As an educational consultant, I don’t typically have favorite students. Like any teacher, counselor, or parent, I love each of them in their own way. (Usually.) But there’s a type of student who typically enters my life (and practice) at this time of year and usually rises to the level of my highest esteem. It’s the type of student you won’t read about in higher ed articles or in the blogs of the IECs who make their living sending students to Ivy League or other highly selective colleges or universities – the low key, under the radar, not at all flashy student.
I refer to the late-blooming regular decision student – and if I could (or would) pick a favorite type of student to work with, this student would get my vote every single time.
What’s so special about the late-blooming regular decision student?
In no particular order, my experience with these students is that they tend to have the following characteristics:
- They’re either undecided about a major or know what subjects they’re interested in but they don’t feel the need to jump into a particular field of study head first.
- They aren’t panicking about Early Decision or Early Acceptance deadlines; in fact, sometimes they have no idea what the application deadlines are for the schools they have preliminary interest in…
- …which means they likewise aren’t tied up in the notion that they must attend a famous college with stringent admission standards or one with an instantly recognizable name whose bumper sticker can grace the rear of the family minivan.
- They’ve taken standardized tests (the SAT or ACT) but haven’t yet started an essay or put together their activities list.
- Because they aren’t hung up on the minutiae of “THE COLLEGE PROCESS,” they’re usually laid back and really fun to spend time with.
Now please don’t think I’m saying that the rest of my student clientele aren’t fun to work with because they are. They really are. (I’m very lucky in the students whose parents entrust their college search to me.) But for my highly-motivated, super-organized seniors, by the time we reach early fall, we’re largely wrapping up the first (and most time-consuming) part of their process. We’ve worked together over the past year to assess their needs and wants, built a college list to match, and are putting together the finishing touches on their essays and making sure they’ve crossed every t and dotted every i on their applications. Once that’s finished, the applications are submitted and we roll into the part of the process that’s controlled much more firmly by the colleges themselves than by the students. Scholarship and interview deadlines loom and campus visits are organized for the first (or second – or third!) time.
But these late-to-my-practice, new-to-me seniors on the laidback, regular decision timeline, they’re fresh and crispy right out of the package when they come to me in the fall. They’re ready to start the process but not in a hurry about it. They occasionally need a bit more of a push than the students who leapt on the ball and barreled through the process early on, but usually once they’re rolling, they find their way to the same inevitable end as all the rest.
The moral of this story?
All roads eventually lead to Rome – which means as long as you get on the road in the first place, it doesn’t really matter how long the journey takes you.
(It’s good advice for horses too, readers.)
So don’t sweat the pace of your journey if you’re part of the college process this year – and certainly don’t compare your pace or route to anyone else! Just follow the advice of author Lewis Carroll: Begin at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop.