Military families may be aware of government programs that cover the cost of tuition, room and board and books, but figuring out how to get in—well that is tough, especially in an era where there are more than enough students and class presidents with perfect grades and SAT/ACT scores to fill every spot at the most selective colleges many times over. There are approximately 1.2 million dependent children in active duty military families that move on average every three years, and attend up to nine schools by the time they reach high school graduation. To military families anywhere in the world, here are a few suggestions to empower your child to take advantage of unique opportunities to stand out in the admissions process:
1. Earn great grades
The high school transcript is the most important part of the college application. Your child should strive for the strongest grades possible. Is your family attending a new school this year? No problem. Contact your School Liaison Officer to learn about resources for excelling in challenging classes. Also, take advantage of free online resources as well. The explanations to tough chemistry formulas and math proofs can be found on YouTube while enigmatic works of literature are discussed all over the web. Just make sure that whatever online resource you find matches up with your child’s curriculum.
2. Obtain a competitive SAT or ACT score
With hundreds of thousands of applicants applying to selective colleges, a competitive score on the SAT or ACT is critical to earn admission. College admissions websites provide statistics about what scores are generally competitive for admission for their school. With this information, devise a plan to obtain a similar score. Both the SAT and ACT are games that can be mastered through effective preparation. Few students are naturally gifted standardized test takers, and all of the concepts tested are usually not covered in high school. There are numerous free online resources to obtain a SAT/ACT score and others geared specifically to military families. Check out tutor.com/military or Khan Academy for free prep materials that can be accessed anywhere in the world to conquer these tests.
3. Develop perspective
College is meant to open your child’s mind to new ideas and admissions officers seek students that can open their classmates minds to new ideas as well. When writing application essays, your child should focus on what she has learned from growing up in different places or being exposed to different cultures. There is no better way to prove an ability to connect and lead others than based on experience doing this at a young age.
4. Make an impact
Whatever interests your child, encourage her to develop and share her passions in a way that benefits others. Creating a YouTube channel or blog that teach basic computer coding or inspire younger kids to explore specific academic subjects can be done from the comfort of your home and reach children across the globe. Your child could also start a community service organization dedicated to causes that she cares about. This initiative impress admissions officers and even more importantly, allows your child to explore long-term career paths.
5. Learn a foreign language
Colleges look for the next generation of global citizens that can carry their brands with them while working or living abroad. Take advantage of opportunities for language immersion abroad or in different diverse communities throughout the United States.
Greg Kaplan is a college admissions strategist and author of Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges. He focuses on empowering families to identify and develop their long term paths and stand out to earn admission in the college application process. Kaplan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and UC Irvine School of Law. See www.earningadmission.com for more information.