3 Ways High School Students Sabotage Their College Process


Preparing for college demands steady effort throughout high school. However, even the most prepared of students can sometimes hurt their college chances by making simple mistakes that do not need to happen.

The college search and admissions processes should start early, and without this long-term, aerial view, many students and families students exhausted during the senior year. This can be avoided! Too often students “sabotage” their college process without even realizing it.

Below are three pitfalls that you want to avoid.

Being Dismissive of Freshman Year.

Some students think, and are even told, that freshman year is unimportant. Not true. Each year, when a college evaluates tens of thousands of applications, the admissions committee begins with the four-year transcript. So starting (and finishing) high school strong is critical. Do not make the mistake of thinking that only junior year matters; Take rigorous courses in all five core academic subjects for all four years so you can be a strong candidate as a senior.

Focusing on Rankings

Way too often, students rely on published college and university rankings to determine their college list. This is not an ideal way for students to learn more about the best schools for them. Assessment, research, interest in a particular program, professional advice and visiting are the best ways to learn. There are a ton of online resources such as virtual tours and reviews by current students.

Being Scattered with Activities (Jack of all Trades, Master of None)What distinguishes one applicant from another? Commitment, impact, and passion. These qualities are not innate; they take time and effort to develop. Barely participating in a series of random clubs or spreading yourself too thin will only yield negative results.

Colleges would rather students invest themselves into to 3-4 commitments and gradually assert themselves as leaders. Colleges want to craft diverse student bodies, and do not need the “well-rounded” student.

At Strategic Admissions Advice, we are committed to helping students and families to navigate their own unique course. We can start as early as 8th grade and help students all the way through high school. The last thing we want is for a student or family to hurt their chances of college admissions success before the process even starts.  

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