“My Student is Average. Where Can She/He Get In?”

First, “average” doesn’t mean “not admissible to any college, anywhere.”  What is  important for an “average” (and I use “average” loosely) student and their family is the college selection process–just as important as for EVERY student wanting to go to college.    The selection process for the “average” student may include a different scrutiny of themselves and colleges.

Let’s define “average” a bit more:

  • College admissions officers may perceive an “average” applicant as someone who is ‘wondering’–not quite sure what academic subjects are interesting, nor quite sure what is not interesting at the same time.  So, they’re going to seek other evidence in the application–e.g. extra-curricular activities and within the college essay–about what the student is doing to try and sort out their interests and learn something more about himself/herself.
  • “Average” may also mean the student didn’t demonstrate their learning back to the teacher in exactly the way she/he expected (i.e. missed assignment deadlines, didn’t quite follow the directions in completing projects), so the grade is a B or C, not an A.
  • “Average” can also mean the student needs additional support, with advisors she/he trusts, to help point them in different directions, expose him/her to new experiences and revise plans as needed.   The support can also include being surrounded by more “like minded” peers, with shared values and similar “wonderings” and a proclivity to “wander” in order to thrive.

What each part of the “average” definition means for college selection:

  • On “wondering”, reflect first on what activities both inside and outside school and classrooms was exciting for the student.  How does the student learn best?  What activity does she/he engage, without anyone having to remind (or nag) to get done–even if that’s playing World of Warcraft for hours on end?  Knowing that information can help the student know what to highlight about themselves in the application, essay and interview, if offered.
  • On “following teacher’s directions” and “like-minded peers”, what’s the teaching and learning environment the student best learns?  Who are the friends who will tutor me and who is my academic arch-nemisis in my classes?  Which category of person would I most want to be surrounding me in college?  How will the college allow me to “experiment” while still making progress toward graduation?  Then, investigate the colleges and their culture that will align with the student’s needs.

If “average” applicants, and really ANY applicant, can demonstrate to a college is their “fit”, their “match”, their “compatibility” for the school then the more competitive the student will be for an acceptance.