AO Advice: Creating a College Application Checklist with Your Student
Learn how to help your high school student create a strategic college application checklist, from former Admissions Officer Shannon.
2022-02-16 For Parents: Creating a College Application Checklist with Your Student
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Creating a College Application Checklist with your Students. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation and 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 everybody. My name is Shannon Kennedy. I’m a former admissions officer at Northwestern university in Evanston, Illinois, which is where I live just north of Chicago. I worked at several other universities as well, so I reviewed thousands of applications. And most recently I’ve been working for around six years, uh, on the student side of things, helping students and their families understand the college admissions process and apply to all types of institutions.
So I really enjoy [00:01:00] helping students and their families navigate through this process. So I’m looking forward to, um, giving you some tips on, um, getting through this with a little bit less stress and more organization. Awesome. All right. So we’re moving into our first poll of the night, which is what grade are you in?
All right. So we’ll go ahead and start collecting those answers at this time. Um, and then Shannon, in the meantime, uh, what would you say as an, as a, as an ambitions officer at Northwestern, what did you, um, what would you say are some kind of standout qualities of Northwestern students that, you know, is there anything kind of unique to Northwestern students that, that you can kind of talk about?
That’s interesting. Um, Northwestern gives students a lot of opportunities to explore multiple areas of interest, uh, being on a quarter system and not a lot of colleges are [00:02:00] on a quarter system instead of a semester. You can often fit in more double majors and minors. So it’s often a great place for students who want to pursue a couple of things simultaneously, maybe even pretty different things.
So, um, check out schools with quarter systems. If you’re interested in, um, multiple. Areas of study. Thank you for that answer, Shannon. Um, all right. So some of our responses have started to roll in, uh, so we have no eighth graders tonight. Um, 3% ninth graders, uh, 14% in 10th grade, a whopping 70% in 11th grade.
Um, and then, uh, no seniors and then 13% in the other category. So, um, so kind of a, yeah, a hodgepodge of people tonight, but we thank you everyone for being here.[00:03:00]
Okay. Um, so we’re going to talk about, uh, kind of all these topics throughout, um, but just wanted to point out at the top, you know, some of the most important things, uh, throughout the process that will require some attention and, uh, planning, um, are definitely a testing, which is an interesting topic right now is just, uh, whether to take it or not and who to submit it to.
And when, um, so we’ll talk a little bit about that. Um, developing a college list, um, and putting some time into that and thinking about it over the long. Um, so we’ll definitely look at college list a little bit, um, application deadlines, and, uh, sometimes a lot of this is up to you kind of what those deadlines are.
Um, we’ll talk a little bit about, um, how that fits into the big picture in timeline. Another important thing to [00:04:00] pay attention to is just requesting information from your counselors and teachers and working with your school and the deadlines and steps that you’ll need to complete just within your school process.
Another thing that could potentially fit into your checklist is interviews. Um, and sometimes, you know, just when students think they’re finished with the college application process, these interviews come up afterwards. So it continues on for a bit after those applications are submitted or sometimes even before interviews could happen.
Um, so it’s a good thing to investigate and add to your checklist to be prepared for that. Um, and then depending on the, the majors that you’re applying to, or the types of schools that you’re applying to sometimes portfolios, resumes, videos, um, or other unexpected unpredictable items like business cases or something like that may be a part of the admissions process as well.
So really I’m [00:05:00] getting into the nitty gritty and, and finding out what all those requirements are going to be up for upfront and planning out for them. Um, on your checklist can really help to set you up for success.
So if we’re kind of backtracking from those specific items and thinking about when should you start, how should you get prepared? Um, it sounds like everybody here is at some point in high school. Um, so now is a great time to start. Um, you can really start at any point in high school, um, getting prepared.
Um, I, you know, love talking with ninth and 10th graders and reminding them that their grade point average is cumulative, um, over time. And that’s really important to colleges kind of your academic performance and just what you’re doing in class is the number one thing to focus on for sure. Um, as a younger student.
Um, so. [00:06:00] Planning early for what your course trajectory will be. And just thinking about always doing your best in classes is, is the most important thing you can be doing no matter what point you’re at in the process. But, um, if you are that ninth or 10th grader here, um, it’s great to kind of have that mindset from the beginning and, um, understand that what you’re doing now is going to, you know, have a potential big impact on your, um, cumulative grade point average later.
So it’s great to kind of have that mindset from the beginning. Um, you know, the worst case is you’re, you’re not ready to think about this until right before 12th grade. So if you, um, know anyone, I, I think all of you are well ahead of that plan. If you know anyone in that situation, you know, it’s so possible to bring.
Pieces together and get organized to put those applications in place, uh, during the fall of your senior year. So you [00:07:00] all are definitely going to be more prepared than that, uh, being here tonight. Um, so I think, um, you’re in a fantastic situation for, um, tackling your checklist and all the items that you’ll have to complete.
