In my three-part series on Top 10 COLLEGE ADMISSIONS Mistakes, I gently guided readers to avoiding some of the typical “wrong turns” teens can take to not only make the College Admissions and College Application process more stressful – but these “mistakes” can often rob families of peace and students can miss out on the joys of learning and discovery. I followed that blog series by a two additional pieces outlining the importance of discovery outside the classroom – through clubs, community activities, readings and in ways you may have overlooked. College Admissions Officers want to know about the student- -WHO ARE YOU?
Today I’d like to talk a bit further about this point- but in a different direction.
In my practice, I meet so many wonderful teens each filled with excitement about their future and yes, a bit of angst about the perceived challenges of college admissions. At my initial meetings I try to reassure every family that there is a perfect fit- one that suits the student academically and socially and one that fits the family budget.
But I also consistently speak with young adults who have become overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of their classes, and who experience unnecessary angst over standardized test preparation and whether they are engaged in “enough” extracurricular activities. When I ask students what’s their favorite class, it’s disheartening at times that the response isn’t an immediate one and for some students– there aren’t even any positive responses. Why is that??! (read on)
Is your student so busy to have overlooked the joy of the actual learning taking place!?
Regular readers of my newsletters and blogs know that I encourage EXPLORATION and DISCOVERY throughout high school.
I invite you to reach out for some personalized attention to guide your student to customizing a plan for doing just that!
As a former university professor, and as a parent of two STEM millennials, I can tell you without qualification that the single most important goal of high school is for each student to develop a love of learning both within and outside the classroom.
Having an Educational and College Admissions plan results in Motivated, Self-Directed & Confident Young Adults Ready to Succeed! With over 25% of students changing majors and alarming rates of students facing difficulties adjusting to the demands of college life-enjoyment of learning and independence are skills to foster in high school. How can we assist our students?
College Admissions & Financial Aid Tips: The Role of Your College Advisor
Who are You?
As part of my practice, I read a great deal about trends in education and college admissions as well as reading about issues impacting the emotional well-being of young adults. Last year, I shared an interesting article that continues to resonate with me. But clearly the title of the article hit a chord with many others engaged in college admissions as the same theme is actually reverberating across the Common App as a college specific supplemental essay across several colleges.
In CHECK THIS BOX if YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON, Dartmouth Admissions Officer Rebecca Sabky spoke about the admissions process. I encourage you to click on the link and read the article. She is active on the lecture circuit urging teachers, guidance counselors and parents to foster a sense of awareness in the young adult population. My clients know (and some joke) that I push this point a bit much– asking students “how do you envision you’ll change the world when you’re 35, 45—why wait– what can you do now to get started in that direction” — I also ask “what’s the problem you want to solve?”
THE POINT >> Good people just don’t check off earning degrees– good people receive an education an apply their education in impactful ways. College admissions officers want to know what you’ve been up to!
Sabky’s thoughts are highlighted below and reflect my own personal experience as a university faculty member reading hundreds of admission files.
“The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper.”
“Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations,
one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness”
“Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous…. they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.
So here we are a few years after her article was written and you might ask why am I raising this point again and again? Very simply, not only are we living in a very challenging time – besieged and deluged with a daily news cycle about “civility” and “divisiveness”, but because this point is important.
As parents, educators, or in any capacity that requires us to help young adults become productive members of society, our “advising” begins way before high school even starts. We all have the responsibility to (gently) guide our young adults to engage in discovery about themselves– their strengths, their interests and how they engage with others. Yes, all students need to reach their highest academic potential. But if the entirety of the message they hear from the adults around them, and the conversations taking place are focused solely on maximizing their GPA, we miss an opportunity to help each student lead fulfilling experiences to prepare them for personal and academic success now and in the future.
Why is it important to be a “good person”?! Aside from personal fulfillment consistent with the values we instill in our children, we know that whatever profession they enter, your student will creatively engage in problem solving and decision making within groups of diverse and inclusive communities (also the topic of many a college essay prompt).
Experience gives each young adult the power and confidence to be themselves!!
In Want to Raise Well-Adjusted Kids?, John Write spoke about the benefits of hosting an exchange student. What the article shares in common with the seemingly unrelated NY Times piece on Dartmouth admissions is that both authors speak to the importance of young adults engaging in character-developing opportunities outside-of-the classroom ultimately raising their awareness of their connections with others within their communities.
So how does this all relate to college admissions and academic success at the high school and undergraduate levels?
As parents and educators we aim to (gently) guide young adults to realize their academic potential, perhaps even more important is that each emerging adult be inspired to find their place within their community. This begins at home with guidance to seek out opportunities to discover and enrich their passions and their strengths.
(If you want to see passion in action- just click here-– not only a talented musician- but a young girl with enthusiasm, style and talent beyond her years — she’s 9 years old!!)
What is your student passionate about? Now is the time for discovery!
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Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.