Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Three-Part College Admissions Formula

The Three-part College Admissions Formula

Did you hear Gunn had four go to Stanford this year? Did you hear York had two?

Can you hear the buzz?

High school juniors are listening to the seniors gossip about the girl with the 4.0 who got into Harvard when the guy with a 4.8 didn’t get into Harvard. It’s the talk of early Spring.

Everyone is trying to figure out the formula.

When students with 4.0 G.P.As and perfect S.A.T. and A.C.T. scores receive denial letters from selective colleges, students and willing parents are anxious to know exactly what universities expect from the incoming freshman class. What is the protocol? What are the steps?

Instead of urging your student to join a dozen clubs and to play on several sports teams, I challenge you to have your student make their mark by completing a project.

The independent project is not just something that will separate your child from other college applicants. The success it generates greatly enhances the young person’s chance of success in LIFE.

The Three-part Road Map

When I start with ninth, tenth and 11th-grade clients, I give them the formula proven to work the best. It is a three-part road map to getting into their target college. I have helped my clients go on to Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UCLA and Claremont McKenna and have handled graduate admissions for 35+ years. From this experience, I conclude that your child needs to master three things to stand out in college applications:

  1. G.P.A.
  2. S.A.T.& A.C.T.
  3. The Project

Our kids are so bright, yet not all are motivated. It is my job to find out just what makes them tick. What is their passion in life? What will drive them to get out there and improve this rich and vibrant world? Of course grades and test scores get their college application looked at, but it is the project that sets them apart and secures their admission into college.

What is the Project?

The high school project for a college-bound student is the creation of an original event, organization, business, publication, production/film, or experiment. It stems from something the student is curious about or engaged in. The work includes planning tasks, setting up a budget, finding a mentor, making sponsor kits and press kits, and things like applying for non-profit status, applying for grants, setting up a website and organizing an event. The project is designed for the young person to plan and execute independently, to gain leadership and life management skills, and to foster self-confidence and self-worth, thus quite naturally, creating young citizens and caring community members with a real place in this world.

It is important for my clients, who begin their work as early as eighth grade, to select a project that they are interested in- because they will be intimately involved with the project for years- at least until high school graduation.

So far we have had a colorful array of world-changing projects come out of the Merit program. Here are some of the projects that improved my high school clients’ chance of getting into college.

Created “Loves and Heat Music Festival”:

Engineered the Progressive Brake Light System:

Wrote the book, “Who’s Controlling Your Candidate?”

Organized and created Harry’s Tru School Hip Hop Concert Tour:

Built a hydrogen fuel cell

Started a nonprofit: Kids for Hydrogen

Wrote, advocated, and accomplished the passing of a new California law for pharmaceutical drug disposal

Created public education website on the uselessness of anti-bacterial soap based on her own research

Founded Give it up for Teens (GIFT), a fund-raising effort for teen domestic violence survivors

Created, an anti-Iraq war website with peace petition and digital art piece for image distribution made up of the faces of 4,300 soldiers killed in the Iraq war

A Note From a Parent…

“It is really incredible, Susan, not only did the project get him into the college of his choice, but he is meeting so many amazing people. He tells them his dream and when he adds that he has already manifested some part of it, they immediately take him seriously, want to know him, meet with him. He is loving UCLA and the WAC program. Thank you for your vision and your passion.”
-- Marian

I Have a Dream
As a private
college advisor, I encourage my clients to select projects that position them to be competitive in the admissions game. Projects win scholarship dollars and at the same time, fix problems that our government does not, in this economy, have the resources to tackle. Even though my high school clients work on projects in hope that they will improve their chances of getting into the top colleges, they inevitably realize that their projects make them better people.

Imagine if every college-bound student completed a project? One project at a time, I believe these two million students entering our high schools can solve our energy, housing, health care and civil rights problems.

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