Building Your College Application Timeline
Learn how to create a college admissions timeline to reduce your stress during the process from former Admissions Officer and CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert Angela Park-Pennington. In this webinar, Angela will present how to create ideal timelines so that you are prepared and ready to stand out in the admissions process. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-08-08 – Building Your College Application Timeline
Hi everyone. Good evening. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a Senior Advisor at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator today. Welcome to tonight’s webinar, which is Building Your College Application Timeline. Before we get started. I just wanna orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation. Then we will spend the rest of the time answering your questions in a live Q&A. You can download the slides, um, under the handouts tab and you can start so many questions as soon as you like in the Q&A.
Now let’s meet our wonderful panelist Angela Park-Pennington. Good evening, everyone. My name is Angela Park-Pennington, and I’m happy to be here tonight with all of you to chat a little bit about, um, the timeline for preparing for your college application.
So even before you get to the stage of, um, starting your college applications, everything that goes into preparation for that stage. Um, so I, uh, serve as an Associate Director of Admissions here at CollegeAdvisor.com. Um, I live here in sunny, California in Los Angeles, uh, and prior to joining CollegeAdvisor, um, I worked at USC’s Marshall School of Business, um, as an Associate Director of Admissions there, I also have prior experience working at, um, a few different university institutions and various admissions office roles.
Um, and. Probably over the last decade, I’ve read, you know, over 10,000 applications. Um, so I’m happy to share, you know, my insights that I’ve gained over the years. Um, and also in terms of my experience, working with students, one on one with families, um, just things that I’ve learned, um, things that have worked well for other students, things that haven’t so kind of pitfalls to avoid.
Um, and I’m happy to talk a little bit about, like I said, the timeline and some of those tips, as well as answer any of your questions at the end of the hour as well.
Thanks Angela, for that introduction, I’m excited to hear from you today and have enjoyed working with you. So I know it’s gonna be a fun session, uh, before we get started, we did wanna take a quick poll. Um, so I’m gonna open it up here. Folks, let us know what grade level are you in? So we can have some context on who’s in the room.
Angela, I can’t believe you said you’ve read 10,000. over to, you know, but I honestly, I could, I could believe it. um, do you, do you have ones that stick out for you or that you feel are, are super memorable? Oh, certainly. Yes. Um, so those, that number of applications spans from, um, my time both like wait for the UC’s, um, and for USC, a couple of other universities, but also for different scholarship organizations I’ve worked for, including QuestBridge.
Um, so the, really the stories of students’ lives that have been very, very vulnerably and transparently shared with admissions officers. I mean, they, they really run the gamut of, you know, life experience and, and stories, but also goals and hopes and ambitions. Um, there’s kind of like the quirky kind of random stories that really stand out in my memory, but also, um, like the, the deeply formative life experiences that has shaped somebody’s, um, attitude and perspective towards life.
Maybe that is something that has been, um, really meaningful and inspired them. Those things also last for me too, just because I, I gained some inspiration myself from hearing about how young people, um, you know, are, are so, so energized to make a difference in today’s world. Yeah, no, I, I can relate to that.
You’ve read 10,000 finished essays. I feel like I’ve read 10,000 drafts. Um, if not more. Um, so I’m glad the finished product is, is memorable pleasing for you. Um, being one of the folks who has some of the earlier work. Um, so thanks y’all for, uh, doing the poll. I’m gonna go ahead and close it. Uh, it looks like the majority of folks are, are 12th grade.
So we have about 13% who are 10th grade, 15% or sorry, 28% who are in 11th grade and then 55% who are in, uh, 12th grade. So thanks everybody for joining us and letting us know. And Angela, Angela, Angela, I will turn in that over to you to keep us moving forward with the presentation. Sounds great. So I’ll start with a little bit of an overview and I’m so glad that we did that poll because it definitely sh gives me a little bit of context as to who is all, you know, here tonight.
And it sounds like it’s a good kind of spread. We have, um, you know, students from all years here this evening. So I’m glad to know that the information I’ll share will be at least helpful to, um, uh, somewhat helpful to all of you. Um, so just a general overview. And like I said, I’ll go deeper into each of these years, um, for your freshman year, all the way up until your senior year, there should be different goals.
Uh, for you to start, um, uh, really taking action, uh, actionable steps towards, um, as you start thinking about preparing kind of laying the foundational, um, groundwork for your senior year, when applications are really just going to be a matter of putting them together and submitting them so much of the work when it comes to applying to college really encompasses your entire high school experience.
Obviously the underlying thread to your whole four years is going to be your academic. Um, uh, achievement, which is one of the main, most important things that your admissions officer will be considering when reviewing your application. Of course, with holistic review, your application will be reviewed to try to assess who you are as a person, um, your goals, your values, your personality, your interests, all of those things are very, very important, um, and very important for you to express and convey those in your application as well.
Um, but if a college believes has any reason to believe that you would not academically succeed and thrive at their campus, um, then there’s not a vote of confidence for them to admit you, even if they really love you as a person and think you’re, you know, the coolest individual and think that you’re, you’re gonna make a huge difference in the world.
And they truly believe that for you. Um, even if that is the case, if there’s reason for them to doubt that you wouldn’t be able to thrive academically at their university, Um, there’s quite a lot of hesitation there. So I, I, I, I start with that to say that in your freshman year, all the way to your senior year, um, the academic achievement and your rigor, the performance is going to be first and foremost, your, your main, main, main priority.
Um, and I know that even for seniors, A thing called senioritis, where you’re your motivation. You start to feel a little bit of burnout and your sense of motivation really starts to decline. Um, but that is something that is going to be your main lifeline throughout your freshman to senior year. So freshman year, um, you, that is going to be obviously the first time you enter high school and you’re starting to take really your academically rigorous courses.
