College Admissions for Parents: What To Know
CollegeAdvisor.com presents College Admissions for Parents: What To Know in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with college students and alumni. Our CollegeAdvisor panelist will share their insider perspectives on how to support your high schoolers as they go through the application process. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2021-06-21 College Admissions for Parents What To Know
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on College Admissions for Parents What To Know. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hello everyone. My name is Arianna Pagan. I have been working in higher education for five years now. Um, I graduated from Emmanuel college in Boston with a dual degree in psychology and management, and I got my career actually working as a social worker. That’s how I started my career, um, for the state of Massachusetts.
And really essentially I created a college bound program for students in the foster care system, working with, um, high school guidance, counselors, [00:01:00] other social workers. Um, and after doing that for about a year and a half, I moved into the admission side of higher education, um, where I stayed for three and a half years.
And I have recruited students from all over the world from north America, south America. And I really enjoyed my time in admissions, but I wanted a little bit of a different experience, um, which led me to academic advising. Um, and so I’ve worked at colleges like Emmanuel Babson, but I’ve helped get students into colleges across the United States, really.
Um, so I’m happy to be here with CollegeAdvisor and share my expertise with you all today and answer any questions that you might have as parents about, um, the college process.
So what really is your role as a parent in the college admissions process and really the college admissions process for a student starts in the [00:02:00] winter of junior year. So after winter break, um, or even during winter break, this is really the time for you as a family, to sit down with your student and start having an honest conversation about this journey.
And, you know, just as a reference, your student’s guidance office may also be hosting a webinar in person, um, or, um, a webinar or in person, um, about the college application process and how it’s specific to the school, your student attends. Um, so just make sure to keep in contact with your students about that as well.
But as a parent, it’s really helpful to start this process as the administrative assistant. And that doesn’t mean taking over the process initially, really what we’re talking about is being the person who organizes and keeps track of the information that’s coming in. So for example, you could start, um, one Excel sheet or a few Excel sheets, you know, one with a list of colleges that your students.
Um, another with, you [00:03:00] know, the logistics, keeping track of information sessions, college tours, um, college visits, you know, another one might be keeping track of not just the list of colleges, but is the college test option. Do they, you know, what’s the cost of tuition and room and board because that information piles up really quickly.
And as this process goes, it’s really easy for that to get lost in translation. So acting as an administrative assistant and the arranger in chief, as I like to call it, um, and keeping track of legit logistics can be really helpful for both you and the student to have a common understanding of what is happening in this process.
And then the summer before senior year, it’s always helpful to look into essay prep. Um, so typically, you know, at this point your student has taken the PSA Ts, they have a raw score. This is really the time to look into maybe taking another, um, you know, Standardized testing [00:04:00] course. Maybe it’s a time to take another practice test.
Um, but this really is a, if your student plans on applying early action or early decision the summer before senior year is really the last chance that your student has to retake or take the sat or act to be considered in their college admission process. Um, so, and then the fall of your scene of your student’s senior year, Everything really comes to a culmination point here.
And it’s, it’s really important. You have to understand at this point, everybody is talking to your student about what their plans are after high school, what colleges they’re applying to, where are they going? Where are they looking? Well, my friend’s going here and so-and-so’s daughter is going there.
Just keep that encouragement and, and keep on, on top of them really about. You know what it is that they’re doing and just be confident in your student as well, and their ability to finalize these [00:05:00] applications and get done what needs to get done.
Okay. So when our college applications actually do, um, it, it, it really varies. So I I’ve made this list here. Just to have a typical breakdown, and this is pretty standard across all colleges in the United States. So if your student is entering their senior year, this fall, most applications are going to open on August 1st for the common app and the college coalition.
Um, and so just to explain a little bit about what each of these application types mean. So early action. Option for students who want an early admission decision without having to commit to a school. So unlike early decision early action doesn’t require you to commit to attending that particular [00:06:00] school.
Should you get admitted? It also doesn’t require a response until the national May 1st deadline. So it gives your student ample time to compare college offers and financial aid offers. Um, early decision on the other hand, resembles early action in that students apply to the college and they hear back pretty early, um, typically December.
So, you know, the application deadline and the admissions decisions. Relatively around the same time. Uh, unlike early action. However, early decision does come with a binding agreement to enroll. In other words, once you’re accepted, you must pay the non-refundable deposit and withdraw all of your other college applications.
Um, and so one of the major caveats to consider. When looking at early decision is that you’re entering into an agreement oftentimes without seeing your financial aid offer. Um, and so for those who may be depending on that financial [00:07:00] aid to cover the majority of their tuition, this can pose a serious problem.
And so with regular decision, that application deadline is a little bit later. We’re talking January or February. Um, and the admission decision comes, you know, typically six to four to six weeks after in March or April. Um, and actually most students apply under college to college under regular decision.
Although, you know, within the past five years we’ve seen a trend towards early action being, you know, gaining just as much popular. Um, but most students still apply under the regular decision and these decisions. Um, students will often, like I said, hear back within, you know, March or April and their response is required by May 1st again, which is the national deadline to submit your deposits for the college.