Um, when you’re thinking about putting a checklist together, uh, you definitely want to think about how many schools are going to be on that checklist, um, to make everything manageable. Um, and this is a question that we get a lot, um, just how many schools should, uh, students be applying to now? Um, there are surveys that happen every year, so we have a pretty good sense.
You know, that eight to 12 is average. Um, what most students will do, uh, With a mix of target likely and reach options on the, uh, eight to 12. And we’ll talk more about what that means. Um, 15 is pretty much, um, the most you can [00:08:00] handle reasonably realistically with the, how, um, you know, putting a big burden on yourself and a lot of intense work, but certainly some students do go beyond that.
Um, If they start early and are pretty savvy about, uh, how they, um, reuse or rework materials, um, throughout it, it might be doable to do a little bit more. Um, but it’s getting a little bit hard to manage that checklist if it’s going beyond 15. Um, on the reverse side, I I’ve definitely seen students, uh, apply it to less than eight.
You know, if students have a really focused, targeted list and, um, a good idea of what they want. Uh, sometimes it’s, it’s definitely possible to work with fewer than eight, so it can be a range and it’s individual per student, but hopefully that gives you an idea of kind of what is [00:09:00] realistic or possible to manage and, um, healthy balance.
So I’m thinking about being organized. Um, there are a lot of different tools out there. Um, our students will do some work within our portal, um, through working with college advisor. Um, a lot of folks out there like to use Excel sheets, um, Google sheets are super popular just because, um, various, uh, people can work together and collaborate easily on Google sheets or Google calendars or some type of shared family calendar where you can be placing deadlines, um, and working together on the different pieces.
Um, I just put a little screenshot here of, uh, one example of like a Google sheet that shows application tracking. But, um, this one in particular actually [00:10:00] had separate tab. At the bottom, just maybe for compiling a list of colleges for research from the beginning, and then moving on to this list of the colleges that were actually applied to, and then a separate tab for essays.
So, um, it may be, you know, kind of an individual process to find what works for you, but kind of keeping organized in some way, um, will be really helpful throughout the process. So most students would probably start with just the biggest sick list while they’re searching, um, putting some key factors about the colleges and universities that they’re exploring, um, as they’re building their list.
So definitely recommend, you know, using tools and staying organized in one way or.
All right. So we’ve made it to our second poll of the night, which is where are you in the college application [00:11:00] process? Um, so we will go ahead and start, uh, start collecting those answers at this time. And, uh, Shannon, um, how about, tell us a little bit about your undergrad college. Uh, and what did you enjoy most about your experience there?
Yeah, sure. Um, I went to Penn state, uh, university. Um, I grew up in Pennsylvania, so stayed close to home. Um, and, uh, it’s a large institution with different types of people. Um, so I think I really learned how to. Navigate, um, sort of the bureaucracy and, you know, get those adulting skills, uh, in that big institution where I had to kind of figure things out on my own.
So I would say that was a really valuable experience for me. Um, I also get to study abroad, which I highly recommend, um, and of course, you know, love the school spirit of, uh, of a big 10 institutions. So I just, [00:12:00] I honestly, I just have to ask before we continue to study abroad, Shannon, um, and Italy. Amazing.
Amazing. Awesome. Well, thank you for that, Shannon. Um, so the, the responses have come in, uh, so we have 13% saying that you, that they haven’t started yet 76% saying currently researching schools, uh, 4% equally across two answers. So either working on essays or getting application materials together, and only 2% saying I’m almost done.
So I’m still kind of in the beginning process. Yeah. A lot of research going on. That makes sense.
All right. So as you’re doing that research, you’re probably thinking about your list and thinking if you have a good balance on your list, which is, um, you know, really important, uh, we, uh, you know, always want to encourage students to set themselves up to have choices [00:13:00] in the end of the process, too. Um, Really select schools on their lists that are going to give them a variety of options.
Um, and so we would expect, you know, that students would have the bulk of their lists to be target schools, like schools that are pretty close. Um, in comparison with average sat act scores or grade point averages that the students have that, um, you know, you have a pretty solid chance of being admitted to, but maybe it’s not a sure thing.
So it can maybe be reaching a little bit, but, um, hopefully you’re pretty much in line with the bulk of your list. And then we’d like to see a couple of schools on that list that, um, You would be like a superstar top candidate for that we would consider safe or likely, um, so that we know you’re going to have those choices and [00:14:00] options.
Um, and then you maybe have a few places on your list as well that are reaches, um, with either extremely low acceptance rates or, um, where the credentials look a little bit higher than what you’re trending. So I’m always looking for that balance. And as you’re researching, it’s important to kind of, uh, try to judge for yourself kind of how your list is shaping up in terms of, do you have enough target schools reach or safety likely schools on there?
Um, And to, just to go a little bit deeper into that, um, idea, because this is, uh, uh, often a question that we get for sure. Kind of, how do you determine this? Um, so the grade point average and the test scores are certainly, um, something to take a look at. Uh, but right now in the [00:15:00] environment that we’re in, where, um, most colleges are test optional at the moment, aside from a few hold outs are in certain states.
