La Jollan partners with Riford Library to help students navigate the college admission process

Author Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz listens as La Jolla Country Day Student and aspiring college business major Alex Mirbod tells how she helped him get accepted to his top three college choices: UC Berkeley, NYU and the University of Michigan. (Seated is The Bishop’s School senior Matthew Forssman.) Photo by Phyllis Pfeiffer
Author Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz listens as La Jolla Country Day Student and aspiring college business major Alex Mirbod tells how she helped him get accepted to his top three college choices: UC Berkeley, NYU and the University of Michigan. (Seated is The Bishop’s School senior Matthew Forssman.) Photo by Phyllis Pfeiffer

On the Web

admissionpossible.com

Counseling statistics

(High school counselors are often the only resource students have to help them consider colleges and fill out applications.)

Recommended student-to-counselor ratio:

100 to 1

National student-to-counselor ratio:

488 to 1

California student-to-counselor ratio:

Almost 1,000 to 1

Percent of California schools with no counselors:

29

(Sources: California Department of Education, American School Counselor Association, National Center for Education Statistics)

Unemployment rates among 18- to 24-year-olds

Less than a high school diploma:

30 percent

High school diploma:

22 percent

Some college:

13 percent

Associates degree:

10 percent

Bachelor’s degree:

4-9 percent

photo
Author Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz listens as La Jolla Country Day Student and aspiring college business major Alex Mirbod tells how she helped him get accepted to his top three college choices: UC Berkeley, NYU and the University of Michigan. (Seated is The Bishop’s School senior Matthew Forssman.) Photo by Phyllis Pfeiffer

By Pat Sherman

During her two decades as a college admission counselor, Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz has heard many parents ask the same question: ‘How can I get my son or daughter into the best college there is?’

“(But) that’s the wrong question,” Hansen Shaevitz said. “The more appropriate, correct question is, ‘How can I help my son or daughter get into the best college for him or her?’

“When students define who they are, what they want and act on what they’re interested in, they have a much better chance of becoming successful college applicants.”

When her own children were in high school, Hansen Shaevitz saw how perplexing the college application process could be for students and parents, and decided to do some investigating of her own.

“I was told, ‘We can smell whether a student knows what we’re all about at the college. How students fill out their applications, especially what they say in their essays, gives us that information.”

Hansen Shaevitz said college admission staff “can also tell if their college is simply one in a long line of colleges that the student’s applied to — and frankly, there’s not much motivation for them to accept a student who isn’t really knowledgeable about or interested in them.”

Hansen Shaevitz compiled her knowledge of the admission process in a newly published book, “Admission Possible: ‘The Dare to Be Yourself’ Guide for Getting into the Best Colleges for You.” She also is working with the La Jolla Riford Library and the San Diego Public Library system to make information and resources about the college admission process more readily available — particularly for students in economically challenged communities.

For many students, the only guidance they receive applying for college comes from their high school counselor.

While attending a conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling last fall, Hansen Shaevitz learned that a good student-counselor ratio is about 100 to 1. However, in California, that ratio is nearly 1,000 to 1.

“That really disturbed me,” she said. “California is last in the nation — and 29 percent of California schools have no counseling programs at all. This is particularly true for under-served students in urban and rural areas.”

Students who receive no or minimal admissions counseling are less likely to go to college, less likely to make good choices about the college they attend or to have information about financial aid, she said.

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