When you begin planning for college with your student (which should begin when you bring them home from the hospital), the following 9 areas will help you position them for success. Success in this case means getting accepted to the college of their choice. Getting the greatest amount of aid is a whole different discussion.

1. GPA

It is no revelation to anyone that grades are important. Parents that are committed to their child’s success as an adult will sacrifice their time to assist their children to become effective students. Effective students are ones that learn to read and comprehend what they read. It is impossible for students to get good grades unless they can read and comprehend what is being taught in their classes. Effective students also are committed students. Most successful students have committed parents or parent.


2. Honors or AP Classes

When college admissions officers are making decisions on which students to accept to their college or university, one of the things that will pay dividends for your student is what they achieved in advanced learning courses in high school. These courses can prepare your student to test out of college credit. Advanced placement tests are a lot less expensive than taking the required classes at the university. Many colleges and universities accept these tests for college credit and waive the requirement to take the course at the college level.


3. SAT or ACT Testing

For more specifics on SAT versus the ACT and which one might be right for your student, check out the article Which College Exam Should I Take, the ACT or SAT? Standardized testing is an area of admissions that measures the ability of the student to take tests as well as the level of learning achieved during high school. In your college planning and preparation, this is an important area to prepare well. Increasing your scores over time by taking the test more than once, can improve your chances of admission to the school of your choice. It may also improve your chances of merit based aid from the college you seek to be admitted to.


4. Outside the Classroom

High school students applying for college should realize the importance of spending time outside the classroom in activities that match the things that they are passionate about. What this says to the college admissions officers is this student will be driven to excel in their chosen field of study. A college or university’s alumni play an important role in obtaining a constant stream of good candidates for future students and to keep their classrooms full. Referrals in any business is helpful, and college is BIG BUSINESS. Referrals are a college’s good source of business and the least expensive acquisition cost. Outside classroom activities can pay off for your student by getting him or her a great referral to the university desired.


5. Clubs and Sports

College planning and preparation for the college application process should include a students’ participation in some sort of extra-curricular activity. College admissions officers like to see well rounded students. Clubs like the English club, chess club, Spanish club, National Honor Society, or participation in sports whether it be volleyball, basketball, football, track or tennis, shows a student’s ability to be diverse. It also shows their ability to handle their studies and manage their time to participate in multiple activities.


6. Leadership

It speaks well of a student, if they can show that they have been involved in some sort of leadership role. This could be with in a club, sport or even outside of school, perhaps at church.


7. Volunteer Work

Volunteer work is important. It shows a college admissions officer that the student has a great interest in others besides his or herself. It also has the potential, if the right volunteer work is chosen, to show compassion and what holds a keen interest or passion for the student.


8. Resume

Writing the resume for college admissions is also a critical component in the student’s overall ability to get accepted. Just like a resume for a job, the student should point out his or her mission to obtain a degree via a degree plan offered from the university he or she is seeking to be accepted to. The student’s strongest traits or activities should be listed first to catch the attention of admission officers. The better a student can present the reasons why he or she should be accepted, the better the chance of admission. A well written resume should be designed to capture the attention of the admissions office.


9. Essay

Finally, the college application essay is critically important. It should be written to highlight who the student really is. It should NOT be written out of a thesaurus to try impress the college admissions department with big words. College admissions officers know that the people writing these are 17 and 18 year old kids. A large percentage of valedictorians are rejected by the Ivy League schools just based on their essay because they try to use big words. The essay should be written so that it speaks to who the student is and the potential of who he or she can become. The essay is the part of the application that can really set the student apart.


Students wanting to get accepted and offered a good financial package should pay attention to the above identified items.

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