Survival of the Parent

Discussion in 'Black Parenting' started by ct, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. ct

    ct Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Who would have ever thought that preparing your child for college would be one of the hardest tasks one can imagine. Just think only a few years ago, I was giving birth to someone who was completely depending on me. I told her what to do and I molded her into what I felt would make her a better individual. As I looked back on my childhood, I made a vow that my children would be able to decide at the end of their high school year what path he/she may want to take. Be it college, technical school or going out into the workforce, I would be proud of them and know that whatever they decided to do with their lives that they would do their best and become successful. I wanted to make sure that they valued mankind. So, I allowed them to assist me on many of my volunteer ventures. I knew that this would help to develop their characters and allow them “to do unto others as they would want them to do unto them.” It wasn’t hard for me to know that they must develop a compassion for others and always know that everyone needs to be loved and feel wanted. They were taught that they couldn’t always choose the way their lives may turn out to be, but they must have faith that there will be a better day. Now I look at my daughter as she prepares to graduate this May. I am in total amazement on what the future will hold for her. Although she has selected a college major and has high hopes of attending the college of her first choice, I still wonder if I have done enough to ensure that her entry into her freshman year will be the way she wants. You see being a parent is tested when your child is preparing to attend college. Like many parents, I don’t have a lot of money saved where I can just write a blank check to the school of my daughter’s choice. I had to decide early what role I would play in preparing her for college. There was only one conclusion and that was to play an active role.

    Because I had already gone through one child going to college, I was aware of the importance of making my child well rounded, if you wanted them to seek scholarships and/or financial assistance. I made sure that whatever community service organization or project my daughter did, I wanted her to enjoy it and know that the purpose of volunteering was not just to get points for college, but rather to make a difference in one's life. I told her that volunteering is quality, not quantity.

    I knew also that her academic achievements would have to be on a competitive level to compete with other students on a local or national level. She took honor classes to help balance her regular classes. The honor classes also allowed her to comprehend her subject matters in an intense way and to help in preparing her for college courses.

    But as I got close to the end of her senior year and could feel the intense stress that was taking over her, I wondered if I had done enough. I asked myself, “What could I do to ensure that she would make it to the finish line?” I began to work closer with her to make sure that she made a list of the colleges/universities she wanted to attend along with the requirements and deadlines for registering and getting her financial aid information in on time.

    I found myself attending meetings, workshops, and seminars that would assist in learning how to find, research or get scholarships or college information. I started also surfing the Internet for scholarships that I felt that my daughter could apply for. I found myself networking with other parents that were seeking the same purpose of obtaining scholarships for their child.

    Overall trying to be a survivor in this fast paced cycle of getting one's child admitted and finding ways to get his/her tuition paid has truly been rewarding. I can now see why it is important for anyone to start early in the process. You cannot wait until the deadline, but you must be aware of what is required of each college or university you want your child to attend. You as a parent must sometimes have to fill out the college applications and allow your child the opportunity to write his/her essay without the pressure of worrying about the other needed paperwork. We as parents must realize that this is a “we” process and how much we put into this process will determine how much our child will receive from it. A child must never take the path of preparing for college alone, but have a parent or someone to talk to or discuss their future with. Preparing for college is an important step in a child's and his/her parents’ lives. We must teach our children how to survive and strive to be the best he or she can be.



    Copyright © 2005 by Callie Herd
     
  2. A007

    A007 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    So CT,

    What about those of us who feel college is a personal choice for our children and not a requirement to succeed in life. In fact, in some cases, college detracts from the success of people. Especially when they attend prior to their desire to truly be responsible and take an active role in their education. With that being said, if they are ready to take an active role, the parents role should merely be to oversee. What do you think?
     
  3. ct

    ct Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In Reply to: A007 --- Aspiring Parent By Issac Black

    I am going to respond to you with Issac Black answer on what Role you should play. The piece is not saying that all kids should have to go to college, but while you are preparing them for college, it is a "we" process and must be taken as a serious part of his/her process in preparing for life.

