LZHS students, parents learn surprising tips about college admissions
LZHS college counselor Carl Krause delivers surprising tips about college admissions during his College 101 presentation Dec. 17 at Lake Zurich High School. | Photos by Laura Pavin
Updated: January 28, 2013 2:41PM
LAKE ZURICH — More than 200 Lake Zurich High School students and their parents learned last week that college admissions officers prefer to see more B’s than A’s on transcripts, and fewer activities on college applications.
These surprising tips, detailed Dec. 17 during the school’s College 101 seminar, were accompanied by all the routine, yet necessary, guidelines all parents and students are encouraged to consider before embarking on the pathway to college. Some of the useful suggestions included taking the “four core” courses (English, math, science and social science); understanding and preparing for standardized testing; and interviewing at preferred colleges.
“When they see all A’s, they think: ‘Why aren’t they challenging themselves?’” explained LZHS college counselor Carl Krause during his presentation to freshmen and sophomores in the Performing Arts Center.
The idea that colleges prefer to see B’s over A’s is not to be misconstrued as an excuse to sit comfortably with B’s, Krause clarified. It is, however, important to note that the GPA associated with each letter grade is what matters, because LZHS only puts students’ weighted GPAs on transcripts.
Some parents and students were surprised to learn that while all their grades count, letting high grades fall later on in high school is better than the opposite situation.
For instance, earning 14 A’s in all college prep classes during a student’s junior year will get that student up to a 3.0 GPA if the student’s freshman and sophomore year GPAs were in the 2.6 to 2.8 range. But if the student had ended his or her freshman and sophomore years in the 3.4 GPA range, a junior year of four A’s and 10 B’s would only lower the GPA to a 3.3.
“It’s like digging a hole; if you’ve dug a hole, you have to fill it up just to get back up to the top,” Krause said. “If you start at the ground, you can still be on top even if you’ve dug yourself in a little bit.”
Krause also discussed the misconception that students must take on an extraordinary load of extracurricular activities.
“Be in something ... do something, but one of the main things to remember is that a lot of activities don’t make you better — they make your more distracted,” Krause explained.
He recommended that students get involved in about two or three activities.
This piece of advice stood out to David Kalafut, father of LZHS freshman Megan Kalafut.
“It was interesting to hear that involvement in more activities is not necessarily better than less, and that taking on leadership roles in those few activities is important,” David said. “You think that they’re supposed to be involved in multiple sports, clubs and student government, and that’s not necessarily the case.”
Mike Keller, who came with his sophomore son Austin, said that he found the presentation useful as well.
“I want to make sure that he’s doing all the right things ... I’ve been a big proponent of the idea that it starts freshman year,” Keller said.