By: Belinda Gonzalez-Leon, Ed. D., MBA
Ph: (305) 494-9389
High school students work hard to get high GPAs, great SAT scores, excel in extracurricular activities, and practice their essay writing skills. These are all the right steps to obtain admission into college, but students need one to do one more thing: network. Networking is not just for parents to do in business, it’s also a skill that can give students an edge in college admissions.
Example: A student attending high school in New York loved playing the sport of lacrosse. During her summers, she was able to attend a lacrosse camp at Princeton University in neighboring New Jersey. During her camp experience, she became close to the coaches, staff, and administration. She grew to love the campus, the people, and the environment so Princeton was at the top of her college applications list. The student spoke to everyone she knew at Princeton about her application. They encouraged her to apply, offered advice on how to prepare her application, and recommended her to the Admissions Officers. She was accepted and even awarded some scholarship money for lacrosse.
Her parents did not pay half a million dollars to get her into Princeton. She did the work. She made the connections. She built relationships with individuals who could guide her and help her in the admissions process. This student also had the grades and test scores to get in. Her networking did not guarantee her entry into the University, but it was a definite plus. Anything that makes you stand out to an admissions committee out of the hundreds of applications they review helps.
How can your student network? Many colleges and universities offer summer camp, high school programs, or “get to know us” sessions. However, it’s your student that has to go out of their way to talk to individuals at the college. If you can’t afford these programs, the advice is the same: build relationships.
Students need to research the colleges they want to attend. They should ask many questions- good, smart, well thought out questions. Don’t do it via email, find a specific person, by name, to call and speak to. Preferably an Admissions representative, but it could also be someone affiliated with your major (Department chair or faculty) or the coach of the team if you are an athlete. Ask questions, ask for advice, share your accomplishments and stay in touch while you are in high school.
Take advantage of any opportunity to see a school official in person. This could be at a campus, at your high school, a college fair, or a community presentation. Be professional by dressing appropriately, shake hands, look them straight in the eye, be polite and be gracious. Have a student resume ready to give them as well as an unofficial transcript to show – ask for their feedback on both documents. If you are able to have personal contact with a school official, send them a handwritten note thanking them. You want the school to understand how interested and how serious you are about attending their school. Show that them you are listening and applying their advice.
If you can network with your college of choice, you will be able to submit a better application and when the application arrives- they will KNOW your name. They will know how hard you worked on admission and how badly you want to attend. Admissions committees are made up of human beings and an emotional connection makes a difference. When Admissions is reading hundreds and hundreds of applications- you need to do something to stand out. Remember that all this is the student networking-not the parent. The parent is not going to go to college – it’s up to the student to make the effort and see how it pays off.
Every effort counts!