Consider Beginning Your Parent and Student Surveys Now

Test-optional admissions have created a huge influx of applications at many colleges. Admissions counselors confirm that making decisions is more complicated than ever. That’s why counselor and teacher letters of recommendation are getting extra attention, whether students apply test-optionally or not.


These surveys are the primary source that high school guidance counselors use to write letters of recommendation. While they would welcome the opportunity to know every student well, the system doesn’t allow this. It’s up to parents and students to fill in all the blanks.


Counselors are busy with seniors now and won’t address these letters until later in 2021, but there are real benefits to thinking about them now. That’s because writing an effective parent/student survey, aka “brag sheet,” can inform the other elements of the application that you complete and create, including the college list, activity list, Common App and supplemental essays, and perhaps the “additional information.” If you apply for scholarships, what you write in your surveys can make that easier too.


Once these letters are opened in the admissions office, they are reviewed and balanced with other elements in the application. Do they support the story the student tells, and how well? Well-written letters allow admissions officers to craft their classes with institutional goals in mind.


Start by opening the surveys and cutting and pasting the questions into a Google Doc. Don’t answer the questions quickly, but really think about them in relation to your child (or yourself). Every person is more than a string of adjectives, and each of those adjectives wouldn’t make your point unless you can support it with an example.


De-stress the college process by finishing this step early, before the application process picks up steam later in the spring. I’ll be giving tips on how to write surveys that will create stronger counselor letters during the first week of March (date t/b/d). Let me know if you’d like an invitation or would prefer to make an appointment for you and/or your student.







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