Danielle Arca: Finding the right college
Editor’s note: College and guidance counselor Danielle Arca has spent 20 years counseling, educating and inspiring students. She offers support throughout their educational journey beginning in middle school and culminating in college admission. Based on her experience working with parents and students, she shares some of her tips on the road to college:
1. Make me a match. A “good” college is relative to the individual; not every school is right for every student. Focus more on pairing students with appropriate colleges based on academic, social, extracurricular and personal needs rather than on school rankings or comparisons with other students.
2. Start early. Instead of enduring a feverish race to the finish line, initial steps in the college process should be taken freshman year.
3. Find a niche. Every student is good at something — the key is finding out what that is and as early as possible. Students should sample various extracurricular activities beginning in middle school and throughout freshman year.
4. Pick and stick. Once students find an area of expertise, they should give it their all. Commitment and consistency over time are highly regarded by college admissions officers.
5. Claim to fame. Developing talents throughout middle and high school serves to highlight students and separate them from the pack in the admissions process. No specific talent is more valuable than another; level of involvement and proficiency reign supreme. Whether an accomplished yodeler or the more traditional football player, each student has the opportunity to shine!
6. Write it on a resume. Students should begin recording their extracurricular activities on a resume freshman year and add to it periodically throughout high school.
7. Create an identity. Selecting electives is yet another opportunity for students to stand out from their peers. Whether journalism, theatre, engineering or debate — remember, consistency is the key.
8. Take a risk. Students should enroll in the most challenging curriculum available while still maintaining a healthy GPA.
9. Capitalize on school offerings. Students are evaluated within the context of their own school. Just as no student is penalized in the admissions process for not taking calculus if it isn’t offered, students are expected to enroll in higher-level coursework when appropriate and to involve themselves in a rich extracurricular life.
10. Forget about formulas. Because colleges seek diversity among students, there is no mathematical equation that guarantees admission. The message? Be yourself, and the right colleges will emerge.
A graduate of Tulane University and Arizona State University, Danielle Arca is a licensed mental health counselor, educational consultant and lifelong educator based in Aspen. She is a vetted volunteer at Aspen High School, offering college admissions counseling, academic advisement, career exploration, personal counseling, as well as tutoring in core academic subjects and foreign language. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 305-606-0997.
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