AO Advice: Helping Your Student Make the Most of High School

For Parents & Guardians – Former Admissions Officer and Admissions Specialist Ferrell will share insight on how parents can help their chid maximize their high school potential.

Date 02/23/2022
Duration 1:01:00

Webinar Transcription

2022-02-23 AO Advice: Helping Your Student Make the Most of High School

[00:00:00] hi everyone. My name is Rachel D’Amato. I’m a Northwestern 2017 graduate and your moderator today. Welcome to AO advice: Helping your Student Make the Most of High School. 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.

Good evening, everyone. My name is Ferrell Armstrong. I’m a former admissions officer at both the university of Georgia and a Vanderbilt university. Um, I’ve worked in college admissions now for right at 12 years. And, uh, most of that time has been spent working at the universal. Uh, so I’m very excited to kind of speak with you this evening and talk about how you can start prioritizing this process throughout the [00:01:00] entire period of high school.

awesome. So we’re going to start off with a real quick poll. Um, a poll is going to pop up on your screen, um, and it should be open. Um, now, so what grade is your student in? Um, and Ferrell while, um, you know, folks are starting to submit their answers. I’m curious to hear how you got into college admissions.

Crazy. You know, enough? I had actually been hired by a CSX trains, um, right out of college and in the program that I was hired for got canceled the week of graduation. So I, uh, I do go back to the drawing board. Yeah. Really kind of decided that I was, had loved being a college RA and I enjoyed that environment.

So I started looking for, um, you know, residence life positions or admissions positions, and, uh, ended up deciding that I wanted to kind of pursue admissions and [00:02:00] started at UGA. And here I am, haven’t done anything else. Awesome. Thanks Ferrell. So we have, um, God, I’m going to close the poll now. Um, it looks like our numbers are, um, around 8% of folks have students in eighth grade.

Um, 4% have ninth graders, uh, 40%, their children are 10th graders, 40% have 11th graders and we have zero 12th grade parents in the room. And two, uh, folks marking as.

Thompson off to you, Farrah. All right. Well, thank you so much, Rachel. You know, I, I’m really glad that everyone’s here this evening and we have such a diversity in terms of the years that your children are in high school, you know, and I really love to start off by just talking about time. Uh, if you’ve attended one of the other webinars that I have been formed enough to, uh, you speak on in the [00:03:00] past, I really do tend to Lynn, excuse me, tend to lean on time, uh, a lot.

And that’s because I do believe it’s your greatest weapon in this process, you know, going to school where you select to attend and spend your time is going to have the greatest impact on your life over the next 50 or 60 years. And when you really start to look at, you know, the outcome that that’s going to probably have for.

It’s important that you start giving yourself the ability to have the outcome that you want. Uh, this is not just about, you know, picking where you’re going to go to spend four years of time. It’s going to influence graduate school and personal and business opportunities, um, that will again, have that lifetime impact.

So, um, it’s imperative that you get this process started early so that you can have, you know, the outcome that you’re looking for. Um, I think the biggest thing that families today may be getting wrong or just misinterpreting. Is that just because you hear someone say they started the process at a specific time doesn’t mean that that’s exactly the right thing for [00:04:00] you.

Um, I will argue that the earlier that you can start, the more you can spread this process out and that you can kind of give yourself the advantage over your competition. Because it allows you to do more, uh, then what your friends or neighbors may be doing, which is going to provide you more options later on.

Um, so this is a doing process and you need to give yourself the time, you know, to start marching through it. So what I love to really focus on is, is trying to take the pressure off of families. And by spreading the process out, you really can, you know, experience that you don’t have to experience the burden that I think so many students and families, um, I don’t want to say enjoy, but go through today with just how selected the process is, uh, let alone, you know, with how much it’s involved in the process.

And so ideally you should have a plan for every single year of high school. And, you know, it’s funny to me, a lot of families want to do so much so late, and I will tell you, I think you can have an, a [00:05:00] much more enjoyable process by, you know, taking this one step at a time, uh, you know, in doing that, it’s going to allow you to, I think.

Enjoy the ride. You’re going to learn a lot more about yourself and then you would then kind of putting this off. And so just some key things before we really guide into going by year by year. You really want to start this process by looking at schools early and often. Um, why, why do I believe in looking at schools as early as I do?

And you’re about to see how really, I believe in looking at them, uh that’s because schools are always changing, you know, what they’re looking for and it’s best that you have an early understanding of what these schools are going to be making decisions on in terms of the background that their applicants bring to the table, you know, are you bringing the credentials that they want?

Uh, do you have the activities, the academic. Um, that they are preferring in their application process. More importantly, you know, at the same time, you need to be keeping up to date with these different institutional changes that they may be going through. [00:06:00] Um, just in the last two, three years, as a result of the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen dramatic changes, um, in what these schools are doing as they’ve made their decisions and it completely up ends, you know, what families have experienced over the last 10 and 15 years.

And so by maintaining. You know, contact, if you will, with what the schools are kind of doing with their application process and their selection process for a longer period of time, you don’t have to make any dramatic changes in your progression in that junior year, if you will. Um, you can be doing small micro changes to kind of keep yourself on track with what the schools are looking for.

Um, you know, I, I hate it when, when families come into this process and they have the unfortunate outcome of that they did not expect. But what I’m going to say next is not meant to be rude. Most of that is preventable and you don’t want to have the negative experience that a lot of students have because you did not inform your.

Enough. Um, [00:07:00] you know, I think one of the, you know, more painful memories that I have from being an admissions officer was going to these high schools or going to, you know, college fair or one-off presentations, you know, for Georgia or for Vanderbilt. And, you know, getting to the point where we were just talking about, you know, average sat or act score and, you know, the average GPA of an admissible applicant, and then seeing just the horror and the shock, um, on the faces of a lot of students and families, because where we were in terms of what was admissible was a lot higher than what a lot of these students and families had anticipated.

So I want you to be mindful of this, and I want you to track everything because the schools are tracking everything. Uh, their data is available through the common dataset, which is typically released every year to year and a half, uh, by each school. I did miss one thing there. I want to go back over. Um, I do get the question frequently is, you know, will middle school achievements.

