sharing and positive well-being are related. Overall, studies show children who feel good about themselves are more likely to share.  Sharing also makes them feel good about themselves. So teaching them to share may be key to boosting their self-esteem.

How to practice
While you may not want to force your child to share certain toys or with certain children, you can make it a habit to point out sharing when you see it.  Praise your child for sharing and label how it makes others feel. Say something like, “You chose to share your snack with your sister. I bet she feels happy about that.  That’s a nice thing to do.”

2. Cooperating

Cooperating means working together to achieve a common goal.  Kids who cooperate are compliant with requests from others.  They also contribute, participate, and help out.

Good cooperation skills are essential for successfully getting along within a community.  Your child will need to cooperate with classmates on the playground as well as in the classroom.  Cooperation is important as an adult, too. Most work environments thrive on employees’ ability to work together as a team.  Cooperation is key in romantic relationships as well. By about age three and a half, young children can begin to work with their peers on a common goal.  For children, cooperation may involve anything from building a toy tower together to playing a game that requires everyone to participate. Some may take a leadership position while others will feel more comfortable following orders.  Either way, cooperation is a great opportunity for kids to learn more about themselves.

How to Practice
Talk about the importance of teamwork and how jobs are better when everyone pitches in.  Create opportunities for the whole family to work together. Whether you assign everyone a specific job when you’re making a meal or you assign specific chores that are integral to the family, emphasize the importance of cooperation often.

3. Listening

Listening isn’t just about staying quiet – it means really absorbing what someone else is saying.  Listening is a critical component of healthy communication.

After all, much of the learning in school depends on a child’s ability to listen to what the teacher is saying.  Absorbing the material, taking notes, and thinking about what is being said will become even more important as your child advances academically.

It’s essential that your child grows up knowing how to listen to the boss, a romantic partner, and friends.  It may be an even more difficult skill to master in the age of digital devices since so many people tend to stare at their smartphones when they’re engaged in conversation.

How to Practice
When reading a book to your child, periodically stop and ask her to tell you about what you’re reading.  Pause and say, “Tell me what you remember about the story so far.” Help her fill in any gaps she’s missing and encourage her to keep listening as you continue.  Additionally, don’t allow her to interrupt others when they’re talking.

4. Following Directions

Kids who struggle to follow directions are likely to experience a variety of consequences.  From having to redo their homework assignments to getting in trouble for misbehavior, not following directions can be a big problem.

Whether you tell your child to clean his room or you’re telling him how to improve his soccer skills, it’s important for kids to be able to take direction – and follow instructions.  Before you can expect your child to get good at following directions, however, it’s essential that you become well-versed in giving directions.

For example, don’t give a young child more than one direction at a time.  Instead of saying, “Pick up your shoes, put your books away and wash your hands,” wait until he picks up his shoes before giving the next command.

Another mistake to avoid is phrasing your directions as a question.  Asking, “Would you please pick up your toys now?” implies that he has the option to say no.  Once you’ve given your child directions, ask him to reflect back what he said. Ask, “What are you supposed to do now?” and wait for him to explain what he heard you say.

It’s normal for young kids to get distracted, behave impulsively, or forget what they’re supposed to do.  View each mistake as an opportunity to help him sharpen his skills.

How to Practice
Praise your child for following directions by saying things like, “Thank you for turning off the TV the first time I told you to.”  If your child struggles to follow directions, give him opportunities to practice following simple commands. Say things like, “Please pass that book to me,” and then provide immediate praise for following directions.

5. Respecting Personal Space

Some kids are close talkers.  Others crawl up into the laps of acquaintances without any idea that the other individual feels uncomfortable.  It’s important to teach kids how to respect other people’s personal space.

Create household rules that encourage kids to respect other people’s personal space.  “Knock on closed doors,” and “Keep your hands to yourself,” are just a few examples.

How to Practice
Teach your child to stand about an arm’s length away from people when he’s talking.  When he’s standing in line, talk about how close to be to the person in front of him and talk about keeping his hands to himself.  You might role-play various scenarios to help him practice describing appropriate personal space.

6. Making Eye Contact

Good eye contact is an important part of communication.  Some kids struggle to look at the person they’re speaking to.  Whether your child is shy and she prefers to stare at the floor or she simply won’t look up when she’s engrossed in another activity, emphasize the importance of good eye contact.

If your child struggles with eye contact, offer quick reminders.  Ask, “Where do your eyes go when someone is talking to you?” Then provide praise when your child remembers to look at someone when they’re talking.

How to Practice
You might even show him how it feels to hold a conversation with someone who isn’t making eye contact.  Tell him to tell you a story while you stare at the ground, close your eyes, or look everywhere except for at him.  Then, invite him to tell another story and make appropriate eye contact while he’s talking. Afterward, discuss how it felt for him in each scenario.

7. Using Manners

Saying please and thank you and using good table manners can go a long way toward helping your child gain attention for the right reasons.  Teachers, other parents, and other kids will respect a well-mannered child. Of course, teaching manners can feel like an uphill battle sometimes.  From burping loudly at the table to acting ungratefully, all kids will let their manners go out the windows sometimes.

It is important, however, for kids to know how to be polite and respectful—especially when they’re in other people’s homes or at school.

How to Practice
Be a good role model with your manners.  That means saying, “No, thank you,” and “Yes, please,” to your child on a regular basis.  And make sure to use your manners when you’re interacting with other people. Offer reminders when your child forgets to use her manners and praise her when you catch her being polite.

Social skills aren’t something your child either has or doesn’t have.  It’s a set of skills that will need ongoing refinement as he grows older.  Look for teachable moments where you can help him do better. Start with the most basic social skills first and keep sharpening your child’s skills over time.


