Admissions Officer Advice: Minimizing College Application Stress

Former Admissions Officer Arianna shares her tips and tricks on how to avoid burnout and stay calm during the stressful application process.

Date 11/02/2021
Duration 1:00:08

Webinar Transcription

2021-11-02 Admissions Officer Advice: Minimizing College Application Stress

[00:00:00] Hey, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on minimizing application stress. 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 the slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists. Okay. Hello everyone. My name is Arianna Pagan. Uh, I am an admissions officer and college advisor here at Um, I have been with CollegeAdvisor for almost a year, but I have almost six years experience in higher education, specifically in the admissions process and academic.

Um, I have a master’s degree in educational research and I’m also a licensed social worker in the state of Massachusetts. So I’m very excited to be here talking about what is a very important topic for many students, uh, in the college process, [00:01:00] managing and minimize a college application stress.

Okay. We would love to know what grade you’re in so we can sort of tailor this presentation to that.

all right. Results are starting to come in. It looks like we have quite a few 11th and 12th graders. That makes a lot of sense. Um, this is, you know, the time when it starts to get stressful, um, maybe starts isn’t the right word, but, uh, when it gets more. Okay. It looks like numbers are evening out. We have 14%, ninth graders, 57% 11th graders and 29% 12th graders.

Awesome. And it’s 11th graders. You are the ones who are probably experiencing the most stress right now, as the conversation starts to pick up around the college process. So, [00:02:00] you know, what stressors can impact your college application process. Um, and really the foundation of a lot of stress for students is a lack of clarity, a lack of clarity around what you’re interested in pursuing as a major.

Maybe you haven’t necessarily considered a longterm plan where you want to be five, 10 years out of college. Um, maybe you have no idea where to even start in the college process or where to look at colleges. Um, there are nearly 4,000 universities in the United States alone. And so narrowing that down to.

You know, six to seven can be daunting, um, and outside influences can contribute to that as well. Maybe you have friends and family who are telling you, you know, apply here. I went here or so-and-so son or daughter attended this school. Um, and your friends are starting to talk about, you know, where they’re applying and what they’re pursuing.

And, you know, that can really compile, especially when you’re unclear [00:03:00] of where to start or what you want. Um, and failing to plan ahead can really, you know, lead to burnout ultimately later on down the line. Um, and when we talk about failing to plan, what we meet is not necessarily talking about your academic interest, but failing to plan ahead in, um, studying for SATs or actsh, um, or filling out the common application on time or missing deadlines for applications, um, and failing to plan ahead can really impact your ability to.

Present and create this strong, personal narrative that admissions offices really want to see in your application. And ultimately regret, you know, sometimes we work with students who are juniors or seniors, and, you know, when it comes to looking at GPA requirements or, you know, requirements for certain colleges, this regret starts to send set in of man.

I wish I had, you know, studied more than paid more [00:04:00] attention to my GPA early on in my academic career. You know, I wish I had stayed in this activity. It would have looked great on my college application. Um, but focusing on regret and stressing about that again can really hinder your ability to highlight what you have accomplished and put your best foot forward in the application process.

So what is burnout. Simply put it’s exhaustion caused by feeling constantly overwhelmed. Um, but one own a state university actually conducted research on burnout and they created five stages of burnout, um, which are really helpful to understand because as a student or even as a parent who knows your student very well, knowing these stages can give you insight into where your student is at and how to help them and how to create positive coping strategies to help manage that stress.

So the honeymoon stage, um, is the early stages. You know, maybe you’ve started touring colleges [00:05:00] and you’ve talked with friends or family members who have attended different universities, and you’re excited. You have this ambition, you know, it’s a new thing to experience. And so that energy and that ambition is really what’s pushing you through this process.

And, you know, ideally the honeymoon stage is when you want to start implementing healthy coping strategy. Before all this work piles up. So in the honeymoon stage, you know, it’s new, it’s exciting. You have this ambition that’s driving you, but then it becomes a balancing act where this excitement of the college process is now paired with your normal responsibilities.

Maybe you work, maybe you are in sports, maybe you’re on, you know, the homecoming committee, um, and balancing, fulfilling your application requirements with regular life. It can get to be a lot, you know, you’ve done your research, but your energy and excitement have really leveled off. Um, and this is where avoidant behaviors start to set in.

This is where you have students, [00:06:00] um, neglecting their personal needs. They stopped staying on top of things. You know, maybe your parent or guardian has to consistently remind you this needs to get done. Don’t forget to do this. And that avoidant strategy just starts to set in because it starts to compile.

Um, and you’re trying to figure out how to balance it. Which can lead to chronic symptoms, you know, feeling, um, physical symptoms of burnout, maybe it’s headaches, maybe you’re not sleeping. Well, maybe you’re not eating. Um, you know, and you’re really running on fumes at this point. And if you haven’t implemented positive coping strategies, ultimately this can lead to crises or the crisis stage where you just reach your breaking point.

