THE BLOG
12/05/2014 09:11 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2015

Aiming for Harvard? A Perfect SAT Score Can Actually Backfire

Most guidance counselors and college consultants will tell you that kids need stellar GPAs and a perfect SAT score to get into their dream schools.

They'll also tell you that they need to take a slew of AP and honors courses will advise them to fill up their activity sheet with volunteering and time-intensive extracurriculars.

So why are many high-achieving student getting waitlisted at their top choice schools?

Because next to every other high-achieving student, they look average. The schools don't want to outright reject these students because they're obviously so capable. So instead the colleges bump them onto the waiting list.

So, what can you do to help increase the chances of acceptance at an elite school? ONE thing:

Every student needs a unique project that showcases their passion and makes a difference in the world.

That's it. Really. No need for a perfect SAT score or a jaw-dropping GPA because your child's creativity will lead the way right into a top tier school.

Here's how to go about building this project:

  1. Starting in freshman year, make sure to build in plenty of time to explore and develop a unique project that showcases the student's particular passions and talents.
  2. Don't let your student get overscheduled with too many difficult classes and time-intensive extracurriculars (unless the student is happy and well rested).
  3. Being different isn't enough. Make sure this project demonstrates the ability to make a difference in other people's lives.
  4. Encourage your student to maintain a solid GPA and test scores in range for top schools, but do not focus on the losing game of perfection.
  5. Help your student connect with a mentor who can help expand the student's project into something remarkable.

These 5 steps will lead your child directly into a path of unstoppable success -- and will inspire a remarkable essay that will significantly boost your chance of acceptance into a top choice school.

If you'd like to learn more about how to help your child get into a top school school, please contact Elizabeth to begin the conversation. www.elizabethdankoski.com