Some high schools are going to offer those college prep, those advanced level courses from the freshman year, many high schools do not. So if you are a student who attends a high school, that does not allow you to take AP classes or IB level courses, starting if you’re from your freshman year, that’s okay.
If you have the option, start with the honors courses. That’s you giving yourself an opportunity and a chance to say, Hey, am I cut out for this? Or is this a good fit for me? And if you feel like, you know, some classes you really enjoy and you’re doing really well in, and that’s an area where the following years, you can start to pursue those advanced level courses, but freshman year.
Uh, but the VI, the opposite is true as well. So freshman year is really the chance for you to start, you know, sussing out what are the courses that I really enjoy? What are the subjects that I really enjoy and what are the areas that I really, um, find more interesting than others. Um, so we highly encourage you to be very engaged in your classes.
So academic engagement is very important. Similar to that. Your extracurricular engagement is also going to be important as well. So in your freshman year, You know, you will have had, you know, those opportunities to start exploring joining clubs, um, becoming more involved on campus, maybe exploring extracurricular activities outside of high school.
So this is really your exploratory discovery stage. Um, not all universities, but some universities, um, may place lo much lower weight on your freshman year grades. Um, and, and the big part of that is because they do understand that freshman year is a big, uh, transition period for many students. Um, if you’ve ever heard of a phrase, um, when it comes to grades, uh, called an upward trajectory, um, that, that, that is kind of what applies here as well.
Um, if you did not perform as well in your freshman year compared to your junior year and your senior. Um, that is an okay picture. A worse picture is maybe the opposite where if you did great in your freshman year, but slowly you’re getting C’s and maybe failing classes in your junior and senior year.
And that’s, that’s raises a flag, certainly for admissions officers like, oh, you know, they, they seem to be adjusting well, but something must have happened. Um, so for freshmen, I really do encourage, um, that to just be your exploratory stage, join all the clubs that you find interesting at all. Um, and then slowly throughout the course of your high school career, you will start scaling back as you start to identify.
These are the things that are most important to me. These are, um, the activities that I find most fun and most meaningful, and just things that I look forward to attending rather than kind of a sense of dread of, oh man, it’s Thursday. Now I have to go to this activity or this club meeting. That’s certainly not how, you know, uh, we would want your high school experience to be so definitely a great time to start exploring your interests.
And then sophomore year, you’re going to be advancing your academic courses, um, the rigor of your courses, as well as your extracurricular engagement. What does that mean? That means you okay. You’ve started to explore by joining some clubs and activities. Now you wanna think about how deeply you want to explore those, take it to the next level.
Um, uh, and, um, standardized test prep. You know, I’ll talk a little bit about this, one of the next slides. Um, but that is something that starts to, that we will start to explore as well, especially for any students who, um, you know, you’re, you know, that the testing is going to be on your radar. Um, then the P a is coming up and that’s something we’ll wanna prepare for too and so on and so forth.
So junior year. Um, a lot of people like to call it the most important year of your high school career. And, um, and a big reason why people say that is because it is the final full year, uh, on your transcript that admissions officers will be seeing. They won’t see your senior year coursework. They may see the classes that you’re enrolled in and it’ll show up as in progress, um, when they view your transcript.
Um, but in terms of full courses completed with grades, uh, your junior year is going to be your final year. So it’ll be the most recent show of your performance. Uh, and, and of course, same thing applies for your extracurricular activities as well. It’ll be the most recent show of your perform. So your senior year, of course, that’s, uh, the first half of your senior year will be pretty consumed.
Um, by not only your, um, academically rigorous courses you’re taking in school, the extracurricular activities that you’ve increased your end level of engagement and involvement in, but also of course it is the time when college applications are due. Um, most are due between October to January. Um, so most of your, uh, uh, first half of your senior year, and to be honest, the summer before your senior year as well, uh, will be pretty much, um, consumed , um, writing your college essays and preparing to finalize those college applications.
So that’s a little bit of a general overview. I think I went into a little bit too much detail a little bit earlier on, but that’s okay. I’m gonna go into a lot more detail for all the years. Um, all four years in the, the next few slides. Oops. okay. So thanks Anesha. I think we clicked this the arrow at the same time.
So, um, in terms of the college application, I think it’s helpful for you to have a little bit of context as to how your application is being considered in order to understand a little bit more of why each of those things I, I just discussed in my general overview are, are so important. So the key components of an application are going to be your academic profile.
So that includes your transcript. Obviously, you know, that, that the courses that you’re taking in high school, the, um, level of rigor, um, is the level of rigor increasing. Are you pushing yourself to your potential to say, Hey, I. You know these classes last year and it was tough, but I did it so next year, I think I’m ready to try, you know, a little more.
Um, so they want to see academic, uh, admissions officers want to see that you are interested in self-improvement. You’re interested in continuing to challenge yourself and interested in growing academically. Your extracurricular pro. Oh, and, and for the academic profile, um, outside of your transcript, it also includes things that you’re doing to, um, uh, further your intellectual curiosity.
So that phrase kind of encompasses all of the activities and things that you’re doing outside of school that still has to do with learning and, uh, learning development. So are you participating in summer programs that, um, expand your knowledge in certain areas? Are you doing research on certain things?
Are you taking additional courses at perhaps a community college or an online course? Because you’re really interested in that topic, but it’s not offered at your high school. So again, you want to expand your knowledge, expand your learning, um, a, about a certain area that that is also considered as part of your academic profile.
Your extracurricular profile is going to be, um, All of the ways that you meaningfully spend your time outside of school, outside of academics, what are you doing? Are you involved in sports, volunteering, activities like different activities that have to do with furthering your knowledge of your, uh, uh, uh, desired major or, or field you’re interested in?