Um, it’s also considered the widest application window. So regular decision offers students the most time to gather their [00:08:00] materials, prepare their essay. Um, take standardized tests. And so for students who are considering multiple colleges, these deadlines can give you additional time to carefully consider your options.
The downside of waiting until the final window. Final window though means that if you are deferred or you’re denied entry into, you know, your top school, your target school, you might have to wait until the following semester or academic year to apply. Um, in colleges with rolling admissions, um, that application deadline varies.
So they just did that just means they evaluate applications as they come in and usually offer several application windows throughout the year. So in general, the schools accept and review applications until all of the spots in the upcoming classes are filled. Um, But just keep in mind, you know, just because, you know, every admissions office has, you know, a certain quota to me in terms of students that [00:09:00] deposit and that they accept.
If you a student deposits, they’re not going to turn away your student or deny your students simply because, um, they have met their quota, you know, especially in the climate that we’re in. Um, it’s really important to choose the application type that best meets you and your family’s needs. And that is also going to be the, the best chance of your student, uh, gaining admission into that college.
Um, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else. Oh, I think that’s it. We can move to the, to the next.
So what are the different parts of a college application? So every college and university has its own admissions requirements based on their academic standards, school structure, and the type of programs that are offered general admissions requirements can include the following elements, which I’ve separated into the core company.
Of an application across the board and [00:10:00] then some of the supplemental materials that individual colleges may require. So when you know the application form. It’s really important to carefully read and fill that out. You know, don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything that might be unclear. Um, and this is usually one of the first things that you fill out when you start the, um, college coalition or even the common app is that application form.
Um, and the next is going to be the essay. So the essay is one of the most important parts of your application and it is your student’s chance to really shine. Colleges are interested in how well you express yourself in your writing. So it’s really, it’s really your chance to make an impression as a student.
Um, you want your student to leave plenty of time for the essays, um, as there will probably be a number of drafts that your student has to do before they submit that final. And then transcripts from all high schools [00:11:00] attended and dual enrollment. So if you transferred high schools, um, at any point during your high school career, it’s important to get all of those transcripts.
Um, and if you have a student that’s doing dual enrollment, um, you need to make sure that your student gets that transcript from the college. The dual enrollment is coming from. So it can’t just be. On the student’s transcript. It has to come also directly from that university or college. Um, and then the school.
So, uh, every, every school has a profile that talks about, you know, the percentage of students that are college bound, the, um, curriculum, the grading system, um, and the school profile is most helpful for any high school specifically that has a narrative transcript, meaning there aren’t any grades, um, but a student.
N a student isn’t given a typical GPA. Um, so the school profile can provide an admissions office a lot more insight into not just a curriculum, but [00:12:00] how a student, um, how a student’s grade or transcript is being evaluated on the high school side. And that helps us, um, on the admission side and then test scores are optional.
Um, these include your scores from the sat or act. And right now, I do know that, uh, the college board is doing away with sat subject tests. Um, so for, you know, students who are entering their junior year or senior year, um, the sat subject tests are not something that a student has to worry about, but, um, I say optional because a lot of schools in the United States right now are test optional for sat or act.
Um, and then recommendation forms. So it’s really important that your student is asking for recommendations from people they know. Well, so typically the college, uh, application is going to have to re references. Or to recommendation forms, one from a teacher and one from the guidance counselor. Um, and [00:13:00] so when looking at that recommendation, it’s important that it’s coming from a teacher within a core subject area.
Um, and by that we mean English, math, um, you know, science, a language or history. Um, as those are typically the courses that students take throughout their four years, um, as core subjects and then one from the guidance counselor. Um, and then usually within, uh, the application where another core component could be a list of activities or a resume.
You can submit both, you can submit one or the other. Um, and then supplemental material, like I said, varies college to college. So it really depends, you know, um, some of the universities in California have, you know, supplemental. In addition to the college essay. Um, and if you’re somebody who’s applying to a creative arts program, you know, maybe, you know, Berkeley college of music, something like that, submitting a sample of your creative work, a portfolio, uh, could really be [00:14:00] beneficial in highlighting who you are as a person and where your strengths lie.
Um, when submitting the college application, um,
So what is a general timeline of the college application process? Um, and this is, this is a pretty standard outline, I would say. So fall of junior year, you know, September to November, you want to take, um, by this time your students should have taken the PSA teas, um, and having that raw score, they should have prepared.
They should prepare for standardized testing sat act. Um, At this point, really important to research your, what for your student to research what their interests are. Um, some students, you know, their junior year, they don’t know. They’re just, you know, taking it one day at a time trying to survive. And, you know, the thought of college might be very daunting still for them.