It all has compiled, um, emotionally you’re drained. You cannot deal with the stressors you’re detached, you’re jaded. Um, and really this is when students are most at risk of a mental breakdown. And it’s, it’s not just high school students as an academic advisor. I also see students at the college level experiencing this.

[00:07:00] And so understanding these stages is really important, not just for the college application process, but once you reach college, having these appropriate coping strategies for stress is really going to help you progress academically. Um, and then measurement is really just, um, You’re so embedded in these feelings of exhaustion of burnout, that that just seems like your new normal, um, that you can’t even recall a time when you weren’t stressed.

Um, and you know, so being able to spot the science early on can help prevent burnout. Um, and while you cannot control all the stressors in your life, you can control how you act and deal with them.

So what techniques help curb burnout, mindfulness, um, is really important. And it’s not just, you know, sitting with your eyes closed humming. Um, mindfulness is really. About self-awareness and recognizing when you’re reaching your limits and saying, okay, [00:08:00] I know if I continue down this path, you know, if I continue not eating, it’s going to affect my ability to do my schoolwork.

If I continue avoiding this, it’s only going to get worse and really taking the time to self-reflect and say, where am I and how can I move forward positively? That’s really the core of mindfulness, um, and setting boundaries as a student, especially in your junior or senior year, your responsibility start to compile, you know, there’s more social engagements, maybe in high school, outside of high school, you’re working setting boundaries for when you work and when you’re doing.

Anything else is really important. And that goes for your friends that goes for your family and saying, you know, um, I’d love to hang out tonight guys, but I really need to get this done. And a good friend is going to say, absolutely no worries, go for it. And the same can go for your parents or guardians, you know, setting that boundary early on and saying, okay, [00:09:00] this is where I’m at in the college application process.

I’m already stressed. Please. Don’t ask me any more questions. I’ll let you know. Um, and maybe it’s having an accountability, buddy. You know, usually when avoidant behaviors start to set in for students, um, they need an accountability, buddy. They need somebody to kind of be there and say, Hey, I noticed you’re kind of straying off path right now.

How can I help, you know, what resources do you need? And maybe that’s your mom, your dad, your counselor, um, here at CollegeAdvisor. That’s exactly who we are. We are the accountability people in your life, holding you to standards and helping you along. Um, and acknowledge your feelings is important. Um, you know, if you are feeling stressed, acknowledge that don’t, don’t ignore that if you’re having a headache, if you are tired, you know, if you’re sleep deprived, acknowledge that and take steps towards it.

Maybe you need a nap. Maybe you need to re reorganize your study schedule, um, or [00:10:00] reprioritize and staying active. I mean, just from a scientific standpoint, um, you know, regular exercise can be really beneficial for not just your body, but also your mind. Um, whether it’s walking, running, maybe you play a sport, yoga, stretching, anything like that.

Staying active is good for everybody.

The college application process has a lot of parts to it. Um, and so being able to pace yourself okay. And break up. The work is really important to being successful at each stage, because if you can do that in each stage, when you reach the end where you can finally send your applications, you’re confident in your submissions because you know, you’ve done your best each step of the way.

So to pace yourself, what you want to do early on is review the requirements, look up the colleges that you’re interested in. Do they have supplemental essays? Do they [00:11:00] require interviews? Um, look to see what the requirements are for the universities and colleges you’re interested in and keep track of that information in whatever way is most convenient for you.

And then you want to break up the work. So if you know, when the deadlines are to apply, if you know, you have a busy week coming up, break up the work and say, okay, you know, today for an hour, I’m just gonna try and draft a paragraph of my essay or say, you know what, this weekend, instead of going out, I’m going to.

Stay in, excuse me, and study for the SATs or actsh break up the work. So it’s manageable for you. Um, and it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. And of course, plan ahead. This is something we stress entirely. Plan ahead. If you foresee that you’re going to have run into issues. If there are questions you can foresee coming down the line on an application on a college, ask [00:12:00] questions, plan ahead, um, and ask for help when you need it.

Um, asking for help when you need it. There’s no shame in it and understanding when you need help now is going to prevent burnout. And it’s going to prevent you from reaching a point in the application process where you shut down, or you start having avoidant behaviors because you don’t know what to do.

So if you don’t know what to do, ask whoever you need to, maybe it’s your guidance counselor. Maybe it’s somebody here at CollegeAdvisor. Maybe it’s a parent, a friend. Um, and joining CollegeAdvisor obviously is going to be, uh, what I’m going to recommend the most. Um, here at CollegeAdvisor, we create plans with students early on in the process as early as sophomore year to help pace you through this process and break up the work.

So it’s manageable, but also at the same time, we’re making sure that you’re reaching milestones, that highlight who you are and are going to put forth the best applications [00:13:00] for you.

Staying organized is really important to lowering stress levels as a student. Um, and so some skills that we at CollegeAdvisor help implement are setting limits. It’s easy to get stuck in an organization, a loop, um, where, you know, you say, for example, I’m going to spend today. You know, cleaning my room and then you spend the entire day, you like reorganizing one drawer in the room, you know?

