As a college admissions counselor specializing in students with big ambitions (e.g. Ivy League, Military Service Academies/ROTC, Athletic scholarships), I have seen dreams realized, shattered, and everything in between.
In this case study, I reveal what goes through a college admissions officer's mind as they review an application. What do they care about, what do they disregard, what jumps out, and what factors might seal the deal (for good or bad)?
In this blog, I review Erin's profile. Erin is a junior at a public high school in CA. She's an elite soccer player, near straight-A student, member of student government, and involved in community service.
Many parents of talented 9th and 10th-grade athletes tell me similar stories. They want to know their child's chances.
Here's how the story goes:
Hi, Phil. I've heard you're the expert in helping kids get into highly-selective colleges by mentoring them early in their high school careers. Can I tell...
Assume a group a college applicants have similar:
but participate in different "Extracurricular Activities" that could be categorized as Typical or Non-Typical Teen Activities.
TTA (Typical Teen Activities)
NTTA (Non-Typical Teen Activities)
If your child has any inclination to serve their country, consider two compelling paths that lead to graduating from college as a military officer (at little-to-no cost).
What are the options?
If your child wants to serve as a military officer in any of the branches, service academies and ROTC programs are two great places to start.
What do these programs have in common?
Yes, a free (or nearly free) education. With the rising cost of college, these programs are becoming more and more competitive. And with options like attending Harvard and Princeton on an ROTC scholarship, people are paying attention.
What are service academies?
What is Early Decision?
Early Decision (or ED) is a binding agreement between a student and their ED school. A student admitted in the ED round (usually in mid-December) must retract all other applications and make a deposit to the ED school.
[Note: Students may only apply to one ED school]
[Note: ED is different from Early Action or Restrictive Early Action]
[Note: RD is Regular Decision]
The trend in applying ED is on the rise.
Here's what you need to know:
Who normally applies Early Decision?
Why is it easier to get into a school by applying ED?
As applications are reviewed by college admissions officers, they must survive several "screens" to make it to the end. The more selective the school - the less porous the screens. This week, we address the first two screens in the process.
Outcomes on these three criteria will dictate the "selectivity" of colleges to consider.
When (and if) a student gets through Screen #1, the more selective schools dig deeper.
Next stop: Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular Activities include anything that happens outside the classroom:
On the Common Application, there is room for 10 such Activities. The activities should be listed in the order of importance to the student. Space is limited (50 characters for the position and organization name and 150 characters for the...
Before we get too far into the new school year, I encourage you to perform an extracurricular activity audit with your 8th, 9th, or 10th-grader. Sounds like a blast, right?
This will either reinforce that you're on the right path, or open your eyes to a world you never knew existed.
Extracurricular activities are a critical component in the college admissions process - especially for very or most-selective colleges (Top 75).
Admissions Screen #1
There are 3 primary factors that determine whether or not your child will pass through the first admissions screen:
As you move up the selectivity scale, the holes in the screen get smaller and smaller.
Admissions Screen #2
Once your child gets through Admissions Screen #1, admissions officers will then review their extracurricular activities:
As your child moves through high school, participation in after-school "clubs" can be a transformational experience - or a colossal waste of time.
Now would be a great time to sit down with your child to discuss how to think about after-school opportunities.
How After-School Clubs Can Help
High school clubs can benefit students in many ways:
In the context of college admissions, "Clubs" are considered Extracurricular Activities because they happen "outside of the classroom". Other Extracurricular Activities include sports, jobs, music, theater, child care responsibilities, etc.
As you may know, there is room for 10 Extracurricular Activities on the Common Application. Especially at the more...
As you probably know, there is a lot hype surrounding the college admissions process - probably too much.
Yes, it can be tricky if you wait until junior or senior year to start the process. The "wait-and-see" approach can lead to anxiety and broken dreams.
It doesn't have to be that way.
As you know, my deep conviction is that the college admissions process should be introduced to teenagers gradually beginning in 9th or 10th grade.
This early introduction puts families in the driver's seat.
Here are three steps you can take to help demystify the process.
STEP 1: CAMPUS VISITS THAT INSPIRE
How can we expect our children to care about college if they've never stepped foot onto a college campus?
Campus visits can often spark interest and curiosity in the process. Motivation can be triggered by the strangest things - a certain vision, feeling, or personal encounter they experience during their visits.
Of course, there is no guarantee that visiting colleges will motivate your child, but...
Your number #1 priority this summer is to prepare for your official standardized test at the end of August or beginning of September.
This is what you should do:
Let me remind you why I recommend this strategy in case you start to waver on implementing any of these steps: