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Developing a Back to School Winning Game Plan!

We hope you are having a great summer. As the summer is starting to wind down, it’s important to start thinking about the next school year. Each year is about building upon the previous year to develop a strategic game plan that will culminate into getting into the college of your choice, with as much free money as possible.

To help you develop a strategic game plan for the following school year, it’s important that you know which areas are important to focus on. Here are five key areas that can make a significant difference in how you are viewed by college admission officers:

1) The Numbers – The “numbers” part of your college application is still going to be the most important part to focus on. This includes taking the most rigorous courses possible and performing as well as you can in your core academic courses. The other big part of your numbers game plan is to have the highest SAT or ACT score possible. Having a strong academic GPA with a high SAT/ACT score is going to really help set you apart from the competition.

2) Extracurricular Activities – Outside of the “numbers”, a key area to focus on is your extracurricular activities. It’s not about quantity, but quality. Focus on a few key areas where you can develop leadership, depth of involvement, meaningful contributions, and key outcomes. You should also develop in your major and career area, if possible, so that you can discuss how a particular college can help you achieve your long-term goal, and also how you can contribute to the college.

3) Teacher Recommendations – Admissions is not just what you write about yourself in your college applications; it’s also how others view you. A lot of colleges require one or more teacher recommendations. The ideal year to get teacher recommendations is 11th grade. You might also have a teacher for more than one year, or one who knows you outside of the classroom such as a club advisor which can be an additional bonus. Teachers should highlight your academic strengths, intellectual curiosity, leadership, and initiative, to name a few. The bottom line is that teachers can really help you stand out in the admissions process.

4) Counselor Recommendation – It’s not just teachers who can be your cheerleader, but also your counselor. Your counselor will give colleges important information about you in relation to the rest of the student body. Your counselor can also further support your application by sharing meaningful information about you such as leadership, initiative, and contributions to the school. Get to know your counselor and share with them your passion for learning, eagerness to grow as an individual, and contributions to the school.

5) Demonstrated Interest – Many colleges are starting to place more emphasis on a student’s interest in their college. Showing a demonstrated interest in a college is a way to stand out and to let colleges know you are really serious about them. Key ways to show a demonstrated interest is to visit the college, talk to an admissions representative, attend a college fair, and more. The key is to be much more than a paper application. Let colleges know you are really interested in attending their college, which can oftentimes be a deciding factor in the admissions process. 

As the summer is winding down, it’s important to start thinking ahead to the next school year. There are important steps you can take to stand out and to make your college game plan as successful as possible. Follow these five steps and you will have a solid foundation for the completive college admissions process.

In Success & Achievement,

Dr. Jeff & Dr. Brian Haig