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Preparing for College Applications – As Early as Middle School and Younger

Pleased to introduce a guest blogger this week: Janis Daly. Janis is our director of sponsorship sales, and mom to 2 teen boys. Her oldest is nearing the end of his college admissions process. Janis has some insight, that they gained during the college application journey, to share with families that are just beginning the whole process. 


February 1st marked the end of the college application process for millions of U.S. high school seniors. After completing this process with my oldest son and hitting SUBMIT eight times, I’ve discovered two key tips worth sharing with parents whose children are years away from this daunting exercise. 

  1. Conveying ideas and experiences through the written word helps your child become more than an SAT score or summary of four years’ grades and extracurriculars. Learning how to articulate on paper: Who am I? and What’s important to me? is one of the few ways an admissions office discovers the person behind the student. Setting the stage to write solid college essays begins with the fundamentals of writing established during middle school and even elementary school. Getting to the point quickly, with well-chosen words, is paramount when you have a 250-, or even 50-word limit to answer a question.
  2. Individual experiences develop rich subject material. In order to write a compelling essay, you need first-hand experiences to reveal personal thoughts and ideas. As you plan your next family vacation, consider whether a trip to a National Park, historical location, or a weekend in the middle of a city, might provide a different perspective than the same spot you visit every year. Let your child, and yourself, become comfortable with trying different activities. Expose your child to situations from which they can learn and grow. Siloing a child’s activities and interests as young as elementary ages translates into a one-dimensional college application 10 years later. Getting your whole family into the groove of trying different things, visiting different places and meeting different people offers experiences that can be drawn upon, or melded together, for a rich personal statement.

Finally, enjoy your kids and the time you spend together. Senior year descends in the blink of an eye.

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#3 Naveed 2010-04-01 09:14
very good information

i really thankful for providing very good information

i used this post at night when i think about my friends and family so i really thankful for providing very good information
#2 Erin 2010-03-10 14:33
Yeah! I am on the right track with my little kids. Giving them varied experiences, traveling, dealing with the complications of life. No annual Disney visit for us.
#1 Paul Hemphill 2010-03-10 11:56
The title of this piece made me wince because I repel at the idea, or more accurately, the implication that kids need to get on the fast track to college at an early age. The content was a delightful surprise.

In my experience essay writing is not getting worse, but it's not getting better. As a result, I have my high school juniors take a composition course at a local college between their junior and senior years. Not only do they improve their writing skills, but they get three college credits for taking the course.

Getting more varied expereinces is a great idea, but the adults are stuck in a routine (for example, going to the same vacation spot every year) where the children don't get the chance to expand their perspective.

As this writer has apparently done, trust your instincts. Everybody wins.

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