Frequently Asked Questions

TAKING THE FIRST STEP…venturing into the unknown.

Students are understandably reluctant to begin their college search. They are being asked to prepare to leave their family, friends, home and school
for an unknown college to share a room with a total stranger and begin preparing themselves for a career they aren’t sure they want.

The Head Start College program eases this transition first by helping the student to gradually reflect on what they want their college life to look like, and second by helping them to find a set of colleges to match that vision. Ideally, beginning the Head Start College program in the spring of sophomore year will maximize time for reflection and smooth this major transition, though the program can be adjusted for students beginning at later times.

COLLEGE CRITERIA…your student’s college vision.

The Head Start College program is designed to facilitate a student’s exploration of their vision of what college will be for them. Remembering that this college will become their new home away from home, consideration must be given not only to academics, but also to the overall college environment -- make-up of student body, extracurricular activities, location, weather and more.

COLLEGE VISITS… “Can’t we just walk around on our own?”

The Head Start College program assists the student and their families with the planning of college visits to “test” portions of the student’s College Criteria. Standardized evaluation forms are provided to facilitate comparisons.

Students maximize the benefit of their college visits by signing up for official college tours and by presenting their College Resume (prepared with Meredith Reynolds’ assistance) to the admissions office. Again lessening stress, students have the opportunity to review lists of sample interview questions prior to personal interviews with admissions officers. With each visit the College Criteria is continually refined and amended to incorporate what the student has learned about themselves and colleges.

BEWARE OF URBAN LEGENDS …learn the facts.

In addition to college visits, students in the Head Start College program benefit from Meredith Reynolds’ first-hand knowledge of colleges and from other
independent resources she respects. There is more to consider than the thousand-page books. For example, in addition to the choppy, virtual tours that are now offered on most college websites, professionally produced college videos are available for students. The more the student knows about themselves and the colleges, the more powerful will be the match.

DO I REALLY NEED TO TAKE ANOTHER YEAR OF MATH…depends.

The Head Start College program guides students with their selection of classes and activities helping them to STAND OUT, NOT STRESS OUT. We all need to be reminded to not get so caught up in the “college thing” that parts of high school are missed forever. Through one-on-one meetings students will learn about the different college admission requirements motivating some to select classes they might not have otherwise selected and/or to “buckle down” when needed.

As important to colleges as a student’s classes and grades is who the student is outside of class. However, colleges are looking for “quality, not quantity” in outside activities. No student is expected to do everything, but should continually challenge themselves in the activities they select.

POWERFUL COLLEGE APPLICATIONS..make the student multi-dimensional.

The Head Start College program breaks the application process into manageable steps where PROGRESS REPLACES STRESS. After 18 months of exploration, your student’s College List will be finalized by the end of August with little or no angst.

Recognizing the burden college recommendations can place on teachers and counselors, the Head Start College program suggests students in early September
BE ONE OF THE FIRST to request recommendations providing the teachers and counselors with everything they need to easily submit recommendations.

ESSAYS ARE HARD…there’s nothing that unique about me.

In the high stakes setting of college applications, it is no wonder students find it difficult to write essays on topics so personal to them. To ease the stress, the Head Start College program provides students with sample essays and encourages them to begin work on their essays in the summer before their senior year leaving ample time to produce a finished product.

I CAN’T BE PUT IN A BOX…how can I fit all of this in?

Though on-line college applications save students a trip to the post office, they force them to jam four years of their life into a page of small boxes. The Head Start College program encourages students to not merely present a chronological list of activities, but instead to organize their activities and honors to create a three-dimensional picture of themselves.

Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.

WHERE TO START WITH OVER 3,000 COLLEGES TO CHOOSE FROM?

The Head Start College program starts with YOU, the student, and your family. Together, we discuss your College Criteria and use it to systematically eliminate all but the few colleges right for you. The Head Start College program breaks the application process down into small steps with applications completed by Thanksgiving. “YES!!”

WHEN TO START:

IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY AND NEVER TOO LATE to benefit from the Head Start College program. Sophomores benefit from long-term planning of high school academic, extracurricular and community service programs, improving their chances of acceptance while learning more about colleges. Juniors continue to have opportunities to strengthen their college applications through strategic choices all the while narrowing their list of colleges. And, Seniors appreciate the outside perspective when making that final college list and preparing the strong applications.

I NEVER HAD A COLLEGE COUNSELOR. DO WE REALLY NEED ONE?

A lot has changed in 30 years! Today most high school seniors are applying to 10 or 12 colleges. With highly competitive admissions in the top University of California schools, many capable students must explore private schools. Rumors abound both about the schools and the admissions process. A knowledgeable guide will streamline both the search and the application process.

THE PROGRAM FINDS A COLLEGE WHERE YOUR STUDENT WILL THRIVE.

The Head Start College program takes no shortcuts in making this all important decision. One-on-one meetings are scheduled at each step along the way. Through these discussions colleges are identified where the student will thrive and mature both academically and personally. Similarly, emerging from these discussions will be applications rich with information about the student.

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Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.

MEREDITH REYNOLDS

PO Box 1401
La Canada, CA 91012
818.952.2414 phone
818.952.2432 fax

» NEW! Visit the Head Start College Resource Page