(PCM) Beat the College Admissions: Top 5 Preparation Tips – The time is NOW for proper planning!
No one needs to be told that the college entrance process is a challenge, but with many of the top US universities being more selective in 204* – with Harvard boasting the lowest acceptance rate ever of of 5.9% – and the worth of a degree becoming more and more significant in the modern age, the college application needs to be taken seriously – now more than ever. Keep ahead of the curve and deliver the most promising college applications with these top 5 tips for your children.
1. Know what the common application expects
While certain colleges base their admissions on test scores and GPA performance, they are well in the minority, with the majority using the partially-subjective Common Application for undergraduate admissions. Academic rigor is important, but with any Common Application, other things like extracurricular activities and community engagement are just as important. Regardless of what specific expectations each college has, it is vital for your child to stay honest – with themselves and with the college in question.
2. Show effort with improvement
Colleges are always on the lookout for students with talent, but there is a clear difference between talent and effort. The effort a student puts into his or her work is a sign of maturity, discipline, passion and commitment, and while good scores are always good scores, having proof of continual improvement – in not just scores but other curricula and extracurricular aspects – is the clearest demonstration of these qualities possible.
3. Don’t neglect the human element
With a good academic record, it should not be difficult to show the important educational qualities outlined above, but other general human qualities are just as important. These involve leadership, decision-making, initiative, compassion, awareness and the willingness to make a difference, and there are plenty of activities of note that can be used to demonstrate these. Volunteering is one of the best ways to show compassion and awareness, and sporting activities easily show initiative and leadership.
4. Get ahead with the college application
Preparation is important for all aspects of college admissions, and this is definitely true in answering application questions and forming the college application essay. You could say it is an inexact science, but I like to think of it as more of an art. As such, you want your child to be creative and interesting, and they need time to study their writing and improve it, and to let ideas come naturally. This is especially important when answering certain questions.
5. Preparing for the interview
I have performed many interviews with prospective college students over the years, and I know very well the level of anxiety it can cause. The students I most preferred and gave merit to were the ones who had not rehearsed. I am not saying you should not rehearse with your child (you definitely should), but you should let them know how important it is not to rehearse answers too thoroughly. In the real interview, the admissions officer wants to see an organic response.
After a long career in educational administration, Jenny Hull became an admissions officer at the University of Virginia and is currenlty a writer for how2become. She is also involved in educational awareness programs in Piedmont.