College Admissions Strategies for Sophomores and Juniors
Are you a sophomore or junior? Gain college admissions strategies from a former Admissions Officer at CollegeAdvisor.com. Former Admissions Officer Brian Poznanski will share his insider knowledge on how to start early to set yourself up for college admissions success, during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session. In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including: – As a sophomore, how can I prepare for applying to college? – As a junior, how can I prepare for applying to college? – What do Admissions Officer look for in a college application? – How can I stand out when applying to college? Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-10-12 – College Admissions Strategies for Sophomores and Juniors
Hello everyone. My name is Lonnie Webb, and welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar, College Admission Strategies for Sophomores and Juniors. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can down our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now, let’s meet our panel. Awesome. Thank you so much. Um, Lonnie, Uh, my name is Brian Poznanski. I am a current, uh, admission, uh, advisor, um, with CollegeAdvisor. Um, admission officer, former admission officer, advisor. Um, so I previously worked, um, at two different institutions, um, for a total of eight years. Um, two of those were at a very small school outside of Boston called Regis College.
Um, about 850 total undergraduate students. Uh, six years Of those, uh, of those eight were at Boston University. Um, Where I was an admissions director. Um, and again, while I was there, I actually earned my MBA, um, with a public and nonprofit concentration. Um, so a proud terrier myself, um, and really look forward to chatting with you all a little bit about, uh, the missions strategy process.
Um, but also I would just say that I’ve been with CollegeAdvisor for a little over a year now. Um, I started in in in May of, of 2021. So excited to chat with you all. Great, great. You all are in for a treat because Brian is very experienced, so I know we have some good information he’s gonna share. But before we get started, let’s start with our poll.
So tonight we wanna know where you are in the college application process, and I see the responses are coming in rapidly. Okay, so we have 52% are researching schools, which is great to hear that the sophomores engineers are researching schools. And 45% haven’t started, but I’m pretty sure after this evening you are gonna have some tools and you’re gonna be ready to get started.
Um, so with that, oh, and then we have about 2% of actually working on essays that are getting an early start. I love hearing that. All right, Brian, I’ll turn it back over to you. Awesome. So, um, move on to, uh, kind of getting, uh, what, what’s the ideal timeline? Um, and you know, we’re talking about 10th and 11th grade, um, tonight.
Um, and I wanna start out by saying a lot of what I’m saying, um, is a little bit general. Um, and so it’s not a one size fits all by any stretch of the imagination, and that’s really the case with the college admission process. Um, it’s a very, very individual process. Um, I also do tend to, uh, Believe that, um, there is such a thing as starting too early.
Um, I know a lot of people are like, Oh, there you can, you can’t start too early. And, and I think that having familiarity with college colleges and, and being on college campuses and, and starting to research that, I think it’s great to start early. I think starting, you know, even in, in, in middle school or ninth grade, like kind of just knowing what college is all about, being exposed to that environment is, is, is really important.
Um, and, and helpful. What I mean by starting too early is, um, you don’t need to get into the super stress of, Okay, do I need to submit my SAT scores at this school? Do I need to start taking the SAT or ACT? Do I need to do this? Do I need to do that in the college admission process, As early as some of these timelines.
Um, you know, some of that you can start your junior year, but a lot of that is gonna be built into your summer, leading up into your senior year, um, and, and stuff you can be still doing, uh, fall of your senior year. So, um, getting a, a little ahead of, of even this presentation and just saying that I don’t want folks, um, to be overwhelmed by any suggested timelines.
Uh, you know, again, it’s a very individual process. Um, and to say that, you know, even in 10th grade. You’re really still in kind of the, just checking things out face. Okay. Uh, that is totally fine. Um, for, for, uh, current sophomores and 10th grade students, um, you know, the most important thing for you to be doing, your, and, and I’ll include your fresh, your first year of high school, your ninth grade year, and your 10th grade year is to be focusing on the courses you’re taking and the grades you’re earning.
Um, because once you get to senior year, there’s no going back and making. What’s already in the past, right? And so, um, you know, just making sure that you’re taking good courses, that you’re earning good grades, you’re working hard, um, that really does impact the entire college admission process. Um, and it might open or close specific doors to you, um, early on.
So, you know, really that’s the most important thing that you can possibly be doing is focusing on your high school work. Okay? Um, and, and, uh, you’ll see that again, uh, later on. Um, some other specific activities that you can be doing, you know, if your school allows, um, attend high school visits, attend college fairs.
You know, um, when I was a mission representative, one of the things that I did was actually physically travel to your high school. Um, and so my particular region when I was at Boston University is I had southern and central New Jersey. Um, I had the state of Arizona. I had the state of New Mexico, um, which obviously makes a lot of geographical sense.
Um, but it was interesting. I travel all over. I would come to your high school and we talk about the, the college of university. I’d often see, uh, ninth graders, 10th graders, um, certainly juniors, um, at some of these visits, obviously seniors. Um, so if your school allows. Totally. Okay. Good time to get information.
You’re just taking notes, You’re gaining the grasp of what all these different places are about. Um, same with college fairs, you know, good to kind of swing through, talk to a couple of reps, get an idea. Um, and for me, when I was applying to colleges, going to my first college fair was like, kind of like an aha moment of like, wow, there are a lot of schools out there, Right?
