The New College Try: How to Find the Right College For Your High School Student
Local educators share tips for helping your high school student find the right college.
Wilmington Charter was the fifth-ranked Science, Technology, Engianeering and Math (STEM) high school in the United States for 2012.
Photo courtesy of the Charter School of Wilmington
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High school is difficult enough. But for Delaware’s rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, thebiggest challenge is yet around the corner.
“College admissions is a business,” says Mary Maslar, college admissions counselor at The Charter School of Wilmington. “Understanding that up front really helps guide students. For example, not all schools are just data-mining machines: SATS, ACTS, grade point average. Consider what colleges lose each year and need to make up for: your musicians, your athletes, your leaders.”
At Tower Hill School in Wilmington, “We really believe that success starts building at an early age, and so our students have a foundation that starts in preschool,” says communications director Nancy Schuckert. “We have a motto here—many things done well. That doesn’t mean that everybody does everything well, but it means that kids give everything they have to whatever it is that they’re doing.”
The foundation at Tower Hill is fostered by collaboration between the lower, middle and upper schools, says director of college counseling Jill Lauck.
‘‘I think the younger kids learn a lot just by watching the older students go off and be successful,” she says. “And when [all the students] get together, and work on projects together, we have a student body that’s already being asked to take care of each other in good ways. And so they leave here heading into college knowing how to be good, active, engaged members of a community because every day we ask them to be.”
Maslar, whose office is decked out in college pennants from Duke to the University of Chicago and every school in between, begins seeing Charter students as early as freshman year to help them navigate the admissions process.
“When we sit down one-on-one our first time, the first thing we’re going to look at is academics and curriculum,” she says. “That’s the basis. I’ll pull up the transcript because I want them to see what the picture is going to look like to college admissions: Is there anything about this transcript that needs explaining that wouldn’t naturally be explained?”
Maslar’s most important piece of advice for students looking to get into the best college possible is to stretch yourself to your academic limit.
“But within reason,” she warns. “That means you have a life, you’re getting seven hours of sleep at least, and also you develop your full potential non-academically. Where is that taking you? You cannot control, for example, that a school has too many girls that have applied in the humanities, but you can control achieving your best potential.”
For Charter students, a lot of that potential is reached in math and sciences. As the No. 5 ranked Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) high school in the nation in 2012, “We have a lot of specialist students in those fields,” Maslar says.
Regardless of grade level, Lauck tells Tower Hill students to do one thing: “Continue to work hard,” she says. “I think the biggest building block in this process for any student looking to enter a four-year university is not only keeping up their grades, but staying engaged in their learning.”
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