All diligent high school students with dreams of going to college eventually realize that getting accepted requires some valuable assistance from several key people. I’m a planner and a natural researcher, so luckily, my son and I came to this realization early, and now that we’re already receiving acceptance letters, it’s clear that there are people who can make a huge difference in helping a student get into college.
A Test Tutor
A skilled, reputable test tutor who can teach effective strategies for tackling standardized tests and help build the confidence that every student needs to excel can play a key role, especially if your child is like mine and not a great test-taker by nature.
My son, a high school senior, began working with a test tutor the summer before his junior year, but six months later, he switched to another tutor within the same local company, and bam! it was like the stars aligned and he seemed to connect more with the second test tutor, which made picking up tips and understanding explanations easier.
A friend of mine’s son had similar success with the free tutoring provided by the teachers at his school, which leads to a valuable lesson: It’s not so much what you pay for a test tutor as finding the right one that gels with your student that’s important.
A College Counselor
Test scores are only part of the equation when it comes to getting into college. Seeking help from a knowledgeable college counselor, whether it’s the one assigned to them at their high school or someone independent, can work wonders, especially if you’re planning to apply in-state and the counselors are knowledgeable about the nuances between your state schools.
Rather than sign up for several meetings, I found a local college counselor that several friends recommended who was willing to schedule meetings as needed, making the financial commitment easier to swallow. These meetings were filled with brainstorming sessions, essay workshops, and thoughtful advice on universities, scholarships, and the application process. Once my son established a relationship with her, it was easy to email her with random questions here and there as they came up, which was extremely helpful.
A College Representative
Many college reps and admissions officers visit schools, making it easy for students to establish a connection, but if the school your student is interested in doesn’t plan on visiting their school, you can establish connections by attending local college fairs, doing campus tours, or simply looking on a university’s website to find out who the representative assigned to your region is. Most schools list their names and email addresses and invite you to reach out with questions. You can even schedule phone calls where you can ask specific questions about campus life, majors, and more. This is especially helpful if the school your student is interested in is in a different state or they don’t plan on sending a representative to your child’s high school.
I’d heard from friends whose kids were already in college that some schools place a lot of emphasis on this type of relationship, sometimes calling it demonstrated interest, while others don’t, but it’s impossible to know for sure, so my son went ahead and emailed the reps from each of the top schools he was interested in. After a few email exchanges asking about the importance of essays, personal statements, and more, he felt he had enough information to know if the school was a good fit. We’ll never know for sure if establishing those relationships made a difference, but he did get accepted to those schools very early on, so maybe there is something to it.
Parents can have an enormous influence on a student, but not every parent has tons of time to dedicate to helping their child apply to college, and that’s OK. Simply providing unwavering support, from proofreading essays to offering snacks during late-night study sessions, can make a huge difference in building your student’s confidence.
I work full time so I did as much as I could for my son during the work weeks, but on weekends and during the summer between junior and senior year, I made time to visit a few schools and forge conversations that helped my son focus on what he wanted most from a school. By the time we reach the end of this journey, I hope he looks back and thinks of me as one of his many pillars of strength and support.
Ah, yes, the student. You didn’t think we’d skip over the most important person who can get your child into college, did you? Students need to understand that while several people can play a role in their college application journey, the only one who is indispensable is them. The student is the one who has to put in the effort. No one else can or should be submitting applications, perfecting essays, and ensuring their transcripts reflect their commitment to excellence.
As the application deadlines loom, my son and I sometimes marvel at the network of people who have come together to help him achieve this goal (we haven’t even mentioned the English teacher who served as an extra essay reader, the college friends who gave him tips, and others).
The way I see it, the test tutor unlocked his potential, the counselor demystified the application process, the admissions officer gave him a glimpse of his future, and I provided unwavering love and support. But it’s his determination and hard work that has brought him to this point. Because while there are people who can help a student get into college, the most crucial factor is the student. Their dedication, dreams, and hard work pave the way, enriched by the individuals who stand by their side, guiding and supporting them every step of the way.
Use College Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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