The college support I offer enables students to take ownership of the process themselves so parents can take a step back and serve as a supportive ally on the path to college. Typically I prefer to start working with students early enough to get to know them and their families; understanding a student’s goals and background enables me to perform my job better. Early involvement helps prevents some common college planning mistakes and not only offers me the opportunity to suggest activities and courses that will help a student stand out, but also provides us with a head start on applications and essays. In my experience the students who define their goals early have a higher likelihood of gaining acceptance to a first choice college.
I offer a thorough evaluation and comprehensive review of a student’s background in three major areas: academic, personal, and extracurricular. Recognizing that a student’s application carries more significance than just letter grades and test scores, I work with students in preparing a dynamic application. Based on the goals set forth by each student and his/her family I create a customized plan that provides students with guidance that adds value to the college application. Students receive personal, expert guidance at every step of the process in order to ensure that they submit the best, most genuine applications.
Colleges seek students who take advantage of their opportunities, including challenging themselves academically. As a former reader, I know what colleges look for when evaluating transcripts; sometimes the smallest oversight lands a student’s application in the “reject” pile. Every year thousands of students who performed well academically share the same fate without ever realizing their mistake: it matters not so much how well a student performs but mores the choices students make regarding the classes they take. The classes a student chooses reveals a lot to an admissions committee about the student’s ability to take risks, whether or not the students has experience thinking critically and to what extent the student has mastered the discipline to achieve to his or her highest level of academic ability. All of these factors enable an admissions committee to predict whether or not a student will be successful students in college and they value he/she will add to the college community, both inside and outside the classroom.
DEVELOPING THE COLLEGE LIST
With over 2,500 colleges across the country how can a student determine which is the “right “one? I guide students by breaking the search down into essential elements to consider when deciding where to apply. Together we explore some great they may not have considered. Whether a student wants to go to school on the other side of the country or wishes to attend a local State college, I strive to ask questions that compel them to consider the elements of a college environment that will inspire them to grow during the formative college years. In general, students who work with me do not apply to many colleges in a desperate attempt simply to gain admission.
In addition, I explain to students how schools like Harvard, Stanford, Yale and the rest of the nation’s most selective colleges decide who to admit from the pool of qualified applicants each year. As part of a larger strategy, I explain how students can set themselves apart from the rest of the applicant pool and offer specific strategies that improve a student’s chances of admission. While the most selective colleges may not be the best choice for every student, they are the right choices for some. Either way, the goal is to identify the best schools for each unique applicant.
PASSIONS VERSUS INTEREST
The single most important element that differentiates a Stanford student from a person who wanted to attend Stanford is an elusive quality that makes them just a little bit different from everyone else. Most of the time students at elite colleges most of the time are not smarter than many students who attend other colleges. Instead, the students who gain entry to the “best” colleges have achieved something beyond the ordinary in some realm of their lives, ranging from athletics to scientific discovery to giving speeches to starting companies to developing a method of writing that far surpasses what they learned in school. The students who stand out have proven a commitment to their passion. Their applications do not brim with a variety of roles in their areas of “interest”. Rather, their application tells a story about the student who has a proven will to succeed, the courage to overcome failures and a steadfast determination to make their dreams a reality. The admissions committees do not look for a singular activity or type of passion because they do not judge the what the student chooses. Instead, they look for students who have a clear record of pursuing a passion, not interests. By encouraging students early on to break free of the stale uniformity of the application process and express their individuality by participating in activities that speak to who they are as a person, perform on a level expected of a champion, whether it involves sports or art, and impressing others by never giving up, students stand out among thousands of other applicants.
The college essay is the first time a person writes with the realization that how they articulate the answers to the questions posed makes all the difference in the world. Some may argue that the college essay is the first time a person expresses who they are on paper, so the expectation that what the student chooses to write and how they write it serve as a distinct and important representation of the writer. To that end, “the perfect essay” does not exist. Rather, the perfect written representation of the student emerges in the context of the college application essay. Most essays that students write do not stand out. In fact, students rarely break out of the mold and tell the story of themselves in a way that enables the reader to know the writer better after reading the essay than they did before they read the essay. I work with students until they unravel the complexities of college essay writing process and determine the story they believe tells the reader about some facet of themselves that would otherwise go unnoticed on a college application. This method produces the most moving, inspiring and sometime humorous insights into the person who before reading the essay was merely another applicant to most admissions committee members.
Often one of the first questions asked when charting a the course to college is “which test(s) should I take?” Colleges rely on standardized exams as a benchmark to equalize candidates across geographic, cultural, economic and gender lines. At the same time, colleges know that standardized tests are not fool proof. A test score will never define a person, but it can give colleges a barometer for how well a student may perform at a higher academic level. Students must not simply go along with what their friends do when it comes to deciding which exams to take and when. Instead, they must determine which test makes the most of their strengths. Every college accepts both the ACT or the SAT and each of this test is tailored for different types of students. Knowing which test fits a student best often alleviates the unnecessary anxiety of over preparing for a test that will never represent the true nature of a college candidate.
Deciding which colleges to apply to and when serves as the most intricate piece of the college admissions strategy. The decisions students make about whether or not to exercise the early decision choice sometimes defines their future. A strong and successfully strategy depends on understanding the decision plans, knowing the historical data associated with the admissions of individual colleges and a student’s individual situation.
ALLEVIATE FAMILY TENSION
Families should look back on the college application process as a positive experience – one in which parents did not shoulder the stress of the process, students did not have concerns about completing applications on time and students are excited about the college they will attend in the Fall.