The first question most parents ask when they come to us for their first consultation is, “What should my son prepare for? How can you help him improve his chances of admissions?”
They know already that there is no one answer to the college admission process, but they are still trying to find a definite answer.
The difficulty in life is the choice.
– George A. Moore
The prestigious colleges, namely the Top 20 on US News, are a common hope among top-tier high school students. And certainly, they are not accepted just because they are only good at studying. Having great academic performance (GPA) and test scores (SAT, ACT, etc.) are foundational elements of your application and can be achieved through dedication and persistence. However, most students have trouble with how they should prioritize their time, what activities they should do, and finding their passions.
As high school students, you have probably thought about what you want to do after college. Eventually, you’ll have to choose what you want to do, and many teens are affected by what their friends or parents say. Having specific discussions and considering what activities you should pursue throughout high school are important conversations that should be done with a counselor. Receiving proper advice on not only your activity choices but also your life choices will give you the steps to success.
At Admission Masters, there was a student who was very confused about what he wanted to do and what he should prioritize. I learned from our first meeting that Timothy was in the 10th grade, GPA 3.5 (uw), no standardized test scores, and did not take any AP courses. At that time, Timothy wanted to be a comedian and his parents wanted him to be a doctor. His parents believed that his job as a doctor fits well with him because Timothy was good at science and loved helping others. And both Timothy and his parents wanted Timothy to attend a prestigious college. It was a very challenging case because as counselors, we often have to mediate the conversation to understand both the student and their parents while trying to appease both parties.
Our course of action and advice were the following:
- Timothy should utilize his summer to focus on completing his SATs, so that he has more time over the summer of his junior year for various activities that relate to his passions.
- We also advised him to take at least 3 AP courses his junior year. He showed us that he was a smart student, and thus capable of pushing himself to take more challenging courses.
- Discussed future opportunities with family in regards to becoming a doctor.
- Begin exploring in various fields to figure out what fits his strengths (don’t just focus on science activities, because you’ll be surprised what you’re also great at). Join clubs like Drama, Thespian Society, and Comedy Sports
- As Class VP, he has the personality to do more for the community. Utilize his personality strengths to influence his school/community.
Throughout his journey with us during the rest of his high school career, we implemented various changes so that he wasn’t just a strong STEM student, but also a student with a great personality, compassion for his community, and a leader in his school.
Timothy was ultimately accepted to the Stanford University. He mentioned to us that people were shocked by the “unexpected result”. Some said he needed more special activities or awards. Others said his academic scores were too low to gain admission to top colleges. But he made it. Eventually, he found his passions, his strengths, and his personality.
Making the “right choices” for your future may seem daunting. At Admission Masters, we want to help you make the right choice for you, just like Good Will Hunting’s teacher. It is our destiny to walk with you through the journey we call Life.
The difference between going it alone, and getting there with the help of others, is a question of time and
the quality of the results.