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College Advice

Improve your teen’s chances of getting into college

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college chancesHow you can improve your chances of getting into college? Join CJ as she interviews Elizabeth Wisnner-Gross, the author of “What High Schools Don’t Tell you: 300+ Secretes to Make your Child Irresistible to Colleges by Senior year” Get the inside scoop on what college admissions are looking for and why? Also, learn about the College Admissions Process.




 Radio – “What High Schools Don’t Tell you”


Book Review on Elizabeth Wissner-Gross “What High Schools Don’t Tell You”

by CJ Liu


Sometimes the cold, hard truth just gets to me sometimes.  As a parent, my emotional barometer was off the charts when I read “What High Schools Don’t Tell You” about the injustices that teens have to endure today.  Sadly, the carefree reckless teen years are a thing of the past.

If you want to improve your child’s chances of getting into college and attending a competitive school, then they must submit to the hamster wheel early, really early like starting in 8th grade early.  As a mother, I ranted and raved about how my babies have to grow up so quickly.  As I’m a planner, I appreciated getting an early look at the rules of the College game.  After I took a deep breath, I realized that this book gave me hugely valuable insights and the kick in the pants to share critical life skills with my kids.

As a life coach, my goal is for my children to get an early start on figuring out their passions and then have a concrete plan to explore them and track their progression through their accomplishments. Ultimately, this is the plan that leads to meaning and their happiness.  At a practical level, college admissions offices need quantitative measures beyond the SAT and GPA’s to determine if your child has what it takes to succeed in college.  Your child’s accomplishments give them objective proof that they have gifts and talents in their areas of passion. It’s a short cut for colleges to access whether your child is energetic, self-motivated, talented, accomplished, inquisitive, enthusiastic, and hard working.

As with every book, you must pick and choose the parts that resonate with your family values, and beliefs about life.  Here are the secrets that our family will choose to use from this book:

  • Create a plan. Starting 8th grade put together a plan for your child’s next 3 years before they start writing applications at the beginning of Senior year.  The plan would include a vision of what your child will have wanted to accomplish at that time.
  • Discuss potential strategies: Pick a few passions that your child has that include a mix of the arts, academics and sports.  By picking a variety of areas you can hedge your bets as their interests may change over time.
  • Set some goals during school year: Take some stretch classes (AP, College level, or more advanced classes) that allow your child to support their interests in depth and to show that your child can do well in a competitive setting.
  • Meet periodically:  In August, January, and June check in with your child to see how their plan may be adjusted based on your current information and experiences to-date.
  • Set summer plans: If your school doesn’t offer advanced classes then summer may be a good time for your child to develop their skills further.  If more school doesn’t work doesn’t appeal to your child, then have your child sign up for an internship, summer job, or volunteer program where they can get more experience in the area they are interested in.
  • Get 3rd party subjective data:  Aside from teacher recommendations, grades, and SAT’s, there are very few chances for college admissions to get an objective sense of what your child can do.  During the next few years pick a few competitions that your child can compete in their areas of interests.  Explain to your child that it is about the law of numbers and that there may be a 1 to5 ratio, where they will apply to 5 things and only get noticed in one of them.  A good way to think about this time is that it is about showing up and putting themselves out there and learning how to improve with each competition, which is another life skill.
  • Start putting together a resume to capture what you learn about your child and what you did during each summer (trips, activities, what was the most memorable experience). This will help your child during college essay time to track their story.

Perhaps your head may be swimming with what seems to be an overwhelming plan for improving your child’s chances of getting into college.  Luckily if you start early, you are taking the pressure off your child and you have a few years to figure things out.  Plus, the big picture is that you are teaching your child life skills that they will take with them forever and that will be the true gift of your time investment.

The only addition to the great advice offered by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross for improving your chances of getting into college is that the best outcome for your child will likely be a balance of planning and letting go.  While plans are helpful, it’s important to remember that they don’t guarantee anything and that the results of having no plan can be equally rewarding.  Flowing with life is an equally valid path.  The trick is about navigating between these two extremes.

Resources for internships in the book://,,,, and

About Elizabeth Wissner-Gross

Elizabeth Wissner-GrossElizabeth Wissner-Gross is an internationally noted educational strategist who helps high school and college students to discover their academic passions, develop inspiring academic and career goals, and pursue exciting and challenging educational experiences. She has helped hundreds of students nationally and internationally to secure the best opportunities according to their interests, including college, grad school, and professional school admissions. In addition to advising individual students and families, she is an education advocate. She speaks at schools, school district meetings throughout the United States, and education conferences, and leads one-day essay writing marathon workshops for high school seniors. She has appeared on the Today Show and I on New York, has been heard on radio stations throughout the United States, and has been quoted in The New York TimesNewsdayWorld Journal (Chinese), and USA Today. Her own articles have appeared in hundreds of newspapers nationally and internationally. She is an advocate of interest-based learning and the strengthening of American education, and aims to spread the word about the many wonderful opportunities that exist for motivated young people. Elizabeth Wissner-Gross lives with her husband Sigmund in Great Neck, NY and Bloomfield, CT.

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