Expert speak

In my previous three articles I had written about things college admissions committees at selective colleges in the US look for in candidates. We had discussed academics, extra-curricular activities and the importance of submitting thoughtful writing samples. This article covers interviews with a few American admissions counselors I had conducted recently.

I met with Oren Ridenour a High School Counselor at the American Embassy School, New Delhi earlier this week and he shared interesting views regarding college admissions. Elaborating about the mistakes students make while applying Ridenour says, "Often kids don't think out of the box; they apply to the same schools all their friends are applying to and forget that there are so many schools out there that are wonderful and could be a great fit, but they just aren't on their radar.  Another problem is students applying to very competitive schools for which they have little chance of admission.  It is often difficult for students to see their achievements and test scores in a realistic manner. Another mistake students often make is not writing a personal statement that truly reflects who they are; they often try to be someone they aren't and that becomes apparent to the admissions person who is reading the app. Students need to realize that their essay or personal statement is the one true way an admissions person thousands of miles away gets a real snapshot of the student."

I interviewed Victoria Romero Director of Admissions, Claremont McKenna College, Los Angeles ( during her visit to New Delhi last week and asked her what she wished parents should know about the college search and application process. Here's her response. "While meeting with families in India we notice how college and career choices are very often dictated by parents. At times the child is sidelined in the decision making process. Kids in the US tend to be more proactive and parents respect their involvement and decisions about college and career choices. It's time parents in India learn to coach their kids to take ownership of the process."

Answering the same question says Ridenour "What is important for parents to realize is that it is the child who is applying for college, not the parents.  I worry when I hear parents say, "We are applying to X, Y and Z colleges."  Parents meet with counselors often during this process and we encourage this.  We know how stressful this period can be and we know that meeting with us helps parent feel confident and more in control.  These meetings also provide a "reality" check for them and how their son or daughter is doing.  But our mantra to parents is always, "Let your child take control of the process."