Goal: College Acceptance Letters

By  0 Comments

Today’s college admission process involves much more than good grades and test scores. Parents and their children need to be thinking about their strategy well before senior year if they intend to compete for an acceptance letter to the college of their choice.

The biggest key is to stay strong from start to finish. Here are some tips from college admission experts to walk you through the steps necessary to help your child get into the college of her dreams.

Investigate Admission Standards
Find out how each school weighs their admission criteria. This shows you what the administration and admissions officers deem important and how they value certain items over others. They may value the student’s essay more than her class rank.

The College Solution’s Lynn O’Shaughnessy advises students and parents to look up the school’s common data set, which is typically available on the college’s website. Search as “common data set” for the specific college or university, then check section C7, which ranks academic and non-academic factors from Very Important to Not Considered.

The website collegedata.com is a well-organized site that contains equivalent information. Its College Match tab allows input of your student’s personal preferences to search its database of more than 2,000 colleges and universities. This research will be valuable as you and your student determine what to focus on, whether it’s making good grades, boosting test scores or honing essay-writing skills.

Start Early
If you currently have an eighth-grader or freshman in your home, consider developing a long-range, four-year plan to maximize your admission acceptance. Learn about the advanced curriculum options your child’s high school offers and what it takes to be eligible for those classes. IvyWise admissions counselor Katherine Cohen says, “If you want to take calculus in your senior year, which many selective colleges like to see, you generally have to start with geometry as a freshman in order to end up in pre-calculus when you’re a junior.”

Students that might be behind or who are not on this type of track can double up on math, science or a foreign language in their junior and senior years. If your student got a late start on the advanced curriculum, don’t think of it as a lost cause. Many discussions about college admissions note that college admissions recruiters and directors like to see students turn things around.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling, in its 2015 survey, noted, “The top factors in the admission decision for the Fall 2015 admission cycle were: grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, overall high school GPA and admission test scores. Among the next most important factors were the essay, a student’s demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities and class rank.”

Activity Outside Academics
As college admission becomes more competitive, extracurricular activities are holding more weight, as they show the great things students are doing outside the classroom. Colleges want students who can contribute to the well-rounded student bodies they are striving for.

Cohen notes, “It’s better to be involved in fewer activities wholeheartedly over time, rather than nine or ten superficially.” Suggest to your child they pick only a few sports, activities or clubs to be a part of and excel in those rather than spreading themselves over numerous activities in which they may not make as big an impact.

Time to Shine
The college essay is becoming more vital when applying for college. This is the prime opportunity for your child to show their personality and demonstrate to admissions officers what they have to offer. Suggest they ditch the academic five-paragraph style and instead use their creativity by using tone, style, dashes, ellipses and more.

A trend that helps candidates stand out is the art of storytelling. Avoid broad topics and instead tell a story from a specific event that shows examples of how the student overcame an obstacle, achieved something great, or made an impact. If you’re not a confident storyteller, services such as Story2’s EssayBuilder™ can help your student write their story in an organized and compelling format.

Independent consulting companies can help parents and students organize their admissions process. Google “college admission consultants” or survey your friends. As always, caveat emptor; check the firm or individual’s credentials, including their acceptance success rate, before you commit resources to the process.

It’s a long journey with many moving parts to consider as you prepare, plan and submit applications. Remember the key: stay strong from start to finish. So even after your student clicks “submit,” keep the grades up, continue communications with the college of their choice, ask questions and visit the campus. Show them you want to be there. Now it’s time wait for the acceptance letters to come in! ■

Sources: cappex.com, ivywise.com, nacacnet.org, story2.com, thecollegesolution.com, time.com and usnews.com