Because you go to a college fair, there’ll be, you know, say 75, 80, 100, 120 different schools represented. Um, at these one, this one, college fair, sometimes far more than that. Um, and, and so it really gives, puts everything into context of like, wow, there’s a lot of opportunities out there. Um, and that’s good to kind of understand that as well.
Um, if you have the opportunity, not the worst idea to start doing some actual individual visits, um, I think one of the best things to do here is, you know, especially in your 10th grade year, is to kind of focus on what is close to you. So, you know, I’ll take myself as an example. I’m from Boston, um, currently, so definitely a lot of opportunities for myself within driving range to check out a lot of different schools.
Um, and I, and so I don’t think it’s something where you need to be planning, you know, trips over spring break your sophomore year, you know, flying across the country or doing anything kind of crazy or going outta your way, but just kind of swinging through and, and kind of getting the sense of, again, what is this college idea?
What, what’s the admission process all about? What are schools generally looking for in an application? These are different things that are gonna help you, um, kinda learn early. Um, and, and they’re going to make you familiarize with the process by the time you get, uh, to, you know, the end of your junior year and then ultimately the point where you’re, you’re, you’re applying for, for schools.
Um, this can definitely, uh, continue, uh, through your summer, uh, into your junior year. Um, and, and, you know, thinking about some of those extracurriculars or some of our activities that you’re doing outside of school or what you’re doing in school. Are you working? Are you doing research? Are you volunteering?
Um, do you have family responsibilities and, and you’re kind of building it out that way. Never too early in this regard to start building that activity list, right? You don’t wanna be entering senior year and like, ah, what am I involved in? I don’t know. I guess I have to join some clubs and organizations.
Ultimately, it would be an ideal situation if you already had some of those clubs and organizations built in. You’re continuing those over a number of years. Um, and what are you doing with your summer? Are are, you know, are you kind of just hanging out, laying around? Or you know, are you taking opportunity to, you know, get a part-time job or do some volunteer again?
Do some volunteer work, um, help around the house, whatever the case may be. Do some academic programs, research, whatever it may be. I think that those are, are really good opportunities to start building that activities, um, that activities list. So those are some ideas. Um, on things that you can be doing when I focus on curriculum here too, and I’ll mention it again in a moment, you’ll see this again.
What I mean is kind of building out your curriculum, um, and, and, and. Some of, a lot of this presentation builds upon other webinars that I’ve done that, uh, my colleagues, uh, with CollegeAdvisor have done talking about the application process as a whole. And one of those is what does, what do schools look at, right?
In the college application process? One of the most important things that they’re looking at is your high school transcript. Not just the grades that you’re earning, but the courses that you’re earning those grades in. And so when I was at, uh, again, bu we would talk about, you know, the five core academic solids, English, math, science, social science, and foreign language.
Ideally, most competitive applicants are having three to four years in all of those five core, or excuse me, Yeah. Five core academic solids, um, with. Rigor mixed in where available, where appropriate, where offered at different schools. So what does that mean? Honors courses, IB level courses, AP level courses, maybe some dual enrollment courses on, you know, starting to think about, okay, if I take this class my, my 10th grade year, what does that set me up to take my junior year?
What does that set mean to take up my senior year? Um, you know, if you ultimately want to get to Calc or AP Calc, um, you probably have to be in a certain level of, of math your, your sophomore or your junior year. So thinking about those type of things, um, can help you out, uh, once you get, uh, later on in your high school career.
So that’s what I mean by focusing on curriculum, um, you know, focusing on your grades. Hopefully that’s, that’s self intuitive. Okay, so I, moving on to junior year. Um, junior year, definitely an important year. Lot going on. Um, lot of opportunities to start. You know, further, um, educating yourself on the college admission process.
Um, you know, I think that, um, you know, uh, there’s a lot of opportunities, uh, again to, to, to learn more. Um, a lot of these points you saw already, continue to focus on your curriculum, continue to focus on your grades. That is the most important number one job of a high school student. And so I’ll actually reiterate that here.
I talked a little bit about activities and extracurriculars and building that involvement outside the classroom. That’s great, that’s important. But the number one job, your only job and, and really as a high school student is to do well in school, um, is to continue to learn. That is your number one job.
Everything else comes second. And, and, and if your grades, if your curriculum aren’t there, um, you know, there are few. Extracurriculars jobs, things that that, that you could be doing to make up for that in the admission process. That is the number one thing that, in my opinion, that college admission, um, offices look at.
It’s what courses you’ve taken and again, the grades you’ve earned in those courses. Um, okay. Continue to attend college high school visits and fairs. Um, talked a little bit about that in the last slide. Um, you know, college, uh, admission reps, they are coming to you. Take advantage of that. Ask them questions.
Get it from, get the information from the horse’s mouth. Learn from them. Um, you know, there’s a lot of information out there. These people are there. I was there to answer every single question. Um, and so, um, you know that there’s nothing, um, more valuable there, um, than, than you. Utilizing those resources.
Um, so the PSAT, uh, is typically, uh, in the fall. In fact, I think today is national PS AT day, if I’m not mistaken. So happy PSAT day. Um, if you, if some of you took the test today, um, this is, uh, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a practice, uh, test for the, the SAT. Um, it’s a little bit different, but one of the things that’s important about the PSAT is that it can lead, uh, to merit aid in many institutions.
So at many institutions. So if you are a National Merit Scholar or National Merit Semi-finalist, um, which is a distinction, uh, that is attributed to, uh, high achievers on the PSAT, you can, uh, earn scholarship money at. And so when I was at BU, for instance, if you were a National Merit finalist, um, and you indicated that BU was your top choice, that was an automatic.