Um, or are you involved in things that, you know, help you grow as a person help you to serve your community and those around you more, um, are you maybe even, you know, a very involved member of your family, um, they want to understand, um, how outside of the school hours you are spending your time. So, uh, if you are a student that has limited access to opportunities, maybe your school doesn’t offer many clubs, maybe your community doesn’t have very many volunteering opportunities.
Maybe you’re really interested in a certain, um, subject or field. But opportunities related to that field are very limited around you. So you just don’t have access. That’s okay. You know, you wanna be able to show that you’re doing everything you can to explore those things and to further develop your interests, but college admissions officers also understand that there are access limitations too.
So really the point of the extracurricular profile is just to understand, are you the kind of student that when you have free time after school, you’re, you’re gonna, um, I don’t know, take a five hour nap or or are you going to be the type of student that, you know, thinks with innovation with, um, with initiative to try to think of things that you can do that are, um, productive to society, to your community or whatnot, or just to your own individual growth as well?
So test scores, as you can see, if it is in parenthesis, if applicable, it is not going to be applicable to everybody. Um, uh, as you may know, in the years, past standardized tests were a requirement of the college application that is no longer the case. Um, that being said. We don’t know how policies are going to change one year from now two years from now and three years from now, you know, for some of our younger students in the room.
Um, and the reason I say that is because a lot of the reason why, um, many colleges have become test optional, where they do not require test scores, you can submit them if you’d like. Um, but you know, it’s not held against you if you don’t submit them. Many schools are also not even accepting test scores at all, regardless of if you have them and are proud to share them.
Um, that being said a lot of this, uh, current state of policies around, uh, um, standardized testing is a result of COVID. Um, so COVID, you know, really impacted, um, the ability of students to access testing centers. Um, so as well as, you know, Um, there’s a lot of reasons for it, but that is one of the main reasons why schools have really take, taken a step back in terms of requiring standardized test scores.
So that being said a lot of schools right now, a lot of colleges right now are in the process of evaluating and doing investigation as to, Hey, we admitted this class, this past senior, um, year now, freshman at their universities. Um, this past class without test scores, how are they doing at our university?
Are they succeeding? How are they doing in comparison to past years where we have required test scores? And that has been one of our, um, metrics of evaluation. So based off of that investigation, some universities may change their policies in the coming years. So many, many universities, if not, most, have not made a permanent decision about their, um, testing policy.
So that’s a, just a lot of context about just kind of the landscape of testing, um, policies at universities. But I just wanna give you a little bit of information as to why it’s just, um, kind of a gray area right now. And the younger you are, the less kind of certain it is going to be for you. Um, so that being said, generally my advice around test scores, whether or not to take them is, um, take it once, determine if it’s right for you.
If you feel like you absolutely hated that experience and you would rather not go through another, you know, testing bootcamp or whatnot, um, that is absolutely fine. Your time, your a hundred hours, 200 hours, however many hours you would’ve spent preparing and studying for the SAT or ACT that is, uh, can be used much more valuably elsewhere.
So as long as you are going to use that time on other activities in a meaningful way, um, then I don’t necessarily push my students to include it. Um, but of course, we’re going to have to make sure that we manage the college list, that all of the li the, the colleges that that student is applying to is absolutely going to be either, uh, test not required or test optional.
Um, so that is going to be an ongoing conversation that you’ll have with your, your CollegeAdvisor to make sure that you’re really on top of, you know, what’s going on. Uh, and your advisor will share that information with you since it is kind of a case by case situation, depending on the college, um, for essays, essays require a lot of preparation as well.
Um, Anesha and I are working with students, um, together where, you know, for the vast majority of rising seniors, a lot of the preparation for essays happens, um, months before. Many many months before the application deadline. Um, the fact of the matter is, is that you are probably going to be applying to many, many schools on average.
Students are applying to anywhere between 10 to 15 schools and depending on your major, um, the type of school that you’re aiming for that number can, can go even higher from there. Um, and, uh, each college is going to, some colleges are going to require additional essays on top of the one main essay that you will be writing.
Um, so of course, the more colleges that you apply to, uh, the more essays you will have to write. Um, so. Knowing that the, the, the mountain of work that you have ahead, um, you know, our, our, our sincere, genuine recommendation and encouragement to our students is please, please, please start early. Um, so a lot of the essay preparation work happens, um, you know, there there’s so much preparation at work that happens even before you start putting pen to paper or, or fingers to the keys, uh, and start putting together your essays.
There is so much reflection and introspection that needs to happen, um, because you really wanna share. Um, the best parts of your journey and your self growth, that is also gonna convey a message to the reader that that growth is going to continue that you are a growth minded individual, and that you are going to come to their campus and soak up all of the knowledge that their courses offer all of the, the learning opportunities that the activities on their campus and their resources offer so that you can continue to achieve great things.
And that’s kind of the, the message that you want to portray in your essays. So definitely not written overnight. The letters of recommendation are another component. This is not this. This is really going to vary from school to school. Some’s universities do not require them at all like the UC system and many other schools, and some schools will require, um, Uh, anywhere from one to three.
Um, so letters of recommendation are another reason why it is so important to, um, continue to do very well in your classes at school, and to be a very engaged member of your, of your high school community. Your letters of recommendation will be written by your high school counselor, as well as, uh, one to two, sometimes even more, um, teachers at your school.
Um, so the, the letter of recommendation is meant to be. You know, a another side of you, um, uh, that, you know, only somebody who has seen you in their class every day may get to understand about you a little bit more difficult for you to say about yourself. Um, maybe how you interact with others, how, um, how dedicated you are to your studies, how respectful you are to your peers, things like that.
