When an admissions officer reads your student’s college application, what will be their takeaway? After sifting through the academics facts, the essays, the short answer questions, the opinions of teachers and the school counselor, what will the reader be left with?
The answer to that depends largely on how your student handles their application. If they present a lot of random information and never connect the dots, we can only hope the reader discovers the buried treasure. If a student takes the time to think through their approach and presents a cohesive narrative of their high school experience, the chances of success rise dramatically.
I encourage students to select 3 talking points, the things they want colleges to know (and remember) about them. Here are some examples:
- The brilliant Midwestern farm kid with few financial resources who taught himself math, had been mentored by a chemistry professor for 10 years in a college lab, and held an adult-level position in a national organization.
- The young Asian woman from the west coast, who was a highly accomplished violinist, but supported an NGO by doing office work, traveling overseas, and fundraising.
- The hockey player from the east coast who took high level math classes and hosted his own sports radio show.
- The STEM kid who created award-winning documentaries and also was also an accomplished artist.
- The homeschooled expatriate who taught science classes in a private school and led a conversation corner group in a coffee shop to help locals with their English skills.
There are several approaches to determining your student’s talking points. When a student spends a great deal of time in a few areas, the talking points rise to the surface and are easy to spot. If a student has activities across the board, I will often suggest that they look for the following points to highlight:
- An area of strength in high school pursuits or future potential as indicated by the student’s accomplishments in research, inventions, or internships
- Something that is memorable or unusual about their profile
- Something that will pull them outside the stereotype a college might have of them
Taking the time to think through your child’s candidacy and how to present it to a college will yield many dividends!
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