Middle-school achievements don’t matter, but it’s the [00:08:00] foundation of educational support and study habits that you build in middle school that will matter. So we encourage families just really start planning this process as early as seventh grade. Uh, we support students in the process in seventh, eighth grade, even because that is really what kind of sets the tone.

So you can walk into your freshman year and start having the performance that you want to have in the various. Which is a great transition. Um, you know, I talk about finding your path in ninth grade because it is that foundational year when everything starts being tracked in terms of your admissions decision, um, GPA starts being tracked day one week, one of the first year of high school.

So it is important that you have a plan, ideally going into high school about how you can be maximizing your time to kind of build your pathway. One thing that I think a lot of students are hesitant to do in, and even sometimes parents are hesitant to do is to, you know, get outside assistance for their families.

And in this case, I’m not talking about, um, [00:09:00] getting, you know, outside assistance, uh, for a call perspective right now I’m talking about getting outside assistance for just your academic performance. When you come into high school, you look a lot better to, uh, to a college admissions office having a high level of performance from the very beginning.

Yes. Schools love to see upward grade trends, but it is always much more difficult to dig out of a, of a rut because you started in, did not have the performance that you really wanted to have early in your high school career. And so it takes a lot to make up for it. And even though you may have a good upward grade trend, it will still never have the impact is maintaining a high level of performance from the very beginning slide, encourage families.

If, if you start to see your child as a mom or a father, uh, to struggle with, you know, their work, even if it’s just one or two short little quizzes, they’ve started to have trouble with encourage them to get help. And if they’re not able to get the help they need, uh, at the school level, whether that’s extra time with the teacher, maybe, you know, [00:10:00] from an upperclassmen that, you know, it’s knowledgeable in the process, it may be advisable to go ahead and start looking into outside tutoring services in the very first few weeks of ninth grade, because it’s so imperative that you maintain the academic performance, especially if you’re wanting to go somewhere that.

Excuse me, especially feel you’re wanting to go to some of the more elite schools in the country today. That’s what they’re going to expect you to have is that long-term academic achievement at the highest level. Um, I make a statement down there about, um, there aren’t really any dumb questions, uh, and that is the truth.

You should never feel, you know, wrong or embarrassed to ask a question. If it’s only going to help you get better and improve where you are in the process as a parent also, what’s going to improve your child’s performance. So never hesitate to ask a question. You know, sometimes younger students are not their best advocates and you as mom and dad have to be their advocate.

And ideally they learn to be better advocates for themselves as they get older. But especially in that ninth grade year, don’t be surprised [00:11:00] if you have to go in there and be that advocate initially to really get that foundation laid for them so they can have the success that is so necessary today.

Ninth grade is a great opportunity to really start developing, you know, your pathway, if you will, that personal profile of what you’re wanting to explore and gain interest in. Um, I, myself am a practitioner Brazilian jujitsu, which is why I come up with the statement of maintaining a white belt mentality.

Um, a white belt mentality is the idea you’re walking into something brand new for the first time, and you have no clue, no idea what’s going to, you know, make you successful in something and you’re nervous about it. That’s okay. Except that embrace that because once you can get over that initial fear of being in the unknown, you’re a lot more likely to continue trying new things, which will end up leading you, defining what it is you’re passionate about.

If you can teach your children the same thing and get them to even try things that they may have no initial interest in, you’re actually going to be a [00:12:00] lot more likely to help them find what they’re passionate about much earlier on in the process. I also love encouraging students and parents to engage with upperclassmen.

Um, now I gotta be cautious here in saying this because a lot of the rumors that exist in college admissions unfortunately are passed along in these types of conversations. And these rumors can end up throwing you off track to get into, you know, where you’re pursuing admission to however, learning what students are kind of doing in terms of selecting schools, what influenced them to what they wanted to go major in what influenced them in terms of what type of school they were looking for.

These are all important things that you should start figuring out during ninth grade, have those high level conversations, because it’s really going to be able to start influencing you. If you dive a little bit deeper into the selection process and by selection process, I mean a school selection. Once you finally kind of reach into the summertime of after your freshman year, that is the time that you really [00:13:00] want to start your, um, you know, big initial school, you know, selection, or I should say school exploration, um, maximize your summers.

I think too many families are starting their school review, you know, end of sophomore year, even middle part of junior year. And that’s dramatically too late when you consider the fact that you should really start your essays just after the, the midpoint of junior year. Um, so to that in the earlier that you can start visiting schools, the more that you can start this, you know, determining what schools are going to be the better fit for you and what level you need to hold yourself accountable to.

If you want to have, you know, the opportunity to attend that school in the future, it kind of keeps your student engaged from the very beginning. Of course, summertime is the time for those academic exploration programs, leadership academies, research programs, those hands-on experience. Yeah, people bring up, uh, programs like the Georgetown summer academy.

Great opportunity there. Um, other [00:14:00] programs that are similar to that, that summertime in between ninth grade and 10th grade is an excellent time to do something like that because they can give you, you know, some experience in a variety of different fields that will start to help your child narrow down what it is that he or she wants to pursue in the.

So as you transitioned into 10th grade, it’s imperative that you’re starting to kind of create and narrow down that initial list. And, um, when I say, you know, narrow down by initial list, I’m really talking of, you know, 15 to 25, even 30 schools. Uh, I’m not saying your final school list. Um, but it’s imperative that you do this so early, because the reality here is that the schools that you’re interested in going to should really guide you in terms of what types of activities that you are becoming involved with and the types of courses that you are wanting to, um, you know, that sorry that you should be taking.

Um, and, and there’s reason for that. Um, the reality here is that [00:15:00] these schools will have expectations and kind of prerequisites for their applicants. A great example is Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt. If you were any type of engineering major, including computer science, you had to have taken both calculus and physics to be admissible to the Institute.

And so every year we would get students with, you know, perfect GPA’s perfect test scores that would call us and say, why was I denied? I have a perfect test score and a perfect GPA. What, what else could I have done? And the reality here is that they didn’t take calculus or physics for that engineering program.

And so by understanding what these schools are looking for an early stage, you can really get your, your progression in line with that. So you don’t have that outcome. Okay. That’s why it’s so important to start doing this over early. Um, the reality here is that that kind of transitions right into, you know, matching your activities and course selection, uh, to your academic interests.

