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Don’t Ruin Thanksgiving? Untangle that Messy Essay Before Admissions Deadlines

The clock is ticking for students applying to school for next fall as the regular college admissions deadlines loom.

Are your students’ essays stressing you out? Are they done? Do the essays they’ve already written look messy? Or is something missing from the story?

We don’t want your students’ college application journey to ruin Thanksgiving. We want everyone to feel calm and have a peaceful home for the holidays.

Here are some reminders – and tips – to share with your students so they can master the college essay with meaningful content. We know it is arguably the most daunting task of the application process, and we’d prefer to give you and your students some peace of mind.

First, make sure students understand why they are asked to write essays, and know what they can do, and what Mom and Dad (or any outside “helper”) should not do, to help.

Admissions officers from every type of college tell us all the time that they use the essays to:

• Find out something that is meaningful to the student and is not apparent in the rest of the application package.
• Gain insight into an applicant’s character.
• See if the student is a good fit for the university.

“There’s a misconception about what we do inside the admissions office,” cautioned Calvin Wise, Johns Hopkins University’s Director of Recruitment. “We are trying to predict future potential. We need to dig deeper where the essay comes into play. That’s where we find out more about the student.”

Remind your students that the admissions essay is an opportunity to support a student’s application – to help you show who they are. It is a chance to speak directly to the admissions office.

Make sure those essays are written by your student, not their mom or dad, sister, or another well-meaning adult. Wise (and every admissions officer we’ve ever asked) says he can tell when essays are over-edited or written by someone else.

Christoph Guttentag, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions for Duke University has similar advice. He would love to see more personal statements that are authentic. “By the time the application comes to us, many of them have gone through so many hands that the essays are sanitized,” Guttentag said. “I wish I saw more of a thoughtful voice of a 17 year-old.”
Review, but please don’t “edit”. Any adult who is guiding a student should drop the word “editing” from their vocabulary.


Begin the college essay review process by letting go of any preconceived notions about what makes a good essay. We suggest replacing the word “good” with the word “effective.” It’s important to let your students write their story in their own voice using their own words.

There is no rubric for an effective college essay, but the ones that stand out all share a few common features. Regardless of the prompt, they:

• Answer the question.
• Showcase a positive trait or characteristic.
• Sound like a high school student.
• Illustrate something meaningful about the student.
• Demonstrate reflection.

You will know if an essay is effective if it has a theme, which answers these two questions:
1. What happened?
2. Why does it matter?

We recommend reading without a red pen in hand, and without your hands on the computer keyboard. Just read. Make sure you know what the essay is about and why the student chose this topic. Then ask two key questions:

• Is anything missing?
• Is the college essay’s purpose clear?

When you review, double-check the prompt. If the prompt asks the writer to reflect on an experience and its influence on them, be sure your child has talked about both the experience and its effect.

Use the essay review checklist below to evaluate a traditional personal statement, such as the Common Application essay, the Coalition application, the University of California personal insight questions, ApplyTexas or any primary prompt from schools that use their own applications.


• Does the essay answer the prompt?
• Can you tell why the writer chose this topic?
• Is the essay about the student, or is it really about the place, person or experience featured in the essay?
• Does it illustrate a trait the student wants to share with colleges?
• Does it tell colleges something meaningful about the writer that is not clear from the rest of the application package?
• Does the essay sound like the person who wrote it?

• Does the first paragraph make you want to keep reading?
• Does the essay move smoothly from beginning to end?

• Does the essay use the same verb tense throughout?
• Has the writer avoided sentence fragments and run-on sentences?
• Is the punctuation correct and consistent?
• Is every word spelled correctly?
• Does the student feel confident and proud of the work?

That’s it. No magic. No special tricks.
Have a peaceful Thanksgiving!

Kim Lifton, LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Education, 2018, is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication company staffed by experts who understand the writing process inside and out. Since 2009, Wow has been leading the industry with our unique approach to communicating any message effectively. The Wow Method helps business and nonprofit leaders create better blogs, manage social media, develop websites and create other communication materials. It also helps students write college application essays, grad school personal statements and resumes that get results. If it involves words, Wow can help.

Have You Read Wow’s Book for Pros?
Help your students write for college admissions officers without a pre-designed structure, without reading sample essays and without so much added stress. We’ve shared insight into our process, and more, in our new book for professionals, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Counselors.

Tips for parents sending their kids off to college

As a child gets older, it may seem like forever before they will be leaving for college. It is so true when they say “time flies when you are having fun” changing diapers, doing homework, traveling to sporting events and packing lunches. When you think about it, there are only 936 Saturdays from when a child is born until they turn 18 years old, which doesn’t seem very long at all. Before you know it, young babies are out on their own adventures, equipped with all the good judgement, morals and fine-tuned decision-making skills needed to be able to navigate a complex world. Right?

