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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

My daughter will be a high school freshman in August. Each year, we hear that students who have nearly perfect grades and who have taken Advanced Placement classes are being rejected by top colleges. We want to make sure she has the right academic preparation and extra-curricular involvement to prepare her for the college selection process. What do you advise?

Signed: Parent

How best to prepare for top colleges



Dear Parent,

Excellent grades and test scores, plus strong leadership skills, are key to gaining admittance to a top college. State colleges tend to be more lenient when it comes to grades and classroom performance, but not top-tier colleges.

Harvard had 39,044 applicants last year, and accepted 2,037. More than 14,000 applicants to Harvard scored above 700 on the critical reading, math and writing portions of the old SAT, and more than 3,800 were ranked first in their respective high school classes.

Freshman statistics show 41 percent of the students admitted excelled in extracurricular interests, including music and other expressive and performing arts; 35 percent in debate, political activities and student government; 21 percent in social services, and 20 percent in writing and journalism. In addition, 57 percent said they intend to participate in recreational, intramural or intercollegiate sports.

So, how do you prepare for the admissions process at top colleges in a way that will separate you from the pack?

I suggest that my clients start studying for the SAT as a freshman, because SAT scores continue to play a huge roll in admissions. In addition, you will need to take two or more SAT II Subject Tests if you plan to apply to a top-tier college. If your daughter takes the SAT in her freshman year it will establish a benchmark and a guide to her strong and weak points.

I offer a five-week SAT boot camp. The courses are taught by Harvard students who had perfect scores on the tests that they tutor. If you do hire a tutor, ask to see his or her test scores. If they haven't scored 750-800, it is unlikely they are competent to guide your daughter to reach a higher level.

Besides the SAT boot camp, I have developed a leadership skills program that will assist a student in developing the capabilities and confidence needed to succeed and impress top colleges. America's leading colleges no longer look just for students with great grades and top test scores. They look for students who make the most of opportunities and resources around them and have made meaningful impacts in the community.

When we were developing the leadership curriculum we asked ourselves what we wish we had known about developing these skills in high school. The program includes instruction in time management, public speaking, presentation preparation, writing, interviewing and listening effectively, running meetings, basic and advanced computer skills, and fundraising techniques.

I applaud your interest in getting an early start on the college selection process. Establishing an educational framework that will support your daughter's interests and eventually intrigue college admissions officers is nothing to leave to chance.

Need some educated advice? Reach out to Gerald Bradshaw one of America's top international college admission consultant: (866) 687-8129

gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu

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