Admissions Officer Advice: Help Child Stand Out in Admissions

Former Admissions Officer Lauren Lynch shares how to start preparing early to help your child stand out during the college admissions process.

Date 02/09/2022
Duration 58:12

Webinar Transcription

2022-02-09 AO Advice: Starting Early to Help Your Child Stand Out in College Admissions

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar this evening on Starting Early to Help Your Child Stand Out in College Admissions, uh, to orient everyone with the webinar timing, uh, we’ll start off with a presentation and then answer your questions in the live Q and a, uh, on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi, everyone. I am so happy to be here. Uh, speaking with you tonight. My name is Lauren Lynch. I’m [00:01:00] associate director of admissions with CollegeAdvisor. A little bit about my background and experience. Um, I have done many different things. I actually started as a psychotherapist.

I worked in that world for a number of years. Before moving over to student services and ultimately into admissions. And I worked in the admission office at Williams college for a number of years. I’ve worked as a director of college counseling at a DC area high school. I’ve worked with other college consulting companies and I’ve been thrilled to be a part of the college advisor team since the company’s beginning.

Perhaps more pertinent for tonight though, is that I’m also the parent of a high school junior and a college freshmen. So I have just gone through this and I am, again, going through this, let me orient you a little bit to, uh, my goal for tonight. I will hook. Quickly and concisely, I’m going to cover some basic [00:02:00] information, kind of what you as parents might need to know, but also what, uh, what your children might want to know, how best to help them be prepared.

I’m going to talk through some of the logistics of the application process. I’m going to try to speak for about 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time at the end, for as many questions as we can get.

All right. So welcome to the first poll of this evening. Uh, so just what grade is your student in? Um, so we’ll go ahead and start collecting those responses at this time. Um, and then Lauren, in the meantime, uh, while, while we’re collecting those responses, um, can you tell us maybe what was your favorite tradition?

Uh, Uh, sure. We, we have many traditions. Smith is one of the colleges that originated a tradition called mountain day, which a lot of other colleges have adopted where one beautiful fall day, a academic day that [00:03:00] the president of the college rings all of the bells on campus. And it’s a day traditionally that students that.

Uh, kitchens pack lunches for students, and you’re supposed to hike into the mountains and have a beautiful picnic sadly more often than not you sleep in and, and lays around, but it’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beautiful area. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing that. All right. So we have some responses that are still rolling in, but for the most part, uh, so we have, um, 2% or 2% in eighth grade, 2%, uh, in ninth grade, uh, with the 22% and 10th grade, 69% in 11th grade.

Uh, and then back to 2% for 12th grade and 4% for other. So, uh, so it looks like the majority of our participants tonight are 10th and 11th graders. Okay, 11th graders, hopefully, hopefully this [00:04:00] information will be useful. Um, and, uh, you know, I think as we kind of get, get going, and I’m going to talk about why it’s helpful for students to start early, but I think what I really want to make clear is that, um, this process, no matter what.

How organized and diligent students and families are, it is just inherently stressful and overwhelming. So hopefully this will give you a sense of some of the benefits of starting early, but I don’t want anyone who feels like they didn’t have that opportunity, um, to, to feel like they’re at a huge disadvantage.

I think a lot of it is just understanding the lay of the land and feeling confident and comfortable with what your next steps are, what your child’s next steps are for success. In my mind, one of the huge benefits of students starting early and therefore families starting early in this process is that when done correctly, this process is one that involves a lot of growth and introspection.[00:05:00]

Um, I think, uh, a lot of people think of the college application process as a very linear, uh, procedure. You, you, you start in one place and you end in the other. In my experience. And I think when you, when you speak with anyone who is in this field, you’ll find that most often students veer around a lot.

They change their interests. Their college list is going to change wildly over time. And that’s natural students grow and mature over time. The more knowledge and information students have, the more nuanced their application process is going to be. The application itself is very concise. It boils down four years and an entire lifetime of the student’s experience, passions, pursuits, and identity into a five to 10 minute reading experience on the part of the reader in the admission office.

So [00:06:00] starting early, really early. The student, the time to develop that narrative to, to make a strong impression to formulate, um, and really identify and articulate the characteristics that set them apart in this process, the things they’re most proud of, the things that they believe distinguished them the most, um, starting early with us is a huge advantage because we really help tease out that, that narrative, that story, that candidate profile, what distinguishes this student from other.

One of the benefits, I think also of starting early is that the primary, uh, emotion, the part primary driver in the process can be one then of excitement and engagement, rather than feeling overwhelmed and kind of consumed by the stress and innate competitiveness of the process. Basically my last little bullet point here, I think sums it up that starting early really allows students to be well [00:07:00] primed for success.

