Tag Archives: college admissions assistance


watching TV with sweet teddy bearDilute: make (something) weaker in force, content, or value by modifying it or adding other elements to it.

When our children were younger, we lived in a tiny town perched on the side of a breathtaking Colorado mountain. There were few cultural opportunities in this rural mountain area and my daughter, an accomplished violinist, opened a violin studio to teach young children.

A second-grader we’ll call Emily entered our life like a breath of fresh air. She and her single mother lived with grandparents. Her shoes were scuffed, her head stayed down, and her violin was too big. She didn’t interact with people much.

But, over the course of weeks, magic began to happen. Emily practiced. A lot. She had a good ear and a natural touch. Her tone was pure and she marched through her little Suzuki book at a rate that was astounding. We could see her confidence growing by leaps and bounds and she seemed well on her way to finding a gift that could change her life.

Then, one week, everything changed. Emily’s pieces had not improved at all. When she played, it was like she was seeing the music for the first time. She was distracted. This went on for several weeks and finally, my daughter discovered the probable cause. When picking up Emily from lesson that day, her grandfather proudly proclaimed that he had purchased cable TV for the home.

Like most seven-year-olds (or twenty-seven year olds or seventy-seven year olds), Emily had easily defaulted to spending her time doing something that required nothing of her, did not develop skills, did not expand her world, but that seemed exciting on the surface.

Dilution, the weakening of something by adding too many elements to it, is as common as it is heartbreaking. Dilution has the power to completely modify a life, to change the course of a future.

Remember that as you are making decisions about what you let in your home, the things you allow in your children’s life or in your own. Like moths drawn to a flickering flame that will eventually destroy them, so are we humans foolish enough to be captivated by what is easy and mindless and has no cost emotionally. It takes extreme maturity and foresight to choose a harder path.

I was working with an amazing teen some time back. She was an incredible math/science kid with research under her belt, had won entry into some of the most prestigious summer STEM programs in the country, was an athlete as well as a musician, and loved classical literature and ballroom dancing. Yet, she wasn’t stressed or rushed. One day we were working on interview skills and she made a comment that explained how she was able to do so much so well, “I don’t do Facebook, Mrs. Webb. I don’t have time to waste.”


Are you on our VIP List? If you would like to receive our newsletter, be the first to be notified of sales and new classes, and get special updates, click here!

Related Posts:

Connect the Dots

As families begin the arduous process of college applications, the tendency is to view each piece as a separate entity that stands alone. It is easy to get tunnel vision and hyper focus on a single thing: the transcript or the essay or the counselor letter or the interview. Families think that if they justContinue Reading

Guiding Letters of Recommendation

If your seniors haven’t already done so, they need to contact the teachers they want to write their letters of recommendation now to allow them plenty of time. You want teachers that know your child well, hopefully in and out of the classroom. You want them to be your child’s biggest cheerleader. To find theContinue Reading

The Extracurricular Essay

Students will write a number of essays during the college application process. Last time we talked about the personal statement for the Common Application. Now let’s look at various prompts students are given to discuss their activities outside of school. Colleges want to know what is important to the student as well as how theyContinue Reading

Explain Your Homeschool Choices Carefully

Homeschoolers have come a long way. We’ve gone from misunderstood to mainstream. We’ve progressed from a minimalist high school education to the rigors of AP classes and research. We’ve earned our place at respected universities. The reason for much of our success has been that we’ve learned how to explain our choices. This becomes particularlyContinue Reading


For generations Americans have seen college as an investment to a better future. The whole family would scrape together the funds and make huge sacrifices to send a smart, hardworking son. He, in turn, would earn higher wages, help the younger siblings, and pull the rest of the family into a different socio-economic level. BackContinue Reading

Finding a Good College Fit

  Summer vacations and extracurricular activities offer the perfect opportunity to visit area colleges. With more than 3,000 institutions across this country, you are always a stone’s throw away from an institution of higher education. As your family takes campus tours, visits with students, think about what would make a good fit for your studentContinue Reading

Alone. Again.

These last few weeks have been exciting as my clients have been notified of college and scholarship decisions. After 18 years of dedicated parenting, months of college applications, the stress of thousands of details, the final announcement in print can bring a range of emotion – thankfulness, tears, wonder. Then begins the serious work ofContinue Reading

College Visit Weekends

 In just a few weeks, the agony of waiting will be over for students who applied Regular Decision to selective colleges. April becomes a frantic month as seniors rush to visit weekends at various campuses to make their final decision. Colleges put their best foot forward, roll out the red carpet, provide great food, scheduleContinue Reading

The Junior Gauntlet

The spring semester means different things depending on where your student is in the high school progression. Freshmen are still exploring activities and learning to hold their own in difficult high school classes. Sophomores are rolling along in their AP class(es) and settling into their extracurricular focus. Seniors are breathing easier after completing the collegeContinue Reading

Secrets to Successful College Apps

   I’m pleased to announce my new eBook series, The Thinking Mother’s Guides to Homeschooling. Right now there are two Kindle releases on Amazon, with seven more in the planning stages. They are short, very inexpensive books, but jam-packed with useful information for homeschooling families.   Just in time for the college application season, SecretsContinue Reading

The Counselor Letter

It is the time of year that homeschool parents are frantically polishing their homeschool documents that will appear in the School Report section of college applications. One of those documents will be the Counselor Letter – one of the most difficult things I did as my child’s high school guidance counselor. Not physically hard, butContinue Reading

Overcoming the Asian Bias

The college admissions game has gotten brutal and, as the competition mounts for entrance into elite colleges, hardworking Asian students often find themselves overlooked and underrepresented. Much of this is due to unfavorable stereotyping. Before you get too upset, you need to realize that there are all kinds of stereotypes associated with students applying toContinue Reading

Keeping Track

 When a college admissions officer evaluates your child’s college application, extracurricular activities will be given an approximate weight of 1/3 (2/3 going to academics). These figures will plug into the formula used by that particular college to rank your student. While 1/3 seems a bit insignificant, this is where students can really distinguish themselves fromContinue Reading