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Archive for the ‘College Concerns’ Category

College Essay Writing Workshops 2019


This package is composed of 2 hours with our Essay Specialist, Amanda Miller, in a workshop at The Davidson Center, plus 30 additional minutes of her time (via Google Drive) devoted to reading and commenting on your specific admission and/or scholarship essays.


During the workshop, students will read examples of successful college essays, learn what to do and what not to do,m consider what they most want to communicate to prospective colleges, brainstorm appropriate topics, begin writing responses to actual essay prompts, and offer guided feedback to peers.




College Essay Writing Workshop

Presented by Amanda Miller

Learn the skills and techniques to write your essay for college applications!

  • Saturday, June 29 from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • Tuesday, July 9 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 20 from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • Tuesday, July 30 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday, August 10 from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Call for reservations! Space is limited. 704.892.4533


How to Help a Teenager Be College-Ready

As a psychologist, I receive calls each summer from anxious parents, worried that their high-school graduate won’t be ready for college. In some instances, they describe the normal conflict that signals impending separation. But in some cases, they describe a child who isn’t ready for the independence of college. I do an assessment and issue a recommendation — mostly green light (he’s ready for college) or occasionally red light (he’s not).

Either way, I’m left with a question: “Why didn’t they call a year ago?” The ideal moment to think about this isn’t just before college, but instead the summer before senior year or even earlier in high school — which provides ample time to address issues of college readiness. But regardless of your time frame, there are steps you can take.

Ready or Not?
Parents can’t be 100 percent certain that their child is ready for university life, but 30 years as a psychologist have taught me what to look for. College-bound high-school upperclassmen are on the cusp of emerging adulthood, a transition to adult status that, according to research on emerging adults by the psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, typically takes eight to 10 years. The key indicator that an individual is ready to begin this transition is the emergence of a new level of personal responsibility.

In childhood, we associate responsibility with the dutiful fulfillment of obligations and duties: performing household chores, completing homework assignments, brushing teeth at bedtime. A responsible child is a compliant child, as it is ultimately the parent who owns the younger child’s responsibilities.

In adolescence, we expect more initiative and investment regarding duties and obligations, but most parents don’t abdicate oversight altogether. In other words, the parent and adolescent co-own the adolescent’s responsibilities.

The most reliable signal that the transition to emerging adulthood has begun is evidence that the child has begun taking sole ownership of these responsibilities — independent of parental involvement — via personal initiative and follow-through.

This emerging ownership manifests itself in three predictable areas: medical and behavioral health, academics and administrative tasks.

Medical and Behavioral Health
Everyone has something to manage, such as a medical diagnosis (for example, diabetes or attention deficit disorder) or a behavioral challenge (such as problems related to diet, sleep or substance use). Children and adolescents manage these issues with oversight and assistance.

Transitioning to emerging adulthood requires personal ownership of these issues and learning to manage them effectively. I’ve worked with hundreds of students who failed in college on this account — inability to manage sleep-wake cycles, procrastination, substance abuse or unmet medical needs.

I met recently with a 17 year-old student whose parents were still setting “lights-out” curfews and providing morning wake-up services. “She can’t manage her sleep needs,” they lamented. “Not ‘can’t,’” I said; “Won’t is more likely, because she really doesn’t have to.” A change of family policy, several mornings of parental nail-biting, and a few demerits later, their daughter was managing her sleep-wake needs just fine.

By junior year, we want to see students taking ownership of their academic careers. This shows up not necessarily in grades, but in academic initiative — schedule planning and management, and learning when and how to seek help. Specifically, we want to see college-bound students mapping the connection between their current academic performance and future life plans.

They need to know how to pay attention in class, take notes, do their homework and turn it in on time, study for tests. They should have been learning this all along, of course, but some kids manage to slip by without mastering academic routines.

If your college-bound junior or senior still requires external accountability for school work, your child may be telling you he’s not ready for academic independence. Many parents focus too intently on grades themselves, rather than the process by which those grades are attained. If you still feel like the homework police at the end of 11th grade, it’s time to retire. A C-student who can manage his own academic life has a better chance of succeeding in college than an A- or B-student who depends on parental oversight.

I’m reminded of one former client whose genius-level I.Q. and intellectual acrobatics both excited and teased his high school teachers, even as he frustrated them with a lack of academic discipline. The adults in his life shepherded him through a demanding high school curriculum, ultimately landing him in a top-flight university. Obscured by the dazzle of his prodigious intellect was a crucial missing ingredient — ownership of his academics — and sadly, he failed out of college after two semesters.

This young man and I worked together in therapy for a year. At my direction, he took courses at a community college that required him to master the mechanics of breaking down a syllabus, keeping a calendar and managing follow-through. His parents cooperated by staying out of the process. The following September, he was successfully back in university — this time in command of his academic life.

Administrative Tasks
The third signal of readiness involves mundane life tasks — maintaining a calendar, meeting deadlines, filling out forms. Parents supervise these matters throughout childhood and adolescence, but college students must manage them on their own.

These minor tasks actually constitute a major developmental marker, because owning them signifies a readiness to begin feeling, thinking andbehaving like an adult. Learning the nuances of administrative responsibility takes time, but is a reassuring sign that your child is up to the task of navigating day-to-day life at college — without your oversight.

If, however, your transitioner is reluctant to assume simple (but unfamiliar) tasks, it may be worth exploring what the problem is.

