Admissions Officer Advice: College Applications for Parents
Former Admissions Officer Lauren Lynch provides a detailed description on how the college application process works and how parents can help their students best navigate this process.
2022-01-19 AO Advice: College Applications for Parents
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar, AO advice, college application for parents. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everyone. My name is Lauren Lynch. I am happy to be here with you tonight. Um, I am associate director of admissions with CollegeAdvisor. Uh, I was director of admission, assistant director of admission at Williams college for about 10 years. I’ve worked in college counseling.
I was director of college counseling at a DC area high school. I’ve worked with college consulting companies here and abroad, um, and probably the most important aspect of my experience and background that I will share with you tonight is that I’m a parent of a college freshmen and the [00:01:00] high school junior.
So this is all very fresh and current for me. Uh, you will notice as I go through the slides, I do put a lot of emphasis on the emotional content as well, because I think this is a very, uh, Emotionally rich time for parents and students alike. My background in training, actually, I’m a psychotherapist.
That’s what I went to graduate school for. So I tend to bring both aspects of that to my presentation. My goal for tonight is to talk as quickly as possible so that we can get through all of this information and leave ample time at the end for live Q and a. Um, Lonnie will give more instructions throughout the process, but you are going to be able to download the slides, um, to refer back to them at a future date.
Okay. So before we get into our presentation for this evening, we want to start off with a poll. Um, so what grade is your child in share with us so [00:02:00] that we know who we are speaking to this evening? And, um, I don’t know, Lauren, I mean, tell us a little bit, just like, how are you feeling about your child being in college now?
Well, uh, it is a very, very interesting experience. She has never been happier, which makes it a very seamless process. And I know that’s not the case for everybody. Um, but it is a big sigh of relief knowing that she’s landed at exactly the right spot for her. And it is the perfect fit in every way. And I’m going to talk a little bit about what that process was like for us as a family and for her going through it as.
Great. Awesome. So not only are you all getting Lauren’s experience as an admission officer, but also getting real live experience from her own lived experience of her daughter, getting ready, her daughter, going to college. And you also said you have a child in high school, too. Right? Very different kids, very different processes.
I can only imagine. Okay. So going back over to [00:03:00] our poll. So we have about 64% of our participants have a child in 11th grade followed by that is 20% in the 12th grade. 12% of 10th grade, 4%, ninth grade, so 11th and 12th grade for this, hopefully there’ll be something useful in this process for, um, for the parents of every grade.
Um, I’m going to start with just some generalities and then move through a little bit of a, of a timeline, um, so that you get a sense as parents, what to expect and how to create the framework for a successful application process. Um, I think that from the parent perspective, um, getting to the point of, of having a child research and investigate colleges and moving through the high school, and then the application process was a very emotional roller coaster.
Very exciting, often overwhelming. So some [00:04:00] of the takeaways I think are that this is for your child. Especially going to be perhaps the most stressful thing they’ve gone through because not only is college held out as this metric, by which they have to measure their own success, but they’re also in implicit or explicit competition with everyone else around them where their, uh, their quilt failures and their achievements are being reflected, reflected back at them all the time.
So for you as parents, you’re going to be the receptacles for some of that stress. Some of that anxiety, which you of course are probably feeling as well. Um, it’s, it’s going to be particularly important to acknowledge the whole scope of emotions that come with this process. It’s not just about applications, your child is getting ready to leave home.
They are, they’re preparing for adulthood. And, um, that brings up a lot of issues for everyone in a family dynamic. Um, it just sort of [00:05:00] things from, from the parent perspective that I think really helped set the right tone for students. It’s just to remind them that the college application process and the outcome of that application process.
Is one of many, many, many things that is going to shape the scope and the determine the direction of their life. It is not the ultimate thing. It is not the only thing. Um, when the process is done thoughtfully, it can be one that is truly reflective of their maturing identity and therefore whatever school they get into, um, is going to be kind of the manifestation of, of that achievement.
Um, hopefully they are not limiting their sense of achievement, their sense of accomplishment based on what an acceptance says. Just to give you all a sense. I know you all know this, but just to reiterate how incredibly stressful, um, how incredibly competitive [00:06:00] and unpredictable this process is even the most.
Qualified talented on paper, perfect fit. Uh, applicant may not get accepted to a school that by any measure they should be accepted to. So, um, I’m really hoping that we don’t let our children minimize, um, and focus on, on this, um, that the fact that they didn’t get in as an accurate reflection of their ability or their qualifications.
In terms of, of what I think is, is helpful for parents is just to be aware of what support networks are, are, are resonating with you. Whether that’s talking with friends who are going through it, um, just being self-aware enough to understand that it’s going to bring up a lot of feelings for you preparing your baby to leave home and, and all of your fears and concerns about their, their abilities to handle themselves, um, to manage the process.
I think it’s also very easy to get caught up with, um, that, that overlap that [00:07:00] overlaid between your goals and expectations for them and what ultimately has to be their decision-making. Um, and just to kind of be aware of managing your, your own hopes and fears then, and being able to separate them, um, from whatever your child has experienced.
