Friday, February 23, 2007
Educated Advice Columnist
Gerald M. Bradshaw
There is much misinformation talked concerning admission to a top college or university. If you apply, it is important to de-mystify the process and be as down to earth as possible in your reasoning.
Vague ideas about privilege, dreaming of gothic spires and crewing on the Charles River are inspirational, but peripheral.
What will get you into a Harvard, University of Pennsylvania or Notre Dame is intelligence, an ability to perform well under pressure, and (at least as important as either of the above) careful planning. You will need to have a precise understanding of what courses you wish to study, and why.
First, there must be good reasons for applying to a top school. You have researched several and have decided an elite college or university is the place you will do your best.
You like the idea of a highly competitive student body. You have discovered that students at top schools learn quickly, are taught in smaller groups, have a very low dropout rate end enjoy conditions conducive to outstanding academic performance.
Next, you are likely to graduate at least in the top 5 percent of your class, although this does not mean a solid set of grade A's. If you have an uneven record in your freshman year, but are on target in the second and third years, then prepare a brief explanation in you personal statement and apply.
Since they are the only criteria that are universally standardized, they carry a lot of weight.
A good showing is to score at least 650 (out of a possible 800) in each category of the test. The magic number is 700, but admissions committees point out that students with perfect scores are routinely turned down, and students with lower test scores are admitted.
You realize that entrance to an elite school is very competitive and that every year, excellent candidates fail to get in. You have to face up to this and already know that should you not get an offer, there are other first class universities where you would be happy.
Once you have considered all the above and are still set on applying to the very best, focus on admissions process.
One of the reasons that certain high schools get so many students admitted to elite colleges is that they expect their students to aim high, and prepare them well before the end of their junior year.
Many high schools expect students to have the university application process well under way before the end of summer of their junior year.
By then, you applications should be completed in draft form. This helps assure that early application deadlines will not be missed.
You do not need a guidance counselor to hold your hand. Do not let others do your thinking.
If you don't have copies of university prospectuses, order them from the admissions office. Also ask for a copy of alternative prospectuses or class supplemental material in your potential area of major.
University catalogues are filled with programs and course descriptions that may not be offered in the fall of your freshman year. Look at these various courses and compare them to the supplemental materials.
Now is the time to compare colleges and universities.
Which one best meets your requirements?
Only you can make that decision. Once you have done your research, trust your own judgment.
Contact Gerald Bradshaw, The US States Top college consultant. One-on-one college consulting. Get help with the college application essay. Make you dream of being admitted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania a reality.
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