Uh, Y there’s [00:16:00] there’s a lot to be said about trying to streamline this process. Um, the more that you can show interest over time, Um, to a particular kind of field or a lower amount of kind of areas that you might want to pursue. You look a little bit more attractive in the application process. And so typically speaking, I immediately will get some pushback and saying this from two, uh, you know, from a parent that says, well, how, how is my, you know, 14, 15, 16 year old supposed to know what they want to do with their life?

Hey, that’s a great question. Um, and I respectfully say this and, you know, in return, if they don’t know what they wanna do, it’s gonna take action steps to find out what it is they want to do. And so this is a doing process and I cannot emphasize that enough, that it takes time to do something. And so this early start, the more time you can do something about it, The reality here is that there’s a difference between, you know, action and inaction.

If you want to have the outcome that you want by taking action steps, to try to determine, you know, areas of [00:17:00] interests, that’s gonna make you a lot more likely to have the outcome that you’re hoping for to go to the type of school that you want. Um, so maybe you aren’t sure that’s okay, but by trying 2, 3, 4 different things, you’re going to probably start to find something that you are passionate about.

Um, you know, something that I do like to go into, you know, greater, you know, conversation about. Um, and this is a little bit more important as you transitioned to 11th grade, but I’ll, I will address it here. And now I get a lot of families that will still get to, you know, tend to, or I should say, get to 11th grade.

Um, and for several reasons they may still be their student may still be very undecided about what they are in pursuit of. It is still important to be trying to figure that out. You don’t necessarily have to say I’m 100% positive. This is what I’m doing with my life. But you do need to be having the ability to show that you’re making an effort to figure it out.

And the reason for that is as follows, the most common type of applicant to college today is an undecided applicant. And [00:18:00] I understand that that’s going to occur, but there is a much better way to be an undecided applicant than what most people than how most people come across. Most students when they’re applying and decided really do not have anything to speak for.

It’s just, I’m applying to your school, still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. But by taking the time in ninth and 10th grade to start exploring three, four, maybe even five different things that you may not have any initial interest in, that’s going to give you the ability to stay as an undecided applicant.

That I’m still not sure what I’m wanting to do, but I’m taking action steps to figure it out. That immediately makes you a lot more attractive to a school’s admissions office because they see matured. They see a skillset such as time management that you’re taking the steps of a lot of students are unwilling to take, to try to create that opportunity for yourself to try to determine that versus just sitting back and letting time pass.

Um, so it will make you a more standout applicant, um, by just [00:19:00] taking action, as opposed to doing nothing at all. You want to maximize your school breaks to your benefit, whether it’s the holiday break, spring break, summer break. Um, this is the perfect opportunity to really be diving in, uh, and getting more school visits under your belt.

You know, getting those experiences, learning what makes that school community, um, what it is, Hey, you know, how has that culture been shaped over the years and turned into what it is today? Now these are key things that you need to be becoming comfortable with. If you want to attend that school, then you’re going to be expected to be an active member within that school’s culture and community.

So you need to be trying to figure out if that’s the ideal place for you. So the earlier that you can continue to do that the better, and it allows you to start narrowing that list down to your final list a little bit sooner than what your typical applicant is going to do as you start to go into that summertime.

Right. Summertime now in between 10th and 11th grade, uh, this is actually one of the more influential summertimes, uh, and that’s because [00:20:00] this is really kind of that first opportunity where students can really start having that real specific area of focus for things like research, uh, maybe an internship or, um, even job observations.

Um, and that’s because you’ve taken. Summer in between ninth and 10th, and then most of 10th to explore, you know, those four or five different things. And now you’re starting to say, okay, maybe it’s these, maybe it’s one or two things here, and that’s what you should start using that 10th grade summer for, to really start to kind of tighten things down and try to figure out if this is what you’re serious about or not.

Um, why does that matter? Well, it’s about a competition, right? When you can come on to an application and have a list of things that directly relate to what you’re applying for, you’ve, you’ve really are stacking the deck in your favor. And while more and more students today are doing things like research and internships, the vast majority of students aren’t.

So it just gives you the ability to stand out more and have a greater impact. Um, it’s also gonna make [00:21:00] you much more likely for things like scholarship. One of the things that I’m very passionate about and no pun intended, um, Passion projects. I think passion projects are an amazing way to really kind of demonstrate your interest in a particular field or, um, you know, working with certain individuals because it’s, it’s not necessarily following the common pathway.

It’s very easy to go jump into a pre-existing organization, uh, preexisting summer program. I have a lot more respect. Not that I disrespect any disrespect for students that didn’t do passion projects, but I definitely had a little bit of a more, more profound respect for students that were creating their own opportunity, doing something, building something from the ground up.

I typically would give a student an extra point or two when I would encounter that, um, in their application materials, it always looked really good. And you know, you can’t be afraid to take breaks. You know, I know I’m very intense about this. I know I’m very direct and saying, you need to be prioritizing this process, but you also have to [00:22:00] keep yourself fresh.

And if you’re not taking breaks, you’re not kind of enjoying the sunlight or the summertime. You’re not getting outside. You’re not enjoying ice cream. You may not have the outcome that you want because you’re getting bogged down in the process. So make sure to take time, you know, have that family time, get together away from this, uh, and kind of reset yourself very frequently.

So this does not kind of turn into that kind of burden that I talked about with.

And this is the time as we break into the 11th grade year, that you’re really kind of determining that pathway. And, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m a pretty big fan of star wars. Some of you may recognize the quote there at the top of the screen. Um, but it is time that you define your way. Okay. You need to really figure out what you’re passionate about and what you’re thinking that you’re trying to pursue.

Um, ideally of course, this is ideally, um, the reality here is this is the final year. This is the, you know, kind of the final, uh, opportunity to develop that pathway for yourself 11th grade year, and then going into that summer of [00:23:00] 11th grade. Um, but you need to make, make sure that people around you, um, are understanding, you know, what you’re in pursuit of.

Now we talk about defining your brand. You know, branding by marketing perspective is an idea or an image of someone or something. Well, what I want everyone to remember is that your application is your opportunity to present an image of who you want. To the admissions office. The whole purpose is to present a brand if you will, to us.

