COLLEGES GET THOUSANDS of applications each year, and it’s their job to decide whose life stories are most compelling and most deserving of acceptance. Admissions officers get a fleeting glimpse of who your child really is. They see test scores and grades. They note the extracurriculars and they read the essays. They take into consideration the experiences and achievements, and they make a story about who your child is.The challenge is that after reading thousands of applications, admissions officers see the same roles played out over and over. The stories blend into repeated types, none of which stand out. Therefore, the first thing College Match staff do when we meet with students is to find out what they care about most, what they’ve excelled at, and what has given them a sense of pride.
Our goal is to locate the sparks, strengths, and passions that can ignite a fire of transformative growth. the sooner students grasp these sparks, the sooner they know who they are and what they need to pursue in order to get what they want in life.
Many students learn to survive high school by conforming to other people’s expectations, by fitting the molds and labels that will get them the approval and sense of value they seek. From an admissions standpoint, conforming is the opposite of what a student wants to do. Colleges look for students who know who they are and what they love. If a young person spends their time trying to conform, standing out in the application process is very hard to do.
It’s hard to be unique, and in certain environments—where young people face bullying or intimidation—being different can seem downright scary. Yet individuality is the key to getting into the right college and thriving thereafter. That’s why your child needs your support, to make sure he catches his sparks.
As admissions consultants, we often take the role of guiding students toward their strengths as the first steps in the journey to college. In addition to working with your child to discover his unique talents and interests, it’s helpful to meet with mentors, teachers, coaches, counselors and other adults your student admires.
Exercise 1: Finding the Sparks
Goal: To help students recognize their favorite growth experiences, and where they get a strong sense of pride.
Instructions: Working with your child, discuss the experiences, activities, teams, clubs, hobbies, that have given your child the greatest sense of satisfaction. For each experience, explore what these experiences offered in terms of skills, lessons learned, and feats accomplished.
Exercise 2: Mentor Interviews
Goal: To create mentor connections to support of your child’s unique talents and interests.
Instructions: Make time to meet with your child’s favorite mentors, (teachers, coaches, counselors, employers, etc.) Interview them to find out what they feel are your child’s strengths and talents, and where they see opportunities for your child to grow.
BRAND U – the path ahead
- Finding the transformative experiences to instill a sense of vision and purpose for the future (FIRE)
- Developing a strong vision for the future that will guide your child through the college selection process (VISION)
- Creating the Brand statement that conveys the unique value your child o ers a college (BRAND)
Thank you for tuning in, next time we start on Part II: FIRE!