The following article shares highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and their parents.
Authored by: Jaime Smith, M.A., MS.Ed.
We already know that gifted does not necessarily equal high-achieving, but what does that mean when it comes to college admissions? When a brilliant child is not achievement-driven, it can be difficult to imagine how they will complete the “Activities and Honors” section of the application.
Let’s take a step back and see our kids for who they really are. Starting from a strengths-based perspective, we can begin to see the qualities that make our children excellent candidates for college. Now the trick is finding the right one.
There are more than 4,000 universities in the U.S., but we often focus on a handful of brand names. Many families presume that gifted students can only find their tribes at highly selective universities. They fret over packaging their kids to fit the imagined mold of the ideal college applicant. In reality, there is no ideal applicant. There are only good matches between students and colleges.
By leaning into our students’ strengths and encouraging authentic interests and activities, we can help our students become college ready. Then, instead of trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole, we must seek out the colleges that appreciate what our unique kids bring to campus.
In this session, we discuss ways to encourage our kids to live and learn authentically, while still preparing for college. We learn new ways of researching and ranking universities according to our family values, and discover the freedom that comes with letting go of the mythical “best” and seeking the “best fit” instead.
- Ignore the well-known rankings and search for colleges with qualities that will work well for your unique students.
- Remember that the college application process is stressful for teens. Avoid making it more stressful by constantly talking about it at home. Consider setting up a specific time each week for college talk, and preserve family time for other topics.
- Let students be themselves. Encourage authentic learning and exploration, even if that means a deep-dive on video games. Just about anything can be listed on the college application activity list.
- Prioritize mental health and self-care. Students will need these skills during the transition from high school to college.
Jaime’s favorite sites for researching colleges:
https://www.topcollegeconsultants.com/autism-in-college/ (colleges with support for neurodiversity)
https://www.campusprideindex.org/ (LGBTQ-friendly colleges)
Jaime’s website: https://www.jsmithiec.com
Jaime Smith, M.A., MS.Ed., is a Certified Educational Planner with 25 years of experience in the field of education. After many years of teaching English at the middle, high school, and college levels, Jaime turned to online education and founded a virtual K-12 supplementary education program, Online G3, where she continues to teach gifted and twice-exceptional students. As a college advisor, Jaime specializes in dual enrollment, application essays, homeschoolers, neurodiverse learners, and other non-traditional applicants. A California native, Jaime now lives in Oregon with her husband and pet bunny. She has one daughter, a former Davidson Young Scholar who just started grad school.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.