Um, it can be a little bit more difficult to gauge because you no longer kind of have that one, uh, uh, numerical factor to rely on as heavily. Um, so. Gaging by the admission rate is certainly, um, another option. Um, another really, um, useful tool can be from your high school. Um, if you’re in 11th grade 10th or 11th grade, you may only just now be getting access to something called Naviance, or maybe your school may use something like MyLearning or, um, score or some other.
College, um, application can of management tool, um, on the ha [00:16:00] or counseling tool on the high school level, um, where you’re going to input some information, maybe that’s how you communicate, what your list is to your counselor. Um, and sometimes it will also provide you with data of how students from your school have fared in the college admissions process at a specific university.
So sometimes your high school, your high school counselor can be, um, really great assistance in helping you kind of figure out, um, what your chances look like at different institutions based on how students, um, Like you have done, uh, in the past from your school. Um, so definitely, um, ask, you know, in your high school counseling office, you know, what, what they think, um, about your list and also just what resources might be available for you to take advantage of that.
Are there, um, one thing that I, [00:17:00] uh, do you see occasionally is that some students will feel like, because they are happy to put on an email list or have received mail, um, that, that means that they’re being recruited by that school, that they’re going to be admitted. Um, and they’re, you know, figuring that that’s a likely, um, situation.
And this definitely not always the case, um, colleges, uh, do, you know, cast a pretty wide net for applicants and they are probably emailing you or mailing you only based on, you know, one particular maybe exam you took or, um, you know, got your name at a college fair or something like that. Um, so it may not be, uh, any indication of, um, admission likelihood just to be kind of receiving information from the college.
So just wanted to put that out there because sometimes that’s, [00:18:00] um, kind of leading students in a wrong direction.
Um, so I know we do have a few sophomores in the group, so let’s kind of think about it from a year to year perspective of what you can be doing. If you’re a sophomore, what should be, you know, your checklist of items to do right now. So you should definitely be thinking about. What your goals are, what colleges you’re interested in and thinking about, um, planning out your high school course work.
That’s going to get you to the goals that you’re looking for. So if you’re looking to be an engineer, you want to be making sure that you’re tracking to the highest levels of physics and math at your school. Um, if you’re looking to architecture, you want to make sure that you’re making space in your curriculum for art classes, for [00:19:00] example.
So you want to think about kind of where you’re going and are you kind of lining up your classes, um, over the years, uh, to get you there. Um, and sometimes there’s, um, you know, a certain sequence you need to go in prerequisite. So thinking about it, um, in the longterm, uh, is definitely wise. Um, you can also be looking at your activities, your interests, thinking about how you’re going to make impact or over the years, what, um, Impact you want to have by the end, I’m definitely starting to form that relationship with your high school counselor, um, and letting them know what your plans are.
Um, they see a lot of opportunities come across their desk, you know, for scholarships, summer programs, um, you know, things that are going on in your community. So if they, uh, know about you and what you’re interested in, um, maybe they’ll think of you when these different opportunities come their way. Um, And as, as we go on, [00:20:00] they’re going to become more and more critical to helping you complete your application.
So it’s good for them to know who you are, um, and start kind of forming that bond. Um, you can always be thinking about your summertime now is a great time of year to think about that. Um, and how you can use that time to explore one of your interests further, um, do something productive. That’s going to help you on your way to your goals.
Um, you can be thinking about taking a few chores. Um, you may have no idea where you want to go or what you want to do, but starting with a tour or two, um, just to start kind of learning the lingo, seeing what’s out there. Understanding a little bit more about the different types of majors that are offered.
Um, it’s not too soon in sophomore year, just to kind of even take advantage of different trips that you’re taking as a family. Um, and thinking about adding a tour on whenever you’re, you know, [00:21:00] somewhere that you might not be again, um, it can be hard to fit these in as things get busier and busier over the years.
Um, and of course we never know, you know, what restrictions we may have on things, um, in the current situation we’re in. So whenever you have the opportunity, um, to take a tour, uh, actually physically on a campus, um, it’s a really positive thing that you can do at any point. And of course there are lots of virtual options out there as well for you too.
So those are pretty much on demand. Now all the time, you can find tons of opportunities to take tours. Um, you may start to hear about standardized tests at school, um, depending on your school. I know some schools do PSA T all the way through the grades. Um, some may do a practice act, that type of thing.
Um, so you want to kind of understand what the exams are at your school, um, [00:22:00] in ninth and 10th grade, maybe, um, they’re not going to get submitted to colleges, so you don’t necessarily need to prep, but you can start, you know, taking those results and thinking about how you did about, um, which sections you could work on.
Um, as you’re looking towards, you know, 11th and 12th grade and the exams that will, um, be a part of the college admissions process, um, Ninth 10th grade is a great time to start up a resume and start to organize all of your accomplishments, um, and track those. Cause when you get to the college admissions process, you’re going to need to present all those things.
