Parent’s Guide

To College Admissions

We support your student, and you

College admission officers strongly encourage students and parents to start planning for college years ahead of the actual application. Students get lots of information on the college application process over the years from teachers, peers, and assigned guidance counselors. However, the group that students say is most influential in shaping their post-high school plans is their parents: that’s you! With such great power comes great responsibility, and the team at Veritas Prep is here to get you up to speed on what you need to know to help your student make the best decision for him or her. We know you’ve always been there to support your student. Likewise, Veritas Prep is with you, every step of the way.

What are schools looking for?

The Four Dimensions of a College Applicant

While it’s true that the undergraduate admissions process is holistic, and each candidate brings a unique perspective, college admissions committees stick to general principles when selecting candidates for their incoming classes. Admissions officers look for candidates with balanced strengths across four dimensions: Academic Achievements, Extracurricular and Community Achievements, Match & Fit Factors, and Standout Factors. Your teen will likely have one or more application elements that relate to each dimension.

Academic Achievements: Schools view grades as a proxy for the caliber of work your son or daughter is likely to perform at during college. Grades in high school courses as well as grades on standardized tests are the most commonly-assessed proxies of academic achievement.
Extracurricular and Community Activities: Colleges look at your student’s clubs and activities to learn more about their interests, and what those interests say about who they are and what their abilities are.
Match and Fit Factors: While academic achievements are the first criteria associated with being a “match” to a school—or not—colleges want to see that your teen is interested in their specific programs. School fit is often demonstrated in school-specific supplemental essays, in interviews, and in the activities list and intended major sections of an application.
Standout Factors: As admissions committees are looking for a well-rounded student body, they also look to distinguish their many applicants by their various talents or unique life experiences. Standout factors may be related to going the extra mile in hobbies, extracurriculars, or sports, or related to personal background, demographics, family circumstances, or recommender renown.

“We talked to several [admissions consultants] prior to “meeting” Beau. Like him, they were all in the business of college prep. However, it wasn’t until our conversation with Beau that both Michael and I knew instantly that he would be perfect! The ease with which both Michael and I could talk to him was what really sealed the deal. No doubt, Beau is my son’s role model! I am amazed, and I cannot thank Beau enough. Ultimately, Beau’s teaching will endure not only in the short-term college prep, but in his life as well.”

– Galina G, parent of Michael; attending the University of Pennsylvania

How college preparation has changed

So often, parents talk about how their children’s generation has it easy; after all, students now have access to Wikipedia and smartphones. However, most parents of teens weren’t expected to dedicate many hours after school to test prep, sports and club membership, and community volunteerism that is the norm for students today. There are fundamental differences in the overall landscape of college admission and preparation now. The most prevalent shifts in approach and preparation for college are:

More Advanced Placement classes and college coursework: Advanced Placement and IB courses are offered in more high schools than before, and they’re now a crucial aspect of the evaluation process in college admissions. The average students admitted to Ivy League schools today have taken seven to twelve advanced courses in high school.
Getting started early: It hasn’t always been the norm to have preteens strategically selecting their high school courses and critically evaluating their career interests. Now, it’s normal for families to begin preparation during middle school or the student’s freshman or sophomore year, rather than waiting until the end of junior year. With our Ultimate Concierge Package, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant can guide you and your child starting as early as the eighth grade.
Students apply to more schools: Because the number of strong applicants to selective schools has greatly increased, it’s harder than before to get into a specific target school. However, as students increase their total number of applications, they are often able to get into at least one of their match schools. Now, students apply to 6 to 15 colleges on average; still, an appropriate mix of reach, target, and safety schools is vital.

The parent’s role in the application process

It’s natural for parents to want to be a part of their children’s lives, goals, and dreams. Students can gain tremendous value from their parents’ involvement in the college application process, primarily as supporters (financially, tactically, and emotionally). Ultimately, we must keep in mind that parents are not applying to college; they’re supporting their teens in doing so. Here are some of the main ways for parents to get involved in college admissions:

Help keep track of the admissions-related dates and deadlines. Your student already has enough going on in high school, and regardless of how diligent he or she is, it helps to play the role of secretary and offer gentle reminders when dealing with important dates.
Do the legwork on college finances and the financial aid that will support your child’s education. Not only will you need to supply most of the family financial information for the FAFSA, you can and should start working on financial arrangements sooner than later. Get financial aid estimates on schools using each school’s Net Price Calculator.
Ride along and assist with planning college visits. Especially if your teen’s college list includes schools that are not in your hometown, your input can be invaluable, and you can help your student to not feel isolated during visits.

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