Help for college admissions is here

Posted: January 15, 2015

In last Sunday’s op-ed “U.S. approach to college not healthy,” author Natalie Abulhawa decries the college admissions process, but her concerns and conclusions are based on rumor, not fact. The German higher education system is not fairer than ours. In fact, their system, while free, is even more selective and more dependent on exams to “quantify [the students’] worth” than ours is. Unlike the German system, most admissions committees at American colleges and universities evaluate applications holistically. They try to get a feeling for who the student is and what he or she can contribute, both on the university’s campus and as an alum with the school’s name attached. Has the student distinguished him or herself on or off campus? Is he or she known for leadership, for kindness, or for pushing intellectual boundaries in class?

In addition, compared to German students, US students have a vast array of colleges to choose from. While Miss Abulhawa’s options are somewhat limited due to her “barely average” grades, she would benefit from consulting a professional college admissions counselor. A knowledgeable counselor would introduce her to one of the many “top-tier” schools looking for students with “social [and] environmental responsibility” that she says do not exist. (Tell that to Reed College, Bryn Mawr College or the University of Colorado.) College admissions counselors--both independent consultants and school guidance counselors--spend many hours developing expertise in matching students and families to the right schools. He or she also guides the family through the admissions process, reducing stress and ensuring that a good fit is found for each student, whether close to home or far away. Miss Abulhawa is correct that the college admissions process is not user-friendly. But there are experts available to help.

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