Privilege is a dirty word these days but a reality for a lot of us. After the admissions scandal broke this Spring exposing how well-connected families paid off counselors, tutors, and college coaches, parents have been on the defensive. A few bad apples have given all of us a bad name. A journalist recently asked me, "Are all parents willing to do anything for their kids, even cheat and lie?"
Want to do things the right way?
Join Application Nation to learn the college admissions process inside and out!
1. Consider Early Decision if your top choice college offers it.
Because Early Decision is a binding decision, colleges will be more generous with acceptances in this round compared to Regular Decision. Sometimes the acceptance rate is twice or three times as high in Early Decision than it is in Regular Decision.
2. Understand that it's not the high school you come from that will get you admitted; it's you.
Admissions officers used to have lengthy conversations about applicants with private school college counselors. These chats were highly influential in a student's admissions decision. Nowadays, admissions officers at elite colleges have curbed these calls and limited the interaction they have with private school college counselors before a decision is made. Don’t expect that attending a private high school or even a well-respected public high school will be an advantage in the admissions process like it used to be. Instead, focus on working hard, finding your passion, and showing admissions officers how great YOU are.
3. It is okay to seek out help.There is nothing wrong with getting sound and trustworthy help in the process. Students are applying to college for the first time, and hopefully the last time. Don't just sign up for college counseling help or test prep with anyone. Look for a professional who has worked extensively in an admissions office at a similarly-competitive college to where you want to attend.
4. Do not report pay-to-play summer programs on the application.
5. Avoid essays that suggest privilege.
Family trips, expensive hobbies, attending a private/boarding school, and community service are difficult topics to pull off in an essay. Admissions officers at elite colleges are particularly judgmental when it comes to privileged students writing about these topics, and these essays can very easily come across as self serving.
The bottom line is: privilege is not something that you can avoid benefitting from. It permeates every part of your child’s life whether you realize it or not. Privilege is what keeps us all humble, and that's not something to be taken for granted.