The college admissions process has become an American Rite of Passage, albeit a stressful and confusing one. At a certain point as a parent, it seems to be the ever present topic of conversation whether on the sidelines at a soccer game, waiting in the car pool line, or even catching up at family parties. Many of us, as parents, see our children getting into the “right” college as the culmination of the past 17 years of raising that child. Everyone has a strong opinion, a scary story, a conspiracy theory — most of them categorically wrong. There are massive but unreliable resources online. Frankly, it is almost impossible to avoid making mistakes, and some of them can be major.
I remember my days in the admissions offices at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University. I read more than 1,000 applications each year and made final decisions (mostly “no’s”) on most of them. So often when reviewing an application I’d sigh to myself and even say out loud, “You could have done this better…” I came to College Coach to help students avoid making these same mistakes, drawing on my insider experiences in order to help students do their best job with each application.
The challenge for applicants is clear. The number of students applying to college has been at an all time high for about four years. While the number peaked in 2008 at 3.3 million high school graduates (up from 2.4 in 1993), it has not gone down enough to loosen up those Ivy gates in any real way.
And with a greater percentage of students submitting a greater number of college applications each year, from more diverse backgrounds than ever before, standing out in the crowd is more challenging than ever. Making mistakes that could have been avoided can easily mean the difference between a thick envelope and a painfully thin one.
As parents, we spend our lives prepping our children for what lies ahead, readying them for the challenges we hope they’ll surmount. But let’s face it, in this hyper-competitive environment, myths surrounding college admissions abound. So what do we do when even we are on unfamiliar ground, when we don’t quite know what lies beyond door number two? Do we rely upon hearsay or conjecture? Or do we seek out someone who’s actually been on the other side of the door?
At College Coach, we separate myth from reality. It’s our goal to demystify the admissions process and tackle the myths and the mistakes that can diminish a child’s chances of admission.