If you tune in to the chit-chat on your social media feed, or peruse through the local community news sites, you might easily have the impression that the average high schooler today takes all AP classes and gets straight A’s. It’s hard to miss the shiny photos of scholarship acceptances and the write-ups about acceptances into well-known, very selective colleges. It’s enough to make the parents of B students a little disheartened. Does that mean that my well-rounded, B student won’t have any good options when it comes to college?
While there are many, very selective schools that focus foremost on grades and course rigor to determine admittance, there are an extraordinary number of excellent schools that look more holistically in their initial review of what a student has to offer. Certainly they want students who work hard at their academics, but they are also looking for indicators that a student has balance in their life and will add value to their campus. It is well documented that students who become actively involved on campus have a greater enjoyment of their college experience, are more likely to graduate, and are more likely to become active alumni, which benefits the school in the long run. That active involvement can take many forms, such as joining a club, attending sporting events, participating in a theatre production, playing on an intramural sports team, studying abroad, joining the Greek system, or getting involved in campus leadership. Students who have participated in these types of activities in their high school years are more likely to do so again during their college years, so admissions committees are looking for those experiences.
So, how does an applicant show off the skills that lie beyond their transcript? That’s where the personal statement, letters of recommendation, and the activity section of the application come into play. These vehicles give students an opportunity to showcase more than their GPA. Your transcript doesn’t tell a college that you’re an Eagle Scout and have organized more than a dozen weekend backpacking trips. Or that you’ve been a dancer since you were 5 years old and helped choreograph your school’s musical production. Or that you build model airplanes and race them in shows on the weekends. However, a carefully crafted essay and robust activity summary can highlight those skills and interests, and show colleges that you are the student they’re looking for.
The great news is that the attraction between college and student is likely to be mutual. The same colleges that will admit your child to attend because they value the balance in their lives are quite likely the schools that your child will want to attend since they will offer a balance between academics and extracurricular events. This balance can give your child an opportunity to actively participate on campus and graduate from college with life skills that employers are looking for: creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and problem-solving.
Enlisting the help of a college consultant to identify colleges that are an academic and social match for your child can significantly decrease the stress for families working through the college planning process. College consultants guide students through the process of creating powerful applications that highlight their strengths and experiences, and make them attractive to the right colleges.
So, don’t worry. Your B student is amazing and there are a huge number of amazing schools that will be a great fit for them. It’s a success story in the making.