Asking for College Admissions Help

We live in a technologically advanced world great for those who prefer DIY and self-service. This extends to everything from home repairs to banking. But would you DIY a surgery or an IRS audit? Probably not, because there is a lot at stake; your life could be ruined if something goes wrong.

I think most people would argue that you would be fine even if you didn’t get into the college you wanted to attend (Frank Bruni wrote a whole book on that subject; purchase made through this link will generate a commission that helps support the free content on this website!). But the disappointment stings, nevertheless. Particularly when the students, or their parents, thought (after the fact) that more could’ve been done to improve their chance.

Surprisingly, many students and parents still follow the good old DIY method when applying to college; professional help never comes into play. That was perfectly fine when many colleges, including the UCs, admitted half or more of their applicants. But that is no longer the case. The level of competition to get into the UCs is rather alarming, even with the purported increase in the number of California students admitted to the system. For Fall 2020, Berkeley admitted 20% of California freshman applicants (source) and 17.5% overall (source), while UCLA admitted 14% of California freshman applicants (source) and 14.4% overall (source). From California community colleges, Berkeley admitted 26% of California transfer applicants (source) and 23% overall (source), while UCLA admitted 27% of California transfer applicants (source) and 24% overall (source).

Seek help as you go through the application process (although you should have sought college preparation help long before that; but it’s not too late to start now). You are not meant to do this alone (the college application process, quite literally, takes a whole village to help you get through). Talk to your counselor, talk to college admission officers, talk to me.

Limit your enthusiasm for DIY or self-service to something less life-altering (DIY sourdough bread is a good bet). Build a village (of free and/or paid resources) so you have someone to turn to as you go through the college application process. This is a journey best taken in good company.

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