Um, so set a limit. You know, if you’re going to study, if you are going to work on a part of the application, set a limit and say for one hour, this is specifically what I’m going to do, prioritize your space. Maybe you’re somebody who works best in a coffee shop. I know for me personally, I, if I’m studying or doing work, I cannot be in my kitchen.

I will cook. I will grab something to eat. If I’m doing, you know, my work, I need to do [00:14:00] it in living room, in an office somewhere else. So prioritize your space. You know, maybe sitting in the living room with your family, trying to fill out an application is not the best place to do that for you. Um, and be proactive.

Believe it or not, the way you approach your stressors will help you stay organized, you know, When it comes to, you know, midterms finals, maybe you have a big paper coming up. If you can anticipate when big milestones are coming, that tend to be big stressors in your life. You can be proactive in how you approach them and say, okay, in order to avoid this burnout, or in order to avoid feeling this level of stress, this is what I’m going to take on now.

And I’m going to do it over X amount of time. So you’re setting a limit, you know, and you’re being proactive about the work in your life. And again, accountability, it’s great to have an accountability buddy, and somebody who can be there to help keep you on track. But it’s [00:15:00] also important that you, yourself hold yourself accountable in whatever way will work for you.

So maybe that’s saying I’m going to shut my phone off for a half an hour so I can focus. And then you turn the phone on and you take a 15 minute. Phone break. Um, or maybe that saying, you know what? I can only hang out with my friends for X amount of time because I have to do work later on hold yourself accountable and it will make this process a lot easier for you.

And you’ll find that that can be the foundation really of the rest of these organizational skills.

Okay. So we have another poll and we would love to know where you are in the college application process.

It’s always an awkward second as the end of them before the answer is Kevin. [00:16:00] Okay. It seems like we have quite a lot of people researching schools. This is a great time for that. Um, Numbers are starting to, even out of it. Uh, we have 23% who haven’t started 32% who are researching schools, 23%, who are working on their essays, 18%, who are getting their application materials together.

And, uh, 9% who are almost done. Congratulations to the almost done. Yeah. To those of you who are almost done, stay with it. I promise. Great. And for those of you who haven’t started enjoy not having that stress. Um, so what aspects of the application process do you have control over? What I always tell students again, is you cannot control all of the stressors in your life, but you can control how you act and how you deal with them.

Um, and [00:17:00] when it, for those of you who haven’t started, especially, this is really helpful. Um, you can control your. And the amount of work you put into your academics at the core of college admissions is academic rigor. It’s not just your GPA. It’s how challenging have your courses been? You know, have you really started pursuing your interests on an academic level?

You know, have your grades gotten better? Have they gotten worse? How, and when, how hard you study, how much effort you put into your academics is always going to be what we tell students to focus on early on in their academic careers. Um, and the next is standardized test scores. You can, again, you control how much effort you put into this.

Are you going to take, um, you know, uh, a study session, are you going to pay for, you know, a tutor? Are you going to do online tests for free? Um, again, the amount of effort you put into this is really going to impact your standardized [00:18:00] test. And you can also control your extracurricular activities.

Ultimately, colleges love to see students who have engagement in activities of more than two years, so two or more years. Um, and you know, maybe you’ve been a part of something for your entire academic career that you love. Maybe you’ve gotten awards. Um, your extracurricular pursuits are what you can control, um, and who you ask for recommendation letters.

It seems simple, but I’m sure for those of you who are almost finished, you know, it was good to know, okay, this is who I can ask for a letter of recommendation and that’s something off your plate. Um, and again, your applications and your essays, you control the content. You control how strong they are, how well written they are and how personal that narrative is.

Um, so these are the things that you have control over as a student that ultimately will impact your college admissions.[00:19:00]

Like I said, you cannot control everything you have, you don’t have control over everything throughout this process. Um, and so, you know, these are probably the conversations I have the most with parents. Um, you cannot control the applicant pool in the past five years, college admissions has become increasingly competitive to the point where extremely qualified candidates are not getting admission to schools that they are qualified to attend.

Um, and that doesn’t mean that they are bad students. It doesn’t mean they weren’t qualified. It just means that the application pool for that year, that they applied was extremely competitive. And so an example that I’ll give is that if a school has, you know, a GPA, you know, recommendation of a three point.

And you as a student have a [00:20:00] 3.2 you’re above that average. But if the average GPA of everyone in that applicant pool is a 3.5 or a 3.6, you now are not competitive in that applicant pool. And that’s something that’s really hard to grasp as a student. That’s something hard to grasp as a parent who has, who’ve seen your child and your student work so hard, put in so much effort.

Um, but it is what it is. You know, you cannot control the competitiveness of the applicant, pool supplements. Most schools require them these days. Um, but supplements are very specific questions. And so where the essay or the personal statement is just that it’s personal, it’s your own narrative supplement till essays are very specific and direct.

And so for some students, it’s hard to answer them throughout. Um, and not be able to say things that they feel could additionally benefit them in the application [00:21:00] process, um, and who your admissions counselor is. So every counselor reads applications from a different perspective. And an example that I’ll give is I once read an essay of a student who compare herself to a scrunchie, just the way she lived.

