Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Flight Plan for Helicopter Parents - Highly Selective Admissions

If your student has ambitions to gain admission into highly selective schools (5-25% admit rate), here is how you can help provide "low ground cover" through this process:

First, it's important to help your student do their homework.

Treat every potential application to this strata of schools as a small research project.  

 The Choice Blog is an excellent resource to use to find admission data. 

As part of your research, you will want to help your student ferret out the following information:

  • Application requirements: SAT Subject Tests - how many? required/or recommended? Teacher recommendations (1-2)? Peer recommendation? Interview?
  • Early vs. Regular admit statistics (app. volume/accept %)
  • Colleges within University admit statistics (engineering vs. liberal arts)
  • Mid-50% range for test scores (Early vs. Regular admission)
  • Hook: What is my hook? (Legacy, athlete, underrepresented minority, 1st gen, underrepresented gender, early decision, full pay)
  • Application Type I: Common App. Universal App., Institutional App.
  • Application Type II: Early Action (EA)? Early Decision (ED)? Early Decision 2 (ED2)? Single Choice Early Action (SCEA)? Regular?
  • Supplemental essays:  research what essays were optional/required for 2012-2013 admission cycle to anticipate what the student will be asked to submit in the 2013-2014 cycle.  Supplemental essays are very important in a "tie breaker" case.  In fact, I tell my students to spend two, if not three times, the amount of time and energy to crafting these essays.  The personal essay gives students a chance to tell colleges who they are;  the supplemental essays give students a chance to tell the colleges how they see themselves fitting in specifically to their college.  It's about fit!

Second, you need to have a game plan:

  • Create Contact History with Admission Rep - email/visit non-binding (EA or SCEA) schools
  • Apply to 3-4 schools other than ED 1 early (1-2 rolling; 1-2 early action). 
  • I compare this strategy to a archery target. If your "ED" school is the small bulls eye, then add a couple target rings that are easier to hit. That way your student gets a handful of "Yes" letters before or during the time they receive good or bad news on their "bulls eye school".
  • Additional recommendation letters (alumni, local dignitaries, youth pastors, people beyond school that can speak to character, leadership, excellence).