Presidential scholarship, which at the time, um, was a, and again, I, I haven’t been at BU for a number of years now, but at the time was a $20,000 a year Merit Scholar award. So, um, you know, it is still a good thing to take seriously and, and something that can lead, uh, to, to, to some money potentially. Um, fast forwarding to the spring of junior year, um, I think this is a great time for your first SAT or ACT.
Again, not to say that you can’t take it before this, um, but a lot of, uh, I see a lot of folks sit for their first standardized test at this point, the spring. Um, and so that’s a really good, uh, opportunity for that. Again, continue to attend these school visits into the spring and into the summer and fall.
Um, and when I say school visits, I mean going to physical schools, um, Advice, Um, if you’re gonna be doing this, um, if you have a spring break in, you know, the month of April, for instance, um, or even, uh, one of those weeks in March, um, many schools will fill up their, their info sessions early. And so, um, you know, starting as crazy as it may be, starting to look in January, February, um, at, at your plans for those, uh, those weeks, those school weeks, um, probably a pretty good idea and, and trying to schedule out visits.
Um, you know, if, if you are going to a school, um, again, I can only speak from my personal experience, but if you’re going to visit Boston University the third week of April, um, you know, on, uh, on, uh, the third Fri yeah, again, the third Friday of April, Um, and you’re trying to schedule, you know, a day or two before, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna find a open information session.
So, um, important to, to, to think about that a little bit of a, a ahead. Um, but attending schools really a great way. Look, I’m a huge advocate of, of school visits because there will be some schools that you go and visit and you walk on campus and you’re like, Absolutely not. I don’t even wanna get out of the car.
I wanna go home right now. And that’s fine. You know why? Because there are thousands of colleges out there. Um, and then there are gonna be some where you’re like, Wow, this is amazing. I feel at home. I just have that, that, that feeling right. It just fits. It just, it feels right. Um, that was the feeling I had with my undergraduate institution, um, when I finally decided to attend.
Um, and, you know, really was, was a great experience and I also had some of those visits where I was like, Ma, I don’t even wanna get out of the car right now. Right? So, um, that is, um, definitely something that happens, um, overall. So again, continue to think about summer activities, you know, into your junior, uh, senior.
Um, and again, building out that app, uh, that activity list, um, you know, I think can be really good. Um, in junior year, I think that’s, this is a time that we often see, you know, reviewing applications. You know, folks have done, um, some kind of work. They’ve done research, they’ve done the internship. Um, mo you know, they’re doing something with their, their extra time.
Um, You know, over the course of their junior, um, into senior summer. So that’s definitely a summer to be active and, and to be, uh, be doing something. Um, again, it could be volunteer work, it could be, you know, my, my junior year, um, going into my senior, I did have a part-time job, but, um, I ultimately was a politics major, so I was, I was volunteering on campaigns, um, and I was knocking on doors and, and making phone calls and, um, doing all that good stuff.
So, um, you know, there are a lot of different opportunities, uh, to, to build out that activity list. Um, and then in the summer, you know, this is a great time to start working on your essay. Some of you have already do, are already doing that, which is cool. Um, you know, I think that, uh, you know, the common application, uh, for instance, launches August 1st is a time where you can kind of, you know, see what those, those, um, What those prompts are gonna be for, for the year.
Um, you can start looking at your school’s application essays and things of that nature. Start looking at supplementals. Um, and the reason why it’s a good idea to start in the summer, um, and kind of get that going is that one senior year starts, it’s really busy, right? You got a lot going on. You’re focusing on classes, you have the application deadlines coming up.
The last thing you want to go into is, you know, having it be, you know, October 12th tonight. Um, and, you know, you have five applications that are due, you know, uh, for November 1st deadline, and you’re like, Oh man, I gotta get all my essays together. And, and you’re really, you know, um, getting nervous. So, um, you know, get ahead of that a little bit, um, is, is always a good idea.
Um, and just writing, just, just, just put thoughts, um, and, and kind of into paper, so to speak. That’s kind of my advice there. Um, alright, so that’s kind of what I would say in terms of an ideal 11th grade timeline. Um, now building your application strategy. I mean, I did a whole webinar on this. Um, so this is kind of the short version, um, but it really kind of starts with what type of school you’re applying to.
Um, and, and this can again, be developed over a course of time. I think it’s often developed over the course of, you know, talking to college admission officers, visiting, uh, schools themselves, physical campuses, um, you know, talking to them at high school visits, things of that nature. But it’s the where, the what and the why, right?
It’s, it’s where physically in the united, in, in the country, or maybe overseas, um, why are you applying, you know, Academic program? Is it the culture of the school? Is it, um, you know, the size of the school? Is it the cost, you know, that might be a major factor for you. Totally. Uh, Okay. Um, you know, do they have, you know, strong, uh, you know, athletics program and you really wanna be in a vibrant, um, athletic community?
You know, those are a lot of different, uh, things that, that you can, uh, evaluate. There are a lot of different ways to break down, you know, the schools out there. Um, From there. You know, I think it’s good to start showing some interest in the schools that you’re interested in. Um, and what I mean by that is, again, attending those high school visits, going, um, if they’re at your school, um, going to some college fairs, talking to some ramps, going on school visits, um, these are all things that are tracked, um, and at some schools can play a role, um, long term in the admission process.
