LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston High School Guidance Department is offering a series of programs to students and parents over the next few weeks that will propose some advice for 9th, 10th and 11th-grade students who are just beginning to think about their college search. While the seniors in the Class of 2015 are busy making the life-altering decision about where they are headed, the Guidance Department is looking to ease the path for next year’s seniors by inviting them to these events.

“When deciding between my two schools (Emory University and George Washington University), the final decision puts me on a completely different trajectory for life,” LHS Senior Class President Jeremy Knopf said. “This is without a doubt the biggest, life-altering decision.”

Beginning Wednesday, April 15, the college programs being offered will attempt to put both students’ and anxious parents’ minds at ease. At 7 p.m. in the LHS Auditorium, Andy Strickler, Dean for Admission & Financial Aide at Guilford College in North Carolina, will be presenting an overview of the college process. According to the program description, Strickler will speak about how there is a college for everyone, the role of parents, how admissions makes decisions and what colleges look for in an applicant.

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The Guidance Department will also hold an LHS College and Career Fair Tuesday, April 21, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the LHS Fitness & Wellness Center and Auxiliary Gym. This particular event will be free and open to Livingston residents, families and staff members as well as Millburn High School students and parents. Representatives from more than 150 colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools will be in attendance.

There is more that goes into a decision than the student’s desires: there is also distance, transportation and financial issues to consider. As it has in the past, the LHS College and Career Fair will offer important information about admission and financial aid requirements, college life and the college selection process.

“There are so many different factors: a plane (Emory) vs. a train (GW),” Knopf said. “It’s also difficult to make it more than just a personal decision. The choice affects not just me but my parents and others.”

Tuesday, April 28, will be an event specifically aimed at Class of 2016 students. In the LHS Auditorium, the School Counseling Department will clarify how different colleges and universities might view admissions and/or services offered to applicants.

The department hopes to highlight how important it is to carefully investigate each college when developing a list of schools and to provide information that will allow students to properly prepare for the upcoming college search process. According to the event description, topics will include admission services for students, special interest groups, financial aid, academic preparation and some things to consider before senior year begins.

Timely advice for seniors and their families weighing college offers is also found in an abundance of books on surviving the college admissions insanity. In fact, Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, quoted one of Livingston High School’s own Class of 2015 seniors and TAP into Livingston intern reporter Jessica Silverman in his book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.”

Bruni’s guide is one of the most-read books of the season, maintaining the point-of-view that students often believe that AP, SAT and ACT scores define them — and that this shouldn’t be the case. According to Bruni, the most significant thing about college is not where you go, but what you do once you get there. He writes, and Silverman agrees, that by holding up certain metrics as the determinants of children’s futures, the system essentially convinces students to define and see themselves only in terms of these standardized-testing measurements.

“The kids in my grade — the ‘smart’ ones — grade their success purely on a points system,” Silverman is quoted. “They measure everything down to the decimal, charting their happiness based on a test curve. It’s given me an ideal to strive against. It scares me to become so dependent on a number, because that’s not what I am.”

Silverman added for Bruni’s book that this is what the culture around her seems to want her to be. More than 150 colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools will be at Livingston High School over the next couple of weeks to ease that mindset for not only the students, but their parents as well.