I met Oren Ridenour, a high school counsellor at the American Embassy School, New Delhi, earlier this week, and he shared interesting views regarding college admissions. Elaborating on the mistakes students make while applying, Ridenour says, “Often kids don’t think out of the box; they apply to schools their friends are applying to and forget that there are so many schools out there that are wonderful and could be a great fit.” He adds that another problem is students apply to very competitive schools where they have little chance of admission. Students also often don’t write a personal statement that truly reflects who they are, which becomes apparent to the admissions person, he says.
I interviewed Victoria Romero, director of admissions, Claremont McKenna College, Los Angeles (www.cmc.edu) during her visit to New Delhi last week and asked her what she wished parents would know about the college search and application process.
“While meeting families in India we notice how college and career choices are very often dictated by parents. At times, the child is sidelined in the decision-making process. It’s time parents in India learn to coach their kids to take ownership of the process,” she says.
Ridenour says, “What is important for parents to realise is that it is the child who is applying for college, not the parents. Our mantra to parents is always, ‘Let your child take control of the process’.”
For all teachers and counselors reading this article, here is an important tip on writing effective letters of recommendation. Says Ridenour, “I work very hard when writing letters of recommendation to find the best aspects of the student’s academic record. I attempt to craft a letter, which highlights the strengths of the student, paints a picture of how the student fits into the school, and hopefully creates a positive image of the student. I try to show, not tell, how the student has made an impact on our school, our community, and in the academic life of the school.”
The author is an independent admissions counsellor and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also runs www.YouCanWriteNow.com, a blog assisting students write college application essays