Haneesha Paruchuri, IMSA News Editor
Stephanie Wang, EIC
For students, summer and its fun may have begun with the end of finals week. From leading camps at IMSA to researching at renowned laboratories, it seems that everyone was busy — especially the rising seniors. On top of pursuing their summertime interests, they have college on their minds. As a result, for the CAC office faculty (College and Academic Counselor), summer didn’t begin until July. For the entirety of the month of June, IMSA’s CACs have been in and out of the office, meeting a total of 205 rising seniors and their families for the annual ‘June Family College Conferences.’
Researching colleges, visiting colleges, and speaking to their parents and CAC about college are all must-do activities for upperclassmen. Moving forward, many discussions centered around how the student will be judged by the colleges. Counselors help narrow colleges down and go over the application process for financial aid. The main focus of the meeting is to update the parents and ensure that everyone (student, their parents, and CAC) is on the same page.
While meetings take place in a personal, private setting between students’ families and CACs, some student data are publicly shared. IMSA focuses on math and science, and about 60% of the students tend to look at universities that specialize in these fields. Julia Husen, an IMSA CAC, comments on the ensuing phenomenon: “There are only so many engineering and medical (the top two career choices at IMSA) programs in the nation.” As a result, many students are looking into the same colleges, though she notes that counselors still tailor meetings to each student’s academic profile.
The importance of the meeting is emphasized by the distance the families are willing to travel to attend the meeting. As the parents are willing to sacrifice their time to drive to IMSA, the CACs are very flexible also. They even agree to meet after hours (the latest has been 8 pm for Julia) and sometimes on weekends.
Students’ reactions to the meetings have been mixed. One student from Bloomington (’14) laments “that two-hour car ride one way.” He describes the meeting as “useless” though he notes that his parents found it “somewhat helpful.” “Hey, at least I got Oberweis,” he adds, smacking his lips.
Even further away is Judy Li (’14) hailing from Carbondale. “It’s like 6 hours,” Li commented on the drive the day before her scheduled meeting. “And my [baby] brother is coming too. That will be an interesting car ride.” Her family was more enthusiastic about the CAC meeting; Li’s mother in particular “was excited and expected to learn stuff about colleges.”
Still, there seems to be a general agreement that the CACs are faring well in curbing future procrastination. Even the stubborn rising senior from Bloomington conceded that his meeting had its purpose. “I gotta give it to them,” he writes after some consideration, “for making my parents make me stress out now so I don’t stress out the day before college essays are due.”
We asked Julia what advice she would give to underclassmen about college and she broke it down into three tasks:
- Explore Naviance, a website that allows students to organize college and career goals, interact with their counselors, and find schools.
- Begin filling out resumes. It’s easier to build a running list early rather than scramble to remember everything at the end. Don’t forget to look in the ‘Shared Files’ on Naviance to see some sample resumes!
- Start researching colleges now to get a greater exposure to the parts of applying. Know what colleges are looking for in IMSA students. Remember, the greater the popularity of the college for IMSA students, the harder it is to get into the college. But don’t let that completely dissuade you from applying; instead, use it as fuel to improve your application.