Um, you know, we talked a little bit about working on the essays and so, um, that can be helpful, um, in, in filling out your applications long term. Um, definitely, definitely, definitely encourage folks to look into potential scholarship options. I mentioned the national merit options, but also there are many institutions out there that separate from.
The school financial aid process or the national fi uh, financial aid process and filling out the FAFSA, um, that offer merit aid. Um, some require essays, some, you know, you just have to submit an application. Some are, um, affinity, you know, uh, groups. So there are a lot of different opportunities to look into there.
Um, but obviously looking into, uh, you know, merit and, and, and institutional aid that schools offer, um, is always a good, um, piece of, of building out your application strategy as well. And then ultimately, once it comes to, you know, the fall, um, you know, having a good sense of, you know, are you your application choice?
And what I mean by that is are you applying early decision, early action, or regular decision to your schools? Um, you know, early decision is that binding agreement. So really ultimately you want to be. 110% committed to that institution. I often talked about it in my info sessions, like, your bags are packed.
You already had your hoodie sweatshirt on, you are ready to go. Your sign seal delivered. Right? And, and there is an advantage to applying early decision at, at most institutions, um, the vast majority of institutions. Um, But you have to understand kind of the commitment of, of applying ED and the fact that it is that binding, that binding commitment, and that ultimately you are saying that if I am emitted, I’m going to enroll.
Um, and so that can be important to understand. Um, you know, for early action, um, you know, I’m a big advocate of early action because there is no binding, uh, nature to early action. You find out early, um, you, excuse me, you apply early, you find out early, you know, and, and you still have until, um, you know, the end of the traditional deposit deadline, uh, to decide.
Um, the only slight disadvantage to early action maybe is that your application does have to be done earlier to a very common early action deadline is, you know, in the November uh, timeframe. Um, and so your applications might need to be done a little bit earlier. Um, and then regular decision obviously is, is how you would apply to the remainder of, of, of any schools.
Um, one thing that I’m, I’m thinking about now, um, you, many of you probably heard of, you know, kind of the, you know, the reach target, um, and, you know, safety school, um, you know, strategy as well. Um, you know, I definitely think that it’s good to mix in a variety of these, um, you know, with a couple of reaches.
Um, and, and, and the majority being target or, or unquote safety, uh, institutions on you. Admissions is becoming ever more selective, and so far more schools are really in that reach target to actual reach for, for many applicants at this point. You know, I am a, a believer that if, you know, if a school is, you know, less than 50% admission, you know, it’s really not, it’s not a safety for anyone really.
Um, and maybe not even a target. Um, you know, if a school is, you know, in a single or double digit, um, you know, uh, or excuse me, high teens, um, in admission, acceptance, that’s probably a reach for most, if not all applicants as well. So, you know, kind of building that out and, and thinking about it. Um, most applicants are applying to, um, you know, Eight, 10, you know, schools nowadays.
Um, you know, I only applied to three , um, when I ultimately applied. Um, but that was a very different, uh, process for myself. Those were all target, um, target institutions for myself and, and I felt good about going to any of them. Um, but you know, Two years later, my sister, she applied to, I think 15 different schools with a variety of different, you know, reach, target and, and quote unquote safety options.
So it really, again, it’s an individual process is the point. Um, so I’m definitely not here to tell you, you have to apply to this many schools. This many have to be reached, this many have to be target, this many have to be safety. I do, uh, think that it’s important to have balance though. Um, and that’s kind of my, my general, um, advice overall.
Um, so putting it all together, you know, I mean, we’re building out our activities list. We’re, you know, figuring out, Okay, what have I done? I’m listing the important things that, that I’ve done and, and, and what do I want? Um, and all of this should be done. Again, all of this is done within the context of what do I want the admission officer reviewing my application to know about me.
Um, because at the end of the day, um, we only know what’s on the paper. Um, and on the page, um, and, and actually on our screen because most of us are reading on online now. Um, and so we wanna see more than just numbers. Um, we wanna see the qualitative aspect of you and, and get that full holistic, um, review.
Um, so building out your activity list is one way that you can help us, um, tell you who you are and what you’re involved. And then, um, you know, assessing test policies at your schools and, and once you’ve taken your test, you know, should you submit them, um, you know, I’m a big advocate of, of looking at kind of the, the profile of the school.
And, and, and let’s say hypothetically speaking, you know, a school has, um, you know, a, a profile where their average SAT score for an admitted student is a 1380. Okay. Um, well, if you scored below a 1380. Personally, I would not recommend, you know, submitting that score because by definition, you are already in the bottom half of applicants by test scores alone.
Um, you know, but if you fall above that, then okay, maybe that’s something that, that, that you can submit to help enhance your score. It’s, again, a very individual process, but generally speaking, that’s kind of a rule that I like to follow and advise my, uh, students that I work with on, um, in, in kind of whether you wanna submit your scores or not.
Um, and then obviously wrapping up your essays, you know, doing your general essay, your personal statement, and then any supplements that you’re, the institution you’re applying to may require. Um, these can be lengthy. Um, and, and, and, um, you know, some of them, many, some schools have a, a number of them, some of them are also like, they have like 10, but they’re, you know, 25 word responses, or, you know, they’re really short 50 word responses.
Um, you know, simple questions like one I’ve seen, like, what are you watching for on TV right now? Right? Or, you know, what’s your favorite movie? Um, so some of them are, are very basic. Um, others a little bit more in depth. Um, you know, for instance, the one that we had when I was at BU was we called the Y b, Why do you wanna Apply to Boston University?
