Whenever I meet with new families, the one thing I try to reassure them about is that they can and will survive the college application process. They don’t always believe me at first but as I work with their son or daughter and the pieces begin falling in place, the doubts start to melt away and a funny thing happens. They actually start enjoying the process.
And you should enjoy this process. You won’t enjoy all of it, but the college search and application process can be a lot of fun if you do your homework, stay organized and remember that your son or daughter will get accepted to a college somewhere.
Having said that, here are several suggestions to help you along the way:
1. Utilize ALL Available Resources
Start with the college’s website and learn everything you can about admission requirements, application dates, costs and special attributes. Then check out reviews on sites like Unigo and College Prowler. If the college is visiting your school or attending a local college fair, go and meet them so you can ask questions and potentially meet the person who may be reviewing your application. If your high school hosts a financial aid night, you should be there. Turn over every rock!
2. Make The Most Of Your High School Courses
How well a student has done academically is the single most important factor in gaining admission. Studies done by NACAC have supported it year after year. Students need to max out their coursework in high school by taking the most challenging course load they can handle and then doing well in those classes.
3. Know What You Want
Choose a school because you like it, not because your friend likes it or because your Uncle Harry thinks you should go there. Understanding your VIPS and defining what you are looking for is critical to identifying the right schools for you. Once you know more about what you want and what schools look for in their applicants, you should be able to develop a list that meets your priorities, gives you a great chance of being admitted and also receiving some money.
4. Look Beyond The Price Tag
Don’t assume a school is out of reach, financially, until you have used their net price calculator and thoroughly reviewed how much they discount tuition. The average tuition discount at private schools is now just over 50%.
5. Make Your Essay Shine
Your essay is your chance to get beyond mere grades and test scores and put YOU and why you matter into the admissions equation. Be willing to devote the time and effort that is necessary – writing is a process.
6. Pay Attention To Details
Double check everything on your application to ensure you answered all the questions thoroughly and have accurately reflected YOU on the application. Also meet all deadlines. In fact, be early just in case you do miss something. There is nothing fun about running up against the midnight deadline to submit your application and then losing power to a freak storm.
7. Manage Your Time Well
That last point in #6 is so important I’m going to mention it again. Plan ahead and get things done EARLY. This is critical to your application and all the supporting materials especially in how you manage your time with your essay and securing your recommendations.
8. Get Them On Your Side
Don’t be afraid to contact the admissions counselor for your area for information or for an interview if you really want to go to a school but are worried about your chances. I’ve honored requests for interviews time and time again because the student wanted to talk about their interest and what he or she could do to improve their chances of gaining admission. In fact, some schools track how many times you contact them and show interest in their school. In some cases, it may affect the outcome of your application.
Want some help navigating the college admissions journey? Give me a call today at 203.525.4096 or email me at email@example.com to schedule a FREE 60-minute consultation to discuss your college counseling needs.