As parents, we can be doubtful, but try to remain confident that the foundation you have built over the past 18 years will accompany your child across the miles and throughout the years. As they prepare for college, there will be great excitement on their part and they will be pulled between the past, present and future. This is a very ambivalent time in a child’s life as one minute they are asserting their independence and saying “leave me alone” and the next wanting to spend lots of time with you. It really is an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.

Some things to remember as they prepare for their new journey:

•Don’t tell your child, “These will be the best days of your life.” When your child is homesick or overwhelmed by exams or life in general, it is not reassuring to have parents imply this is as good as it gets.

•Be ready to not see your child very much over the summer before they leave. They will likely prefer to be with their friends. Allow them that extra time.

•Try to enjoy their senior year without too much focus on their inevitable future departure. Enjoy the senior year festivities with them as much as they will let you. Make memories over the summer that they won’t forget when they are miles away. Giving them extra time on the sports field if it is their last high school game, additional time with friends and allowing them more freedom will all go a long way in finalizing one chapter in their life to be able to begin the next.

•Decide between you and your child who will pay for what. Will your child be expected to pay for books, clothing, extra food or extracurricular activities, or will they get an allowance for those types of things? Do this in advance of leaving for college.

•Communication is always an issue. As a parent, you will get the call when your child needs reassurance that everything will be OK and their friends will get the phone calls with the exciting news. Be ready to encourage them to use campus resources with the issue they might be having. During a campus visit or orientation, make a special note of the contact information of certain departments your child might need to access, such as the career center, academic advisor, counselor, health services, public safety and more. ◦(I was not prepared when my son became sick and needed a prescription filled from the local pharmacy. In retrospect, I should have contacted a pharmacy before his first day on campus and provided them with all of my insurance information and other details so he could easily get a prescription filled. When he is sick and feeling horrible is not the time to be making multiple phone calls to get signed up at a pharmacy and get his medication.)

As teenagers leave for college or other adventures, parents need to change their parenting style. While teenagers still need love and support, parents need to become less involved, which is very hard to do. Building an adult relationship with the child and letting them control the timing of interactions (phone calls, emails and visits) will help in maintaining their sense of freedom.

This may be a very exciting time for children, but the sense of loss can be difficult to handle, especially for parents. However, don’t feel guilty if you adjust to your child being in college before other parents do. Each parent makes the adjustment in their own time.

How can a parent stay connected without infringing on the child’s new-found freedom? Michigan State University Extension recommends the following suggestions:

•Communicate via email. It is easy and inexpensive for your teenager to communicate in this way as their schedule allows.

•Write letters. Everyone enjoys getting mail. Don’t be offended if you don’t get a response.

•Many colleges’ websites have “parent corners” that contain important information about what is happening at the school.

•Send small care packages with items such as treats, quarters for laundry and local news clippings.

•Visit during parent’s weekend. Let your college student dictate how the weekend will look, but this is a great opportunity to spend time with your child on campus when there are other parents doing the same thing with their college student.

•When your child calls in frustration, remember that they are establishing their individuality, so listen in a non-judgmental way and refrain from giving advice. More than likely they do not need a solution, they simply need a listening ear from a trusting and comforting source.

For many parents who have been devoted to every aspect of their child’s life, including academics, sports, the arts and hobbies, they now have to inevitably assert less control over their kids’ day-to-day lives. Letting go can be very difficult. The way to reduce emotional toll is for parents to accept this new time of transition and learn how to balance the amount of contact they have with their children.

Many parents fear they did not prepare their child for life beyond high school. Similar when they sent their child to preschool or kindergarten for the first day of school, they soon realize the preschool teacher, who deals with 3-to-5-year-olds all the time, will know what to do. College faculty, staff and residence hall personnel are trained and equipped to help the college student who may be struggling, veering off track or looking to get more involved in sports and other social activities. Or, in some cases, help parents who can’t quite let go.

Parenthood has 2 big transitions, when our children arrive and 936 weeks later when they leave. Our job as parents is to leave them with a sense that they will be well-equipped for this independent stage of life. Put your need to be needed second and remember this is their moment. You might know better and would love to give very valuable input during this time, but it doesn’t have to be done perfectly. They will learn from their mistakes and appreciate unconditional support from you from a distance. It is certainly not easy to let them go.