Um, I think that’s a very common supplemental question. So think about those, um, is always good. Um, and, uh, you know, that’s, that’s something I think about. Um, okay. And then why does it all matter? Well, uh, ultimately, you know, doing this in kind of a thoughtful process, you know, being ahead of the game a little bit, um, thinking about it and not waiting until the very end.
Is gonna help you. Um, you know, as I, as I often kind of joke about, like, you know, I love when past me helps future me, right? Or present me, you know, and, and you take advantage of, of, of the time, um, that you have, um, to, to, to prepare. Going ahead. So not procrastinating is gonna be really helpful. It’s gonna save you a lot of time and energy.
It’s probably gonna save your, your parents or guardians time and energy and, and, and all the people that are around you and love you as well. , Um, Because you won’t all be as stressed. Um, but, um, you know, ultimately there’s a lot to this. There can be a lot to this process, right? First and foremost, there’s a lot of schools out there.
Um, so narrowing it down, um, there can be a lot to do in terms of, like I was just saying, the supplements. Um, you know, different schools have different policies, different rules. Um, applying early decision, applying early action, regular decision. What’s the deadline? Do I need to submit my test? Do I not, you know, this has, this school has my major, but that one doesn’t.
You know, if I wanna apply the honors program, I gotta do this essay. Like, there’s a lot of different steps. Um, and so, you know, just kind of being organized and laying it all out can be really helpful on. The good news is that, um, you know, people like myself and CollegeAdvisor and, and we’ll get to this at the end, um, are here to help , um, right.
So, um, you know, that is the good news, but starting at an early pace can really help reduce stress and pressure, um, over um, I know from experience, um, seeing it over and over again, talking to many, many, many, many, many families over the years working with clients the last year or so with CollegeAdvisor, This can be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful process.
Um, and you can go about it in a way that that can help reduce it. Um, the other thing that I’ve mentioned a couple times is, is the very individual process. And so the biggest piece of advice that I have for folks is to kind of really take that to heart and that, you know, kind of put your blinders on, uh, so to speak, as if you are running a race.
If you’re a horse, you know, and, and you’re just kind of going straight ahead, you’re just focusing on your process, just run your race. Don’t worry about what your friends are doing or your family members that might be going through the process or have gone through the process. College for some reason is something that everyone seems to have a thought, opinion, um, advice on.
Um, and at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are happy with your process. You’re happy with the institution you enroll at. You’re the one that’s gonna be, you know, living in those residents halls, eating the food, um, writing the papers, taking this test, and ultimately, hopefully, you know, being successful in graduating from the institution.
So you need to enjoy the process, um, ultimately. And so that’s the most important piece of advice that I have. Um, but again, you know, why does it all matter? Uh, to get back to that, um, you know, grades and curriculum over the all four years are very, very important. I, I said earlier, it’s the most important thing.
I think it, I think it is. Um, it is one of the few things that you cannot impact, way to run, right? We can’t go back in time and retake that test that we wish that we had studied for a freshman year. Um, and you know, that, that is something to, to keep in mind. So, you know the grades that you earn your first year, second year, third year in high school, um, and the courses you take will impact the, the courses you take later on and ultimately your, your college admission process.
So the most important thing you can do now as a sophomore is to focus on your coursework, same as a junior. Um, and the rest will, will, will come, um, will come with it. Okay? So, Uh, with that, you know, we are concluding, um, you know, the, the major portion of, uh, the presentation. Um, I think we’re gonna open it up for some question and answer right now.
Um, and, uh, you know, I know there’s a lot in the chat, but, but happy to, uh, to answer them live here. Um, Lonnie, So I, I think you’re gonna help facilitate. I am. I am. So thank you so much, Brian. That now concludes the presentation portion of our webinar. Um, so we’re now gonna move into our questions and answers.
So how was. It’s gonna work. I will paste your question into the public chat so that you can see them, and then I’ll read them out loud before our panelist gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page.
So yes, we have a lot of great questions that have been coming in while you’ve been presenting, so we’ll try our best to get to most of them. The first question is, uh, you know what? And applicants stand out to college admission officers? Yeah, so, you know, I definitely alluded to some of this over the course of the, the webinar, but I think, you know, there’s a lot of different things.
Um, you know, admission offices try to review applicants in a holistic manner. Um, but I didn’t make the comment that the most important thing is your high school transcript. Um, and it’s not just the grades that you earned, but the courses that you earn, you were earning those grades in. Um, and so we do, most schools do want to see, you know, solid academic courses, some, um, some advanced curriculums, uh, curriculum.
Um, you know, again, so taking challenging courses, taking some honors, taking some AP, taking some IB courses where available, where appropriate, um, is, is gonna be something that stands out the most, um, first and foremost. Um, but beyond that, you know, we are looking, um, as a mission offers. You know, kind of round out the class and, and we want people not, you know, robots, right?
So we are looking at the qualitative aspects of the application. So your personal statement matters. Your supplements, your extracurriculars and activity list. Like I said, any recommendations, Um, all of those are important. Um, there’s nothing that’s not important if you’re submitting it in application.
So you should treat every single piece, um, as important. But I would definitely say that the transcript is probably the most important. Okay, So this question reads, as a junior, I’m thinking of applying to two to three colleges this year. Regular decision, decision strictly for practice, since I know next year’s EA/ED applications are the first and most important applications.