5 tips to stay connected with your teenagers

5 tips to stay connected with your teenagers

It’s not easy to raise a young teen.  Many outside influences distract our children and complicate our efforts.  In a 1996 study of 220 tweens and teens between 5th and 12th grade, the proportion of waking hours that those kids spent with their families dropped from 35% to 14%.

While it’s always been challenging for families to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence, today’s parents face an additional challenge of raising teens who have grown up as digital natives.

Family psychologist Michael Riera reveals that in every teen there are two very different people: the regressed child and the emergent adult.  The emergent adult is seen at school, on the playing field, in his first job, and in front of his friends’ families. Unfortunately, his parents usually see only the regressed child-moody and defiant-and, if they’re not on the lookout, they’ll miss seeing the more agreeable, increasingly adult thinker in their midst.

“So, what can I do to be a good parent for my early adolescent child?”

To answer that big questions, we suggest some ideas for parents to reconnect with their teenager and keep that connection even in today’s often-crazy world.

1. Listen.  Empathize. Keep advice to a minimum.

It doesn’t matter how good your advice is.  Every time you offer it, you’re giving your teen the message that he can’t solve his problems himself.  Be a sounding board, not a prescriber, and you’ll find your teen coming back for more. Don’t take it per-sonally if your teen isn’t always in the mood to talk, or if he or she wants to be alone with his or her friends.  Teens have the right to privacy (within safe limits), just as you do.

2. Be available when your teen wants to talk

For most teens, that means late at night over a snack.  You’ll be amazed at how much more your teen will open up in the wee hours.  Most kids don’t keep an agenda and bring things up at a scheduled meeting. And nothing makes them clam up faster than pressing them to talk.  Kids talk when something is up for them, particularly if you’ve proven yourself to be a good listener, but not overly attached to their opening up to you.  (If you push them to open up, they feel they have to defend their independence by keeping secrets from you.)

Find ways to be in proximity where you’re both potentially available, without it seeming like a demand.  This may seem obvious, but stating your availability invites contact that might not otherwise occur: “I’ll be in the study working if you want me” or “I have to run to the grocery store, but don’t hesitate to call my cell phone if you need me.”

The most important part of staying available is your state of mind.  Your child will sense your emotional availability. Parents who have close relationships with their teens often say that as their child has gotten older, they’ve made it a practice to drop everything else if their teen signals a desire to talk.  This can be difficult if you’re also handling a demanding job and other responsibilities, of course. But kids who feel that other things are more important to their parents often look elsewhere when they’re emotionally needy. And that’s our loss, as much as theirs.

3. Have a teen-friendly house

Make their friends welcome in your home, even the friends you don’t particularly like.  Teenagers often see their friends in a different light when they see them in their own homes.  As you get to know the youngsters who visit your home better, you may come to like those about whom you first had doubts.  Most importantly, if your teenager feels comfortable asking friends to hang out at your house, they will tend to spend more time there.  You will find it easier to know what interests them, what they talk about and, hopefully, to be part of the conversation.

Most teenagers prefer working with other teens on almost everything, including homework.  If your home is a comfortable place for teenagers to work together on homework, your teen will be more apt to complete his or her homework.  Invite them in, provide a place for them to study together and give help when asked.

4. Place a premium on relationships in your family by spending some time together every single day

Constantly look for opportunities to do things together, such as shopping, attending sport events, travel, or movies… Whether it’s five minutes at bedtime or washing the dishes together after dinner, make sure you have time to connect with your teen every day. 

 If your teen is resistant to spending time with you, develop routines where you share something that your teen enjoys doing: play a game of ping pong or have a cup of tea together every night, take a walk for ice cream on Monday evenings, make brunch together or play some basketball on Sunday mornings.  Kids often wait for these routine times with their parents to bring up something that’s bothering them. Don’t expect your son or daughter to invite closeness or volunteer vulnerable emotions at each interaction, or when you expect it. But if you set up enough regular opportunities to be together, it will happen. 

5. Last but not least, remember that your teen’s fierce need for independence doesn’t mean he can’t stay connected to you

If you can let your teen exercise his own judgment and be himself, rather than who you want him to be, he’ll be able to grow into age-appropriate independence without cutting you off.  If, on the other hand, you insist that he plays the sport you love or that she agrees with your political views, your teen will have to choose between a relationship with you and his or her integrity.

Your teen is constantly squashing his dependency needs so that he can function independently in a demanding environment.  Your presence, with all of its comforting reassurance and warmth, signals to him that he can relax and let down his guard.   You’re not “encouraging dependency.” You’re “allowing” the dependency that is there anyway, and will otherwise go undercover.

“As we well know, a hallmark of adolescence is resistance.  Just as crying exercises a baby’s lungs, resistance exercises adolescents’ abstract reasoning skills…  No longer able to physically contain or comfort them, our only hope is to stay in touch… rather than trying to prevail or curtail, we need only strive for connection itself.” – Jennifer Marshall Lippincott, 7 Things Your Teenager Won’t Tell You 

Additional tips on staying connected

 Communication and understanding are crucial to cultivate respect from your teenagers.  The Learning Network ( suggests these helpful hints.
– Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening.  Talk about topics that interest them.
– Respect and ask their opinions
– Give them privacy.  That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.
– Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles.  They will grudgingly respect you for this.
– Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish
– Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks

Early adolescence can be a challenging time for children and parents alike.  Even though we know our kids need to pull away from us during the teen years in order to build their own identities, it’s hard not to take personally the smirks and snarkiness that are the hallmarks of this stage of development.  But whatever the challenges, we share one aim: to do the best job possible as parents. We hope these tips helpful for you to achieve this goal. And whenever you feel like you’re the one doing all the work, try to remember that this phase will usually pass!