What not to say to a High School Senior during Thanksgiving dinner

Here is a great blog that Patrick O’Connor who is the associate dean of College Counseling at Cranbrook Schools in Michigan posted last year on his blog. In case you missed it here it is just in time for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving traditions tend to put families in two groups — those who eat early, vs. those who eat later; those who put stuffing in the bird, vs. those who roast dressing outside the bird, and the whole pumpkin vs. mince pie issue. But the element common to all who celebrate Thanksgiving is the presence of that outlier friend or relative who sees the world just a little differently — and he or she is especially flummoxing to high school students.

Uncle Bob may have been that cool, weird guy who pulled quarters out of your ears in second grade, but a high school senior’s world is more about being cool and making it to graduation. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for negotiating with characters, even the harmless ones that are staying only for dinner. We may scoff at the apparent burdens of youth, but to them, this is a big deal.

This explains what’s likely to happen on Thanksgiving, when Uncle Bob begins his soliloquy on the mysteries of millennials, and how life used to be so much harder in his days of walking uphill to school both ways. That’s when he’ll turn to the unsuspecting senior as he’s buttering his bread, and ask about his or her plans for the rest of their life.

As a high school counselor, I can’t fully describe how unhelpful this is. Fall of senior year is an intense time, as students try to make sense, all at once, of the hardest classes they’ve ever taken, social cues that are getting more complex with every passing day, and the idea that the school they’ve taken for granted over the past four years won’t be there for them anymore. Uncle Bob may be doing his best to show restraint and interest, but 17-year-olds who are looking for relief from life’s pressures don’t really find solace in answering questions about who they’ll be when they’re 36, or where they’re heading to college.

Uncle Bob won’t understand this, and it’s easy to understand why. His college choice was the one state university that could be paid for with a little family savings, a good summer job at the local factory, and three hours of work each week at the college library. That college now admits only 10 percent of the students who apply, and the average graduate emerges with student loans that could buy a nice midsize sedan. It’s a little tough for a high school senior to get excited about applying to a school that’s nine times as likely on average to say no but could saddle them with $30,000 in debt if they say yes. There are upsides to both, but late adolescent ennui won’t let them see that.

Mom or Dad can be a champion here, and save the day for all. A quick phone call the day before Thanksgiving to Uncle Bob can lay out the life of a modern teen in terms he can understand. If all good plans start to go awry at the dinner table, a withering stare and strong clearing of the throat can bring Uncle Bob back in line, or at least give him a gracious out. “I hear you’re applying to college” can just as easily be followed up with “But what else are you up to?”

Adults get excited making plans and dreaming about possible futures, but high school seniors in the middle of applying to make their future dreams come true would give anything to remember what it’s like to live in the present, especially because society says this is their last November as a child.

Thanksgiving gives them that chance, and everyone who loves them can make that happen, including Uncle Bob, who can always be gently redirected to telling that story of the time he spilled a drink on Florence Henderson. College will be great, but college is tomorrow, and Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude for today. Let that happen.

7 Steps Your Students Can Take to Nail that College Interview

Your students are gaining independence, making decisions that will impact the rest of his or her life, and maybe even withdrawing from parental guidance. As your students prepare for their college interviews they can really use your assistance to help ace it.

If you’re struggling to find ways to help your students during this time, read on! You’re more valuable than you know.

It begins with a handshake

Interview etiquette is second nature to most adults, but teenagers may be new to the rules of the interview game. Start by telling your student what to expect. Professional dress, eye contact and a good handshake are simple things that go a long way toward making the best possible first impression. While your student may resist finessing these things, they will pay off.

Practice those interviews

Put your student through mock interviews. This will take a little bit of preparation on your part as you research admissions interviews, the school specifics your student might need to know, etc. It may also take a little bit of buy-in from your students to participate but it is well worth the effort to have a practice run through.

Brainstorm questions

Alternatively, your student may prefer to think about potential questions quietly, practicing answers aloud with a peer or a teacher at their school. Brainstorm questions your student might want to review.

Facilitate campus visits

Students will undoubtedly feel more comfortable in an admissions interview if they’ve seen the campus. Help your student arrange visits to a number of schools. This not only helps ensure your student will make a more informed decision; it also bolsters confidence going into an admissions interview. After each visit, ask your student for his or her impressions of the campus, students, faculty and curriculum.

Highlight accomplishments

College admissions interviews are all about confidence, so find ways to help your student identify highlights of his or her academic career. When you recognize their achievements, students will likely find these things easier to call to mind during the admissions interview process. Assist your student in finding those things that will capture an interviewer’s attention. Give your student the confidence and encouragement needed to excel at the interview process.