So do you think that it’s viable and should I pursue or just get more familiar with the overall college application process?
so I’m not really understanding this question to be completely honest. Um, I don’t know why I don’t know the thought thought process behind this, so it’s hard for me to answer. Um, you will look, you’re evaluated as the applicant that you present. So if your goal is to try to be admitted, uh, to one of these schools, um, know that you’re gonna be look, being looked at, um, just as any other student and, and senior and, and, and whether or not you meet those requirements, um, for practice.
I mean, I don’t know it, I don’t think that it’s really something that you can or do practice. You kind of just do it once. Um, and, and so, you know, I think that. Probably your best energy would be focused on, you know, continuing to do well on your current classes, your current courses, prepare, preparing first any standardized testing that you might be taking.
Um, and then ultimately when it comes time to apply as a, as a senior going to your senior year, um, you know, focusing on those essays and, and, and supplements and things of that nature at that time. So, I don’t know, I’m a little con I’ll be completely honest. I’m a little confused. Maybe kind of, um, maybe even how I read the question is like, as a junior, can you apply to colleges early as practice?
Yeah. I, not really, Um, yeah, look, I’d be completely honest with you. 99% of any junior would probably, And, and I saw some folks that are like, I’m graduating high school early, but they only had three years of English. They only had three years of math. They only had three years of science. That doesn’t meet a minimum requirement of many institutions, which is four years of English, four years of math, four years of science, right.
Um, and so, um, you know, it’s very uncommon, um, you know, unless someone is truly kind of doubling up or, or tripling up in, in different areas. Um, but yeah, ultimately, I guess to kind of move on, um, and, and not, um, you know, kind of belabor the point, um, I don’t know that the college application process is something that you practice, um, taking standardized testing, absolutely.
You can practice that a hundred times over, um, you know, writing essays. Start, you know, keep practicing, write your essay, you know, proofread, proof free, proofread, you know, do it, uh, multiple drafts. Um, but I don’t know if you need to to go through the application process. Yes, yes. Thank you, Brian. Yeah. Sorry if I over explained that.
No, no, no, You’re good. You’re good. I’m pretty sure everyone got like, what they needed from that, that question, so thank you. Um, so next question reads, is it too early to be a sophomore and to have narrowed down to a handful of colleges?
No, I mean, again, this is very individual process, so if you know what schools you wanna apply to, great. You know, God bless all the, all the power to you. Um, I would say make sure you’re not, um, you know, eliminating any opportunity or closing doors, um, that may present themselves, um, to you down the road. Um, you know, because I’ll be honest with myself, I was a very different person my sophomore year of high school than I was, fall of my senior year of high school
Um, in a good way, I hope. Right? Um, and so allow yourself to, uh, develop in your, your ideas to change. Um, I know many, many students that think, oh, you know, spring of their junior year, they’re like, I’m going ed to this one school, and then it comes to the fall. Um, and they’ve already, they’ve changed their mind again, so that’s totally fine.
Um, you know, if, you know, that’s fine. Um, I’m not gonna say it’s right or wrong, um, but I would, I would hope that you would keep your mind open to other possibilities. Mm-hmm. Okay. So what are good sources to look for scholarships? Um, Talking to your high school, uh, college, um, office, um, you know, your, your, uh, counselor, um, your school counselor.
Um, they often have a lot of resources. Um, CollegeAdvisor has some resources. Um, I am blanking on the name of the website. Um, that literally has a list of, of scholarships, um, available. Wanna say it starts with a Z or N or something like that? I dunno, I’m blanking on it right now. Who’s chat? Web. Yeah, I mean Google.
Yeah. As crazy as that sounds. Um, just type in college. College, um, college scholarships, um, you know, and, and narrow it down. Say college scholarships for students in Massachusetts College, scholarships for students, you know, studying x, y, z college scholarships for, you know, fill in the blank. Um, you know, there are a lot of different organizations out there, um, that are giving money away, and sometimes it’s like a hundred bucks, but other times it’s, you know, thousands of dollars.
So, um, you know, every little bit helps, um, especially when, you know, you’re looking to pay for, for, for school expenses. Absolutely. Uh, next question is, where do you find the prompts for the year for college essays in order to get ahead, start? So, The specifically, the common application doesn’t launch until August 1st.
Um, and so the prompts are typically not available until that point. Um, however, what you could do is making an account now. Um, and so, uh, maybe this, um, goes against , the advice that we gave earlier in kind of the practice point. But, you know, you can make a common account, a common app account now and kind of see what the prompts are now.
However, the other thing I’ll say is that, um, as long as I’ve been involved in college admissions, including the year that I applied to college, one of the prompts has been pick your, pick your topic, right? So, The bottom line is that you really can write about a variety of different things. Um, where you can’t really find out the prompts in some cases is the individual school supplements.
Um, you know, again, some of those, um, schools will not fully release those until their application goes live. Um, so that would be one area that that would be a little bit tricky. So that would be kind of my, my thought process there. You could always check what the previous year was. Great. Okay. Uh, this question asks what is the difference between ED and RD?
Excuse me. Um, Just throat is really dry after talking for a little bit. Mm-hmm. . Um, so yeah, early ED is early decision. Um, RD is regular decision. Um, early decision, um, has an earlier application deadline. Um, and it is a binding and mission process, meaning that if you submit your application and you are admitted to that institution, you are enrolling.
