As a college admissions advisor and independent educational consultant to students and their parents as they go through the college search and application process, I educate them on many aspects of the current college admissions landscape. Examples include the importance of focusing on the student’s strengths and preferences, colleges’ reliance on enrollment management strategies, the significance of students “demonstrating interest,” and the increasing availability of non-need based merit awards.
Students will gain admission to college if they consider choices that “fit” and match their academic level, focus on the elements over which they have control, and pay attention to what the colleges are asking for throughout their admissions processes. I work hard to teach students how to figure all of that out.
I also remind students and parents to keep a sense of humor. Toward that end, I’ve developed some “advice” for a successful college applicant.
First, not only take the most rigorous curriculum offered by your high school, but do extremely well in all of those courses. Extremely well.
Second, do something of importance. Don’t simply write a play. Produce it yourself. Get it performed off-Broadway. Doing so on Broadway is better still. In other words, make an impact. The more prominent the effect or, at least, the audience, the better.
Third, as an educational consulting practice in NYC advises, “Look within yourself and project those qualities that have helped shape who you are and what you will contribute to society in the future.” In other words, writing why you want to be a follower rather than a leader is not advisable. While it may provide admissions staff members with a welcomed contrast to much of the material they are reading, it is not the way to go.
Fourth, and again citing that same practice which “counsels students on the intangibles, e.g., becoming empowered to make an impact through their interests, improving their relationships with their teachers and peers,” suck up in any and all of the ways that you can. Establish an organization devoted to supporting guidance counselors and college admissions directors in these stressful times. What about a campaign to establish “national college admission directors’ day?” Design some greeting cards. Start a movement.
Last but by no means least, when you are writing the “Why I want to go to Yale” essay, remember that Yale is not spelled H-A-R-V-A-R-D.
Published as a Letter to the Editor in the September 2015 issue of The Globe, the student newspaper of Mamaroneck High School.