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Archive for the ‘College Planning & Test Prep Center’ Category


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 




presented by Amanda Miller

This one-day seminar will guide students through the college application process, covering the most important information and most common pitfalls students face.

This seminar is specifically timed to be exactly one month prior to the earliest admission deadline of October 15th.  Students will leave with the tools they need to complete applications successfully and in a timely manner.


Saturday, September 15, 2018 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.


presented by Amanda Miller 


The college process can be overwhelming to seniors and their parents.  The Davidson Center College Application Course is designed to break up the process into manageable pieces to keep seniors on track and confident.     This  class will guide seniors through the college application process in a way that emphasizes personal accountability and long-term planning.  It’s a collaborative, low-stress environment for students which meets every other week.

Space is limited.

Saturdays from 9 a.m - 3 p.m.

  • August 25th
  • September 8th
  • September 22nd
  • October 6th:  Essay Finalization with Resident Specialist
  • October 13th






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


Seniors only space to talk about college and get college applications done.  Participating seniors should come prepared to apply to at least one college.

Topics include:  Brief self-assessment, Brief assessment of college list, College application essays:  advance brainstorming and short responses, Resume generation, Digging deep into the college application process, Scholarship training, and Letters of recommendation and auditions/interviews

Students will walk away with:  A completed college application with completed short responses and solid ideas for primary essays, A powerful resume and the skills to keep it sharp, A better comprehension of the college admissions process and how to tackle it, A skill set to search and apply for scholarships successfully, An action plan for senior year including application comments, timelines, financial aid deadlines and more…..

Parents BONUS Financial Aid Information Session, Thursday, 7/12 from 3pm-5pm  and/or Thursday, 8/9 from 3pm-5pm


Session 1:  July 9 – July 13

Session 2:  August 6 – August 10

Time:  9am – 2pm

Cost:  $800 Before June 15 ; After June 15th $900

Discovering Your Path ATTENTION: Rising Freshman-Juniors!

The Davidson Center’s unique opportunity for underclassmen (rising freshmen-juniors) to unpack their goals, research aligned opportunities, complete high school must-do’s, and map out a path for the rest of high school.  Too many students stress too much (or sometimes too little) about post-secondary plans.  This week-long session enables students to calmly, yet efficiently explore their trajectory in a no-pressure, engaging environment.  Both students who have no ideas for life beyond high school and those who think they know exactly what they want  are suited for this workshop.

Topics Include:  Basic and advanced self assessments, major/career exploration, resume generation, finding the right college fit, college application basics, and introduction to summer programs

Students will walk away with the following:  a well-fitted, academically matched list of colleges to explore this school year, a powerful resume and the skills to keep it sharp, a completed practice college application & brainstormed essay topics, a better comprehension of the college admissions process and how to tackle it, a skill set to search & apply for scholarships successfully, and an action plan through junior year.

Parents BONUS Financial Aid Information Session

Dates:  July 23 –  July 27, from 9am – 2pm (30 minute working lunch)

Cost:  $850