And so what I think is very easily lost in this process is that a brand is definitely affected by what you’re doing and kind of creating experience with. But it’s also supported by what people are saying about you. And so if others around you are not aware of what you’re in pursuit of what you’re trying to get out of life, and that you’re going to be kind of conveying that in your application materials, then they may not be echoing that in your letters of recommendation.

So it’s imperative that people around you are aware of what you’re going after, so that they can [00:24:00] support you in this process. But when that time comes for letters of recommendation, that they can also echo their experience with you. And that you’ve been talking about this for such a long period of time.

The next thing is really, I think, challenging, uh, the. The normal acceptance of what schools are looking for. And, and this may ruffle some feathers and I’m not trying to, but there is, there is a significant difference in being well-rounded than being well angled or, or defined. Um, if you’re talking a school that’s in the top 40 top 50, even top 60 schools, I will, you know, put a stake in the ground and tell you that they would much rather you be more defined more well angled.

And well-rounded, um, the reality here is that schools today, they are looking for some type of historical connection or experience to what you are in pursuit of, ideally. Okay. Ideally. Um, and so when we can see someone that’s done 2, 3, 4 things over time, which is the whole purpose of tonight’s conversation, making time, your greatest asset, [00:25:00] you are much more likely to be taken.

And so when you can slowly build up from ninth and 10th grade from initial ideas to passion projects, to hands-on research, you really are showing to a school just how serious and real you are about. Versus so many applicants today that changed their major. It’s something like 80% of applicants today will change their major.

So schools can be very hesitant when they see a particular type of application because they have such a high turnover, if you will, of students change their major all over. Um, so the reality here is that as you start to, you know, get more defined that you have one more chance to really kind of lock that in.

Um, and that’s, as you start to, you know, finalize your school list, um, you really want to start making sure that those last activities are kind of locking into what those schools are looking for. Um, and so that’s also going to go into your summertime, which we’ll talk about here in one second, but as you finalize your school list, it’s imperative that you really understand that that is the right place for you.

[00:26:00] Um, and the best way to understand that is by connecting with real students that are currently attending the schools or recent grads. And, you know, I’m a father myself. I’m very passionate about where I went to school and, you know, I certainly have my hopes and aspirations that my two little girls might want to go there one day.

Um, but if that’s the case, my experience is going to be vastly different than what that school’s experience will be like then. And so I want you to be engaging with current students and graduates. So you understand the current culture and the current community that is on that campus and what that real experience will be like for you.

That’s how you’re going to determine what the real final list should be while also taking into account things like reach target and safety schools and, and kind of diversifying that school list. The other thing that you should be focusing on is, as you’ve started to kind of get a little bit more defined and ideally what you’re looking for, whether it’s that one specific thing, or, you know, maybe you’re still between two ideal majors.

You want to be very cognizant of whether that school has the [00:27:00] right opportunities and resources to make those. A reality for you. You know, you want to make sure that you have access to legitimate internship opportunities, whether it’s co-oping they need study abroad programs. Do they have the right academic support services that you’re looking for?

I’m going to say something now that is a little surprising as a former admissions officer. Um, but the biggest reason I encourage you to connect with current students and recent graduates is that if you’re only talking to a school’s admissions office, you need to remember their job is to recruit you.

And there’s a difference between the perspective that they’re giving you for recruitment purposes and perhaps the full picture of what students are experiencing. And so you will get very different answers. A lot of times, when you talk to that current student, that’s paying for that experience versus someone that’s being paid to recruit you.

They’re definitely not lying to you, but it’s going to give you a more robust picture so you can make a more accurate decision on if that institution is the right fit for you. So as you break through into the midpoint of your 11th grade year, that’s when it’s time to really start [00:28:00] flushing out your application strategy, which we recently talked about, uh, in a recent webinar, I would encourage you to go back and watch.

Um, but it’s also the time to start getting serious about your essays. Um, you know, if you apply to 10 to 12 schools like you should today, you’re looking at approximately 30, maybe 40 essays, considering that the average school is going to make you do three supplemental essays, but it can be as many as seven.

And so you want to start this process, the physical application process as early as you possibly can. And so by holiday break, you really want to start kind of locking in that application strategy, starting to brainstorm that personal statement and making this final summer plans. Okay. That, that summer between 11th grade is that final opportunity for those last big research opportunities.

Those last big, you know, developments within your passion project as February comes in, you want to be knocking out that first draft of your personal statement. And then as March comes in, you want to be deep into yourself. But spreading them out. I encourage you to start the essay so early because when you wait and you put them off until the summer, [00:29:00] um, two things occur, your children with all respect are still teenagers.

And it’s very easy for a student to become distracted by all the cool technology pieces that we have today, the free time in the summertime. And so that ends up bleeding into the, you know, start a senior year. You don’t want that. Um, by starting early, you can actually spread these essays out and you get to take breaks in between every essay or two, and that allows your son or daughter to reset and kind of recalibrate their mind.

So their creativity will always be the tightest. When I talk to students that start these essays, you know, mid summer, late summer, there are no breaks at that point. I mean, they, they are sprinting until they’re all the way done submitting applications in the future. And so you want to give your child the ability to rest and reset.

So they have the better outcomes with their essays. For the record. Essays are the most important part of the physical lab. As April may comes in, that’s the perfect time to be solidifying. Who’s going to be writing letters of recommendation for you. Obviously those last final summer planning pieces like booking [00:30:00] airfare, things like that.

If you’re attending a research program or a summer academy that’s out of state, um, and then the summer should be fully dedicated to finalizing your resume based upon those last pieces that you’ve done over the summertime. And my favorite thing tonight, essays, essays, essays, um, spread them out, but don’t forget to have that ice cream in between, so you can be at your best.

And as we transition into your senior year, uh, this is where all the marbles kind of come down. Okay, this is it. And you know, I think a lot of families today, you know, end up pushing their applications back as long as they can, don’t do that. Um, you know, you can start submitting your applications. August one, if your applications are locked in and good to go.