Um, And for that reason, it’s kind of helpful to visit college campuses in your junior year. [00:15:00] You get an idea as a student, you know, do I like a larger campus? You know, am I actually better off commuting? You know, what is this environment like? You know, what are, what are the classes like visiting the college campuses, really going to give you, um, an insight look and right now with COVID, if that’s not possible, you definitely want to see if there are virtual tours offered, um, is that’s a great alternate.
And then winter, junior year, December to February, um, you want to take again, standardized testing. Some students take it two or three times. Um, I personally don’t recommend taking it more than twice as your chance of increasing your score decreases. Um, and at, you know, winter of junior year, you want to start developing that college list and that.
You know, sitting down as a family saying, what are some of the colleges we both agree would be a good fit for you as a student? Um, where do you see yourself thriving for the next four years? And this is also a really good time to start the scholarship search. It’s [00:16:00] no secret that a four year degree can be very expensive.
Um, and so any, and every scholarship helps. And, um, so, you know, winter of junior year is a great time to start collecting that information, um, and doing some research on. Spring of junior year. So March to may, this is a great time to interview with colleges. So, you know, you’re, you’re in the middle of this application process, you know, maybe you’re drafting your essay.
You just took the SATs interviewing with colleges while not mandatory for most. Is still a really great way for you to show the admissions office, your interest in the college, and a little bit more about you. We read hundreds of applications a day, you know, oftentimes many of them around a similar narrative.
So for me, when I’ve read applications, what stands out for me are those little personal details in the essay, has the student interviewed, you know, we add those notes to [00:17:00] a, to the application. So we have that when we’re reviewing. Um, so don’t underestimate, you know, having an interview with. And again, some students, you know, are late to the game and that’s okay.
And this might be a time to take standardized testing. Um, but also, uh, some students will have to take AP exams at this time. So that’s something to make sure in addition to everything else that’s happening with your college application process, you also want to make sure that your student is prepping for those AP exams.
If they’re taking. And then the summer of junior year heading into senior year, this is really where you want to finalize that college list, visit any additional colleges you might be interested in, or even revisit some that maybe were so, so in that where some debate over the dinner table, um, and really drafting your college essay at this point is, um, is super important.
Um, Props to you. If you can get your college essay written before labor day, that’s typically a [00:18:00] good deadline that I, that I tell students is if you can get your essay done by labor day, you’re good to go. Um, and then you also want to ask for letters of recommendation at this time, and that’s because once you start senior year, not only are you.
Are your students going to be busy with schoolwork, but the teachers and guidance counselors, they’re also ramping up with work and midterms and other people are asking them for recommendations. So the earlier you can get that request in the better off you’re going to be, um, having that information ready to.
And then, uh, most scholarships will, uh, allow students to start applying the summer of their junior year going into senior year. Um, so, you know, you’ve done your research in the winter and then this summer is where you take that information. You fill out those forms and you start applying for those internships.
R, um, those scholarships, excuse me. And then internships is, especially if you have a student who may not know exactly what they want to do the summer of junior year is a great time to explore [00:19:00] that and really get some hands-on experience. You know, if you’re interested in becoming a physician assistant, maybe you can shadow your PA or, um, you can volunteer at the American red cross.
Um, don’t underestimate getting a little bit more hands-on experience with an internship or a volunteer position the summer of your junior year. Cause you never know. I ended up with a really great essay topic. Um, and anything that might help you stand out in the admissions process is always going to be beneficial for your student.
Okay. We’re going to, uh, start a quick poll.
seems like quite a few people. I researching schools that make sense.[00:20:00]
researching schools is still the top answer. We have also have quite a few people who haven’t started. That makes sense. Uh, some who are working on essays and some who are getting application materials together. Okay. It looks like the answers are starting to balance out. So we have 19 people who haven’t seen.
Uh, 54, who are researching schools, 12 who are working on essays and eight, who are getting their application materials together. Awesome to you. Eight who are almost done. Stay the course. You’re almost there. I promise it gets better.
All right. So what makes a strong application stand out? And from my perspective, as an admissions counselor, there’s definitely a difference between a qualified candidate for admission and a competitive candidate for admission. [00:21:00] Um, and you know, a qualified candidate has, you know, a good GPA. Maybe they have solid sat scores, but that’s really all they bring to the table.
And then. Might make a qualified candidate, but it’s not going to make a competitive candidate. Um, the, the number one thing that is going to make a strong application stand out is a rigorous academic experience. So that means taking, you know, honors courses, AP courses, maybe. IB courses, international baccalaureate courses, um, having that rigorous academic experience is the core because ultimately what we’re looking for is that you are ready for college.
You are ready for the academic rigor associated with college. Um, and maybe you’ve taken some dual enrollment courses. Maybe you took honors and AP courses and you failed an AP exam and you got seasoned honors courses. You know, we always say a C in an honors course is better than a B in a standard [00:22:00] prep course, because it shows the admissions office that you’re still challenging yourself.
And you’re willing to put yourself out there and see how you can challenge yourself academically. Um, and the next is going to be meaningful extracurricular. So admissions departments often look at extracurricular choices to help assess a student’s potential. So when you’re looking as. And you’re selecting extracurricular activities.