Um, that that’s really a great way for, you know, schools to learn that about you, from the perspective of a teacher who also knows you in the context of everybody else at your school that they teach as well. So they can really kind of compare you, um, and say, wow, this kid really stands out compared to all 30 other people in my class.
Um, so that’s definitely another reason to make sure that you’re prioritizing your classes. You’re being very engaged in the classroom. Uh, and of course that you’re being respectful to your teachers and, and peers. So for your, um, Sophomore year, um, academics, we’re looking at your coursework. So for some high schools, you may be able to start taking advanced level like AP courses starting from your sophomore year.
I know some high schools do not allow you to do that until your junior year. Um, but if whatever the case may be, you’ll wanna also sit down and maybe you do this with your CollegeAdvisor. Maybe you do it with your high school counselor or your parents, but you wanna take a look at your, uh, the, the courses that are offered at your high school overall courses, and to think a little bit, um, uh, start doing just a little bit of class planning for what your overall four years might look like.
That can absolutely change after your freshman year, but to sit down, um, after every year and start thinking about, okay, what, based on my past year’s experience. How do I wanna adjust this plan? Now, maybe I wanna take AP bio instead of AP chem. Maybe I wanna do, um, calc instead of stats, whatever those decisions might be.
Um, you wanna take your past kind of year’s performance and experience and apply that to your, your course planning. And the prerequisites is all obviously going to be very, very important. If your school is, is the kind of school that says, Hey, you have to have completed this class first in order to be able to take this class later, you want to be aware of that in advance so that you can plan accordingly.
Um, In, in terms of your, so I, I just kind of mentioned this now about when it comes to the letters of recommendation. Um, but in terms of your academic achievement and your relationships with your teachers and guidance counselors, that is absolutely going to be a big part of, um, your, your experience and that’s important starting from your sophomore year as well.
And the reason for that is because when it comes to your letters of recommendation, um, you’ll want to ask, you want to be asking teachers who have taught you for multiple years. Um, whether it’s two years or three years, or maybe even you’ve had the fortune of being with the Stu with this, with one teacher for all four years, I think that’s pretty rare.
Um, but the longer that a teacher has known you a longer, the, the more opportunities they have had to observe you in different settings and environ. Um, the, the, the richer, their recommendation letter is going to be when they describe you. Um, so I, I am not saying that to say that you should start strategically planning the courses, you’ll enroll in to make sure that you get the same teacher every year.
Uh, I mean, if that works out that’s, um, but, uh, but the teachers where you’ve had the fortune of being able to know them for, for a longer time will write you a much more robust letter of recommendation than something that’s a little more generic and just says, oh yeah, you know, um, uh, Sophie was in my class this year and she did great.
No complaints about Sophie compared to, you know, I’ve known Sophie for, for two years, you know, I’ve seen her and how much she’s grown from sophomore year to junior year. And she, you know, really takes her academic so seriously, she’s a great collaborator in the classroom. You know, she’s volunteered to help me with things, you know, those types of examples and anecdotes that a teacher can include in their letter of recommendation.
That’s, what’s going to stand out to the admissions officer. They can really tell the difference between one, that’s just kind of a generic template that they just change out the names and they’re using it for all the students they’re writing letters for versus the ones where. This teacher really knows this student and really cares for them and wants them to succeed and wants them to go to a great university.
Um, so yes, academics very, very important, but also the relationship building, um, with their teachers is going to be important as well. Um, and, and I wanna also just add one thing about the teachers to, um, it doesn’t necessarily, uh, have to be the case that it’s been the same teacher that’s taught you for two plus years.
Um, if they’re a teacher who’s also been, you know, an, an advisor of your club or you’ve interacted with them outside of the classroom as well. That’s fine too. Um, I say that because I, I don’t want anybody to leave tonight thinking, okay. When I plan my next coursework, I need to start thinking about who taught me last year and I’m gonna go, you know, take the courses that they’re teaching next year.
So I, I wouldn’t necessarily go that route. So in terms of extracurricular, um, activities. Sorry, Anesha. Could you go back one? mouse’s acting up again. Yes. Thank you. So, yes, you’ll continue to engage in your extracurricular activities as you started, had a strong start in your freshman year. If you didn’t have a strong start in your freshman year, just because you kind of didn’t really know what was going on, going on around you, you were just really focused on figuring out where your classes are doing well in your courses, getting your homework assignments done, starting for tests.
If that was what your freshman year looked like. That’s absolutely fine too. Your sophomore year is also another opportunity where you can start planting seeds and getting to know your campus better and the different opportunities your campus provides at this point. Maybe you’ve also taken a class that has picked an interest in you.
Um, and, uh, you’re starting to identify, you know, okay. I would love to take another class about this, or I learned, you know, about this topic in my science class. And it seems really, really interesting. I think I’d like to either take another. Class that’s similar next year, or if they don’t offer that at my high school, start looking at other ways that I can, um, you know, just educate myself more about this topic.
So you’ll wanna start, you know, um, thinking that way. And, um, if you were a student that in freshman year, you joined every club, just because you were so excited to soak up all of the opportunities and, um, Um, and you joined seven to 10 clubs off the bat. Um, that’s okay. That’s great. Now you have, have had a little sampler and tasted a little bit of all the different flavors offered at your school.
Um, but sophomore year, you’re really going to start wanting to think critically and thoughtfully about how you’re spending your time. Are you so busy? Because every day after school you’re running, or even sometimes during school, during the lunch hour, you’re running to this meeting and this activity and this group, and, and, uh, if that ends up becoming overwhelming or worst case scenario, your grades start suffering because your’re so busy with your extracurricular activities.
