Admit it: Current acceptance rates at elite colleges have everyone looking carefully at the upcoming college admissions cycle. Rising juniors and seniors are in the process of examining schools, anticipating applications and managing academic and extra-curricular activities. With the stakes higher than ever, the admissions process can be stressful. Yet, Crisp Consulting + Coaching believes the college search, visit, application and admissions process can be managed well and can even be fun.
Recently, Princeton Review’s “Hopes and Dreams” survey, asked students for one piece of advice about the college application and admissions process. Shockingly many students responded “Ask for help from someone who actually knows something.” Crisp Consulting + Coaching knows insights about college admissions and advocates all students should look for the following during the application process.
Look for fit. First and foremost, think about academic, social and financial fit. Many students and their parents focus on name recognition in the college search process. Families should focus on the student’s needs. What type of classroom promotes academic success? What social environment will enhance the college experience? What amount can a family realistically afford? A student’s specific college fit should navigate the college search process.
Look at the campus. Get on college campuses. A college guide book, virtual tour or anecdotal advice will never take the place of campus visits . Besides taking the campus tour and participating in the admissions office’s information session, sit in a classroom, eat in one of the school’s cafeterias and explore the surrounding areas. Ask critical questions during the visit: Do you see students that look like you? Do you like the architecture and the layout of the campus, the proximity of stores, restaurants and entertainment? Students not visiting campuses during the application process, not only jeopardize college fit, they jeopardize being admitted.
Look for what they are looking for. Robert J. Sternbergh advocates the admissions process should be both humanistic and holisitc in his book, College Admissions in the 21st Century. Colleges are looking for traits beyond the numerical statistics of the class profiles. Admissions officers want to attract students with focused interests and talents. An award-winning debater, dedicated ballerina or committed volleyball team captain is going to be desirable. Being well-rounded and giving minimal time to many activities is not suggested. Admissions officers look for depth over breadth and they want students who have made an impact at their school or in their community. Students need to figure out the best way for them to distinguish themselves in their extracurricular activities. Explore and follow your passions in a few areas that allow you to demonstrate commitment, responsibility and if possible, leadership traits.
The college search and admissions process does not have to be stressful nor frantic. Focusing on essential elements of fit and measuring those elements in the process will teach you much about yourself and secure your future in higher education.
Brian D. Crisp is an independent educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching who works with families in Asheville, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Savannah to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor, administrator, and teacher, Brian has the knowledge and skills to counsel families in all aspects of educational planning.