Shereem Herndon-Brown: Tips On How Parents and Students Can Use The Summer To Jumpstart The College Admissions Process

Jun 2, 2015 by

An Interview with Shereem Herndon-Brown: Tips On How Parents and Students Can Use The Summer To Jumpstart The College Admissions Process

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at ” Strategic Admissions Advice”.

My name is Shereem Herndon-Brown and I am the Founder and President of Strategic Admissions Advice. I am a former Admissions Officer (Georgetown University), Director of Admissions for Middle and High School (Riverdale Country School) and school college counselor (Westtown School, Riverdale Country School). Strategic Admissions Advice, LLC aims to meet the needs of every student and family in the college, graduate and private school search and application process.  We offer comprehensive solutions for all of your admission process needs.

2) There has been A LOT of discussion about college tuition. What do you say to parents in terms of their responsibilities to provide for their children’s education ?

Ideally, it is the parents’ responsibility to pay for college. Students who have to shoulder working full-time and going to school often struggle mightily. If parents are informed well in advance of how the college funding and application process works, they will make good decisions about how to allocate money appropriately.

3) When SHOULD parents start saving, and when SHOULD parents start thinking about what college or university their child should attend?

Honestly, saving starts upon pregnancy. Starting a 529 account (tax-free college savings) at your bank and credit union, goes a long way. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but with the cost of college rapidly rising, it makes sense to understand how YOUR finances will be impacted by sending your kid to school and how you can be proactive about saving.

I think families need to start thinking about the college process in middle school. That’s when kids start to identify subjects that they like most and can start to visualize their young adult lives. This is also the time when high schools start to “track” students in certain disciplines like math and foreign language. Course selection affects college admission.

4) A lot of students are going the community college route- and then transferring to a four year institution—good or bad advice?

Great advice. I think many students need the “training wheels” experience of community college so as not to go to four-year school and be overwhelmed. They can take some basic courses at a CC and then transfer those credits. It’s cost effective and helps to gradually get them to where they want to be. Plus many 4-year universities have relationships with CCs that help with admission. Sometimes it includes preferred or guaranteed admission.

5) The summer months- should students be working at McDonald’s or mowing lawns or reading the classics or reviewing their math skills ? Or prepping for ACT or SAT ?

All of the above. Breathing and relaxing first — for maybe a week — since the junior year is often exhausting. Students should pat themselves on the back, evaluate how they thought they did and then make a plan on how they are going to approach the remainder of school. After each year – freshman, sophomore or junior — students need to increase their activities and ultimately their profile. Colleges want kids who are engaged and have taken advantage of opportunities. Mowing lawns and being independent is a good thing. Preparing for the fall standardized tests is a good thing. Reading is always a plus. Sitting on the couch and flicking channels is a no-no.

6) Scholarships—how reliable, trustworthy are they—can students REALLY rely on some scholarship money or are there strings attached to most of these scholarships?

This is a tough one. Money is out there but it’s hard to find and you have to jump through hoops. It’s another job, honestly, and there are some reputable people and companies that help students to navigate this end of the process. There are always “strings attached” when someone gives you money. If you do poorly, it often gets rescinded. If you fail out, well, then you’re not in school. Overall, they are reliable but getting them, and for what amount, can be challenging.

7) I hate to use the term but I will—” burn out “. Is there not some concern that kids will ” burn out ” on school- having them read and review all summer?

Absolutely. I am a big believer in down time and recharging your batteries. Students who go all out for twelve months a year tend to crash and burn at a high rate.

8) Do you have a web site or where could parents get more information?

Yes.<>. We also have a weekly blog and quarterly newsletter. Great information for all!

9) What have I neglected to ask ?

“How should rising seniors approach selecting a college list and identifying what their major should be?”

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