One of 10 Most Important Factors for Success in College Admission And Beyond

Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he
Said. They came. He pushed them,
And they flew. . .
Guillaume Apollinaire

In celebration of CPSi’s 20th anniversary this March, I will write a new blog post each month for the next 10 months to share the 10 most important factors for a student’s success in college admission and far beyond. In more than 20 years in the field of independent college consulting, it has been my privilege to mentor students to grow and achieve even greater success than they dreamed. Along the way, I have identified these factors and seen their importance in achieving admission at amazing colleges.

Number ONE: Pushing for the Best Fit Colleges

The first factor is finding and choosing the student’s best-fit colleges. When we push a student until he or she embraces the idea of making logical college choices to find their best-fit colleges, great things are bound to happen for them.

More and more, parents and students are recognizing the power of a “best fit” college and its significant impact on success in college and beyond, but students may initially struggle with identifying or accepting what factors matter in the choice. They need to get past hype and emotional factors such as prestige, location, and perceptions of social life; once they do, students have a vested interest in making logical choices based on facts. Here are a few facts that matter in choosing best-fit colleges:

  • School and class size matter a lot. Football win-and-loss statistics matter little.
  • Caring professors who are focused on teaching undergraduate students how to overcome challenges and who are willing to create a challenging but encouraging environment for learning matters big-time. The number of books a professor publishes each year has little or no impact on the life or learning of an undergraduate student.
  • Availability and variety of study-abroad programs matters in this global economy. A student body composed of mostly students from one state is a contradiction.
  • A college with zero tolerance for cheating and violence is worthy of your attention. Stay far away from the college where students cheat or behave violently and the professors and administrators keep quiet or look away.
  • A “best fit” college requires students to learn to write well and communicate clearly, whether the student’s major is in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, or the humanities. Choosing a program or school because it does not require writing can handicap a student’s opportunities after college.
  • Colleges that encourage students to go above and beyond their coursework and sink their teeth into knowledge, to explore new ideas and territory, and to focus on interdisciplinary studies (combing courses from three different fields) lead in creating innovators and creative, outside-the-box thinkers. Specializing too early limits opportunities.

Several hundred conversations with current and former CPSi students have validated this basic premise for me: Strong relationships with professors who mentor students and a collaborative spirit of teamwork among classmates greatly increases a student’s confidence, employability, and success in post-graduate pursuits. Employers hire and graduate schools admit students who think critically and innovate to join their team or institution.

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