You made my son do what?

Would you want your son to experience this?

On a cool Friday afternoon in San Diego, CA, 36 high school lacrosse players (9th - 12th) were leisurely stretching out on a well-manicured grassy knoll 300 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

This was the group's final day of tryouts for the JV and Varsity lacrosse team. The participants were told to show up with a t-shirt and running shoes and to be prepared for a 3-hour workout.

Halfway through their stretching routine, two other former Navy SEAL Instructors and I emerged from of our cars and walked over to greet them. This was no ordinary greeting.

Here's how the next four hours unfolded for the group:


Activity: Introduction and (Dis)orientation

With bullhorn in hand, we told the group that the original plan had changed. The 3-hour workout had been extended to a 24-hour Hell Night where they would be tested with a series of mental and physical challenges that would last until the next day. This was not true, but we had to get the athletes...

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Are Kids Specializing in Youth Sports Too Early?

What Happened to All the 3-Sport Athletes?

These days, many parents (and their children) are feeling pressure to specialize in a particular sport earlier and earlier.

The pressure can come from coaches, parents, trainers, kids, or the media. A billion-dollar industry has emerged to meet this growing trend

In some cases, a child's first taste of athletic success (at age 5) will send a parent on two wheels to Dick's Sporting Goods. The sales associate sees this parent from a mile away. Hello daily sales quota!

I know it's flattering when the volunteer coach tells you that Ricky or Samantha has a "big league swing". You wonder, "Could it be? Could my son/daughter be that special athlete? Could I be the next Archie Manning?"

But before quitting soccer and dance and buying Ricky a $299 T-ball bat or Samantha a $199 softball glove, consider whether specializing so early is in their best interests?

This blog post makes the case for a slower transition to specialization - or no...

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3 Ways to Demystify College Admissions

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...

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Is it Worth Pursuing an Athletic Scholarship?

The Dream

Many young athletes today aspire to play Division I sports in college. This dream is fueled, in part, by the prospect of securing the ever-elusive "full-ride athletic scholarship".

The dream often originates as early as 3rd or 4th grade, when young athletes are shunted onto "elite" travel teams if they show above-average skill for their age. Unfortunately, once this train leaves the station - it's hard to get off.

For the next 4-6 years, most weekends and holidays are dedicated entirely to the sport - no matter the cost, travel, time, or energy required. And the beat goes on for years - with an unwavering devotion. Parents and children are equally afraid to step off the train for the fear of missing out.

Though rarely admitted in public, most parents mistakenly assume that their child is on a path to some type of athletic scholarship. They don't really know what this means exactly - and are afraid to ask too many presumptuous questions - but they sure hear a lot of chatter...

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How to Audit Your Child's Extracurriculars

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:

  1. GPA
  2. Rigor of course work (number of AP, Honors, IB classes)
  3. SAT or ACT score

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:

  • sports
  • clubs
  • theater
  • music
  • family support (child or elder care)
  • job
  • summer experiences
  • internships
  • shadowing
  • volunteer...
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Will Mia Get into MIT?

 

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.

Case Study

In this case study, I reveal what goes through an MIT college admissions officers' mind as they review Mia's application. What do they care about, what do they disregard, what jumps out, and what factors might seal the deal for her (for good or bad)?

Mia just finished her junior year at a big public high school in CA. She has a great GPA, killer SAT score, nearly perfect SAT Subject Test scores, and some impressive extracurricular activities.

Will this seemingly extraordinary application stand out?

Here are the summary findings for Mia:

Objective Academic Metrics:

Excellent.

  • SAT: 1520
  • GPA: 4.4
  • SAT Subject Tests: 800 and 790
  • AP Cal BC: 5
  • AP Physics: 4
  • Rigor of classes: very

Extracurriculars:

Very strong. A combination of academics, work, STEM camp,...

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Will Rohan Get into USNA or ROTC?

 

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.

Case Study

In this case study, I discuss whether Rohan has what it takes to get into the United States Naval Academy or win an ROTC scholarship. These insights can be applied to similar service academies (e.g. West Point, Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academy).

Click these links to find out more about military service academies and ROTC scholarships.

Rohan just finished his junior year at a big public high school in MA. He hadn't thought much about applying to a service academy and didn't even know what ROTC was. No one ever introduced these two options to him. Now, as Rohan begins to prepare his college applications, he is struck by the amount of work required during the process.

Will Rohan be too late to submit a solid application?

Here are the summary...

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Will Erin Get Into Princeton?

 

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.

Case Study

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.

Sound familiar?

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...

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Is your Child Well-Rounded or Angular?

 

Back in the day, highly-selective schools were impressed by the proverbial "well-rounded student" who seemed capable of doing just about anything - from sports, to academics, to community service.

"Old School" Well-Rounded Student:

  • 4.0 GPA
  • National Honor Society
  • Soccer player (2 years)
  • Piano (3 years)
  • Vice President of Spanish Club (Junior Year)
  • Soup Kitchen volunteer (various)

College Admissions Officers used to assemble their incoming classes by selecting many of these "well-rounded" applicants. 

Campuses eventually became havens for lots of students who were good at lots of things.

Today, things are different.

In fact, many schools today are not as impressed by generic "well-rounded" students and have turned their attention to more "angular" students.

Angular Students

Angular students take a deep dive into one (or two) core activities  -  often at the exclusion of others - to become world-class in their field. 

"Modern Day" Angular Student:

  • 4.4 GPA
  • ...
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How Did This PrepWeller Get Into Every College He Applied To?

Wait, what?

"Wait, what? Jimmy got into Berkeley? Are you serious? My son has the same GPA and SAT scores - maybe even better. He took just as many weighted classes as Jimmy. Why didn't my son get in?  They both have the same profile."

This is one of the most common questions I hear from the PrepWell community and from random people around the water cooler, lacrosse field, and locker room.

I'd like to shed some light on this question by comparing three students that I counseled privately this year in my Private Mentoring program.

[FYI: I run a program where I work closely with a handful of PrepWell Academy students who opt to move from the online program to a full-service program in junior year].

What accounts for the difference in outcomes?

There are several factors at play here (e.g. extracurriculars, leadership, letters of recommendation, demonstrated interest, major preference, parental involvement, etc.)

However, I believe the biggest difference-maker is when a student...

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