I think it’s also really important to articulate what your boundaries are with, with friends and your kids. You know, I I’ve had friends, um, who have delegated one hour a week with their child to sit down and dig into college stuff. And they prohibit college conversation at any other time in the week.
And obviously that may not be sustainable in crunch time, but it really has helped a lot of families, they know, maintain a sense of family integrity at a time that could be very easily absorbed in the application process. Um, whether you turn to us, whether you turn to another organization, I think getting help with this process is overwhelmed is, is imperative to make it less overwhelming.
There are a lot of great free resources we have [00:08:00] on our website. Um, we have a lot of great programs and options, and I think having that professional guidance relieves the parent from having to be the task master, which is huge in terms of reducing stress, but it also helps reassure you that you have the confidence that someone else is helping your child successfully navigate this process for the best possible outcome.
There are, there is a differentiation in this process between what the student’s responsibilities are and what the parents’ responsibilities are. I say this knowing full well that every child is different. Some kids are going to need a lot more handholding, a lot more support, whether they are asking for it or just kind of presenting the reality that they need.
This other kids are going to be fiercely independent, very capable and manage this process. Pretty seamlessly. Generally speaking, the student needs to be responsible for self identifying the areas of, of [00:09:00] academics that really resonate with them. Things that are interesting to them, that ultimately is going to be a driver in shaping the college list.
They need to identify what aspects of, of their lives outside of the classroom are particularly important to them. Art stem community service, athletics, um, birdwatching, whatever it is that they spend time with. These are things that are going to be important again, in terms of shaping the list. Um, but also in terms of driving the narrative of the process, and if you work with us, you will understand why that becomes so important.
As we’re helping students shape an application that is going to really resonate with elite, with a reader, having that student’s voice and identity and passions really come through, but the student themselves have to be the one to start to articulate and self identify in these areas. You obviously will help your child in terms of shaping a college list.
You’ve probably heard of [00:10:00] some schools they haven’t heard of. I will say that one of the reasons I did not continue working in a school setting is I found it very frustrating that there are 4,000 colleges and universities in the U S alone. And that students in the schools tend to focus on the same, very narrow bound band of colleges.
Um, and so I think as a parent, sometimes you can bring in, Hey, have you thought about this school or that school to help encourage a little bit more of a complex, uh, list process? It’s up to the student to fill out all of the applications. Um, now there are caveats. I will often let parents fill out the parts on the common application where you’ve to put your date of birth and your job title and where you went to graduate school.
They will need your help with that kind of information. But the applications themselves that is really up to the student to, to fill out, to take the time to do correctly. The [00:11:00] most important thing that is going to fall in the student’s lap. The thing that the parents absolutely cannot do for them is all of the required writing students are going to have to write at least one main essay for the common or the coalition application.
Students often end up writing anywhere from six to 12, 15 supplemental essay questions, depending on the school list. And depending on the schools they’re applying to now in an ideal circumstance, the supplemental essay questions can be recycled. Can, you know, portions of them can be harvested to use for different supplements.
Um, but it has to be written by the student in the student’s unique and genuine voice. I promise you, the reader will know the minute a parent has tried to write a college essay for a student. Your responsibility as parents and guardians is to really allow your children room to grow and flourish. And yes, that is going to also include allowing them [00:12:00] to struggle.
It is important to know their strengths and weaknesses, and to help them be aware like, Hey, you’re really good at the, um, kind of the, you know, the writing, why don’t I help by getting a big whiteboard and let’s, let’s get us organized. They’re all make an Excel spreadsheet that you can then fill out. You can create the framework as parents.
The work itself is really up to the children. Um, and I think just managing your own, your own emotions and processes. I, I promise you, there were times I was in tears, not because I was sad that my daughter was going to college, but I was selfishly a little sad for myself that I was going to miss her, that it was going to be a change in the family to have her.
Um, I think it’s also really important, especially if there are financial limitations or considerations to have very honest communications with your kids, as they’re shaping the college list, as they’re beginning this process about, um, what you’re going to be able to afford. If for [00:13:00] example, having them take a plane to college is going to be prohibitive, um, or something that’s just not okay with you for, for other reasons you need to have that conversation in advance.
Um, So those are some of the hard knows that I think it’s essential to articulate up front and really lay that framework for, for your, uh, for your child. I think what we often see is situations, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this with your kids at other times. Um, but there’s often a disconnect between what your hoping or wanting or expecting for them.
And. What they’re imagining or articulating as, um, as their particular goal. So again, it’s important to keep in mind, this is your child’s process and you are involved in it, but ultimately it is their process. They are, excrutiatingly brutally hard on themselves. So if you’re disappointed that they didn’t get a 36 on their act and [00:14:00] you manifest that to them, you can imagine how crushing and devastating that is because they are already being way harder on themselves than anyone else could ever be.
