AO Advice: What Makes a Strong College Application
Join CollegeAdvisor.com as former Vanderbilt University Admissions Officer Ferrell Armstrong presents “What Makes a Strong College Application,” a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session. During this special webinar, Ferrell will showcase three example applicant profiles and walk attendees though what qualities stand out and how he as a former Admissions Officer would decide whether to accept or deny. You won’t want to miss this!
2022-07-26 – AO Advice: What Makes a Strong College Application
Hello everyone. My name is Juliana and I’m your moderator today. Uh, welcome to AO Advice: What Makes a Strong College Application. Uh, so to orient everyone with a webinar timing, we’re gonna start off with a presentation, Uh, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can also start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelist. Good evening everyone. My name is Ferrell Armstrong. Uh, I am a former admissions officer of both the University of Georgia, uh, and also Vanderbilt University, where I spent most of my career working as the Assistant Director of Admissions. I was also the head of international admissions, uh, and later was promoted to being on Vanderbilt’s admissions committee.
Uh, very excited to meet with you this evening and start kind of talking through what’s gonna make a stronger application. Uh, and what we’ve prepared for you this evening are a few select examples of perhaps some essays or some transcripts, or even some letters of recommendation that stand out or would be good examples to kind of lean on of what to do and perhaps not what to do.
Uh, and one thing I do wanna make clear before we go any further into the presentation is, uh, the example applications that you’re gonna see. The relevant personal data of the students is, is completely changed. None of the students that you see are actually real students. Um, it will look like a common application account when I share my screen.
Uh, but none of the actual data is real, uh, outside of we’ve copied and pasted essays from years and years and years ago from students that are, you know, completely, um, different. And so to that end, none of the information you’ll see will be personal information being leaked onto the internet. No worries there.
Uh, but as we move forward, you know, very excited to kind of start the conversation. Um, the thing that I want most families to remember about this process is that. It’s pretty easy to look the same today in college admissions. And, and it’s not really what it has been in the last 15 or 20 years, perhaps parents, when you went to school, uh, where it was really simply based upon, you know, a good strong GPA and, and perhaps a good SAT or an ACT score.
Um, it really requires a lot more than today to stand out, uh, in these individual schools process. And, and more specifically as each school becomes more selective. It is imperative that you find a way to creatively differentiate, um, your, your children within the application process. With that being the case,
what we’re gonna focus on tonight are just a couple different pieces that I want you to be remembering as you’re going through this process. For me, I, I think the whole goal before we start looking at any particular examples is understanding what the real goal of the application is. The entire goal of the application is to really establish a personal brand, uh, for that particular applicant.
Um, you know, what, what I mean by a personal brand is what someone is passionate about, what they think they want outta life, you know, what they’re willing to do to make that happen. Um, the more that you can be descriptive of that, the more that you can provide a school with an idea of the reasoning and the why behind that, and then the why particularly that school’s right place for you, the better off you’re gonna be in the process.
So in terms of defining that personal brand, a lot of families will get a little bit combative when I talk about being more defined and, and selective in the process versus being undecided. I’m gonna be honest with you tonight. And the very first thing I’m gonna be honest with you about is. While being undecided is okay, it’s not the strongest way to apply to a school.
You’re gonna increase your likelihood of admission by being on a much more selective path. The more defined that you are, the better it’s gonna be for your child. Um, the more well-rounded someone is without any sense of direction, believe it or not, that’s gonna work against you in most cases today at your more selective schools.
So the quicker that a student can start to define a pathway of major interest, or perhaps a career interest that they would like to kind of explore the, the sooner that they’re really gonna be able to start making themselves relevant to each of ind, excuse me, each individual school, uh, that ends up on their final application list.
So, what you need to get us to understand is specifically why you think that major or career field is, is the right pathway for you. You know, what are your intents? You know, what, what purpose do you have of following that? Um, over the next 8, 10, 12 years from now, you know, what do you want to do with it specifically when you can answer what you can do with it specifically, now that starts to shed light on our second point of why my school, there are thousands of pre-med programs, right?
There are thousands of finance programs. So by you saying, I’m applying to, let’s just say Tulane for pre-med, uh, that does not explain why you are applying to Tulane, uh, that just tells them what you’re intending to study while at two. But if you can getting to understand where you’re wanting to go with your medical interest, what you’re wanting to do with it specifically 10, 12, maybe even 13 years from now.
Now you’re starting to get me to understand why my particular programs, my particular academic resources are perhaps better fit to situate you and to get you down that road and make that end goal for you much more likely. Um, that being the case, perhaps it’s the delivery of our academic system at our school that you’re drawn to, um, excuse me, perhaps it’s the academic community.
Maybe you’re looking for more of a competitive academic community to keep you motivated to perform. Maybe you’re looking for more of a, a unique culture as you go through in the four year undergraduate experience. These are things that really start to identify why our school and the applicants that are gonna be targeted for admission first, excuse me, and the applicants that are gonna be targeted for significant scholarship.
Are gonna be those that can make a clear reasoning as to why they’re choosing to pursue their pathway via us via Tulane via Vanderbilt, Northeastern. Those are the students of those schools like to latch onto because they’re the ones, those are the ones that are gonna tell their individual school stories.
So to that end, the brand in and of itself gives me a reason to continue your conversation. When, when you go through the application process, the end goal is that we have an understanding of who you are. And so Juliana, I’m actually gonna put you on the spot right now, and I didn’t prepare you for this whatsoever.
And I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable. Um, but if I said, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry, Kobe Bryant, who are those individuals or more specifically, what are they known for? Sports? Exactly. What about if I said things like Honda or Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, what are those. Groups or organizations known for automotive cars.
Wonderful. What about if I said something like Apple, Samsung, what are they known for? Tech? And one more just to put you on the spot. Sure. What about if I said, what is Juliana known for? Oh, this is a hard one. Um, I would have to say people know me for being a really like personable and empathetic person.
Also really diligent hard worker. And did that someone motivate you or perhaps influence what you decided to pursue in college? I’d say definitely to an extent, like I study ethnicity and race studies in college and it’s be just because like, it’s something that really informs my worldview and allows me to connect with a lot of people.
So yes, I would say so for sure. So that in and of itself is why a school probably latched onto you, because the more that you can give us this understanding of what you’re recognized for, what you’re about, that gives us a reason to admit you, right? So in an applicant’s profile, if, if you can, by that mean application, I, if you can get us to understand who you really are at the core and, and what you’re trying to pursue now, that tells me whether or not we have the right resources for you.
