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The Ivy Coach Daily

May 11, 2020

Parents of High School Juniors

We can only help students and parents who are open to change (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

We’re sometimes contacted by folks who suffer from a serious case of cognitive dissonance. They want our help, but they don’t want our help. They know their children have made mistakes that can hurt their case for admission, but they don’t want to go under the hood and start fixing those mistakes. For these sufferers of cognitive dissonance, they tend rather overwhelmingly to utter the same phrase: “My child is a junior. It’s too late to fix these mistakes.” Their words, of course, are not true but we find it gives these folks solace to speak them. In our experience, they are looking for us to agree with them but we will do no such thing. Why? Because there are so many mistakes that a high school junior can still fix! Today, we thought we’d cover two such misconceptions.

Two Commonly Held Misconceptions of Parents of High School Juniors

Misconception #1: It’s too late to fix senior year courses or courses taken to date.

That’s not so. Course mistakes can often preclude a student’s case for admission to our nation’s elite colleges. Many students make mistakes in their coursework because their high school counselors don’t give them correct advice along the way. Maybe they tell them they can take AP Statistics as a senior as their math requirement. But our nation’s elite colleges don’t view AP Statistics as math. Maybe they tell them they can stop or switch their foreign language. But our nation’s elite colleges want to see students who take their foreign language — the same foreign language — all the way through high school. Stopping or switching a foreign language, not taking the next level of math as a senior…it all demonstrates a lack of intellectual curiosity. And these students are going to have a tough time keeping up with the competition irrespective of what their high school counselors may erroneously tell them to the contrary. In any case, these mistakes can so often be corrected by the students either taking courses outside of the school and/or their parents better advocating on their behalf with their school.

Misconception #2: It’s too late for my child to develop a hook. My child’s activities are what they are.

As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In our experience, students tend to present themselves as well-rounded even if they know that our nation’s elite colleges don’t want well-rounded students. Rather, they seek out students who are singularly talented, who are going to change the world in one super specific, often small way. But they sometimes have been involved in one or two activities that could be the basis for a hook…provided they get involved in other activities that further highlight that hook. A big part of what we do is identify what that hook can be and then come up with ideas for how the student can better get involved in activities to shine a bright lantern on that hook. It’s a significant component of Ivy Coach’s initial one-hour evaluation and whether you proceed with our services thereafter or not, at least you’ll come away with a roadmap for how the student should present to colleges in their activities, their essays, and more.

We Can Only Help Those Parents of High School Juniors Who Are Open to Change

Ultimately, we at Ivy Coach wish to work with families who are eager to make changes that will improve their case for admission. Imagine, as an extreme, that you’re going on trial for a triple murder. Are you going to listen to your attorney who stands between you and multiple life sentences / the death penalty? Or are you going to do as you wish? It is our longstanding policy at Ivy Coach to only take on clients whom we feel are willing and eager to make the changes we recommend to improve their case for admission. Are there certain things a high school junior can’t correct? Yes. But there are so many things they can correct to offer them the best possible case for admission to their dream school(s). And if the parent of a high school junior is just looking for a college consultant to tell them how everything their child has done to date is right, well, we are not for them.

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