Um, so I think just to be kind of a positive presence, um, and again, self-aware enough to know when it’s feeling overwhelming for you. Um, and you are helping your child. Achieve the kind of, of ethical independence that is going to situate them well for, for moving on in adulthood, for succeeding in college, by managing their own schedules, getting their work done, helping them succeed in the workplace.
If you are constantly fixing and doing and strategizing and taking away their, um, their ability to problem solve, you are really undermining that process. Um, I think it’s really important to have on conversations with your kids. If they keep looking at, you know, art schools [00:15:00] and longingly, and you keep saying, but, but no, you’re, you’re really interested in computer science.
There’s something there that someone is not being honest about. Um, and it is important to have that conversation. Um, I think also just knowing that ultimately this process will be over with, um, ideally it will be successful in the sense that your child, if the process is done well, meaning that there’s an appropriate college list, there is enough support to help shape strong applications.
Your child will have choices. And so understanding that I think allows you to kind of step back a little bit and not have to micromanage the process of getting there quite so much. In terms of ninth grade for students. I mean, the biggest thing for them is that they are adjusting usually to a much bigger school, maybe changing classes for the first time, a much more intense academic environment, a lot of clubs and [00:16:00] organizations that probably weren’t available to them.
School and a much more fraught and, um, difficult social life as well. That’s a lot for them to take on. You are there to ideally help create the infrastructure. Obviously not every family can make this possible for financial or structural reasons, but maybe. They need a laptop or helping them carve out, even in the busiest of households, perhaps a quiet corner to study in or to set up their books, um, allowing them to have the initiative and excitement of trying new things, even if they discard them.
And I’m going to put this myth to rest now about extracurricular activities, you do not need to force your child to do 20 different clubs and organizations and get community service on their resume. Colleges do not care how many things a student has accomplished. What they care about is the genuine depth and passion that the [00:17:00] student has brought to the perhaps few activities that they have been involved in.
So really honor, your kid’s natural preference. To maybe choose one or two clubs to try if your child is not a natural leader, that is a hundred percent fine. Can you imagine a college campus? If every student on it were a leader, it would be unbearable. The college community is made up of exactly what your child is, which is a unique, diverse individual who is shaping their own.
In 10th grade, it’s going to be a lot of the same for students. They’re deepening their interests and involvements in their activities. Perhaps by now they’ve gotten to choose a couple of electives and areas. They really like, they’re perhaps thinking more creatively about summer opportunities, um, whether it’s working a job, which is one of the most underrated, but truly valued things a student can put on [00:18:00] a college application.
Um, I would highly recommend by sophomore year kind of middle to end of sophomore year that you start working with a college advisor of some kind, just to help structure the rest of the process and make sure you’re not missing any key landmarks to really set you up for success. Um, the summer between 10th and 11th grade is really an ideal time for a student, either through self study or some kind of test prep organization, um, prepare for SATs or actsh.
And I think for parents, it’s, it’s more of the same that you are the driver, um, to, to, uh, practice, if they need to get somewhere, um, that you are the encourager of growth and independence and the creativity that comes with young adults, exploring new areas of interest and, and testing things out.
Uh, junior year is one of the most [00:19:00] complex and stressful years for, for students and families. That is really, um, where things get very real, um, ideally by junior year. And I should have kind of touched on this more in sophomore year, even freshman year, you can start doing college visits any time if you are visiting family, if you’re on a summer road trip, if you have an opportunity in a free weekend and there are some colleges nearby, it’s really great to start visiting colleges early.
I recommend whenever possible to do a virtual. If you’re on campus to do a tour, which is led by a current student and the information session, which is led by someone like me, a professional admission officer, and usually a student as well. The reason both of these are very useful is the information session gives you a lot of, kind of the inside perspective on what differentiates very similar schools from one another.
When you, when you [00:20:00] start looking at colleges, there’s going to be a lot of language that is ubiquitous, and it gets hard to differentiate what makes one school different. Um, and w you know, what makes one school a better fit for your student, or perhaps a less compelling fit for your, for your student? So that’s, that’s a great way to do that.
The tours, I think, are very helpful because you get to see the nooks and crannies. You get to see the library and the dining hall and the students center. More importantly, you get a lot of the intangibles. What is the environment and the atmosphere like on campus are people all walking around independently, individually, like faces down, are people walking in groups, laughing and talking and interacting.
Um, do you see faculty member, uh, members walking with students and, and interacting with them? You can learn a lot just from the nuances and, and the kind of, um, for lack of better word vibe on a [00:21:00] particular college campus. So that really spans all of these. Um, but by junior year specifically, your, your, your student is really kind of narrowing down my college list.
Um, ideally the college list is going to be pretty broad. Um, ultimately will be a manageable list anywhere between probably 10 and 12 schools, eight and 12 schools. Um, something like that. Um, so at this point junior year is the most important year academically for students. This is when you know, colleges are looking most, um, scrupulously out of students junior year, academic record, um, students also by this point have probably narrowed down the areas that they’re involved in outside of school, whether those are organized, whether they’re independent, again, whether it’s a job, whether it’s a family responsibility or obligation that keeps them busy after [00:22:00] school, but they’ve either kind of deepen that involvement perhaps by, um, taking on leadership.
