Record college applications, limited good paying jobs

April 1st is not only April Fool’s Day, but also when high school seniors receive their college acceptance letters. Once again there were record-breaking numbers of applications with increased rejections for the limited amount of spaces. Also, according to the U.S. Labor Department, college graduates earn more than those without a college degree, but in 2012 there were nearly 300,000 college graduates working in minimum wage jobs. This demographic represents nearly 20 percent of minimum wage earners. How can high school students beat this trend?  Start planning early by sampling a range of rigorous high school classes and academic experiences to become exposed to future careers of interest. Getting a running start will help direct the student to academic disciplines to make the most of his or her college experience.

  This past application season, I worked with outstanding students who were interested in film, business, and writing. During high school, the budding film producer was an intern at an animation studio and took a summer computer programming class. He will be attending Drexel University’s film school. The future business student took challenging business classes in high school and worked at a local business for his graduation challenge. He will be attending the USC Marshall School of Business. The aspiring writer loves to read, write, and draw. She creates both hand-drawn and computer-animated characters and brought them to life in a stage performance. She will be attending Amherst College this fall. In all cases, these students demonstrated how they would be an asset to the college classroom. Their application essays illustrate interesting experiences that differentiated them from the competition. 

This summer is the perfect time to consider taking a class at the local colleges. UVM offers one free class for high school students. The Governor’s Institute of Vermont has a range of one-week programs while living on a college campus. There are also volunteer opportunities and work experiences to explore within the fields of interest. In all cases, summer is a great time to make high school class work come to life in the “real world!” Collectively, these experiences provide the basis for engaging stories to share in engaging essays.

This is my ninth year of helping students with the essay section of the SAT and ACT, along with the college application process. I have learned that it is never too early to start preparing for the college road ahead.  Each piece of the college application puzzle is critical to describing your child’s high school career and to positively influencing the admissions process. Mastering this can give your child a good chance of attending their number one college choice and getting a job they can be proud of!


Margo Bartsch is the founder of College Essay Coach, a locally-owned business.  She is an adjunct professor at Champlain College. This is her ninth year in providing one-on-one instruction to prepare for the SAT and ACT Writing sections and write college application essays. She has partnered with Marie Thayer, founder of College Concierge, to provide college planning services. Visit for a complete listing of accepted colleges. Contact Margo at or at 985-3770.

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