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Partner Content: A Great Time for College Prep with Aspire

Partner Content: A Great Time for College Prep with Aspire

Summer is finally here, and it’s an excellent time for rising seniors to dive into the college application process. Senior fall grades and extracurriculars matter, so starting applications now can mean the difference between a busy fall semester and an overwhelming one. 

Moreover, if students finalize their materials early, they can submit by the early deadlines (October-November). Often, students have a better chance of acceptance if they apply early. And early action applicants may be more likely to receive merit scholarships.  

Where to begin? And what is required? This column will provide brief answers to those questions. 

I approach this process in a holistic manner. This means starting with the student as the center of attention, not the colleges. When I begin working with a student, I have them reflect on who they are and what they want. I ask questions like, “What values are important in your life?” and “What will your ideal college experience look like, both academically and socially?” This self-reflection process helps students to ground the college search in their own wants and needs and to minimize the urge to apply to colleges for superficial reasons. 

These are the four main elements students need to prepare: 

List: I require my students to apply to a minimum of 9-10 schools, which must be balanced in terms of selectivity. During the initial research phase, students take notes on each college’s academics and social life. Later, these notes help students refine their lists, write supplemental essays, and prepare for interviews. 

Résumé: The Common App (the platform used to apply to most colleges) allows students to describe 10 extracurriculars. Each description should be detailed yet concise, highlighting the student’s responsibilities and accomplishments. Students don’t have to be highly involved across all activities — that may even come across as disingenuous — but ideally they will have leadership experience in at least one. 

Personal Statement: As a writer myself, this is my favorite part of the application because it’s where the student gets to experiment with self-expression. This required 650-word essay must address a specific accomplishment, identity, or value the student holds. It should be unique to the student and reflect college-readiness. 

Supplemental Essays: These are school-specific essays. Some colleges don’t have any, some have required ones, and some have optional ones (which I require my students to write). The prompts vary, but the most common one is: “Why do you want to attend our college?”  

Throughout the process, praise your teen and encourage them to practice self-care — they are learning to reflect, write, and advocate for themselves in ways that, while exciting, can be stressful.  

If you would like to schedule a free consultation to discuss your child’s needs, please reach out at > My services are always offered on a sliding scale.  

Emily Greenspan 

Founder of Aspire Counseling & Tutoring 

Emily Greenspan has advised hundreds of American and foreign high schoolers throughout the college application process. She will be a regular contributor to Rivertown Magazine and is happy to serve this community with college admissions advice.  

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