If that, if that suits them or at the very least taking on an identity and a role within a club or organization, if they are not wanting to take on leadership. Um, sat and act testing happens during junior year, ideally. Um, there are students who can and do retake for a second time. Uh, perhaps a third time, although I hate for students to take the tests three times in the fall of senior year.
Um, but junior year is really the best time to do that. Typically, perhaps the first test in late winter, early spring, um, followed by if needed a second test in, um, late spring, you know, kind of before the end of the school year. The reason I usually recommend that my students test twice is that almost every college out there, if not every college out there will [00:23:00] super score, meaning that if a student does better in certain portions of a test in one sitting and a certain portion of a test in the second setting, the colleges will combine those scores.
Now having said all this, I know a lot of students are pushing back about testing because with COVID colleges have gone test optional while I hope they continue to be tests optional. Um, because of the disruption in getting to this testing service, um, I don’t know that they will, so I’m never going to advise the student not to take standardized testing.
But at the end of junior year, if you are working with one of our advisors, you have the structure in place for a very strong application. You’ve begun brainstorming essay topics. Um, the work doesn’t necessarily have to really begin until the summer between junior and senior year. And that is really where ideally students can get 80% of their applications out of the way before [00:24:00] school starts senior year.
Again, if they’re organized, if they’re working with someone who’s going to help create the structure to keep them on task. Um, for parents this year is the most stressful year for students. Um, a lot of you obviously are parents of juniors. You already know this, but suddenly their brains are full of college there’s meetings at school.
There’s talks about it. Everybody is talking about what schools are you applying to and, and what did you get on this test? And it can already start to feel very overwhelming. Um, I, I am the first to say, as a parent, I scheduled both my kids, standardized tests for them. I mean, there are things, the work in the application is absolutely up to the college, to me going on my computer and scheduling their, their act testing.
That’s easy. That’s something I can do that is not an infringement on their adulthood. It is a managerial task that I’m happy to take on. I think for [00:25:00] parents also. I don’t think any 18, 17, 16 year old out there is really quite savvy enough to pull out the map and plan a road trip and figure out, you know, how you’re going to get to the different colleges to do the visits and how to book hotels.
That’s the kind of thing, again, as parents, if you can help in that way, I. You know, I think that’s a great thing to do to make a possible, um, if it’s financially, uh, or for any other reason, COVID or any other reason, impossible or difficult to get to college campuses for in-person visits, which I totally understand.
I will say that the one good thing about COVID that I can think of, um, is that all the colleges now have transformed their visiting options so that there are very robust, very helpful, informative virtual information sessions and virtual tours. And so as a family, um, or independently, your [00:26:00] child can do those from home.
And that’s another great way to, um, get some, some college background.
Um, so 12th grade. Again, ideally, the student is going to be, you know, in really good shape at the beginning of the year. Um, but clearly they’re also continuing to work on applications that involves, you know, finishing up and, or starting and then finishing up, um, any of the required essays that they haven’t gotten to over the summer, um, finalizing the college list.
And part of that is also going to involve the application strategy, um, which parents absolutely should be involved in the discussion of and the decision-making of cause it is a family decision about whether a child is applying to a school early decision, which is a binding process. And for some families does have financial implications because you won’t be able to weigh financial package.[00:27:00]
Um, there was early action, which is non-binding also has an earlier deadline. There are some colleges that have rolling decision or priority decision, and then all of the colleges offer or not all, but most colleges will also offer kind of a regular decision deadline, which modes most students work towards, usually in the beginning of January.
So students at this point are filling out application platforms, whether it’s the common application, the coalition application apply Texas, the UC applications, the MIT application, there are a number of different application platforms. They are writing endlessly. And for some students, this is brutal self reflection, introspection having a kind of creative and, um, illustrative element to the writing is very, very counter-intuitive for some of our students.
And that’s one of the primary [00:28:00] reasons. In fact, that families find it. So how awful to work with us, because we can help the student. We can really kind of get that, that warmth in there, that genuine voice really, and really work with student on multiple edits and revisions so that we’re retaining their voice and their warmth and their personality and helping them.
Ultimately produce the strongest application they are capable of, of creating, um, parents. I think you’re just kind of keeping an eye on things, um, you know, uh, making sure that they’re taking good care of themselves, even if they’re stressed and overwhelmed. Um, keeping the wolves at bay a little bit in terms of the well-meaning family and friends who ask endlessly, where are you applying?
How are you doing? And, um, kind of add to the sense of anxiety around the process. Um, families, you are absolutely the ones who will be filling out the FAFSA or any other [00:29:00] financial aid forms. It is a lot for students to do. It is a lot for parents to do. These are hard forms to fill out in, in my mind. Um, so, and it’s a lot of financial information and tax returns.