So if you begin early, then you can kind of have that record so that you don’t forget anything later, you’re already kind of organized. It’s sort of like a checklist in itself of all the things that you’ve done. So starting, starting a resume and you can find templates online that you [00:23:00] can start from to get you going.
And then, uh, in 10th grade, and like I said, you can start kind of making that plan out for junior year. Um, you can register pretty far in advance for standardized exams. And, um, as we’ve seen in the last few years, um, test centers do fill up things. Um, Become in high demand and it can be hard to get a spot on a, on a date that you want.
So kind of thinking about it, making a plan, knowing what the deadlines are for registration, um, for out, for throughout junior year, um, is something good to kind of start, um, getting an understanding for, uh, throughout the end of sophomore year. So. There’s plenty that you can be doing already as a sophomore, but if you haven’t, um, started yet, you’re a junior, you can [00:24:00] definitely catch up with these things at any point.
Um, but at first and foremost, for juniors, you know, this should really be your, your prime academic year, right? Your junior year is going to be, um, the most recent grades that are going to be submitted to colleges in the fall of your senior year. Um, so put that at the top of your checklist, just do your best.
Um, this year in everything. Academic related. Um, you got to start really thinking about time management. Um, your classes are more challenging, kind of how are you balancing everything and thinking about, you know, like adding college applications into that mix mix, uh, next year. So probably thinking about checklists and time management, just from an academic perspective and how you’re going to balance things and get wise about, um, being productive, um, would be a really good use of [00:25:00] time in junior.
It may also be the time to think about which activities you really want to focus on. Um, maybe now it’s time to let something go. That’s, you know, less impactful to you and really focus on the ones that you are going to maybe take up a notch, look for leadership roles and accomplishments in, um, again, because you’re going to have those applications coming up soon.
You want to finish with your strongest grades. If there’s something that you’re doing that is really, you know, not serving you, not, um, resonating, then maybe it’s time to let something go and really focus and have impact in the things that you care most. Um, it’s a great time to start attending those college visits and fairs.
So if colleges are visiting your school, um, which I think that’s happening a little bit now, I know there’s a lot of restrictions still. Um, it may also [00:26:00] be happening virtually. Um, so still take advantage of that. If a college is having like a specific virtual event for students from your school, it would be a chance to, um, make a personal connection with a college admissions officers, so that hopefully when they review your application later, they can put your face to your name on those, uh, forms.
So anytime you have a chance, Interact to introduce yourself to make an impression, um, definitely take advantage of that. A lot of times those individualized visits, um, to high schools, don’t open up, um, until junior and senior year. So look out for those types of things. Uh, now that you’re a. Um, it’s really time to start honing in on what is important to you, um, in a college.
Like what are your top priorities in terms of location size, [00:27:00] um, the academic environment and offerings, um, as well as maybe even the job placement rates or, um, outcomes in certain professions. So it’s really time to think about all those different priorities and begin to, um, create a list. It may be a little bit long now there would be, you know, lots of things that you’re open to, but kind of, as you continue to do that research, hopefully you’ll start to narrow in a little bit and kind of, um, form that down to a manageable size, uh, closer to the end of the.
And throughout the summer, you want to be also, um, solidifying your relationships with a couple of teachers who could be your recommenders. Um, this is another thing where your high school may have some procedures or forms, or maybe again, a thing that’s done through Navea. And so just kind of [00:28:00] understanding the process, the timeline.
Forgetting recommenders, uh, from your school, um, to complete those letters for you. Um, so you want to start thinking about that, um, in which classes, you know, you’re really focusing on getting to know the teachers well, and hopefully by the end of the year, being able to talk to them about being, uh, your recommender and knowing kind of what that, um, looks like to make the formal request at your school.
Uh, and also again, checking in with that school counselor, um, it’s highly likely that they’re going to be checking in with you or having some type of college meeting or explaining, you know, what the procedures are. Um, but if they don’t, it’s a great idea, you know, to step in there, to stop in that office, to make a connection, um, and find out, you know, like what they need from you to help you in the college [00:29:00] process.
Um, again, they’re an important part of the process. So you want to make sure you’re meeting any deadlines, um, and giving them all the information they need to help you be successful.
Um, by the time you’re a senior, you’re going to have a lot of the, uh, hardest work done. Right? The thinking about the priorities in the list, especially if you’re here today, you’re putting in a lot of thoughts in preparation to the process. Um, you’re maybe, you know, doing some final summer things that are gonna enhance, um, your application and, and just your personal, you know, knowledge of yourself and your interests.
Um, coming down to that kind of final. Um, thinking about that plan as far as the actual application deadline. Um, and like I said earlier, um, you have the choice, [00:30:00] usually a have a couple of different options for each college, um, about, uh, when he went to apply or which deadline you want to meet. Um, and so, um, you may have a, you know, a strategy of meeting all the early action deadlines.
You may have one college that you decide to apply to an early decision. Um, you may, um, Decide to approach, um, the applications in batches. Um, I think this usually works really well, um, to pick, you know, your top priority applications and really focused on those few, get them done early. Submit and get them out, then move on to another, you know, manageable number, get them done, move on to the last batch.
