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3 Ways to Demystify College Admissions

As you probably know, there is a lot hype surrounding the college admissions process - probably too much.

Yes, it can be tricky if you wait until junior or senior year to start the process. The "wait-and-see" approach can lead to anxiety and broken dreams.

It doesn't have to be that way.

As you know, my deep conviction is that the college admissions process should be introduced to teenagers gradually beginning in 9th or 10th grade.

This early introduction puts families in the driver's seat.

Here are three steps you can take to help demystify the process.


How can we expect our children to care about college if they've never stepped foot onto a college campus?

Campus visits can often spark interest and curiosity in the process. Motivation can be triggered by the strangest things - a certain vision, feeling, or personal encounter they experience during their visits.

Of course, there is no guarantee that visiting colleges will motivate your child, but it sure beats watching them keep their head in the sand for three years.

My kids (two rising sophomores and a rising 8th grader) and I had the opportunity to visit over 15 colleges this summer. Here's a partial list of the schools we saw:

There was no elaborate "strategy" behind this list. We simply visited campuses that were close to where our vacation travel took us.

It was a nice mix of big, small, private, public, military, liberal arts, urban, rural, prestigious, and competitive schools.

These visits gave my kids something to think about, strive for, or dream about. I could see it in their eyes. I could tell by the questions they asked. They were engaged.

They now have context. They can "picture themselves" on a college campus someday.

In the best case, this inspires them to do big things.

In the worst case, at least they know what a college campus looks and feels like.


When we visited campuses, we (and by we, I mean "I") struck up conversations with current students and asked them about campus life, academics, social life, and admissions.

My sons were very interested to hear what these students had to say. I could almost hear their self-talk, "Well, if this kid got in, maybe I have a shot. They're not that intimidating."

Of course, I had to ask the question, "So, what advice do you have for these guys with respect to high school activities, admissions, standing out?"

To which, on cue, they spouted:

  • you must start early!
  • you gotta have a plan
  • don't wait until junior or senior year
  • every year matters
  • double-down on something

They were clearly reading from the PrepWell playbook.


This is one of the simplest things to do with your child.

Simply open up a Common Application online and click through the different sections:

  • Family
  • Education
  • Testing
  • Activities
  • Writing

Why do most kids wait until senior year to do this? Because they are:

  • scared
  • unaware
  • intimidated
  • nervous
  • overwhelmed

Looking through an application serves many purposes:

  • demystifies the process (it's just an online fill-in-the-blank form)
  • brings kids' attention to what will be asked of them down the road
  • highlights the fact that freshman and sophomore years matter
  • motivates them to get involved so there are no blank spaces
  • makes the process seem more tangible

In summary, whenever we are faced with a daunting task, the best thing to do is to take action - massive action. Don't run away. Don't hide. Don't put your head in the sand.


If you have a rising 8th, 9th, or 10th grader, now is the time to take action.

Demystify this process by engaging in it.

Enroll in PrepWell Academy

Keep Prepping,

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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