Admit it: Many students and their families are concerned about obtaining their college dream. In a recent Princeton Review survey, Hopes and Worries, the most prevalent worry was being admitted to a first-choice school and not being able to pay for it and 71 percent of those surveyed reported their application anxiety as high. With application rates continuing to soar, wait list numbers growing and acceptance rates dropping to an all-time low, this anxiety is understandable. Crisp Consulting + Coaching would like to offer a few strategies that may seem unusual, but will certainly assist in decreasing the stress in the college application process.
Unusual list. When finalizing your list of colleges to apply to that meet your academic, financial and social criteria, be certain that you select at least three colleges that also extend the normal scope of your guidance counselor’s recommended schools. In order to achieve this, write down your top five college choices, next, take away all Ivy League schools and selective schools in your state. In North Carolina, selective schools would include Davidson College, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. Next, take away all highly selective schools in your region. For example, in the South, highly selective schools would include Emory University, University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. Three of your schools should be different than the same 25 colleges to which most students are applying. A qualified educational consultant can help you find phenomenal schools such as Furman University, St John’s College and Wittenberg University which are great schools that are often over looked.
Unusual aspects. Colleges want to know that students took advantage of high school offerings, the rigor of a student’s coursework and their performance, but they also want to know the ways in which you are unique and how you can contribute to the incoming class. College application essays are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your unique abilities. Avoid writing about common subjects and highlight something about yourself that is unusual. Are you a passionate pyrotechnic expert for your school theatre? Can you multitask with multi-cell organisms? Is your ability to juggle school and community akin to your ability to juggle swords? The unusual will catch an admissions officer’s attention and highlight your unique personality.
Unusual timelines. Although most students will apply to myriad colleges by January 15th, be different and submit all of your applications, regardless of early or regular decision, before November 1st. This will be advantageous in many ways. It will decrease the stress of the holidays for you and your family, it will decrease the work load of your senior year and most importantly, strong applications submitted before November are eligible for significant financial aid and merit awards.
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.