Succeeding in the college admissions process is as much about standing out from a sea of other highly qualified applicants as it is about developing the foundation for long-term success. As we begin 2018 and students return from winter break, set healthy college admissions resolutions that will not only improve your child’s odds of admission, but empower them up to achieve their goals in college and beyond.
Here are four resolutions I suggest every high school student adopt and stick to in 2018 to turn their college admissions goals into a reality.
1. Make a Plan
Given the fierce competition to earn a spot at selective colleges, it is critical to create a plan to stand out. Students who sign up for every AP class offered learn the hard way that they have little time to do things to stand out beyond their transcript. Approach every class, activity, and test strategically to ensure that your child can dedicate time to the things that matter the most to her and will deliver the highest return to her applications.
2. Develop Passions and Skills
Admissions officers have many talented applicants to choose from when admitting applicants. Admissions officers are not looking for well-rounded students. Rather, they are seeking passionate specialists, which together, create a well-rounded class. To stand out and earn a spot at your child’s dream college, focus on the areas that matter the most to your child, and look for opportunities to excel in them. Earn recognition wherever possible, and think of creative ways to demonstrate an ability to make a difference in whatever your child naturally enjoys doing.
3. Gain foreign language skills
If you are worried about good jobs being shipped overseas, your child should become fluent in a foreign language so she can be part of an international team. Admissions officers and employers are impressed by applicants who demonstrate an interest in foreign cultures and who have made an effort to connect with people out of their comfort zones. Foreign language fluency can lead to higher pay and more robust career opportunities that do not exist for people who do not speak a second language.
4. Focus on yourself, not classmates
A collective group panic sets in somewhere in eleventh grade as students become nervous about their odds of admission. To reduce stress levels, to the extent possible, try to ignore other students’ or parents’ stress and focus on your own individual plan for earning admission. Colleges do not look for multiple copies of the same applicant. They will build a dynamic class comprised of students with different interests and skills. Avoid the temptation to do what everyone else is doing; following the crowd is likely to be counterproductive and lead your child to blend in with other applicants.
By staying true to yourself and creating a plan to develop skills and passions that admissions officers covet, your child will position herself for success, both for college and beyond. Best of luck in this process in 2018!
Greg Kaplan is a college counselor and author of Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges. Greg is dedicated to empowering students to develop and market their passions to earn admission to their dream college and build the foundation for long-term success. For more information, visit www.earningadmission.com.