How to Craft a College List That Gets Your Teen Accepted (and Avoids Rejection)

College rejections can be disheartening. But with a strategic college list, you can significantly improve your teen's acceptance odds. Here's how:

  • Know Your Numbers: Research average GPAs and test scores for colleges on your list. Aim for a mix of schools where your teen is competitive and "safety schools."

  • Consider "Fit": Don't just focus on rankings. Look for colleges that align with your teen's academic interests, personality, and preferred campus environment.

  • Research Early Decision and Early Action: These options can increase your teen's chances at certain schools, but understand the deadlines and restrictions.

  • Balance is Key: Include a variety of colleges in terms of...

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5 Signs Your High School Counselor Isn't Giving You the Best College Advice

High school counselors are valuable resources, but they may not have the bandwidth to provide personalized college application guidance.

Here are some signs you might need additional support:

  • Limited College Knowledge: Does your counselor seem unfamiliar with specific colleges or programs your child is interested in?
  • Generic Advice: Are you receiving one-size-fits-all recommendations instead of a tailored strategy for your child's unique goals?
  • Overwhelmed Caseload: With large class sizes, counselors may not have the time to devote to in-depth college discussions.
  • Limited Expertise: Not all counselors specialize in college admissions.
  • Pressure to Meet Quotas: Some counselors might push students...
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The Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Building Their Teen's College List


College applications can be stressful for both students and parents.

One of the key steps in the process is building a strong college list. But many parents make critical mistakes that can hurt their child's chances of admission.

Common Mistakes:

  • Focusing Only on Prestige: Don't chase rankings blindly. Consider factors like campus culture, program fit, and financial aid options.

  • Ignoring "Safety Schools": Include schools where your child is likely to be accepted, regardless of GPA or test scores. This reduces application anxiety.

  • Neglecting "Reach Schools": It's okay to dream big! Include a few colleges with higher admissions standards to challenge your child.

  • Not Considering Location: Does...

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The Impact of College Admissions on Mental Health

College admissions can be a stressful and anxiety-provoking time for both teens and parents. Social media comparisons, pressure to get into prestigious schools, and the uncertainty of the process can all contribute to feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and overwhelm.


I emphasize the importance of teens avoiding the "comparison trap." Social media feeds are often filled with carefully curated portrayals of success, leading teens to feel they need to measure up to an unrealistic standard.

Strategies for Parents

Parents play a crucial role in shaping their teen's experience during college admissions. Here are some key takeaways from my advice:

  • Manage Your Own Expectations: Let go of assumptions...
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Unveiling Hidden Gems: College Essay Prompts to Propel Your Teen to Admission Success

As a seasoned college admissions counselor and master strategist, I've guided countless students through the intricate college application maze. One critical aspect often underestimated? The power of a truly impactful essay.

Forget generic formulas. Today, we unlock four hidden gems: essay prompts that stand out in a sea of applications. These prompts empower your teen to showcase their unique experiences and remarkable qualities.

Beyond Rebellion: Unveiling Growth Through Challenge
(Prompt 3)

This prompt delves far deeper than mere dissent. It's about grappling with established ideas, fostering independent thought, and, ultimately, personal growth. Imagine an essay where your teen recounts defying...

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Don't Let Your Teenโ€™s Essay Become a Dud: Prompts to Avoid in the College Application Scramble

As a parent of a high school senior, you know the college application process can be a whirlwind. It's easy to feel overwhelmed between transcripts, test scores, and extracurricular activities. But there's one area where your teen has significant control: the essay. 


The college essay is their chance to shine, to tell their unique story and showcase their personality beyond numbers on a page. However, with so many prompts available, choosing the right one can be tricky. 

Here at Strategic Admissions Advice, we've helped countless students craft compelling essays that make them stand out. Today, we'll discuss three essay prompts to avoid and offer some guidance for a successful...

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Is Relying Solely on Your School's Counselor Putting Your Teen's Future at Risk?

The path to college stands as a monumental milestone in the pivotal journey of guiding our teens toward a bright future. It's a time filled with potential, dreams, and, admittedly, a fair share of anxieties. Have you ever stopped to ponder whether your teen is receiving the tailored, strategic guidance necessary to navigate the complex maze of college admissions? 

The Stark Reality
With burgeoning caseloads, the average high school college counselor is stretched thin, managing hundreds of students. The question that begs to be asked is: Can they truly offer the personalized, in-depth strategy that your unique teen needs? While their intentions are undoubtedly pure, the sheer volume of their...

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College and the Return on Investment

There's a crucial conversation to have as your teen starts to plan for their journey to college: Return on Investment (ROI). As parents of high school students, April brings a flurry of activity. College acceptance letters arrive, financial aid packages are dissected, and the looming enrollment deadline adds a touch of pressure. But amidst the excitement, there's a crucial conversation to be had for the parent and the teen who have yet to go through the process: What is the Return on Investment?

Return on Investment (ROI) for their college education.

While a college degree remains valuable, understanding the potential financial outcomes associated with different schools empowers students to make...

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Spring into Action: A Guide for Parents of High Schoolers (9th-11th Grade)

Is your teen in 9th, 10th, or 11th grade? Spring is here, and it's the perfect time to get ahead of the game for the upcoming school year and college applications. 

Spring has sprung, and for many parents of high schoolers, it's a time of renewal and anticipation. As the school year winds down, thoughts naturally turn towards what's next, especially for those with teenagers in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. This guide will equip you with the knowledge and actionable steps to ensure a smooth and successful academic journey for your teen.

11th Grade Parents: College Application Countdown

The pressure is on for 11th graders, and rightfully so. Here are three key areas to focus on this spring:

  • ...
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How to Leverage College Fairs for Your Junior

College Fairs: A Launchpad for Demonstrating Interest

While college fairs won't single-handedly secure an acceptance letter, they offer a golden opportunity: demonstrating interest. Many colleges consider a student's expressed interest during admissions. It shows genuine enthusiasm and initiative, setting your child apart from passive applicants.

Why Demonstrating Interest Matters

Think of it this way: colleges want students who truly want to be there. Demonstrating interest showcases your child's commitment to their institution. In a competitive applicant pool, this can make a significant difference, especially for borderline cases.

Making the Most of College Fairs

So, how can your child...

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