And when I say success in this process, I’m not talking about getting into the top rated college on the student’s list. I’m talking about the successful outcome that comes where the results match a student’s abilities, a student’s passions, where the list and the outcomes of that list are reflective. Of a student’s true identity and true capacity to thrive in whatever situation they end up in.

I will say that that for parents, a lot of the same reasons are going to apply. Um, except that you are the benefactor in the sense that you are by starting early in this process, by gaining knowledge and information, you are helping. Aline and allow your child to achieve the greatest success possible.

You are making sure that you have all the information you need to manage your own anxiety around this process. [00:08:00] And even for parents, who’ve been through this with older children, I will tell you certainly going through this now with my 11th grader, every child is very different. Um, Starting early with one of my kids, um, might have been something that the other didn’t necessarily need.

Um, so just being aware of the difference between your children being aware of managing your own anxieties around the process, um, for parents, this is not just about how to get your, how to help get your child into college. It’s about preparing. Self for your child to reach adulthood and, and appropriately, and in a very positive way, leave the home, but it brings up a lot of issues.

Um, and a lot of experiences for, uh, for everyone in the night or for everyone in the family. I’m sorry. Um, and I think that while this process is, should be owned by [00:09:00] the, by the student, this is the student’s process. There are certain logistic hurdles that parents can help with, whether that’s maybe registering a student for, for SATs or actsh.

Or arranging the logistics of, of on-campus college visits. If you’re able to do that, you know, booking the info sessions and the tours of the campus and the hotels and planning the route. Those are things that I think parents really can and should help with. Um, unless you have a fiercely independent child who can manage all of that.

Um, and I think just throughout the process, being aware that. Your job as a parent is to kind of step back and Marvel at your child’s potential to allow them the space for exploration, whether in terms of activities, whether it’s exploring different academic subjects, whether it’s pursuing things that you are concerned might not be.

Attractive to [00:10:00] the reader of an application, but really speak to your child. I think starting early for a parent allows you arms you with the knowledge you need, that you can really allow your child that, that exploration and that process without, um, imposing your own fearfulness and anxiety about the process, um, on.

I’m going to talk very briefly about the components of the common application. Um, because I think it’s important for parents to know what is being asked in the application and how to best prepare for how to answer those questions. I wrote here, the common application. I want to clarify that. The common application is the primary kind of generic application portal that most students are going to use in this process.

Thousands and thousands of schools across the, the country, uh, take the common application. [00:11:00] However, there are other applications that are unique to different, um, university systems. There’s ApplyTexas. For Texas schools, there’s the UC application for UC schools and then MIT has its own application. So there’s a lot of different, um, kind of ways to apply to different colleges.

But the information that’s being gathered is very much the same. The first thing that colleges want to know. Who is the student like quite literally, what is their culture, ethnicity background? What languages are spoken? How many brothers and sisters, what is the parents’ level of education? Where do they live?

What school do they go to? This is already setting the framework for the admission officer to get an more nuanced sense of what kinds of opportunities and experiences the student has had, what kind of culture and environment the student is from. And [00:12:00] the admission officer can already start envisioning how this person might have an impact on the college community.

The academics are very important. I’m going to say. Pretty much across the board. The academics are the primary driver in the application process, meaning that. Admission officers are looking at how a student has done in the classes and courses that have been available to that student. So I want to make it very clear that colleges understand they, they have a very good sense of different high schools.

Um, they know that not every school is going to offer a very robust offering of. APS or IBS or advanced or honors courses. They know that some school districts just don’t have the means to offer a huge diversity in the curriculum, but within the context of what is available to the student, what has that student chosen to do [00:13:00] and how have they done within that academic center?

Testing comes. Next testing, I would have said many years ago is also crucially important. However, colleges are all, uh, um, test optional right now because of COVID many are going to stay that way. Uh, the UC system, for example, Stated that they will no longer look at any testing. Um, and a lot of colleges I think, are going to follow suit for those of you who are juniors, um, or parents of students who are juniors, you can be pretty confident that testing is not going to be required with next year’s applications.

However, I always advise my students to take the standardized tests in their junior year. Um, just so you have them. Pocket. If you do really well, a lot of colleges will look at them if you submit them. And if you don’t do well, it’s an extra piece of information that’s going to help shape your college list and can [00:14:00] be very important in the process.

The other part of that is that in my many, many years of experience in doing this, I never want a student to have any regrets. I never want a student to say, I wish I had done this, or I wish I had done that in my mind. It’s far better to spend a Saturday. You know, four hours on the Saturday taking the sat and to wish you had done so senior year when you’re applying to college.