Um, so kind of being strategic and not kind of overwhelming yourself with that whole huge checklist of items that you have to get done, but kind of manage it [00:31:00] batch by batch, uh, in, in, um, kind of a planned out sequence is, um, one approach that tends to work really well for students. Um, and if you have everything kind of well in hand and, um, are organized about it.
Um, you’re going to have probably more opportunities to attend interviews. Um, sometimes interviews are optional. They aren’t offered everywhere. If you have your application submitted early or interests indicated early, you may, um, be one of the students who gets reached out to sooner for an interview. Um, sometimes again, if you are visiting like over the summer or throughout the fall, there may be opportunities for interviews in person as well, though.
Most of them are happening, uh, virtually these days. Um, but again, just kind of having the applications in hand puts you in better positions for interviews, [00:32:00] um, when they pop up, because usually they do pop up kind of suddenly, um, you get an invitation, uh, the next week there’ll be, you know, an interview slot.
Um, so, uh, you don’t want to be kind of, you know, struggling last minute with your applications and then being invited, um, for interview opportunities. Um, so. Having your checklists in hand, and maybe even kind of knowing which interviews you might be expecting, um, will help as well, which usually you can find that out in advance.
Um, and definitely take advantage. Uh, if you can. Um, you’re going to want to figure out your best way to manage your different essay topics. Um, it really does help to kind of look at them all and think about, you know, where the overlap is and kind of. Be strategic and put them, uh, potentially on a spreadsheet.
So you can kind of get a sense of everything that’s [00:33:00] in front of you and figure out kind of what your plan of attack is on it and create your own kind of checklist or sequence. Um, so looking at all the different essays, um, should help you in figuring out your strategy. Um, you can do a lot before going back to school in the fall.
Um, a lot of the applications we’ll release, uh, early in the summer, um, we already know the, you know, the main common application topic will be the same or the options will be the same for next year. So, um, you can really get ahead of that over the summer. Um, and also, you know, be prepared with your resume to make things a little bit easier throughout the fall, as you complete applications.
So that’s quite a lot. Um, I know we have a lot of parents and families here, um, and um, we want to talk a little bit kind of what [00:34:00] parents and families should have, you know, on their checklist for helping students through this process. Um, I think that the financial fit factor and kind of really diving into that is one of the aspects that parents and families, um, definitely would play a major part in.
Um, it’s, uh, like, uh, Challenging for high school students kind of understanding the financial terminology. It’s going to require a lot of family, um, tax information to apply for financial aid. Um, a lot of times families, you know, may put this part off, um, because there just are so many other pieces to think about in the process.
Um, so, uh, I think it’s one of the things that often gets neglected. That’s really important for, um, families to kind of have a conversation with together and I’ve early on and understanding kind of how this is all going to work [00:35:00] financially and, and gathering the documents that are needed. Um, Students, uh, hopefully you’re going to really take the lead in this process.
Um, we really need them to, um, produce a lot of the work and information, um, to complete the applications, um, and for them to feel like ownership and excited about it, um, makes things so much better and it makes the applications, um, just really come to life that much more when the student is invested in it, they’ve done the research on the colleges.
Um, they’ve thought about kind of how they fit versus kind of having someone else sort of really, uh, tell them where to apply and, and what they should, um, you know, put in their applications. Um, so when, uh, students kind of really [00:36:00] feel like they’re, um,
In the lead of the process, I think it makes a huge difference in the success of, of the whole application process, uh, for families. Um, one tip that I think, uh, is also really useful, um, is to think about kind of like a regular time for families to check in. Um, I know like I’m a parent and thinking about, you know, like always reminding your kids to get things done and do things at certain times, uh, with the college application process, there are so many things, so many individual little pieces, um, that a lot of students feel sometimes like their parents are.
Constantly asking them, did they do this little thing, that little thing, um, kind of on a daily basis, it gets to be a lot. Um, and so if [00:37:00] you can agree, you know, as a family is what’s going to work for like a time to check in on college. Um, and you know, making sure students are getting things done without kind of, um, nagging them on a daily basis.
Um, it helps, um, to kind of have an agreement about when, uh, the discussions will be had and, um, Make sure everyone’s kind of comfortable with the progress. Um, and checking in on that at an established time. Um, it can also be just, you know, stressful going through this process. And, um, a lot of family, friends, neighbors, coaches, everyone, teachers, um, are always asking students, where are you applying?
How’s it going? Do you, what are your decisions? Uh, so sometimes it’s really helpful. Um, as parents, as family members to just kind of help deflect [00:38:00] some of that, uh, stress, some of those people who are, you know, maybe, um, prying in, um, when students would, would rather. Keep some of that information, um, to themselves until they feel like a little bit more confident about the direction.
