My son is home from his first semester of college. It gave me a chance to reflect as a Dad, not simply as an educational consultant. What mattered in his off to college journey in terms of both his happiness/well being and his success/college admission? And, of course, what didn’t matter?
The main thing that didn’t matter: sports. My son was (and I suppose “is”) a serious athlete. I’ll stop myself before I sound like one of those parents…! But his athletic prowess meant very little in relation to college admission, other than as activities on his list. I mention because he, like so many athletes, put in enormous amount of time as a two sport varsity athlete and in his case for almost all 4 years of high school. In terms of his happiness, he didn’t suffer too much over his setbacks. I think his mom did more than he did! And that might be the lesson, parents should not over-invest in athletics. It decreases their happiness, often puts undue pressure on their children, and leads to very little in terms of college admission (at least to the better colleges).
The main thing that did matter: academic index. Colleges figure each college applicant’s academic index out through their own algorithm for test scores and grades. Indeed, while my son did need activities – and was involved in community service as well as sports – his admissions, scholarships, and rejections were all predicted by my own understanding of each school’s academic index.
For parents of Connecticut students preparing their children for college, consider where your attention is going. A few more good games on the field won’t matter nearly as much as a few more points on the SATs or GPA.