Greetings Students and Families
In this final piece of my 3-part series, I will present some remaining “mistakes” to avoid in college admissions Planning.
This is a perfect time of year to revisit your Educational and College Admissions Goals – Schedule your Mid-Year Assessment- It’s Never too Early to Begin College Planning
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|# 11 (Ok so I am exceeding the Top-10)|
CAMPUS VISITS AREN’T REQUIRED and these don’t enhance your chances of admissions.
For that matter, with travel restrictions and closed campuses- for now that is off the table. But for my Freshman and Sophomores- there will be plenty of time post-pandemic.
Campus visits are expensive and should be limited to 3 to 5 schools that you can very clearly articulate a reason for visiting. Most of what you need to know about academics is described at the college website. Visits in the junior year are valuable if you want to truly narrow your list or confirm an Early Decision application. If possible, aim to cut costs by visiting several schools in one part of the country. You also have time for visits in the fall of your senior year where there are special senior programs that will allow you to shadow a current student.
*** Women and underrepresented minorities can often visit colleges at target weekends sometimes in an all-expenses paid program. Applications are due late summer/early fall.
CLICK to VIEW: VIRTUAL CAMPUS VISITS
# 12 DON’T RUSH!
GAP YEARS are a wonderful opportunity for all students to mature. Some parents and students assume that a year off means a seemingly great student will not be able to adjust to hard work after a gap year program. The data support the exact opposite. A year away often matures and energizes young adults and they outperform their peers in all majors.
Taking a gap year can also provide financial aid advantages by allowing siblings to have more overlap years as undergraduates leading to enhanced financial aid awards. Ask me how this works!
# 13 EARLY DECISION TRAP
Early decision acceptance rates are higher than regular decision rates at many institutions. Parents and students should not conclude that individual chances are higher by design. Qualified applicants have high chances of admission in both admissions cycles. All too often I meet with families in our end-of-junior-year meeting with a confirmed list of reach, match and safety institutions. Then the panic sets in and students cannot imagine the protracted admissions cycle (decisions don’t arrive until end of March). Returning from their summer activities, the once fourth choice has become the first choice and the student switches to Early Decision. Having choice in life is always a good thing as is patience for the natural course of events in all that we do.
Click to View: EARLY DECISION vs REGULAR DECISION: Is EA/ED Right for You?!
|# 14 -THE MISTAKE YOU DON’T WANT TO MAKE|
Please don’t assume that a high or perfect GPA earned in 6 AP classes in your junior and senior years will land you an acceptance letter at the selective college of your dream. Very simply- it will not. If you are a regular reader of my newsletters and blogs- you’ve heard me over and over talking about taking the time in high school to discovery and be joyful. College admissions want to know two things about.
A Perfect GPA isn’t sufficient to gain an acceptance to a highly selective college nor is it necessarily the best way to leverage your high school career at the expense of other introspective opportunities. Everyone applying to highly selective colleges has a high GPA and the same transcript.
Please don’t wait until the end of your junior year to realize you have a 4.0 and a 1500 SAT but you have only the National Honors Society and 50 hours of assorted unspecific community service hours to note as the “activities” of your Common Application.
Take the time throughout high school to engage in the activities that bring you joy and allow you to share something about your unique self!I’m positive I can help you think of many ways to engage beyond the clubs at your high school – LET’S CHAT!
College Admissions Officers want to know two things about every applicant —1 Who are You ?2 What “Problem” do you want to solve- what do you want to learn with others on our college campus?
I previously wrote about all the moving parts of your College Application including.Transcript/ GPAExtracurricular ActivitiesStandardized Test ScoresTeacher RecommendationsCollege Admissions Essays
As an educator and college counselor with over 30+ years of experience guiding young adults, my message is straightforward- it’s about the importance of young adults finding the joy in all that they do. Teens attend classes, engage in student clubs and navigate life within their communities– all of this shapes emerging personal and academic interests.
Young adults who spend their time engaging in the activities that they love are not only successful during the college admissions and college application process, but are more purposeful students and community members once arriving on their high school and college campuses. Happiness can never be overrated! You may be a tad bit suspect about “happiness” after so many months of social distancing and perhaps even illness within your home. I cannot overstate how stressful the COVID-19 situation is for all of us- but we know that hope and joy about our future can carry us through this difficult time.
CONFIDENCE, ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION RESULT WHEN OUR YOUNG ADULTS ARE ENCOURAGED AND SUPPORTED TO EXPLORE AND FIND THEIR UNIQUE AND JOYFUL PATH. SO YOU MAY BE ASKING ME WHAT ON EARTH DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SUCCESS DURING THE COLLEGE APPLICATION PROCESS–
While no teen needs to have decided at 17 or even 24 a lifetime career path, in college admissions- you’ll be asked to talk about why you selected your major area of study. College admissions officers also like to see sustained interest/involvment in activities that define you personally, connect you to your community and have demonstrated and explained how you became interested in your academic area of interest. If time is so consuming through enrollment in 5 to 7 AP /IB classes to have limited involvement in extracurricular/personal pursuits- your perfect GPA doesn’t go very far in helping to learn about you as a person and emerging student.
