College Admission Crunch Time

I’m exhausted today so it’s hard to get motivated to write something for my college blog.

I gave four lengthy speeches at college fairs around San Diego on three consecutive nights this week. During the past few days, I also spent a lot of time at High Tech High, which is my son’s school, talking with college admission representatives and videotaping some of the sessions. This is the busiest time of the year for college reps, who are making one final push to convince high school seniors to apply to their schools. Just today, 11 college reps from such schools as Haverford, Skidmore, University of Colorado and Carnegie Mellon, visited HTH.

I’m volunteering at HTH as part of a practicum that I’m completing through UCLA’s certificate program in college counseling. I have no interest in abandoning my career as a journalist  and becoming a college counselor, but I thought I could learn a great deal by participating in the online certificate program. I have frankly been disappointed that I didn’t learn more during the seven courses that I began taking last year, but the practicum at HTH has been the most valuable experience.

While at HTH, I have seen firsthand how high school students procrastinate in researching and choosing colleges and universities. Very few of the teenagers seem to know how to truly evaluate and select colleges based on academics and finances and these teenagers have less of an excuse than many of their peers. The kids at HTH are fortunate to have a first-rate college counselor.

This week, I’ve had plenty of high school seniors ask me for last-minute college recommendations. When talking to these kids, I’ve scribbled down their GPAs and intended majors on scraps of paper and I’m hoping to present each of them with a list of possibilities. One of the seniors who touched me the most was a boy from a low-income family, who has been passionate about journalism since he was in sixth grade. When he talked about his dreams about becoming a journalist with me, tears welled up in his eyes.

It’s really gratifying to help teenagers, but it can be overwhelming when they put their trust in you. I hope I don’t blow it.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for

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