There was a time when only juniors and seniors starting preparing for and worrying about how to get into college. Not now! Even middle schoolers worry about how to make high grades and what to participate in for activities in order to build up the perfect application package.
As a result, a new industry has grown up, pre-college summer programs. High schoolers and their parents are now rushing to take part in summer programs on well-known campuses and even abroad. The hope is they will demonstrate their ability to succeed in college and gain admission to a selective college of their choice. What you and your parents should be aware of is that summer programs are actually targeting middle and upper class parents. Don’t be fooled, for instance, by words like “someone has nominated you.” What has more likely happened is that you have received an advertisement sent to you based on your SAT scores and marketing data about the family’s income.
So, what does get you into the college of your choice?
Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin to think about your future college application:
• If you are going to attend a pre-college summer program, it should directly align with your career goals and course study interests.
• Don’t go to just any program. Admission officers are well-aware of which programs are worthwhile and which are not more than expensive summer vacations. Do a little research before paying for the program
• Flashy resumes are really not as memorable as a great personal essay. An essay that has a bit of humor and describes real-life experiences that demonstrate your ability to handle tough situations or analyze people or demonstrate a compassion for others can be what really makes you stand out.
• Be authentic. Passion was the old buzz word. Now the word is authenticity. Whatever you do, if it’s genuine, it will work to help you be admitted to a selective college.
The thing to really keep in mind is that whether it’s babysitting, working at a shoe store, or life guarding, those experiences can be as revealing as showy participation in expensive programs, and they can show you in your best light, just as long as you know how they showcase you—yes, even for selective colleges.