THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Claire Wedderien is an educa-
tion and youth specialist with
the State Department’s Family
Liaison Office. She grew up in
the Foreign Service.
he college appli-
cation process is
like the ultimate
dating game. Every
year a new batch
of students puts
the possibility of
crushing rejection with hopes of finding
acceptance with “the one.”
It’s an emotional and opaque process
in which the student must also learn
to live with the fact that the rules of the
game are constantly changing. This year
alone has seen the introduction of the
new SAT, a rising interest in doing away
with standardized test scores and even
the creation of a new application pro-
cess—the coalition application.
With the stakes so high, the Family
Making Your College List
Creating a college list is stressful and
demands a good deal of research and
thought. To lessen the load, Judy Bracken
has compiled the following list of factors
that should be disregarded when making
She strongly suggests you do not pick
a college “just because your parent(s)
are alumni or because your boyfriend or
girlfriend is attending.”
She also recommends that you do not
eliminate a school because of the climate,
the location or the “off the shelf” costs.
Deciding what college to attend is prob-
ably the first truly adult decision you will
make, and you have to look at the larger
picture of setting yourself up for success.
Becky Grappo notes that she too
often sees TCKs making the mistake of
“following the crowd.” She sees students
applying to the same 20 to 30 colleges as
everyone in their high school.
According to the
there are more than 5,000 post-secondary
Liaison Office interviewed two college
counseling experts—Judy Bracken and
Rebecca Grappo—in search of best
practices for applying to college and a
heads-up on the biggest mistakes Foreign
Service kids make.
Judy Bracken has 17 years of experi-
ence in Falls Church and Fairfax County,
Virginia, public schools as a college and
career counselor, and currently works as
a counselor for private clients. Rebecca
Grappo is the founder of RNG Interna-
tional Consultants and specializes in
helping parents make the right educa-
tional choices for their Third Culture
Kids. She has also worked as a teacher
internationally and domestically.
Both Grappo and Bracken are parents
of Foreign Service kids, so they have
been through the process themselves
and understand the unique challenges
FS kids face while attempting to untangle
the college application process. Our
discussion is the basis for the pointers to
Foreign Service students heading into the
college application process offered here.
The Do’s and Don’ts
of the College
For young people, going to college involves making some of their first major life decisions.
Here are some tips for Foreign Service high schoolers on how to get it right.
BY CLA I RE WEDDER I EN