Um, activities come next. And this is very important on the application because this is how colleges are understanding who a student is outside of the classroom, how they choose to spend their time, how are they involved? Whether it’s an organized club, um, Athletics in school, whether it’s religious service outside of school, whether it’s a private pursuit.

Um, a lot of students have family obligations, caring for younger siblings or caring for an elderly relative. Maybe [00:15:00] students have jobs. These are all things that are extremely important to put down on the application. As one of my. Seven years ago in the Williams admission office. When students leave this part blank, it leaves us with a big blank.

We literally don’t know what a student is doing outside of the classroom, unless the student tells us. Now I do want to reassure all of you that colleges are very understanding the impact that COVID has had on the section for every student. Um, the lack of activities, the lack of opportunities. Summer experiences, um, and the big gaping hole, uh, on most students’ resumes during the year when schools were largely shut down.

Awards and honors, not every student is going to have something to list on this component or this section of the application. Some high schools have awards like Dean’s [00:16:00] list or honor roll. Some students get awards, maybe national merit finalists, or semi-finalists, that’s the kind of information you would put that.

Most colleges ask for teacher recommendations. Uh, typically the number’s going to be two teacher recommendations. In addition to a counselor letter, the counselor letter is, is the kind of composite, um, feedback of a student’s experience in a high school over, over the four years. Um, the teacher recommendations are typically teachers.

Who’ve had students during their junior year, during their 11th grade, who can speak about them in a way that is going to help the reader of their application, understand their impact in the classroom, their intellectual curiosity, their level of prepare of preparation level of participation. Keep in mind that teacher recommendations do not have to be from teachers [00:17:00] who given students the best grades.

Some of the most compelling recommendations I’ve read have been from teachers. Who’ve seen students struggle to get a B and show up and teach in the teacher’s office every day, asking for help seeking extra work. Um, so that’s just something to keep in mind for students who are, who are concerned about who to ask.

The main essay is the student’s voice. Um, every application is going to have an essay, um, usually at 650 words, it’s very open-ended. So in terms of the essay, um, this is why I think honestly, working with us becomes very helpful. Uh, this is something we Excel at. Every student has a story to tell it’s just sometimes they don’t know what that story is.

They don’t know. What to choose to talk about and how to kind of bring that out. Um, in, in the writing, in the telling in, [00:18:00] in the conversation they’re trying to have with the reader of their applications. Most schools are also going to have school specific supplemental essays. Um, those span a range of different topics.

Some are very esoteric, very quirky. Um, some are more generic. Um, but generally what, what they’re trying to get when they’re asking a school specific supplement, which is usually shorter, say. 350 words or 400 words is what is your ability to match with the school and what is our ability to match with you?

What qualities in you will make you a good, valuable part of our community. Um, and so some of the questions on supplemental essays might be, why do you want to go to the school? What do you want to study and why? And sometimes what do you want to study while you’re here and why? [00:19:00] Um, some colleges ask about a student’s kind of community, whatever that community might be, something that’s important to them, whether it’s the dance studio or the church or a family.

Um, it’s, it’s about understanding what that student’s identity and participation in, in the world around them is, um, Some colleges will ask about a hardship or a setback. Again, these are all things. I think most of the families who work with us find that getting our help with these myriad essays. And there are typically anywhere, a lucky student might have four or five essays to write.

Some students have 12 to 15 essays to write. So it can be very, very helpful getting outside help with.

You will hear the term when you start doing college visits. If you haven’t already, you will hear the term, a holistic review process. This takes two different forms in an admission office. [00:20:00] There’s one kind of holistic review admission officers who are the individuals reading a student’s application are looking at the student within the context of their setting.

They want to understand this student as a unique individual with unique experiences, from a specific background, bringing particular talents, passions, and interests to a campus. The admission. Officer’s trying to understand how has the student’s environment and experience shaped them into who they are and how will that continue to evolve on our campus?

The admission officers are looking at every aspect of the application. Having said that it is important to note that applications get read in about five to 10 minutes. Um, and so that’s why another reason I think starting early allows that the student to create a very strong, compelling and persuasive [00:21:00] application that is going to.

Easily digested by the reader, but make a very, very big impression. And again, that’s something that we Excel at. So please reach out if you need help with this admission officers are looking for reasons to include there. They’re looking for the best in the student

admission offices. Um, how. Different mandates admission offices are not just the individual reading the application. They are taking, um, feedback from a lot of different, uh, Groups factions within, within the college and university and are, are kind of beholden to certain mandates within that. Um, so for example, there might be, um, some, you know, development cases.