About 90 to 95% of my clients began work with me before their Junior year. A handful of students reach out during their senior year. Many have huge dreams and goals that often include acceptance to a highly selective university. And while their GPA may be near-perfect and they possess the desire and ability to succeed academically at selective universities- I am saddened to inform students with no recognizable connection to an emerging academic interest that their chances aren’t strong. If I only had met them 6-12 months sooner- I could have helped by suggesting ways to spend time to deepen academic discovery and increase chances of academic and college admissions success. This is the case for aspiring business, STEM- engineering, pre-med, Humanities, pre-law, artists and any major. For that matter- if we had more time I can help each student engage in academic discovery to avoid being one of the 25% of undergraduates who change majors — sometimes resulting in the need to spend a fifth year to earn their undergraduate degree.
Your activities are opportunities to discover and engage in three distinct ways:
Academics-Discover and deepen an academic area of interest- presumably your intended major. In particular, not only will you be noting activities this abbreviated section of the Common Application, but you’ll also be writing responses to essay prompts that ask you how you’ve decided to pursue a particular major.
Interested in STEM? Some expected extracurricular activities include FIRST Robotics, HOSA, Volunteering at hospitals, science fairs, or math team.
Interested in Business/Economics? Students may have been inspired by DECA, FBLA, an internship and even working/shadowing at parents’ office in an informal way. Students can also volunteer to work with younger students in all these areas.
If you need ideas on how to become engaged and involved to learn more about an area of interest beyond the clubs offered at your high school- let’s talk!
“Passion” – You’ll notice that many college essay prompts asks about a “typical” day or an activity that brings joy. At least one or more of your listed activities should represent one way you spent your time that is for YOU! Do you bake cakes, blog, write poems, teach Sunday school or dare I say it- play video games. While parents often scoff when I suggest attending an amateur video tournament- the reality- it’s one way to validate what is otherwise viewed as a less favorably use of a teen’s time. Everyone should have something they truly enjoy and look forward to doing during free time. This passion can also be the motivation to develop better time management skills – “I need to finish my homework by 8 p.m. so I can have the evening to <Fill in the blank>?”CORNELL UNIVERSITY ESSAY: What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours? (Please limit your response to 650 words.)*
Community Service- It’s truly important for our teens to recognize that they assume a role in their local and globally communities. How we engage and connect to others is a reflection of your family’s core values. Not only are community service hours an important part of your application- but they allow students to put their soul behind a cause that is important to them- whether’s it’s assisting those in need, fighting for social justice, raising awareness on issues of human trafficking or global warming- goals don’t have to be lofty -but being a part of a community will undoubtedly exercise your compassion muscles and teach you to be a better listener and work within a group.That aside, many college essays ask for replies to essay prompts addressing questions such as “what community are you a part of” or “share a time you’ve collaborated with others”.
Juniors– Class of 2021- FINISH YOUR COLLEGE ESSAY BEFORE SUMMER BREAK!June WRITERS BLOCK DATES, information and registration:CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORKSHOP
DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGIC EDUCATIONAL & COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PLAN FOR SUCCESS?
ARE YOU ON TARGET?
8th to 11th Grade families It’s time for your mid-year strategic educational check-up to assist with summer plans and confirming course planning for the next academic year.If you didn’t fare well in the online modality this past fall- it’s really important to cover ground in sequential courses such as foreign language, mathematics and science before you step back into the classroom after the holiday break. Do you need some suggestions of resources to polish missed concepts during the fall?
This is also the appropriate time of year to review extracurricular activities as you begin to plan your summer. As extracurricular activities continue to be placed on hold and/or see modifications – navigating the journey towards the undergraduate experience is a bit more challenging in these uncertain times. So how do students continue to engage and explore their interests- let’s talk!
YOUR PERSONALIZED EDUCATIONAL AND COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PLAN RESULTS IN MOTIVATED, SELF-DIRECTED & CONFIDENT YOUNG ADULTS READY TO SUCCEED!
WITH OVER THIRTY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AS A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR & ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE MEMBER YOU’RE INVITED TO LEVERAGE HER EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSITY CURRICULA AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES TO BUILD YOUR COLLEGE PLAN!.
I WISH ALL HIGH SCHOOL AND UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS CONTINUED SUCCESS – defined by a joyful and meaningful year both within and outside the classroom.
Bonnie Rabin, PhD
CLICK TO SCHEDULE YOUR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PLANNING CONSULTATION with Bonnie Rabin, PhD
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STEM, Business, Humanities, Creative Arts -Find Your Passion and Be Unique!
Best wishes for an absolutely meaningful and enriching balance of our school year and a Happy & HEALTHY Holiday Season.
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational & College Admissions Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org
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