And if we can help you on your story, your pathway. It gives us a reason to talk about you versus an applicant that doesn’t have a purpose to be discussed in the first place. And we’ll just go ahead and deny them without really even talking about them for more than a few seconds. So what this kind of looks like is when your admissions officer Juliana went, you know, to the admissions committee to present you, the very first thing that they probably started with is, Hey everyone, we’re gonna talk about Juliana.
This is what she’s all about. Right? But if, if it was a different story, right, perhaps if it was not as clean and clear cut the applicant or was probably described as, Hey, we have Juliana, she’s a wonderful student. And she seems to be well liked by, you know, her peers and by her teachers. And she’s a strong academic.
And then the admissions officer probably raised their hand and said, hey, wait a second. What are we gonna be able to help the student do? What’s the student’s purpose of wanting to come here? What can we do for them? How are we gonna benefit them into the. The conversation starts going towards deny right there, because now they don’t have a purpose to continue the conversation.
So your brand is the end goal of this application and it’s what needs to be coming out of it. So these admissions officers have a reason to advocate for your admission to the admissions committee. So what starts to set you up for success here? Well, let’s be very upfront. Uh, I think some of the families that have been on some of my webinars before know them, I’m kind of a straight shooter and that’s not to be rude.
I just like to be honest with people, academic performances is number one. Um, I, I hear a lot of families today and I mean, no disrespect in saying this. I understand that, you know, things happen. Um, but nothing makes up for a, a terrible academic portfolio. Nothing does. Um, if you’re gonna target a top 50 or a top hundred school, um, and you’ve had a very bad academic pathway, it’s probably best that you start to reevaluate the types of schools that you’re wanting to target, um, because they may not even open your application at all when they see your GPA. And it’s something that you need to be aware of. I don’t want a family to, you know, get their hopes up or, or waste time on something. Um, when there’s nothing you can really do about it. A common question I get is, well, hey, like can’t my strong activities, can’t that make up for it?
No. It can’t, um, the activities are great. They’re a massive part in the review process. Um, but the very first thing that we’re gonna determine if we’re gonna even look at your application for is whether or not you have the academic performance that we expect out of someone that we’re going to admit. Um, so what are they looking for?
Well, we’re gonna take our first example right now, and we’re gonna start by looking at a school profile and a transcript, but what we’re looking for is, you know, the rigor of someone’s curriculum, did they, did they take a challenging curriculum? Um, we’re also perhaps looking for certain courses, um, that a student may be, you know, have incorporated into their, uh, into their portfolio.
I’m sorry. Uh, because of perhaps the, the major that they have interest in. Um, and then was there a certain point of time that a student became more focused, more selective with what they were choosing? You know, a great example here would be engineering students. Um, you know, a lot of times you start to see students focusing at the, you know, midpoint of sophomore year taking higher level math classes.
Trying to take physics early that can start to show us a shift in that student’s focus going down an engineering pathway, which is kind of a, a nod to your favor in that regard, cuz sooner that you identify something and start to address not only your course selection, but also your activities, the stronger it’s gonna support your application, cuz you’re able to narrow it down and make it very unique to what the individual schools are looking for that you intend to apply to.
Uh, but let’s take a look at what this looks like on the application, uh, from admissions officer’s perspective, the very first thing that I’m gonna look at when I start to, um, review an applicant is I’m actually gonna go and look at your school profile and I’m gonna look at your actual performance. So this is an example from, uh, a school that is not actually in Los Angeles, but if we look at the school profile and we come down here, you’ll see that it tells us a lot about the school it’s accreditation.
It also tells us the percentage of students of color, the students that are attending a four year school, but more importantly for me, what starts to stick out. Is how these schools are weighting their GPAs. So they know that the GPA at this particular school is based upon 10th through 12th grade. They don’t establish GPA off of the ninth grade year and that they do not offer advanced placement courses.
So now what we wanna do is we wanna see how this particular student, Mr. Martinez then performed. So as you can see, because this student is enrolled from ninth, 10th, and 11th grade, he’s taking higher level programs from what that school offers from the very beginning. If I go back here one more time, again, you’ll note that they do not offer AP courses.
So honors courses are the most challenging courses physically offered at that school. If it’s not at that school, it’s gonna be a college course. So Mr. Martinez here has taken a variety of challenging courses within that school’s curriculum taking multiple honors courses every single year, uh, to include three his ninth, I’m sorry, his 10th and 11th grade year.
To his ninth and 12th grade year. So he’s taking a rather challenging curriculum within the context of that particular school. Now, why does this matter? Because we, as admissions offices are reviewing you within the context of your school, we are not reviewing you to compared to another student down the road from you.
So Mr. Martinez is only gonna be reviewed against what was available to him here at his own school. He’s not gonna be compared to a student, perhaps like, uh, Mr. Gregory, who attended a completely different school in a completely different part of the country. Uh, so Mr. Gregory here, another good example, his school profile, if you note, uh, there’s 153 students in the class of 2011, when the student graduated, um, it shows us the middle 50% average for that test of the testing average is there for that school.
Um, but what stands out to me as we start to go through. Is that students are restricted to three honors or AP classes per year, unless granted specific permission to take four. So as we go and we click on this student’s transcript, what you’ll notice is that starting in ninth grade, we see, um, of variety of courses.
We start to see honors. So we have English nine, algebra two, uh, and then those are the only two courses. I’m sorry, biology. So we have three honors courses from freshman year maximizing the amount of rigor that this individual is allowed to take. Then you have the 10th grade year, we start going back down again.
We find the first history honors course. Then we see a pre-calculus honors course. And once again, a third and final honors course. As we get down into 11th grade. Now we see that we’re adding in AP courses. And so we have an AP US history and we have a physics honors. Um, and we also have an English two honors.
So for the most part, maintaining a fairly challenging curriculum, but did not really step all the way up into AP. Like we might have expected this applicant to do at a more selective school, but by 12th grade, they’re stepping into much more AP courses. They’re taking three AP courses, uh, as opposed to just the two honors courses in one AP from their 11th grade year.
So how would you then rank the two students? The funny thing that might be, you know, surprising to a lot of families is that the first student is actually more competitive based upon the fact that he took a more challenging curriculum from ninth grade all the way through 12th grade. The second student is not as competitive, uh, because he did not actually take the most challenging curriculum offer at his school consistently.
Um, there’s a difference there. And so with that end, that first student might have a, a greater edge in the review process simply because they took a more challenging curriculum again, within the context of their particular school. Um, Um, I, I cannot emphasize that enough. It does not matter if you go to a school that offers 25 AP courses and you took 15, you’re not gonna get benefit over a student that only had maybe two AP courses available to them at their high school.