Athletes, um, maybe a new theater on campus was just completed and, and now they’re [00:22:00] trying to build out the theater program. So they might be accepting more theater students than in previous years. These are things that are completely out of a student’s control. The college has also the admission office in general is trying to create a well-balanced entering class.

So even though every student who applies might be a great fit, might be spectacular in some way. The admission office is trying to create a well-balanced entering class. That’s going to represent a lot of different backgrounds, viewpoints experiences. Academic passions, areas of involvement. They are trying to keep an eye on the entire growing community, not just one particular student.

And that can be hard. That can be hard for students who doesn’t understand why they weren’t admitted when it looks like they should have.

There are some, some pretty common myths about the application [00:23:00] process. The biggest is that the student has to be well-rounded has to have done a million different activities. And the biggest myth of all is that a student has to have done community service in order to be compelling. I will tell you that colleges do not care.

Whether a student has done community service. What they care about is what has the student done? In other words, who is the student and has the student done these things with depth and passion. And I’m going to talk about that in a little bit. It’s also a myth that students have to be leaders. There are a lot of shy kids out there and they will do great in college and there’s room for them in college.

No one wants to go to a college where every single student in an entering class, as a leader, that would be. Miserable. There are a lot of students who believe that doing well on SATs or actsh will mitigate some poor academics. That is not the case. What that shows colleges is that you’re a good test taker and [00:24:00] maybe not a great student.

It’s also a myth that students have to present a flawless academic record. There is room on the application. If you’ve had any blips, um, if you’ve had anything you feel you need to explain. Students are going to have a little bit of a space to do that. I had mano, it affected my grades. My grandfather died.

Uh, it affected my grades. Um, colleges are also looking at upward trends in grades. So that’s something to keep in mind. One of the most important things for families and students to know very early on in this process is that, um, while it’s important to have a really well balanced and appropriate list, there is never going to be a guarantee that you are going to get into the schools on your list.

Just because a student looks like they match the published data for admitted students. It does not mean that student is going to get into that school. And that’s why that list becomes really, really important. And why [00:25:00] exercising a certain amount of, um, acceptance and letting go is also very important.

The student obviously has to do the best they can, but certain things are just out of their control early decisions. Is not to be used lightly. A lot of families think that early decision is a way to boost chances of admission while the stats may show a slight increase in the number of students who are applying or I’m sorry, admitted early decision.

Usually those are. Special scenarios, athletes, for example, who are we’re being asked to commit early, maybe alumni children, um, maybe they are students who are just naturally a really, really good fit for that school. Have a really passionate affiliation for the school and the school can really see that manifested.

Um, so it tends to backfire when student. Fire off early decision applications. Cause they think statistically it might do [00:26:00] well for them where there’s not real, uh, passion or integrity behind that application. As I, as I referenced earlier, colleges are much more compelled by genuine depth and passion.

They would much rather see a student with maybe two or three, four things on their, uh, on their activities list. But for things that show a real genuine. Connection with those activities when you really see kind of that light and that energy and that engagement with whatever activity the student is involved in, uh, colleges like to see strong academics, they want to see that students have done well in an appropriately challenging curriculum.

Um, As I mentioned, students and families are, are generally not going to be able to control the mandates that are happening inside admission offices. It is essential to have a [00:27:00] very polished application. You don’t want typos, you don’t want grammar mistakes. You don’t want poor writing. It’s equally important that you show real genuine personality.

And that’s where it starting early, having that reflective, um, Kind of genuine tone that, that, that conversation with the reader of your application, um, that really says something about the student that’s where that becomes very important. Um, and just keeping in mind that the student is. Thousands applying to a particular college.

And is it being evaluated as an individual and within the context of that larger applicant pool? Um, and as I said again, just because the student looks like they should get in, unfortunately they may not, there is no guarantee. And I just, I know I’m stressing that a lot. I just think it’s important to know that upfront, um, because it eliminates a lot of the [00:28:00] heartache down the line.

And I hope never to have a student equate, not getting into a school with any sense of unworthiness or, or not being deserving of admission. There are thousands of students who deserve to be admitted at all of these schools every year who are denied. And it’s hard to know why, and it’s hard to deal with.

Um, but that definitely is part of the process. And as a parent, I think that’s something that you can really help a student prepare for is the excitement. And the reality we’re going to do the best we can. We’re going to help position you for success and you will not always be successful in life. And I think in some ways it’s a really good way in kind of the comfort of a home environment, with your support, for them to learn that very important life lesson, which is that they are going to encounter a lot of bumps and bruises in life, and a lot of disappointments as, as they go through life.

Um, and learning to handle that. With grace and integrity early on is very important. [00:29:00] The student that has a lot of responsibilities, um, and really the college application process falls largely on them. So most important is just focusing on their academics, finding areas to Excel in, um, given perhaps, you know, particular strengths or aptitudes, um, studying, developing good study habits, doing well.

