Advice on advice

When students want advice about their college admissions process, who should they ask? That’s not always an easy question to answer. “What are my chances of admission?” “What should I write my college essay about?” “Am I ready to go to a college far away from my home?” These are very different questions. And there’s a fine line between valuing advice from trustworthy professionals and dismissing advice from a student’s friends or family members. Clearly, the professionals have the training and experience. But they’ll never know a particular student or their needs like those who have a personal relationship with that teen. And imagine how difficult it must be for a 16- or 17-year-old to make the distinction when many, if not most, of those advice-givers are older, wiser, and more experienced than the high schooler is.

This recent entry from the Georgia Tech Admissions Blog walks that line effectively, reminding students that while there’s no substitute for professional knowledge and experience, there are plenty of areas within the college admissions process where someone who knows the student personally might lend some good perspective. Ultimately, the student needs to own their process, including the decisions about who will be welcomed to weigh in. But in this particular area, I’d heed the advice of the Georgia Tech professionals.