Greenwich Education Group Seminar on College Application Anxiety Yields Strategies

“STRESS!” is often the first thought that comes to mind when someone hears about a high school student who is preparing college applications.

And “stress” is the word that Marie Dolan, a College admissions consultant for Greenwich Education Group, focused on during her presentation at the company’s fourth annual college application seminar for high school students and their parents.

The free educational event was offered last month in collaboration with Arch Street, The Greenwich Teen Center; and Greenwich Magazine/Moffly Media.

Dolan shared some good news: There are over 2,200 colleges in the United States yielding a 69% acceptance rate.

“So, why are we stressed?” she asked.

Dolan suggested that parents have a natural tendency to want to shield kids from failure, but that failure is something children need to experience on occasion.

The reality is that, for a number of reasons, acceptance rates – especially for Ivy League and other top-tier schools – have steadily dropped over the last 15 years.

Factors contributing to this trend include the increased use of the Common Application, expanded marketing by schools, the wider range and availability of financial aid options, and stronger competition to recruit athletes. In short, there are more applicants than ever before for each seat at a school.

So instead of trying to determine what colleges are looking for in their applicants, Dolan advised students and parents to reframe the question: “What do you want / What does your student want out of college?” By doing so, the conversation can broaden to include more than just a few select schools.

James Donovan, a Greenwich Education Group Life Coach, promoted the concept of mindfulness as an important tool for handing the stress of the college application process.

“The best thing for students to be is mindful,” Donovan said. “Ask yourself: ‘Why do I want to go to this school?’ versus ‘How do I get into this school?’ As long as you have a ‘why’ you can overcome any ‘how.’”

Diane Iris Ferber, executive director of The Collaborative Center for Learning and Development, reminded those in attendance that it is “not just the academic child who is applying, but the whole child.”

Leading up to senior year are “transition years” for these students who are all developmentally at different stages.

The added pressure of applying to college can increase levels of stress, especially for children who are already anxious or over-scheduled.

Parents can help to defuse tension by keeping their own emotions in check.

“Your kids are watching you,” Ferber cautioned. She also suggested that parents cultivate an ongoing conversation with their children by making an appointment to touch base at least once a week.

“It’s not about getting into college, it’s about being successful in college. If your child is in the right school with the right options, then that fit goes a long way,” she added.

The “right fit” may not necessarily be the school a student starts at. In fact, Dolan shared that 30% of college students transfer.

Of course, the goal is to avoid the need to transfer. To that end, Donovan summed up Greenwich Education Group’s approach in the college planning process: “We like to work with students early on so that we can learn about, understand, and build on their individual interests. We are laser-focused in the process.”

The presentation, Anxiety and the College Application Process, can be found at

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please contact College Admissions Consultant, AnneMarie Hesser, via email: [email protected] or phone: 203-489-5125.

Greenwich Education Group, a US Small Business Administration Award winner, is a multi-divisional educational organization that strives to support every facet of a child’s academic, social, and emotional development. Our NEASC-accredited day schools (Links Academy, The Pinnacle School, and The Spire School) offer individualized instruction to an array of learners. Our curricula and teaching methods are as diverse as our students.

Additionally, GEG offers a full slate of ancillary services, including tutoring, standardized test preparation, educational consulting, and college counseling. Sessions take place in our centers, in home, and online. Specialized services for differentiated learners of all ages are delivered at our award-winning Collaborative Center for Learning and Development. Our philosophy of individualized education targets each student’s needs by building on their strengths. Learn more about our programs at

Arch Street is the longest-running privately funded teen center in America, providing a drug- and alcohol-free environment where teens can initiate and organize activities that improve their social lives and explore opportunities for leadership and community service.