Identify potential weaknesses

If your student gets as far as a scheduled admissions interview, he or she is very likely qualified to attend a number of schools. However, your student may have a few holes in his or her application. Colleges may want to know the reason behind a low grade or a lack of involvement during sophomore year. They may have questions about homeschooling or athletic achievement. Assure your student that admissions representatives are not looking for reasons not to admit students; they’re simply asking what they need to know to identify students who are most likely to be successful at a certain school. Even if your student’s application is not perfect, he or she has still has a great shot at getting into a first-choice school, assuming the student is able to provide solid answers. Help your student identify and respond to potential weaknesses so he or she is not caught off-guard.

Team effort

Finally, help your student remember that the college application and admissions process is a team effort. Your student has worked tirelessly to put together a comprehensive admissions package and you’ve been supportive the whole time. Admissions representatives know what it takes to get to this point, and they’re typically very understanding. Ultimately, they’re just people who also want to make the best choice for their college and for your student.

Everybody is on the same side, working toward the same goal — here’s to accomplishing it!

Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

Social Media Use and College Admissions

Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Facebook. I’m sure I’m missing several. Most of us use social media to some extent, but teens and young adults are obsessed. In fact, a 2016 study estimated that teens spend an average of nine – yes nine! – hours per day in front of screens. Much of that time is spent on social media platforms.

We can all be naïve about actions and consequences, but teenagers raise this to an art form. We see it in their driving habits, or the decisions they make about alcohol consumption. We talk to our kids about such things, because we worry for their health and safety. When it comes to social media, we also worry that over-sharing could expose them to predators. We are right to be concerned, and we might even be able to get teenagers to listen to us regarding these topics.

But getting them to understand that the things they share and post on social media could hurt their chances of college admission is a more daunting task. Many young people say things like “it’s not a college’s right to look at that” – “colleges don’t look at that” – or “the information disappears, so they’ll never be able to see it.” I’ll address the first two arguments before wading into the murky waters of the third.

Yes, colleges DO have a right to look at your social media posts. Things posted on public platforms don’t enjoy a right to privacy. Period. Second, colleges DO look at social media platforms, and I’ll provide two examples to underscore my point. The first occurred in June 2017, when Harvard University rescinded the acceptances of at least 10 members of the Class of 2021 for posting offensive statements and memes on a group Facebook page. If you’d like to read more about this, I’ve shared the link to the Harvard Crimson article here: Can you imagine getting accepted to Harvard, only to have that acceptance revoked for exercising such bad judgment? I bet the dinner table discussions were a bit strained in those households afterwards! Another example is from the University of Rochester, and it also occurred in 2017. In this particular instance, the student applied – and was accepted – as a homeschooled student. She never sent her transcripts from the private school she actually attended. Then, she posted on social media that she would be attending U of R, and representatives from her school caught wind of it. They knew they had never submitted materials on her behalf, so they contacted the university, which promptly revoked her acceptance.

Most recently, a study of law school admissions officers revealed that a majority of them also check applicants’ social media profiles. Yes, colleges, law and professional schools, and employers all can – and sometimes do – check out applicants in this manner. If the pictures and posts cast someone in an unfavorable light, it could be game over. It makes sense, actually. And it is entirely appropriate.

Now, as to the third objection, namely that posts on certain sites like Snapchat and Instagram disappear and are thus “unseeable”, I can only say this: there is an information underground, and nothing ever really disappears. I couldn’t possibly explain the technology behind the storage and retrieval of such data, as I do not understand it. But I do know that a false confidence that this material is somehow beyond the grasp of people who want to find it is just that. False.

I discuss these issues with all of my students. I discuss them with my own children. Do they take my concerns seriously? I can only hope so.

Victoria Turner Turco, JD is the Founder and President of Turner Educational Advising, LLC. She can be reached by e-mail at or by visiting her website at


College Interview Season is Upon Us

How to help your students prep for their college interview.

Most go well, but be certain to practice and research the school to ensure they succeed.

Sweaty palms, churning stomach and the deer-in-the-headlights look are common anticipated experiences for high school seniors when approaching their first college interview. But, truth be told, most interviews go exceedingly well and students walk away pleased with how they communicated who they are and what they’re looking for in a college.

While surveys have shown that people are more afraid of speaking in public than death, the college interview is just not that bad. Interviewers are typically not trying to trick students and are compassionate.

How to prepare

Make a good first impression. Students can’t go wrong if they dress for a business meeting.

They should do their homework prior to the interview. Research the college, not just on its website, but visit college blogs such as and sites with student reviews such as or sites with up-to-date data such as

Be comfortable bragging a little. Talk more about how they achieved their goals and less about the specific awards or honors received. They should be prepared to share why they feel the college represents a good match for them. Practice responding to questions with a family member. Write up questions they think they will be asked such as:

What are your greatest strengths? What was your high school like? What are your biggest accomplishments? What are your favorite subjects and why? Why are you interested in attending this college? More challenging questions: What three adjectives would your friends use to describe you? If you had a day/week/month/year to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Describe an experience in which you grew and/or changed.