So I want you to have a plan. I want you to start strategically having these applications submitted based upon that application strategy that you should have locked in, uh, back at the midpoint of 11th grade. Okay. And as you start submitting these applications, the sooner that you get them in the quicker that you’re able to start your scholarship applications, [00:31:00] your scholarship applications, that you’re primarily going to target will be the ones that are, you know, made available to you at the school that you’re applying to.

Most schools will not open their scholarship applications to you until you’ve submitted an admissions application. And a lot of cases, you won’t be able to do that until you’ve created your admissions portal at those schools. So when you submit your application, you’ll get like an email that thanks you for applying within two to three days.

And it will have you start or create your admissions portal, which is where you can check if all of your application materials have been received. But in most cases it’ll also say, apply for scholarships. And that’s when you can start developing those. What surprises me is that so many families today are saying scholarships are so important, but they don’t want to start the application process.

So their applications are being done in submitted in December, November, end of November, December, January. But guess what scholarships are typically do December and January. So you’d need to get yourself the time to get those scholarships done, which is going to require you [00:32:00] to get those applications in early.

When the time comes, you need to make the right enrollment decision. Okay. And I think one of the worst things you can do is to put off that final research. When you are done submitting your mission’s applications, you are not done with this process. You should immediately dive back into revisiting schools, whether it’s online, phone conversations, physical visits, you want to already be trying to make a plan ahead of time of which school you intend to enroll in.

Because if you wait, especially if you’re like a regular decision applicant, if you will. And you get your decision on, you know, April the first one, a lot of schools were released or very end of March. What a lot of families end up getting surprised by is that they haven’t made their decision yet. They want to go make a one more visit to the school to see if that’s the right fit for them.

But, oh, they didn’t get their admissions decision in pretty quickly. And then they didn’t get freshmen housing. And so now they’re having to live off campus. So that’s what happened at UGA. My a year, my first year at [00:33:00] Juju, excuse me, at UGA, we, um, had filled our freshmen, uh, housing by, it was like one 30 in the afternoon or two o’clock in the afternoon of the day that we release regular decision.

Uh, so the reality here is that you, you don’t want to be putting this off to spring break. If you can help it, try to be using some of those holiday break periods to go back and visit any schools. One more time. If you need to be taking to account the cost of a school, you know, what resources the school has like we established earlier and your personal happiness, right?

Are you going to be happy attending that instance? If your son or daughter is not, I’m going to budget budget, excuse me, I’m gonna bark. And that they may not have the academic performance that you would expect of them. And then you may or may not be happy. Okay. So make their personal happiness and focus on this, make sure that they’re going to feel secure and excited about where they’re going to school.

One other thing I want to say, and this is a personal piece of advice for me. This is not solicited from anybody else. I would encourage you to make the [00:34:00] affordability conversation, the earliest conversation you have with putting your schools together. And I think that ties in perfectly well, the personal happiness.

I don’t want anybody to be burdened by an extreme amount of debt, just because someone thought that that was the right place for them person. Happiness is not just about the four years of school person. Happiness is about the rest of your life. And if you’re burdened by $200,000 in debt from just your undergraduate career, not even counting your, your graduate school process.

That may impact your long-term personal happiness as well. So be thinking about that, have those open, honest, loving conversations as a family, and it’s going to lead to a lot easier decision. And of course the final piece down there is pushed to the finish. You’re not done until you graduate. And what that’s really in relation to is schools will rescind admission.

Uh, if your son or daughter tends to do that, what’s called the senior slide or senior slack. Um, you’ve got to keep them engaged. You’ve got to make sure that they’re still wholly focused on the process, um, because I have seen it and it’s not a [00:35:00] pretty thing when schools do it, but they do reserve the right to pull back that admissions offer.

So make sure that they’re engaged all the way to the. So that’s a lot of information, you know, and it’s, um, it’s a lot to kind of keep up with and it, it’s very challenging if you will, to keep up with it over the four year period, but as high school, um, or even just in the year, year and a half period that, you know, you may have as a junior going into senior year.

And so it’s challenging if you will, to kind of, you know, not only accumulate all that information, but then, you know, make a plan with it and come up with a data strategy on how to target these schools in reality is, is because of that. Nearly half of all applicants today are getting third-party assistance.

It’s about 42% of applicants today are getting that outside. Help know where we can create that difference for you is that this is a full-time job. As parents, you have your own full-time jobs, taking care of your children, providing food for them, putting a roof over their head. This is a full-time job just to keep up with this information for one.

Let alone, you know, you may have [00:36:00] two or three students. So where we can come in is we have over 300 advisors that are able to sit down with you and guide your family through this one-on-one so that you can have the outcome that you want to experience. The reality is, is that because we have four admissions officers on staff, we can interpret what schools are looking for and tell you how you’re probably going to be received by these institutions.

So that’s going to increase your likelihood of admission, but I think more importantly, it’s going to be a dramatic reduction in the amount of stress and time that you have to invest in this. When you do this on your own, again, you have to go research all of this by getting assistance. We take all that stress away and we’re going to hold you to a higher standard to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance.

And you’re not going to have to worry about getting something wrong or right. That’s why we’re here. So, as I said earlier, at the start of our time together this evening, this is a doing process and you need to start taking the steps tonight to create that opportunity for you. Um, if you’re feeling confused, if you’re feeling, you know, frustrated that you’re behind or that you really don’t even know where to take the first step, um, or you just want some [00:37:00] clarification on something at the end of this webinar, there is going to be a web form that will automatically populate when we end.

And if you just fill out that information, you fill out that with your contact information. I should say, one of my colleagues will give you a call tomorrow and we’ll have, we’ll schedule you for a free call with one of my teammates. And we can talk about what concerns that you might have answered some of those questions for you, and even talk about how we might be able to.

So with that, I’m going to turn it back over to Rachel. I think we’re going to transition into some Q and a awesome thanks Farrell for that awesome information. So yes, that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. So I hope you all found this information as helpful as I’ve found it. And please do remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab.

So now that we’re moving on to the live Q and a portion of tonight, um, I’ll read through the questions you submit in the Q and a tab, paste them into the public chat, um, and then read out loud before our panels can give an answer. So as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit [00:38:00] questions, just double-check that you joined the webinars through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.