You should aim for quality over quantity. You know, I, it’s way more valuable to demonstrate your passion and commitment to one or two activities that are actually related to your interests, because those were reflect better on you than just including a list of drawn-out activities. You know, it, it’s pretty, it’s typical for a student to participate in something let’s say, you know, a model UN they’re freshmen and sophomore year, and then their junior year, they realize [00:23:00] that they would rather be involved in something else.
That’s fine. But just, you know, in your application, you might want to include that in the note section or in any additional information. Um, but you know, a student who has a. You know, academic experience and one or two activities that really stand out. We noticed that, like, we definitely can tell the difference between a student who was just racking up, uh, you know, accomplishments and extracurriculars to boost their resume versus a student who has really taken the time and gotten involved in their community, um, or in a sport over the, you know, three and a half, four years of their high school experience.
So that’s definitely something that makes a strong application stand out. Um, and the college essay, my favorite part of the application to read is the college essay. Um, to be honest, you have a very small window of time to catch an admissions officer’s attention. [00:24:00] Um, like I said, we read hundreds of applications a day, um, and you know, often many of them are on the same wavelength and it’s very.
It’s more abnormal than the norm to read an application of a student that stands out that you remember. Um, I’ve been, you know, in higher ed for five years now and the best college essay I’ve ever read was on a student’s 15 minute walk to CVS. And it was nothing special, but the narrative, the writing, the creativity behind it, I mean, I’m telling you about it, you know, five years later.
Um, so don’t underestimate the value of your college essay test scores. Test scores can make a strong application, but they can also break your, your application. Um, and so it’s really important as a student and as a parent, to know whether your students’ test scores are going to benefit [00:25:00] them or hurt them.
And so keeping track of what test scores colleges require in an Excel sheet might be helpful to later compare to your students’ test scores and say, okay, well on our list, you have this, and this is how it compares to. Colleges, ABC and D um, and for students who are considering not taking standardized testing or not submitting their test scores, that is also an option.
Um, you know, 50% of colleges in the United States pre COVID were test optional. Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s really. Evaluating, whether your application is going to be stronger with them or stronger without them. Um, and then letters of recommendations from teachers who know you well, um, you know, re like I said, reaching out to teachers for recommendation letters, you know, summer of junior year is really helpful.
And for a college that might not require a [00:26:00] recommendation, it’s still a good idea to submit one, um, because they can strengthen your application. You know, it’s helpful to have that insight knowledge from somebody who has seen your growth academically, um, and who may even know you outside from, you know, leading a extracurricular activity or a club that you’re also involved in.
Um, so that can definitely strengthen, um, your, your application and. At, at the end, it’s really about authenticity. The strongest applicants are the ones that are most authentic and the ones that aren’t trying to showcase, what they think we want to see. It’s really a student who says, this is what I’m about, and this is what I bring to the table.
And this is why I want to attend your university. The personal essay component, um, is really important for that reason. And, you know, admissions officers were most interested in how you describe yourself, your experience, your qualifications, and your future goals, and [00:27:00] taking a thoughtful, reflective approach in your application process, you know, really demonstrates your potential for academic success.
So. Those are the qualities that I would say make a strong application, stand out. They’re what make a candidate go from a qualified candidate to a competitive candidate.
So as a parent, you know, you want to be sure that you’re on the same page with your students when it comes to the application process. And so the number one. Piece of advice I would say is to be transparent with your student. And that starts, I, as previously mentioned, uh, the beginning of junior year and it means sitting down and having a conversation of, you know, you, you know, can you commute are, do you want to live on campus?
You know, financially, what can we afford as a family? Um, transparency is key [00:28:00] because later on, as you’re collecting this information, You want to know that you as a parent have done everything you can to help your student, because ultimately this is your investment. You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, money into getting your student to this point.
Um, and it’s important to be honest with them about that. Um, and, and make this journey a partnership. So, you know, when we talk about a parent being an administrative assistant, It’s it’s just that it’s assisting, it’s not taking over. And if you can make it a partnership where you’re taking partial responsibility, but your student is also doing their part in, you know, taking standardized tests, they’re scheduling their interviews.
They’re, you know, You know, taking those rigorous courses, they’re asking you about, uh, you know, reading over their college essay and proofreading it, you know, that is what makes this a lot less of a stressful process. When both parties can come together and say, this is what I can help you with. And this is how I’m going to contribute as well as a student, um, [00:29:00] and really encourage yourself.
And when I say that, what I mean is that everybody is at a different place and every, every student’s needs are different. Um, and your student is going to be hearing a lot from their peers, their friends, you know what they’re doing, where they’re at, and that can be sometimes overwhelming. Student to take on that information and say, well, so-and-so, you know, they’re applying to Harvard and I’m not.
And feeling like, well, you know, they got a really good test score, but I didn’t just encourage your student and highlight their strengths and what makes them unique because doing that is going to help them in submitting that application. Because when you’re giving that encouragement and saying, this is what makes you unique, this is why, you know, you’re impatient.
