College Application Booster​®: Get ahead on your college application!

3 Advantages of Starting Early in the College Admissions Process

Apr 19, 2024

More students than ever before are applying to Ivy League and other highly-ranked universities, and as a result, top school admissions rates are dwindling. In order to curate a profile that will distinguish them from thousands of other applicants, students must start earlier than ever before to ensure that their academic skills and outside-of-the-classroom interests are well-developed, clearly articulated, and compellingly demonstrated on their applications. Every component of a student’s applicant profile—from test scores to extracurriculars to course selection and summer activities—is critical for conveying a unique and holistic narrative about a student’s passions and experiences. While the process of applying to college may seem daunting and distant for middle school students and underclassmen, starting early can not only provide students with invaluable advantages in the admissions process, but alleviate much of the stress that accompanies the college application process senior year.

Command Education works with students as early as 7th grade to start honing their interests, building important life skills, and get ahead of the curve academically. Students who start early—whether in middle school or in the initial stages of their high school career—reap three primary benefits in the process:

1. Development of Essential Skills

The key to long-term success is the development of critical “soft skills” such as time management, communication, organization, and critical thinking. When students learn how to balance their in-class and extracurricular responsibilities, seek extra support outside of the classroom as needed, and understand their learning styles, they set themselves up to succeed when their schedule becomes increasingly demanding in high school, particularly in their junior and senior years. Students who start early can cultivate these skills gradually, allowing ample time for practice, refinement, and mastery. Moreover, these skills will carry students far beyond their high school years. The experience gained through early engagement can empower students to approach future challenges with confidence and resilience, setting a strong foundation for success in high school, college and beyond.

2. Opportunity for Self-Reflection

Increasingly, colleges are looking for students who are self-assured, motivated by a guiding passion, and committed to serving their community with their talents. As such, students who excel in the college admissions process are those who engage with their passions, have a clear sense of purpose, and an understanding of their future goals. Becoming such a student requires time and authentic self-reflection, particularly as colleges take note of students’ long-term commitment to activities that are meaningful to them.

Starting between 7th and 9th grades allow students to get a jump start on discovering what ignites their passion and excites their interests. They can get a taste of their desired field through mini-internships, small-scale passion projects, volunteering, and by becoming involved in local clubs and organizations. For many, this period of discovery lays the foundation for the discovery of authentic passion, and thus, a standout passion project down the line.

3. An Academic Edge

Many students struggle in high school not because they do not have academic capabilities, but because they lack an understanding of their own learning style and do not possess the foundational skills they need to excel in the classroom. Even students who feel confident in middle school often see their grades dip during their ninth grade year as coursework becomes more demanding and extracurricular activities take up more of their time.

By starting early, students can develop strategies that work with their unique learning styles, make use of support systems (whether teachers who can provide help outside of the classroom, tutors, or school learning support), and develop a strong academic foundation that prepares them for more challenging coursework ahead. Additionally, motivated students can seek opportunities in and outside of the classroom to develop their skills and enroll in advanced or honors-level coursework the following year. Ensuring that students set a strong academic foundation for their freshman year is critical, as colleges look at freshman grades, and a shaky start has the potential to negatively impact their application.

Starting early in the process has an array of benefits for students as they build impressive applicant profiles. However, it is important to remember that starting early is only as beneficial as the strategy and support that students receive in the process. Command Education Senior Mentors offer expert guidance, enabling students to take advantage of their time and intentionally position themselves for success in the college admissions process and beyond! If you are considering starting early, schedule your consult today to learn more about how mentorship can help your student.

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