Positively Parenting: How can we prepare for the college application process?
Once a month, we pose a question submitted by one of our readers to a local professional or expert regarding parenting issues. For this issue’s question, a reader submitted a question about preparing her ninth grader for the college application process. We turned to Daniel Island resident and college consultant Carrie Lyndrup for the answer.
“My son is starting high school next year and I am already stressed out about him applying to college and he’s only 15. I hear so many parents talking about 9th and 10th grades being so important and the need to start planning resumes, etc. etc. Should we really be preparing for the college application process now?”
The college admissions process can seem mysterious and cast a terrifying shadow over high school, but it doesn’t need to! Colleges will be basing their admissions decisions on your son’s work throughout high school, so while thoughts of college don’t need to consume or stress out your family, it is important to understand the process and how each piece will create his application. When colleges review an application, they are looking at grades, class rigor, standardized test scores (unless the college is test optional), extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. To feel more in control of the process and to keep as many options open as possible, here are my tips for 9th and 10th graders.
Make the best grades possible and challenge yourself
Your classes will get harder each year – take advantage of 9th and 10th grade classes to help with your overall GPA. It is easier to maintain a high GPA than to pull it up. Take challenging classes. You want to be successful so make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure, but colleges want to see that you are challenging yourself.
What is your passion? How are you exploring that passion? Get involved and explore your interests. If you don’t know what you like, sign up for some clubs, seek out community service, get a job…try and discover what you like! What you enjoy as an activity could lead to a college major or a career. Take advantage of opportunities to learn more about yourself. Start a list of your activities, community service experiences, and awards – this will make it easier to create a resume later in high school.
When you are on a trip, visit area colleges
The best way to figure out what you want, or don’t want, in a college is to visit colleges. Every college conducts tours – you can take them as early as freshman year. However, even if you just drive or walk around a campus, the more you see and think about what you want, the easier it will be to make your college list and ultimately find your match. Start a pro/con list. Jotting down your likes and dislikes after visiting colleges will help you narrow your list when you are ready to start applying to schools. Lots of colleges offer virtual tours and will post admissions statistics on their websites – sometimes knowing what you are working hard to achieve can be a huge motivator and turn the idea of college into a reality. As a student begins high school, they start to create the story that they will share with colleges in their application. Encourage your son to do his best academically and seek out opportunities to explore his interests - I hope his story will be a bestseller!
As Managing Partner of Carnahan Lyndrup, Carrie Lyndrup guides families through the college admissions process. After serving as Director of Freshman Admissions for the College of Charleston and an application reader for Princeton, she now provides personalized college counseling to help students find their perfect college match. More resources can be found at her website carnahanlyndrup.com, or by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-655-6581.