Good grades, high SAT scores, and glowing recommendations are great. But they won’t get your child very far if every other applicant has the same bag of tricks.When it comes to college admissions, a hook is a unique quality that makes the applicant stand out from the pack.
Whether your student is perfecting their finger painting or approaching senior year, you can use these methods to find their X Factor.
1. Volunteer with tunnel vision. What if your teen could honestly tell the admissions board that she discovered her passion for helping others at the age of five?
Volunteer work is good for the spirit, and the community. There’s no need to feel guilty if your child’s college application benefits, as well.
Even very young children can volunteer with virtual opportunities that can be done from home or anywhere. They key is to devote your family’s energy to one or two projects. If you spread yourself too thin, your work won’t make much impact on the community or college applications.
2. Get cultured. Classical music, fine art, a string of white pearls—whatever your mental image of what it means to be cultured, ball it up and throw it in the trash. Come on. Ball it up. Go left. Go right. Dunk. Score!
Simply put, culture is the beliefs, values, activities, or characteristics of a group. Get your child out of their world and into someone else’s. This could mean a stop at the museum or it could mean a trip to visit family on the opposite coast.
Don’t want to leave the house? Magazines, books, and even television shows are great portals to other cultures. Think Discovery Channel.
3. Enter a merit-based contest. Put those “my kid is cuter” contests on hold. Merit-based competitions are great for discovering the skills and talents that will eventually land on a college or scholarship application.
Best of all, many contests for kids have some pretty cool prizes. Check out:
- PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest
- National Geographic Kids Photography Contest
- Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest
- Doodle 4 Google – Art Contest
4. Head to the public library. Educational websites and apps are cool, but sometimes you need to feel paper between your fingers.
Let your child run wild…okay, walk wild, and quietly, from isle to isle. Since most library resources are free, you can pick up books and audio recordings on a variety of topics.
You may discover that your child is the world’s next top basket weaving, pastry designing, media mogul. It’s all in a book.
5. Ask the question of all questions. Will you marry me? No. Not that question.
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s an oldie, but goodie. Your child’s career plans reveal what they think is cool, important, and possible.
Don’t expect a “what is your X Factor?” line on a college application. You (or rather, your child) will never find such an animal. But you can help them raise out of the LMO (Like Many Others) stack by highlighting those things that make them one of a kind.
To my readers: What is your child’s X Factor? What do your kids want to be when they grow up? Parents, what do you want to be when you grow up?