College Planning for Gifted Teens

Latest blog post from Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT. 

College Planning for Gifted Teens
Latest blog post from Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT
Written by: Lisa Conrad

This week, #gtchat welcomed Dr. Gail Post to chat about College Planning for Gifted Teens. Dr. Post is a Clinical Psychologist in practice for 30 years near Philadelphia and blogger at Gifted Challenges. She started her blog to advocate, explore, and raise questions about the social and emotional aspects of giftedness.

Gifted teens need to start thinking about college when they enter high school. They should begin to consider what interests them, the classes they take and their extracurriculars; but not forgetting to enjoy their high school years. Parents, too, should be planning. They can take an active role in doing a reality check with their teen regarding financial aid, admittance rates for particular colleges, availability of scholarships and remembering that not all colleges will be a ‘good fit'. Dr. Post recommended taking “the most challenging courses available -AP, IB, honors, and dual enrollment at local colleges; extracurriculars that are meaningful, challenging – go for depth of learning.” She added, “Volunteer activities in areas that are meaningful, research, sports, creative arts, competitions, community efforts” are all important additions to a teen's portfolio.

Quote courtesy of teacher, Margie Madsen Tyner …
“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.” ~ Joseph Campbell

An important part of college planning is college entrance exams. Dr. Post explained, “Most schools don't tell families about the importance of preparing for PSATs and SAT subject tests. A high score above state cut-off on PSATs in 11th grade will open up several opportunities including National Merit Finalist status. This can help a LOT with college admissions, scholarships, and some “free ride” offers from colleges. When it comes to SATs and ACTs, she suggests, “Some teens do better on ACTs or SATs – take both to see which is the best reflection of abilities.”

What financial considerations should gifted teens consider in selecting a college? Dr. Post said, “Cost is absolutely critical – parents MUST BE CLEAR from the start about what they can afford. Don't assume the college will come through with merit scholarships that will put a big dent in the cost – plan accordingly. Few colleges are “need-blind”; many are “need-aware” and that can affect your chances of acceptance, unfortunately. No college is worth years of extreme debt – even gifted kids can find their niche at any college. If a state school is what is affordable, an honors college at the school can be a great option.”

It's important that gifted teens find the right social and emotional fit in a college. “Teens should visit colleges, sit in classes and extracurriculars of interest; meet students; get a sense of whether it's a good fit, ” said Dr. Post. She went on to say, “Consider honors programs, elite schools, or substance-free, social justice or special interest dorms to find similar peers. [Teens should] identify a list of needs related to fit and prioritize them. Consider social and emotional needs [such as] proximity and travel to home, school size, partying or Greek culture, quirkiness and traditional factors. They need to prepare for an adjustment: small fish-big pond, learning how to study for the first time, needing help, or not fitting in.”

There are many places teens and parents can go to learn about potential colleges. All schools have websites and most have social media outlets which can give prospective students information and a glimpse of campus life. Storify. Click here for more information and suggestions.


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