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First-Generation Families

At Stevenson we have many families that are newer to the United States. Some families have lived in the U.S. for years and are citizens or permanent residents, some are here on visas, and some are undocumented. We work with all families through this process. If your family is undocumented, please review additional information and resources at the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling website.

As we meet with families from all over the world, we hear one common theme: navigating the undergraduate admission process in the U.S. can be very confusing. Our admission processes to colleges/universities/schools (these words will be used interchangeably) operate so differently than most other countries. For most colleges in the U.S., there isn’t a certain test score, alone, that automatically admits you. Most schools will look at applicants holistically. Holistic admissions means that they will review standardized test scores (ACT or SAT), high school transcript, essays, co-curricular activities, and perhaps letters of recommendation and/or demonstrated interest. In particular, with more highly selective schools, they are looking to see the fit of the student with the university.

In the U.S. there are about 4,000 colleges and universities. All are wonderful, great institutions that offer distinct programs, in different settings, with unique opportunities. We know that in some countries, there are only a few “good” colleges, and an entrance exam determines which one you might attend. This is not the case in the U.S. We encourage families to read, Where You’ll Go is Not Who You Will Be by New York Times best-selling author Frank Bruni. This book does a wonderful job profiling the role of undergraduate degrees at different schools. Its message is this: Being successful in a career, or post-undergraduate studies, is more about what you do and take advantage of at your college versus what college you attended. It is more important to find a school that fits a student academically, emotionally, financially, and socially throughout their undergraduate journey so the student can feel comfortable to take advantage of all that school can offer.