For such a huge moment in their lives, a parent’s moral support has never been more important. Can you share with us how you show and provide support to your children?
Each child is different. My oldest, Brandon, graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). He knew what he wanted, so we only helped him with his lodging and other practical needs. He was 21 years old. Our middle child Sophia is a sophomore in Stanford and is self-motivated. We remind her to balance her life with fun and healthy living whilst studying. Our youngest child, Sara-ling, is a lady of her own mind. We try to steer her to think of her priorities. We do this by ensuring that we have regular family meetings with her and check that she is on track with her objectives and deadlines.
Not one but two of your children are studying in top universities. Needless to say, the stress and anxiety must be so overwhelming, having to prepare two kids at a time. How do you cope with it?
Sara-ling is applying to 10 universities, of which only two are in the top 30 and the rest are just good liberal colleges. Applying to US universities is a complex process so we engage College Search expert to help organised their time, reduce the paperwork and give guidance in a professional manner. It’s often easier for a kid to listen to a third party than to a parent where academics is concerned. However, we still spend every weekend over a six-month period discussing and researching university choices and brainstorming essay topics.
Your children must actually be under stress when they are applying and waiting for the results of their application. Do you have any advice for parents on how to deal with their kids during this period of time?
As the application process is competitive., especially for Ivy leagues where over 90% applicants are qualiﬁed, there is still an element of luck. It is important that the student selects a variety of universities of varying caliber but which have the courses they seek and an environment that they feel they can ﬁt into. The important message we give our kids is that they are not a failure if they do not get into the university of their choice, provided they had put in their best efforts. The important fact is to assure your child that you are not deﬁned by just your college you got into but what you made of your experience in college, whether Ivy League or not.
Have you been planning for your kids to enroll in the Ivy Leagues or top universities before they were even born? Or has this been a gradual process or, perhaps, your kids’ wish?
Never. Actually, as they are Danish citizens, they would have free universities in Denmark and reduced fees in UK, so until Sophia was in Grade 10, that was the plan. However, our European friends choose to send their kids to the US and after hearing the advantages of US education, we changed our mind at the last minute and have not regretted it, even though it is more time- consuming and a competitive process. We had visited almost 60 universities in the UK and the US.
Undeniably, a student’s grades depend largely on themselves but it is important for a parent to be actively involved in their kids’ academic and learning lives. How have you involved yourself in your kids’ academics and guided them to become the teenagers they are today?
We believe that the child’s formative years are in the ﬁrst 10 years and it is when we parents need to guide and impart our core values to them. Once they reached middle school, their peers’ opinions are more important. If they already know their purpose in life and able to critically think and self-reﬂect, they will arrive at their own conclusions without so much “drama” involved. However, the trick is not to push our thoughts down their throats. The right pressure is the most important. Whenever possible, we incorporate knowledge learning by getting them into camps, summer schools, and internships as part of their summer holidays and even discussions over dinner tables but balance them with fun stuff or they will dread their holidays.
Do you have any tips to share with parents and hopeful students who are looking forward to submit their application into these sought-after institutions?
Start early to prepare yourself for SAT and ACT exams. Look at what these universities look for, be involved in interesting projects, keep track of your academic performance as GPA is one of the six considerations, show demonstrated interest in the institution you apply and the passion you claim to have. Keep healthy! US universities look for your proﬁle as from Grade 9 and sees the pattern of consistency and interest.
Story originally published in EasyUni Guidebook Issue 1