Parents to view film about college process

Lauren Sonnenberg

Upper School Deans will screen “In 500 Words or Less,” a documentary on the college application process, to parents of juniors on March 13. The junior class watched the movie in their class meetings.

“In 500 Words or Less” documents the journeys of four different students during their senior year of high school as they encounter the college process. The documentary’s website says the movie aims to show viewers students as they try to “figure out who they are and who they want to be.”

Upper School Dean Chris Jones showed the movie as a college counselor at Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio, and believes that by giving students a behind-the-scenes look at a condensed span of time, they will get a better understanding of the how the application process works.

Jones said that allowing both the parents and the students to watch this video will “spark some conversation between students and parents on how they want the process to unfold.”

“You see four different families and four different ways the process might go,” he  said. “You might have a process that is completely different from all of those but what you see is families in certain modes and you watch them change.”

At Jones’s former school, parents who had watched the movie “learned to remove themselves from the situation and say ‘oh I remember how that dad was and I don’t want to be like that,’ so they would try to take a step back,” he said.

The movie is not intended to educate kids about colleges but rather show how relationships are affected by the college process and how kids can learn from other students.

“They’re very different personalities, and I think as you’re watching, you might identify with one or actually know one of these types of kids, so hopefully as it unfolds we can all learn a lot,” Upper School Dean Vanna Cairns said.

The deans  have scheduled a question-and answer-session for the parents after the screening to gauge their reactions to the movie.

“I found it interesting to see how students at schools with an atmosphere entirely apart from Harvard-Westlake’s reacted to the college process,” Garrett Cayton ’14 said. “I think the film highlighted the advantages in terms of college awareness that our school gives us.”