Applying for college is not a walk in the park. Between submitting standardized test scores, writing essays, and pulling together your resume, there is a lot to consider as you look to increase the odds that your teen gets into the school of their choice. Here are three skills to help your teen learn in order to get through the college application process.

Testing Skills

There is no getting around the fact that test scores matter. While some schools are doing away with mandatory testing, other colleges still require or consider test scores as a valid indicator of achievement and aptitude. This makes it critical that you invest adequate time and thought into preparing for these exams. If you know that your teen is not a good test taker, it is a good idea for them to take a test prep class in order to boost their scores. The classes are designed to show them hacks and tips to arrive at the best answer and to work on their personal deficiencies so that they have more success on testing day. A class will also instill confidence in them that will carry over as they begin the testing process.  If your teen is planning on applying for undergraduate school, be sure to check to see if their schools of choice prefer the ACT or SAT format. If their schools consider both equally, it is recommended to take both tests at least once to see if they have a particular aptitude toward one. Because of their different formats and material covered, some students do significantly better on one test versus the other.

Hard Skills and Experience

Hard skills are defined as those abilities that you can easily point to on their college application. It is important to clearly state their hard skills and relevant work and educational experience on their resume and application for admission. Examples of hard skills include their grade point average, course load difficulty, work experience, internships and volunteer work, and program certifications. While having a long list of accolades is certainly beneficial, it is also important that they present the information in a way that tells the story of their achievements.  If you and your teen are unsure about how to present these skills on your application, you may want to consider using a BS/MD admissions counseling service. The experts will be able to teach them how to present their hard skills in a way that makes them shine to counselors. The way that you market yourself is a key factor in how your application will come across to the reviewers.

Soft Skills

In addition to having all of the right knowledge and abilities on paper, many admission counselors look hard at the soft skills that the applicant may possess. Defining soft skills is not an exact science. Basically, colleges want to see that they can interact well with others and thrive in a variety of situations. While this list is not exhaustive, here are a few soft skills that will make your teens application stand out from the others.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability – Especially in this time of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to show that they are able to be flexible with the rapidly changing conditions. The school needs to know that your teen will adapt to what life throws at them and still come out on top. 
  • Communication Skills – Good communication skills is the cornerstone of many academic and professional areas of life. If their admissions process includes an interview portion, it is especially important that they master professional verbal skills. Be sure to teach them how to make eye contact, demonstrate their listening skills, and be friendly yet professional. 
  • Ability to Self-Direct – College is not like high school and you won’t be able to be at their side to keep them accountable. An admissions counselor needs to see that they are motivated and that they have the ability to self-direct. Demonstrating how they have taken charge of their life in high school will prove that they have what it takes to be successful at the college level.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Support your teen by taking the steps to ensure that their college application will shine.