So it can, it can feel, uh, I know overwhelming to students to have people constantly asking them kind of how it’s going and where they’re going and what they’re doing and what their plans are, um, when they’re still figuring it all out for themselves. Um, so let’s assume this happens, especially, you know, around holidays, um, and whatnot at those gatherings and dinners where, you know, everyone is, um, excited, understandably about students’ futures, but it can be like a major source of anxiety, um, in the process.
So I think that’s, um, a great tip and where families can really help out, um, to kind of ease that stress [00:39:00] and anxiety a little. So, uh, just to kind of wrap up kind of, I think some of the, um, other advice generally in the process that I think is really important is, you know, to think beyond rankings, to really, again, put the student first and thinking about what is the best fit for them, where are they going to be most successful and try to kind of step back from that ranking mentality.
Think about what is your ranking, what is most important to you? What is most important to the student, um, to visit early and often, um, as we’ve learned. And this environment, um, things can change quickly, restrictions, travel possibilities. So, uh, when you do have opportunities, um, get out there and see some colleges.
Um, junior year spring break [00:40:00] is the most, uh, common time, um, for students to visit campuses. And I think, you know, this year, um, is definitely going to be really interesting because we’re seeing, you know, I think more people are going to be comfortable traveling perhaps this spring, um, and colleges are still going to have some limits in place.
So if you’re going to be planning that spring trip, um, for college visits, definitely, you know, make reservations early colleges do, um, you know, have limited space and staff to host those visitors and are maintaining, you know, different protocols right now. Um, so. Make sure you’re checking in early to, um, look in, uh, on those reservations, um, and just, you know, clicking visit on the admissions website or campus tour and going ahead and booking your slots.
So, so that you can ensure [00:41:00] you’ve got that opportunity. Um, remember that financial aid and scholarships, um, are out there and that’s a place where family can be a huge amount of support, again, with that, um, kind of, uh, difficult to navigate financial information. Um, and then again, just kind of keeping that stress in check by managing those conversations and kind of, you know, keeping a healthy, supportive, um, attitude about everything throughout the process.
So those are, uh, some of my, um, Overarching pieces of advice. Um, I hope that’s all helpful. Um, I know we have some questions coming through. Um, so I think Kayla’s gonna help us out to see hi, Shirley. All right. Well, um, so that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful.
Remember that you can download the slides from the link in the [00:42:00] handouts tab, um, moving on to the live Q and a, you know, really the questions that you submit in the Q and a tab, uh, paste them into the public chat as I’ve already done with a few questions, um, So that you can see them for yourselves and then read them aloud so that our panelists can give you an answer.
And then just 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 from the webinar landing page. So let’s go ahead and get started. So the first question for you tonight, Shannon is, um, is there any specific advice that you have for the student athletes?
Yeah. Um, athletics, uh, depending on the level, um, that you’re aiming to compete at in college, uh, can be, you know, an entirely different ballgame for a bun. Um, and so a lot of times you’re communicating with coaches, [00:43:00] um, and working through that, a lot of the athletics websites have, um, Uh, surveys kind of, that you fill out with some of your basic, um, statistics from your sports, um, and that’s how you indicate your interest and that you want to be recruited.
A lot of the times the coaches are finding you, um, if you’re a talented athletes, um, but we do have a partner, um, and C S a, uh, which has a lot of great information on their website about individual sports and kind of, um, the recruiting process for the individual sports. Um, so, uh, we could definitely, um, probably send you that website.
Um, and that’s a great resource to take a look at, but you’d want to go to the athletics pages for the colleges that you’re interested in and fill out those, um, statistics forms to get on [00:44:00] coaches, radars. All right. Uh, now due to COVID testing is now optional for most colleges. Uh, so, well, what happens if I don’t take the sat, but I have good grades and activities and another student has a similar profile.
Uh, will that student be preferred to me? Yeah, this is a great question. Um, and really hard to answer, and it could be different from one university to the next. Um, some universities have been test optional, uh, for a long time. This isn’t new to them, uh, for others it’s a little bit newer and, um, it, it’s maybe more comfortable for them to have the scores.
They’re more used to that. Um, and. It could also, you know, depend kind of on where you go to school and what kinds of applicants, you know, um, the colleges seeing from your school or your area, or [00:45:00] what testing options were available in your area. So it can, it can vary widely. Um, and you know, you could never usually say, um, with certainty, do you versus another student, you know, what would happen?
Um, because there are so many different factors. Um, and I think it is, uh, pretty dependent on the individual school that we’re talking about. All right. Um, what is considered the average sat or act score? Huh. Okay. Um, what I think probably a good gauge to look at is, um, you know, looking at a few colleges and looking at the middle 50% ranges that they apply or that they, um, have on their, um, statistics on their admissions websites will give you a good idea of what the majority of students, um, [00:46:00] admitted they’re scored.
Um, so that middle 50% represents half of the students scores and 25% would have scored above the highest number on the range. And 25% would have scored. Below. Um, so being in a, within the middle 50% range for a particular college, um, or on the top end, um, is generally where you want to be. So it varies, you know, what, um, works at one college versus another.
