Resources for Gifted Students Applying to College

October 23, 2018

By Niña Abonal, Senior Program Coordinator

It’s that time of the year again, when high school students across the country are entering the most intense phase of their college journey: college applications and decisions!

Just when gifted students have finally found the appropriate educational services at their high school or homeschool, they are now tasked with identifying a new learning environment that will best serve their needs. Important factors including school size, curriculum, course offerings, extra-curricular activities, campus culture and cost loom large as students try to find the “right” fit.  Even though there are a plethora of college-oriented resources for parents and students in general, we’ve compiled a list of suggested resources specifically aimed at helping gifted and advanced students on their college selection journey:

  1. Kate Duey, Admissions Planning LLC

Kate Duey is the founder of Admission Planning, LLC and has advised students on college and graduate school applications for over thirty years. She’s also worked with IEA supporting gifted students since 2009 and has a wealth of knowledge about their unique challenges and their wonderful potential. Kate has a BA from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She earned a College Counseling Certification from UCLA and is member of the National Association of College Admission Counselors, the Western Association of College Admission Counselors and the California Association for the Gifted. She has also facilitated several EXPLORE workshops for high school students and Gifted Support Group meetings, where she’s discussed How to Prepare Gifted Students for the College Application Process. See the recorded livestream of her talk on IEA’s Facebook!

  1. Cool Colleges: For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different

Are you hyper-intelligent? Self-directed? A late-bloomer? Or just different? This book covers the most exciting schools in the United States and Canada, with a new chapter on eco-schools, an update on tuition-free schools and the total low-down on the so-called top-ranked schools. When you need a great school that will challenge, nurture, inspire, and motivate you and this book will also give you the scoop on things like:

  • Totally free schools, including one where financial need is a requirement for admission
  • Universities that don’t give grades
  • Schools where you can design your own degree program
  • Science and engineering schools where undergrads get their own labs
  • Campuses where students love to study, even on Saturday nights
  • Schools that offer programs in computer game studies, comedy, auctioneering, special-effects makeup, and more
  1. Colleges That Change Lives

Sure, prestigious colleges are easy to recognize, but there are a handful of Colleges that Change Lives that offer unique learning environments and experiences that may fit the needs of a gifted high schooler. CTCL has a comprehensive profile on member colleges and universities that offer exceptional features, like 96% of faculty have a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree, the only college in the country with a research nuclear reactor that is staffed primarily by undergraduates, a college with an option for a self-designed major and the college that ranks in the top five percent among all colleges and universities for students ultimately earning a Ph.D. CTCL also offers a national series of information sessions and college fairs for students, parents and college counselors. Check out the CTCL Events page for a list of their upcoming fair dates and locations.

  1. College Board’s BigFuture

College Board’s BigFuture is a free comprehensive web resource that improves the college planning process by providing a step-by-step approach to make college planning easier to navigate for students. Students and educators collaborated to create the interactive tools and videos that guide students as they find, afford and enroll in a college that’s a good fit for them. BigFuture helps families see that college is possible, find schools that fit their needs and keep their students on track toward a college education.

  1. College at 13: Young, Gifted and Purposeful

What is it like to be 13 and going to college? This book describes 14 highly gifted, young women, now in their 30s, who left home to go to college at age 13 to 16, skipping all or most of high school. The authors describe what they were like as young college students, the leadership, idealism and sense of purposefulness that they developed, and their lives 10-to-13 years later. This inspirational book also helps educators and parents of gifted children understand that gifted kids need academic challenge, that there are colleges with specific programs for such students, that it doesn’t harm them to leave home early and that keeping them interested in learning is vitally important

  1. TiLT Parenting Podcast: Navigating the High School to College Transition with Different Wired Kids

TiLT Parenting was founded by Deborah Reber, a parenting activist, bestselling author and speaker as a website, podcast and social media community for parents raising differently wired kids. For this podcast, Deborah interviewed Susan Hyatt about her son launching and starting college at an out of state school and how that transition happened. This episode is also about the transition to college for a differently-wired student, but from the point of view of an educator and consultant who specializes in helping atypical kids be successful before, during, and after this transition. Things you’ll learn from this episode include:

  • The real story behind if, and how, colleges and universities support their differently wired students.
  • The difference between accommodations and services in the university setting.
  • Whether or not universities recognize IEPs and 504 Plans.
  • How to find the best university for your child when it comes to how well their needs will be supported.
  • How students can best set themselves up for success throughout the application process.
  • What parents with younger children can be working on today to support this transition in the future.
  1. College Planning for Gifted Students

This paper by citizen activist and gifted advocate Sandra L. Berger delves into the characteristics of gifted students that affect their college planning, suggests recommendations to help resolve the problems encountered by gifted students, shares important steps to learn about colleges and discusses the points of view to consider when thinking about the application process.

  1. IEA’s Scholarship and Competitions Guide

Figuring out how to pay for college can often be overwhelming! IEA has curated a comprehensive Scholarships and Competitions Guide which provides a library of over 100 resources for students in grades K-12. The guide is indexed by topic to assist the gifted student in finding the most appropriate opportunity to suit their unique interests and talents. You can find a list of additional resources for gifted youth at IEA’s Gifted Resource Center.

  1. Admission Matters

Admission Matters demystifies the college application process and offers practical advice for choosing the right school, writing an effective essay, navigating financial aid and more. It helps all students who are applying to college understand the process and find the school that fits their needs, provides expanded information on testing, early decision/early action, applying as a home schooler, tackling the dreaded college essay and offers updated advice on financial aid in tough economic times.

  1. SENGinar: Surviving the College Transition: A Gifted Undergraduate’s Perspective

In this interactive, discussion-oriented presentation, Trent Cash, a gifted second-year Eminence Fellow at The Ohio State University, will start a conversation about how these common traits of giftedness have affected his transition into college while discussing strategies for overcoming the challenges they can present.

If you have a resource you’d like to share, please include it in the comments down below for other readers to consider! For additional resources appropriate for the gifted learner from preschool through high school, visit IEA’s online Gifted Resource Center.