That is, that is the commitment that you are, are making to that school. When you apply early decision, you fill out typically something called the early decision agreement or ed, and this is a document that says, you know, basically what I just said, that, you know, you’re committing to this process. You sign it, your parent or guardian signs it, and your school counselor sign it, saying, We understand what we’re getting ourselves into.
And that is that, again, if I’m admitted, I’m enrolling, I’m depositing, I am done the college admission process, I’m withdrawing all my other applications to my other schools. I’m done. Regular decision, um, is just applying, uh, and, and seeing, you know, when you get in and then you have, um, the opportunity to compare, you know, other options and, and kind of, um, see, you know, where else you might get in.
And, and there’s no commitment, uh, one way or the other. Um, same is true for early action as well. Um, there’s no commitment. Um, so the main thing to understand is that while there is a benefit in terms of the emission process, there’s a, you know, typically schools have a higher emission rate, um, for early decision.
Um, you know, it comes with a consequence of, you know, you’re committing to that school. Um, so it’s important to kind of do your homework there.
All righty. So our next question reads, if my school doesn’t have many extracurricular in AP classes, What can I do to make, to make my application look better? Sure. So, um, in terms of the AP coursework and the curriculum, um, school students are evaluated within the context of the school that they apply from, um, in the high school that they attend.
So the vast majority of colleges are not gonna look at a school that says, you know, we either don’t offer AP courses or we only offer, you know, three and, you know, penalize a student for, for not taking, you know, 20. Okay, well 20 AP courses weren’t offered, Right? So it’s how you take advantage of the curriculum that is offered to you.
Um, so that’s the first piece. The second piece of that, in terms of extracurricular. We talk about extracurriculars and activities. It’s not just what you’re doing at school. It’s not just clubs and activities that are school sponsored or athletics or anything like that. It’s what you’re doing at the end of the day.
Um, so are you volunteering in the community? Are you, do you have a part-time job? Um, do you have, uh, responsibilities at home? Um, are you doing academic research? Are you, you know, really passionate about, you know, music and, and you play in a band or you, um, you know, maybe you don’t play on a, a school, a school sports team.
Um, but you know, you play, you know, a sport rec, Oh man, why can I not say that? Mm-hmm. recreationally with friends. Um, you know, and you are really passionate. Um, you know, something along those lines. Um, so there are a lot of different ways that you can still be involved and show your activities, even if they’re not necessarily quote unquote school sponsor.
Okay. Uh, next question is unweighted GPA more important than the weighted one? Um, so they’re both important. Um, most institutions, they talk about, you know, their average GPA of admitted student that is on an unweighted scale. Um, so, you know, if someone says, you know, our average GPA for an admitted student was a 3.7 or 3.6, that’s on a, typically on a four point know unweighted GPA scale.
So how we are trained and how I learn to review applications is that you could throw up a transcript on the screen right now, I could look at your courses, and I’m like, Uh, yeah, that’s about a 3.7, 3.8, you know, whatever. Um, and, and believe it or not, like you can believe me or not, but. We read enough transcripts that that’s truly how, how you evaluate, evaluate it, you look at the weighted GPA to kind of understand the context of the rigor that is offered and how the student is taking advantage of the rigor.
Um, so for instance, a student can have a 4.0 um, unweighted gpa and theoretically, you know, being a less rigor rigorous curriculum than someone that has, you know, a three eight. And I might favor the student that’s in a three eight because they really, you know, um, you know, put themselves, uh, through a, a difficult curriculum.
So that’s kind of where the weighted piece comes into play. Um, but most institutions have their own way of calculating the rigor of a curriculum. Okay, so we’re gonna take a short pause. Um, also give Brian a water break, and I’m gonna share with you all more about CollegeAdvisors. So for those who are in the room who aren’t already working with us, We know how overwhelming the admission process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourself that are getting an early start.
As sophomores and juniors, our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigated all and one-on-one advising sessions. Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code on the screen.
During that consultation, you will work with a member from our team. They will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it lines up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership. After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member of our team and I had someone send me a message and they ask like, you know, when is the right time to start working, You know, one on one with a CollegeAdvisor? And now is the time as sophomores and juniors. This is the time so that you can get an early start. So please take a moment and speak to one of our representatives.
Okay, so we are gonna move back to our questions and answers. We have about nine more minutes. Uh, so next question is, I’ve, you know, I’ve had older kids tell me about building a college portfolio. What is that and how would I do that? Yeah, so really how I think about that is, you know, building. Um, it’s a way to be organized, right?
It’s a way to, um, kind of build out everything that you’re gonna need. Um, and so, you know, it’s, it’s, it can be, you know, creating your own Google folder, um, or Google Drive. Um, this is something that we actually, if you work with CollegeAdvisor, there’s something we help, um, and do for you, um, and build this drive.
Um, but it’s, it’s a place to, you know, hold, uh, your essays. It’s a place to build out your activities. It’s a place to build out a resume. Um, and, and in some cases it can be a way to kind of submit additional information. Um, you know, for a college, um, as an admission officer, um, I kind of, uh, to be honest with you, um, lean on the side, especially admission officer that worked at an institution that got.
Lots of applications and read lots of applications. I actually err on the side of not recommending, submitting, add, like too much additional information. Um, you know, unless it’s really, uh, helpful and important, uh, to the process. Um, so I think ultimately, you know, it’s just a way to, to stay organized, um, build out, you know, your variety of essays, build out your supplementals, um, build out your activities, a resume, perhaps, things of that nature.