Um, context is different school by school, community, by community. So keep that in mind, but the course selection is, is, is quite important here. Now, as we move on, as we start to. The essays. I, I wanna be up front and tell you that essays have always been, and probably always will be my favorite part of being an admissions officer.
Uh, it, it bring, it absolutely just brought me the, the greatest joy, uh, learning about students and kind of getting the ins and the outs of who they are. Uh, and I think that’s a great place to start in that you want to be the, the needle in the haystack here. You want to be the one that I, I discovered, right?
That I, I find in all my reading of essays, you know, 20 to 30 applications a day for about three months, three and a half months, a. Um, when I find that one, it it’s, it’s a big deal. Okay. So be original in your story, you know, first and foremost, um, you know, don’t necessarily jump on the topic, train, uh, and do something that all your friends are talking about, right.
Be original in what you want these schools to know about you. One of the things that I, I wanna bring attention to right now is there’s been a common trend in, uh, the admission space or students picking the topic from the Common App of, you know, going through a challenging experience and how you grew from that.
And there’s been a lot of fear and a lot of worry, uh, from students and parents alike that, because that applicant has not been through some challenging experience or situation that they’re not gonna be competitive for college. That is not the case whatsoever. I want you to pick a topic that you’re passionate about.
I want you to pick a topic that you can give us great detail. And story four. I, I, I don’t want you to pick a topic cuz you think that’s the one that’s gonna get you into school. Uh, and for the record, the Common App is removing that topic going forward because schools are so tired of it. Uh, so after this next year will not be on the application any longer.
Now, one of the things that is important here is really giving us detail as to who you are. The essay in my particular opinion is the most important part of the application. Simply put it’s because it’s the only time that we hear your voice. Now, why does that matter? Well, frankly, it’s because of two things, one, this is a competition and if you are not bringing enough attention to who you are and what you’re gonna do, then we’re really probably not gonna notice you.
Okay. So you need to look at this from a competitive standpoint, but probably more importantly, the second reason is that I am not simply admitting you to a school. I’m admitting you to a community and you need to let me get to understand who you’re gonna be within this community before I feel comfortable that you’re the right fit.
So the more detail that you can be, the more that you can let us understand what motivates you, what pushes, you know what you’re trying to get outta life. The more likely I’m gonna start to feel that you’re the right addition and that we’re gonna open these doors to you. So I, I don’t want you to assume anything, right?
I, I want you to be detailed. Don’t abbreviate, um, you know, be specific. Don’t make me have to think I need to go Google something. I don’t have the time to go Google something. I’m reading 20 to 30 applications a day. Um, that’s not something that I have the luxury of doing for you. So if you want us to know about it, you need to tell us one thing I want you to do is use your own voice.
Don’t feel like you have to be someone other than yourself. I, I want you to be, you know, the natural individual that you are as if we were sitting in person having a conversation. So, you know, if, if you’re not a comedian. For, for the love of the world, don’t make your college essays, your first attempt at comedy.
Uh, and unfortunately I’ve, I’ve seen those attempts go the wrong way most of the time. Uh, so to that end, I, I want you to, you know, let us get to know you and just allow us to understand the human being that we’re gonna be adding to our community if we decide to accept you. So why don’t we take a look at some other examples here?
Uh, so one of the students I wanna pay attention to here, uh, once I get it loaded up, uh, is a great one. Uh, let me find him for us. Let’s see, let’s pull this one. I think this is a good one screen share one more time. All right. So we’re gonna look at Steven’s essay here. So I’ll actually read this one out loud.
I think this is a fantastic essay. I’m proud to say that I’m a shoe guy. I know. And can openly admit that I think more about my shoe collection than I do about the admission tendencies of certain universities in my room. There are no less than 30 pairs of shoes dating back to my first Nikes that sit bronzed on top of my desk.
I have shoes ranging from patent leather air Jordans to neon green Adidas, running shoes underneath my bed in a perfectly straight line. My best and FiNet shoes are organized by model and color. However, once my English shoes get old and torn, I am forced to retire them to the back of my dusty closet, where they will live out the rest of their existence.
It hurts me to send my companions, love that onto the dread closet, but I know it’s better for the both of us to move on with our lives. Just the day I was digging through my closet, looking for clothes to donate to charity. When I came across my grace, Wade, Nike high top basketball shoes, they were ripped and I was about to throw them in a pile of giveaways.
When I stopped and considered on the ninth, they saved my life on a Friday afternoon in my sophomore year, my friends and I went to paramount Kings Island. After a long day of flying up and down on loops, cork screws and barrel rolls, we decided to leave as it was getting dark. We began speeding down the empty parking lot towards what we thought was the exit.
Then suddenly the car was flying through a chain link fence, straight down 20 feet into a sewage aqueduct. For a moment, it felt like we were riding Riddler’s revenge, but then it hit us the wall that is in a state of shock. We managed to climb out of the car. We found ourselves standing in two feet, sewage water within the two deep foot aqueduct after checking ourselves and each other to make sure nobody was too badly injured.
We started analyzing the situation. We tried and failed to climb up the steep walls many times until I noticed that the bottoms of our shoes provided perfect tread along the concrete walls. I took off my high tops and threw them to my friend. I instructed him to put the shoes on his hands this way. He had four points at which he could grip the wall rather than two.
He used them like gloves, allowing him to easily climb up the wall like a. As he got to the top of the wall, he tossed my wet shoes back to the next person. He kept ex we kept exchanging the shoes until all of us were out. After spending some time in the hospital, I returned home, realized how lucky I was and slipped off my sewage, smelling Nikes and threw them in the closet.
And earlier retirement than expected, I was quick to discard my shoes because they did not have much use to me anymore. Looking now at my old gray Nikes, lying, defeated in the closet. I wonder if they truly deserved to be there. Was it right for me to banish into my closet because they were a little smelly and torn what would’ve happened, what would happen?
Excuse me, if I were to throw out more important things, just because they were a little banged up. So for send for the sanctity of time, uh, we’re gonna stop that essay there. But the reality is, is that essay’s incredible. Okay. Uh, it shows the talent of a student to express him himself in the written word.
Uh, it shows the subtle humor that he has, right. It shows the personality that he has. And at the same time it shows the level-headedness that he had in the moment of trial. Right. Um, now some families will look at that essay and, and they think, well, that’s kind of a sob story and it’s really not though.
It’s, it’s creating, I think humor from a, a tough situation. Um, but also showing us the personality that he’s gonna bring, uh, to this community. So when I, when I read that essay as an admissions officer, this applicant strikes me as that individual. That’s gonna be that community builder. He’s gonna be the one out there, getting people together, trying to build something as you know, within the community, uh, getting our, you know, students, you know, more involved.