Courses appropriately, um, adding to their curriculum over time, making it more demanding, but within limits and not at the risk of their health or mental health. Um, it’s important for them to find things, to get involved in, to explore things maybe in their school setting in their school community or outside of their school community.

Again, maybe, maybe students have. Um, obligations at home that prohibit their involvement outside of school. Um, that’s fine, but if they have opportunities to explore different clubs, different, [00:30:00] um, different pastimes and pursuits, that’s an important part of the high school experience. Um, exploring colleges, doing college research, doing visits, creating a college list.

All of these things by the way, are things that we help with. But generally I’m just saying these are things a student will be doing over time, ideally with help. Um, but they are largely the students process. Um, so I’m doing the test preparation and obviously taking the tests is up to the students. Um, getting familiar with the different application platforms, writing all the essays, crucially important.

Everything has to be in the student’s voice. Um, I generally urge parents to stay far away from students’ essays and let other people, ideally us, some other organizations perhaps help and get involved. It’s also, I think, important for the student to find their own growing voice, [00:31:00] their own maturation process, their own growing confidence in this process.

And perhaps most importantly and hardest I think for adolescents today is finding that balance, um, between pushing yourself, focusing on accomplishments and really taking care of your physical and mental. For parents, a lot of what you’re doing is kind of behind the scenes. You are the cheerleader, you are the carpool driver, you are the bank, um, you know, signing them up for some clubs and activities, perhaps.

Um, you are the one helping. Them self identify perhaps with their strengths and weaknesses. Um, you know, if they’re at a loss for trying new clubs and organizations, maybe brainstorm with them, what you see in them as their, as their strongest qualities, the things that they get most excited talking about at the dinner table, the ways that they might shine in their school settings.

[00:32:00] Um, I think it’s really important to be involved and also be hands-off in the sense that you are allowing your children, the space to grow and thrive and turn to you as needed, but you are not imposing your own identity, your own anxiety. Um, or your own expectations on, on your children during this process?

I think to me, that’s, that’s crucially important. Um, totally fine for parents to handle the logistics. As I talked about before, whether it’s the college visits, um, you know, kind of helping manage some of that. One of the biggest things that honestly, parents overlook. And I see this again, and again, is.

Your child learned to be a mature adult, teach them responsibility for themselves physically. Um, in terms of taking care of their physical health, practicing good. Self-care respecting others, teaching them how to be a good [00:33:00] roommate cleaning up after themselves doing dishes. Do they know how to handle a bank account?

Um, do they know how to change their sheets and do their laundry? These are things that I, most parents probably are saying, this is ridiculous. Of course my kids know how to do this. Um, but you’d be surprised how many students get to college and don’t know how to make their own beds.

I think it’s important. I gave a lot of information and there is certainly overlap between what students are working on, what parents are working on. And I, I want to acknowledge that every family is different. And as I said before, every child is different. You know, your children best, you know, what level of support and guidance, what level of.

Perhaps structure and framework they may need from you. Um, I think one of the greatest benefits that parents say [00:34:00] to me all the time about working with our company is that it allows them at this crucial time that their children to focus on being a parent, not being the college application task, master, not being the worrywart.

Who’s always saying, did you do this? Do you do this? Do we need to do that? That allows us to take that role of helping to keep the student on task, helping to structure the process in a way that’s manageable and efficient and effective for the best possible outcomes so that you can really enjoy the time with your children in a way that’s not going to be entirely consumed by the application process.

And I think that’s, that’s what I’m trying to say. When, when I’m seeing the, the process itself, it’s not just about getting them into college, you are helping them learn how to live their life, how to make hard decisions, how to handle stress, how to balance [00:35:00] different demands and expectations being put on them.

And, um, That’s I think a great gift you can give your children is that you see that in them and that you, you acknowledge that this is part of the process. It’s not just about what college they’re going to get into. It’s about how they get there. It’s really important for students to be their genuine selves.

And that is very hard to do when students are trying to live up to parental expectations. It’s very important. I think, early on to have very honest conversations with your kids about what your hopes are for them, for college, what your fears are. What your expectations are, have these very open conversations so that they can focus on their own process and not have all this worry playing in their head about what you want for them or from them.

And they think you’re priming your child for success. By, by starting [00:36:00] early, you’re allowing them to focus on the most beautiful parts of this process, which are growth, maturation, identity, exploration, and confidence. This. One of many, many decisions your kids will make over time. And it is not the most important decision they will make.

