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Back in Control … At Least Temporarily

By Daniel McKelvey and Robert LeVine

In January 2019, Khaas Baat published “Is College Admissions Out of Control … or are the Parents?” In that article (available in the Archives), Daniel told the story of how he and his daughter Jasmine had to find a middle ground to survive the college admissions process. Today, Daniel recounts their progress in the six months that followed.

A few months ago, my daughter and I were both completely overwhelmed with all the things we needed to get done for college applications. We worried about academics, soccer, finding a summer job, completing online Spanish, volunteering at our local church, preparing for the ACT, researching colleges, and writing that dreaded essay.

We agreed that Jasmine would focus on the specific tasks and I would manage the schedule. It worked better than I anticipated. Yes, we were able to finish a lot of the key activities, but more importantly my “letting go” gave Jasmine the opportunity to take responsibility, focus on her work, and manage her time.

Don’t get me wrong. College admissions involve hectic schedules, long evenings and stressful times. It’s been crazy busy. However, with a little structure and guidance, Jasmine found her stride, started to mature in her perspectives about college, and actually checked off some of the tasks. Her junior year is over and senior year has begun; online Spanish is completed; and soccer wrapped up in the semi-finals of the State Cup.

The soccer loss was hard to swallow, but after some soul searching and a few long talks (with me!), Jasmine’s passion re-illuminated. She has always dreamed about becoming a Physician’s Assistant and working in a NICU. When we discussed her career interest, Jasmine’s smile returned. Had I worried about details instead of the big picture, I don’t think that would have happened.

Jasmine also reinvigorated her ACT studying. However, after a few practice tries, I knew she needed help. Some of the topics on the test were new to her. With a few phone calls and some interviews of expert tutors, I found a group to help. Jasmine actually thanked me for that. “Dad, Nicole on the English and writing is awesome, and Trent is great on math. Whenever I get a question right, he always says ‘You’re awesome.’ Jasmine has never really liked math, so that was a BIG moment for us.

Then Jasmine’s voice changed. “But we have a problem, dad. The science tutor just doesn’t work for me. He’ll kill the whole vibe.” The look on her face said it all. I had to find another solution to avoid destruction of all that positive progress.

The solution turned out to be easy. I talked to the tutoring group, and they instantly accommodated a switch to a different teacher. After two sessions, Jasmine was back in her groove. The test is this month. Fingers crossed!

Of course, her college research now needs attention. Living in San Francisco, we have a good sense of California and Arizona schools, but with our older daughter, we made many mistakes in researching schools and have since realized we are really competent in this field. We do not want any missteps this time.

I found a consultant group to help manage the process. Of course, that infamous college scandal was still fresh in my mind, but this has proved to be the best decision for both parents and student. Having someone else manage the process has allowed me to honor my original agreement with my daughter. No micromanagement from the parents has equated to minimum stress in our household and maximum progress from my child.

In fact, using a consultant has led to something unexpected. Jasmine and I have grown in our personal relationship because she has better support, more confidence, and less parent-child baggage. We actually get to discuss what someone else recommends instead of fighting over who gets to make the decisions.

I know there are stressful times and arguments ahead, but having a positive, peaceful and productive household in my child’s last year at home is priceless. Jasmine is going to leave home for college and go forth towards the rest of her life. If she is happy and successful during college and beyond, then my wife and I have accomplished exactly what we are supposed to do as parents.

Robert LeVine is the founder and CEO of University Consultants of America, an independent educational consultancy assisting students around the world with applications to colleges, universities and graduate schools. For more information, call University Consultants of America, Inc. at 1-800-465-5890 or visit

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