He’s the type of student I’m gonna latch onto and, and reward immediately in the application process simply because he makes me believe that he’s gonna add to what we’re trying to build here. So that’s a wonderful example, uh, of an essay. Now, if we go over to one more example here, uh, we’re gonna pick on one other student here.
Uh, I will click on this one and share it with you as well. Let’s see. Give me one second. Here. It is.
Here we are. Share my screen one more time. All right, cool. So, uh, this applicant here, Mr. Martinez, again, for most of my life, I’ve been resentful about the expectations placed on me. My parents have always told me how lucky I am to grow up in America. They constantly reminded me of my many cousins back home who would give anything to have what I have.
They talked about how hard they’ve worked, how much they’ve accomplished and how much they’ve wanted from me. I heard the same things every day at school, from teachers, my counselor, and even the principal secretary. They all said you can be anything you wanna be. The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to be.
All I wanted was for them to leave me alone or maybe tell me what to do. Then I started my community service down. Uh, downtown Lada Hasan. I tutored a woman in English. Bianca was 10 years older than I, and we used to talk to each other a lot about all kinds of things. I really came to lacker as an older sister, Bianca was learning English so that she could become a nurse.
She worked in a nursing home as an aide, but she wanted to be the one who gave out, uh, medicine and worked with the doctors, her boyfriend Hoffa. Wasn’t really happy about her plan. He kept saying that we were going to get married as soon as he got enough money and she’d be too busy with all their kids to work as a nurse, we used to laugh all the time about how she could make Hoffa take care of the children while she pursued her career.
After I’d been tutoring her for about four months, Bianca started missing lessons. When I would see her again, she’d be full of excuses and say that she wouldn’t miss anymore, but then she’d disappear for a week or more. Finally, she stopped coming to the center at all. I asked the other women what had happened.
Some said she had lost her job and knowing that she would never be able to afford nursing school had decided to stop taking English classes. Some said that she and Hoff had moved to another. A few hinted that she had to go home. Now I tutor a young father. He is currently an office cleaner, but he hopes to soon be able to get a better job so that he can take better care of his wife and kids.
We’ve already covered more lessons than I ever did with Bianca, but we don’t talk much about our lives. Every time I go to the has Spania I look around hoping that Bianca will be there. She a such a great expectations for her life. She didn’t need anyone to tell her what she could become. She taught me about working hard for better life.
Now, when my parents and teacher asked me what I would wanna do with my life, I still say, I don’t know, but the one thing I do know, I’m lucky I can be anything I want to be now to be very clear. There’s nothing that I don’t like about the essay. Um, and, and I think that is a unique way to just show, you know, your passion of working with other people and service to others.
I think that’s a beautifully written essay for that regard. Problem I take with it is that it still focuses on not exactly knowing what you wanna do in the eyes of admissions officer. We would like for you to kind of re-angle that essay to say, here’s how I’m trying to determine that, make that determination.
Here’s what I’m doing currently to figure that out. Um, leaving it open ended of, I don’t know what I wanna do really kind of leads us more concern from the perspective of, and I mean this with all respect, then how can we help you is my very next question. Um, so if that applicant could have turned that essay a little bit more directional and demonstrated or told us in his own words, what steps he was taking next to create, you know, his, his future, what he was gonna try to do to figure out what pathway he wanted to pursue, that essay would actually have a better outcome in our minds.
And, um, may have worked a little bit better for him. So as we move a little bit further on, um, of course we have to talk about the different things that, you know, Affect an applicant today. What I don’t think students do a good enough job of is presenting what they’ve been involved with. And there are a lot of different things that students can be taking part in, you know, from internships and shadowing research programs, you know, summer academic experiences, jobs, by the way, I, I loved it.
When a student had a job, I would always give a student a higher review for maintaining a job. Uh, but then of course you might have family commitments, right? There’s a lot of different things that you have going on. The, the reality here is what students and families miss so frequently is. It’s not necessarily the experience that you have.
It’s how you present it. These schools today are actually training your admissions officers to look for a lot of keywords and. The problem is, is that if you don’t have the keywords that they’re looking for, you may not quite acquire enough point in the review process. And so what we’re gonna do now is go through two examples of, of what you can be doing to give yourself a better outcome in this process, with the words that you choose.
Now, unfortunately, the examples I’m gonna show you are, are still not the best examples. Um, but I, I think you’ll start to pick up after we go through the second one together, uh, to get a better understanding of where I want you to take this.
So as we come back to actually, we’ll come back to his in a minute. Let’s see here, scroll down here we are. So for Ms. Gregory here, you’ll notice that, uh, she’s a very talented athlete, right? So she’s a, uh, state champion in swimming. She’s a leading rebounder in basketball. Uh, she’s a, does swim structure, swim instruction for underprivileged youth.
Uh, and then she’s been a pretty at her school in the college counseling department. My problem here is that this lacks significant detail, perhaps about what she did within the college counseling prefe role specifically, I would’ve liked a lot more detail as to what her role was, what was expected of her, you know, what did she do on a regular basis?
Um, simply saying student assistant to the director of college counseling, doesn’t really tell me what she’s doing. Um, there are any number of things that she could be doing in that role now, uh, in the swimming, you know, description. Uh, this is actually not the best description being state champion is a big deal.
She’ll be rewarded for that. Most definitely. That is certainly something that you want to, um, you know, note, but I want a better idea of, you know, how, what level did you compete? You know, did you. At the city level, the national level, right? The, the, the county level, she’s an all American. Um, but the reality here is that she could have done the same thing for basketball.
Right? What did she commute? The school level, the city level, the county level, at what level did she participate? And then most importantly, you know, what did it, what did it involve? What was expected of her? What, you know, what did she have to, you know, commit to this process? Was she waking up at 5:00 AM every morning to get to the pool by 5:30, that kind of detail matters more.
Um, that really shows me the determination and the grit that it takes, because now you do that on top of a challenging academic schedule and it makes your experience much more significant. So there’s, there’s a lack of information here. If we go back over to Mr. Martinez, we see a little bit more detail.
Again, this is not the best example. Um, but we see a little bit more detail. So here within his activity, description. You will note, uh, that he was the Catholic youth president at his school, and he helped priests with masses and organized activities for church youth group. So the word organized is actually a key word here.
He might actually get a little bump in the points, allocation, the points that he’ll be awarded simply by having that word in there, because it, it notes that he took leadership and ownership of something, right. He was in charge of something. Um, that that’s a key piece there. The other piece is he ran council meetings as student body president.