But when you really want to look at that middle 50% range, again, idea of kind of where you shape up. Um, how do I find out what scholarships I am eligible for? Yeah. So, uh, the biggest source of scholarships will really be the colleges themselves. Um, there there’s going to be a lot of merit or need-based aid available from the colleges and for most of [00:47:00] them, when you apply.
You are being considered for their scholarships simultaneously. Um, sometimes there’s an earlier deadline to be considered for scholarships or maybe additional essays, um, you would need to do so again, another reason to kind of have your checklist together, to investigate, to figure things out, um, in advance.
So you make sure you have the most consideration for scholarships available from the colleges. Um, then there are a lot of additional scholarships out there, um, that maybe take a little bit more work to apply to. Um, and there are different, you know, websites that you can go to, like scaly going Mary’s scholarships.com that can help you identify scholarships.
That might be a match for you. Um, and again, your high school counselor might be a really good resource for like things going on in your local area, um, that you could be a candidate for.
How do [00:48:00] I go about getting recommendations from teachers? If I’m home. Yeah. So this is another thing to put on your checklist item. If you’re homeschooled is to do that extra research, to see if there are any additional requirements for you. Sometimes there will be other items that you’re going to need to submit.
Um, if you’re homeschooled or tests or documentation that you’re going to need to provide. So all the more reason to get organized, um, early to do your research early on, just to make sure you understand what those requirements are going to be. Um, sometimes this information may not be easy to find. You may need to call and ask, um, or email to find out about what sorts of letters will be acceptable.
Um, so if parent is your primary, you know, teacher, uh, as a homeschooler, um, colleges may accept that they may [00:49:00] also like to see if you’ve taken a class, um, Through or some other organization, um, whether it be a community college or an online class, um, those may be options for you as well. So, um, it’s good definitely to check, uh, for the colleges on your list for what they will accept.
All right. Um, so the next question is, uh, what topics, well, actually, sorry, I’m skipping one. What makes me, what will make me stand out in college applications?
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a hard one. Um, I would say, you know, each student is individual and different. Um, and there’s not one right. Answer to this question. Um, I do always like to remind students that, you know, the bottom line is that your academics need to be, uh, [00:50:00] On par for the institution to even be, you know, considered before you think about standing out before they’re looking for the other things they’re first is seeing if you’re academically qualified and ready.
So again, just kind of really doing well in academics and showcasing kind of your academic fit for the institution, um, is very important. Uh, but then again, you know, thinking about the things that you care about are most passionate about and how you can, you know, make a difference or have an impact, or take them up to, um, a level maybe even beyond what, uh, you could do within your school.
You know, thinking a little bit outside, um, of the box and, um, pursuing things, um, that aren’t, you know, just expected, but are, you know, going beyond, um, what is typical. [00:51:00] All right. Um, what time? Well, actually, I’m going to add another question that was still in the Q and a tab, which is when should I begin writing.
Um, and when I do, what topics should I write for college applications? Okay. Um, so I mean, I think, uh, in junior year you can definitely have this in the back of your mind start thinking about it. Um, sometimes, um, high school English teachers will help, you know, like guide you through this and spring of junior year, maybe have you working on personal essays, um, or something like that.
Um, at the very least you could just start, you know, just like a running list of ideas or a little bit of a journal entry. Um, if you go to. Um, dot org, you’ll see the prompts, um, that are there. And so maybe, you know, start a list of ideas. Um, start talking about it with [00:52:00] family. Parents, family are often really helpful in thinking about, you know, stories, things that you’ve done that you might want to talk about.
So you can begin kind of brainstorming thinking about it. Um, you could start injury year, but we usually find, you know, really writing, um, Is best in after that junior year is over. I mean, junior year can be pretty stressful, especially toward the end. You’re, it’s probably hard, um, to really put a lot of focus on college applications.
So usually once that junior year is over, is when you can really start, um, putting out, uh, you know, longer pieces that can begin to form your personal statement. Um, and then over the summer, those, uh, specific prompts will come out for individual college applications and you can really, uh, start working on those as well.
So really that summer [00:53:00] between 11th and 12th grade is when you can get a lot of work done. Um, there are no, you know, particular right topics, um, virtually anything is game. Um, I know I’ve heard some admissions officers, you know, speak about things that maybe they’re a little bit tired hearing about. I mean, there are a lot of essays about service trips, abroad.
Um, another topic that I once heard, uh, university of Chicago, um, admissions officers say, um, to stay away from is like romantic topics. Um, your love life, not the necessarily the place to sort that out. Um, but you know, anything, um, is really, um, uh, possible. Um, but really the bottom line is it needs to be something that is, uh, pretty personal to you.
Um, sounds [00:54:00] like your voice. Um, it’s an essay, you know, that nobody else could write. Um, cause it’s about you, it sounds like your voice. Yeah, and just some extra. And I’m just going to add here, as far as the personal statement, um, one exercise that I usually have my students do is just kind of like top five or top 10 personal items that you own.