Um, then that’s a situation you wanna avoid. So you wanna start sitting down and thinking, what are the three to four things, or maybe for you it’s five or maybe for you it’s two, but you just wanna, you know, pick a number that you’re comfortable with. or number of hours per week that you’re comfortable with and start working backwards from there and say I’m only comfortable because my academics take up so much of my time and I need to sleep.
And I need to, you know, focus on my relationships with my family and my friends. I have other priorities and things that go on in my life. Um, then I, I only want to dedicate, you know, 10 hours total per week on extracurricular activities, or if that’s, you know, five or 15 or however much that might be for you, but to really think thoughtfully about how do I wanna spend my time and then curate your activities.
According to that, you know, there’s not, uh, uh, quality over quantity. Great phrase when it comes to your extracurricular activities. So when you’re, when it comes to your college applications, a lot of students think, okay, I have to be well rounded. So that means I need to join all the things so that I’ll have tons of things to talk about and to list on my resume and my, my extracurricular activities list when it comes to my application later on, um, I, I discouraged students from thinking that way and to rather focus on a couple of things that your, your heart is set on, and then just throw all of your energy there.
Um, that means that you can spend more time on those activities, gain more meaningful experience, grow more meaningful relationships from your peers in that organization. Uh, and you just really are able to go a little bit deeper than a superficial involvement where you’re really not very engaged, but you’re, you’re, you know, Um, really trying hard to just make it to all the meetings, um, that all of the different clubs you’re part of offers.
So yes, definitely start, uh, scaling back. All right. So activities can include, obviously some of the clubs offered at your school, um, external activities, external, just meaning outside of school can mean different sports you’re involved in. If this opportunity is available to you, then jobs or internships, that’s not always going to be available to everybody.
If you don’t, you know, have transportation and whatnot. But part-time jobs doesn’t have to be the most exciting job ever, but admissions officers like to see that you are a relat, uh, reliable and mature individual who can, you know, hold a job. So, you know, even if it’s just a retail job at your local, um, uh, mall or something, that’s, that’s okay too.
Um, community service, you know, volunteering about causes that you care about. So, um, don’t think about just, um, you know, volunteering wherever just to have the hours, but to really think about, Hey, this is a group that I, a community that I really care about. This is a cause I really, really care about what can I do to help.
Um, so really try to make that a lot more personal. Um, and hobbies are great too. You’ll have plenty of colleges asking you about your hobbies, um, and asking about what you do for fun in your free time. Um, so that’s, you know, very much encouraged for you to cultivate some of your own hobbies as well. Not everything has to be college focused.
All right. Uh, Anesha, if I could get your help going to the next. All right. So the summer between your sophomore and junior years, um, that should be a time where you’re diving even deeper into some of the things that I just talked about. So those opportunities to pursue your jobs, part-time jobs in internship.
If that’s available to you, um, I know sports sometimes, you know, can, can go, uh, become unavailable in the summer, but if you have opportunities to pursue that, then great, um, passion projects, what is a passion project? Um, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a project. It can be anything where you are genuinely interested and curious about learning more about something or, um, uh, becoming active and involved to help with something.
So for example, during the pandemic, many students, maybe they wouldn’t necessarily call it a passion project before them. They were genuinely. Doing something that they cared about. Um, but they were helping to, you know, um, raise funds or awareness around, um, public health and to gather resources for frontline workers, things like that.
So think about what are different problems around me that I could help to not necessarily try to solve if you can solve it then. Great. But at least contribute to helping out. Um, and you’ll see some of the other examples that I listed here, which are pretty straightforward. All right. Okay. Anesha, next slide please.
Thank you so much. Okay. We’re at the poll.
I’m gonna say, let’s take a moment to just skip this bowl just for the sake of time. I’m gonna assume since most students are in 12th grade, that hopefully they’re getting ready to get started. So. I’m gonna say let’s keep pushing forward in the presentation just for the sake of time. Agree with that call.
Okay. um, so for junior year, I kind of split it up into, um, the semesters just because there’s a lot going on in your junior year. So the, for the first half of your junior year, you’re going to start thinking about the different schools that you’re interested in applying to. So there’s a big research stage and research component to even putting together your college list.
There are literally hundreds of colleges in America, and if you’re interested in applying and studying a, um, you know, enrolling at a student, a school abroad, then even more, um, so you’ll wanna sit down and have a conversation with your, um, CollegeAdvisor about the types of schools that you’re interested, that you’re interested in.
What is the type of four year college experience that you want to have? It can also be very helpful to then start visiting colleges because you won’t really know what you. What you don’t know until you start learning about what exists out there. So once you go on a college tour, visit a campus and say, oh wow, this school offers this.
I didn’t know that colleges do that well now I wanna make sure that I go to a college and offers that whether it’s this one or any other college that offers this very cool thing that I love, um, So for testing, you know, I spoke about it a little bit earlier. You’ll wanna take it at least once some students take it a little bit earlier.
I think it’s important to have some of the sophomore year coursework done to make sure you’re fully prepared for that, but circumstances may vary for everybody. Um, and then the same thing for your academics, which is to continue to PR prioritize that and extracurriculars. I wanna make one note about leadership, um, just because that is kind of a, a hot word that a lot of students really focus on, um, uh, that, you know, I really, really, um, uh, kind of, um, like focus on, I need to have leadership.
I need to show leadership, but what does leadership actually mean? It does not necessarily mean that you are the president of this and that club of you founded this organization. That is great. That’s wonderful to. Um, leadership can mean a lot of other things to and show up in different ways. Um, so the way that you’ll be asked to describe your leadership is where it makes all the difference.
Um, in terms of what is your definition of leadership? Does that mean the impact that you’ve had on your peers, your classmates, you know, your community? Um, that’s really what we like to focus on. So rather than just a title where, okay. I, I led some meetings, I came up with some ideas and, you know, we did them, um, you know, rather than being able, um, more important than that, but being able to say, Hey, this was something I really cared about.