And so, um, definitely the kind of thing that parents or guardians need to be filling out. Um, and I think one of the things that we often overlook as parents is that it is also our job to help prepare them to be independent. This sounds ridiculous, but do they know how to use an ATM machine? Do they know how to write a check?
Do they know how to make a bed and do laundry? Do they know how to make healthy food and lifestyle choices? Um, in terms of, you know, personal self care respect for others, these are all things that I think are part of a parent’s job to have conversations about, and to really make sure that you are preparing your [00:30:00] child in the best way possible to be a respectful, responsible, um, and successful college student.
Um, and then I think. For parents also just the own, your own kind of range of emotions. Um, pride, excitement, a little bit of sadness. There’s just a lot going on for parents as your children are moving out into the world and graduating from high school. And, um, you have all these hopes for them that may not look exactly like their hopes.
And ultimately we all want the best thing for our children. And most of us are wise enough to understand that that’s kind of their process to determine what that best thing is. Um, but it’s still hard sometimes to focus on what’s right in front of you and let go of some of that, that fantasy. Um, in my mind, my daughter should be a prima ballerina, not a recruited softball player.
I’m still grieving that a little bit, but I’m, I’m coming to peace. [00:31:00] And I think just kind of the, the last piece of this, um, this is a moment in time. It can be all consuming and I, and perhaps I’m making it too dramatic. Like for those of you who are here tonight, whose parents are seniors, you may be wondering, what am I, what, what is Lauren talking about?
This has been seamless. Congratulations. If so, um, but I think for most of us, this process has its ups and downs. Um, and you know, Margaret Mahler, who’s a psychologist, talks about separation and individuation and infants. And I always think of the college application process. It’s the second phase of this, where your child is really striking out on, on their own and really shaping their own identity and their own journey.
Um, and so there’s a lot of bittersweet in that. Um, and, um, just kind of having some thoughtful conversations with your [00:32:00] kids, what are you most excited about? What, what scares you, um, understanding that this process for them is going to be filled with a lot of the same emotional content that it is for you.
It’s just going to look very different. And I think just that the ultimate thing. You are not going to college, if you are great, but this is not about you going to college. This is about your child going to college, let them own this journey. They will handle it just fine. Uh, I think that is the end of my slides.
I am happy that I managed to talk quickly, um, because my experience, we get a lot of really thoughtful and interesting questions and I want to leave as much time as possible to take some of those. Okay, well, thank you, Lauren. So just as Lauren said, we are now going to move into our Q and a. Um, so how it’s going to work is [00:33:00] I am going to read through the questions that you submit in the Q and a tab.
We will paste that into the public chat so that you can see them read them out loud before Lauren has the opportunity to answer them as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.
Okay. So as we start to, um, give our participants the opportunity to put their questions into the Q and a tab, I have a few questions from our, um, our pre panel, uh, questions. Uh, so first question I wanted to ask is, you know, what are, you know, what’s the preferred time to start applying to the university.
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. Um, w literally the applications are not, they don’t go live, um, until sometime the summer between [00:34:00] junior and senior years. So in terms of getting on the application platform, um, and seeing what the, that year supplemental prompts are for particular schools, usually that’s the summer.
Between junior and senior year. Um, but the process really begins as early as freshman year in terms of kind of, again, working towards creating a very thoughtful personal narrative. W who is the student inside and outside the classroom? What are their genuine interests and talents and passions? Um, so while the, the active application is available in that, that summer, um, students can start working on essays before that at least brainstorming, um, the college list work starts definitely before, before that time.
Um, so it’s kind of an ongoing process, but I’d say junior year typically is when the [00:35:00] real work begins on the application process. Like the real actual work, rather than the more, uh, esoteric, um, thought process. Okay. All right. Our next question. Um, do you recommend having your child sign up for a summer camp at a target university during their junior year?
And will that increase the chances for admission? Great question. Um, I would say what I would say to anyone who asks about any program, um, is, is this something your child actually wants to do? Um, it is not going to increase the chances of admission. Unfortunately. Um, a lot of these colleges offer these opportunities as a moneymaker.
Um, but if it’s something your kid is really excited about, it’s a subject they’re really interested in and they really want a chance to live on a campus and see what it’s like. Great. There’s no reason not to do it, but I would not choose to do it as a way to [00:36:00] enhance your child’s chances of admission.
Um, and I will say the same goes for a lot of these, you know, pay for this great experience to boost your application. Um, those don’t. Pan out, um, colleges would be just as happy to see your student work at the local hardware store, um, as they would to do some super expensive service project in Costa Rica.
Um, so I would say, you know, go where the, the, the genuine passion and interest is, and that is going to propel an application forward much more powerfully than anything else. Got you. Okay. Next question. Um, how exactly does a college admission advisor. Um, great question. So, I mean, part of it depends on when you sign up to work with us.
