College admissions consultant Pria Chatterjee says it’s really never too early for families to start talking about college with their kids.
“If a family’s goal is to reach for the most competitive colleges, you have to start in middle school and start educating yourself in the landscape,” she says.
But what about the students currently in high school who haven’t seriously thought about college until now? Chatterjee — the author of the new book “The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Into a Top College: An Insider’s Guide to Admission into the Top 100 Universities & Colleges in America” — (out on March 24) assures us it’s not too late. She offers students these pointers.
Work with what you have: “You can’t reinvent yourself [at this stage],” she says. “You take what you have and use it in the best possible way. At this stage you have to be very introspective so that you are aiming at the right college.
Chatterjee suggests concentrating on making sure your application package is as strong as possible.
Be realistic: Chatterjee also stresses that it’s important for students to be honest with themselves about the type of schools they want to pursue. “If a less-competitive college would be a better fit, but you are hell-bent on getting into the most-competitive schools, [your goals] are not going to match,” Chatterjee says.
Streamline your activities: If a student is already in 10th or 11th grade, Chatterjee warns them not to suddenly join every club to make up for lost time. “[Sophomore year] is really when you should be consolidating,” she says. “Whether it’s an instrument or drama or a sport, you should focus on that.”
Chatterjee theorizes that in addition to the factors that a student can’t control (things like a student’s financial and ethnic background) there are three aspects of their applications that they can. These are:
“It’s the interplay of all these factors, that will help you,” she notes.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.