By Eva Ostrum, Consulting Educator
My son works 20 hours a week to pay for his car, not to help support the family. This job takes up all of his time outside of school and leaves him no opportunity to get involved in other activities. Will admissions officers understand and accept the way in which he has chosen to spend his time or will his lack of organized activities hurt his chances?
Some will and some won't, depending on the institution, on the rest of your son's profile (academic transcript, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and family/school/community context), and on the story he tells about the importance of having a car....
Let's assume for now that your son is applying to a college or university where the rest of his profile would not rule him out. He needs to clarify the context in which he has decided to work 20 hours per week to finance his car. Does he use the car simply to go to the mall, go on dates and to drive around with friends or does he use it to drive to the closest large city and take advantage of resources there? Has he learned any mechanics to maintain the car himself? Are automobiles and/or automotive mechanics his passion? Is his car a 30-year-old Mustang that he restored himself?
Without any additional circumstances and all other factors remaining equal, I would tell you that a student working to support her family comes across as more powerful and compelling than a student working to buy luxury items or material possessions. ...
Context influences everything in college admissions. Explore with your son how having a car and working to pay for it have exposed him to new experiences and helped him develop unexplored sides of himself. Including the points that come up in that conversation in an application essay, for example, could paint this part of your son's profile in a much more meaningful light than simply listing the job on the application without providing any context.
Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from The Thinking Parent's Guide to College Admissions: The Step-by-Step Program to Get Kids into the Schools of Their Dreams by Eva Ostrum. Copyright © 2006 by Ostrum Education, LLC.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.