Published: February 22, 2016Category: Blog Written by Calli This piece was featured as a Guest Contributor post at Lubbockforkids.com on February 22, 2016.
Spring Break is right around the corner and provides the perfect time for high school students and parents to visit college campuses. A strong campus visit is the single best way to determine if a school is the right fit, and will ultimately help your child to narrow his or her college list. Amidst the many tasks that high school students juggle – studying for college entrance exams, completing school assignments and filing college applications, to name a few – it is important to prioritize this piece of the college search and application process. College visits during the sophomore and junior year of high school can prove to be very beneficial. As you and your child get ready for this exciting time, here are a few tips to help you make the most of upcoming college tours:
Plan Ahead and Prioritize. As you prepare for college visits, do your research and prioritize campuses you and your child want to see. The reality is that you simply won’t be able to visit them all. A good rule of thumb is to visit no more than two schools in one day. This should provide enough time to not only experience each campus, but to also get a taste of the surrounding neighborhoods and gain a better understanding of area safety, social life and job opportunities close to campus. Include your child in the planning process and use sites like Goseecampus.com or the College Board’s Campus Visit Guide as resources to help with planning.
Make it Official. Although it can be tempting to do a campus “drive thru” and call it good, students and families who participate in official visits gain a greater understanding of the university as a whole. Typically, short information sessions are offered on the front or back end of a student-led campus tour. The info session presents a “highlight reel” of the campus and allows participants to ask questions. The campus tour is a way to see and experience, first-hand, the very best of each school’s facilities, traditions and culture. This information will reach far beyond what you might pick up from reading the school’s website or skimming a brochure you receive in the mail. Due to the high volume of visitors during popular travel times, it is important to register for these events through the school’s website, or by calling the admission office at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Take Advantage of Special Opportunities. Many colleges allow prospective students to sit in on a class, tour a specific department, eat lunch in a dining hall or participate in an overnight visit. Don’t hesitate to inquire about special programs available. The opportunity to speak with a current student or meet with a faculty member can be a terrific way for students to experience life at the college and gain a better understanding of how and where they may fit at each school.
Document Your Visits. As you take in each campus, encourage your child to document their thoughts through writing and taking pictures. By the time senior year rolls around, it will be difficult to keep all of the colleges and information neatly organized in your brain. Campus notes and pictures will help students quickly recall their overall impressions. Furthermore, as your student begins writing college essays, many schools will ask for detailed reasons for why they have chosen to apply. The ability to remember specifics from each school can make all the difference in essays that stand out from the crowd.
Let Your Child Lead. As difficult as it might seem, your visits will likely be much more enjoyable and productive if you let your child experience them as the maturing adult that they are. There is a lot of value in parents visiting colleges with their kids, but the reality is that most teenagers want to feel in charge, confident, and self-sufficient - especially when surrounded by their peers. Encourage your child to engage, but don’t be disappointed if he or she doesn’t seem overly enthusiastic. This is all part of the process, and as your student moves closer to choosing a college, you will likely begin to hear more about their interests, dislikes and likes of the campuses they’ve toured. Simple steps like letting your child set-up the campus visit or allowing them to ask the majority of questions will show your child that you not only trust them, but you also support them on this exciting journey.
Published: February 1, 2016Category: Blog Written by CLC College Prep
Students and parents often ask “which extracurricular activities do colleges like best?”
The answer surprises many: the ‘best’ extracurricular activity is one that a student sincerely enjoys, rather than one chosen simply because it might appeal to college admissions officers.
When college admissions officers turn to the activities section of a student’s application, they aren’t looking for a list of specific activities. Instead, what they’re looking for is a sense of who the student is as a person. How does this student choose to spend his free time? What interests the student the most? What talents and skills will this individual bring to our campus?
Authenticity matters. Students who chase after titles or accolades just to satisfy some imaginary college admissions checklist are doing themselves a disservice. Colleges receive thousands of applications from high school newspaper editors, student body presidents, band members, community volunteers and athletes. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing any of these activities, of course, but if the main reason you’re participating is because you (or your parents) have heard that admissions officers like to see a particular activity on college applications, you’re probably not showing your true self to colleges. And, ultimately, that’s what colleges are looking for when they read your application: you.
The ‘best’ extracurricular activities, therefore, will vary for each student. One student might have a passion for sports, while another loves nothing more than reading and writing poetry in their spare time. Both can be great ways to spend your time and be of interest to a college admissions committee --- but only if they truly interest you. Sometimes, finding the activities that most excite you takes time. That’s OK; high school should be a time for exploration. If you start off freshman year thinking you’d like to write for the school newspaper then discover in junior year that you have a passion for acting, go ahead and give the Drama Club a try. The key is to pursue activities that you honestly enjoy; those are the activities that will give an admissions committee a hint of who you really are.
Students and parents also wonder how many extracurricular activities colleges expect students to participate in. Is your strength as an applicant measured by how many activities you do? Simply put: no. While colleges prefer students who do more with their spare time than just study or play video games, admissions committees don’t tally the number of activities an applicant participates in so much as the depth of participation. The student who joins ten different activities, but only puts token time and effort into each of them, is less interesting to an admissions committee than the student who only does a single activity, but loves it so much that he devotes most of his free time to it. So, think quality of participation not quantity when deciding on how to spend your time.
Finally, don’t forget that extracurricular activities – no matter how impressive - never trump an applicant’s grades, course selection, and test scores. While it’s important to find and pursue activities that interest you, school work should always be your first priority. First and foremost, colleges are looking for applicants who have shown they’re ready for college-level academic work. An impressive extracurricular resume is just icing on the cake for an applicant who has been successful in the classroom.
Published: January 25, 2016Category: Blog Written by CLC College Prep
Thinking about playing your chosen sport in college? Are you wondering how to make your current involvement in athletics enhance your chances of admission? Here are some guidelines for prospective college athletes.