Priority #1 For High School Students

College admissions deans have spoken, and you’re not going to believe what they said.

Take care of yourself.

That was the primary takeaway from a message endorsed by over 300 Deans of Admission from colleges across the United States last week – from the most competitive colleges to those with a less selective admission process.

Take care of yourself.

Then consider your academics.  Then think about how you’re relating – helping, contributing, empathizing, being an ally – to the world around you.  These are the issues they’ll consider when they review rising seniors’ applications this fall.

The message was sent as a follow-up to Harvard University’s “Making Caring Common” report, issued two years ago as a result of the ever-increasing stress and frustration connected with the college admissions process.  Making Caring Common attempted to show families that character counts in college admissions – colleges are truly looking for students who are proactively being human and relating to the diversity of the world around them.  Over the past few years, colleges have begun asking students to discuss their relationships with people who don’t look like them, or hold different beliefs, in their college admissions applications.  Now, this issue has come even more to the forefront, and colleges will prioritize the importance of these interrelationships.

But because of COVID-19 and the impact of the varying degrees of isolation we’ve all experienced over the past few months, colleges are most concerned that students are taking care of their own mental health.  The mental health crisis on college campuses had been rising before COVID, and colleges truly want to ensure that they aren’t inviting students who aren’t emotionally prepared to live independently onto their campuses.  Think about it as a safety and liability issue as much as their expressing their concern for your child’s well-being.

This article in an industry publication has additional comments from some of the participating college admissions deans, which emphasize context.  Colleges are always trying to put students’ personal and academic experiences into context, whenever they are able to do so.  What extra-curriculars were available at your school, or did you have family responsibilities that prevented you from participating in them?  How many rigorous classes were offered, and did you go beyond what was offered academically?

One of the most important parts of our job as independent educational consultants is reducing the anxiety of the college admissions process – for students and for parents.  We’ve seen the stress level rising to an uncomfortable level, making life pretty miserable for everyone.  Doors slamming, eyes rolling, the silent treatment – we’ve seen all of this and more.  If you’re concerned that this might be what the next six months (or 2 years) of your life might look like, please reach out.  College admissions is all we do, all day, every day, for families all over the United States.

Thank you, as always, for relying on Magellan College Counseling for up-to-date information about the college admissions process.

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