Once again, he organized activities, but he ran council meetings. He held fundraisers. So it, it demonstrates the level of responsibility that was, you know, part of his role. And it lets us see even more that he has multiple things that he’s involved with, that he takes a higher level responsibility to organize, maintain, um, and, and perhaps distribute responsibility to other team members that shows more commitment, right.
It, it shows more, uh, requirements of time and it frankly, It shows a higher level of participation. So Mr. Martinez’s activity section would be the one that we would actually probably award more points to in the review process, simply because he had more detailed descriptions of what he did now, while still limited.
I would’ve liked to see more, um, in comparison to the first applicant, there was more detail there, which we would’ve worked for, as I’ve said now, I think the hidden killer of admissions applications are actually letters of recommendation. And, and I know that’s a strong thing to say. Uh, but admissions applications today, they, a lot of times don’t fully.
Connect, if you will, sometimes you’ll have a student that’s using their essays and perhaps their activity descriptions to point themselves in one direction. And then you get a letter of recommendation that points a student in a completely different direction. So you really wanna make sure that the letters of recommendation that you’re getting are, are really kind of bringing you together, um, in terms of what you’re saying about yourself and that teacher, or perhaps, you know, life coach or, you know, sports coach.
Just a mentor in general, they’re backing up what you’re saying about yourself. Um, the reason we place so much emphasis on the letters of recommendation, I is that it’s somebody other than you, right? Uh, that we’re we need someone’s word. Other than you, everyone’s gonna say that they’re the great fit for the school they’re applying to.
So we need to get somebody else that being the case, you would be surprised at how many negative letters of recommendation we see every year, uh, for your own benefit. Please pick people that like you, uh, and I’m, I’m not kidding. I’m being dead serious there. Please do pick people that like you, um, I I’ve seen things like student verbally assaulted me in front of my classroom.
Um, I didn’t know that verbal assault was a real thing, but apparently it is. So pick people that will tell you, um, that they’re gonna write a legitimate letter of recommendation for you, and then we’ll back that up and do it. Um, but make sure it’s someone that can be detailed about your. And really tell me the, the individual that you’re gonna be within our community.
You know, that’s what we’re really using these for is we want to get confidence, more confidence in, in how we’re gonna benefit by your presence. Uh, and so the one example, cuz it’s such a great example that we’re gonna look at, uh, is coming up here in one second. So just gimme one second and we’ll pull this one for you.
Okay. Make sure that’s sharing again. So we’ll come back to Mr. Martinez’s application. Uh, I, I want to highlight these last three paragraphs. Um, It was then that I realized what respect Juan commands from his peers. They hold him in great esteem as shown, as shown by them, electing him in class president two years in a row.
He’s a strong voice and leader among his classmates. He does not hesitate to represent the views of the students in our administrative counsel. Neither does he shy away from those times when he must tell the students that their view will not prevail. He’s also the president of his church group and a regular tutor at the Hispanic community center.
Obviously very bright. Juan has taken many of the honors courses we offer yet few would call him a grind or a bookworm. His math teacher speaks of his UN uncanny ability to grasp a new concept. In record time, his humanities teachers give him high praise or his in, excuse me, uh, in tune to his sense of character and his willingness to take risk in class discussion, the Spanish department who was saddened to lose one as a student this year, as he took the highest level Spanish course in 11th grade appreciates his dedication to the local tutoring program.
Clearly Juan can take on any academic challenge he chooses. Juan is a young man with a great deal of potential though. His grades are not straight as he’s blessed with an intellectual curiosity that makes him a joy to teach. As his physics teacher said this fall for Juan, there seems to be genuine joy in the mere active discovery.
I only wish all of my students were so curious and so willing to do something about that. Curiosity. I recommend one with respect and pride, so without giving too much away, um, If you can pick up on it, I’ve, I’ve used that particular applicant. That’s not his real name. Uh, we changed that and we put these together when I was still at Vanderbilt.
Um, that student was later accepted to Vanderbilt. Um, and that’s why I focus on his materials more than others this evening is because his story’s clean, clear, consistent from beginning to end. Uh, what really stuck out to me in, in that letter of recommendation was the depth that, that school counselor, that college counselor actually knew and respected one most levels levels.
I’m sorry. Most letters of recommendation do not go to that level of detail. They do not share the story. That the teacher shared of observing him amongst his peers and, and talking and, and politely debating amongst his peers. Uh, they don’t share the story of the joy that he brings to a classroom. Um, most letters of recommendation, whether to be from the college counselor or from a teacher are, are very high level establish, essentially your academic profile that we already have the record of in your transcript.
And they simply repeat a lot of the organizations or activities that you participated in. And don’t really add any additional context. The letter of recommendation that I just showed you is the rarity that length of letter of recommendation is rare. Um, the level of detail is rare. The confidence that that teacher gives me, I’m sorry, that counselor gives me in that applicant is enormous and, and we did reward him for it.
He was later admitted again, his real name is not Juan to that end. As we start to kind of wrap up here, you’ve gotta bring it all together. And so the end goal here with this process is making sure that your essays, your letters of recommendation, your activity, descriptions, even your transcripts are starting to kind of come together and support one another.
And explain why you are applying to a particular school for a particular pathway. Now, again, Juan himself was the example that he did not necessarily hit well with his essay because he didn’t really give us an understanding of his path the best, but it was the passionate individual that he is the passionate individual that he was also described to be in his letters or recommendation.
And his leadership that came out of his activity section that made us decide to take a little bit of a risk on him, uh, because he was a little bit below our academic standards at the time. Uh, he later went on to Vanderbilt and, and had an amazing career. Um, so to that end, what I’ll tell you is it’s his application that I leaned so much on because everything came together and, and kind of.
Gave us this all encompassing image of who he is. And it’s what allowed us to understand how we would best benefit by his presence on our campus. So he gave us a clear picture of the individual that he was and what he was gonna be within our community. And that really nearly solved the puzzle. For me, it didn’t perfectly solve the puzzle for me, uh, because we didn’t really understand initially why he wanted to be a member of our campus.
Uh, but the individual that he was gonna be, how we would benefit from his presence, you know, where we would see him grow on our campus. That was very clear from every part of his application. And that’s why we rewarded him with the opportunity of admission at Vanderbilt. So.
All right. Thank you so much, Ferrell. Um, it was really helpful to look at those applicant profiles. Um, so that does bring us to the end of the presentation part of the webinar. And now we’re going to move on to the live Q&A, um, as a reminder, you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab.