Prepare questions to ask each interviewer based on their research. Don’t ask questions that they can easily find the answers to on their own. Suggested questions: Is it possible to study abroad two or more times, perhaps once in the summer and once during the academic year? How does the advising system work? Is there a “Freshmen Experience” program?

And don’t forget to exit making a good impression. They should always thank the interviewer and staff in the admissions office and send a thank-you note.

Do: Request a business card, come prepared, be their self, be prompt and be polite.

Don’t be passive, arrogant, bored or rude; don’t complain and don’t chew gum. MAKE SURE YOU TURN OFF THEIR PHONE!

Final don’t: Don’t worry. Unless they commit one of the “don’t” sins above, the interview will most likely not hurt their admissions chances.

Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;

5 Things Your Students Who are Juniors Should be Doing to Prepare for College

This is the year of lots of standardized tests, including the PSAT and a chance at a National Merit Scholarship. It’s also a year for college visits and the final full year of grades that will be included in your students college application.

Of course you want to help your student put their best foot forward and make this their best year ever. Following these five tips will help you give your students a leg up this year and senior year. It will also put them in the best possible position when they go to apply to colleges next year.

  1. Prepare for the PSAT

    The number one test you should be focusing your student on this fall is the PSAT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

    Make sure they go through practice exams. If they need it, look for a tutor or class for them to feel really prepared. The absolute best thing you can do for them is to make sure they understand a good PSAT score could potentially mean a full ride to their dream college, so they should take the test seriously.

    2. Create a preliminary college list

    Junior year is a great time to talk with your students about what colleges they might want to apply to next year. Even though the list might change, having options now can give your student some schools to visit to start making connections.

    The most important thing to keep in mind when walking your student through creating a college list is to make sure it’s balanced. It should have a good mix of safety, match, and reach schools for both acceptance and cost. For example, a good rule of thumb for a safety school is that your child’s SAT or ACT score is above the 75th percentile for the school and your family can easily afford it.

    3. Grades this year have a big impact

    Junior year is usually super busy with harder classes, but it’s really important that your students grades don’t slip. This will be the last full year of grades on their transcript. They need to be good!

    4. Connect with teachers for recommendations

    Often teachers from junior year end up being the best teacher recommendations for your child’s college application. That’s one of the other reasons doing well junior year is so important. Talk with your students about which teachers and classes they like best. Encourage them to ask questions in class and go to office hours. Then at the end of the year, they will be in a great position to ask the teacher for a recommendation for their college applications.

    5. Look for outside the classroom experiences

    Junior year is a great time for your students to really explore their interests outside of the classroom. Help them look into research and community service opportunities even jobs and internships. A lot of parents and students worry that junior year is too late to start a club or extracurricular activity, but I can tell you from experience that it isn’t. I started my biggest resume differentiators my junior year.

Development Milestones for your Students: What to Expect?

Being a “teen” is a crucial time in your students life, one in which they begin to think differently, they interact with others differently and there are changes in the way their bodies grow. They grow a distinct personality at this time and they will develop a more clear identity.

Their likes and dislikes will change; they might start to get concerned about their physical characteristics such as size, height and weight. Most will start to feel an urge to get more independent as they start to wrap up high school and begin working.

So what should you expect and how should you deal with helping out your students at this crucial juncture of their life.

Read on below for a few easy tips on how to stand by your students during this vital stage of their lives.

Intellectual Development

Their Way of Thinking
At this age kids will begin to think about the future. They will have opinions about the world around them, the economy, politics, and world peace and also how these things will affect them.

They will move beyond thinking in black-and-white situations and start to have more thoughts in the gray areas about any issue. They will use new rationale to perceive an issue and act according to their new found understanding.

Interaction with Adults
Adults will find it easier to have back-and-forth conversations with older teenagers, as they are more intellectually advanced than younger teens. These older teens are more open to what other people are thinking and hence they will understand another person’s point of view better.

This makes it much simpler to build an easy-going rapport with older teens as they are able to grasp an adult’s perspectives and ideas quicker and more easily.

Developing a Sense of Reason
Kids at this age develop and strong conscience and they make decisions on what they feel to be right or wrong. They start to comprehend that their actions also have repercussions.

They will use their sense of reason to set their own goals for the future. Mostly taking their own viewpoints into account. Although most of them are open to other people’s opinions.

Emotional Development

Lack of Emotional Attachment with Parents
Teenagers at this stage don’t appreciate a lot of physical attention from their parents. Although they don’t mind physical affection from their friends. They will appreciate their siblings more than their parents.

