College Selection Process: Keeping it Real and Making it Yours

Experts Beth Walsh-Sahutske and Milissa Pierce help parents guide their high school student through college preparation and selection.

The Family Center will hold a seminar for parents of college-bound students on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at Grosse Pointe South High School.  The seminar, "The College Selection Process: Keeping it Real and Making it Yours," is free but parents must RSVP by Nov. 5. Register online or call (313) 432-3832.

Grosse Pointe North and South counselors Beth Walsh-Sahutske, MA, LPC and Milissa M. Pierce, MA, LPC will help parents navigate the process of college selection and preparing their student for college.

Beth Walsh-Sahutske, MA, LPC is the chair of the counseling department at Grosse Pointe South High School where she is beginning her seventh year as a counselor and 16th as an educator. She has guest lectured at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University and is the mother of four. Ms. Walsh-Sahutske can be reached at 313.432-3522.

Milissa M. Pierce, MA, LPC is beginning her ninth year as a counselor at Grosse Pointe North High School and teaches in the Counseling Program at Oakland University. She has also worked in the community as a teacher, college professor, counselor, family life educator, childbirth educator, and fitness instructor for over 25 years. Pierce can be reached at 313.432.3226.

Ask the Experts

by Beth Walsh-Sahutske & Milissa Pierce

Striking the right balance in helping your child through the college preparation process is no simple task. Parents want to instill a college mindset and encourage their child to maintain high standards while still keeping an eye on family/life stability. The potential to disrupt home with stress to child and parents is great.

The optimal solution is to reframe the approach that the whole family takes towards the college investigation process. If we look at it developmentally like the natural evolution of the student’s lifecycle then we can more effectively integrate the research, application and selection process into this next phase of life and the dream of college becomes to find the perfect match instead of the treasured prize.

Q: My child just started high school. Is it too early to start talking about college?

A: Chances are you have been talking about college his whole life via favorite sports teams, family alma mater orsome cool random mascots. That’s great! Now is the time to explore beyond those familiar names to take a casual look at some other convenient colleges. Visit some local colleges or some near vacation destinations and take a tour-even if he has no specific desire to attend this school. Students and parents alike can see what it is all about on the inside. Building a soft list of priorities and putting college into a bit more focus will help in the coming years.

Q: My daughter will be a junior in high school this year. We’ve talked about plans for college but this is apretty important year. How do we make sure to make the most of our time.

A: Junior year comes with a lot of stress built-in. The best approach is a good offense. It’s time to make a blueprint for the year. The most important focus is academic. Your daughter needs to continue focusing on doing her best in all of her classes. The high school may have already provided her with a timeline for college planning. If not,Google “college planning timeline” and take a look at a few different plans. Once you find one (or some) you like set your strategy. Together plan from the start when she will take standardized tests like the ACT, what extra-curricular activities or sports she will spend time with and when you can fit in college visits. Organize, strategize and keep reminding yourself that college is about finding the right fit, not winning the best prize.


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