Okay. As a sophomore, wanting to go into STEM field, should I diversify my courses or focus on STEM to have a better application? Sure. So I think that if you’re going into the STEM field, um, there is a truth that, you know, there’s gonna be a higher emphasis, um, of focus on your math and science courses, however big, however, um, I would not.
Forget or skip, um, you know, other classes such as, you know, social science or foreign language, uh, courses. Um, I think the strongest applicants are ones that are still able to take advanced, you know, math and science courses while continuing in their, their, you know, with four or, or more, you know, years of, of a social science, um, and, you know, three or four years of a foreign language of the same foreign language.
So I would recommend not, um, forgetting about those. Um, and ultimately college is where you specialize. High school is where you, you know, uh, show that you have the fundamentals. Um, and so I think it’s important to focus on those core academic solid. All right. Our next question reads, do opportunities over the summer, Like summer programs help a lot with the application process.
Um, so I’m gonna focus on the, the word a lot and, and say, no , um, they help. Right? Um, and, and it’s another, it’s another, um, you know, piece of the application. It’s another, uh, point of emphasis. You know, look, you spent a week or two weeks, or whatever the case, uh, may be with that program. You know, doing research or doing academic work or, you know, doing something that, doing something to put on your college application that when you could have been, you know, doing something else with your, your time, um, as over the course of the summer.
So that, in that regard, thumbs up. It’s a positive, right? Um, but I don’t think that it necessarily put is gonna, you know, make the, be the difference maker or. Throw you over the, throw you over the top necessarily. Um, you know, it’s definitely something that, that, that we always would note. Um, especially if you did a summer program at the institution that you’re applying to.
Um, just kind of from a, you know, again, interest perspective or, you know, familiarity perspective. You know, some of those programs you’re staying on campus, right? So you have a little bit of more understanding about, you know, living on campus, um, and things of that nature. Um, but I would not say that it is gonna make or break, um, an admission decision.
Okay. Um, next question reads, why do colleges, why do some colleges require recommendations? I would say that most, if. I mean, I can’t say all, but I would say the vast majority do require at least one form of recommendation. Um, and typically we’re, we’re asking schools are asking for a letter of recommendation from a school counselor, um, and one, at least one from a teacher.
Um, and this is again, part of the process of getting to know you outside of, you know, the application that you submit. Um, and outside of the transcript, it’s, it’s part of the qualitative evaluation of the applicant. Um, and again, just getting to know who you are as a person and what type of person you would be, um, on our, on our campus if, if we were to offer you admission.
All right. Uh, next might have time for one or two more questions. Let’s see. All right. So what if your emphasis on a sport in your school choices, how does this strategy change? So is the question more about, um, I’m, I’m gonna make an assumption here just cuz we can’t go back and forth and say that it’s probably this person is interested in playing a sport in college.
Um, and, and that can change your strategy, um, in the sense that, um, you know, where you’re applying, the type of school you’re applying to, you applying D1, you applying D2, you applying D3, um, you know, that is gonna have a big impact on where you’re applying. Um, if you apply D1, the NCAA has certain rules in terms of, you know, you have to have certain grades, certain test scores, things of that nature.
Um, but that is an area where, look, if, if you are a stellar athlete, um, that can absolutely help you, um, in the emission process, uh, long. So if that’s your case, you know, kudos to you, um, you know, props, um, and, and, and best of luck through that process. Um, also real quick, I saw another question kind of about athletics and, and you know, it was kind of around the lines of, you know, should I join a sport if I don’t really like it just to improve my activity list?
I mean, my personal thought would be absolutely not. Like, don’t waste your time. You know, there’s so many other things you can be doing with time is valuable. There’s so many other things you can do with your time. Um, then being miserable, you know, playing a sport. Just, you know, because you wanna make your application look good again.
There are many other things you can replace it there on, you know, a, uh, a sport with, there are many applicants that don’t ever play, um, high school, uh, sports. And, and, and that’s perfectly. Okay. Last question. Um, do colleges look only at transcripts through the end of junior year? No. Um, no. Um, my, my, my phrase, um, my cheesy phrase is that high school, uh, junior year high school is the most important year until you get to senior year.
Um, and then that’s the most important year. And, and quite frankly, it’s extra important because we’re only seeing maybe one quarter at most a semester. And so there’s an extra emphasis, um, on that senior year for a variety of different reasons. It’s shorter. It’s the closest, uh, to, you know, your, your college years.
You’re probably doing your most, um, uh, rigorous curriculum at that point. Um, and we wanna see you finish strong. Um, so senior year is extremely important. Um, you know, we, as admission officers, we would always require at least a first quarter, uh, report card or progress report, um, before, uh, making a, a final application.
Alrighty. Well that is now going to conclude our webinar. Thank you, Brian, for sharing this great information, answering all of these questions. I know that there were many, many questions that were unanswered. However, I do wanna encourage you to speak to a member of our team. So please go ahead and scan that cure coat and also they will, there will be an additional screen after the conclusion of this webinar.
The last announcement that I would like to make is we have more webinars that are coming up this month. Uh, so we have a list of webinars that you can participate in, um, every single month, every week we have something exciting that’s all geared towards helping you, um, prepare for the college application process.
So thank you all for participating and again, thank you Brian, um, for all the information that you shared. Have a great night. Good night. Thanks everyone.