Since they are emotionally separating from their parents, it’s natural to expect a lot of rigidity and strain in the relationship. So this will be a particularly rocky experience for both parent and child.

Not Wanting to Accompany Their Parents
Older teenagers will have a tendency to not go anywhere with their parents. They will want to be anyplace except where their parents are. This situation is likely to improve once they become ‘independent’ by moving out.

At this age they will most-likely be embarrassed by their family occasionally. So be patient with them at this stage, they will soon realize that parents aren’t as dumb as they thought and they will get back closer. Give them gender-appropriate-toys or gifts as a means to bond with them further.

Monitor their Emotional State
Teenagers have varying emotional conditions. Some are easygoing and friendly while others get angry or depressed very easily. Some of them won’t want to talk to you at all, giving you the silent treatment.

Some teenagers get involved in more serious risky behaviors, such as consuming alcohol, having unprotected sex or taking drugs. It’s very important that you establish a clear dialog with them at this stage and try and steer them away from these harmful activities. Try to help them out by talking to them, as they might be struggling with difficult issues.

Physical Development

The difference Between Boys and Girls
There is a very noticeable difference between boys and girls at this age. The boys will just about start off to grow while the girls will be slowing down. Most girls will complete their growth cycle by the time they finish high school while most boys will still be gaining more muscle and growing bigger.

Physical Needs
At this age they are likely to need more sleep, have a bigger appetite and be hungry most of the time as a result. Needing more sleep leaves them sleepy and have difficulty waking up in the morning. This might happen because they sleep late at night.

There are five stages of puberty that kids go through, so it’s normal to see them maturing at different rates. Older teenagers will mature at varying proportions throughout the high school years.

Most teenagers will feel clumsy and uncoordinated during this time. So parents need to be supportive and assure them that it’s a natural part of growing up.

Social Development

Conflict with Parents
Teenagers at this age tend to have a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and they will use their new found way of thinking to start a logical war-of-words with their parents.

They will try to find weak spots in your reasoning and challenge your logic with their own much thought out judgment. This has more to do with them being on a separation mode intellectually from their parents.

Making Friends
At this age teenagers rely hugely on their friends for tips and advice, be it fashion, music and other lifestyle choices. They choose friends carefully and hangout mostly with them. Younger teenagers have an eagerness to have many friends and be accepted by them.

As they get older they tend to have fewer friends and will narrow them down to a few close friends who they will spend a lot of time with.

Around their mid-teens, kids will have a deeper capacity of sharing and caring and they will start to appreciate intimate relationships more. Dating starts as they pair off into couples and it gets more pervasive.

Give them the space they need and allow them to have their special bonding as long as it remains within safe limits. They can get very attached in these relationships so it’s advised to handle it very delicately if the need arises.

This is a particularly challenging time for teenagers so just encourage your children to get at least one hour of physical activity to stay fit, eat healthy and balanced meals and get enough sleep. Also encourage them to spend more time with family. Your patience and support can get them through their “teen” years.

Stepheny is a content writer at FeedFond. She’s a loving mother to her two children and is passionate about psychology and philosophy. To read more of her articles, visit


In my nightmares, all the outreach programs for under-represented and/or first-gen students will become ineffective as tuition soars. Colleges will go out of business as fewer and fewer people can afford to teach there. The American education system will explode in a fireball constructed by corporate greed, and this country will return to a 19th century ethic (and a model without land-grant universities), where only those who can afford it will pursue academics.

Today’s reality is approaching a crisis point. More and more students want to go to college; student debt is mounting higher while faculty pay is declining. And educators – both in public school systems and those who do the bulk of college teaching — are tired of being treated as expendable commodities. Notice all those public school teachers walking out of their jobs in protest? And the demonstrations by graduate students who teach working for unionization? And the collective actions by contingent faculty at colleges and universities all across the nation? It’s no coincidence that these are all occurring simultaneously.

If these teachers’ concerns go unheeded, or if they get meaningless response, and substantial corrective action does not take place soon, this could be the beginning of the end of quality education in this country. My nightmare could become true.

Each year, thousands of promising scholars are driven by practical consideration from academia. Adjuncts, part-time faculty, contingent faculty – whatever they are called, they simply cannot afford to teach under the conditions imposed by many colleges and universities. Additionally, many colleges hire “term faculty” who work full-time but are hired for only one year; they may re-apply for their own jobs or are fired. No, not fired – simply not re-hired! One university has even proposed that people teach for free. Are they joking? As it is, teachers are demoralized, angry, and often feel powerless.

Meanwhile, public school teachers, weary of having to deal with large classes, substandard classroom materials, and pay that in some states is so low that they must take additional jobs to make ends meet, are demanding real change and not lip service.