So I just got a, a few, you know, maybe five students together and, you know, we, we fundraised or like we, we volunteered at. Organization X amount of times. And, you know, we really were able to make an impact on that community because we just, we were there every weekend. So leadership can, can really show up in many, many different ways.
Um, so it’s not always just tied to a title. Okay. And then going onto, after fall. in the second half of your junior year. Um, you’ll start narrowing down that school list. It won’t be your final list yet. You’ll narrow it down to maybe 20 ish schools because prior to that, it was probably a lot longer. Um, and you’ll start thinking about application deadlines and working backwards to create a timeline with your CollegeAdvisor.
Um, often that timeline just means we need to start as soon as possible, as early as possible and start making some headway. Um, in terms of, you know, testing academics kind of same thing applies, maybe you decide to retake it. Maybe you decide that you don’t. And then rather than that, you invest your time elsewhere on your extracurricular activities or your coursework.
You know, your CollegeAdvisor will guide you through the process of asking your teachers for letters of rec, um, and, and going about choosing your senior year coursework, obviously for your extracurriculars, you’re going to want to remain highly engaged and involved and start looking for ways. Um, honestly all throughout junior year as to how can I create impact in my group?
Maybe I’m not the president. Maybe I’m not even on the board, but. I really feel like our club could be doing more. I really feel like we could be, you know, making more of an impact on our community. We’re not really doing as much as I would like, did you come up with an idea? Did you propose it? Did you help lead it through?
Those are ways that you’re creating impact. So the summer between your junior and your senior year is also going to be a really, really awesome opportunity for you to now that you’ve also thought about different colleges that you’re interested in and, um, different opportunities that colleges offer on campus.
Start thinking in the mindset of what would maybe, um, uh, maybe duke becomes your, your dream top number one school and start thinking like a duke student. Start thinking about, you know, do research as to what duke students are doing on campus now, you know, are they doing research on certain topics that you really find exciting?
Are they making a difference in their community or their region, um, by, you know, participating in certain types of activities, then you start thinking about ways that you can emulate that too. So that’s one really, really awesome re like reason and, and, uh, uh, value that you can gain from these campus tours and just doing your own college research as well, start thinking like you’re already a student there, obviously you’re a high schooler, so you’re not gonna be able to do everything that they’re doing.
Um, but started thinking about what can I do to show that because I did this, I can, you can have a vote of confidence in me, admissions officer, that once I get to duke, I will absolutely be able to do that. And even more so when it comes to your summer opportunities, start thinking from that mindset as well.
So for your junior year spring, uh, as well as your summer, you’re going to be finalizing that school list. The slide here says eight to 12 schools. Your mileage may vary depending on you know, who you are, what types of programs you’re applying to. If you’re applying to a very niche program, that number may differ.
Um, you’ll also want to start doing some really in depth research into each of the schools that you’re applying to. What are the different programs and opportunities that they offer? Is there an honors college? Um, is there, you know, are there research opportunities that you can participate in as a freshman?
Um, are there certain things that I’ll have to be mindful of that I want to make sure is included on my application to express my interest in certain programs offered. Are there scholarships that I may qualify for? So you wanna make sure that you’re highly aware. Of of the things that are offered to you that you might be eligible for, or at least that you even wanna mention on your application to say, the reason why I’m so interested in your school is because of this specific reason, and that shows your genuine interest in that school.
And also it’s honestly, for your sake, um, to help you really solidify and cement, why is this school on your list? You have ver you have a finite number of hours in which to write college essays. If you, if you, you’re not able to apply to every college. So you have to narrow down your list to the list that you have.
So you wanna make sure that every college on that list counts and is a school that you would genuinely be excited to enroll in. If you were admitted, you don’t wanna list full of colleges that you just kind of put together because you feel like you should apply to them and you don’t really have a personal connection or any reason to really, you know, jump up and down and celebrate about when you’re admitted, other than the fact that you were just admitted.
Um, you wanna make these personal. you wanna make each choice of a college that makes it onto your list? A very personal one. Um, and then testing and extracurricular is kind of similar college applications. Um, at the end of your junior year is when you will start preparing for and writing your application essays.
So it’s, uh, discouraged to really start writing your supplemental essays, which are your university specific ones prior to August 1st. And the reason for that is because August 1st is the deadline for the, or is the date when schools, when each university will publish their, um, their, their new prompts for the coming year, for the year that will apply to you as a senior, some schools will use the same prompt as last year.
Some schools never change their prompts, so, okay. There’s gonna be opportunities like those cases where you can start a little early, but a lot of schools do change their prompts every year. So does it hurt you to start writing? Uh, maybe that’s just essay writing practice for you does not hurt you at all.
That’s great. Get that practice in. Um, but in terms of how you wanna spend your time strategically and effectively, um, I, I work with my students to start their supplemental essays a little bit later, uh, uh, after August, prior to that. Great to start on your personal statement though, and then you can start that even creating a common app account, just to start looking at, oh, what does this even look like?
What does this platform and to start exploring and, and getting more familiar with it. Okay. And then that leads us to your timeline for the four year universities. Since this is on the PDF that you are able to download, I’m not gonna go too far into this. You can absolutely take a look at this at home yourself, but this is the timeline that you’ll be up against when it comes to, um, all of the different application, um, deadlines that exist as well as platforms.
All right. Great. Um, okay. So thanks so much, Angela, for that, uh, walk through the high school process and the timeline. I think, uh, we’re gonna move into our Q&A portion for right now. And I think one question that came up a bit was, I guess, in thinking about building the timeline, are there resources or tools that you would recommend that can help people stay accountable to and, and, and able to meet the deadlines that were kind of, uh, suggested in that last, uh, uh, slide.