They’re going to, they’re going to put that in their application and we’re going to be able to see that encouragement show through
again, the encouragement, um, and not just emotionally as mentioned, but [00:30:00] academically, you know, we do like to see students taking rigorous academic courses through their senior year. Um, because it, it definitely shows a commitment to their academic. Pursuit, but you know, it also shows that a student is willing to continuously challenge themselves.
Um, so, you know, handling this entire college application process in addition to trying to enjoy senior year, in addition to knowing that this is your last year, Have, you know, the friend groups that you’ve created in addition to trying to pass, you know, and keep your GPA up. It’s a lot, it is a lot to take in.
And sometimes students don’t express that to parents because they don’t want to burden you. They don’t want you to worry about them. So it’s really important that even while you’re supporting them through that college application process, you’re also encouraging them through finishing their academic high school career, um, and having fun and saying, you know, [00:31:00] go to homecoming, um, you know, go, you know, get ice cream on a Friday night with your.
Um, and breaking up the work can be really helpful as well. You know, if your students feeling overwhelmed, you know, it might be helpful to say, okay, well what’s due when, um, and that’s where those Excel sheets and breaking up that work early on can be really helpful when everything starts to feel like it’s piling on for your student.
Um, and ultimately, you know, patients and understanding of. You know, the college process has changed drastically over the past, you know, 10 to 20 years. Um, and it’s become a lot more competitive and that’s just because the quality of applicants that colleges are getting are continuously increasing. And so the bar is continuously being raised.
And so. Just be patient and understanding if your student is frustrated or, you know, feels down or feels, you know, like overwhelmed, just, you know, being a, being a rock and being a solid foundation for [00:32:00] them through this process is definitely gonna pay off for them, even if they may not admit it to you directly.
So, uh, the last advice I would give to parents who want to help their children succeed through this process, do not compare your student to others. Like I said, your student is going to be getting a heavy. Uh, a heavy dose of what everybody else is doing. Post-college but you may also have friends and family members who are saying, oh, you know, my, you know, Johnny applied here and you know, so-and-so got a scholarship already and oh, you know, she’s already, you know, committed because she’s an athlete to this school and it’s easy to hear what other friends and family members have done or are doing and saying, well, why isn’t my student there or is my student behind.
Do not compare your student to others, focus on the game plan that you’ve created and focus on really the timeline that I’ve outlined and you will do. [00:33:00] Okay. And your student will be fine. Um, you have to understand that everyone’s journey is different. Um, and one of the most common. Common questions I get from parents, uh, working with CollegeAdvisor is, you know, well, my student is undecided.
So is it really worth it to pay for a four year degree? Is it really worth it to, you know, sign loans or put up the money for a degree that. I’m not guaranteed. My student is going to pursue. Um, and what I can tell you is that going into college undecided is the norm. It’s not the exception, even as, um, an academic advisor.
I could tell you that about after the first semester, 70% of my students over the years have. Changed their major. Um, so encourage exploration, you know, if you have a student who’s saying, you know, I’m not really sure. I don’t, I don’t know what I’m, what I’m good at, or I don’t know what I want to do as a career, encourage that exploration, encourage them getting that internship experience or that [00:34:00] hands-on experience.
So they begin to see for themselves. Okay. Well, I’m really good at communication, or I’m really good at working with people. That’s going to be really, really helpful. Um, and it’s something that is definitely important now, more than ever, where we live in a global society. And so a student who gets a career in one field when they graduate, may be looking at that career, changing over the next three to five years after graduation.
And so having that exploration and having a, you know, a diverse skillset and a diverse degree, Can be really helpful for them as well. And sometimes that starts, uh, by exploring at this time in high school.
Okay. So this is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts. Moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through questions you submitted in the [00:35:00] Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.
So you can see and then read them out loud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up. If your QA tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. So our first question, this is a good one is if my student has moved to different schools, Uh, what do you recommend she do in terms of getting recommendations?
The school doesn’t know her very well under the circumstances of the past year and a half. That’s a great question. And I would say that, you know, if your student has moved to different schools, um, and you know, you’re talking about recommendations, it’s really important to get a recommendation from, uh, a teacher who.
Knows your student academically in the classroom. So if that was at another school, um, get a recommendation from that teacher [00:36:00] at the other school, if you can. Um, you know, so if sophomore year your student took a math course with a teacher who, you know, really knew how to work with your student, you know, like your student, it’s important for your students to reach out to them and get that, um, and call it colleges, understand.
I myself moved around quite a bit for, for high school. Um, and so just making sure that you’re getting a recommendation, even if it’s from a previous high school, we’ll see in your application, because you’ll have the transcript from that high school as well. So we will know. Okay. So when you know, your student was at X school, you know, this teacher was, you know, there for them at this time.
