A blogger over at the US News & World Report has some important advice for rising seniors who will shortly embark on the college admissions process:
Manage Expectations in the College Admissions Process
by Peter Van Buskirk
Finding happy—and appropriate—outcomes is truly a function of managing expectations. Having the “goods” academically simply puts you on the “competitive playing field” at a selective institution. It is not a guarantee of admission at places that are bound by increasingly complex admissions agendas that cater to special interest groups and students with unique talents, as well as agendas related to yield (who will show up if admitted?) and ability to pay.
Grades and test scores only set a minimum standard. There are indeed other factors that admissions officers take into account, including your personal background (if you come from an under-represented segment of the population, you will have an advantage), your extra-curricular activities, your essays, your recommendation letters, etc. So while it’s good to keep your grades up and study hard for the SAT or the ACT, you also need to demonstrate that you are well-rounded and passionate about something.
When you are deciding on which colleges to apply to, try to keep the following things in mind:
- Pay attention to GPA and SAT requirements and select schools whose standards are attainable for you. If you’re a rising senior and your last SAT score was 1400, you probably don’t have enough time to push that score up to the 2100 required to get into UVA. Look for some second tier schools instead. Remember — it’s better to graduate from a lower-tier school than to drop out from an upper tier school. (Of course, if you’re a rising sophomore or junior, your chances of increasing your score by 700 points are much better, so your expectations can be higher.)
- Pay attention to price. While student loans are available, they are not an ideal solution. (I took out student loans myself, and I’m still paying them off ten years later!) Don’t pick the expensive option unless there really is no other way to satisfy your personal educational requirements.
- Pay attention to student life issues. If you’re very extroverted, you probably don’t want to go to a school in an isolated location with little in the way of social activities. If you really enjoy horseback riding, you should pick schools which offer that activity.
- Think hard about what you would like to study while in college. You will have more success in the college admissions process if you target your applications towards programs tailored to your interests.
- Spend a good deal of time composing your college application essays, and make sure they sound like you and not like some generic applicant.
And remember — at C2 Education, we have qualified instructors on hand to help you through all the steps of the admissions process. To schedule an appointment for a practice test or an admissions consultation, please call 604-269-3751.