I know it feels that way. I know it feels like this is going to shape the rest of their lives, but I promise you I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I have never, I’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of students and fans. I’ve never had a family say to me that their life was ruined or their student’s life was ruined because of the college.

They went to. It’s the opposite where students express tremendous gratitude on reflection that they ended up where they did. This process is inherently overwhelming. And I think it’s important to just say that so that, you know, to expect it, no matter how organized you are, it is often going to [00:37:00] feel overwhelming, help your child be their own storyteller, help them.

Grow into a person who can make a connection with an admission officer, make an impact because of who they are, help them understand the beautiful things you see in them. So they can communicate that to other people. And I think for all of us, it’s just important to be open to the opportunities that do present themselves.

Instead of focusing on the schools, the child did not get admitted to. I really encourage a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about the college. Options, the college choices that your child will have in the future? Uh, I know I spoke pretty quickly. Remember you can download the slides. Um, and I think at this point, um, Kayla, are you going to read out the questions?

Okay. Perfect. Yeah. All right, well, let’s go ahead. And, um, [00:38:00] so pretty much, uh, that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. Uh, you know, I hope you found this information helpful to remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. Uh, so now that we’re moving on to this live Q and a I’ll read through the questions you submit in the Q and a.

Paste them into the public chat. So you can see and then read them aloud so that our panelists Lauren can give you an answer, uh, as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions. Uh, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.

So let’s go ahead and get started. Uh, we’ve already had a flood of questions come in for you, Lauren. So, uh, let’s get straight to. Um, what do you consider starting early? Is there a particular year or age? That’s a great question. Um, I don’t think, I think it’s great to have your child watch something like this, or, you know, something similar in eighth or ninth grade, eighth grade as early ninth grade is fine.[00:39:00]

Um, I think, you know, in 10th grade, maybe. You know, sign up with a company like, like ours in 10th grade, you can start doing college visits kind of informally 11th grade is when the real work begins, but sometimes it’s good to have the knowledge, um, in hand before then. So starting early, I would say kind of sophomore year, but you’re not really going to do all that much during sophomore year.

Um, in terms of college planning specifically, but you are going to lay the groundwork by, by getting help, um, you know, choosing classes, finding summer activities, kind of generating, starting to really pull out that candidate profile and, and find that that narrative that’s going to distinguish the student.

Right. Um, how can my child get better at writing it? That’s a great question. I will say there were some kids who are just terrible at writing and for most students, [00:40:00] this kind of writing is very difficult because it’s, self-reflective, it’s not critical thinking. It’s not, it’s not a school essay. So, um, most of our advisors will work with students on, um, kind of writing exercises pretty early on in the process to just get the creative juices going.

Um, and I think definitely, uh, you know, I know for us or advisors, you really go back and. Students multiple times on essays. Um, you know, really keeping the students’ unique, genuine voice, but helping to refine the writing and kind of helping to pull out the essence of, of the story and the essence of the writing to make it the strongest possible essay.

Um, but there are just a lot of like free form, um, writing exercises that students can do. Um, so, you know, that’s something that, that students can do independently or through. Right. Um, the next question for you, Lauren is, uh, does applying to summer term at [00:41:00] a preferred school, increased the odds of getting in?

Unfortunately it does not. Um, I think it’s great because it gives students a chance to be on the college campus. Um, if they’re in person, um, to get a sense of the school and really see if they really like it, um, it does not give a boost in the application process, how well. Okay. Um, so, uh, what are some good volunteer organizations that my child can join and stay committed to?

Um, that’s a great question. And I will say, I don’t mean to, to skirt the question. It’s, it’s hard to answer without knowing what your child’s interests and passions are. Um, some great ways to find out about resources on our website. We have a ton of resources listed, um, but I would kind of talk to your kid, uh, about what they might be interested in doing.

Um, usually I know on my, um, like on a lot of. Listservs people are always [00:42:00] asking for volunteers for different kinds of organizations. Um, almost every high school has service clubs or service, um, opportunities for students. So I’d say kind of start local, but the most important question is what actually appeals to your child and kind of go from there.

All right. Uh, what parents, what do parents have international students need to develop as this process unfolds? Anything special? Great question. Um, I think the question, um, I’ll answer it kind of two ways. I mean, I think. Whether or not parents have been educated in the U S I think, um, just getting information early on as important.

Um, the second part of that though, is that if the child is not a us citizen, I think it’s really important, very early on to start doing a lot of research for how different colleges treat international applicants. [00:43:00] In the process, a lot of colleges, if you, as the parents are non us citizens, um, and your child is a us citizen, that’s one thing.

And obviously they’re considered, um, as a us citizen and often get kind of an international attribute, which is kind of a plus it’s a way of identifying something special or unique about them. Um, but there are. For international students, every college, unfortunately there’s not a very common thread in terms of how colleges treat international applicants.

