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 Pete's profile. Pete just finished his junior year at a big public high school in NY. He has a pretty good GPA. pretty good SAT score, has taken pretty hard classes, is a pretty good lacrosse player, and has pretty good extracurricular activities.
Are you getting my drift?
Pete is "pretty good" at just about everything. This is the profile of a lot of high school students these days. That's why we call him "Pretty Good Pete". He has a closely-related friend named "Pretty Good Pamela."
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 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...
Yesterday was the deadline for most high school seniors to make their final college choice. It shouldn't be as stressful as many people make it out to be.
Part of the reason can be explained here.
In this blog post, a mom wonders why so many highly-qualified students aren't getting into their dream colleges and what effect it will have on their psyches.
She also, within the first paragraph, blames:
This is a rough post. I agree with some of the sentiments, but not others. Here are my takeaways:
Just because your child's stat line reads: 1480 SAT, 4.3 GPA, varsity soccer team, student government, black belt, and quarterly soup kitchen volunteer doesn't mean they'll get into a highly-selective college. It just doesn't. Not even close.
There are thousands of kids just like this. They grow on trees these days. Just ask any parent. I'm not sure why so many people think that a high-performer like...
A Broken Model
After years of engaging with hundreds of high school students, parents, and guidance counselors from around the country, I've witnessed an unfortunate pattern.
These individuals continue to operate under the assumption that "college preparation" should begin in junior year.
I strongly disagree.
In fact, before stepping one foot into junior year, students should have a firm understanding of the expectations, milestones, and context for what lies ahead. [More on exactly what these factors are in a subesquent post].
Otherwise, students (and parents) risk feeling overwhelmed, paralyzed, and ill-prepared to manage the onslaught of information dumped in their laps. Once a student enters junior year, there are no do-overs.
In my private counseling practice, I find that a student's freshman and sophomore years (The Golden Years) have disproportionate impact on their readiness for the college admissions process, college selection, and life itself.
They are - as an economist...
I recently attended a Workshop with eight parents (in this case, moms) who shared their best advice on how to handle the college admissions process.
They all had recent experience helping their children get accepted to Drexel University, UC Berkeley, Syracuse University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Mesa Community College and others.
Here are the highlights:
WAS A PRIVATE COLLEGE COUNSELOR WORTH IT?
INTRODUCE THE PROCESS EARLY
Due to popular demand, I have posted this webinar as a blog post (with video) for those who missed it the first time around.
In this training, I walk you through a strategy to build (or refine) your child's college list. Many times, this is one of the biggest challenges during the college admissions process.
In a follow-on webinar, I'd like to address what comes next in the process. Namely, making sure that your list is "balanced" and that you can afford the colleges on the list. This is no small chore, either.
Please provide feedback or comments below with your experience with this process.
If you’re reading this blog, you are probably researching different ways to help your child (and you) prepare for the college admissions process.
Well, I’m right there with you. I have 4 sons making their way through this process right now, and I have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through.
In fact, the reason I developed PrepWell Academy, is because when I was in your shoes, I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the available options.
The process appeared stressful, intimidating, expensive, and not well-balanced. It started TOO LATE (junior or senior year), and it focused so heavily the “application process” and “getting into College XYZ” and not about developing the “whole” student.
And it didn’t seem like the “process” had changed in over 30 years – despite the changes in expectations, competitiveness, cost, and the way the world works today.
So, I gave this a lot of thought. And...