Schools of education report a decline in enrollment. Of course they do – who wants to be a teacher today? Students see their own teachers struggling financially and are inspired not to follow the same career path. What kind of models are being offered to students?

The persistent and growing exploitation of adjunct faculty is a significant labor issue in higher education with grave moral and academic implications. This is a pervasive problem, nationally.

Where do college counselors come in? Unwittingly, those who advise high school applicants, those who attend college, and those who pay for it are enabling academic labor abuse on a national scale. While parents, students, and their counselors regularly worry about the increasing selectivity of colleges, and the rising cost of attending them, they need to connect this to the labor ethics aspect of higher education. Yes, they are related!

Pay levels for college faculty have been stagnant (and for part-timers, often too low to live on). This is not a new problem – it’s been going on since the 1970s, when adjuncts were nicknamed “freeway flyers” and “road scholars” because they had to teach at several schools in order to earn the equivalent of a full-time salary. Paid by the course, these teachers usually receive no benefits (such as health insurance). While many have the same credentials as full-time faculty, they are paid far less. Sympathetic full-time (but untenured) teachers fear reprisals if they speak out. Today’s classes are larger, contracts are shorter, and salaries remain abysmal.

Counselors, students, and parents need to investigate who is actually doing the teaching at the schools under consideration. They can ask if those teachers receive benefits. But is unlikely that they will get solid information from admissions staff, who are, in general, not prepared to answer questions like these. Consumers will have to do their own research. If they choose not to apply or enroll, they need to tell the college why. Colleges and universities need to understand that their reliance on “cheap” teaching may cost them dearly. Why should students support an unethical system and also subsidize the huge six-figure salaries of administrators?

Yes, strong academic candidates have gotten decent academic jobs, and will continue to do so. But for every person who lands a full-time, tenure-track job, there are probably 20 or 30 consigned to the workhouse that is adjunct or term employment. And yes, long-established schools with generations of assets will continue to flourish. But for every institution like that, there are many that will shrink substantially or close down.

It’s all part of the corporatization that has been creeping over and through higher education systems for the past 20 years. Corporatization in higher education demands teachers at the lowest price. Part-time teachers comprise anywhere between 4% and 72% of an institution’s faculty; at some schools, adjunct faculty account for as many as 40% to 50% of the teaching staff. While some institutions may have low overall percentages of part-time faculty, some of their departments offer undergraduate courses taught primarily by contingent labor. Recent statistics from the US Department of Labor show that if low-paid college instructors worked a 40-hour week for 10 months, their annual salary would still average only $32,000. Contingent faculty make even less.

If we do nothing, this is what will happen: colleges will continue to hire and exploit part-time teachers. There is a seemingly endless supply of cheap-to-employ, bright, idealistic people who love teaching and hope to advance by “getting a foot in the door.” In economic terms, the colleges win. Instead of paying a full-time professor, say, $80,000 a year – plus benefits — to teach four courses a year, they hire two adjunct professors to teach two courses each for $1500 per course, per semester. They have spent only $12,000. At a large school, with a faculty numbering 2000, that’s a lot of money saved. And they can use that money to pay administrators huge salaries, or buy the college more real estate, or install multicolored lights in their fountains.

So how can counselors know if the school they are considering is exploiting its teachers?

The best source of facts is the Common Data Set (CDS), the statistical compilation made by each college or university, usually by that school’s office of institutional research. Some schools are very upfront about their CDS information; others make it extremely hard to find. Compare the numbers of full-time teachers with the number of part-timers. At a university — an institution with both undergraduate and graduate schools — some courses must be taught by TAs. This teaching is part of their training, so a university with a part-time faculty percentage of 20 percent or even 30 percent is not uncommon. But 40% is not healthy — and any higher than that, a red light ought to go off. If it goes to 50% or upward, imagine lights, buzzers, and sirens. Additionally, any college that hires more than half of its faculty on a contingent basis is either in financial trouble or is a questionable employer.

If applicants want to get a quality education without supporting the exploitation of teachers, and without going into huge debt, what can they do? They need to come to us, and we need to go to the colleges and universities. If all counselors act together, we can bring about the economic and social justice that the education industry – for that is what it has become – needs in order to survive.

I just completed my own research (imperfect, I admit, as I did not have any grants or advanced technology at my disposal). First, I tested my own assumptions about employment abuse in higher education – that it occurs mostly in large urban public universities. I began with a sample of 200 colleges and universities — admittedly not random, but I could not look at all 3,000+ institutions of higher learning in the USA. The list is representative of popular schools to which many of our students apply. Significantly, the sample included public and private institutions, large schools and small, both colleges and universities, religious and secular.

