We've been asked this question a number of times and it was about time we decided to answer it in depth here.
Many parents often encounter our site and are introduced to what we do when they're preparing their children for the SAT in their Sophomore or Junior years of high -school. After reading some of our content, like our FREE E-Book, or our community blog, they often feel panicked and worried as they believe that they've missed valuable time to make their children superstars because they've missed out on some of the critical information we have covered here on our site. They then reach out to us, sad and full of regret, and ask the question: "Am I too late? re we too late? Is it too late for my child to get into the school of their dreams?"
The short answer, no. One can never be too late in helping their child get into the school of their dreams. However, with time it often becomes more and more difficult to get your child into the school of their dreams. While no parent is too late when it comes to changing their child's life for the better, by coming to our site and learning the exclusive information we present here earlier than later, some parents are given a huge advantage when it comes to setting up their children for an incredible future.
A parents who joins our community when their child is in the 3rd grade stands a much better chance of getting into the schools of their dreams compared to a parent whose child encounters our work in the fall of their senior year.
To explain why this is, imagine this simple analogy.
Building A Runway For Your Child's Success
Imagine that there is an airplane trying to takeoff a runway.
If the airplane starts at the beginning of the runway, it has ample space and time to build up speed and eventually takeoff. This airplane can make course corrections, change speeds, change directions, and do a number of things before it reaches the end of the runway for takeoff.
Now, if the airplane starts at the end of the runway, it has very little space and time to build up speed to takeoff. There is very little room for error in this case and the airplane must succeed in taking off almost immediately.
This is very similar to how a student's success in applying to an elite school works. If a student starts very early, they are given lots of time to perfect their resumes, score phenomenally on the SAT, write incredible college essays, and be in an overall incredible position by the time they enter the fall of their senior year.
Now on the flip-side, a student who starts planning for college very late has very little runway to get themselves "up to speed" and will very often be far behind the students who started preparing much much earlier. These student often do a lot of working trying to make up the deficit between them and the superstars who had started earlier, and end up with a much less than ideal result.
Here is a small graphic of how likely it is for a student to make it into the school of their dreams based on when they start planning for their future.
As you can see, student's before their freshman year of high-school are in the solid green and had ample runway to explore, learn skills, start building their resumes and prepare themselves for high school. However, after a student's freshman year and into their sophomore year, the runway starts to shorten as at this point, everything a student does has a very large impact on which college they'll end up going to. Finally, this fades out to red once a student approaches their senior year as by this point, most of a student's resume is fixed and it becomes very difficult to change how likely they are to get into their dream school by this point.
Some exceptions to this rule do exist. There are some incredible students who have generally been on the track towards getting into some incredible schools, but struggle in one or two key areas of their application. These types of students are great overall students, but one or two pain points, whether it be with a particular class like math, history, or science, hold them back from actualizing their full potential when it comes times to apply to great schools. By working through these particular pain points, these students skyrockets their chances of getting into their dream schools tremendously. Using our analogy from before, these students are the planes who are very close to takeoff, but have a small anchor attached to them. By cutting off the anchor they can use the speed they have to fly effortlessly and get where they need to go.
In these types of cases, these students aren't in as precarious of a situation as students who haven't been preparing for the future at all. With a little work, students with a few pain points can be placed in a phenomenal position. However, those who simply haven't put themselves in the position to succeed often need much more work, time, and effort than they have left to get themselves into the school they dream of.
In conclusion, the best time to start preparing your child for college was yesterday. The second best time though is today.
The earlier you start, the more runway you give your children to help set them up for massive success in the future.
Before a student's sophomore year, they'll have ample time and runway to explore and set themselves up for massive success later in their high school lives. By the end of their sophomore year however, their runway is starting to run out and they'll need to start preparing for takeoff. By the end of their Junior year the runway is all but used up and by the fall of their Senior year they'll either be in an incredible position knowing they have an amazing chance to get into a great school, or regretting not doing more earlier.
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