I recently spoke to a parent about their student who is a strong student academically. The parent wanted to know how I could help their student in the admissions process since the student has done well with grades and test scores. Here was my response:
You should be proud of your daughter for being a strong student. That will be very helpful in the process of applying to colleges. However, good grades in challenging classes and strong test scores alone will not get a student admitted to a highly selective college. These colleges expect those things but to get admitted, you need more.
You need to be an interesting person. Highly selective colleges are looking for students who have a passion or a focus. There is no one right passion. It might be volleyball or it might be the oboe. It might be science research or it might be theater set design. But whatever it is, it is something that you like to do and that you have devoted substantial energy to while in high school.
Why do colleges like to see students who have a passion? Because those are the students who are going to add something to the college that they attend.
Selective colleges like to see students who have given back to society. People who think of someone other than themselves. That is why volunteering is so important.
Selective colleges like to see students who write well. That is why the application essays are so important. But beyond the quality of the writing, the colleges look at these essays to see what the student writes about. What does the topic of their essay say about the student?
Selective colleges want to know that you really understand the colleges you are applying to. Have you done your homework in researching colleges or are you just applying to selective colleges based on the rankings. I can tell you based on the initial essays I typically see from my students in response to the question of why are you applying to X college, that the responses are usually terrible. And I work with some incredibly talented students.
How can I help? I help students understand what is important to the colleges in the application process. I help students focus in on what essay topics best showcase who that student is. I help students find colleges that are a good fit for the student and help them communicate that fit to the colleges.
I help students through the interview process and do mock interviews with them so that they are prepared to best present themselves at the interview.
Grades and test scores are important. But it is everything else in the application that helps the colleges decide who to admit. I help the student ensure that their application, including the essays, best showcase who that student is.
Do you need a consultant to help your daughter in the application process? No.
Will a good consultant improve your daughter’s chances of admissions to a selective college? Most likely.
And while all of this may sound self serving, I am not the only good college counselor out there. There are hundreds of educational consultants that do a great job in helping student find and get accepted into selective colleges. I would love to work with your daughter but, whether it is me or someone else, you should strongly consider hiring a college counselor to help your daughter through the admissions process of highly selective colleges.