And what I mean by that is in terms of the number of spots that they have, um, that they reserve for international applicants and financial aid, um, is often impacted by, um, by citizens. Okay, I’m going to combine two questions. Um, are there activities that colleges don’t like and are there activities that [00:44:00] colleges prefer to see?

Um, great question. And I think, again, it comes back to, um, Kind of what the child is genuinely interested in and how they’re choosing to manifest that. Um, I, I think I don’t want to deter anyone from doing something that they feel truly passionate about. I do think that in this very politically polarized world we live in right now, um, You have to know your audience, um, that if you’re a student who’s very, very involved in extremely radical, um, activities in one direction or another, there are some colleges that are not going to have a real connection with you as an applicant.

Um, but that in and of itself, shouldn’t deter a student from [00:45:00] doing something they feel really, really strongly about. It just means you have to have an appropriate and balanced college list. All right. Um, our elementary school awards and honors relevant on a college applicant. No, unfortunately everything on the college application is specifically for high school.

Um, what you can slip in often though, is, you know, if you’ve been playing piano, since you were four years old, you know, you, you can put that, you know, playing, you can write it in the. Short form, um, you know, playing piano for. 12 years. Um, but in terms of, um, in terms of the awards and honors and what the colleges are trying to capture in the activity section, it is specifically for what a student has done during high.

All right. How can, how can my child get ready for the sat? She previously got a [00:46:00] very low score. How can we fix that? Great question? Not every student is a great test taker. Um, so every kid is different and I can speak with great authority about this. Cause my two are completely opposite in their preparation.

Um, My, you know, I think my daughter, for example, um, she had a tutor, but she also self studied. She was every day would spend 20 to 30 minutes looking over the book, doing sample questions. And that made a huge difference in her score. Um, some kids do really well in groups and I know that, um, Some high schools offer sat prep courses.

Um, some communities will offer them. There’s a lot of sat prep companies. If that’s not financially feasible, there’s a lot of free, free resources. Um, mine where, um, you can even on the, on the, um, college board website, you can get sample questions [00:47:00] every day that you can do. Um, you can get sample tests. You can go to a used bookstore and buy a book and literally just dedicate the time to doing the sample.

A lot of the success on testing is going to be dependent, not just on knowledge, but also familiarity with the structure and function of the test and how the questions are asked. And so repetition is really important in terms of bringing those scores. All right. Uh, what kind of awards can I add to the awards honors Canada?

Um, typically those are, it’s going to ask if it’s school national or international, or am I saying that wrong school? Okay. School, state or national. So, um, it’s going to be any award you’ve gotten from the school, um, perhaps recognition from an organization, an academic, uh, organization outside of school, um, [00:48:00] or at the state or national level.

All right. Um, the next question is, uh, although my child does a lot of community service, how can this service really stand out? Well, Again, I think this is why working with an organization like ours becomes important because it’s not just that the service is this one isolated aspect of who your child is.

If your child does a lot of service, that also probably speaks to a portion of their. Um, their ethos, their commitment to the community. And these are things that evolve into the story into the narrative. That’s getting told in the application process. So the service is not just seen as an isolated. Uh, event it’s, it’s seen as a function and reflection of who that student is.

And again, how that student is going to positively [00:49:00] impact, uh, the college campus. Um, so I think if a student, again, Is doing something with, with real genuine enthusiasm and commitment, doing something they feel very strongly about that tends to come through in the application, um, through all of these threads coming together in, in that personal narrative.

All right, Lauren, how much does a GPA matter? What is a good GPA? That that’s, that’s a great question and impossible to answer. Um, I mean, grades are really the driving force in the application process. That’s why that college list is really crucially important. Um, if you are a student with a 3.0, that’s great, but you don’t want every school on your list to be IVs or highly selective liberal arts colleges or MIT or Stanford, because your chances are not going to be [00:50:00] great.

It’s important. There are 4,000 colleges and universities. There is a fit for everybody. So the GPA is important. Um, but so is the fit between the student, the student’s GPA and ultimately, um, the colleges the student is going to apply to. You don’t want to set your student up for failure. By being really unrealistic and encouraging them to apply to schools that when you’re looking at the published data are far outside of what they have accomplished academically.

Um, when you do virtual visits, when you do, um, information sessions on campus, Um, it’s really important to really listen to what they’re talking about in terms of what they’re looking for and what they’re typically, uh, admitting, um, in terms of what students are presenting academic. [00:51:00] All right at this time, uh, for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, uh, the college admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike our team of over 280 admissions experts and former admissions officers like Lauren are ready.