She compared herself to a scrunchie. She expanded, you know, she was accommodating and I read the essay and I didn’t like it. I thought it was pretty bland, but, you know, I sent it to the admissions committee and somebody else came back and said, wow, this is so unique. This is so different. I thought it was, you know, really well written.

So, you know, every admissions counselor is reading from a different perspective and they may pick up on things that. You know, another counselor might not, but that’s something that we at college adviser do really well is making sure that the narrative you’re trying to portray in your essay is something we pick up immediately.

Because if we can pick up on that [00:22:00] immediately, there’s a good chance that when we send it out, the admissions committee is also going to pick up on that same narrative. And that’s really hard to accomplish, um, peer comparison. You know, you can’t control, you know, if your friends have better academics than you, if your friends have had more opportunities than you have, maybe at, uh, in high school, um, you know, maybe your friends are getting into universities and colleges that you don’t think you would be a good fit for, and that’s hard.

Um, but peer comparison, while it can be really beneficial, if there are things your peers are interested in or places your peers are applying to that you’re also interested in, it can also kind of deteriorate from. The level of self-confidence that you should have when you are creating and sending your applications to college, um, and ultimately believe it or not, you do not have control over your admissions decision.

And this kind of plays into the applicant pool. Um, and the competitive competitiveness of that, [00:23:00] you know, a lot goes into the decision making process and what we’re seeing more and more are qualified applicants getting denied simply because they’re just not as competitive as the applicant pool. Um, and this is where again, having a CollegeAdvisor, you know, can be really beneficial and helpful in giving students that competitive edge in the higher education landscape.

Um, and sometimes, you know, I’ve seen students get into schools that I did not think they would. Um, and other times I’ve had students get denied from schools that, you know, were considered target or safety schools for them. Um, so just know that a lot goes into the decision-making process and ultimately.

As long as you have put your best effort into every step of the process, that is all you have control over.

So, um, in terms of techniques that could help students acknowledge parts of the application process, that they [00:24:00] can’t control again, focus on what you can control and what you can control is how much effort you put into this process. You know, if you are, you know, allowing yourself to, you know, let avoidant behavior set in, maybe you’re not taking this process as seriously.

Maybe you just are putting it off as long as possible because you don’t know where to start. That is what you can control is how you react, how you contribute to this process. Um, and staying involved, you know, um, we don’t like to see that students have, you know, sort of. Ease on their academic rigor extracurriculars in their senior year.

And so even in your junior and senior year, really staying involved in the things that you enjoy, um, you know, whether it’s academics, whether it’s work, whether it’s an extracurricular, um, whether it’s, you know, a particular friend group staying involved can really keep that motivation and allow you to recognize [00:25:00] that there is more to life than just the college application process, but it will also benefit your application to continuously stay involved in the things that you’re interested in.

Um, and think longterm, you know, it’s really easy to, you know, especially what I just talked about in terms of the application pool and thinking, oh my goodness, what if I don’t get in? What if I’m not qualified? Don’t forget to think long-term that maybe you might not get into, you know, your top choice, but it’s just a matter of getting into a college to then be able to get the opportunities that you want.

Like. Always keep your long-term plan in mind. And if you’re not sure what your long-term plan is, that’s okay. But that’s definitely something that we here at CollegeAdvisor try to help students with is creating that long-term plan to then continue on in the application process.

Um, [00:26:00] and managing stress when it comes to applying to college is really about shifting your perspective. Um, and so what I always encourage students to do is to focus on what they bring to the table. You know, you might not be able to, you know, control the applicant pool or the admissions decision, or, you know, even, you know, the GPA requirements, but what you can control is what you’ve completed so far, how much effort you put into this process?

You know, how many reviews of the essay, how you take feedback on the application process. And the college of interest focused on what you bring to the admissions committee and highlight that in your application process. Um, and that goes into the personal narrative where we want students to put forth their best foot in showing the admissions committee who they are academically and outside of their academics, but also highlighting what they will [00:27:00] contribute to that college community.

And also recognize while this process is very individual. It is also collective in the stress and the experience of, you know, you’re, you’re not alone, you’re not the only person experiencing these stressors. That’s literally why we’re doing this webinar is because it’s, uh, it’s just a common aspect of this process.

Um, and know that hope is hope, know that help is always available and ask for help when you need it. That’s very important. Again, you are not your stress. You cannot control. All the stressors in your life, but you can control how you act and deal with them. Um, and sometimes, you know, that’s, that’s a personal mantra that some of my students have is I am not my stress.

I am just feeling this way. And when you can make that distinction, it kind of helps you separate your feelings from reality and what’s actually happening and what’s [00:28:00] in front of you. Um, and having a personal mantra is really important. Um, it works for some people, it doesn’t for others, but having a personal mantra can be really grounding for you as a student when times get really tough, you know, you’re at peak stress, um, maybe you’re taking your SATs or actsh for the first time and having that personal mantra, you know, whatever it might be can really just help ground you and remind you that you are not your stress and things are going to be okay.

