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The College Process in Under 20 Minutes: A Great Place to Start

Wondering what to expect from the college process? A helpful overview for parents of sophomores and juniors from Keeon Gregory, Director of College Counseling at Ohio’s Lake Ridge Academy.


The College Process 101

Here are some highlight’s from Gregory’s talk about the college process. Watch the video to learn more.

1. College Admissions

Do you know the building blocks of the college process? In a nutshell, they are academics (including the courses your teenager selects and how she performs in them); extracurriculars (colleges like to see dedication to a couple of extracurriculars not sporadic participation in lots and lots of them); the essay (a chance for your teenager to really stand apart); recommendations (who to ask?); and standardized testing (how to help your teenager get his best score). These are what colleges look for.

2. Types of Decisions

An overview of the various types of admissions decisions students can select in the college process: early decision (a binding admissions offer by mid-December); early action (a non-binding admissions offer by mid-December); and regular decision (an admissions offer by around mid-April). There’s also rolling admissions, where colleges evaluate and accept or reject students as they receive applications (e.g., they don’t release everyone’s decision on a single day).

3. Types of Colleges

There are thousands of types of colleges and universities out there. Some are big, some are small. Some are public, some are private. Parents should strive to visit one of each kind, so that students get a sense of what they want.

4. Commit to Something

How your student decides to spend her time outside the classroom will play a role in the college admissions process, especially at competitive colleges. Colleges prefer to see students show dedication — and leadership in — a handful of extracurriculars that the student (not the parent) feels passionate about. Colleges are not impressed by stuffing a resume with dozens of extracurriculars a student has only spent passing time on.

5. Use the 4 Ps to Evaluate Colleges

When you’re determining whether or not to apply to a college, Gregory recommends parents use 4 Ps. These are:

  • The Program. What is your student’s area of academic interest? Does the institution offer a program of study for that interest? How about internships and other career-related help in that field?
  • The People. Did your student feel a connection with the people at the institution? Can you he see himself there, fitting in with its students and being taught by the faculty?
  • The Place. The location and setting (urban versus suburban versus rural) and the size — make sure your student is comfortable with both before adding a school to the list.
  • The Profile. Does your student possess the academic profile to gain admission to that school? It’s not helpful for students to visit and fall in love with schools they have no chance of getting into.
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