How to Fill out the Parent Brag Sheet

The parent’s brag sheet is one item guidance counselors use to write college recommendations for your student. The time and effort that you put into this document reaps important benefits in the college process. Nobody knows your student like you do, and now you have the opportunity to highlight their best qualities.

At many public high schools, the student to counselor ratio can be extremely high (in excess of 500:1). Though you may find some of the questions on the Brag Sheet to be elementary, counselors often don’t have the time, resources or opportunity to get to know your student at a more personal level. Further, college admission counselors know that sometimes the most valuable insights into a student’s life come straight from the student’s high school counselor. That’s why filling out this survey accurately and with detailed information is so important!

The Brag Sheet is a document your student’s counselor will use to provide details about their life inside and outside of the classroom. They need and want useful anecdotes about your student. They are trying to paint a picture for an admission counselor; provide them with a vibrant color palette!  Be truthful, but also stay on the positive side. Remember, your counselor is looking for direct quotes to insert into a recommendation letter. Give them some dynamic options!

What are some common Brag Sheet questions?

How has your student grown and matured over the last four years? Is your student on an “upward trend” in their grades while adding more rigor to their schedule? Are they doing an internship over the summer? Do they have a leadership position in a club which has taught them important life lessons? Can your student now advocate for themselves in the classroom when he/she had trouble with it before? Is he/she taking advantage of extra academic opportunities? These are all great ways to demonstrate commitment to academics and maturing throughout high school. Think outside the classroom as well. Is your student taking on more responsibility at home? Is he/she taking care of grandparents or younger siblings? Maturity can also be focused on personal growth. Is your student overcoming social or emotional challenges? Are they “breaking out of their shell?” A compelling “shift” in a student is definitely something to mention and explain.

What are your student’s greatest accomplishments over his/her years of high school?  Think about defining moments for your student. Was there any particular achievement inside or outside of the classroom you’d want to highlight? Provide some detail and background. It isn’t just that your student was “elected to a position in student government”, it’s that they “ran a positive and progressive campaign during a busy junior year.” Remember, don’t limit yourself to in-school activities. Maybe your student took care of sick family members or had to deal with a tough situation outside of school? Accomplishments don’t have to be academic or focus on awards, it can be overcoming “real life” challenges as well.

What words best describe your child? Time to break out your thesaurus, or look back at the personality profile that I did! Seriously, put some effort into this question. Your student is dynamic, so choose words that are as well. When counselors fill out Common App forms and other documentation for students, they are usually asked to describe your student in a few words to the admission committee. Give them great options! “Smart” can be “intelligent”, “funny” can be “witty” or “humorous”, and “outgoing” can be “courageous.” You may also be asked to demonstrate why you’re describing your student in this way. Make sure to have some specific examples ready!

Did you child face any challenges or are there circumstances that may have affected their educational journey? Life takes all kinds of twists and turns. If you have special circumstances that you wish your student’s counselor – and in turn colleges – to be aware of, this is the place to discuss them. Anything from serious family crisis (the loss of a loved one, job or home) to educational challenges (IEPs, disabilities, accommodations) would fall into this category. Even “smaller” experiences like the move to a new school or city can be addressed here. Contextualize these experiences for your student’s counselor and show how they have affected your student’s life. However, there is no need to overstate something for the sake of answering a question. If your student hasn’t faced any serious challenges, don’t answer this question.

Anything else you’d like to share?  Use this space as an opportunity to share the side of your child that others might glance past. How they might be an asset to a college through their volunteerism or team participation. Maybe there’s something special about your child that others don’t regularly see. Devotion to family, patience with others, being humble about accomplishments – these are all sub-surface aspects of your student that are definitely worth mentioning.

Ultimately, you have important insights into who your child really is and what makes them wonderful. Make sure that your student’s counselor, and potential admission counselors, have an intriguing picture.

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