Um, and if your Q&A tab, isn’t allowing you to submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. Um, so first question we have up that was submitted, uh, prior is a student is wondering, you know, what component of the application is most important?
Like what would you rank them as between essays, extracurriculars, uh, grades, letters of recommendation, et cetera.
Ah, you kind of cut out on that first part. Can you repeat. Yep. Um, so the student is wondering out of the different components of the application, how would you rank them in terms of importance? So for example, essays, um, extracurriculars, uh, transcripts test scores, letters of recommendation, you know, what’s most important when you’re looking at an application.
Yeah. Again, so transcripts most important, right? So transcript and GPA slash test score that determines if we even look at your application, right. If you don’t have what we’re looking for, we don’t go any further from there it’s over with. So that’s first and foremost, outside of that, I would say it’s essays followed very closely by your activity descriptions.
And then after that, I would say, it’s your letter to recommendation. That would be the order of importance. Great. Thank you for sharing that. Um, a student is also wondering here, like, have you ever interviewed an applicant? Um, if so, what were you looking for in that interview? What did you like? What did you dislike.
Yeah, so interviewed plenty of applicants. Uh it’s it’s definitely a unique experience for sure. Uh, what I’ll say is when, when I’m interviewing students, I’m, I’m looking for them to represent themselves. I, you know, I, I take the interview as an opportunity to press them a little bit deeper and further. Uh, at that point I’ve already would’ve read their essays.
Uh, that’s something that we did with interviews is we would’ve gotten our application materials and, and prepped it beforehand. So I would try to explore, uh, perhaps a little bit of what, what they told me in their essays a little bit deeper with them. Um, to that end. That’s not how every interview process works.
A lot of schools, most schools now are relying upon alumni interviewers and they don’t give the, those individuals, those alumni access to your application materials. In a lot of cases, some schools will, some schools won’t. Um, so some institutions may not have. Same level of knowledge of your background.
Um, but that, to that end, they’re really gonna try to hammer home, or I should say, not hammer home, but try to get down to the brass tax of why you wanna be in that community. Um, listen, it’s, it’s very common today for a lot of applicants to be applying to 20 and 30 schools, which is a huge mistake by the way.
Uh, but students wanna apply to 20 to 30 schools simply because they want to brag about where they got into school. They’re gonna use that interview to dig out if you’re really wanting to be there for the right reasons. Uh, and you need to give them the evidence to support that. So you better know about that school’s culture and community that that should be in your essays, but that also needs to come up in your, your interview as well.
And on that note, how many schools would you recommend students apply to? I’m a fan of 10 to 12. I mean, the data supports students that, you know, have a more condensed school list, but can spend more time working on that condensed, uh, school list and those applications have a better outcome. Uh, when you start applying to 18 20, 25 schools, you, you don’t have the time that you think you have.
Because of simply the essay requirements and you should not ever copy and paste your essays from one school to another. It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Um, if you apply to 10 to 12 schools, you know, the average school today is making you complete between three and four supplemental essays.
You’re looking at between 35 and 45 essays at that point. Uh, so it’s very much, you know, to your benefit, to pick the right schools for you, have a balance list, um, and apply to those and, and not, um, you know, apply to those early, get your application process started early. So you can give, you know, robust descriptions of who you are at each school, not rush this at the last second and trying to get out 25 applications, you know, in, in the weeks leading up to the deadline.
It’s just not a good plan. Definitely agree with that. Um, so I have a student wondering here, because I know you spoke a bit about how it’s important to kind of know what you wanna do in the future, as well as having like a more specialized application. So the student is wondering, would applying undecided for a major, be a disadvantage then.
Wait applying undecided for a major. Yeah. I mean, I would say undecided applicants are the most common applicant to school today. Yes. Um, if, if you are going in completely undecided and this is what will get families frustrated, um, but if you are going in undecided, you are at a disadvantage for sure. Um, schools would much rather you be specific about what you are applying to them for, and you ideally would have activities that support, that claimed area of interest, right?
You’re saying you’re applying for engineering. Hopefully you’ve done some type of a shadowing experience or research or internship that perhaps relates to it. Or perhaps you’ve taken a variety of courses at school that relate to it. Um, if you’re going in undecided, well, it’s not wrong. I’m not, I, I went in undecided.
Let me be clear about that. But if we’re looking at this from a strategic perspective, yes, you’re much more likely to get into the schools that you want to by applying for something specific and having a resume to support it. If you are gonna go in undecided. They want you to see, excuse me, they want you to show that you’re actively trying to figure it out.
So don’t just tell me that you’re undecided and, and list Netflix as an activity. And I’m not kidding. I’ve seen that before too. Uh, I, I want you to tell me how you’re actively trying to determine what you’re gonna pursue, you know, in college. So you need to show me that whether it’s through activities or within your essays.
Great. Thank you for sharing that. Um, let’s see what question to ask next. Um, so some students are also wondering about that test optional aspect. So I know with COVID 19, a lot of these schools have, you know, pushed towards test optional or have had test optional for the last couple, um, application cycles.
So just seeing like, would a student be at a disadvantage for not submitting test scores? Um, how do you factor that into the application? The reality here is that if you go test optional, now, everything else becomes value and weighted more. So if you go test optional, your essays, your activity sections, those are being weighted two to three times more in the process than if you submit your test score.
My recommendation is take quality, test preparation, take a test, take it a second time. And as long as your score is in the, you know, upper, the upper end of the middle 50% to the top 25% submit that test score to the school, uh, it will typically work in your favor. Um, if you are not just a great test taker, like I’m someone that has, you know, test anxiety myself, um, then perhaps test optional is the best way to go for you if you’re just not having the outcome that you need from the test.
Um, but I would still encourage you to see where you land with the test score before you make that decision. If you’re gonna go test option or not see what your options are, don’t just make a blind decision. Great. Thank you. Um, Just looking to see another question. So a lot of students are wondering about that personal statement, and I know that we delved into a couple of those essays that you shared.
Um, but you know, just what advice would you have for thinking, for brainstorming a topic and, you know, really coming to have a fruitful story there that will, uh, stand out to the admissions officer? Yeah, I think, uh, I just saw Kylie, um, I believe, I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly, if not, I do apologize.
Uh, but I, the question is, uh, do you think it’s more important to have the essay, uh, about who you are in, in other word experiences or what you plan to do aspirations? I say both, right? Your experiences are what motivate and create your aspirations. So tie it all together. Right? That to me is what is, I think, a better essay altogether, because you can tell me at the core what motivated you to get to a certain point?
