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JUNE 2016




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

themselves through

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

Washington Post


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

Application Game

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.