Archive for February, 2011

College Aspirations?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Are you a high school student with college aspirations? This is for you. Grades have been shown to be the single most important predictor of academic success in college. The College Board SAT and ACT Standardized tests are not to be ignored but the more A’s and B’s you have in your record the more positive attention admissions committees (adcoms) will pay to your application. If you are a junior, you can rectify some academic slumps in the freshman and sophomore years by finishing strong this year.

But if you are looking at very competitive colleges and not taking the most challenging courses offered at your high school, it may be much harder.  A few aberrant C’s will not automatically exclude you from consideration, but you may have to explain the reasons behind the lower grades. Many college application supplements, in fact, ask students to explain any performance that is inconsistent with the larger academic record. It is not uncommon for a strong student to experience a downturn in grades due to an illness, injury, family or school relocation and so on. (“I did not like the teacher” is not a good reason.)

Having said that, however, colleges know that sometimes a particular subject is unfathomable, or that a disconnect with the instructor’s style of teaching makes it difficult to learn the material. Being honest and forthcoming in taking responsibility for such inconsistency will only earn you the respect of the admissions folks.   

Some applicants with mixed grades will still be accepted to selective colleges because of their considerable talent in other areas. I refer here not only to athletes, but also to musicians, actors, dancers or student leaders. Their record may likely show that they have dedicated hundreds of hours to their passion. This is seen as a demonstration of their drive and discipline that will be applied to their academic studies in colleges.  

I have been saying since 1999 that each subsequent year will be the largest and most competitive college bound class in United States history. This escalation will peak in 2012. This year and next, therefore, fewer allowances will be made for candidates with unimpressive academic performances and fewer are admitted. Of course, everyone knows about the perennially low admit percentages of the Ivy League and schools of that ilk.

But the good news is that if college is your future, there are many very good options. Those options do not have to be confined to your local state college or university. Those should be looked at closely but with states having trouble meeting their budgets; educational funding is decreasing while enrollment has increased. That translates into extending the years in college to five or more. If you are just getting started ask us for a complimentary “get acquainted” consultation to explore those options.