Surviving College Search

By Doris and Kurt Samuelson, parents to EPS students Class of ’18 and ‘21

The two simple words, ‘college search’, can strike fear or trepidation into the bravest of parental souls. But it need not be barely survivable like riding a bicycle through an automated car wash, but rather transformative and exciting while forging new understandings of your child who is older and (hopefully) wiser than when they first started EPS.

We survived two successful college searches (class of ’18 and class of ’21) and while they could not be more different: the Arts vs. STEM, 18 applications vs. 1 application, 20+ in person college tours vs. zero in-person college tours (hello pandemic), they were identical in that both were absolutely successful.

We offer our TOP TEN Tips to Surviving the College Search (with the Immeasurable Guidance of EPS)

  1. Come up with a mutually agreed upon time that you and your student will discuss college apps, essays, or the college search ‘game plan’ for the coming week(s). Talking about college every night at dinnertime is NOT desirable. For anyone.
  2. “Did you see that email from Mr. Gummere?” is NOT a clever lead-in to a bigger college topic you want to discuss with your student.
  3. Attend every EPS college meeting. They are invaluable and we learned new things even the second time through.
  4. Do your best to just listen sometimes and NOT remind your student that what they are currently saying (“Mom, I want to go to a school on the East Coast”) is wildly different than what they told you and their college process coach (a witness!) months ago (“I only want West Coast and sunshine”). Your student is digging deep and comparing potential opportunities and experiences open to them.  Support them in expanding their options before they narrow them.
  5. The EPS college team knows the most current trends and requirements—when in doubt, ask them!  Comparing notes with parents of kids attending other private and public schools—not one of them had as holistic and extensive college team behind them as EPS.
  6. One of the reasons we fell in love with EPS was the knowledge that teachers would truly know our student. 3 words: Letters of recommendation.
  7. Think twice before planning any family vacations between October-January of senior year (see #8,9)
  8. The number of schools your student applies to directly affects the amount of work they need to do. Sometimes it will feel exponential.
  9. Writing essays will take much longer than estimated. Essays are hardly ever “recyclable.” Your student will most likely have to write completely new essays for each subset of questions on each college’s application. Like a home improvement project, it will almost always take more time and effort than you think. (See #7)
  10. EPS is a huge part of the village helping your student find their dream college. Your college search experience will be successful.