It’s July and, if your child is headed into their senior year of high school in a few months, it is past time to begin college applications!
A quick perusal of any college application might make it seem like a job that would last a couple of hours at best, but I’m here to tell you differently. Each application should be approached with a specific strategy in mind. You need to know how you are going to present your student to each college.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What is the theme of our student’s application?
- How do we tell our student’s story so that it is winsome and effective?
- How do we minimize weaknesses and promote their strengths?
- How do we overcome the stereotypes associated with my child?
Here are the different components of college applications:
Essay – Probably one of the most time-consuming parts of the application is the personal statement or essay. Colleges often require several longer essays and several short answer questions all of which must be carefully composed with an eye to the overarching theme of the application. I have rarely seen students handle this well on the first draft. A good essay can take several weeks (and remember, you will have multiple essays if you apply to a handful of schools). If your student needs help with this, check out our digital class In Your Own Words: Harnessing the Power of the Personal Essay.
College Application Form – Granted, some of the form covers boring details like addresses and social security numbers, but the time-consuming part (if done correctly) deals with activity lists, honors and awards. You’ve basically got around 8 lines to explain the breadth and depth of your student’s high school experience. Do you know how to make the most of it? If not, you might be interested in our digital class College Application Secrets that walks you through the entire Common Application.
Letters of Recommendation – Often a last-minute thought, letters of recommendation from teachers are important and should be requested early in the senior year (at the latest). What most folks don’t realize is that you need to help your recommender do a better job by outlining the things you need them to cover. It also helps to give them a resume so they know what else the student is up to. Many teachers really don’t know how to write a great letter, so I’ve developed a small pamphlet to help them do a better job for your student. Check it out here.
If you homeschool, there is an added layer to the college application process since you are responsible for all the paperwork normally provided by the school system. College admissions officers have recently reported that the reason homeschoolers are becoming more effective at competitive schools is that we have taken the question mark out of our applications. We’ve learned to present everything so that it is easily understandable and showcases the rigor of our program. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare these documents that are a part of the Secondary School Report:
- School Profile
- Transcript Legend
- Counselor letter
If you would like expert explanations in preparing these documents, plus successful examples of each, check out our digital class Explaining Your Homeschool.
We’ve recently created a bundle of all the classes you need and dropped the price. See our Junior/Senior Package that was created for families starting the college application.
Of course, we do offer private consulting to help you get through the labyrinth of college applications, but the senior class is filling fast! I limit the number of students I take on so that I can provide quality and timely help to my private clients. If you need help, contact us quickly.
It may feel like lazy summertime, but for students who want to go to great schools, it is important to get started with the college application process. It will take longer than you think! Starting now also lightens the load during your student’s busy senior year. Too often have I seen grades slip when students burn the midnight oil working on applications. Remember, your kid has to continue performing well in the senior year. Colleges can, and do, rescind their offers to students who fail to continue with a strong academic profile.
So, make your life easier in every way. Start your applications now. You’ll be glad you did!
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