“The college process today is marked by dramatically lower acceptance rates, obscure bases for those getting in over others with similar records, and tuition that rivals the cost of the average American home,” writes Mark Sklarow, Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, in the Forward of my new book, “College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound.”
It really does bother me that today’s students and parents have such angst over college admissions. Independent Educational Consultants like me, also called college consultants, can provide invaluable knowledge and experience in guiding students through admissions (although students must always own the process and do the actual work). But let’s face it – not everyone chooses to or can afford those services.
That’s why I wrote this book – to provide a step-by-step roadmap to walk students through every aspect of college admissions. I also provide important tips to help parents support their teens, but without taking over. It’s crucial that the whole process, from high school classes to grades, testing, researching and visiting colleges, filling out college applications, writing essays, and getting letters of recommendation, belongs to the STUDENTS.
My book also helps students think about aspects of today’s overall admissions process that are very important, but which that they may not be familiar with, such as creating a cohesive application so colleges will see them as a well-rounded person. Another purpose of the book is to help students realize that there is a college that’s a good fit for everyone, and that success means succeeding and thriving wherever you go. College is not about trophy-hunting. It’s about you, the student, and meeting your goals for this life-changing experience.
• How to Begin – Explore your goals, your character, your strengths, what kind of future life you want and more.
• Affording College – In-depth information on FAFSA and the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020 and how it affects your situation. Plus, lots of information and resources on scholarships, grants, student loans and figuring out what your family can actually afford.
• Your Academic Record – an in-depth look at how college admissions officers look at your courses, your grades, your ranking and more. That process is a lot more complicated than you might think!
• Extracurricular Activities – It used to be the more the better. That’s no longer true; colleges are looking for more depth and activities that reflect who you are as a person.
• Your Personal Preferences – there are many subjective, non-academic factors that affect which colleges fit you best. These include geographic location, campus setting, student body size and profile, extracurricular opportunities, average class size, faculty involvement and much more.
• Campus Visits – a successful college visit requires planning, so this chapter gives you a guide to make your visits much more beneficial. By consistently following this guide, you’ll be better able to compare colleges, apples-to-apples.
• Your College List – the previous chapters cover topics that are fundamental to building your College List. Given this foundation, this chapter will teach you how to create a three-tiered College List of about 15 colleges that best fit you.
• Your Application—Strategy – because admission is competitive, most colleges have adopted a holistic approach to analyzing applicants. Admissions decisions rely not only on your academic record but on non-quantifiable factors as well. These may include interviews, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, among others. this chapter guides you in developing an effective admissions strategy to present your best possible self to colleges.
• Your Application—Theme and Hooks – the way you communicate your strategy to colleges is through your theme. This is a brief statement of the reasons why you’ll make an outstanding addition to a college’s freshman class. To make it more effective, your story should be subtly woven into your essays, college interviews and letters of recommendation. Ideally, an admissions officer will like your application so much that s/he will use it to advocate for you in committee!
Hooks are when you have a truly outstanding talent, aptitude, or skill. A strong hook may help you get admitted to colleges that might otherwise be just out of reach; it may also result in scholarship offers from colleges that highly value what you have to offer.
• Your Application—Letters of Recommendation – these present firsthand information about you that’s not available elsewhere in your application. They will have a positive effect on admissions if you treat them seriously rather than just items to be checked off your list of things to do. This book shows you how.
• Special Populations – This chapter is a guide for applicants who qualify for special considerations in selecting and applying to colleges, such as minority students, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students and more.
• Resources for Your Research – this final chapter gives you comprehensive and accurate information about colleges and universities.
A final note from Dr. Klaar:
If I’ve introduced some concepts in this books that you’re unfamiliar with, such as themes and hooks, this whole college admissions process may sound intimidating. But rest easy! The reason I named my book “College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound,” is that I break it all down for you in digestible-sized chunks that you can actually follow. Get it here today, and start your journey!