Several weeks ago I had a parent who wanted me to work with her 2nd grader on the process of preparing the student for BS/MD admissions. Now I like helping people but I told the mother that it is much too early to start worrying about college admissions, even for BS/MD programs.
On the other hand, last week I spoke to a family who first contacted me in October of senior year. At that point I was completely booked with seniors and couldn’t take on any new clients. They were calling now to have me start working with their sophomore son.
So what is the right time to start working with me or any other college admissions counselor? It depends in large part on how competitive the student is for highly selective colleges.
If the student is strong academically and interested in a BS/MD program, getting started as early as 9th grade is perfectly appropriate. There are a number of factors that go into making a student a strong BS/MD candidate and their academic background is just one issue. They also need to be concerned about volunteering, research, leadership and on and on.
Much the same is true of students interested in other highly selective colleges. For the most selective colleges, grades and test scores is just the first issue to be considered. To be a strong candidate you need to have a very strong personal resume. What this means differs from student to student but significant involvement in an activity is generally required.
But if you have a student who is not as strong academically or is considering a state college, then they don’t need to get involved as early on. For most colleges, including most state colleges, grades and test scores are the primary factors in admissions and if you are strong enough not much else is really considered.
Personally, I get involved most often when the student is a sophomore in high school. This gives us enough time for most students to develop into a strong BS/MD candidate. Getting involved as freshman just makes them that much more competitive.
While starting junior year can work, it works best for the student who has already put together a solid experience in their particular area of interest. The other problem with starting too late in junior year is that many of us fill up and stop taking new clients about this time.
When is it right for you to start talking to a college admissions counselor? Only you can say for sure but sooner is usually better than later in this field.