Um, so really you. Even if it’s from another school, it’s okay to get a recommendation from a teacher at that school. Okay. Our next question is, are there specific topics that students need to talk about in the essays or does that depend on the college? And what about in the common application? [00:37:00] So the common application is the S has an essay.
And that essay is typically what we read in the admissions office. Some colleges have supplemental essays, meaning they will get that standard college essay from common app, but they may. Two or three additional essays that they use in the admissions process. So in terms of, um, topics for the common application essay, I do believe that there are prompts.
Um, you know, there are several prompts within the college essay that a student can choose from. I think one of the most recent ones was, you know, tell us about a time that you encountered hardship. Um, and so, you know, it really varies on the student and what the student has experienced. One thing I will say is that we, you know, we’re not looking for the student in high school who, you know, spent their sophomore summer abroad in Bali and like found [00:38:00] themselves, like, that’s not what we’re talking about.
Like, we just want a well-written essay that really highlights who the student is. So it doesn’t have to be anything grand. It doesn’t have to be tragic. It really just has to be about the student. And so, you know, choosing a prompt within the college application essay that the student feels comfortable answering and they feel they can answer to the best of their ability is probably the prompt that they should choose for that essay.
Our next question is the university of California is not accepting any letters of rec. So how can the students send it to those schools beforehand? If the university is not accepting any letters of rec don’t send it. Um, that can be, and the reality is, is because that can be pretty annoying. Um, from an admission standpoint, you know, Because I guarantee you, you’re not the only student who’s going to be trying to send a letter of rec.
Um, and [00:39:00] so it, it already kind of places in the mind of the admissions officer, like, you know, if you, if we’re saying we’re not accepting them and you’re sending it, you’re also sending the message that what you’ve submitted so far is not a strong enough application. Um, so if they’re not accepting them, they’re not accepting them.
And I wouldn’t try to say.
Okay, our next question is if a student is undecided, how does student truly decide what colleges to explore? Could you please expand on examples that you’ve discussed? Sure. So when it comes to, you know, colleges to explore, if a student is undecided, I recommend mixing it up at first. So maybe visit a college that is, you know, large meaning, you know, over 7,000 students visit a medium size college, which is going to be, you know, between.
Five to 7,000 in a small college, which might be under 5,000 because those campuses are going to be vastly different [00:40:00] and they’re going to offer vastly different things. Um, you know, at some of the larger, and then you want to break that up even more so you’re visiting large, medium and small schools.
Maybe you’re visiting, you know, one small school, that’s liberal arts and one large school. That’s liberal arts and maybe you’re visiting one medium school, that’s technical and one large school that’s technical, um, and mixing up private and state universities as well. So the best way to do that is really to, if your student is saying they want to live close to home, um, or they want to be close to home, start within your own backyard.
Start researching the universities that are within your own backyard. And, and starting there, because once you do one or two college tours, you quickly start to realize both as a parent and a student. Yeah. This is not for me. Or, you know what I was actually thinking if they had this. And once you start asking a few questions, You start, you also start to realize, okay, I want more information on this.
Or, you know, I don’t like that their [00:41:00] internship experience is set up in this way. Um, so starting in your own backyard and really expanding on the types of universities is going to help your student as well. You know, also if your student is undecided getting some hands-on experience, um, some colleges offer summer programs where a student can go and do research for, um, you know, the summer.
Some of them offer, um, you know, especially like with sports clubs, um, even just getting on the college campus, you’re going to be, you know, your student is going to be meeting and working essentially. Interacting with college students and college staff who are participating as well. And so that’s an opportunity to pick their brain as well.
So looking at, um, summer programs, if your student can’t get an internship experience or a volunteer experience, um, is another great way to, uh, do some of that exploration. Our next question is to what extent should a student mentioned hardships with [00:42:00] COVID I’m guessing 100 essays a day about COVID would get old.
You are absolutely correct. You are absolutely correct. Um, you know, reading it it’s two-fold, you know, like I said, you have a very short window of time and I’m talking like under 10 minutes under, under seven minutes for larger universities to really make an impression for it, admissions officer, um, and.
It at some universities there, there isn’t a specific, you don’t know who’s going to be reading your application. Um, so a hundred essays a day about COVID does get old. It is something to highlight. Like if it’s impacted you, we should know about that. You know, did you lose some, you know, losing somebody to COVID can severely impact a student and a whole family, a whole community, um, you know, have you ha has your student had to start working to, you know, help provide, you know, has this peaked your interest [00:43:00] in the medical field, um, and becoming a medical professional?
You know, those are things to definitely highlight. You can highlight them at the end of the essay, but I would typically say that that is something that you could highlight in an interview experience. Um, so if a university that you’re applying to offers interviews, that’s a great time to mention it and talk about it.
Um, because it’s definitely something that the admissions officer will keep in the back of their mind when reading the application. Okay. Speaking of our next question is for interviews, does the student requested or wait to get in by. Some universities will require them. Um, and some universities just offer them as an optional choice.