Yes, that is a great question because, um, I, whoever asked that they’re a planner and I am a planner too, so I, I see my people here. um, so, uh, absolutely when you’re working, especially when you’re working with your CollegeAdvisor here, um, you know, there will be a timeline that you, that you build out and it’s absolutely critical to your mental health and your sanity, and probably the mental health insanity of your parents too, to have a really well planned out timeline, um, where you’re, you know, you’re really working backwards.
Have you decided that you’re going to apply early action, early decision, you’re applying early to a school, then that is going to be the first deadline or we’re up against, so kind of making sure that you have enough time to fully prepare. Obviously there are some limitations, like I just mentioned some things are not going to be available until August 1st.
Um, but there are things that you can kind of get a head start on. Um, so I am a spreadsheet. Person. So I, I do like to have kind of all of the colleges that I’m, uh, that my student is working on all of the deadlines, um, and, and making sure that there’s, there’s going to be enough time to have multiple drafts for each supplement.
So understanding how many supplements there are as well. Um, I am not aware of a publicly available like spreadsheet or resource template. Um, we share one with our CollegeAdvisor advisors. So if you are working with a CollegeAdvisor advisor, um, then, then they should have a, have a timeline for you that spreadsheet that you can work with.
Yeah, I think for folks working independently, a spreadsheet, you and I have a mutual student. Who’s great at spreadsheets. Um, so I think being able to have a spreadsheet where you can sort by date and list everything out, I think would be one of the most effective tools would also shout out Google calendars because they also do a great job with alarms and reminders as a useful resource for keeping yourself accountable to the deadlines.
Um, there’s, there’s a broad, uh, question about when is too late to start the admissions process. Uh, well, you’re asking this now on August 8th, so you’re not too late. so I wanna quell that anxiety for you and reassure you. You are not too late. Um, if you are attending here today, then great. Um, you are, you’re at least thinking and starting to prepare.
Um, and you still have, you know, uh, depending on when you’re starting school, maybe a couple weeks, maybe a month or so before your senior year even begins. That’s plenty of time, um, to, okay. Maybe I, I won’t say plenty of time, but , that’s, uh, there’s enough time there for you to start really, really dedicating chunks of each day to researching colleges, um, and starting to narrow down, you know, what am I really interested in?
What do I want to major in? Um, and I, I would work backwards from there rather than thinking about what college do I wanna apply to think about your long term goals. You know, what are some areas that I would love to pursue? What are some fields I would love to pursue? Okay. Have that kind of have like maybe three or four things down.
Okay. I have a short list and start thinking, what are some majors that would really help me to prepare for one or all of these? On my short list, these fields on my short, what are some, uh, majors where I will graduate with a strong toolbox of skills, as well as, uh, a wonderful knowledge of the area, then start working backwards to what are some schools that offer this major.
and what are some schools that offer really great resources and opportunities related to this major? Do they have internships related to it? Are they in a location that’s close to? Um, if you’re really interested in working in tech one day, you know, maybe it behooves you to go to a school that’s located around an area where there are, um, tech companies and, and, and you could maybe have an internship or something like that, or at least, you know, visit, um, there’s, there’s lots of opportunities.
If you have proximity to, um, an area where your future field of interest is a hub for, so take into consideration things like that. Obviously location is not going to be the end all y’all. Um, but really think about not just, um, the school by name or by ranking, really think when you’re putting together your college list about your full for your experience and what you want that to look like.
So think about, um, yeah, at the end of four years, When you are graduating and you’re thinking back on your, on your college experience, what is going to make you say, I loved my four year experience. I had a really successful college experience. What is that going to mean to you? Does that just mean I now have a great job or does that mean I did all of these things.
You know, I accomplished these goals that I had as a high schooler. I made meaningful relationships with my faculty members, you know, tho that’s going to, that answer is going to vary from person to person. So really think about four years from now, what, what will I want to be as a senior in college? Like who do I wanna be?
Um, and, and there will be a college campus that’s perfect for you that will provide those.
Thank you. Well, um, some folks were asking about college advising with us as we have mentioned it a few times. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how hard the process can be, we know how detailed this timeline is. And so our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts like myself and Angela are ready to help you and your families navigate the process, um, in one-on-one sessions.
So you can take the next step, uh, of the journey by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session by using the QR code on the screen, you can just hold your camera, your phone up to there. Um, and it allow you to set up a meeting with us during that meeting will review your extracurricular list, your application strategy, talk about, um, how they.
Your college list and share some tools that you’ll need in order to stand out in the admissions world. So if you aren’t working with us and you have some questions about managing that timeline, definitely encourage you to scan the QR code and set up a free strategy meeting with us. Um, now that that PSA is over, I will go back to the questions.
And, um, one interesting question that I think relates to a few things that folks are asking is around the early admissions process. So one really quickly, can you review the timelines for when early applications are typically due and how, what advice would you give for folks on how to navigate or decide if they should apply early and especially committing time to some of those more, um, detailed applications like a QuestBridge?
Yes, that is a great question. I think a lot of students approach, um, the early action or early decision option as just, uh, well, there’s. Slightly higher chance of admission at the early deadline. So I better just apply to one. Um, it’s certainly much more nuanced than that while, while that is true, that it is a slightly higher admission, um, uh, rate.
Um, so early action to answer the first part of your question, the early deadlines are typically around October. They, they all vary from school to school. Um, some of the later ones will even be in early November, but I, but I would just prepare yourself mentally that it’s it’s in October. Um, and, uh, given that now is August.
And if you are a rising senior and you’re thinking about, should I be applying early somewhere? The first question I ask, I would ask myself. Do I have a dream school? Do I have a number one school that I love? You know, maybe it’s their sports team that you’re just really, really obsessed with. Maybe your family met members went there.