So I’ll say in the ideal, um, you sign up say, you know, beginning of junior [00:37:00] year, um, what we help with is really shaped the whole process. So kind of help you develop your candidate profile. Um, do a lot of work around research and shaping of the college list. Um, the bulk of the work is going to be around the essays, the writing, um, again, making sure that your, what your, what you’re creating and producing what your child is creating and producing is a really genuine.
Powerful and persuasive reflection of their best qualities, um, and, um, you know, helping to shape that process, helping to shape the, the best possible outcome in terms of a realistic and well-balanced college list and appropriate college list, but an exciting one, um, nuts and bolts, helping to fill out the application.
Um, there’s a lot of kind of tricky things that you don’t have a lot of characters with, which to describe some pretty esoteric, uh, [00:38:00] activities and involvements. So kind of helping to shape the language around that. Um, we interview prep. If a student has, um, college interviews helping with summer opportunities, um, a little bit of everything.
And I think the most important kind of response, which I should say, um, is that we, I think the great thing about working with a personal advisor is that then the process becomes very personal, um, that every student is different and every student is going to approach this differently and feel, um, a different connection with the process, fear, excitement, confidence, um, overwhelm.
And so the advisor can really help minimize some of the negative impact of this process as well. Great question. Okay. Moving on to our next question. When should I begin looking into financial aid? Do I need to wait and see which school my child got accepted into before applying. [00:39:00] So there there’s, I will say upfront, I am not a financial aid expert.
So I’m going to give you some generalities. And I will say that if you do decide to work with us, we have an extraordinarily talented financially team who are experts in student financial aid, and can really get into the nitty-gritty specifics with you. There’s a difference between scholarships and financial aid, financial aid also.
Um, even though the word is the same is going to look different at the different schools. And it’s very important as you’re researching colleges to understand whether a college is need blind and or need base in their financial aid. Need-blind means that when a student is applying, you indicate on the application.
If you are going to be applying for financial aid, if you do not indicate that you are applying for financial aid, they will not consider financial aid forms that get sent in later. So you have to [00:40:00] say if financial aid is going to be important to you, you have to say yes for schools that are need blind.
Um, they don’t look at that in the decision making process. These are schools typically with a big enough endowment that they are not going to make decisions about admissions based on whether or not a student is applying for aid. Um, If they are also need based, that means that every student who’s admitted is going to get a hundred percent of demonstrated financial aid need.
Not every school can afford to do that, but then there’s also merit aid, which is different from, um, need-based aid. That means that colleges are trying to Ru the students who might have the highest academics, um, the students who might bring some special quality or, or passion to the school that the school would really like to capture and have represented.
Um, and so the school will offer a merit [00:41:00] aid, a scholarship of some kind to that student. So financial informs are filled out, um, in the fall of the student’s senior year. Um, and it’s often done kind of at the same time as the applications, parents are filling out the FAFSA or, you know, whatever forms are required by particular schools while students are filling out the applications.
Um, and, um, you will get notified when your student gets the admission decision about what your, your financial packages. Um, and that’s when you’ll get the kind of numbers of what that school is offering.
Okay, so we’re going to give Lauren just a slight, slight pause as I’m going to share with you all a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor.com. Um, for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know that the college admission process is overwhelming for [00:42:00] parents and students alike our team of over 300 former admission officers and our mission app experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in 1 0 1 advising sessions.
And this last year’s admission cycle, our students were accepted into Harvard at three times the national rate NSF and into Stanford at a 4.4 times the national. Sign up for a free consultation with us by filling out the brief form that will auto-populate on your screen after the webinars conclusion.
So again, so once the webinar’s over, there will be another screen that will pop up and then you’re able to put your information. And from there, a member of our team will reach out to you. Also, don’t forget to register for our free web [email protected] where you and your students can explore webinars.
He [00:43:00] track of application deadlines, research schools, and much more all on our website. Now we’ll go back into our Q and a. Okay. So next question. This Ivy league admission process work differently when compared to others, um, Every application process is going to be a little bit different. Um, whether it’s an Ivy league or just a highly competitive and highly selective school, um, the process might be a little different, but I think one of the things that I, I often, I think I kind of referenced this, but I will say very explicitly that one of the very frustrating things about this process is that students can have done everything perfectly.
You know, flawless GPA, appropriately rigorous courses, great scores, [00:44:00] activities that they’re passionate about deeply involved in really interesting people, extraordinary writing, and they still might not get accepted to a particular school. One of the things that is very hard for families to accept is that just because the student should be accepted does not mean they will be accepted.
What goes on in admission committees and in the reading process is something that students and families have no control over. This is a human process. So at most schools. Uh, student’s application is going to get read at least once, sometime, usually twice, sometimes three times applications get read very, very quickly.
That’s I think one of the benefits of working with us is that we have the experience and the knowledge. I mean, I personally at Williams, um, and since then I’ve probably been. 500,000 college applications. If not more, we [00:45:00] scan quickly. We know what we’re looking for. We know how to get the information we want, and it’s really important to make an impact, to make a connection with the reader very, very quickly in the process because that application is going to get read in about 10 minutes.
