If you are going to be working on your child’s college applications this Thanksgiving break, remember that there are many factors that lead up to college admission beyond the essays and recommendations that you will be sending along with the application. Colleges do not want students who are simply a list of high GPAs and test scores. They want students who are motivated and who academically challenge themselves as much as possible.
The most selective colleges in the country are most interested in admitting students who show that they have been taking a rigorous course load throughout high school. If your child is now a senior, I apologize if this information is coming too late. But if you have time before your child sends off those final documents, encourage them to take Honors classes and AP classes. Challenge themselves. It is better to get a B in an Honors class than an A in a regular level class. This is what colleges want to see: that their incoming class is composed of students who are eager to push themselves.
If your child’s high school does not offer AP or honors classes, colleges will know that your child did not have the option to take them. As long as your child takes the most challenging courses that are offered at their school, they will be ahead of the game. But it is not enough to challenge yourself in school. It is important to find a way to stand out to the admissions office, and prove that you want more than anything to be a member of their community.
When you are ready to start the process of applying to specific schools, it is vital to make an impact on the admissions office. If possible, visit the school as soon as possible, do tours, and absolutely sign up for an interview. If the school is too far for you to do this, then call the admissions office. Ask to speak with alumni in your area. All of these efforts are included on your record, and the admissions officers know that you are making a concerted effort to learn about their school and its offerings. If your child has a special interest, such as a musical instrument, sport, or scientific field they are interested in pursuing, ask the school to speak with alumni in this field. This will prove you are truly serious about your academic path.