The Three Step College Booty Dance
The Three Step College Booty Dance
Going to college is not a huge mystery, but if you plan to go to a semi-selective college, there are some things you need to make sure you know in advance. If it were as simple as 1-2-3, more students would do this. For the sake of time, I will over simplify the college admissions process and provide a very basic outline for you. This will be especially helpful if you are a parent trying to give your students just entering high school some direction, or if you are a sophomore in high school reading this.
Step 1: Don’t Slack off! We’ll get to college selection, and which major you want to do and what you want to do for the rest of your life in a minute. First, you must focus on your character. Who you are as a person reflects in your grades. Yes, I know this is over simplified… there is more to a person than their grades; but poor study habits, reflect sharply in poor grades and test scores. There are a few students who are just “not good test takers”, but by and large what that means is that they didn’t take the time to study the needed material. If you have any desire to go to a challenging school, you need to focus on challenging yourself academically and socially. The basic rule of thumb is that selective colleges are looking to create a learning environment with many diverse peoples in many areas, so where you’ve been and what you’ve done can be a huge strength; one thing that MOST students on these campuses have in common? High grades in challenging AP classes and decent to high test scores on SAT/ACT tests. Do not slack off thinking that a “b” is good enough. Study hard and take all the practice tests before the real thing.
Step 2: Know Thyself. Work based on your strength! It makes no sense to try and work from weakness in this physical world we live in. The way adults talk to young people thinking about college, you might think that they are asking a 16 year old to have their entire life mapped out. I have fallen into this trap. It is impossible to know where life will take you, and planning a college and/or potential career is a helpful guide, not a leash. In creating this future for our kids, we have forgotten to help them develop their own futures. Step one encourages working on your own character; this is part of knowing yourself. Who are you? Really? At College Life Planning we do “strengths-based counseling”, in other words, we attempt to uncover the individual strengths of our students and then provide counsel based on that information. So try new things! Volunteer at your church, or local hospital, or anywhere you might be interested. Start to form your desires and learn how you work best. Start to really understand yourself, and live life. This is an important part of the college admissions process, but you have to know yourself and what your passions are and invest time in those areas before you start applying to colleges, and certainly before you can engage in any kind of college, or life planning.
Step 3: Start talking! Too often I get students who just haven’t talked to their parents about college and then there are conflicts, huge misunderstandings about where to go to school, how it will be paid for, what to study and any number of other things. If you are starting to think about college, start talking with your parents (or your student) about it. Here’s a tip for you students: Parents like for you to be prepared, and since they don’t know how to use the internet, you have the upper hand. Do some research about where you might want to go and start talking to your parents about it. They know you better than you might think, and they may be able to share some helpful insight that you never thought about. Some things to consider are: in state or out of state? Large campus, or small one? Private or public? Research or teaching facility? Expensive, or ridiculously expensive?
There are many more things that really need to be discussed, and timing is very important. Missing deadline can mean the difference between admission and denial. One of my students listed her biggest fear as not being accepted. What are some of your fears? Maybe it’s time to start talking about them. My cell phone is always available, and it I’m not, please submit a question on the CLP website: www.collegelifeplanning.com/ask-the-experts