I just returned from a trip to California with my son. We have just started to look at colleges for him. He is a junior in high school, but this is when kids start considering colleges seriously. We went to see U Cal at Berkeley, Stanford, and Pomona. All three very different colleges.
Warning to parents: good grades and good standardized test scores just don't cut it anymore. Stanford rejects an awful lot of kids who get 1600's on their SATs. All of the colleges want to see rigorous courses in high school, great grades, great SAT I and SAT II and AP/IB scores. But they also want students that are unique in some way. The essays that kids have to write for their college applications are extremely important.
It is not only amazing difficult to get into the top-tier schools. It is also getting increasing difficult to get into the upper-middle tier schools. Applications are skewed by professional college counselors who you can hire for $10,000 to $30,000 .... you wonder if a kid gets into a certain college because of his/her own worth, or because daddy's paycheck is fat enough to hire a pro.
Now, we have to capture the one big intangible that my son has into an essay .. the fact that he is a leader ... not in the academic sense (ie: he is not the editor of the school newspaper nor the quarterback of his school's football team) ... but the fact that he has packs of kids that follow him around, that kids are constantly calling him and messaging him, that he can snap his fingers and a whole cadre of students will appear to schlep his drumset from gig to gig. In other words, someone who has that special magnetism that command attention amongst his peers (think Tony Soprano).
I wonder if Stanford is interested in the future leader of La Cosa Nostra.....
(To the British readers here .. does the same thing apply to Oxford and Cambridge? Is most of the UK clamoring to get into these two schools?)
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