22 Tips For College Admissions Learned From 22 Years Of Leading

It’s inspiring to look back on the days before Bright Futures. Believe it or not, there was a time I had an itch to become a college counselor, but wasn’t sure if it was feasible.

However, with encouraging words from friends, I took the first step. And now 22 years later, I have learned just as much, if not more, from the students as they’ve learned from me and my staff. 

It’s an incredible feeling to acknowledge your own accomplishments – especially when they once felt like a far off dream. When it comes to both education and business, the learning never ends. But today I’m going to share the 22 tips for college admissions I’ve learned in my 22 years of leading Bright Futures Consulting.

22 Tips For College Admissions Learned From 22 Years Leading

Running a business isn’t always easy. But running my business is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and continue to do. 

1. Seek To Understand The Student

Seek, really seek to understand the student first. After all, students are the center of our business and philosophy. Then, we seek to understand the family. Finally, once we understand both the student and their family, we share the educational pieces we so eagerly want each student to know to help them blossom in their own bright future!

2. Recognize Value In What We Do

There is value in every person involved in our process. Moreover, we make a point to recognize the value we as consultants bring to each student. Understanding that we hold the privilege of guiding students towards their goals, hopes, and dreams keeps us always motivated and moving forward. 

3. We Are The Experts

When it comes to college admissions, students are novices and consultants are the experts. This distinction means that the consultant’s advice to students is more powerful as a nudge than a command. This is because no one likes to be bossed around, and at the end of the day we are offering guidance and advice. But students realize that following our nudges and advice will guide them to a fruitful future.

4. Measuring Student Progress Measures Our Own Progress

Student progress is measured by expertise being transferred from the consultant to the student. We take our role in each client’s life seriously. When the student is able to utilize our expertise, we see success in their lives and our work. 

5. Limitations In Admissions Is Not About Students

When applying to colleges, the only real limitations are the number of open chairs and beds at each school. After all, college admission administrators are in the business of admitting students. They wouldn’t have jobs if there weren’t students.

Are you a student or a parent looking for advice on college admissions? You’ve come to the right place. Reach out to us today to start working towards your bright future!

6. Student Goals Drive Them

For each student, it is their annual academic, personal, social, physical, and spiritual goals that guide them intentionally into their future. We make a point to understand students so that we can understand their various goals. In this way we can guide them to a bright and prosperous future. 

7. Being Multi-Interested Is Never A Bad Thing

No two students are the same. Furthermore, even identical twins have differences between them. Some students have one area of focus that they dedicate their lives to. But multi-interested (or undecided) students are typically the most honest and often very intelligent.

8. Everyone Involved Has Work To Do

When I find myself exhausted after meeting with a client, it’s because I’ve been doing most of the “work.” This tells me there’s an imbalance between the student’s family and myself. This doesn’t mean I need to buckle up and work harder, it means that the student and their family should be doing more work. 

9. Getting A Glimpse Into Other’s Lives Helps Students

Informational interviews are essential in this rapidly changing world. Students learn so much from people currently working in specific jobs or studying certain majors. This interactive process should be ongoing throughout high school, college, and adult life.

10. Mentors Can Make A World Of Difference

We encourage students to find a mentor, or multiple mentors. Encouragement, accountability, connections, and conversations can help shape a student’s future in more ways than one. A good mentor is better than gold!

11. The Birkman Assessment Is A Game Changer

We would like for all students to take advantage of a personality/interest assessment. At Bright Futures, we use the Birkman. It is an extremely reliable and valid tool that helps students now and far into their future. Even adults considering a career change can highly benefit from the Birkman. 

Have you taken the Birkman? If not, schedule it with us today!

12. Explaining Assessment Results Helps Students To Understand Their Strengths

Taking the Birkman positively and objectively measures a young person’s strengths, needs, and interests. But to fully utilize the results, a student first needs to fully comprehend the results. I spend at least one and a half hours unpacking the results during a meeting with the student and parent(s). Then I continuously reintroduce the report throughout the college planning process. 

13. Honesty & Integrity Follow You Through Life

Be honest when filling out the college application. Honesty will not harm an applicant. However, lying or misrepresenting an academic or conduct discrepancy will harm a young person. If not immediately, the repercussions will come later in life. I have many examples of this. The student and their family should strive for transparency, honesty, and integrity in all that they do. 

14. Don’t Try To Do It All Yourself

Running a business takes a lot of work. If we try to do it all on our own, we’ll find ourselves coming up short. Do let things fall through the cracks. Hire an expert bookkeeper and always file your taxes on time!

15. Dot The “I” & Cross The “T”

Keep all your affairs in order. Your future self will thank you. When starting a business, create an LLC and open a separate bank account for your business. 

16. Seeing Colleges In Person Is Extremely Valuable For College Counselors

Visit as many colleges in person as possible early in your career and stay up to date on the ones your clients apply to repeatedly. Be careful that the college does not pay you to visit or unduly leverage you in the process. Stay independent and student-focused. Any lapse in integrity will eventually surface.

17. Create Well-Rounded College Lists

When including a variety of colleges in the college list, make sure your student is in love with at least one of their safety schools. If they don’t make it into their first choice school, they will feel less defeated and more hopeful knowing they have a back up they will love to attend. 

18. Knowing How To Move Off The Waitlist

If a student finds themself placed on a waitlist, don’t just sit around and wait. A student’s best chance to come off the waitlist is to contact the college immediately. This gives the student the chance to update admissions with their latest grades and accomplishments. This is one of those squeaky wheel gets the grease situations.

19. See The Student Behind The Accolades

When working with student athletes, intentionally acknowledge their preciousness as a person. They are not performance machines. So much of an athlete’s identity is in their performance, but there’s a person under all that talent! This also goes for debaters, dancers, musicians, and all other talented people. 

20. Track Your Students’ Test Scores

To best help students reach their potential, monitor their PSAT and other standardized test scores prior to 11th grade. Make note if their scores are consistently in the top 10% of their age group. Encourage them to prepare for the NMSQT over the summer between 10th and 11th grades.

21. Identify & Strategize Coping Skills

Upon intake, ask students and parents about coping skills. Be alert to witness how students cope when working with them. Students who lack skills such as resiliency, self-discipline, admitting mistakes, and managing time are crippled and at risk of dropping out. But these are skills that can be learned, and learning them before going off to college can help them thrive.

22. Visit Campuses To Find The Best Fit

Students and families are so much more motivated, focused, and aware of where they best fit when they VISIT, VISIT, VISIT college campuses. Did I say VISIT? Yes, I did! Now make arrangements this summer to go on as many tours as you can. 

Bright Futures’ Consultants Are Here To Help!

Whether you’re a student, a parent, or an adult looking for a career change, we can help. The Birkman assessment is a valuable tool to help anyone looking for guidance of where they will thrive in school and in life. And our team of counselors are experts at helping students reach their potential and live their dreams! If you’re ready to schedule a consultation or access our insider tips for college admissions, email us at [email protected] or give us a call (281) 486-0023.