Basic information for all parents of high school students

If you are a parent of an 8th grader or high school student, what your child does in the next 4-5 years will change his life. Here is a quick list of basics you must know as a parent of such a student.

Because preparation for college begins when the student enters high school, you need to familiarize yourself with the following.

High school is four years long, containing freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years.

  • Sophomore year is twice as difficult as freshmen year.
  • Junior year is also twice as difficult as sophomore year because of AP and Honors courses.
  • Senior year is as difficult as junior year; seniors feel overworked because of college applications.
  • Junior and senior year is four times as difficult as freshmen year. Therefore, if your child has less than straight-As in freshmen year, immediately seek tutoring.

Colleges determine admissions based on four major factors: GPA, SAT or ACT scores, extracurricular activities, and application essays.

  • The GPA currently has the most influence over whether someone is accepted into a particular college.
  • SAT is preferred over ACT because it better demonstrates college level academic skills. SAT (or ACT) should be taken at least once in sophomore year and at least once in junior year.
  • Great recommendations letters will not make the difference, but a bad one will destroy your chances.
  • Great extracurricular activities cannot substitute for GPA and SAT scores, but will make the difference between getting into an above-average college and a top college.
  • Great application essays can be written only if the student has great extracurricular experiences.
  • Students must begin preparing their application and writing essay drafts during their summer before senior year, not during senior year. It is too late if you start in October.
  • It’s much harder to get into a highly ranked college than you imagine. For example, Northwestern University admitted students received an average of 3.9 GPA (almost all As and A-s) and 1500 SAT score (top 1%).
  • Because of affirmative action, your child will likely need much higher than average SAT and GPA to get into the same colleges.

College success does not end with admissions; it only begins. It’s important to prepare your child for success while he is at college, and this process begins in high school.

  • As difficult as your child might find high school, his college will be far more demanding than high school. It is far harder to get As in college than compared to high school.
  • Many college students drop out or take more than four years to graduate, especially at mid-level colleges. For example, UC Davis four-year graduation rate was only 55% for students admitted in 2015.
  • Many college students change their major to an easier one because they struggle with grades. For example, many students switch from science to marketing majors because they cannot handle the difficulty of STEM majors.
  • Students who struggle in college do poorly because they did not develop their college-level academic skills during high school. (Seowon Academy specializes in developing college academic skills for high school students, which greatly benefits SAT performance and AP course grades.)
  • In the last ten years, students who graduate from mediocre colleges always struggle to find jobs.
  • The typical cost of college tuition and housing is approximately $200,000, no matter how terrible or great the college is. Exception: if your child goes to one of the most elite colleges in the world (e.g. Stanford, Swarthmore, Harvard, etc.) and you are middle-class, you will obtain need-based tuition, which will drastically lower the college tuition price.
  • Be prepared to spend at least $10,000 in extra costs for getting into a better college. It’s worth it. Don’t let your child struggle through the process alone; get him the help he needs for this once-in-a-lifetime stage, so he can succeed for the rest of his life.
  • Students who enter top colleges immediately develop strong careers, even if they graduate in the humanities. (So if you believe your child is passionate about philosophy, history, literature, or the arts – tell them they need to aim for the Ivy League.)