    Question: What Should Parents Be Doing In Regard To The Application Process

    Black Excel (BE) Founder: Parents have asked me this or a variation of this question for as long as I have been formerly counseling students. Sadly, a majority of those who have inquired over the years had no idea what they should be doing or had misconceptions about their role. The unfortunate truth is that large numbers of our students, are "picking their colleges" and handling the "application process" by themselves. Parental involvement, far too often, is minimal. For example, it's not usual to meet aspiring students who are applying to colleges who are gathering college applications and filling them out without help at home. A parent might know that their child is "applying to college," encouraging it, but is not hands-on at all. Clearly, many parents assume that their child and/or a grade adviser is "taking care of it." It's an alarming pattern that I often see. That said, I am saddened to say that many parents have never looked at or critiqued the personal essays that are required with many applications. The essay is a portent force in "Getting in," particularly to a "first choice" school. I can't say this enough: Parents should be involved in the process, playing a substantial role.


    Question: What Specifically Should Parents Be Doing?

    BE Founder: When I begun helping students the first rule that I established for my group was that *we* would "counsel as it was "a son or daughter." Nothing less. I didn't let my child fend for herself. She was ready and capable, but the "next step" for her was as important as my prior career moves. That was my attitude. Over the years I've had the opportunity to speak to many parents of other cultures. Well, guess what? They often treat the college process in regard to their child (picking schools, readying an application, critiquing the necessary essays), as if it's "life and death." Literally. I can't phantom why a parent of color (or anyone) should be on the sidelines or asleep If this is one of our child's major life's decisions, why shouldn't we be in playing a substantial role? Specific instructions? *Help gather college materials (Catalogs and applications) Why not? *Review your child's college applications, noting requirements and deadlines. *Review your child's written comments about extracurricular activities, awards, special achievements, whatever. Can your child's approach and presentation be improved? (Why not provide blank paper or dummy copies to create drafts?) *Read and/or listen to your child’s essay in progress? Is it effective? Does it present your child to his or her best advantage? Why do all these? Or lend a helping and encouraging hand? Because the application will serve as your child's "personal profile," and it's a key step in the evaluation process from an admission's committee perspective. Step Into The Light !! Some things you should be discussing with your child: Where to apply (rankings, state, private, HBCUs), size ("Big Pond or Little Pond"), location (Urban, rural), the "social scene" (diversity issues), money matters, tours, college visits (open houses, orientations), graduation rates and retention facts, academic environment (study intensity, support systems). In a nutshell, there should be ongoing dialogue. "Do you spend more time talking to car dealers at dealerships, than you do helping your child get into college? The answer should be 'NO!' "


    Question: "Shouldn't my child be responsible and mature in regard to handling his or her college business. And, if not, isn't it his or her life?"

    BE Founder: Even the most capable, inspired, and talented student needs backup and mentoring. For our folks, I am sad to say, the "rules of engagement" (that is, what to do for maximum impact and to beat the odds), is not readily available or known. Misconceptions abound about college and the "admissions process." One expert says it's "a logistical challenge." He also adds, "This isn't the time to allow your child to learn from his mistakes." I agree. You all know the saying, "you can lead a horse to water..." I believe you should lead your child "to water" and, if necessary, push him or her out in a boat. You'll be surprised how many "lackadaisical" or "unfocused" chidden, will then begin to peddle. Parents should get involved.


    Question: But what about students without capable parents, guardians, mentors, and/or resources?

    BE Founder: Yes, there are many students who are going it alone, for whatever reason. It's a fact. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of "first generation" college bound students. Often, in their homes, there is little experience or knowledge about the process. In many single parent homes, daunting odds stare the family in the face. Making matters worse, some grade advisors have unmanageable caseloads (1 counselor for 500+ students is not usual for some urban high schools). Honestly, there are college advisors who are not that good. Many know little about HBCUs, for example. Others route smart students to "average" or "mediocre" schools, and give students who "need a second chance" virtually no counseling or support. The solution? It's important to point students and parents who need help to resources like Black Excel: The College Help Network. There's a wealth of info at the website (www.BlackExcel.org). (See my bio below). Also my college guide, has been hailed as "counseling tutorial" and "motivational force." The noted gateways are invaluable.


    Question: What about future editions of this newsletter?

    BE Founder: In the next edition I will talk about "Picking Colleges" and in follow-up issues I will discuss "Aid and Scholarships," the SAT, essay strategies, other pivotal topics. The overall theme of all these newsletters will be to give you info on how to present your child/student to "Best Advantage" during the admissions process. You'll; learn how to "Get the Money," "Get into your First Choice school," and more.

    Bio on Isaac Black ============== Isaac Black is the Founder of Black Excel: The College Help Network (http://BlackExcel.org). He is also the author of the "Black Excel African American Student's College Guide" (John Wiley & Sons), available at Amazon.com and Black Expressions Book Club (Heritage and Culture section)* and major bookstores.
     
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