Recently I met with a mother and her 12th grade son, and witnessed a loopy argument concerning his refusal to reschedule a medical appointment. After I excused the mom from my office, the young man confessed with embarrassment that he didn’t want to call because he did not know what to say, and feared the office staff would yell at him. I can recall thinking the same kind of thing when I was his age. How many of us understood the nuts and bolts of how the world actually works when we were 17 or 18?

After inviting his mom to return, I asked if she would call the doctor’s office on speaker phone, modeling how an appointment cancellation is done. Afterward, he commented predictably: “Oh. That’s simple!”

All he needed was a script for what to say. Next time, he’ll have no trouble assuming this tiny (but important) responsibility — and the broader range of administrative tasks that college life requires.

Mark McConville is a clinical psychologist in Beachwood, Ohio, and the author of “Adolescence: Psychotherapy and the Emergent Self” and a forthcoming book about helping your twentysomething grow up. 07/26/well/how-to-help-a- teenager-be-college-ready.html 



Top Colleges Are Cheaper Than You Think (Unless You’re Rich)


Colleges where The Davidson Center Seniors were accepted

  • University of Alabama
  • American University
  • Auburn University
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Clemson University
  • Cornell University
  • Davidson College
  • Elon University
  • Fairfield University
  • Florida State University
  • Fordham University
  • Furman University
  • George Washington University
  • Guilford colelge
  • High Point University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Meredith College
  • Northeastern University
  • NC State
  • Notre Dame University
  • Penn State University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of South Sewanee
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Virginia Tech
  • Villanova University
  • Wake Forest
  • Wentworth College
  • Wofford


  • Appalachian State
  • Asheville
  • Charlotte
  • Chapel Hill
  • Eastern Carolina
  • Greensboro
  • Wilmington

*BOLD is student’s choice to attend

Published Articles of Interest for High School Students and Their Parents

Why is it so hard to Calculate?  What you’ll pay for College.


College’s first test:  How to pay for it.

Official Publications from the Independent Educational Consultants Association for Students and Parents


10 Important ways IECA members are unlike other Independent Educational Consultants


Principles of Good Practice


How to Find the Right College


10 Tips for College Visits


What Colleges Look for in High School Students


Common College Myths

How to Pay for College


Differences Between High School and College Accommodations for Students with Disabilities


Common College Accommodations/Services

Great Articles for Parents Who Want to Know What is Happening Today in College Admissions

Great Articles for Parents Who Want to Know What is Happening Today in College Admissions

What Colleges Want in an Application (Everything):

Ten Things to Know About Getting Into Your Dream College:

Six Myths About Choosing a College Major:

Where STEM Jobs Are (and where they aren’t):

The Malia Impact: Counselors Consider the Growing Interest of Gap Year

Between Hands-Off and Helicopter: How to Parent During the College Search Process

It was so easy to get our kids into the best preschool! At 4:00 a.m., my husband was the first in line for the few available openings. We read all the parenting books and successfully potty-trained three “non-biters.” From preschool to high school, we lost control. Nagging didn’t induce more studying and pulling strings doesn’t work with college admissions offices. We had to find a new way of “helping” that didn’t alienate our teenagers and improved their chances at finding the right colleges. Here are a few techniques that worked for us.

EARLY is the key to success. Not exactly being like first in line for preschool spots, but similar. Start thinking about possible colleges as early as the ninth grade. Know what colleges are looking for in students’ high school experiences and actively make sure they‘re taking the courses they need.

Teach “survival” skills EARLY. At age 10, it can be a “cool” thing to know how to do your own laundry. At 17, it’s the last thing you want to squeeze into your school, sports and social schedule. College freshmen – now called “first years” in most schools – have the hardest time with three things: laundry, time management, and alcohol. Make them do the first as soon as they can reach, let them struggle – with your support – to learn the second, and speak often and openly about how to handle the third.

Allow your kids as much freedom as possible EARLY. You can step in if you notice small failures – when they’re in college it’s too late. The boy whose mom not only made, but also cut his waffles may have a hard time even getting up in time for breakfast at the college dining hall. This list of “freedoms” includes:

  • Handling money – a checking account and credit card
  • Car maintenance – pumping gas and inflating tires among other skills
  • Basic cooking – knowing how to make two or three meals
  • Making one’s own schedule – making appointments and keeping them
  • Responsible Communication – calling or texting with schedule changes and other important information, and checking email regularly

Kids learn from experience. When they tackle new responsibilities while still living at home, you can alleviate the pain and consequences of mistakes and praise their successes!

Finish college applications EARLY – before Labor Day of senior year. One dad who works in Penn State’s admissions office told his kids that he would pay for all applications submitted before then – but not after Labor Day weekend. Apply EARLY – narrowing your choices down can dramatically increase acceptance chances!

Finally, communicate EARLY on to your student and college counselor the financial parameters for college choices. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing the exact amount you are prepared to pay, each college is required to have a “Net Price Calculator” on the admissions page of its website. Use this tool to determine whether specific schools are financially feasible and to help finalize a realistic college list.

While the basics of raising babies and toddlers haven’t changed much, the college application experience is completely different for high school students than it was when their parents applied. Encourage your child’s independence EARLY and get as much support as possible from college admissions professionals to make this next parenting stage more stress-free than the “terrible two’s!”