It can be a little tricky sometimes. All right. So let’s move on to the Q and a part of, uh, today’s presentation first up, uh, feral. When should we start applying and looking for scholarships? Yeah, that’s a great question. So scholarships, you know, a lot of your school-specific scholarships are not going to be open to you, as I said, until most cases after you submit it to those schools, um, those third-party scholarships that are out there, you can actually start applying to a lot of those in the junior end of junior year.

Um, and that’s fine, but what I try to, you know, make families understand is you need to be able to go to school to use that scholarship. So I’m a little bit more focused on getting your application planning in place before I am about you focusing on your scholarship.


So then, um, next a few questions that we got in feral we’re on. Majors and, um, how, how can S younger students, how can we expect younger students to really narrow their choices to a viable option, um, and kind of a little more insight from you on, you know, how to help students kind of figure out, uh, what major to apply to college with and how to navigate what their passions are.

Yeah. So kind of going back to that early stage of the conversation this evening, it’s, it’s getting your students to go do things that they may not want to do. Sometimes you have to force your students to go try something, whether it’s an activity, a sport, um, you know, a club that they may not have any interest in.

And you know what that may tell you a hundred percent that that’s not what they want to do. But that’s also a lot more information that you can build on because you can probably deduce from that. Well, that means a, B and C. You’re probably not what he or she wants to do either, which does start to help you narrow down the [00:40:00] field of what you want to continue to explore.

Um, so those summer activities, I’m sorry. Uh, summer academic programs are a great opportunity because, you know, I like to talk about the rice program. Vice has a lot of different, you know, specific areas of insight that a student will gain. It’s like eight or nine different subject fields by going to their summer program.

So that’s a great thing that you can dive into. And, you know, they say someone doesn’t enjoy the engineering side of the thing, but they may enjoy the research, you know, uh, the, the research lab experience. And so maybe they want to start exploring, you know, maybe biochemistry research more specifically experienced by forcing them to step out and to try things.

That’s, what’s going to allow them to kind of figure out, ideally figure out what it is they may want to pursue. Again, I’ll go back and say it. It also could say tell you what they don’t want. But from the school’s perspective, we also want to see effort to determine that I’m not trying to be humorous when I say this, but a lot of times families think it’s okay to say that, you know, Netflix is a hobby.

Like I’ve [00:41:00] seen that on an activities list or an application. You don’t want to do that. Um, you, you really want to be putting effort in there, out there. I should say to try to figure something out and look, even if you’re in 11th grade and you aren’t a hundred percent sure what it is, you still look a lot better to an admissions office because you’ve committed to trying to figure it out.

And you can show through historical experience that you’ve been out there putting the effort in and saying, Hey, I tried these three, four or five things for the last two and a half years. And while they’re not the right fit for me now I’m transitioning in to try and try this. Instead. It looks a lot better than that typical applicant that isn’t able to show anything.

Awesome. So another question we got feral was how do we go about finding current students or grads and admissions officers to contact, to learn more about schools I’m interested in. That’s a great question. So two answers here, um, the long way is to, you know, and what I’ve seen students doing is use LinkedIn.

Um, you can go in on LinkedIn, you can [00:42:00] Google, you know, the school, uh, Google ha you can search within LinkedIn to school and see if you can try to connect with current students, uh, that way, hopefully they’ll respond to you. Um, the other answer. If you are interested in kind of getting some more information about college advisor, you have direct access to well over 300 advisors that you can have those direct conversations with.

You have access to our entire network of team members, and you can sit down and have those ongoing conversations to really find out. Um, that’s more specific information about that school’s culture and community. And another thing to kind of going back to that last question, Rachel, how do I find out if it’s what I want to do?

That’s another great thing is connecting with individuals in a variety of different career fields that can tell you what their undergraduate coursework look like. You know, what they did as a high school student, what they did as a collegiate student. And we can do the same thing for you here at college advisor with those same reasons.

Perfect. Um, another question that came in is if a student has a 5 0 4 plan [00:43:00] in high school, is that information that should be provided in a college application? Yeah. So that’s, that’s completely up to you. Um, but yes, most students will report that. Totally fine. That will not put you in any advantage or disadvantage.

Um, I, I would encourage you to, to report that, um, because some schools will say, you know, they’ll take into account the additional time that someone may get something like that. Um, it’s not gonna put you at a disadvantage. It also totally feel free to put that on there. Um, one thing I will tell you is, um, a lot of families, for some reason, seem to be hesitant about, uh, about that.

Or some things have even, you know, experienced are hesitant to let their own sons or daughters come do things like internships with them, uh, at their own, you know, family owned organizations, because they think that that’s just not gonna look as good or it’s going to look preferential. Uh, the reality is.

That experience still matters. So things like that, put it all out there. You have nothing to worry about. Wonderful. So, [00:44:00] um, somebody asked about the BA MD or BSMD med programs. Um, and what advice you have for folks who are interested in those. Yeah. So if you are remotely interested in, in BSMD programs, you time has everything to you.

You’re talking emissions rates that are around 1% for those programs that exist, which is worse than Stanford, which is obviously the most selective school in the country. Um, the, the, the deeper dive you can have in a very specific field, the better a lot of those schools put a lot of emphasis and expectation on things like that.

Research experience. Let me, you know, let me address the elephant in the room right now. Um, a lot of, you know, people immediately go to. I hear ya. I, I do. Um, but there even things that you can do from your own home that will count as research and I’ll give you a great kind of an additional example. Now, students that I’ve talked to recently have been, you know, going in and doing veterinarian observations, because the reality here is that you may not have been able to go into a medical [00:45:00] facility, but you could still go see a biological being, being operated on in a veterinarian, you know, operating room now, while it’s not directly related to medical, technically what you should know is that pre vet premed and pre dental all follow the same undergraduate course track.

Right? And so the relate-ability is there, and schools are taking that into account, um, because of the restrictions of a lot of medical facilities placed, but, you know, veterinary houses didn’t so it’s an it’s kind of that, Hey, making due with. Awesome. Um, so another question that I see here is should freshmen or sophomore has started getting an idea of what career they want or start building their path for college and I’ll add to it or feral if you think of both of those as one, I think that those is one of the same.