What, what was a certain moment of experience that made you say, Hey, that’s what I wanna pursue. Right? And now here’s how I’m playing the work towards it. So that’s a great question. Uh, and I, I hope that answer makes you feel more confident. great. Thank you. Um, and some students are also wondering about what kind of wording you should use for the activity section of the common app.
Mm-hmm for example, just the descriptions of those activities. Um, do they need to be in complete sentences? What’s important to have in there, especially because it’s, it’s really just so limited characters wise. So the only time that I’m okay with not following proper grammar is the activity section, right.
Um, you know, due, due to the limited space, you know, currently within the common application, it’s 160 characters for description. Um, you don’t need to use complete sentences. Um, you like, for example, you should abbreviate by using the sign for the word and you should not spell out a and D. Um, and so you want to be very.
Cognizant of that. Um, so incomplete sentences are acceptable, um, to that degree in the activity section because of a limited space that is there, um, outside of that, you wanna be making sure that you’re using the impact words, right? Or you elected, or you appointed that shows rarity. It shows them that everybody was doing something by the way, who appointed you, who elected you, were you elected by five or six peers, or were you appointed by your school’s leadership team to do something that’s a much bigger level of responsibility, right?
So, um, those are the kind of differences that you can have there that will differentiate you and allow you to stand out. And then again, uh, you know, signifying the level of experience or participation or competition was it, was it school level? Was it city? Was it county? The moment you did something outside your county, it was, it was state level.
The moment you do something outside your state, or took part in something that perhaps people came into your state for that’s national level experience participation, and more points will be allocated for each, you know, threshold that you move up. Great. Thank you. And I know that the focus of this presentation was more so, like what makes a strong college application, but some students are wondering, you know, what makes a weak college application?
What are some common pitfalls that you see in applications? First of all, not understanding the community and the culture, the school that you’re applying to. Um, I think that’s, I think students many times, and I’m not, I’m not saying this to be rude students just again, they default back to, it’s just academics and it’s not, we’re looking for a certain type of applicant.
We’re looking for a certain type of contributor to this community. Um, you know, at some schools, it’s a very competitive environment. If you’re not prepared to come into a school and, and be, you know, challenge in a, in a market that students are trying to beat you in class, that’s the wrong place for you.
And if you don’t understand that, and that’s not, it’s coming outta your essay, that you’re not prepared for that it’s coming outta your application, that you really don’t recognize about us. That’s a bad application at that point. You’re, you’re not really qualified or perhaps. You don’t really, you’re not really prepared for who we are and if you’re not prepared for who we are, then we’re, we’re probably not gonna admit you.
Um, so it’s understanding what the school is all about and, um, and perhaps you’re fit within it. I, if you don’t understand that, and you’re applying that that’s a solid way to start going downhill, let’s put it that way. Uh, the other thing is, is I think just not, not that this is common. I do wanna say this.
This is not common, but just not being in check with with yourself. I look, this is a competition. I respect that. I have said that probably a half dozen times just tonight alone. Um, but the reality here is that some students can go too far. Right. Understand that there is a human being on the other side of that application that is reviewing it.
Uh, you don’t know who it’s going to be. Um, and, and so make sure that you’re not going too far with it. Certainly don’t hold back to where you. Give us enough to go on, but, but certainly be cognizant that, you know, you’re being reviewed for admission by someone of authority and they control whether it happens for you or not.
And sometimes students go too far, they don’t use the right, you know, you know, word or language choice. They come across as pretty arrogant or rude and they get denied for it. So it may not, you know, matter how, you know, talented you are at that point. If, if they think that that’s who your personality or that’s who you’re gonna be from a personal level, they’ll deny you no matter how qualified you are.
So be cognizant. Great. Thank you so much for sharing that. Um, so now that we’re at the halfway point of the Q&A, I did wanna take this time to do a little plug for college advisor. Uh, so for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, uh, we know how overwhelming the admissions process can be.
Uh, here at CollegeAdvisor.com. We have a team of over 300 former admissions officers. Ferrell and admissions experts like myself who are ready to help you and your family navigate everything through one-on-one advising sessions. Um, so you can sign up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session, um, with an admission specialist on our team, just by taking a picture of that QR code on the screen.
Um, you know, during this, you can really get to know more about how you can improve your application for yourself specifically. Um, and you can also connect with students like myself. I go to Columbia University in New York, um, just so you can get a feel of a university and find out more about its culture and what it’s like to be a student there.
Um, so moving back to the Q&A here. I did see a couple of questions. Students were wondering if they take the SAT and ACT multiple times, would they be put at, at a disadvantage or is it good to retake it? Um, when you haven’t reached that, like target middle 50% score, as you said. Yeah. It’s a great question.
So most schools today will super score the SAT. So when you’ve taken the SAT multiple times, the super scores where they combine the best subsection scores from multiple different tests. So maybe the reading score is better the first time, but your math score is better. The second or third time, then they’ll combine that, that your super score, most schools do that for the SAT the ACT some schools will do that, but the, ACT was not designed for that.
So most schools are actually going to be. Judging you on the best one time shot on the, ACT. So if you’ve taken it three or four times and your best overall score was the second time, then they’ll, they’ll look at that one. Right. Uh, but you still have to submit that to them. Some schools will super score the ACT, but it is, it’s not to the number that schools that will do the SAT.
So it is in your benefit to take it multiple times, but y’all, don’t, don’t take it more than two or three times. I mean, I would say don’t take it more than three times a piece just don’t. Um, I’ve heard of students taking it five to six times, and you’re just, once you hit three times, you’ve reached your threshold.
It’s not changing. Um, but as long as you take good quality test prep and I, I mean, legitimate test preparation services, um, you will see a benefit by. Great. Thank you. Um, so I have a student wondering here, like how important is it to rank your activities in a certain way or order them in a certain way on the common app activity section?
That that’s a great question. It’s extremely important. Um, I, I think that’s one of the pieces, the, the directions that a lot of families just naturally miss, cuz it’s pretty easy to miss. You should rank them. They, they tell you to rank them in order of importance to you. Um, no, you need to rank them in order of importance of what you’re applying for.
So if you’re applying, let’s just say that you’re applying for, um, you know, Let’s just say chemistry, right? And you put a bunch of things outside of chemistry at the top of your activity section, and then things that you’ve done activity wise that relate to chemistry are at the bottom. That’s. Now I’m gonna wait a second.
That’s not what you’re passionate about. So you wanna put your, the things that relate directly to what you’re applying for at the top. That should be the very first thing that I see about you. Okay. If not that, then it needs to be things that you’ve had significant achievement or experience with. So maybe it’s a, a big an activity.
