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 it sure beats watching them keep their head in the sand for three years.
My kids (two rising sophomores and a rising 8th grader) and I had the opportunity to visit over 15 colleges this summer. Here's a partial list of the schools we saw:
There was no elaborate "strategy" behind this list. We simply visited campuses that were close to where our vacation travel took us.
It was a nice mix of big, small, private, public, military, liberal arts, urban, rural, prestigious, and competitive schools.
These visits gave my kids something to think about, strive for, or dream about. I could see it in their eyes. I could tell by the questions they asked. They were engaged.
They now have context. They can "picture themselves" on a college campus someday.
In the best case, this inspires them to do big things.
In the worst case, at least they know what a college campus looks and feels like.
STEP 2: NEAR-PEER CONNECTIONS
When we visited campuses, we (and by we, I mean "I") struck up conversations with current students and asked them about campus life, academics, social life, and admissions.
My sons were very interested to hear what these students had to say. I could almost hear their self-talk, "Well, if this kid got in, maybe I have a shot. They're not that intimidating."
Of course, I had to ask the question, "So, what advice do you have for these guys with respect to high school activities, admissions, standing out?"
To which, on cue, they spouted:
They were clearly reading from the PrepWell playbook.
STEP 3: CLICK THROUGH A BLANK COMMON APPLICATION
This is one of the simplest things to do with your child.
Simply open up a Common Application online and click through the different sections:
Why do most kids wait until senior year to do this? Because they are:
Looking through an application serves many purposes:
In summary, whenever we are faced with a daunting task, the best thing to do is to take action - massive action. Don't run away. Don't hide. Don't put your head in the sand.
If you have a rising 8th, 9th, or 10th grader, now is the time to take action.
Demystify this process by engaging in it.
Enroll in PrepWell Academy
Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.
PrepWell Academy is an online mentoring program that immerses teens in a variety of experiences and opportunities. In doing so, it helps them find and pursue their passions in a way that will not only make them extremely compelling college applicants, but also young adults who are well equipped to face life's future challenges. Black's specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League admissions, and student-athletes.