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Comment: Why To Start Preparing Kids Early For Top-Tier Universities

Jason Ma, Three EQ, Founder , 24 April 2012

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Few parents realize how important it is to start grooming their kids earlier for university, holistically as well as academically, says Jason Ma, founder and CEO of ThreeEQ.

Private bankers and wealth managers constantly seek ways in which to manage and enhance existing HNW client relationships, as well as to bring in new clients. But the reality in Asia is that few have differentiated themselves from the usual stable of wealth accumulation and protection tactics for their clients. One way to touch clients' hearts - and by proxy their wallets - is to more effectively help take care of their children.

Asian parents are known to prioritise high-quality education for their kids, at the top universities. But not many realize just how important for their kids to start the process earlier holistically as well as academically, Jason Ma, founder and CEO of ThreeEQ, tells WealthBriefingAsia exclusively. Ma is an international education industry counsellor and works with some private banks. The following article has been adapted from one previously published in FORBES.

In today’s competitive college admissions process, preparation cannot begin too early: “Start preparing for college at grade six [age 11],” says UC San Diego Director of Admissions Mae Brown.

High-achieving teenagers and young adults need significant time to maximize their chances for admission to top universities or graduate schools and prepare for meaningful careers. Starting early is necessary for optimally boosting both IQ and EQ (emotional, social and leadership intelligence).

Parents should start guiding students, if possible, far before they approach the supremely demanding and intense top-tier college applications season in their senior year of high school or in the second year of junior college. This time of the year is the “college app pre-season.” Getting kids to work more smartly and effectively actually helps reduce their stress

"But isn't it too early and bad for kids to start so early?" I get asked occasionally by a few well-intentioned parents. It’s never too early.

In May 2010, I interviewed ten high school graduating seniors who had gone through our college planning and/or applications guidance programs and had been admitted to Ivies, Stanford, MIT, Duke, UChicago, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, UCLA and other top universities or liberal arts colleges.

“What would you advise rising seniors and younger students?” I asked as part of the interview. Nine of ten students responded said if they could have started earlier, they would have.

Building up true interests and strong extra-curriculars and leadership positions can help students thrive during the brutal top-tier college app season. Book-smart kids with high test scores and high grades, especially East and South Asians in Asia, are common, and strong academic performance is simply expected at top universities. Highly developed extra-curriculars that reflect a standout character and strong communication and leadership skills significantly increase chances for admission.

One thing that young adults can start doing more earnestly is reading diversely, especially young adult books and articles. Some driven ones even begin reading about different colleges and discovering options out there, early on. This can actually help motivate and shape a big picture with higher goals.

These days, applications and admissions to top-tier US universities or graduate schools are increasingly fiercely competitive, and the multi-year planning and execution process is complex and highly demanding. Money cannot buy everything. Once again, children must truly stand out holistically, in addition to performing academically.

By starting earlier in working with advisors and mentors, students and families can significantly reduce stress, save time and money and experience greater success and higher ROI during the increasingly brutal top-tier university applications season and in the long run. In addition to the right school curriculum mix and rigor, preparation for relevant standardized tests and, if suitable, academic competitions, high achievers should choose appropriate extracurricular, community, work and/or internship activities.

I have often seen good kids and/or parents make bad decisions prior to using expert guidance. They make decisions that seem rational in a narrower context but actually impede their goals and cause eventual pain and competitive disadvantage. And when they finally realize that time, energy and money have been wasted, it is too late. 

 

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