You know that moment when your kid is talking to another adult and they suggest something that you have been telling your kid to do for months? Or when your kid actually repeats what the other adult tells them to do and says to you, "Isn't that a great idea?"
For years, I have been that other "adult" who gives advice to teenagers about the college admissions process. I often say the same thing their parents say. Yet they listen to me.
What happens now when my oldest is ready to start the admissions process? Who is going to be that other "adult" that tells my high school junior everything she needs to do? I have someone in mind and I know my daughter will listen to her. If you don't have that person, here are the things you can get someone you trust to tell your kid because they won't listen to you, but they'll listen to them:
1. Senior year is not the time to "let up."Students are expected to take five core academic classes (English, math, science, history/social studies, foreign language). Their curriculum for senior year should be at least equal in rigor (and ideally more rigorous) to what they took in junior year. And those grades senior year can make a huge difference in a student's admissions decisions, so it is extremely important for them to keep working hard.
2. Do not wait until the summer to find a summer job or opportunity.Right now is the perfect time to reach out to employers, professors, and mentors in the hopes of setting something up for the summer.
Students need to visit plenty of "target" and "likely" colleges in order to see these schools as possibilities. There is a higher likelihood that the target and likely colleges track demonstrated interest, so visiting is essential. And in this competitive landscape, there is a higher likelihood that the student will ultimately get admitted to and possibly enroll in one of those target and likely schools.
3. Do not just visit "reach" colleges.
Once senior year begins, it is difficult to balance schoolwork and essay writing. The more that gets done in the summer, the better.
4. Write the main college essay and as many supplemental essays as you can during the summer.
More colleges are asking for these school assignments with the teachers' grades and comments on them as proof of strong writing ability without assistance from someone else or ChatGPT.
5. Save graded papers that you are particularly proud of.
These notes come in handy when the student finalizes their college list and starts writing college-specific supplemental essays.
6. Write down notes and impressions of each college visited.
FREE DOWNLOAD: College Visit Worksheet
7. Do not be afraid to talk to core academic teachers about your interests, ideas discussed in class, summer opportunities, and plans for the future.These conversations can be pivotal for the student's confidence and growth as a learner, and they can solidify a teacher for a letter of recommendation down the road.
8. Focus on yourself in this process and which colleges are the right fit for you instead of what your friends and classmates are doing and where they are looking.
There should be an equal number of reach, target, and likely colleges on the list. If not, the number of supplemental essays can soar and chances of admission will decrease.
9. Be realistic about your college list.
10. Love the colleges that love you back, and don't waste another second on the colleges that do not value you.
READ MORE: Are the Minimum Admissions Requirements Enough to Get Into College?
If you are like me as a parent, you want your kid to use sound advice in this process. Parents will go to the ends of the earth to get their hands on that sound advice. But sometimes our kids don't want to listen to us tell them what it is. I am happy to deliver that advice to anyone who will listen. But I am guessing that it will take someone else other than me to deliver this advice to my own kids. Wish me luck!