So you’d like a Teddy bear, like a bracelet, or like some, t-shirt try to go for something a little bit unusual. Um, and that way it usually will, um, trigger a lot of, you know, past memories or present memories that you can kind of talk about. And, and then that kind of relates to like values or lessons learned.
Right. Um, so kind of tying all those together. I’m sorry to cut you off there a little bit, Shannon. Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great tip. Um, all right. Um, so our next question, um, is you mentioned having the application in hand [00:55:00] that you’re working on in case you’re contacted for an interview. What did the interview come after the application is submitted?
Um, sometimes you can do an interview before you even apply. Um, so again, uh, sometimes, uh, a lot of times this is that smaller, maybe not the most selective schools, um, when you’re visiting campus, you may be able to interview with an admissions officer. Um, so, uh, that’s, that’s definitely a possibility out there.
Um, I would say at the most selective places, yeah, probably you apply first and then, um, you’re offered an interview, uh, but again, uh, just, you know, getting things done early before the deadline, making sure you’re not having problems submitting, um, just, you know, everything. Clean all the boxes are checked, um, is going to be, um, a better position to be in, to, to have that interview opportunity [00:56:00] presented to you.
So, um, it’s probably more rare that it happens before the application, um, but it certainly is possible at some institutions. All right, everyone. So just very, very quickly, uh, for those of you who aren’t already working with us, the college admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike.
And our team of over 280 admissions experts and former admissions officers are ready to help you and your family navigate at all in one-on-one advising sessions. So sign up for a free consultation with us, by going to college advisor.com and calling the number at the top of the screen or clicking get started.
And then once you’re registered, um, you, and you can start exploring webinars, keep track of application deadlines and search for summer opportunities. All right. On our book. And from here, we are going back to the Q and a. So, um, the next question for you, Shannon is shit. You send scores to colleges the first time you take an admissions test.[00:57:00]
Uh, my, uh, straight answer would be no, if I’m going to say yes or no. No, but, um, I know that you get some free score sons, uh, when you take the act or sat. So it’s definitely tempting, uh, to send those out and utilize them, uh, if you’re very confident in what you’re gonna achieve, and maybe you have a couple of safety institutions on your list that you can use those free, uh, score suns for.
That’s fine, perhaps, but, uh, for the most part, I would much rather know, you know, what the score is before I’m sending it anywhere. So I, I would say usually my answer is. Got it. All right. Um, so what are, uh, what are your opinions on getting, uh, an IB diploma versus just taking AP courses? Yeah. Um, I guess it’s, it does [00:58:00] depend on your school’s offering and kind of what is sort of more rigorous for your school and what is a better fit for kind of what you want to do?
Um, the full IB diploma is really challenging. It’s um, A really great experience for a lot of students, but certainly, you know, not for everyone. And, um, depending on, you know, whether that’s kind of typical or not at your school, um, what admissions officers, you know, what’s back to see from top applicants that your school is certainly a consideration there.
Um, so, um, as far as, you know, AP versus IB, I think, you know, colleges kind of see them, um, on a very similar level. Um, but that, uh, full IB credential is definitely, you know, a holistic, um, program, um, that shows, you know, that you’re willing to [00:59:00] put in that work to do the additional project, meet the requirements.
Um, so it definitely can be a distinguishing factor, especially if it’s kind of held up as the highest, uh, standard at your high school. So kind of depends on the context where you’re applying what your goals are, but, um, yeah, I’ve always thought that students who I’ve worked with who’ve, who’ve pursued the full IB.
Um, really got a lot out of it. So, um, depends on the situation, but I do think it’s an excellent option. All right. All right, everyone. So we’ve made it to the last question of the evening, which is what is the earliest day for school applications? Yeah. Um, so, you know, they’ll become available over the summer and you can certainly turn them in, uh, before they’re due.
So you can begin turning things in and in August, you know, before you get back to [01:00:00] school, um, as far as the first deadlines, I really think, um, There are some in October, um, that do pop up. Um, and those are some of the earliest ones. Um, November 1st is another big kind of early decision, early action deadline, um, in mid November.
Um, so, um, yeah, early, you know, in October I think, or some of the earliest kind of deadlines, of course, some students can be, you know, submitting to rolling admission schools and September and getting, um, offers of admission, um, even in September. So, um, it’s possible, you know, kind of start right away and getting offers of admission.
Um, as early as. Alrighty. Thank you so much. Well, um, thank you to everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our [01:01:00] wonderful panelists, Shannon Kennedy. Um, and so that is the end of the webinar. Uh, we had a really great time telling you, uh, about creating a college application checklist. So here’s the rest of the February series.
So be sure to mark, uh, these upcoming events in your calendar, and we definitely look forward to seeing you in future sessions, have a wonderful evening. Good night if you missed any they’re recorded. So definitely go back and watch some of those. Yeah. Thanks for adding that. All right. Well, good night, everyone.
Good night. Bye-bye bye-bye.