The stress is intense in the homes of high school seniors about now. Early application deadlines are fast approaching and most kids thought they would be much farther ahead at this point. Now they are faced with too much to do and too little time to do it.
It might help to stop for a minute and think through what it is you want colleges to remember about your student. Via the student essay(s), activity and honors section, letters of recommendation, interviews, and short answer opportunities; we want to present a cohesive, seamless presentation of memorable attributes. I often call these talking points, the things we talk about to help admissions officers have a framework to understand the student. Here’s a place to start thinking through what your talking points could be:
1. Do a good job of presenting your student’s main activity, focus, or passion. The most outstanding students generally have one shining thing that they care deeply about. They certainly have other activities, but there is one that lights up their world. Be sure they talk about that.
2. Does your student have something that makes them memorable? In high school, my daughter operated a private feedlot and was an Interior Finisher on homes. She also had the normal things like speech and debate, as well as music, but it was these adult-level, uncommon things that people tended to remember.
3. Show that your child does not fit their stereotype. Colleges will assume certain things about any kid based on where they live (rural or big city), their bent (artist or engineer), their race (the Asian tiger mom is still alive in people’s minds), and their activities (football or piano). Stereotypes are there because they are so often true. If your child does not fit those images, be sure they show that they have grown beyond that in various parts of the application.
If your student is memorable, their chances of success at selective colleges will be greater.
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