I have had so many parents ask me, “What can I do to help my ‘average’ student stand out and get accepted to college? Is it even possible?” Of course it is, even average students can go to college.
The good news is that the admissions application is not all about grades. As my good friends at Zinch like to say, “You are more than a test score.” Colleges look at the overall picture: grades, SAT scores, essay, student resume, and interviews. There will always be a college that recognizes value and potential. Grades are important, but they aren’t the ONLY way for a student to sell himself.
Standing out in a crowd of over-achievers
It goes without saying that average students won’t be attending an Ivy League college. But, honestly, it’s no great loss. There are so many other colleges and universities that will recognize your student’s potential. If the grades aren’t there, pick something that he excels in and focus on that strength: sports, community service, work, school organizations, entrepreneurship, etc. Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate commitment and perseverance, even if the student is struggling academically. There is a place for every student. Find a way to draw attention to the strengths, making a college stand up and take notice.
Searching for the right college
When you have an average student, the key to getting accepted to college is to find the college that fits him. That means look for the colleges that have high acceptance rates and focus more on the overall application than the scores and grades. Search for colleges where your student is at the top of the applicant pool based on grades and test scores. There are any number of sites you can use to find this information: CollegeData.com, CollegeNavigator and the College Board’s Big Future are just a few you can use.
If the grades are less than average, consider two years at a community college, study hard, and get good grades. Then, your student can transfer to a 4-year university of his choosing. Education is available to everyone, even (and often especially) the average student.