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Targeting College: Pick Your Shots

The college admissions process can be incredibly stressful for both students and parents, so many have turned to consultants for advice. And the best counsel, it seems, is for teens to remember that less is more, according to experts Katherine Cohen, founder & CEO of Ivywise, and Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting, recent guests on CNBC’s “High Net Worth.”

“Don’t do things just to get into college,” advises Hernandez. Rather, she says, students should find subjects and issues important to them and focus on those pursuits in high school. In short, it’s better to be strong in one or two areas than to try and be a jack-of-all-trades. Cohen concurs, with feeling, and adds, “You can’t do everything.”

Prospective students would also be wise to avoid adding to already-busy schedules because they hope this club or that sport will get them into a particular school. “Stay with what you love” even if it’s building sand castles, urges Hernandez, because colleges are also looking for kids who are interesting.

Another important piece of advice, according to Cohen, is that students become experts in the colleges to which they’re applying. At some point, she says, an admissions officer is going to ask why they want to go there. A compelling answer can give that student an edge in the process.

Such simple advice can alleviate much of the pressure attached to the process. More importantly, it can help students get where they want to be without sucking the joy out of the process.

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