Advice College Admissions Counselors Give Their Own Kids


No one has the inside scoop on applying to college like a college admissions counselor’s own kids.  Sure, there might be a teeny bit of additional pressure to ace their applications, but when your parent makes a living helping kids find their dream schools and get into them, there are probably a few good pieces of advice to heed when it’s time to apply to college.

Admissions counselors can guide your application process from start to finish. With their inside knowledge of how schools make their decisions, an admissions consultant like Melissa Daniels will help you study for standardized tests, narrow down choices to find your “perfect fit” school, polish your application essays, get the right letters of recommendation, and prep for admission interviews. They’ll ask you compelling questions to get to the heart of who you are and help you translate that to your applications. So, besides “clean your room” and “put down your phone,” here’s their best advice:  

You Take the Lead

• The college admissions process should be led by the student, not the parents. Take ownership of your college application process. You’re about to leave home and live on your own. This is one of the first major events to prepare for that.

• Your parents or mentors still have vital roles to play. Have meaningful conversations with them to guide your vision, process and decisions. If you know you are a procrastinator or struggle with writing essays, for example, ask for help with accountability. Parents should be engaged but not do the work for you.

• If you miss a deadline, how interested were you in that school, really? Take responsibility for where you will end up the next four years.

Apply (& Research Schools) Early

• Completing the work ahead of deadlines makes for higher quality applications. This gives you the chance to think about your content, revise, and avoid last-minute mistakes due to rushing. The same goes for taking standardized tests, asking for letters of recommendation and writing your essay.

• A horde of applications come in to admissions offices right before the deadline. Don’t be one of these. Some schools read and process applications in the order they come in, meaning the procrastinators are obvious and admissions officers may be tired.

• The earlier you start working on applications, the less stressful your senior year will be.

Find Your Fit & Be Yourself

• Individuality is everything in this process. Find a school that fits you personally; don’t try to fit the school. A top tier school isn’t the only goal – in the long run, a school that’s just right for you will maximize your growth and learning.

• On your application, don’t try to be what you think the school wants you to be – admissions officers will see right through that. All the more reason to find a “just right” school – it will be easy to make the case that you and the school are a good match. You’ll also be able to articulate what you will add to the school environment – an important component for admissions officers.

• Let your unique self shine through – with your quirks and your passions. Your whole person matters to the admissions officers, so it’s important to find a way to express the softer sides of you in your application, not just your grades and test scores.

Quality Over Quantity

• In both extracurricular activities and advanced classes, the depth of what you’ve done is more important than stacking up a shallow list.

• You don’t have to take every AP class that’s offered. Having a high quality experience and doing well in a few advanced classes is better than being so stressed you can hardly function or having your GPA take a nosedive.  Choose the advanced classes that build on your strengths.  On the other hand, it’s better to challenge yourself and get a B in a harder class than go for the easier route to earn an A.  

• Being a “joiner” is not as strong as being an “influencer” or “leader.” In fact, activities that are different than your standard extracurricular load can help you stand out. Do high quality community service – not because it checks a box but because you are connected to its purpose. What you will learn from those experiences will be compelling stories in your essays or interviews – and your life!

Facetime Counts

• Face to face encounters are meaningful, whether it’s an admissions interview, a school representative visiting your high school, or a visit and tour on campus. 

• Any sort of personal interface helps colleges get to know you as a person and shows “demonstrated interest” in the school, which tends to go a long way when narrowing down candidates.

• Don’t forget ask questions if you get an admissions interview!

Enroll the Help of a College Admissions Consultant

• These professionals are dedicated to helping you submit standout applications. They understand just how challenging and high pressure it is to apply to college. While they often wish the process could be more organic and natural, they know that the bottom line is one wrong move can weed you out in this uber-competitive environment.

• It will still be up to you to do all of the actual work, but an admissions consultant helps you navigate the gauntlet of the application process and keeps you accountable.

• Hiring a third party to help alleviates significant family stresses during this time!

 Melissa Daniels is a seasoned college admissions consultant with years of experience helping students just like you get into their top choice schools and ace their SATs.  Contact Melissa today to see how she can help you move confidently toward your dreams.