For more than a few parents there is an expectation that the college admissions process is stressful, possibly a “game” that needs to be played, and something not particularly pleasant that robs our children of their youth during high school. It definitely doesn’t need to be that way.
Let’s think about it. What do we want to happen during high school? Don’t we want our students to become interesting, engaged, young men and women of character? That’s what colleges are looking for too.
Students who focus their time and energy on academic and extracurricular areas of personal interest can become truly engaged in those interests. With engagement comes experience; with experience comes excellence; and excellence builds character. Doing something simply to impress a college may work, but it may not.
Colleges have their individual “institutional priorities”, which change. There are things we control and things we don’t control. We want to focus on the things we control and not guess what a college’s priorities may or may not be -- a new quarterback or biomed students to fill the classes of their newly introduced biomed curriculum? We don’t know.
We do know, however, the character qualities schools are looking for – they tell us on their websites and there are many similarities among schools -- initiative, leadership, maturity, curiosity, enthusiasm, community-minded. These are same qualities that we want for our sons and daughters.
Yes, the high school years go by very quickly. And, there is a lot to do and learn -- about life and about colleges. So start early. Start doing by getting engaged in activities you love. Start learning about colleges and the college process. Starting early not only allows the student to choose his or her college (rather than the other way around), it makes the whole process enjoyable and possibly even relaxing!