Student Positioning

Effective student positioning is vital to a successful college application process and the earlier one begins, the better!

Did you know that a college will take approximately 10 – 30 minutes to make a decision on a college application! With thousands of students applying each year, colleges have this process down to a science and they are able to quickly identify which student’s they think will be a good fit for their school and which ones will not. This is because they are looking for very specific applicants and the ranking system they use enables them to make rapid decisions.

It is no mystery that all schools look at grades and test scores, but the process is so much more complex than those two factors. In fact, the process of successfully positioning a student for acceptance into a four-year university involves many steps and, ideally begins in the ninth or tenth grade so a student can stand out above his/her competition during application season in their senior year.

Students who begin their application process in the fall of their senior year may miss out on great opportunities for colleges that would have been a perfect fit for them, all because they did not plan ahead like much of their competition. Now, if you did not plan in advance, do not panic! Just take action and do as much as you can by starting today!!!

Below are a few of the important factors for proper positioning into college:

  • Utilize a process called “demonstrated interest” to show a college you are interested in them long before you ever apply!
  • Create brag cards to hand out at all college fairs and interviews as well as include them in thank you notes (yes, thank you notes) to those college professionals who have given a student their time.
  • Be sure that you are taking the proper courses for graduation and applying to college.  All state schools have an A-G requirement and many schools, including state schools, will also look for a more diverse schedule that includes College Prep  course electives in your area of interest.
  • Advanced Placement/Honors/IB courses are highly desired by colleges, and knowing which Honors/AP/IB classes you should take and how many is critical.
  • Not taking enough AP/Honors/IB courses can hinder your application for certain schools and taking too many may hinder your GPA, so finding the right balance of rigorous classes is vital!
  • Utilizing the PSAT and ACT Plan tests to analyze which test a student should take when faced with taking the SAT, ACT or both is crucial for saving time with busy schedules, saving money on study tools and enhancing your applications.
  • Taking multiple SAT/ACT tests is permitted and often encouraged, but taking too many tests can put you at a disadvantage as well.
  • Essays and resumes are a time consuming process and should also be started early.
  • The college resume is permitted at many schools (but not all) and should include a comprehensive list of academic, extracurricular and volunteer work. However, it should not be a mirror of the college application as that will only upset an admissions officer taking time to read it. It should be much more inclusive and detailed in its content.
  • Essays also play an integral role in the approval process.  Students have 500 to 1000 words to address the required essay prompt in a well thought out, well written, effectively articulated document.  It is a means for the admissions officer to “feel” the applicant and connect with them in a way that the application cannot do. This is not an exercise to be taken lightly and should be done in several stages in order to present the best work.
  • Choosing the right college is another time consuming endeavor.  There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States.  You must know if a college offers the right major and environment necessary for a student to thrive (both academically and socially).
  • College tours are the best way to gather this information.
  • Volunteer work, extra curricular activities, work experience, leadership roles are all vital in their own ways, so balancing them all in order to create a perfect college resume is impossible.

You must know what your strengths in your application are as well as your weaknesses, and do your best to strengthen your future application. Be careful you do not overload yourself in high school with activities so much that it affects your GPA or your sanity!!! Colleges are not looking for students that “have it all”, they are just looking for students that have enough.

These are only a few of the many steps a student must take in today’s competitive college environment, and at NCPS we provide support and expertise with all of it.


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