Hi Friend,

You’re the parent of a high school student, which likely means you are focused on getting your child into a good college. Let’s face it, high school is the stepping stone for determining what kind of college your student will get into.

And all parents, everywhere, are feeling the pressure and anxiety associated with the college visits and tours…considering it has become an expectation in the admissions process.

I have always been fascinated with the education system and helping students achieve their true potential. People always ask me, “How’d you get so good at getting students into the college of their dreams? How have you helped them to understand each college and how to visit effectively?

Well, I’ve worked with thousands of students, and you begin to recognize patterns of success, over and over again.

The truth? It wasn’t always easy for me. There was a time when I was going through all of this myself. I lived in a house where getting a B was unacceptable. Although my mother will never admit it, she was the typical Tiger Mom, always pushing me to do better and better (and still is).

I would bring home grades of 96% on tests, and while all my other friends in class were celebrating their similar scores at Ben and Jerry’s, my parents would sit me down at the kitchen table and ask me what happened to the other 4 points.

I felt like a complete failure.

When I would plead with my parents and assure them that I still did better than the other kids, my mother’s response was, “Am I raising those kids?”

Good point, mom.

I was trying my best and my hardest, but it felt like that was never good enough. I continually tried to live up to my parents’ expectations and make them proud of me.

When it came time to start the college process, my parents thought they knew everything, after all, they got my sister into a top college – but my story was different. And when it comes to applying to colleges, no two students are alike. And, based on college tours and visits, I felt like I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do.

I remember walking into the college counselor’s office like it was yesterday. It was February of my junior year, and I still remember how hard and uncomfortable those chairs were. There I was, sandwiched in between my mom and dad, constantly looking for their reactions on either side of me. I felt completely out of my element and could see my parents were stressed out.

I thought I had it nailed.

I was an all honors and AP student. I was president of five student organizations and was involved in many extracurricular activities. I never hung out with my friends unless we were studying together, by choice! My one and only focus was centered around doing anything and everything that would help me get into college. This is how my parents measured success, and so it ultimately became my measure of success.

In that fateful meeting with my college counselor, this woman who seemed to hold the reality of my future in her hands opened her mouth, and shocked me to my core. She uttered words I never expected to hear. She took my list of dream schools and said,

“These are all reach schools. You may not get in anywhere.”

My heart fell into the pit of my stomach. I thought the world was going to end. All this seemed to translate to was the idea that I was not good enough. And, I didn’t get it. I had done anything anyone asked me to do, and given up so much fun time to study. Why wasn’t it working?

I felt all of my hard work was going down the drain. In one single sentence, my college counselor crushed my self-esteem. My parents looked at me in disbelief and gave me that disappointing look, the same one whenever I brought a 96 home on a really difficult test.

Looking back, the entire process was stressful. It’s been more than a decade since that experience, but the more I write about it, the more I realized I want to make this easier for other people. Plus, we all know the college visit can make or break if your kid wants to go there or not. I had toured and visited over 20 colleges, and yet still, we weren’t doing anything right?

Did you know that college tours and visits are crucial in picking the right school? It is literally the most important step of the college admissions process.

Think about it. You applied to college once, and it was over 20 years ago.

And what was happening twenty years ago? Netscape Navigator was all the rage. Dial-up internet connection was fast. Dolly the Sheep was successfully cloned. Twister was out in movie theaters. And Jerry Maguire was released.

The world has come a long way since you first applied to college. The admissions game has completely changed since then. You are not expected to know how this process works. I bet you didn’t even visit all of the campuses you applied to.

I learned by working with hundreds of teenagers. Even though I knew the college process inside and out, I learned that each student had their own nuances that needed to be dealt with in a strategic and individualized manner.

Outside of purchasing and maintaining your home, sending your kid to college is going to be your biggest investment.

Did you know that some parents spend upwards of $20,000 on college visits throughout the US?

To send a student to an ivy league school is close to $70,000 a year, and a good state school is easily $25K a year. Private high schools, where your student is focused on college prep, are at least $20,000 per year. Most parents expect the high school’s college counselor to take care of the entire process.

But, in reality, these students never receive the individualized attention they deserve. They never really know exactly the difference between a Harvard or MIT experience. The websites ALL look the same with the same mission statement, the same dorm structure, who knows what actually makes them different?

So, let’s talk about what really matters.

What’s the actual cost of not understanding the college and their unique culture?

Your child could end up stuck at a community college.

Your child could end up working at McDonald’s.

Your child could live with you jobless until the age of 30.

I know this sounds harsh, but I have seen it all the time.

Parents rely on college counselors at schools to do all the work.

At some public schools, counselors are assigned over 1200 students. That’s over 12,000 applications to review. There is no way anyone can do a good job with those numbers, and at this point, the odds are stacked against everybody.

The counselors do not have the time to explain the difference from one college to another – which makes your child apply to so many schools that could potentially be the wrong fit.

This week, I am starting a conversation around the college visit and tour system and the formula that has helped students get into their number one choice.

In my next e-mail, I am going to share a skill that can completely change your child’s future.

What about you? Have you ever had one of those moments where you have felt stressed about the college process? Hit reply and let me know!

To Your Legacy,

Neha Gupta

Founder, College Shortcuts

PS – Tomorrow I am going to tell you about the Insider Technique of Getting The Most Out Of A College Visit – so don’t forget to look out for my e-mail in your inbox!