Last week, I spent two enjoyable days at the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Conference in Dallas. It was a gathering of educational consultants and the schools and colleges that want to interact with them. We spent our time together discussing the paths our teens are taking to colleges, the obstacles they’re encountering, and steps we can all take to help them achieve their educational goals, and ultimately, their life goals. The educational consultants I met were all extremely committed, caring adults. I came home with a suitcase full of resources to benefit any parent or educator of a college bound teen.
Below, I have shared the tips from IECA’s “Top Ten Strengths and Experiences Colleges look for in High School Students.” Whether your teen is applying to college 3 weeks from now or 3 years from now, you should find these tips helpful in thinking about how to help your teens better position themselves to attend the college of their dreams.
Top Ten Strengths and Experiences Colleges look for in High School Students
(Based on a Survey of IECA Member Educational Consultants)
- A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student and may include AP or IB classes.
- Grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend. However, slightly lower grades in a rigorous program are preferred to all ‘As’ in less challenging coursework.
- Solid scores on standardized tests (SAT, ACT). These should be consistent with high school performance.
- Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating leadership and initiative. Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important.
- Letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselor that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character traits, and an interest in learning.
- A well-written essay that provides insight into the student’s unique personality, values, and goals. The application essay should be thoughtful and highly personal. It should demonstrate careful and well-constructed writing.
- Special talents or experiences that will contribute to an interesting and well-rounded student body.
- Demonstrated leadership in activities. Colleges want people who will arrive prepared and willing to take leadership of student activities and events.
- Demonstrated intellectual curiosity through reading, school, leisure pursuits, and more.
- Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend, often exhibited by campus visits and an interview, showing and interest toward attending the college.
Like this? Take a look at IECA’s website for more articles and tips. Also, this coming Thursday, guest blogger, Allison Cheston, will delve a little deeper into the importance of using the high school years to develop interests and skills that set students apart from peers in the college application process.