I've heard that colleges are looking for well-rounded kids. How many extra-curricular activities should my child be involved in? Exactly how round does my child need to be?

Our philosophy is that our students should be involved in the extra-curricular activities that excite them and those they find interesting. There is no formula for extra-curricular activities. Some students will have a wide range of activities that pique their interest. Others will find only two to three and delve further into them. Regardless, this is a time of self-exploration for students and they should never be involved in an activity because they think it's what colleges are looking for.

Be careful that students don't get too bogged down in checking off activities just because they (or their parents) think it will look good on a resume. Colleges aren't on the lookout for specific activities. They just use them to get part of the "picture" of the student as they try to find their best matches.

I've heard colleges are looking for "pointy kids." What does that even mean? How pointy does my kid need to be?

Colleges are looking for kids who don't seem to have contrived resumes that check every extracurricular box. They want kids who have interests and who have pursued those interests. For some students, that will be just one or two interests that they have dug into, making them into "pointy kids" and for others, it will be a more well-rounded pursuit of a variety of interests — think "star-shaped kid".

Most importantly, both "pointy kids" and "star-shaped kids" should pursue those activities that interest them most. Remember, these interests should be organic and student-driven. You may not see the value in some of their choices, but our world is changing quickly, and most activities will have some sort of future benefit. We think we can help you identify that and appreciate their worth.

What should my child do in the summers?

When your teen is old enough to hold a summer job, they should! Colleges are looking for students with real world experience, and there's no better way to get real world experience than learning about customer service while serving up smoothies. No need to worry about summers packed with internships or fancy pants programs at this stage.

Of course, if your child is genuinely interested and passionate about a particular summer internship or program, then by all means, encourage them to pursue it if it fits in your family lifestyle and budget. On top of that, we'd still advise them to get a job down at the smoothie bar.

We have waited too long!  Our child is already a senior and we are lost!  Will we even be able to find a college that is a good fit for my child?

Absolutely! Some of our best college choice outcomes have come from students who didn't start the process until October of senior year. Okay... taking this approach makes for a stressful few months or so, but that might be better than several stressful years. And when kids (and parents) aren't focusing all their energy into the college admissions process for years, teens can spend that time genuinely and authentically furthering their own passions and interests, and these will shine through on an application.

When should my child really start thinking about and beginning the actual application process?

Look at your child's level of interest. We don't want burn out by senior year, but in general junior year is a good starting point. Of course, if you or your child needs to get started sooner to calm comfort levels, we'll be happy to meet with you both and talk to you about options for starting sooner.

How many colleges should my child apply to?

We recommend applying to 8 to 12 colleges, but again that is student-dependent. Some students will have a much more focused "better-fit" list than others, so they can probably apply to fewer schools because their match ratio will be higher. Others will need to apply to a wider range of schools as they develop and learn more about themselves through the college search and application process.