Parents place a great deal of pressure on themselves to make sure their son or daughter attends the best possible university after high school. Rankings are one of the most referenced attributes for determining how impressive a university is. However, the US News and World Report rankings often are not the best way to determine if a specific university is the best “fit” to attend (or even apply for).
Yet, rankings continue to be the main focus for school selection. This leads many parents to focus on the same universities for their children’s education. To achieve the best results, it remains vital for parents to 1) help their child identify and build up their uniqueness to stand out from other top students applying to the same subset of universities, and 2) recognize that high school college counselors are often overworked and need help.
Preparing for college application should start as soon as possible in high school or even junior high. A student needs enough time to demonstrate their uniqueness to the admissions team. For example, Stanford looks carefully at what each applicant brings to its diverse incoming freshman class in terms of distinctive experiences and interests.
Representatives told me during talks that it is not what Stanford can do for the applicant, but what the applicant can do for Stanford. If too many other students share the applicant’s “uniqueness,” that applicant most likely will get “lost” and not get admitted. This is regardless of high SAT scores and a proven track record of academic success. Stanford freely admits that over 80 percent of the students that the admission team rejects would actually succeed in the university’s demanding academic environment.
Most high schools have college counselors to help guide students through the application process. These professionals work diligently to provide assistance. Parents are hopeful their child will get critical help for their application, but they must recognize that high school counselors are responsible for many other students.
Too often, high school counselors lack the necessary time to give individual students the personalized coaching and support needed to reach the best possible universities. As a result, parents must actively help their child make continuous improvements outside of the classroom. By being involved in their child’s extracurricular activities, my experience is that the parents’ contribution greatly improves their child’s eventual college admissions results.
AJ Warner is a busy dad. When not with his two sons, he’s coaching Chinese students on how to get admitted to top US universities (undergraduate and Master’s programs). He also helps Chinese families immigrate to the US for better education opportunities. He’s also part of the beijingkids parent board. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Steve Jurvetson (Flickr)