Identify high school curriculum that will sparkle on your college application

Want to go into the medical field? You’ll need plenty of science courses. Architecture? Focus on acing your math and design classes. Better yet, see if your high school offers AP or college credit level classes in these areas. It’s easy to make scheduling choices based on a preferred study hall or lunch period, but being strategic about high-school level coursework can have some real pay-offs while applying to college. 

Discuss the criteria involved in the college search process

Gather as much information as possible from counselors, alumni, campus visits, internet resources and ratings books. You want to make sure the student really feels like this is a good fit for the next 4 years. Unplanned transfers, or worse yet – drop outs, are typically a huge waste of time and money. So taking the time to understand campus life and college culture is effort well utilized.
  • Location
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Size
  • Co-ed/single sex
  • Academic programs
  • Support and faith based services
  • Ensuring your child feels comfortable and their opinion is considered

Determine what’s considered in the application process

You may be very surprised to realize grades aren’t all colleges care about. Colleges want to know your child’s aspirations and how they’ve pursued them. Craft a story about your child and showcase all the ways they’ve spent their non-academic hours to support the narrative.

  • High school transcripts
  • Standardized testing scores (thankfully these are becoming less important…)
  • Personal statement
  • Extracurricular and volunteer activities 
  • Special talents
  • Work and entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Letters of Recommendations
Examine admissions plans and available application options
Schools love knowing you’re serious about them, and they’re not just 1 of 20 applications. If you have a school in mind above all other options consider applying early action or early decision. It may pay off for both acceptance and scholarship. 
Types of Admission
  • Early Decision
  • Early Action
  • Early Action-Single Choice
  • Regular Decision
  • Rolling Admission

Admission Applications

  • Paper vs online applications
  • The Common App
  • School-specific applications

Explore the types of financial aid available and the forms necessary to apply for it

You may find out that the school you’re applying to doesn’t offer certain types of aid. A popular example is that none of the Ivy League schools and close competitors offer merit or athletic based aid. Let’s face it, all their students are brilliant and talented! The focus for them is providing needs-based aid. Make sure you’re playing to the right audience when you consider your financial situation and where your grades/abilities/talents may be most rewarded.

Types of financial resources
  • Needs Based Aid
  • Merit Based Aid
  • Scholarships (needs, merit, extracurricular, community, membership)

Financial Aid Applications

  • Profile
  • School-specific forms
  • Current-year tax returns
Final words of advice

Start getting serious by September of Junior year in high school. Hire a college prep professional if needed, for example, Get College Going.