Um, so it would be to really research the universities and colleges that you’re interested in and contacting the admissions office to say, you know, is an interview required as. Admissions process or, you know, is it an option, uh, to do and most colleges offer them [00:44:00] as an option virtually if you can’t make it to campus immediately.
Um, so it usually, um, you as a student would have to schedule it, um, at some of the larger, more prestigious universities, you’ll be invited, um, to another.
Okay. Our next question is what are key things to think about when taking a college?
That’s a great question. Um, and the first thing I’m going to tell you is look at the students, don’t pay attention to anything, the person giving your tourists saying, I want you to look at those students because you can always ask questions at, you know, at the end of the tour. And if you, as a student are going with your parent, your parent is taking in all of that information.
I guarantee you because 99% of the time. From personal experience, the person asking me questions as the parent, not the student, which is fine. Um, but as a student, you want to be looking around and seeing, [00:45:00] do these students look happy? Like, are there, are there, I’ve gone on college tours with my siblings and you see people in the background like mouthing don’t come here.
Um, I’ve gone to other universities that are very low. You know, you might see that there’s an event happening that day and the campuses lively, or are there no students on campus? Is this primarily a commuter school? If you’re looking to. You know, live on campus and you don’t see anybody around you.
That’s a question you want to ask. Um, so there’s definitely things to take into consideration. Number one, and number two, um, can you see yourself there? That’s why I tell you, you want to look around and see the people around, you see what they’re doing, how they’re interacting with one another. Can you see yourself in this environment?
Not just next year, but for the next four years. Um, and then. Another thing to think about is the postgraduate experience. So you want to ask, you know, what are the outcomes of students who graduate, you know, within a year of [00:46:00] graduation, you know, colleges have for each class, um, some data that’s collected a year after graduation on employment, you know, graduate school, um, you know, military status where students are getting employed.
So those are questions to consider as well, because you want to know. The money you’re putting up for this degree that it’s going to pay off. Um, that return on investment is something that you definitely also want to take into consideration. I will say when I did college tours, my favorite thing was asking what people’s least favorite thing about the school was because I always found the answers very revealing.
Yeah. Highly recommend that one. Absolutely. So we’re going to take a quick break. And, uh, I want to tell you what you can do. If you want to work one-on-one with an advisor from our team of over 155 advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation with us by going the [00:47:00] college advisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right of the screen from there, just write in consultation and alive team member.
We’ll get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation. All right. I’m back to the Q and a, our next question is, um, does it matter what grade the letter of recommendation is received by a teacher? So, so what grade that teacher gave the student?
Um, yes and no. If the, so I’ll give you an example. If you are getting. A letter of recommendation from a biology or chemistry teacher. And you got, you know, a D in a course or a C in the course, but you’re also interested in majoring in biology. Um, that could be a red flag for an admissions office. You know, but if you’re a [00:48:00] student who’s interested in, you know, biology or chemistry, and you have a letter of recommendation from a math teacher and, you know, you got a really good grade in that math course, that kind of, that, that weighs a little bit.
Um, so the grade does matter. We at least want to know that you passed. Um, I mean, I have read letters of recommendation where the teacher will say, you know, this student didn’t pass my class, but they were a pleasure to have. And that’s not very helpful. It doesn’t provide a lot of insight, especially. You also have to think in the context of does this professor know me beyond this grade?
So, you know, if you’re looking at majoring in biology and you got a C or a D in your biology or chemistry course, and that’s the letter of recommendation you’re giving your professor might say, you know, they got a C or a D, but they really worked for that grade. They came to every extra, um, extra credit.
You know, workshop, they constantly participated in class. They were always [00:49:00] asking questions. You know, they were always engaged. Like that also speaks to your ability as a student, you know, especially if it’s an honors or an AP course, you know, getting that feedback and, and having that letter of recommendation to highlight that you as a student are taking initiative in.
The course, even if you didn’t pass it, that also can speak highly of a student. Um, so if, if that’s the situation we’re talking about, then, you know, the grade or the letter grade might not matter as much, but you know, if, if the professor teacher can’t give a lot of insight beyond the grade, then it’s not really worth it to ask them for, um, a letter of recommended.
Okay, our next question is how do you know, how do I know if my child should take the act sat or both? Uh, there are a lot of free practice [00:50:00] exams. And I personally always recommend that students take practice exams in both because both are valid in their measurements. Um, but they measure for, uh, they measure validly a little differently.
Um, so you know, a student who might be more science inclined might do better on the act because there is a, um, a science section still, I believe, but a student who, you know, um, Has taken the PSA T and they got a pretty good raw score. That might be a good indication to take the sat. Um, but definitely I recommend taking some free practice exams online, and you can just Google those free practices, exam act, or sat and taking them and seeing what the raw score is on both of those.
And that might be an indication of which one to take. Um, personally, if you can, I would always recommend taking both, um, and seeing which one you do better.[00:51:00]
Okay, our next question is what is the best search platform to find colleges that meet your checklist? So college board has a really good, um, internal portal for helping students find colleges directly related to their interests or majors. Um, it’s not super specific. So what I mean by that is if like you’re looking for like an accelerated physician assistant program that gets you a master’s degree as well in five years.
