Things in Your Control
- Developing a Realistic List of Schools: It is often easiest to find the reach or possible schools on your list, but the schools that are most important to get right are the likely or safety schools. These are the schools that are more realistic and will set you up for a successful admissions process.
- Putting Your Best Effort into Schoolwork and Activities: You do have control over how much time you put into your studies and how effectively you use that time. Are you studying smartly or are you just studying? Do you know how you learn best? Are you passionate about your extracurricular activities? If not, maybe you are doing the wrong things. This is a good time to assess where you stand. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal addressed studying smarter.
- How you Respond to Obstacles/Setbacks: Obstacles can come in any form, from this last storm to illness to receiving a low grade on a test. What is important and in your control is how you respond. Are you resourceful when you lose power? Do you go in for extra help and buck up when you don’t receive the grade you expected? The response to adversity is what is important because sooner or later everyone will face a setback in his/her life.
- Managing Your Time and Expectations Effectively: College students often report this as one of the hardest things that they need to learn, so it’s great if you can work on this during high school. When applying to college this becomes increasingly important because there is a lot do and it is very hard to scramble come October of senior year. It is best to start at the end of junior year into the summer and work on a little bit each week so that you are ready to submit come Nov. 1, or even earlier.
- Your Essays: This is the one part of your application that you do have control over because it is the opportunity to share your personality and voice. Think about it carefully before you sit down to write.
Things Out of Your Control
- Getting into a Highly Select College or “Reach” College: For even the best and brightest students, highly select colleges are hard to get into, so know that going in and be open to how the process evolves.
- Unforeseen Obstacles: Hurricane Sandy was a perfect example. Again, you have to be resourceful and figure out a way around this.
- Your Child (For Parents): This is the time for students to start taking control of their future and parents to start relinquishing it.
- How Much Financial Aid You Will Receive: This again is dependent on the family income. You can, however, identify schools that offer merit aid, which goes back to tips 1 and 2 in things you can control.
- Human Error: People make mistakes, from a counselor forgetting to sign an Early Decision form to a student making a typo on the activity listing, to the College Board not sending out your test scores. All of these things can be fixed, so it is best to just know it is all part of the process.