Even More Important Than Your Essays

To Which Colleges Should You Apply?

First, Choose Your Colleges Knowledgeably and Strategically

Beginning in February, some high school students who will be applying to college in the fall will say, “I’ve already chosen my colleges; can you just help me with my essays?”  If only college admission success were that easy.

Yes, we can help you with college application essays; they are important. I could go on at length, but I’ll save that for another post. Watch for “10 Qualities of an Excellent College Application Essay” soon.

But first things first: The importance of choosing the colleges to which you apply based on logic, reliable information, and a strategic plan cannot be overstated.

Families often fall into the trap of applying to colleges based on the reported median GPA and test scores of a freshman class.  Everyone knows that high GPA and test scores are important for admission to top schools. For students with stellar GPA and test scores, however, essays alone are not enough to set them apart from the competition at those schools. And what about students whose GPA and test scores are not stellar? How can they make certain they select high-caliber schools at which they are competitive for admission without selling themselves short? At schools that are right for them, outstanding essays can yield admission and even scholarships; at other schools, the same essays may not help at all.

5 Questions to Ask About Your College List

If you have chosen your colleges, consider these 5 questions to ask yourself about your college list:

  1. What are at least three specific and logical reasons for choosing these colleges? (If you have a tough time with this one, you will also have a tough time writing essays for these schools.)
  2. How reliable is the information source that you used in choosing colleges?\
  3. What college factors are most import to your success? (Hint: The school’s ranking alone is not one of them.)
  4. If you will need college money to cover expenses, how reliable is your information about what money you might expect from the colleges you have selected?
  5. What is the definition of a quality college that can help you compare the many different types of colleges in an apple-to-apple comparison?

It is impossible to become an instant expert on colleges, so you ideally want to benefit from the experience of a college admission professional to help determine which factors are most important to your success. Having older siblings already in college isn’t same as talking with a professional.  To quote CPSi’s Executive Director, Bob Mahmoudi, “How many college admission successes do you have? CPSi has nearly 8000 so far.”  Experience counts.

Putting Things in Motion

Many other factors also come before your college application essays. Acting quickly with a knowledgeable and strategic plan beginning now can improve a high school junior’s position, even with little time remaining to influence the factors affecting college admission. If you take steps now to improve your position, then a great essay will yield even better results.

So yes, CPSi can help with your college application essays, but don’t get so concerned about your essay that you trivialize the other important factors in your admission success.  We recommend that you seek the advice and help that will give you the best possible college options before you begin writing your applications and essays.

57 views Debbie Schmidt