You’re it’s going to come up with a result of zero, but like if you’re a student who’s interested in biology or chemistry, um, and you know, you have a certain GPA, you have test scores already that, you know, you can plug that information in and it’ll pop up with, um, some colleges that match your criteria, um, or that it thinks you would be a good match for, um, a lot of high schools have an internal portal known as Naviance, um, and Naviance can also be a great resource in matching your sat scores and your.[00:52:00]
Um, or act and your student’s GPA, um, and you can type in a, just a college of interest. Um, I would also say though, it don’t underestimate the input or the experiences of friends and family at certain universities. So, you know, if you have a family member at. You know, a certain university and, you know, maybe start there and maybe see if your student can shadow them.
If they could talk to that person a little bit more about their interests. Um, because you know, a search platform might be a really good way to match your student based off of a certain criteria, but the personal experiences of some people might be very different than. What you would expect? Um, so college board definitely Navi ons, which is, um, used in most high schools.
Um, are the two that I would say are, are, are best at that for searching for colleges.
Okay. [00:53:00] Our next question is, does the recommendation have to be only from one teacher or can it be from more than one? It can be from more than one, but your admissions officer is not going to read more than. So, um, and that, that’s just the truth. I mean, I’ve had students submit, you know, three, four recommendations and I don’t have, we don’t have time to read three or four recommendations.
We read one and we move on. So it’s it, you know, the college app, typically you have one letter of recommendation from a teacher and one letter of recommendation from your guidance counselor. Um, so that one teacher recommendation really takes some time to think about, you know, who you can ask. And, you know, sometimes it means not just asking a teacher, Hey, can you write this recommendation for me?
Sometimes it means, you know, asking for a 10, 15 minute phone call or meeting. Hey, I want to talk to you about a college recommendation, but I’d [00:54:00] like to just ask you some questions about my ex your experience, you know, in the class with me and what you think I’ve done well as a student and where you think I could improve.
Because hearing that from a teacher is going to give you a little bit of insight into what that letter of recommendation is going to say. Um, so don’t be afraid as a student to. Be an advocate for yourself and take that into your own hands. And most of the times, you know, your teachers will say, you know, I thought you did really well.
You know, sometimes you were, you seem kind of distracted, but you know, XYZ and you, and at the end of that 10, 15 minute meeting you might say, would you be willing to write my college recommendation? Some will say yes and some will say no, but you’ve taken that initiative. Um, and that can be helpful if you have a teacher who you’re like, well, I did really well in the class, but I don’t really think that they noticed me, or I don’t really think that like they know anything about me.
Um, so you know, do some research and take your time to choose a teacher who can really speak to who you are beyond the grade [00:55:00] and more to who you are in the classroom and how you. Our next question is, is there an interest interest survey site to help your child find some suggested areas of study?
Um, off the top of my head, there’s no. I I’m, I’m thinking more of like a strengths quest sort of survey. Um, so there are, you know, the field of psychology is great because, you know, there are so many different tests for personality, for, you know, career guides. Um, so I would say honestly, put into Google, you know, strengths test or, you know, Uh, you know, what are my strengths and start looking at what some of the results are in terms of a strengths test.
So, you know, it might ask, you know, in this scenario, what would you do? Or, you know, what, how do you prefer to spend your time? [00:56:00] Um, and at the end of that, you know, strengths-based exam, you might see, okay. I, as a student, I’m actually really good at communication. I’m really good at. You know, working with people or it might be, you know, actually I have more of a, you know, logical mind, so maybe I’m better off in, you know, a field that’s more technical and, you know, stats based.
Um, and even just searching on Google, like career, you know, what career should I pursue? You know, a lot of, oh, you’re going to get a lot of results in a lot of surveys and have your student take a couple of them, you know? Um, I wouldn’t say that there’s any one specifically, but you know, if you take a few and you start to get the same results, you know, that might be an indication of, okay, well maybe I should pursue something that is related to these strengths or, you know, maybe I should pursue, um, a more technical career or any, anything like that.
Um, so I don’t have anything specifically, but I would say in terms of an interest study, but definitely Google, you know, um, [00:57:00] what career for me, or, you know, uh, You know, strengths-based survey as well to see and take some of those.
Okay. I doesn’t look like we have any more questions in the Q and a tab. So if anyone else has one, feel free to, uh, send it in. And if not, I think we’re going to start wrapping things up.
Okay. Looks like that’s it. Um, thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight. And Ariana, thank you so much for presenting. Thanks for having me guys and to everyone. No matter what stage you’re at in the college admissions process and to parents, just take it one day at a time and keep open communication.
All right, this is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time telling you about college admissions and here’s the rest of our June survey [00:58:00] or not June survey, June series. Um, we have three more webinars this week and then a handful more in July. Thank you everyone so much for coming out and have a great night.