Four Keys to College Admission Success

If you missed our “Four Keys to Success in College Admission” webinar, it’s here to the right, and the slide deck is below.  These tips are specifically geared to help YOU – parents of high school seniors – through your child’s college admission process, while maintaining your sanity and your relationship with that very special college applicant.

Four Keys to College Admission Success

Here’s a quick review of our tips to maintain peace in your household as your child goes through his/her college search and application process:

W – “We” are not submitting college applications.  It’s time to start letting go.  Let your child take credit for his/her SAT score, his/her GPA, his/her accomplishments.  “We” aren’t applying to MIT.  “We” didn’t have an awesome internship last summer.  “We” weren’t offered a merit scholarship.  These are all things for which you should give credit – and ownership – to your child.

B – A balanced college list is truly the key to success.  Our team always says the ‘magic’ is in the list.  The money is in the list as well – if your child applies to colleges that offer merit aid, and has grades/test scores near the top of those colleges’ applicant pools, they’re likely to get some great scholarship offers!  [And if your child applies to a whole bunch of colleges that don’t have a track record of offering merit aid – don’t be shocked when they don’t offer it to your kiddo either!  More on financial aid and specifically merit aid, here.]  We spend a lot of time and effort making sure our clients’ lists are balanced, ensuring that they love their ‘target’ and ‘likely’ schools.  It’s worth spending time on this.  Here’s another post with more on a balanced college list.

E – You’ve probably fought this battle before with your teenager:  work done at the very last minute is not our best work!  So…..get things done early.  College admission essays written weeks or months in advance can be drafted, redrafted, reviewed, revised, put away for a week to look at again with fresh eyes…..and revised again.  Work with your child to come up with a realistic schedule for them to complete all of the tasks associated with their college applications.

In which order should you do this, you ask?  All of the work flows from the list.  If it’s fall and you don’t have a final list, focus on that first.  Then move into essays.

V –  College essays must be written in a teenage voice.  College admission counselors – the people who read college applications – can tell the difference between an essay written by a student and one heavily edited or written by a parent.  We speak differently and that comes through in our writing.  So resist the temptation to hover over your child through every stage of his/her essay, and let his/her voice shine through.

Many students (and parents) struggle with the fact that college essays are not anything like essays they’ve written for their English teachers – they are PERSONAL.  The rules are different from the rules for English class essays!  Here’s more direction on that.

We hope all of this helps – we know the hands-off and the tough love in this advice is hard but in the end, we’re looking for positive results, lots of choices and merit scholarships if at all possible!  So this guidance is really focused on helping you get good outcomes through your child’s college application process.

BTW, we know that financial aid and paying for college is also a source of stress.  In the webinar embedded in this post, we walk you through how college financial aid works.  It’s important to understand how the process works as you build and then narrow down your list.

If you need a little bit of help with any of this, we have both one-on-one and seminar options for high school seniors.  All of the details are in this post.  We’re happy to be there to help keep the peace in your home this fall!


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