How to Control Your Path to College
More than ever before, college admissions officers are having to make difficult decisions due to prioritizing matters like diversity, legacy applicants, athletic recruiting, and even budget cuts. Since these factors are beyond the students’ control, it’s crucial that you know all about everything you can “control,” and it’s important that you put yourself in the best position possible when applying to college.
U.S. News asked a variety of educators and people making the admission decisions for advice on how students can best be prepared. This is what they said:
- Be Focused From Start to End. Colleges and universities really want to know that you have been focused from your freshman through senior years and that you are getting the best possible education that your high school offers. A four-year plan is critical and if you are serious about going to college, “you need to proactively make the most of your time there,” says Katherine Cohen.
- Challenge Yourself Responsibly. You probably know that grades are the single biggest factor in admissions decisions, but did you know that strength of curriculum is now an ever-close second? Admissions staffers believe that if you take a rigorous curriculum, you will be more likely to succeed in college. So, plan on taking those demanding courses, but make sure you’re eligible to take them, that they interest you, and that you aren’t sacrificing your health or social life by being too burdened.
- Focus on a Few, not a lot. A recent study by the College Board showed that the more colleges students apply to, the more stressful the experience is. And due to this pressure, over-applying can actually hurt your chances of being accepted due to the numerous essays, applications, and time it takes to personally “present yourself” in each application. Jeff Pilchiek sums it up by saying, “It’s much better to be an exceptional applicant at six schools than an average applicant at 12 or 20.”
- Don’t Join Just Because You Think it Looks Good. You should know that colleges are always looking for that well-rounded student who is completely “involved.” However, it’s better to join fewer activities and clubs where you can spend two to four years and really make an impact than it is to be involved with numerous activities on a sporadic or superficial basis.
So the important aspect to remember is to do the things you can control. If you need any advice in planning for college, please contact our office for a free initial consultation.