Um, my last pieces of advice. To minimize application stress is to break up the work, do not leave things for the last minute. And I know I am not the only person telling you that. I know your parents have told you that your guidance counselors, college counselors have told you that breaking up the work is not just important to avoiding stress, but it’s important to making sure that you’re putting as much effort into each part of this process.

Um, and ask questions early [00:29:00] on. Um, you know, if you foresee trouble or if you are curious about how something might turn out, ask those questions, um, and focus on your grades and your GPA early on in your high school career. For those of you who are freshmen and sophomores, this is specific to you. Um, your GPA and the academic rigor that you’re putting into your academics is very important.

Um, and it will pay off in the long. Um, and ultimately focus on what you can control. It’s really easy to allow outside influences to make you feel like, well, I haven’t done this and my friends are accomplishing this and so-and-so, you know, got a scholarship. And, you know, I just, you know, what, if I’m not competitive enough as an applicant, focus on what you can control.

Um, and that’s the part of the application. That’s your extracurriculars, your essays, um, and how much effort you put into this process.

All [00:30:00] right. So this is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful, and remember, you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat so you can see them and then read them out loud before our panelists gives you an answer.

All right, our first question is. Um, how to make a college application that would make you an attractive applicant. And how do you make yourself interesting on college applications? So this is actually a trap that I think a lot of students fall into is focusing on what the admissions committee wants to see instead of actually just telling us and showcasing who you are.

It’s very apparent when students are trying to, you know, present narratives that they think we want to see. Um, and it [00:31:00] genuinely comes across as inauthentic. Um, so your best bet. If you’re asking yourself how to make yourself interesting talk to the people in your life, talk to your parents, talk to your friends and just have an honest conversation about, you know, what are you think are some of my strengths?

What do I do? Well, you know, what do you think I’m good at? And hearing that feedback from other people can sometimes. The insight and the confidence that you need just to start the process. Um, and I always encourage students to keep a journal. Um, it doesn’t have to be, you know, a dear diary entry, but just keep track of some highlights of your days, things that you liked, you know, maybe something weird happened because you never know, especially when it comes to writing the application essay or the personal statement, going back and seeing, you know, the highlights of your days might jog a memory and a story that is interesting that we would want to hear.

Um, so really focus on what you bring to the table. You know, [00:32:00] maybe you are a star athlete, maybe you are, you know, an award winning choir member. Maybe you are, um, a national merit scholar, you know, focus on what you’ve accomplished and what you bring to the table to then authentically present yourself to the admissions committee.

There’s a phrase I’ve heard, be interested, not interested. Correct. Um, and I, and I think that’s a good way to think about writing, especially. All right. Our next question is, are extra letters of recommendation helpful, or just a waste of paper. So generally speaking, they are a waste of paper, not necessarily because we don’t want to read them.

It’s more, a matter of time. What I think students fail to understand is that you have maybe five to seven minutes to grab the admissions [00:33:00] counselors attention in your essay. You know, especially at larger universities, admissions counselors are reading anywhere from 50 to 80 applications in a day and, you know, creating decisions on them.

And so, you know, We only have the time to read what’s required. So adding in extra letters of recommendation, they’re just not going to get read, um, because ultimately if you, if your recommenders can’t get across who you are or the information that we need in the one or two recommendations, then that’s a sign of a bigger issue.

Okay. Our next question is, does it make a difference regarding when I should submit the FAFSA and the CSS, as long as it’s before the deadline, um, you might want to check individually with the university, um, because some universities [00:34:00] do work on the FAFSA differently and the CSS, some universities don’t even require the CSS profile.

So that’s definitely a question to ask, um, the individual colleges you’re interested in as well, generally speaking. Just generally, um, as long as you submit FAFSA by the deadline, it generally doesn’t make a huge difference. Okay. Our next question is I’m a junior and considering applying to the college of William and Mary, but from looking at their average GPA and test scores, I’m below their average though.

I am at though, I in no way have bad scores, should I still even consider applying? I would say, um, that’s a personal decision. If you are. The first thing I would say is our sat or act is required for William and Mary. Um, or are they optional because if they’re optional, then you don’t want to submit them.

Um, [00:35:00] if they are required, you know, and it’s a free application, then it’s worth it to apply. It’s a university you’re extremely interested in that. You’re like, it’s my top choice. This is where I have to be, then definitely apply. Um, but if you’re below admission standards and it’s required to send SATs or actsh, you might be wasting the time.

Okay. Our next question is, um, what can we do to prepare way ahead? So it reduces stress before the application time. Okay. To prepare way ahead, you should join college advice. Um, and that’s not just a pitch. I mean, I think, you know, in all my time working in college admissions, I’ve been really impressed to see how we at CollegeAdvisor [00:36:00] really helps students prepare way early on.

So the first thing I would say is do your research and collect that information. You know, what are you interested in? Where do you, where are you looking to apply? What are the admissions standards, collect all that information in one place, and then start piecing together what you can so far that will meet those requirements and also focus on your academics.

Um, at the core of college admissions, it is about your academics, your GPA, and the academic rigor.

