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Parental Involvement in College Admissions and the National Merit Scholarship Competition

parental involvement
Tova Tolman

Written by Tova Tolmanon February 23rd, 2017

I began my career as both a tour guide and senior interviewer at my alma mater, Barnard, where I later joined the admissions team and read and reviewed applications from students applying from the northeastern, midwestern, and western regions of the United States, as well as Canada. A few years later, while pursuing my master’s degree, I briefly left admissions to be the director of student life at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Realizing I missed working closely with students on the high school side of college counseling, I joined the admissions team at Fordham University where I recruited and reviewed applicants applying to Fordham’s liberal arts and business colleges. My most recent experience at Montclair State helped me understand what the application process looks like outside of highly selective colleges and how to help students who may not be fully prepared for college-level work. One of my favorite past experiences was managing the athletic recruitment process at Fordham as well as a number of sports at Barnard. Understanding the inner workings of both the Ivy and Patriot athletic leagues meant I was able to guide students to find the best athletic matches as part of their college search.
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On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, long lost Beth Heaton was back in the host seat and began by helping parents strike the right level of involvement in their student’s college search process. The second half of the show was a double segment on all things National Merit Scholarship Competition. Parental Involvement – what’s the right amount? Are you a parent who sometimes wonders how to get involved without taking it over or what level of involvement is appropriate? Kristine Sawicki joined Beth to discuss what kind of parental assistance can be helpful versus detrimental. They talked through how to make sure you keep it their process. Kristine shared a great analogy likening the college process to teaching your child to drive. I recommend listening to this segment to learn what college application essay writing might have to do with a stray cat in the road. They also covered interactions with the admissions office, sharing opinions after college visits and tours, and who should be the one to reach out and schedule the visit or interview. They ended the segment by sharing a few tips of great ways for parents to be involved without overstepping. The National Merit Scholarship Competition Back on the show with Beth was Kerrin Lyons and Kathy Ruby to unpack everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the National Merit Scholarship Competition. They review it all, from how big of a deal the scholarship is (or isn’t) to how selection works. I’m not going to lie, this segment is a bit dense with detail, but listen closely if you want to understand who is eligible to be considered, what the selection index is, how to find yours, and how exactly how one moves from commended to semifinalist to finalist. I gained a better understanding of what components of the selection process are national versus state-based and how contenders’ high schools gets involved. After the break, Kathy broke down the details of what money you can actually win through this competition. She explained which colleges participate, the range of money that might be awarded, and how the amount may change between semifinalist and finalist status. Kathy clarified whether or not there are limits on how many students a college might sponsor and what strategies to consider when listing your “first choice” school. Hint: It might not be as straight forward as listing your favorite school first. Review our archives to check out past episodes and catch us next week! Getting-In-CTA

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