Um, by, by each reader, some colleges have, uh, regional reps. So like if I’m mid Atlantic, I’m reading mid Atlantic applications, other colleges do it by alphabet. So there’s no regional bias. Um, some colleges make decisions in committee. Others make decisions in a different way. So I don’t, it’s not that the Ivy admissions is so very, very different.
It’s the nuances. It’s also the sheer competitiveness, um, of the applicant pool that makes it a slightly different process where you’re really, you know, the space between the student who is admitted and the student who is denied is invisible [00:46:00] to the eye. Um, it’s just hard to know, and sometimes you don’t know what’s going on.
What is the mandate? Did they just finish a new football field? And so they’re building out the football team. Did they just build, um, you know, the new computer science building was just constructed and now they have room to bring in a lot more students in that area. You, these are things that students and families, um, you know, don’t, don’t really have control over.
Um, so the other thing that is kind of complicated the process and. I think again, the benefit of working with a company like ours is that because colleges have gone test optional, which is something a lot of colleges have wanted to do for a very, very long time because of equity issues and testing, which are real, um, it has made for a very, uh, unusual and even more intensely competitive process because you have a lot more [00:47:00] students with really great grades who might not have applied because they aren’t good test takers who are now putting in applications.
That means that colleges are definitely spending more time trying to get to know kind of the personality and the, and the personal characteristics and value added admission officers, read applications, looking for reasons to include it is a very thoughtful process. We are always looking to see the best in a student.
Um, so there’s no easy answer to that question. Pretty much every college does it slightly differently, but again, that’s one of the benefits of doing these information sessions at the various colleges, whether you do them in person or virtually, um, because they will tell you how applications are evaluated, they will tell you what they’re looking for.
Um, and you will hear exactly from them, um, what they value in applicants and what might be important [00:48:00] to them as they’re shaping their entering class. Nice. Okay. Next question. We have, how would the process look different? If they are considering attending a community college first four core classes and then transferring into their choice college or university.
Great question. And I think it’s something that more and more often students and families are considering financially. It makes a ton of sense. Um, and the world, obviously isn’t a little bit of a people anyway. Um, so I think a couple of things for one thing, if a student has a school in mind that they ideally want to transfer to and graduate from what they need to do.
Very very carefully research. What w you know, if it’s a regional, if you know, you’re, you’re going to community college in the same community where your goal colleges, there’s much more likely to be a seamless transfer process. Um, however, if [00:49:00] you’re looking at a university out of state somewhere else, you want to be sure, you know exactly what their expectations are in terms of what classes you will have to have taken.
You know, I would literally call the admission office and say, I’m thinking of going to this community college. Um, what do I need to know? W you know, what classes are you going to require? What transfers, what doesn’t transfer. Um, you don’t want to be surprised you don’t want to have your student work for two hard years, and then find that this university doesn’t accept.
You know, a third of those classes for whatever reason. Um, so it just involves a little more research and planning. And then you also just want to kind of do some, some previewing in terms of looking at the number of transfer students, colleges have room for, um, not every college has room for transfer students, and that is particularly, uh, more so now that junior year abroad has been so [00:50:00] impacted by COVID hopefully, you know, two years down the line.
If you’re the person who asks us, if your child’s as a senior, you know, hopefully two years down the line, we’ll be through this and things will have kind of become normal again. Um, but I would just say, do a lot of research on this before, before you make your decision. Okay, I’m going to kind of combine two questions into one, um, or ask a two questions at the same time.
Um, what is the difference between early action and early decision? And then does Earl does applying early action, early decision having the advantage? Great question. Great questions. Um, so early action and early decision are both early application options. So typically early action and early decision are going to be like in the first week or two in November versus regular decision, which is usually in January one.
Not every college [00:51:00] offers early action. Not every college offers early decisions. So early decision is completely biased. Early decision means that you, as parents signed something, your students signed something. The college counselor in the high school signed something saying, if I am an admitted to this school, I will withdraw any other applications I have submitted, and I will not apply to any other colleges going forward.
I am committed to going to this college. What that means is that no one should apply early decision to a school. They haven’t physically visited to a school that they don’t feel absolutely in their bones is the ideal fit for them. I will tell you from experience, students change a lot from spring of junior year to, you know, fall of senior year.
And then again, to. Spring of senior year. So you really want to very thoughtfully [00:52:00] make a decision about applying summer early decision, because if you get in, that’s it, that’s where you’re going. As I said before, for students who are going to need to compare financial aid packages, early decision is not always a viable choice.
Early action is non-binding early action means you apply by that November deadline. You will hear for both early decision and early action. You hear usually kind of mid December, December 17th, 18, 19, something like that. Um, so you hear for early action, you’ll hear back in mid December, and if you’re admitted, you can still apply to all the other colleges on your list.
You do not have to make a decision about where you’re going to school until this. Um, there are some colleges that offer what’s called single choice or restrictive early action, like Yale and Stanford. What that means is if you apply to one of those colleges early action, you cannot apply anywhere [00:53:00] else, early action.
