Ranch & Coast Magazine

September 2023

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Knowing the colleges' profiles is also extremely important. Every school publishes information known as the Common Data Set, which is packed with details similar to what can be found on the high school profile plus its academic requirements, applicant profile, student life, financial aid statistics, application and admission numbers, and much more. Awareness of what any college's student body looks like and who they're admitting gives teens a better idea of how their own application stacks up. Have the Right List oroughly researching both high school profiles and college data is a key element to helping kids create their list of schools to apply to. "When people come to me and say, 'We just want to apply to Harvard, Stanford, and UCLA,' I think to myself, 'Oh, that's nice,'" says Carey Cimino, owner, founder, and independent educational consultant at Your College Journey. "But we need to have a balanced list. I don't sleep at night unless I know my students have three 'safe' schools and three targets that I know would be a good fit for them, where they would be able to thrive, and that might throw them more merit money and perks." Evaluating the whole school in all its facets is critical. "Oftentimes I'll see students come with a list of schools and it's colleges they've just heard about and haven't really researched in terms of fit, so making sure they're really researching and thinking about what's going to be the right fit for the student is key, not just the name brand," says MacLure. "Ask: 'Does it have my major? Is it going to be collaborative?' Sometimes students will come in with a list of too many 'reach' schools and maybe they don't even fit them that well." Financial obligations are a major consideration. "I would never want a family to put a school on their list that's outside of their budget," MacLure says. "You want to make sure that family never feels like a dream killer." Counselors also advise parents to let go of preconceived ideas they may have of different schools whose profiles may be quite changed from decades ago. "I spend a lot of time dispelling the impressions of schools that were a certain way in the '90s," says Kelly Crotty, owner of Kelly Crotty College Consulting. "e parent needs to open their mind to that." SDSU, for instance, was once the country's No. 1 "party school." Now, the average high school GPA of ough teens can absolutely successfully navigate the process on their own, a college counselor can play a number of roles for them on the road to college, guiding course selection throughout high school to ensure their coursework supports their desired path (some suggest initial contact at the end of 8th grade), creating a balanced list of potential school options, setting timelines and keeping them accountable leading up to and through application submission, and alleviating the pressure the entire family can feel from the earliest stages through the crunch time of fall of senior year. According to Susan Morris, a certified college counselor with ICAN Consulting Group, this is essential. "e whole process is super stressful. It makes a big impact on your family life, and whatever you can delegate away from that is beneficial," she says. Independent counseling professionals are continuously educating themselves to keep abreast of the ongoing changes in admissions overall, individual colleges' requirements, and new programs on campus through conferences, regular college campus visits, and direct relationships with the school admissions offices. Additionally, counselors often have experience reading applications and essays, giving them in-depth insider knowledge of exactly what colleges are looking for in prospective students. Of course that expertise comes with a cost — college counselors can run around $250 per hour or more — but the guidance they provide can be the difference between a smooth process and a frustrating one. Whether or not applicants engage a counselor to mentor them on their way to college, several local experts in the industry have some universal recommendations to keep them on track throughout their process. Know Your Competition "It's really important for students to know that they're not being compared to some kid in Wichita. ey are directly being compared to their peers," says Morris. is means colleges have in-depth knowledge of the schools kids attend and the students who attend them. More rigorous or competitive high schools, districts, or cities lead to increased competition among the student body, and colleges will only accept so many kids from any school. All high schools have a profile that is publicly available and easily found online that describes its academic environment, demographics, student GPA breakdown, graduation rate, and more. Susan Morris Carey Cimino >> @ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2023 63

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