You and your family navigated all in one-on-one advising sessions. Uh, in the most recent admission cycle, our students were accepted into Harvard at three times the national rate and accepted into Stanford at 4.4 times the national rate. So sign up for a free consultation with us by going to college and calling the number at the top of the screen or clicking.

Get started once you’re registered for our free web platform, you and your student can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines and search for summer opportunities. All right there on our website. Now back to the Q and a, the next question for you, Lauren is, um, our high school students with college credits considered transfer students.

And how does that affect the application? Um, [00:52:00] definitely not necessarily. And again, this is one of the things that can be very frustrating because a lot of high schools have dual enrollment programs or maybe students have accelerated and taken colleges at a community college. Every college is going to be different in terms of whether they even accept those credits.

Maybe they use them for placement. Maybe they actually use them for a credit towards graduation. Um, that’s something that. I’m going to want to ask of colleges. You can, you can email them, call them and ask them specifically. Um, you only are considered a transfer student if you apply as a transfer student.

And that’s typically what students do after they’ve completed. I mean, I want to say typically, sometimes it’s after first year, if a student’s really not clicking with the college where they have ended up. Um, but more often, uh, students will transfer after sophomore year and you then apply specifically as a transfer and that’s an entirely different application [00:53:00] process.

All right. Um, do you think a professional essay has an advantage over a self written essay by. Um, every essay is self written. So there’s no, there’s no such thing as a professional essay. Um, all of the essays we help students with are self written. The student has written them. It’s the student’s voice.

It’s the student’s narrative. What we are is the guide to help pull the story, to help really encourage the student to do the reflection necessary, um, to. Show their best selves in the application process to really bring their story to life. Um, the other aspect of it that I think is helpful in terms of working with our organization is that given all of our experience, we are very, very familiar with what makes for a strong impact and a strong.

And so we can really save [00:54:00] students a lot of heartache in terms of, you know, sometimes students will write an essay and we know that that’s not going to have the kind of impact they want, but there are kernels of it that are just beautiful and perfect and really resonate. And so we can kind of help the students, pull those out again, keeping their unique voice, telling their unique story, absolutely written by the students.

Only by the student. Um, but in a way that feels kind of finished, um, feels polished and, and very impactful. All right. Um, is it a good idea to reach out and contact your assigned regional admissions officer? Um, I honestly don’t recommend it. Um, I. Ideally regional officers are visiting different high schools during the fall leading up to the application season, they visit a lot of high schools.

They do, [00:55:00] um, uh, kind of info sessions at the high schools. Oftentimes though, Uh, evening info sessions in your area. Um, and so that’s a great way to make contact, to find out when they’re in your area and go to one of those of possible. Um, unless you have a very, very specific question or issue, or you’re following up on a meeting, um, it’s, you know, you certainly can reach them.

There’s no rule against it. Um, but it’s not, it’s not going to do anything to benefit your application to have you do that. All right. What if, um, what if, what if the student’s grades and test scores are just not that. Then we create a college list. That student is really excited about that fit those grades and those test scores.

And I promise you, there are a lot of colleges that can be deeply exciting for students of every accomplishment in every level. Um, I, in this process, I never want a B [00:56:00] student or a C student or a D student to feel like. They don’t have anything to get excited about. Um, everyone is going to find schools that speak to them that, that they can thrive in an Excel at.

And it’s just a matter of doing the right research and, and getting the help to create that list. That’s really reflective of what the student’s abilities and achievements are. All right. And, um, how important is it to have an onsite college tour versus a virtual. Um, I recommend, I mean, I think especially one of the great things about COVID is that all these virtual info sessions and tours are really well done.

Now, I think that’s a great first pass. Um, if possible, I recommend doing an in-person as that college list is getting finalized. Um, You know, that’s not always feasible for families with financial or other limitations. Definitely. I [00:57:00] recommend doing an in-person visit, you know, ideally you do an in-person visit of a short list after you’ve kind of cold out the longer list through virtual visits.

Um, and then definitely would want students and families to set foot on a campus before making a final decision, because you learn a lot about a school by being on the.

Okay. Um, I believe that that concludes all of our, our questions, uh, for. Um, so thank you all for submitting those. Um, and so at this time, uh, yeah, you know, thank you for everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our wonderful panelists, Lauren. Uh, so that concludes our webinar. Um, and on your screen, uh, Here’s the rest of our February series.

So be sure to save these dates on your calendar and we look forward to seeing you in one of our future webinars. Uh, we had an amazing time telling you about starting early to help [00:58:00] your child stand out in college admissions tonight and, uh, have a good evening. Thanks everyone. Good night. Yeah.