As the school year comes to an end, is it time for your high school son or daughter to start thinking about college?  We’ve got some tips on starting the process!  The course that I developed and taught at Hunter College in April,  “The Inside Guide to NYC Parenting”,  continued its second two weeks with a focus on College Admissions.  Our guest speaker for the final class was Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions of the University of Pennsylvania, As part of our discussion with Dean Furda, we got some very useful tips on how better to understand the college admissions process and how best to help our children get through it.

Dean Furda writes a great blog on the college admissions process, Page, in which he describes the 5 I’s  students should consider as they start their college exploration process.  Students should use these questions, which he developed over of his 20 years of working in this field, to help them think through where they might want to go to college:

Identity:  How do you see yourself and how do others see you?  Furda suggests:  Think about who you are without connecting yourself to anything external like brands, people, grades—who you are at your core.

Intellect: How do you think?  How do you take in information?  Says Furda:  All students have a unique intellect with different strengths and learning styles.  How does your intellect come into play outside of the classroom?  Think about skills like perseverance and problem solving.

Ideas:  What do you think about and why?  When you have time to hang out what are you thinking about?  What do you think about big issues (like global warming) and local ones?  Furda notes that ideas are what makes college communities really interesting,  and when diverse students with unique ideas share them on a college campus, it results in a great synergy that all colleges are looking for.

Interests:  What do you choose to do when you have the time and the flexibility?  Furda asks: What do you like to do when no one is telling you to do it?  What are your hobbies? If you could pick up three books or three magazines, what would they be about?  When you know what is interesting to you it will help you find the college community that you will enjoy.

Inspiration:  What really motivates you? What inspires you?  What topics light up your eyes when you start talking about them?  Furda suggests that students tap into this power source and build upon it.

Show your college focused son or daughter these questions.  Encourage them to spend some time thinking about these questions  before the summer gets too hectic and especially before they open the huge college guides.  Ask them to share their thinking if they are so inclined (and respect their wishes if they are not).  Trying to answer these questions will provide some clarity about who they are, which will help them get a better handle on where they will want to go.

By the way GCP parents, if you are facing a transition in your life, you might want to sit with these questions yourselves!!