When your 5 year old gave up trying to tie his shoelaces, you reached over and did it for him. But when he tries out for the varsity soccer team or faces his geometry final, you can’t run onto the field or into the classroom to help. As your teenager navigates the complex and stressful challenges of preparing for and applying to college, he needs you more than ever to be his coach and cheerleader, but to do so from the sidelines.
About Dr. Fithian
The author of The Sidelines, Dr. Ellen Fithian, brings a unique perspective to college planning that stems from her background in the field of gifted education. While some regard this field's mission as sorting and segregating the intellectually gifted from the rest of the huddled masses, Dr. Fithian embraces the more modern paradigm that focuses on developing the intellectual and non-intellectual talents of all individuals. In a nutshell, she believes that every child is born with valuable gifts, and that a generous nature is at least as precious as a facility with geometric proofs. She considers it a parent’s job to discover and appreciate each child’s gifts, to provide emotional and material resources to nurture them, and, hardest of all, to finally step aside and let each adult child decide how to use them. How did Dr. Fithian come to achieve this zen-like state of mind?
She attended Wellesley College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and began her professional life as a dermatologist. However, shortly after the birth of her third child, she decided to take a little time away from work to enjoy full-time motherhood. Thirteen years and a fourth child later, she had become far more interested in education than medicine and returned to school to earn a Ph.D. in that field at the College of William and Mary, where her major emphasis was in the area of gifted education and her “minor” was in higher education. During the seven years that she studied and worked at the College of William and Mary, she had the opportunity to intern in the admissions office and later serve as Director of Precollegiate Learner Programs at the Center for Gifted Education.
In 2004 she became an independent consultant. Her services include assisting individual students with academic and extracurricular advising, offering classes and tutoring for the SAT and ACT, and providing a school-wide college planning program for a regional magnet high school (The Governor's School for Science and Technology in Hampton, Virginia). Dr. Fithian has also served on the editorial board of Parenting for High Potential, the parent magazine of the National Association for Gifted Children, as well as on the Virginia Advisory Committee for the Education of the Gifted. Last, but certainly not least, she has guided her own four children through the challenges of the competitive college admission process.
To learn more about Dr. Fithian’s college planning services for individual students or schools, visit her business website: www.hredconsulting.com.
Goal of this Guide
Dr. Fithian first conceived of The Sidelines as an archive of articles she has written over the last few years for her college planning newsletter. As an incurable overachiever, however, she was unable to stop herself from expanding her mission to a more grandiose task - creating a cohesive roadmap to help parents navigate the major milestones on the road to college. Further, having traveled that road many times with her own children and her private clients, Dr. Fithian has learned a lot about the potential potholes along the way, so she’s provided helpful tips throughout the website to help you avoid them.
Does the world really need another website about college admissions? There is certainly no dearth of online information about the topic. Quite the contrary; parents who try to dip their toe into the waters of college planning are frequently upended by the tsunami of information that comes rushing at them through the Internet. Dr. Fithian subscribes to the theory that less is often more, so rather than attempting an encyclopedic, “everything you’ll ever need to know” approach, she has tried to extract the essential elements of college planning and present them in a simple, enjoyable manner. She hopes you will feel she has succeeded.
First Stop: The Roadmap
Website design: Costa Designs - www.costadesigns.com
Home page and Roadmap art: Stephen Henry - http://stevehenryillustration.com
Sidelines art for Financial Aid PowerPoint slides: Cathy Nelson of Iris Art Studio, Poquoson, Virginia
Clip Art with articles and blog posts: @Jupiterimages Corporation, www.clipart.com
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