Okay. Our next question is, uh, what if you’re also trying to obtain an athletic scholarship and so are unsure where you might go to college. Okay. If you’re trying to get an athletic scholarship, you should probably start reaching out to coaches immediately. Um, because that ultimately, if the athletic scholarship is going [00:37:00] to determine the university, you attend.

Um, it might be worth it to start sending tapes to coaches at colleges that, um, are just in your area to start, you know, um, starting in your own backyard is always great, you know, asking your guidance counselor as well, because they might have those software in your high school might be something where they can pair you to colleges that match your GPA and your interests.

Um, and so that’s a way to see if those schools have athletic programs. If they offer athletic scholarships, um, something to keep in mind is that only D one and D two universities offer athletic scholarships. Three colleges do not offer athletic scholarships.

Okay. Our next question is when is a good time to start the application process? I’m a junior, [00:38:00] a good time. So if you’re a junior, the common app, or it assuming you’re using the common app, won’t open for you until next August. But what you can start doing is collecting information on where you’re interested in attending.

And then also just start brainstorming ideas, keeping track of, you know, what are some topics of interest for you? What are you interested in? And just keeping track of that. Um, and maybe start also doing research into programming and internships. Um, maybe you want to complete an internship in the area you’re interested in prior to graduating, um, high school that is so doing some research on opportunities that are available could also really benefit, um, your application later on showcasing that you have experienced.

Okay, everyone. Please keep putting questions in the Q and a tab. We would love to answer [00:39:00] any of them, but in the meantime, we’re going to take a quick break and I want to let you know what you can do. If you want to work with one of our advisors from our team of over 225 advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation with us by going to and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right of the screen from there, just write in consultation and alive team member.

We’ll get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with us. All right. And back to the Q and a, um, our next question is, do you apply for college before graduation or after you get your transcripts, do you apply to college after you graduate or when you get your transcript? So generally speaking, you apply.

To college in your senior year of high school. So you can apply as early as fall of your senior [00:40:00] year, typically in November, December. Um, and then what you have on your transcripts so far. So usually up to your junior year is what’s there for grades is sent to the university. Um, and then some students choose to just graduate high school and then apply to college later on.

Maybe they take a gap year, maybe they work for a semester and then apply in the spring. Um, but traditionally students apply to college in their senior year of high school.

Okay. Our next question is how does the application process work? I need to know the process of application for my son’s college advising. Um, I would first say you might want to reach out to their guidance counselor. Um, cause they’re going to be the ultimate resource on this. Um, [00:41:00] but typically the application process starts, um, ideally in the spring of your junior year, but it can start as early as your sophomore year.

Um, and it starts with, uh, filling out the common app. Um, usually just like your profile, your parents education and things like that. Um, and then drafting an essay, getting letters of recommendation based on university requirements. Some universities require one recommendation, some required to, um, you want to research if the university that your son is applying to have supplemental essay as well, um, cause those should be completed.

Um, and then if you are applying for financial aid, FAFSA is due in February. I believe February or March. Um, so that also has to be completed. Um, so I would still recommend reaching out to your son’s guidance counselor or scheduling a one hour consultation with CollegeAdvisor. Um, so we can get more info [00:42:00] about where your son is applying.

Okay. Our next question is, uh, what time management skills will help me? Well, I think the best time management skills are what works for you. So what I mean is, um, for me, I have to set a timer for when I work, I work in 25 minute intervals, so I will work for 25 minutes. I’ll take a five minute break and then I’ll come back.

Um, that doesn’t work for some of my friends, some of my friends, um, like to write things down, they keep, you know, calendars of everything that they’re doing. Um, some people set reminders on their phone, so you have to really understand what your. Learning style is to understand the time management skills that will help you, because I could be like do XYZ, but if that’s not your learning style, then that’s not going to work for you.

Our next question is, um, is it the [00:43:00] more college recommendation letters the better? No, absolutely not. Absolutely not send the required number of recommendation letters. No more. The only exception to that is for scholarships. Some scholarships require additional letters of recommendation. Aside from that, do not send any more recommendation letters.

They will not be read.

Um, our next question is, uh, what are the qualifications for scholarships in my college application? Um, it depends. That’s not something I can answer. Every college has different requirements for scholarships. Um, so if there, if you’re looking at scholarships for a particular university, you can either reach out to the financial aid office or you can search their website to see what the requirements are for scholarships.

Um, but scholarship information isn’t in [00:44:00] the common application. Okay. Our next question is I’ve heard that getting an a, in an easier class in an easier class is better, is better looking than getting a C in a harder class. Can you clarify this for me? So, Hmm. This is something that a lot of admissions professionals have split opinions on, um, at, on a general level.

No. Um, because what we like to see is that students are. It contributes to the academic rigor, right? So like, if you’re just taking an easy course, if you’re just taking like standard college prep courses and getting all A’s, that’s fine. But if we have a student from a similar high school, who’s in all honors courses and they’re getting all, you know, BS, those actually get a bump up to an a, [00:45:00] so now you’re both on the same playing field because the honors student has all A’s and we see that they are academically challenging themselves with an honors curriculum.

