I frequently hear a common refrain from the parents of students I consult with in my College Admissions Consultation practice: “my child does not have the best grades. I’m assuming his or her educational options will be limited to junior college.” While the excellent SUNY junior colleges in our area can give a student a year or two to mature further and be ready to complete a four-year degree, it is a myth to think that B and C students will not have excellent four-year college choices and scholarships (free money!) This is the case whether the student is simply unmotivated, or whether they have learning differences (which may for may not require an IEP or 504 Plan.) It’s all about finding carefully assessed “best fit” colleges where a student is likely to be admitted, successful, and happy.
Several years ago I had the privilege of working with a young man from a suburban school district who, much like his friends, had a high school average of 79. He was ranked in the bottom third of his graduating class. He had his eyes on schools that were unrealistic. Even with excellent professional tutoring from Chariot Learning, which raised his ACT scores significantly, it was clear that he would not be a candidate for his first, second, or third choice college due purely to the lackluster grades that were “etched in stone.”
Accordingly, we chose some wonderful schools that had programs which interested him, a social milieu that was a great fit for his personality, and an appreciation of the academic potential inherent in his improved standardized test scores. We talked about a “planned transfer,” meaning if he got excellent grades in his first year of college it would open doors to the schools he most preferred to attend, assuming he wished to complete transfer applications the following year.
After I worked with him to complete a very compelling Common Application and boost his enthusiasm for college, his admissions results were impressive. He was delighted to be accepted to four 4-year colleges, two of them SUNY schools. His father remarked, with pride: “he is the only one of his friends who got into four-year colleges!” Even better, he received generous merit scholarships from the two private schools.
The following year, he worked with me again to complete transfer applications. With great freshman year college grades in hand, he ended up being admitted to all three of his former first choice schools! However, in the end, he chose to remain at the college where he had already been so successful. To conclude his story: he ultimately graduated with a dual degree, cum laude honors, and a desirable job in his field.
I recently gave a talk at the YMCA. I was surprised when a mother (who identified herself as having a “very average” student”) approached me afterward, remarking: “I didn’t know there was such a thing as a private college consultant!” She expressed her excitement when considering that the enthusiastic support and careful guidance of a non-parent expert, could be part of the perfect recipe for college admissions and scholarship success for her child.
The key to success for all students, and perhaps especially B or C students, is to start the “college process” earlier rather than later. Even ninth grade is not too early to begin thinking about college, with 10th or early 11th grade being ideal. There is so much that a student can do in terms of high school course selection, scholastic achievement, SAT/ACT preparation, and financial planning. The adage “the early bird catches the worm” is abundantly true in the college admissions process in general, and for B and C students in particular.
Dr. Sandra Eller is an experienced College Admissions Consultant with a warm, engaging style. She works individually with students of all ability levels, throughout high school, to maximize admissions prospects at colleges that are a “best fit” for students academically, socially, emotionally, and financially. For more information, visit www.LessStressCollege.com. © Copyright 2016 by Sandra J. Eller. All rights reserved.