In a few weeks, my daughter, an American-Japanese dual national born, raised and mostly educated in Japanese in Japan, will begin her first year of higher learning at her dream school — Middlebury College, one of America's oldest liberal arts institutes.

Located in the midst of picturesque Vermont and recognized for its leadership in international and environmental studies, Middlebury accepts about 16 percent of total applicants each year. This year's incoming class of 680 will come from 57 countries and 49 U.S. states. Never heard of the school? Don't worry, many people haven't. They'd probably be more excited to learn that the original Ben and Jerry's ice-cream factory, which promotes itself as the "happiest place in Vermont," is only an hour away.

As many students and parents who preceded us in this journey can attest, the university application process is exhausting. Like any committed athlete embarking on a meaningful challenge, the student truly benefits from having an engaged support team, often comprising parents, teachers, relatives and friends.