You had a pretty big leadership role with, or perhaps it’s something that you had some great success with. Maybe it’s debate. Maybe it’s a sport that you performed at a high level. Um, those types of events should be the top two. Grab our attention early and fast with. And what about like AP tests and SAT subject tests?
How important are those when you’re looking at an application? Well, subject tests have gone away, so they’re not important anymore. Um, AP test, um, it depends on the school. So the AP test right now, some schools will expect to see that. Um, if they see that you’ve taken an AP class on your transcript, they will expect you to submit an AP test score for that class.
If it’s a bad score it’s gonna hurt. Um, if it’s a good score, it’s gonna help. If it’s another school like Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt had no intention of asking you. They never did. If you decided to submit an AP test score, it better have been good, right? Because again, if it wasn’t, it would hurt you. Um, Princeton’s a good example of they expect you submit any AP test score for any AP class that you took.
So every school is situational, and that’s one of the reasons why you need to start earlier with this process. Don’t, don’t be the student of the family that puts us. Latter part of junior year starts writing their essays, you know, senior year it be smart about this. Start putting your schools together right now.
If you’re in between sophomore and junior year, you should have your school list in place by October, because that gets you the time to understand what you need to be prepping, to submit to these institutions. It allows you to start pre-planning your essays early. We have kids that start writing their essays here at CollegeAdvisor as early as December and January of 11th grade because schools don’t change their essay topics every single year.
Right? So the sooner that you get this, you know, determined in terms of what schools you’re gonna apply to now, everything that you’re doing can be very kind of slow in, in terms of finalizing the process. You don’t have to rush through it and you can be a lot more deliberate, which allows you to have a much better outcome.
That definitely makes sense. Um, and just kind of on that note as well, what would you recommend are like freshmen and sophomore students to do right now to set themselves up for, um, college applications later on. Two things start exploring schools and start getting involved, start taking in activities or take activities.
Excuse me, start trying things that even you may not be passionate about, uh, things that you might not necessarily feel attracted to, you may be surprised to find something. Uh, I, I had a parent recently in a webinar say, well, the only thing that’s likely from that is that my kid just finds out another thing.
They’re not, you know, happy with. Okay, cool. But at least they checked that off the list and it wasn’t still on the list. Right? So my, my point here is start trying to determine what it is you wanna pursue by gaining experience in a variety of different fields. And then also start trying to explore a variety of different schools early and often, the sooner that you kind of know what you want to do in the schools that you wanna apply to.
Now, everything else from that moment on can be narrowed down specific to those individual schools. So we have kids that lock in their school list beginning a sophomore year, you know, halfway through sophomore year. And then every course that they sign up for every activity, they sign up for summer activities.
You know, or some are, you know, research, internships, things like that, all of that then starts to default and relate back to those schools that they’re planning to apply to which dramatically improves your likelihood admission, because they’ve done things that are so unique and specific to those individual schools.
Most students aren’t doing that at that level. That’s a, that’s a big difference maker for you. Great. Thank you. Um, so some students are wondering what topics should you avoid writing about on your personal essays? Because they’ve been really overdone yeah. Politics for the love of the world. Please don’t, don’t do politics too much here.
Um, you know, and I say that because unfortunately you don’t know who’s on the other end of that application review. Okay. You don’t know that person’s personal politics, whether they’re, you know, they have opinions on the same, you know, things that you share opinions on. Right. Um, and so the, the point here is I would typically always stay away from politics.
Um, it, it, it can go bad for you pretty quickly. Um, to that end, I would say, make sure that. Make sure that you’re not using the victim story. Um, the victim story. It, it seems to be that again, you had to have gone through something you had to struggle. Um, look, I, I, I hear you. I get it. It’s a common trend right now, but that’s not what it takes to get admitted to college.
Um, for me, I’m actually more impressed by a student that chooses their own topic that tells me about what they’re motivated by, you know, you know, what they love to do on a daily, you know, experience that I can typically get a lot more out of than someone trying to force, you know, force a story out of something that, you know, there wasn’t really a lot of detail to go off of.
Right. Um, you know, I had a student one time that actually wrote the process of peeling a banana, uh, and cooking it because he did like, it was like some. I forget what you call, but you put the banana in a, uh, aluminum foil and you put like candy around it and all that. And it’s, it’s like a dessert. It’s pretty cool.
Uh, but the process of like peeling the banana and how he, you know, how he prepared it and cooked it and the, and the toppings he put on it, uh, it was a great essay. You learned so much, and it was, it was enjoyable. It was funny. Um, and you just, you kind of got this vibe of, you know, just this fun, energetic personality that’s gonna be on campus.
Right? Those are the things that we wanna learn about, uh, those kind of unique nuances that make you who you are. Don’t do something cuz everybody else is doing it. I think that’s the number one reason not to. Great, thank you so much. Um, I do see that it’s 8:59 Eastern time now. So I did just wanna ask you quickly, you know, what’s the last piece of advice that you wanna leave our audience with?
Do this as a family, I, I, I think too many families today. They make two mistakes. One, they don’t, they don’t do this together. You know, mom and dad may be wanting this student may be wanting that come together as a unit and, and start trying to have that discussion early and often. Uh, and I think it’ll make the process a lot smoother for your family.
Uh, you’ll be a lot more enjoyable. Uh, number two, the, the, the difficult conversation have is always the financial conversation, um, establish your financial needs in the process first and foremost, and start building your school list around what your financial, you know, situation is going to allow you to enroll at.
I, I think that prevents you from staring down a bunch of schools that perhaps financially may not be in the cards for you, or that you’re not gonna feel comfortable, you know, or paying for. Um, and that’s a sense the subject for a lot of families and I, and I certainly respect that. So the sooner that you can go ahead and address that and have that conversation, it really starts to make the process a lot smoother for your family.
And it takes away a lot of, um, Just, I think a lot of unnecessary conflict that can come by getting into schools and then, then struggling to figure out how you’re gonna pay for it at a later date. Uh, I never went that for any family, so have that conversation early, but it’s been such a pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed it.
And, and thank you so much, uh, for kind of leading the charge here this evening. Juliana, it’s been great. Of course. Well, thank you so much, Ferrell. We all learned so much from you tonight. It was really insightful. So thank you. Um, and thank you everyone for coming out tonight. Um, this is the end of the webinar here.
We had a really great time telling you about What Makes a Strong College Application. Um, this is our July series. There’s actually only one webinar left for July. So it’s Applying to College as an International Student. So if you’re interested in hearing, feel free to check back in tomorrow. Thank you so much and have a good one, everyone.