I compiled statistics by going into the CDS for each school. I arranged schools in order of the highest number of part-time faculty compared with the number of full-time faculty. What I found was astounding: 67 of the 200 schools had huge numbers of part-time teachers. And 43 of these 67 were not state schools on limited budgets, as I had originally assumed, but private colleges and universities.

Next, I wrote individualized, professional e-mails to the Provosts of all those schools involved (the 67) and gave them a chance to clarify the statistics.

Most schools simply ignored me. That included a state university that has been in the news because one of their adjunct professors was found to be living in a car. Another is one which states in its recruitment brochure that 93% of its teachers are professors – yet with more contingent faculty than full-time teachers, how is that possible? I specifically asked the provost, who chose not to answer.

Only fifteen schools responded, some with quite a bit of detail. One was concerned that the statistics in the CDS did not present the school in the best light. One provost sent me a rather snippy e-mail saying that everything they do is legal. Two university deans actually called me on the phone. We had real dialogue, where I was very upfront about my sympathies for the adjuncts. One administrator even sadly told me that he understood my questions very well – for his spouse is an adjunct.

A couple of administrators pointed out (correctly) that the CDS provides only a “headcount” and not the teaching load. Which kind of part-time teacher – one working full-time elsewhere but teaching one college class, or one teaching one class and working part-time at two other schools to make ends meet — is represented by the wildly varying numbers of part-time teachers at these colleges? The Common Data Set does not say – it does not distinguish. For example, a school might have 100 full-time teachers and 200 part-timers. But if the part-timers teach one class only, one administrator reasoned, then they really count as only 1/3 of a position. I responded that this still meant 200 people are teaching without benefits or security.

I really ought to have asked this: “What percentage of your undergraduate courses are taught by part-time faculty?” The answer will differ from department to department, but this information is not given in the CDS, either. So we and our students, and their parents, must therefore ask colleges this question, and ask for substantiation.

We are the ones who steer applicants to schools. When we look at a school’s website and their “fast facts” we see a graduation rate, the cost of tuition, programs offered, and a student/faculty ratio. But do we see anything about the number of teachers or the conditions of employment? No.

School recruitment representatives must be asked uncomfortable questions. Some colleges may be charging our students high tuition, yet shortchanging them. Yes, it costs a lot to run a campus. But continuing to nurture administrative bloat is not an acceptable way to run an institution of higher learning. Nor is it an acceptable way to run a local public school system or a state system. We already know that counselors’ caseloads average around 400 in public high schools. Our students are supposed to receive quality, individualized college counseling. Counselors, as well as teachers, are expected to do a superhuman job with meager resources. Are the people who teach our students any less deserving of resources? A huge percentage of them do not even receive health benefits!

What public school teachers and what college teachers are going through is connected. Sadly, they are linked by the fact that this country, while saying that education is important, really gives it low priority. There is money for technology in some schools, and there is money for administrators – but is there money for more teachers and therefore smaller classes? Is there money for school supplies? Is there money for new textbooks? Is there money for field trips?
It’s the same with the world food supply. There IS enough food for everyone on this planet – but the distribution system is awry on a huge scale.

Despite creating professional organizations, building awareness in the community, and occasionally striking, teachers, especially adjuncts, have gained little ground in the past 30 years. This lack of progress in the way this country treats its educators — as an expendable resource — is unfortunately consistent with the way education itself is regarded. Education is a very low priority. When state governments have to trim their spending, the first victim is usually education. That’s the result of having a national culture that venerates athletes and pop stars over teachers.

The current groundswell of protest may lead to real change. Teachers from many states are walking out of their schools to demand better conditions. Graduate students at numerous universities are unionizing and organizing for improved benefits. Thousands of adjuncts, also, are joining unions. All of this offers hope. But only unified action by all academic labor, nationwide, can save higher education.

If these efforts do not achieve true and just change in our nation’s public schools and institutions of higher education, expect a continuing decline. More teachers will leave the profession, fewer students will aspire to become teachers, and classes, from kindergarten to post-secondary, will get even larger. Only those who can afford it will even go to graduate school. Adjuncts will quit in disgust, courses will have no teachers, and colleges will have to retrench or close down. Students may pursue degrees, but not real education.

Those of us who were nurtured by caring teachers, and those of us who still care about students, are filled with dread. We counselors must speak out, collectively, before higher education becomes as inaccessible to most as it was 150 years ago.

Jane S. Gabin, a member of NACAC and SACAC, received her PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has taught high school and college classes, and has given presentations at NACAC, NYSACAC, and NJACAC conferences. For ten years she worked in undergraduate admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill, and for more than a decade worked in college counseling in the NYC metro area, most recently at the United Nations International School (UNIS). She is now an Independent Educational Consultant who can be reached at

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