We’re more likely to admit the honor student. So don’t take honors courses just for the sake of, you know, looking like you are academically rigorous, only take honors courses. If you genuinely know you can do well in the material, um, don’t take an honors course. If you think you’re going to get a C or a D, that’s not really.

All right. Our next question is I’m planning on applying to MIT. However, my test score is way below their average. Do I stand a chance of getting accepted? Yeah, no, sorry. I work. I work, um, I work with computer science, data science and cybersecurity majors at Northeastern. Um, all, most [00:46:00] majority who have had perfect PEs scores and most of them did not get into MIT.

So it, especially in the Boston area, it’s really a waste of your time. Um, but I mean, you could ignore me and you could apply it and you might get in, who knows? I’m just letting you know from my years of experience, um, it, it, it would appear to be a waste year. I don’t know if am I T is still test optional if they are, that’s a possible route.

If the sat is the only thing, but, uh, yeah. Okay. Our next question is I’m stressful and anxious about the college application. I’m worried about not getting accepted. What can I do? You can focus on what you can control. And so you may not be able to control whether you get in or not, or that the ultimate admissions decision, but you can control how much effort you put in, and that [00:47:00] contributes to the decision.

Um, so you can control how you know, well put together your essays. You can control your extracurriculars, how well you involve yourself in extracurriculars, how well you take the time for your recommenders to get to know you and building relationships over the years. So that way, when you ask them for a recommendation, it’s not like, Hey, I took this one course with you sophomore year, can you write a recommendation?

And instead you’ve built this academic relationship with a staff member who can say I’ve seen their academic growth. So again, it’s about what you can control and what you can control is the amount of effort you put into this process. Okay. Our next question is, should I put together and submit a supplemental portfolio if I’m active in the arts or would that be a wasted?

That’s a great question. So when it comes to portfolios, they can really strengthen an application. Um, [00:48:00] and the, the, the advice I generally give on portfolios is that you want to make sure that it strengthens your applications, meaning your portfolio shouldn’t be something completely. From your application, it should contribute to your application and overall make it look stronger.

So if you’re going to submit a portfolio, you want to make sure that the narrative of the portfolio contributes to your overall application. But if you’re looking to make a portfolio, that’s like stand out and different from the program you’re interested in or your application, then it’s not worth it.

So that’s the advice I have on portfolios. I do remember when I got to college, one of my music professors, like ma made a note to me that they were the person who looked over my music portfolio and that they’d liked it. So I know that someone saw it. [00:49:00] Um, okay. Our next question is, do Cal states require essays?

Okay. Yes, they do require essays. Um, but you have to look to see specifically because some, for some of the universities. Um, for Cal state or within the Cal state system, they’ll accept the same essay a few times, but other universities require separate supplemental essays from that. Um, so you just have to look specifically at the universities within the Cal state system to see if they’ll accept, um, the same essay or if there are supplemental or multiple essays needed.

Okay. Our next question is, um, is there an option to apply to college as an undecided major? And does that look bad? If a student is undecided on their major, going into college, that is such an amazing question. And I’m so glad somebody finally asked [00:50:00] it because undeclared students are the most common type of students.

Um, and I mean, I’ve, I’ve worked at a variety of universities. I’ve worked at, you know, top 30 universities. I’ve worked at small liberal arts colleges. Undeclared students are the most common type of applicants. So you are the norm. Um, so if you’re an, and as an academic advisor, what I can also tell you is that the students who are like I’m going to be a bio major, generally end up slipping up there through the semester.

Um, I know so many pre-med bio majors who, uh, changed that very fast and it’s an, it’s not fair to pick on them. I know, I know, but honestly, it’s totally fine. College is about exploration. It’s about taking the time to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, the path you want. And it’s really the first opportunity you get to choose your curriculum.

So applying to college, undeclared or undecided is [00:51:00] totally fine. A hundred percent recommended if you are unsure. We also do have a whole webinar from this past February, I think about applying to colleges and undecided. With two people who got into excellent schools as undecided, uh, applying majors. Okay.

Our next question is what would be a good exact timeline for the application process? This is a junior asking would trying to really complete anything like essays or getting teacher recommendations now, or later this school year would be beneficial or is it too early? Um, and this person is a junior, I think a junior.

Yes. So for an exact timeline, you’d have to join CollegeAdvisor, but a general timeline is usually the summer going into your senior year is a good time to ask for recommendations. Right now, a lot of teachers are [00:52:00] completing recommendations for their senior students. So to ask for it now, when they’re in the middle of doing them for other students, um, you’re going to be put on the back burner so you can hold off on that.

In terms of recommendations, you can continue to build the relationships with the professors or teachers you’re interested in asking for a recommendation. So if you have a teacher in mind, continue to stay in touch with them and, you know, keep them updated on what you’re interested in, you know, where you’re applying, pick their brain because later on when they write that recommendation, they’ll say, you know, I have known the student for X amount of time and I’ve, you know, seeing their growth.

