Background, and Private School Educations in General

Before I start, I will clarify that I went to both a public school and a private school. I loved being part of my town’s public school, but in middle school, I was moved to a private school to experience different opportunities that the public school could not provide. While there are plenty of pros to applying to college from a public school, I want to talk about what it’s like applying from a private school.


I am not writing this piece because I wish I had different opportunities. I want to provide an inside perspective on how to create an application that highlights the positives of your private school education, but avoids the negatives.


The main point I want to dwell on is that in many minds, including college admissions offices, private school equals wealth. While this may be true and it can be great to have everything available to you, I’m here to explain why it’s not always in your best interest to display that part of you on your college application.


Going to private school, though it did cost money and separates me from other students, will be beneficial to your application ONLY IF you mold the rest of your application to demonstrate that you are more than a stereotypical “private school kid.”


The Good Parts of Having a Private School Listed on your Application...

  • You meet people from all over the state of Connecticut, and colleges know this. Then, they understand that you have experience with people from all different locations and backgrounds, unlike a student who went to school with kids only from his or her immediate area.

  • You are able to learn in small classrooms, showing that you not only had to study, but also be an active participant in order to earn your final grades. Because private schools are typically smaller than public schools, there is a greater focus on the individual student.

  • You are surrounded by some of the smartest people you will ever met, which prepares you well for a top college or university. College admissions know that top private institutions are exclusive and often very difficult to be admitted to, showing more of your academic excellence.

  • Universities recognize the prestige and excellence associated with your school’s name, which likely will give you a leg-up in the decisions process.

  • Having this background gives you a particular perspective. Although public school students live in a bubble that restricts them from knowing anything more than their own town, private school students live in their own type of bubble (which can be perceived as much worse). The “private school bubble” is an environment where money is available and can be used to the students’ advantages. If you fill your application out with this fact in mind, you can prove to colleges that you acknowledge your bubble, but are capable of expanding out of it.


The Bad Parts of Having a Private School Listed on your Application...

  • You must be extra careful about your activities - colleges already categorize you as “likely to have money available to him or her,” as you were able to pay for private school. Don’t make your activities confirm their thoughts.

    • You don’t want to be seen as a “rich kid” who only participates in expensive activities, like playing on exclusive sports teams or going on exotic vacations.

  • While it is okay to have these (paid) experiences listed on your resume/activities section of your Common Application, make sure they are only used to highlight your main interest.

    • If your central interest is athletics, which focuses on your defining characteristics of determination and grit, then you can put your (paid) teams as an activity.

    • But, if you are focusing on athletics, do not put “weekly guitar lessons” as another activity. The addition of another, unrelated paid activity will likely not help your application, but instead, it will appear that you restrict yourself to participating in costly, privileged activities.


The Main Takeaway:


College admissions officers understand that spending money towards education is acceptable. You will not be faulted for paying for your schooling.


But, there is not the same degree of acceptance when money is spent only to add to a resume. Do not use your wealth and fortunate lifestyle to enhance your application; colleges will notice.


How to Properly Form Your Activities Section of the Common Application:


Step 1: Make yourself a list of all the activities in which you have participated within the last few years (typically restricted to a high school time frame only).


Step 2: Look to see what these activities have in common. Find the central theme among them.

  • This is a great time to contact Crimson. More on that later.


Step 3: Pick the top four activities that highlight this theme.

  • Ideally, you will have one that was:

    • (1) volunteer

    • (2) a job (that made money)

    • (3) something you created (like a club)

    • (4) something you held a leadership position in (also like a club)

  • List these four activities first on the Activities section of the Common Application → the top activities will be the ones that college admissions officers focus on the most.


Step 4: Fill out the rest!

TIP: Don’t make every single activity related to one theme. While a large chunk of them should support the theme (ie. about half of them), the rest can show other interests you have (the more unique, the better).


When to Contact Crimson, and What They Can Do:


    What is Crimson…


Crimson’s expertise is in college admissions. The company, as well as the individual tutors, are familiar with the majority of the top ranked colleges and universities. From either being alumni of the schools or having done extensive research on them, Crimson workers know what to expect when students apply to each university.


    When Do I Contact Crimson…


-Refer back to Step 2! While you are welcome to contact Crimson at any point, Crimson tutors are greatly trained to find students’ main interest.


-If you join Crimson close to application submission time, your Crimson tutor can look at your activities and help you shape them towards a central interest.


-But, if you join Crimson a bit earlier (about a year before applications must be submitted), your Crimson tutor can shape your activities towards a central interest AND find other activities that would support that interest and strengthen your application.


Why I Need Them…


-Crimson can offer help to students with either private school or public school educational backgrounds. They are qualified to and can help highlight the positives of each school through the student’s application.


-Crimson has a unique understanding about the college admissions process. Because many of their students come from privileged backgrounds, Crimson knows how crucial it is to separate the student from their wealth when it comes to activities.


-They can offer suggestions on what activities (1) will support the students’ central interest and (2) the student will most enjoy and be likely to sound genuine about in their application.

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