Navigating The College Admission Process

Kiwanis Speaker Helps Students & Parents Navigate
The Treacherous College Admission Process

Getting into college is not easy these days. It is often an overwhelming experience for soon-to-be graduates and their parents, several of whom were in the audience when Jennifer Williams Taylor, Avalon College Advising, spoke at the October 17th Menlo Park Kiwanis Club luncheon. After the talk, she fielded more than 20 questions including:

  • When should students start to think about applying to colleges? —as early as the summer prior to their sophomore year.
  • Why do some extra smart students not get into the colleges of their choice?
    —it could be many reasons because colleges and universities look beyond grades to see how well-rounded a student is and how well he or she will fit in with the school’s culture.
  • Is it a good idea to take a gap year and when should it be?
    —best to do this after being accepted to a college.

Jennifer’s subject was of particular interest to Kiwanis Club members as each year they award scholarships to Menlo-Atherton High School seniors. This year a total of more than $55,000 was awarded to eight graduates, with most of this money raised from sales at the Club’s annual Christmas Tree lot.

Most of Jennifer’s senior clients are finalizing the admissions process to meet important deadlines coming up in November. She is also working with current sophomores and juniors regarding academics, extracurricular activities, and planning summer activities.

“Some students and their parents want to apply to many schools,” she said. “However, my job is to help them narrow down their choices, to identify colleges within their reach, and to focus on delivering well thought out, quality applications. Good grades and participation in purposeful extracurricular activities are musts. My counseling focuses on all aspects of the application including college selection, essay development, and letters of recommendation—all to develop a well-rounded presentation to each of their best fit colleges.”

Jennifer’s now starting to work with sophomores who have started thinking about college, showing them what they must do in high school to enhance their chances of admission to colleges they target. The juniors she’s counseling have started the admissions process, and still others will begin it soon.

“The plan for college starts early,” she said in closing. “It is a long-term process that relies on how a student manages his or her high school career.”

Jennifer Williams Taylor graduated from UC Davis and obtained an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. A former college admissions reader at Stanford University and Senior Director of Admissions at Santa Clara University, Jennifer has extensive insight into the college admission process and the standards of top universities. She has toured more than 150 colleges in the past four years and counseled hundreds of students through the application process.