They’re very clear about what they want. Um, and that’s, that’s a really good recommendation to have. Um, aside from that focus on your academics right now, if you’re usually junior year is the last full academic year. We see. So, you know, completing this year strong, making [00:53:00] sure that, you know, you can really keep a solid GPA or improve your GPA.

If that’s what you’re looking for, that shouldn’t really be your main focus. Um, definitely start looking into sat and act. Um, now is a really great time to do that. And then spring of your senior year, you should be taking those SATs or actsh, um, junior year teammates. Yeah. Yeah. When you’re yeah. Junior year, spring of your junior year.

Um, and then that summer going into your senior year is when you want to start prepping your college essay, your topics. And right now you can, again start keeping a journal of just like interesting things that happened to you during the day. Um, I have a student, they, they create tic talks every day of just like snippets of their day.

And over time they see, you know, how their days changed. They remember certain things and that’s actually helped them in their college application process. Um, and then writing their essay. Um, so, you know, focus on your [00:54:00] academics first and foremost, SATs and actsh, and also start doing your research on colleges.

Start visiting campuses, start scheduling interviews, um, because getting that out of the way can actually. Decrease some of the stress later on of saying, well, I don’t know where I want to go. I don’t know what I want do that work early on. Um, and that will alleviate a lot of the stress, um, going into senior year.

Okay. Our next question is, um, how much weight will school counselors recommendations? Have I asked this because at my school, one counselor has hundreds of students. So I’m worried about how much time counselor will spend on my application or recommendation letter. That’s a great question. Um, generally guidance, counselor recommendations.

They don’t make or break your application. Um, and to be honest, some counselors have templates [00:55:00] for their recommendation letters, especially counselors who have higher cases. Um, I’ve read a number of applications where the counselor just changed the name, the student’s major and the college and everything else mean was his name.

Um, but you know, some counselors really take the time. I would say the majority of counselors take the time to write at least a paragraph about that specific student and really they do their best to try and make and highlight you as a student because that’s their job. Um, I’d never read it, read a bad guidance, counselor recommendation, to be honest, but you know, even if it’s a generic template email, we’re not going to hold that against you as, as a student.

And that’s really an opportunity for you to then seek a, another teacher or another counselor who can highlight on your academic abilities and strengths. All right. Our next question is can you apply to college through college?[00:56:00]

Um, I would say, yes, Hannah, I kind of, right. Like, I mean, we are not in the application portal, but we will help you through all the aspects of the application process. Yes, we are not a portal, but I mean, I’ve literally sat on zoom with students as they are submitting their applications. Um, because that it provides a level of stress relief just to have somebody there with them.

Um, so you can, we, we can sit through it with you, but you can’t, we’re not the portal to apply to. Yeah. You don’t hit submit through like on our website, but we can be there with you when you hit some then. Um, all right. Our next question is when do I apply if I’m considering taking a gap year, um, for internships in near pro-level sports after the gap year or.

Um, actually, that’s a great question. So you can do either. So if you [00:57:00] apply, you know, your senior year of high school and you’re accepted, you can actually defer up to a year. Meaning, you know, if you’re accepted, you can take that gap year. And typically we’ll give you one full academic year. So, you know, if you’re applying now for 20, 22 admission and you’re admitted, you can defer until 20, 23.

Um, and most universities across the United States will do that for you. So it, it, I will say it’s a lot easier to do when you’re in high school, um, versus taking a gap year and then coming back and trying to reconnect with a teacher in high school and connect with your guidance counselor, you know, people you haven’t seen or kept in contact within a year.

Um, and then applying. So. You know, if you feel that as a senior in high school, that’s a good option to then defer. That’s great. If you feel maybe taking a gap year [00:58:00] and doing something worthwhile will strengthen your application. That’s great. Um, and you can apply after as well. Okay. I think this is going to be our last question.

Um, for years or even one year, it feels like a very long time for me. So I’m very worried about choosing a college that I don’t like. Any thoughts

feels like a long time for me. So I’m very worried about you being college. I don’t like that’s a really w so this is, this has two parts to it. The first is you really want to limit outside influences. Um, I have worked with transfer students for the past three years and a common theme that I’ve seen is.

They listen to those outside influences, whether it was parents, friends who told them that this would be a good option instead of listening to themselves and trusting their own instincts. [00:59:00] So what I would say maybe is scheduled some college tours by yourself. Um, or if you’re bringing other people with you say, listen, if you have any opinions, please keep them to yourself because I need to figure this out.

Um, but do your own research, your own independent research into universities, visit a big university, visit a medium-sized school, visit a small school in, you know, your own neighborhood, whatever it is. Um, but listening to yourself and doing that research independently is going to help you narrow down what you actually like and where you can see yourself for the next four years.

All right. That feels like a great place to stop. I thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and thank you Ariana so much for presenting. Thanks for. All right. So this is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time telling you about minimizing application stress and here’s the rest of our November series.

If you would like to come to any of them tomorrow, we [01:00:00] have pacing your final sprint to college application deadlines. All right. Have a great night, everyone. Okay.