Stand Out to College AdmissionsJune 17, 2020
Looking Forward: Preparing for Seventh GradeJuly 28, 2020
With the ever-changing college admissions landscape, members of the Class of 2024 may be wondering what they can do to stand out to college admissions officers. Here’s some advice that we’ve heard over and over again from people in the know!
Being the Most You
Undergraduate admissions experts urge students to explore the ideas, relationships, and activities that mean the most to them. Lauren Cook, the president of the Western Association of College Admission Counseling, advises students to reframe their thinking. Instead of asking, “‘What can I do right now that would look good?’ … I would always encourage [students] to think about it from the other point of view. Think about being the most ‘you’ that you can be. What makes you happy? What do you get excited about? That will make admissions officers excited, too.”
For some students, that may mean indulging in artistic pursuits, such as composing a song or writing a screenplay. For others, it may lead to volunteering in a unique and creative way to support causes that are important to them. Students with particular academic interests can take a deep dive and maybe connect with peers and mentors around a shared passion.
Showing What You Know
Long before the pandemic, two things mattered most to college admissions officers. First, they want to see that a student is taking appropriately challenging classes. Second, they look for a strong GPA. That approach remains unchanged. Schools want students who are learners, and who consistently do well in school. If your child’s GPA has shown an upward trajectory after any course struggles, that matters a great deal to admissions officers! First semester GPA counts, so this is no time to slack off.
The summer months are a great time to revisit weak skills and preview potentially difficult academic topics. Students can even strengthen their executive functioning skills so that they can maximize their time once school starts—making room for college applications, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and time with friends. Preparing ahead of time is especially important for senior year AP classes which generally require greater independence, outstanding school habits, and a specific baseline of knowledge.
Students can also showcase their academic skills on the ACT or SAT. A good score on one of these tests will enhance a student’s application, even at test optional colleges. Speaking of test optional, some schools will no longer continue with that policy. We recommend keeping an eye on the websites of schools your child plans to apply to for the most up to date information. If your child hasn’t yet taken the ACT or SAT, it’s also not a bad idea for them to take a practice test now in case they decide to take the real test later on.
Writing Outstanding Application Essays
College application essays are more important than ever in this time of test-optional admissions policies. Even for students who will submit ACT or SAT scores, essays hold weight. This task can be stressful for even the most skilled writers. Working with a tutor to brainstorm, draft, and edit college essays can provide balance, as well as boost their advanced writing skills. It’s also a great opportunity for students to get writing feedback from someone other than their mom and dad. The more objective approach can result in a calmer college application season overall!
If you’d like some assistance exploring any of these options with a tutor this summer, please reach out so that we can customize a plan for your senior!