So you, you have a lot of familiarity with the school. You already feel like you’re kind of part of that school community, whatever your reason might be. If there’s a school that you feel really, really strongly about. Um, then that is how I would decide, you know, uh, which school should I apply to early. Um, there really should be, uh, um, a personal reason for that, even though I talked about all of your schools in your life should, should, you know, should have a personal reason for them.
The reason why I say that is because if you’re applying early decision, you’re accepted and your decision to enroll is binding. So if you apply early decision and you are accepted, you have to go. So it’s not just a matter of, oh, I applied early so that I can find out early and I can just, you know, relax and, um, sit back a little bit instead of, you know, being so nervous in the spring, waiting for all my decisions, um, that that should not be your guiding reason for applying early.
It should really be because I, Hey, I consider myself to be a really competitive applicant. I’m really, really, um, I don’t know, obsessed with really interested in this school. So I want to be considered among those other students who are also really, really into this school. So that’s the other kind of piece to consider is that yes, there is a slight, there’s generally a slightly higher admit rate for the early deadline.
However, you’re, you’re kind of up against a stronger pool. You’re up against a pool of candidates who has also considered themselves to be a very strong candidate and to be somebody who is highly, highly motivated to attend this school. Um, so that is something that I would consider the, the really, that is the reason why the admit rate is higher is because this, that, that pool is so much stronger.
The pool of candidates is so much stronger. Whereas when it comes to the regular decision, deadline, universities are kind of receiving applications. Almost anyone and everyone who was just like, okay, I’ll check this box on the common app website. Um, you know, especially if it’s a school that maybe, you know, had, uh, fewer barriers to entry, fewer requirements.
Um, so, so that is something that I would consider, like you should be a very, very competitive applicant and you should 100% know in your heart that you would enroll. If you were admitted for early action, little bit different as the decision is not binding, you will receive your admissions decision earlier than the rest.
You’ll receive it before, you know, that general kind of spring time. Um, it’s not binding. Um, but you, should, you also kind of be aware that, um, uh, generally, you know, the admission rate for early action, it’s not as significant as with early decision. Um, and it is a significant amount of work that you’re doing earlier.
Um, but if you are a student who has planned ahead and you’re already, and you feel like you wrote your personal statement, it’s the best it’s ever going to be. You wrote your supplement, it’s the best it’s ever going to be, and you feel really, really prepared. Um, then, then I would encourage you to apply early action.
I think it’s helpful to get it out of your way. And it’s helpful to have an earlier kind of finish line to your applications because it really sets you up for more success when it comes to your regular decision deadlines. I’m gonna pivot away cuz if I had a few questions around extracurricular activities and so can you give some comments on the timeline of extracurricular activities, the starting inactivity junior year, senior year, too late.
Um, what are colleges looking for when they think about the timing of when students have started or the length of time students spend invested in certain. sure. Um, so if you are a junior or a senior right now, and you’re feeling like, okay, if I join something now it’s just gonna look really insincere the admissions.
Officer’s gonna think that I only joined it for the sake of my college application. I don’t actually care. It’s gonna, you know, reflect worse on me. Um, they’re gonna see through it. I, I would back away from that line of thought, because the alternative is that your resume or your application in is going to have nothing on it or, or, or, or a more limited activities to list on it so much better to have something rather than nothing, or more than less.
If, if you are working with, um, very, very little right now. , um, but also the reason I encourage you is just because I, I, I would not make that decision to like, limit yourself just because you’re kind of worried about, uh, how it might be perceived. I would do it just because I’m interested. If you decided now in your senior year, You didn’t realize this earlier and that’s not your fault.
Um, if you just realize right now, Hey, I’m really, really interested in, um, um, coding. I don’t know. Uh, and I just never realized that I had this interest before, until I had a conversation with my cousin and my cousin was telling me all about this stuff. And now I’m really, really fired up about, about learning more about this.
So now you wanna seek out offer. Different opportunities and increase your learning about it. That’s absolutely fine. Um, it’s, it’s not going to reflect poorly on you that you, that you had a little bit of a later start, that you didn’t start taking coding classes from your freshman year, your sophomore year.
That’s absolutely fine. As long as you’re doing something about it, when, when the inspiration strikes that’s great. Um, if you felt, if you feel compelled to, you can even explain that in your application, you know, give that story of how you became inspired to become involved, something involved in something.
And, you know, let the, let the reader know that, you know, um, uh, because of X, Y, Z circumstances, it came to you a little bit late, but better, late than never. And now I’m super gungho about this, and I’m really, really excited to study this in college too. So that’s absolutely okay. Context is most important.
Um, I was trying to answer some questions quickly in the chat, um, while you are doing, oh, thank you for doing that doubly. Um, cuz we are, um, out of time, but thank you so much, Angela, Angela for that great overview of the process of the timeline. Thanks folks for your wonderful questions. Tried to get to some, as many as I could in the chat, apologies for those folks who missed out, but that is the end of our webinar.
We hope you gain some valuable, um, information about organizing and prioritizing your college application. We also hope you’ll join us from our future webinars tomorrow, August 9th, we’ll have a session on how to explore, um, How College Admissions Officers will Review Applications on the 11th. We’ll have.
Have an open Q&A with Admissions Officers next week on August 16th, we’ll present an overview of the University of California System. So if you’re planning to apply out there, uh, please join us and we will see admissions officers again on the 17th with guidance on How to Make Your College Essay Shine.
There were some questions about essays. So, um, come back and join us on the 17th until next time. Have a great evening everyone. And thank you again, Angela, uh, for your time. Thank you, Anesha. Have a great evening. Everyone take care. Bye bye.