10 Commandments of the college admissions process – Part 2

So, last week I shared my thoughts on the important basics needed as families begin the college admissions process. I talked about:

Commandment # 1:  I suggested that a student should spend some time understanding who they are, what they want and where they’d like to be in the future.

Commandment # 2: I also cautioned families to do their best not to fall prey to stereotypes and preconceived notions about certain colleges.

Commandment # 3: I strongly recommended that families begin visiting campuses early in the process and to go beyond the standard fare of just the required information session and a campus tour.

Commandment # 4: I encouraged students to get involved in their community outside of their high school and

Commandment # 5: I emphasized that students should take the most rigorous curriculum they can handle inside their school.

Today’s column will feature Commandments 6-10:


Commandment # 6: HONOR YOURSELF IN YOUR ESSAYS. Be true to who you are. Write what you care about, now what you think college admissions officers want to read.

Commandment #7: MAKE YOUR SUMMERS COUNT. Do something over the summer that no one else in your high school is doing. Summer activities are one of the best opportunities for a student to set themselves apart. Show colleges what you care about, what’s important to you.

Commandment # 8: DEMONSTRATE LEADERSHIP. Here’s the caveat, not everybody is destined to be a leader, but if you have the confidence and people skills, use them. Leadership is the single most transferrable characteristic from high school to college. Follow your passions and get involved in clubs and activities that you really care about, not ones you think will look good on your resume.

Commandment # 9: CREATE A RESONABLE LIST. Don’t panic and overapply. You’re better off doing your due-diligence up front; determining why each college needs to stay on your list, having a balanced list with reach schools, target schools and safety schools and knowing you could be happy in a variety of settings.

Commandment # 10:  ENCOURAGE PERSPECTIVE FROM EVERYONE. This is targeted at both parents and students. This isn’t a life and death scenario. You CAN be happy at a range of schools. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a top choice, but rather, recognize how fortunate you will be to have choices and carry that perspective as you move through the process. This means that families shouldn’t stress about standardized tests; plenty of amazing colleges and universities are test optional.

Navigating the college admissions process can be stressful, but try to take these “commandments” to heart as you make your way through, because it can also be an incredibly enlightening experience and a wonderful bonding opportunity for parents and children.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com ; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com