5 Ways to Ethically Approach College Admissions
As you may know, earlier this year, the world was exposed to the largest college admissions scandal in the history of higher education, Operation Varsity Blues. The ring leader Rick Singer orchestrated a conspiracy involving 50 people and revealed to the world the dark and dirty side of college admissions. Those arrested included two SAT/ACT administrators, one exam proctor, nine coaches at elite schools, one college administrator and 33 parents. The eight highly-selective and reputable universities that were engulfed in this scandal included USC, Yale University, Stanford University, Georgetown, Wake Forest, UCLA, UC San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin.
Recently, Actress Felicity Huffman, the first of 15 parent defendants, met her fate for her involvement with Operation Varsity Blues and paying $15,000 to have a proctor to correct her daughter’s SAT answers. The Emmy award-winning star of Desperate Housewives has been sentenced by a federal judge to 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine and 250 hours of the kind of community service you shouldn’t list on a college application. (LOL!)
Even though Huffman reaped what she sowed, let me ask you this, who are the real victims of Operation Varsity Blues?
We are the victims
Regular parents and students like you and me – who take an honest and earnest approach to work hard during their high school years and then following the rules to apply to selective colleges, in hopes to get admitted into the college of their dreams!
The question I am often asked by my hardworking students and their parents is, “How do we stand out from other applicants, the honest way, and create impactful applications that help us get admitted to the colleges on our list?”
5 ways for high-achieving high schoolers to ethically approach the college admissions process and stand out among other applicants.
1 • Highlight your strengths.
Reflect on what makes you unique, what are your talents, and your areas of expertise. Make sure to highlight and showcase these strengths in every aspect of your high school activities, like in your choice of academic classes, extracurricular activities, your applications, and your essays.
2 • Create a well-balanced college list and a plan when to apply.
An often overlooked step, or a list that is created haphazardly with top-heavy colleges (only choosing the top 10 colleges), may result in more denials than admissions. The key to admissions is understanding the early, regular and total admissions rate of the colleges of your choice and then creating a balanced list of reach, target, and safety schools. And of course, leveraging the various early and regular rounds of colleges. That’s a strategy that may give you the maximum results!
3 • Create powerful narratives of yourself.
Your personal statement and supplemental essays are crucial components of your applications, revealing to the admissions officers who you are, what are your areas of interest, and how you will interact in their college community. Get personal and reveal yourself in these essays and emotionally engage the admissions officers, so that they may go to bat for you during application review time.
4 • Choose recommenders who are your best advocates.
Be selective in choosing your recommenders, don’t just choose those teachers whose class you got an A in. But, choose those advocates who have seen you overcome a struggle (like an exam), or seen you in multiple lights. For example, this teacher recommender may also be your soccer coach, hence she knows you inside and outside the classroom.
5 • Don’t try to hide or falsify information.
Just like the case in Operation Varsity Blues, the truth always comes out. Many students in fear of being stereotyped into a certain bucket, falsify or hide their race or ethnicity. The consequences may be detrimental, including public defamation, jail time, and your admissions being rescinded from the college. Please don’t do it! If there are certain circumstances that have affected your performance during your high school years, speak to your counselor and have them communicate the situation to the colleges you are applying to.
🏆 My aim to help each and every student to apply and achieve admissions into their best-fit colleges. Please use the tips I provided to ensure a smooth and ethical college admissions journey. Reach out to me if you have any questions.
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