Pick me! How to get colleges to ‘fight’ for your student


“How To Get Colleges To Fight Over YOUR Student

For Their Incoming Freshman Class

Dear Parent,

As summer kicks off officially, it is definitely a good time to take a well-deserved break from the stressors of school (for both students AND parents), and we urge you to enjoy this vacation time to the fullest, no matter where it may take you.  We also, however, cannot miss an opportunity to share some of our insights as College Funding Professionals as to how a family and a high school student can best prepare for the future at the next educational level… it is what we do, and we are pleased to continue our efforts even during the vacation months.  (Although, it might be rather nice for you to read this month’s newsletter while reclining in a lounge chair with a cold beverage in-hand… just a suggestion!)

As the time approaches for high school students to apply for admissions to colleges and universities – and it is gradually approaching, even during the summer months – it is good to focus on the things that enhance a student’s standing as an applicant to colleges and universities down the road.  Like almost every other thing we talk about in these newsletters, the earlier students and parents start with this process, the better off they will be in the long run.

Students can often become so wrapped up in the process of selecting schools and deciding on where to apply, that it can seem like the colleges are the only ones making a real decision – that the students are putting in their applications and just hoping for the best possible result.  Well, this is not necessarily true.  It is – at least to some degree – for many students, unfortunately, but there is also a subset of college applicants who will find themselves in the proverbial driver’s seat when it comes to deciding where they will attend college

While they might or might not be admitted to every single school to which they apply, these students find themselves in the enviable position of having multiple schools from which to choose, and in the best circumstances they may also find the schools sweetening their offers to compete for their attendance!  This is invariably a circumstance that occurs when preparation and planning come together during the early stages of high school, but getting the ball rolling in this direction can be started anywhere along the path.

Yes, multiple acceptances from colleges and universities who are willing to compete for a student is a best-case scenario, but it is certainly NOT out of the question for students who make wise decisions and are willing to prepare themselves during the high school years for their college experience.  Here are a four specific tips to consider to help your student become a pursued candidate when the time comes for college application.

Strategy 1: Academics Matter (Obviously)

It should come as no surprise that schools are going to want to see academic performance when it comes time to apply.  Kids who have been working hard on their schoolwork in high school – and have earned the grades to show for it – will often move up significantly in the admissions cycle of colleges and universities.

Now, there are some specialized circumstances that might be able to help overcome a less-impressive GPA, but there is NEVER a circumstance where a high GPA is considered a detriment – and all other things being equal, the kid with the higher GPA will get additional consideration almost every time.

It is also important to note that academic extras during the high school years, such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses and International Baccalaureate (IB) work, can give a significant extra “boost” to an application at most (but not all) schools, as well.  Special honors in different subjects can also carry some additional weight, if there is a specific topic that a high school student excels in.

The bottom line is that students in high school need to take their high school transcript seriously.  If they do, it will serve them well in the future.  If there is anything that we can do to assist in making this foundation of your child’s college application as solid as possible, please let us know.

Strategy 2: Find (AND Develop) Talents

It might seem cliché, but it is true: every student has his/her own set of talents.  For some kids it is really easy to see their talents.  The terrific athletes, and the wonderful singers, and the student body officers can be picked out by most people without having to look very hard.  However, there are many other talents that can help a student in the quest to become a recruited applicant at his/her most desired schools.

The most important thing is for students to actively seek the things that they can do well, and find their talents.  This can come through school, through extra-curricular activities, through community activities, or even through their own reading and/or research.  Granted, sometimes finding these talents comes quite easily.  Other times it can turn into a bit of a longer search.  Because of this, it is important to start early and identify some of these areas of emphasis as soon as possible.

Regardless, though, once students have identified these talents, it is vital for them to find ways to develop their gifts.  This can take a variety of different methods depending on what talents are being grown.  We also recognize that different families will have different possibilities when it comes to how their kids are able to pursue their passions and talents.  Regardless of what these special gifts are, colleges and universities love to see young people who have taken the time and opportunity to develop themselves in a variety of areas and interests.  We can certainly assist in this regard, if you have any questions about finding and/or developing the talents of your high school student.

