Guest Post by: Lisa Cuva
Coach John Wooden, once basketball coach of UCLA, said failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Preparation is key for a college acceptance and no where in this conversation should cheating be an option.
In light of the recent SAT scandals, we all need to remember that the more people who rationalize cheating, the more this culture of dishonesty becomes a downward spiral where people feel like they need to cheat. There are honest ways.
It is best to make a plan with your child. On an application there are 5 basic areas: transcript, extracurricular activities, community service, an essay and test scores. Have them get involved. Help your child assess what they like and what they are good at. The preparation starts way before the test. So get ready, get set and let’s go!
Is your child more academic? Put them in Honors, Duel Enrollment and Advanced Placement, gradually increasing their difficulty level as high school progresses. These courses give them college credit, exemption from classes and show universities that your child has academic aptitude. Don’t push your child into these classes if she/he cannot handle them. This will result in a lower GPA and often hurt their chances of entering desired colleges. It is better to get an A in a College Prep or Honors class than a C in an AP class.
If they have athletic inclinations, encourage them to get involved in sports-play, helping the coach or managing the team. If they aspire to play in college, have them sign up on the NCAA eligibility website during their sophomore year. There are many opportunities to play sports at D2 and D3 schools. Are they natural born leaders? Student government, organizing fundraisers for a charity, an executive position in an Honor Society or team captain, are all great leadership roles.
Another important factor is community service hours. Don’t skimp! Most college applications have 6-8 spaces to fill in their community service rubric. They want a variety– from helping feed the hungry to volunteering at an assisted living facility to cleaning up beaches or restoring coral reefs. Your child has 4 years to serve.
The essay is read by admissions. It is where they get a glimpse into character. In fact, many colleges will use it as a tiebreaker between very close candidates. Be creative, be original. Have your child get help from their English teacher or a tutor. Remember, have them write it! Their voice is the most authentic, honest and often makes for an incredible piece.
The Standardized Tests:
Finally, we arrive at the dreaded tests. Your child will take a PSAT as a sophomore and a Pre ACT or ACT Aspire usually the same year. These pre-tests will help you, your child and the guidance counselor see what test is better suited for them. Get a book of practice tests from the official College Board website. This allows your child to work on practice questions that registered as problem areas on the test. Your child can do just 15 minutes a day. If they are stuck on any question, they can use tútit to immediately get help.
Finally, don’t panic and know there are legitimate ways to get your child into a great college. So often it is the motivation of the child and what they choose to do with their college experience that will make them a success, not the name or brand behind the university. Prepare! The place is here and the time is now…