That’s a great point, Rachel. I do think those as exactly being one of the same, because again, kind of going back to so many schools today, you know, so many [00:46:00] schools today are kind of having those prerequisite expectations on what they want to see for a certain type of applicant. Um, you know, my favorite example to give here is computer science.

I’ll meet with a lot of students today. Uh, and I don’t mean this to be disrespectful at all. Uh, but I’ll meet with a lot of students today and they’ll say, Hey, I’m going to go to Carnegie Mellon, and I’m going to study computer science. And my next question, great. What coding language do you know? Do you know Java JavaScript, Python, C-sharp HTML and they’ll say no, no, you misunderstand.

I’m going to go to school. Schools like, you know, Carnegie, Mellon, MIT, Stanford, you have to have that knowledge to be admissible for that program. Right. And so that’s why these PR like the process for both, you know, your career field and your college path to some degree are one in the same.

Um, another question that we received is, do you have an example for what considers a passion, the project? Absolutely. Um, when I was living in Dubai, I was working with a student [00:47:00] that had financial, uh, I should say finance interest, but was really having a hard time. Kind of, uh, establishing, uh, historical connection to it because in Dubai, you can not do any internship until you’re the age of 18, 18, excuse me, it’s a law for the UAE.

So we had to sit down and kind of, you know, develop an idea of what he could do. And I said, well, tell me a little bit more about your interest in finance. Why, why is that such a thing for you? He goes, well, two things, one I love helping people, you know, learn how they can make money, work for them. And to, I w I want to make sure that people are able to have opportunities to do things, uh, that they may not have to do any other way.

I said, well, Hey, you should start your own micro-financing organization forever. He goes, what are you talking about? Well, micro-financing for those of you that may not know what this is, um, is where you are providing micro loans to entrepreneurs in developing. And you get a very, very minimal return on that investment.

Typically it is six to 12 month period, but the way that you do that as you [00:48:00] source third party investors. So we ended up the two of us together. We work to help them create a business plan, uh, which he turned into his passion project. And so that’s a great example right there.

Yeah. That’s a fantastic example, Farrell, thank you for that. Um, so a question that we got here, um, which, uh, is a little specific, but I’ll generalize it a bit. It’s about, you know, what if a student’s passion per se is, you know, um, it’s as a sport, um, which isn’t really connected to what their academic interest is.

And so I’m curious, the, person’s curious as like, how do you kind of reflect that in the application of, uh, you know, I guess multiple passions and some not always lining up with the career focus that that’s a, that’s a tough one. Okay. I’m going to own that one up front. That’s a tough one. And for the record, I was a recruited athlete.

I actually had an offer to go to college for a swimming scholarship until I blew my shoulders out. Um, and so the [00:49:00] reality here is that I I’ve been there. I get that. Um, it’s a difficult kind of a mesh if you will, because there’s two things here. One I’m gonna say, I mean, with the greatest amount of respect attended sports in to the point in time, you’re going to school to have a pathway for your entire future.

And so you, you have to be able to show them that yes, you are super passionate about athleticism, that, that particular field that you’re in, whether it’s swimming, football, baseball, volleyball, soccer, whatever it may be. You want to be able to show them the passion that you have, you know, the teamwork, the leadership that you enjoy from that, the lessons you’ve learned from that.

But ideally you can kind of take some of those lessons you’ve learned from that. And maybe kind of relate that to why you are maybe so passionate about a different particular field of study, even. So that’s kind of a way that you can combine it. Um, but it is difficult sometimes to connect those two things.

Uh, but you need to be aware that from the admissions perspective, if you’re not physically being recruited and offered a contract or actions that contract offers a scholarship from the [00:50:00] school, the sport piece doesn’t may not have a huge impact. Like it would if you were under a scholarship offer. I thank you, Farrell.

Um, so a question that we got was I came from a foreign country and attended high school there for freshmen and sophomore year. Um, but they didn’t offer any advanced classes. Now I’m a junior going to school in the United States, but I’m also not taking any advanced classes, does not taking advanced classes like AP IPS are honors, um, you know, affect a college’s view of me.

Um, or my application. The answer is yes and no. So it’s always going to be case dependent. And by that, I mean, it’s um, so it’s. Of what they’re in at schools, obviously the more selected they are, they’re going to have more of a preference towards those more challenging courses. That being the case, if you were at a school that didn’t offer those more advanced classes, then you’re not held to that because [00:51:00] they simply weren’t available to you as you’ve transitioned into the U S system.

If you’re at a school now that does offer those, your school may have specifically not allowed you to take those advanced courses because you’ve been transitioning into a US-based system. And so as long as that’s noted in like your counselors letter of recommendation, something like that, that will definitely be taken into account in the admissions decision.

Great. Um, a great question that we received was where does the sat and act play into this kind of schedule that you shared with us today? Um, also how important is, is it these days has COVID made it less relevant and you found the one thing I left out of the timeline, a very smart person here. Um, yes. So sat act.

I’m a big fan of taking it myself, personal opinion, fall of junior year at the earliest. Um, and then I would say from there you take again, um, but, um, how much does it impact the current situation due to COVID, as we’re all aware, [00:52:00] most of these schools have gone test optional. Um, even, you know, the UC has, you know, permanently, you know, nixed, uh, test scores altogether.

They are now test blind. They won’t look at them. Um, Harvard, I believe has gone, you know, test blind through 2027. Uh, I may be wrong on that one, check my dates. Uh, but everyone’s being very different with their, what their testing can situation right now. I would encourage you regardless of where you are in the process right now, take the sat or act, see how you do, because if you have a good score, it’s an, the school is allowing you to submit it.

It is only going to help you. Now that’s going to bring another question on the math. Like what’s a good score. It depends on the school. Okay. Every school has their own testing ranges. So I don’t want to sit here and tell you that, uh, you know, a 34 is a good score. Depending on the school, 34 may not be, you know, an admissible score.

And I know it’s pretty spooky cause it’s only two points less than perfect. Uh, but there are some schools out there depending upon what they’re looking for, if that may be the case. Thanks, Pharrel. Another great question we [00:53:00] received is what is a personal statement? Can you give a little more details about what that yeah.