Strategy 3: Do Your Best To Nail Those Admissions Tests

There is really no way to avoid the importance of the SAT and/or ACT in applying for college admission these days.  No, these tests are not the end-all-be-all, and there are some students who wind up successful without knocking the top off of the bell curve of standardized testing, but the simple fact is that students who perform well on the SAT and/or ACT will almost always have a much easier time with the admissions cycle in general (assuming the other parts of a strong application are in place, of course).

What this means, of course, is that the tests need to be taken seriously, and they need to be prepared for appropriately.  We have extensive experience in assisting with all aspects of this, including helping students who may have had testing challenges in the past to do their best on exam day.  This is yet another area where preparation, as early as possible, can make a huge difference in the eventual outcome.

Optimal preparation for these tests can also vary considerably from student to student.  Some young people will require different types of preparation than others will – even to achieve similar results – and it is ultimately to every student’s benefit to determine precisely what the best preparation regimen will entail to ensure an outcome that will serve as an application strength and not a red flag.

Remember also that, regardless of how the exams go – and we are dedicated to helping make them go as smoothly as possible – we are also dedicated to assisting with ALL aspects of the application process after the exams, to find the best possible institution for your child’s academic endeavors.

Strategy 4: Start Correspondence With Schools… Early

As soon as a high school student has come up with a preliminary list of colleges and universities that interest him/her, it is a good idea to request information from the institutions directly.  It can also be helpful to contact specific departments at these colleges or universities, especially if there are areas of academic interest that the student might wish to pursue after high school.

These early contacts can definitely pay dividends later, especially since a student can become a “known entity” by the time the college application period rolls around. Departments may have scholarship opportunities, and may also have some input that can be of value for admissions committees.

It is also easy enough to add or remove schools from the list as the high school years progress.  Sometimes interests can be amended over the course of four years, and there is nothing wrong with editing the list of potential schools in accordance with these changes through the years.

Now, if you are looking for specialized advice or assistance in making these contacts with the schools that interest your high school student, please feel free to discuss them with us – your college funding advisor, will have years of experience in how to manage this kind of correspondence for the ultimate benefit of the student!

Although it is summer, now is the time consider some of these elements from this month’s newsletter.  Even during vacations from school, it is important for young people to focus on developing their talents and perhaps even visiting some college campuses that interest them.  Regardless what your plans will entail, remember that we are here to help with turning these plans into a reality – and when the time comes we are ready and experienced in working with applications, admissions questions, and all elements of financial awareness regarding the college and university years.

One of the main ways that we help the parents of college-bound high school students, especially when it comes to learning more about the money side of higher education, is by presenting our popular, live College Funding Workshops.  These workshops, offering in-the-flesh presentations from the most knowledgeable college funding experts in the area, provide a tremendous service for parents who are trying to optimally prepare themselves for the financial side of their student’s upcoming college or university years.  The presentations offer parents both accurate and timely details, providing information that can make a great positive difference for attendees!

Our workshops are offered without cost or obligation to all participants, but because there are seating limitations (and because we always insist on a great learning environment), we must insist on advance reservations for the presentations.  Should you have any questions about the workshops coming up in your immediate area, just ask our workshop staff – they are available at 614.934.1515.  We can help with any questions regarding details, locations, dates, as well as other workshop-related information.  Of course, we are also happy to handle reservations for those who have already decided to attend.

Aside from the workshops, we also have a published report for parents who looking for current information on how to best manage and plan for upcoming college expenses.  We have developed this report specifically with these parents in mind, and it is called “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College.” Just like the workshops, we offer the report completely free of charge and without any obligation.  To receive a personal copy of “Nine New Ways To Beat The High Cost of College,” simply call our staff at 614.934.1515.  We will be more than happy to email one to you immediately.

Until next month,