So that’s something that complicates the picture a little bit more people often wonder if it increases your chances. That’s a little bit of a hard question to answer. When you look at the data, it does look like statistically often applying summer early action or early decision is going to boost your chances.
And at some schools you can take that at face value. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of kind of the special interests applicants are being encouraged to put in early decision or early application, early action applications, meaning that recruited athletes are being asked by coaches to apply early.
Um, a lot of alumni children are kind of being told you’re only going to get an alumni advantage if you apply early, um, you know, some development kids, meaning, you know, they’ve had a big financial or their families had a huge financial impact on the institution. [00:54:00] So it’s, it’s hard to know. Um, I would say there’s not usually a drawback with early action.
So if you know, there’s a school you’re really interested in and they offer early action. You know, the nice thing is that if you get in you’ll know in December, if you’ve gotten in somewhere, if you don’t get in, you will either be denied outright, um, or you might be deferred, meaning that they will reconsider your application in the regular decision cycle.
But what you don’t want to do is rush to put in an early action or early decision application, because you think there’s a better chance and your application’s not perfectly done better to wait for regular decision and have really flawless essays than rush to get something done hidden early. Okay. Um, the next question is, is there any value to take the act and the sat or should they just stick to [00:55:00] one test?
Are the other, I usually just have my kids do my, the students I work with, not my kids, but, um, the students I work with, like just go online to do some sample tests or get a booklet or whatever, and just do a sample test and each, and see what you like better. Um, there’s no benefit anymore for students doing both unless they want to, um, typically students have a preference for one format or the other.
And I would just say, go with that. And then also, is it useful to take the sat, um, in the 10th grade? I mean, the benefit of waiting is that the sat is knowledge based. And so the more you learn, the more, you know, um, you know, if there’s a student who’s really accelerated academically, Uh, you know, that’s kind of a personal decision.
I would never recommend this. You didn’t take it in 10th grade. It doesn’t, there’s no reason to, um, but that’s kind of a personal decision [00:56:00] and does AP courses in high school help acceptance chances? Okay. Um, the rigor of the curriculum can have a positive impact. Um, so colleges are looking to see that a student has appropriately challenged themselves, meaning that most students.
Are going to be stronger in some areas or the other. You don’t have to take six or seven AP classes to stand out. Um, but when appropriate and when available, because not every school even offers AP or IB or advanced classes, um, when appropriate, when possible colleges do like to see those student has challenged themselves slightly more every year.
Um, you know, adding in one AP a year, for example, but it has to be done thoughtfully. You don’t want to overwhelm the student. And the inevitable question, I will, I will just answer it before anyone asks it. It is far [00:57:00] better to the balance. You don’t want to take an AP class and do poorly in it. It’s always, is it worth taking AP?
If I make it a C. I, I mean, I, I, there’s no real benefit to that. I think it’s better again, to be, um, appropriately thoughtful about the right fit for your student academically and kind of if necessary talk to the counselor at school or talk to teachers, um, and get their recommendations about appropriate AP classes based on their performance in, um, less rigorous coursework.
Okay. Um, I have been, I have a son who’s a junior and I did not go to college. Um, and so the whole process is pretty daunting as a parent. Should I invest in sat preparation in college admission counseling? Great question. Um, I will say it depends on the kid. Um, I’m even noticing I will speak my two children are completely different.
[00:58:00] My daughter really wanted a tutor. My son is all about self study. There are tons of free resources for sat and act prep. Even for example, go to the library and get out an act book and, or sat book and make copies of the tests and have them do it. Or, you know, maybe just buy a book on the Amazon. They’re not terribly expensive or go to use bookstore and buy last year’s version.
Um, so it kinda depends on the student in terms of their ability to self motivate and self study, um, you know, versus the student who might need to work with someone in a group setting or individually. Um, I would definitely check at the school. A lot of high schools offer sat and act prep either outside of school hours, or even sometimes as an elective.
Um, so definitely worth looking into. Okay, we’ll take one more question. Um, how do we know which college is going to be meet base or need-blind? [00:59:00] Um, you are going to want to look at their website and, or do one of their information sessions. Every college. If you go to the admission section on the website and you look at financial aid, it will give you all the information you need about how they make evaluations.
That depend determinations, um, and that’s the most accurate and up-to-date way to get that, that information. Great. Great. Okay. Um, thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you Lauren, for all the information that you shared with our participants, that is the end of the webinar. We had a really great time telling you all about, you know, the college application process from a viewpoint of a parent.
Um, with that I want to share with you all our January, our January webinars that we have going, um, as well as we have, we’ll have a plethora of webinars [01:00:00] happening each month. And just a reminder, once this webinar ends, there will be a form that will auto-populate. Um, so if you are interested in learning more about CollegeAdvisor.com, I highly encourage you to fill out that form.
And a member from our team will be reaching back to you with that. Thank you everyone. Have a great night. Good night, everyone.