So personal statement is, is really, um, kind of your opportunity to kind of establish your persona, your who you are, what you’re all about. Um, and that’s what allows me to, I feel the most to connect with you, if you will, uh, in the application, I’m really trying to get a sense of your kind of ideal direction from that.

If you know it, um, or if you’re still trying to figure it out, that’s what that personal statement really allows me to kind of gather from you. Uh, and that’s that initial piece of really kind of setting that brand for yourself because it starts to allow me to, in my own head process, if we have the right resources to make, you know, this pathway that you envision for your.

You know, if we have the right resources to support that, that personal statement is what allows us to kind of get, you know, into your mind a little bit and understand why you’re applying to our school. And that’s gonna tell us if you’re gonna be the right fit for us or not. Great. So a question we received was if I want to apply [00:54:00] for humanities, do I still need to take, you know, advanced physics, chemistry, or biology classes.

And then on the flip side of that, if someone was interested in the sciences, should they take, you know, AP lit for example, is that a necessary component to their application? That’s a great question. So, uh, this can get a little tricky and I’ll try to say this as clear as I can. Um, this is going to be, I’m going to lean this towards the more elite schools.

If we’re talking a top 50 top 60 school, you really are expected to maintain four years of performance in the core curriculum. So math, science, social science, English, and foreign language. So if you’re targeting humanities, they still are going to want to see four total years of. If you’re targeting, you know, lit, they’re still gonna, you know, want to see four full years of the entire core curriculum, including don’t forget foreign language, ideally.

Awesome. Um, so somebody asked here, uh, did you say that we need to send the applications in August question [00:55:00] mark? I thought the earliest was sometime in January. So maybe going through timelines a little with application submission, so you can start physically submitting your application August one of your senior year.

Okay. You can start submitting it August one of your senior year. I encourage you to wait a couple of days. That’s when the, the applications kind of reset. Um, and so you can start submitting it, my book that first second week of August. Um, and then they’re due by January. So the latest deadline that you will have is a January 1st or 15th deadline, uh, for regular.

The 41 says it, there are a few schools that have some February 1st deadlines. Yes. Uh, but the vast majority will be the, you know, regular decision will be due January 1st or 15. But again, if you’re wanting to apply for scholarship, those scholarships are due in many cases, December, January. So you, you don’t have the ability to push off your mission’s application because you won’t have the time to then log in and do your scholarship application.[00:56:00]

So you do want to try and get your admissions applications in sooner rather than later. Um, it’s not uncommon to see students completely done something, their applications by September, October, because they prioritize this process and had a plan all the way through. Thanks, Pharrel. Um, are you able to speak to whether, uh, custodial accounts for children affect financial aid?

Yes. Yes. Awesome. Um, a great question that we received is what specific volunteer services and activities are, you know, admissions officers looking for and a follow up to that. Like, is it okay if those services might be religious in nature? So you’re going to be surprised by my statement, cause this is going to break one of the most longstanding, um, rumors in college admissions.

They’re not looking for any of it. There is not a single school that places an expectation on volunteer work and anything like that, [00:57:00] not a single school. Um, so if, if you do it through your religious practice, awesome, love it. I’m religious myself. Uh, I do a lot of volunteer work through, you know, my place of worship.

So I’m big fan of it myself. I’m not telling anybody not to do it. I just want to set the statement that it’s actually not a requirement that schools are looking for. Certainly a beautiful thing looks great. Um, but you don’t have to do it if it’s through your place of work. Great. If you’re doing it outside of a place to worship.

That’s great, too. Awesome. So let me get, I think we, one more quick, we have time for one more question. Um, let me pull one

so a question that came in is, uh, we got a few sports related questions. Um, and so I’ll combine the two. One is, you know, is it helpful to play a sport all four years of high school? And [00:58:00] the second is for D three athletes. They can’t offer scholarships for sports, but I am hearing that it can help you as an applicant, um, when they are looking at applicants that they want to represent the school is this.

Yeah. So the reality here is that when you play, when you play sports for four years, for that matter, if you do any activity for four years, that shows a greater maturity in the eyes of the admissions office, because a lot of students will do something in many cases for one, maybe two years and they quit, they go do something else.

So when you’re committed to something for four years over time, it really does look good. Um, you know, it, it really has a greater impact in that regard. Now I say greater impact. Not that it’s going to make you all of a sudden the premier applicant, but I’m thinking it’s going to have a greater impact than someone that’s only done one or two years of sports.

Um, you know, to that end for the D three question. Yeah. It certainly looks great. Um, it, again, it kind of goes back to the other piece. It’s that drawn out dedication to something over time, that focus, uh, that you’ve [00:59:00] been so committed to. That certainly looks good, but I, again, it comes back to. These schools are still going to expect the academic performance that they’re expecting.

Uh, and then they still need to be getting that idea of your persona. You know, what you’re there for and what you’re in pursuit of it. It’s not just one piece. And I think that’s, I think that’s a great place to focus for a second is that I think too many students and families try to focus on one piece today, you know, 20 years ago, even the last eight years, so many families will come to the table and they’ll say, well, I’ve got the right GPA test score.

I’m good. No, that’s 30 seconds of the application review. Right? Same thing with that with activities. There’s not one activity that’s going to get you in somewhere. So it’s, you’ve got to bring it all together and illustrate that pathway that we talked about somewhere. Awesome. Well, Farrell, thank you.

Thank you so much for your time. And talking through this with us all. Um, I can speak for myself and the, you know, the attendees here. I’m sure it was very beneficial for all. [01:00:00] Um, for those in the room, uh, who want to learn even more, you know, we have, uh, many upcoming webinars, um, Pharaoh actually presenting on one on how to build your personal.

Um, and that’s going to be happening next month and I added in the chat, the link for registering to it for it. Um, so once again, you know, this is the end of today’s webinar. It was really wonderful to connect with you all and learn a little more about how you can help your student make the most of high school as a reminder.

Um, as soon as this webinar concludes, uh, a brief form will auto-populate on your screen where you could sign up to connect with our team and learn a little more about college advisor and how we can help you all, um, really maximize your admissions odds. So again, Ferrell, thank you so much for everything.

Um, here is real quick, our February rest of our February webinars. And again, we have some awesome webinars on the docket for March. So again, thank you all and good night.[01:01:00]