College Admissions Timelines for Sophomores & Juniors
Cornell student and CollegeAdvisor Admissions Expert McKenzie breaks down when to start college application prep in order to get ahead.
2021-12-05 College Admissions Timelines for Sophomores & Juniors
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s, webinar on college admissions timelines for sophomores and juniors. To orient everyone with their webinar. Uh, timing. Uh, 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 questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi, I am McKenzie Murray. I am a current sophomore at Cornell university and the class of 2024. I’m a human development major with minors in education and policy analysis. And tonight I really just want to talk to you about what you can be doing your [00:01:00] sophomore and junior year and really even your freshman year in high school to really get ahead and be well-prepared for the college admissions process and all these decisions you’re about to make and as well as going over some of my own experiences and how I navigate at high school in the process.
Perfect. All right, we’ll go ahead and get started with our first poll of evening, which is where are you in the application process? All right, so we’ll go ahead and start collecting those responses right now, uh, in the mint, in the meantime, um, McKinsey, uh, can you tell us what has been, uh, your favorite tradition at court?
So, uh, as far as traditions COVID has kind of killed all of them this year. Um, but one thing that I’m really looking forward to is doing slope day, which is just a big concert at the end of the year. And they bring in famous people and I heard from someone they were supposed to bring in Beyonce the year COVID [00:02:00] hit some little upset, even though I wasn’t here, but, uh, hopefully they bring that back.
Cause I want to see Beyonce for free.
No, it totally be awesome. Difficult. Awesome. All right. So we have some, uh, responses rolling in already. Um, so 30% of you haven’t started yet. Uh, 70% of you are currently 73% are currently researching schools. Uh, and, uh, we have 0% for working on essays, getting application materials together and being almost done.
So a lot of you kind of seem to be in the very beginning stages, which is great. So this should be a really helpful webinar to kind of guide you through the rest of that process. Okay. So yeah, this is a great place to be. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be almost done. Cause that would be weird. But, um, so since a lot of you are just in the, I’m starting to research schools or haven’t even started the process, I really want to go over what this process looks [00:03:00] like.
So first of all, um, there’s a lot of steps. And so you have your college research and college list building. You have a lot of decision to make, uh, a lot of decisions to make, especially since this year big, your first big grown-up decision. Um, so like you have to pick your major, you have to pick where you want to go.
And that doesn’t even just mean the schools that can mean the state. You even want to go to, you have to figure out when you want to apply. And when you feel comfortable applying, you also have a lot of writing to do so there’s like your personal statement, your supplements, and a bunch of other essays or portfolios you have to put together, depending on what program, major school you’re applying to.
You have to take the sat and the act you have to find recommenders. Um, you have to, um, build your profile, which is like your, um, how you want to, um, like what’s the word, uh, sell yourself pretty much. And then, um, you also have to fill out the app shore application, which has its own process. And then on top of that, you have the financial [00:04:00] aid process with all of those documents and then even more so on top of that, you’re still a student, you’re still a family member.
You still may have to work if you work somewhere and then on top, and then especially your senior year, you have all those funds, senior activities. You’re trying to do like prom and hanging out with your friends and getting everything together. So pretty much just in a nutshell, it’s a lot, um, which is why I really want to talk about getting ahead so that you have more peace of mind.
So when is a good time to start thinking about college admissions. So the earlier the better, and this doesn’t necessarily mean starting in fifth grade, although your parents may say that, or at least they might start saving for you for college at that time. But, um, this just means, um, just getting more exposure and really starting to look into college as early as possible.
So I’ll talk a little bit more about my experience later, but I really started in middle school. That is to save a, um, that’s really just to get you [00:05:00] exposed so that you’re ready for this big decision, but always remember that plans can change. Cause, um, even for me, in eighth grade I was dead set on becoming an engineer or architect like my dad and then I really hate stem.
So then I was dead set on becoming a teacher or a social worker. And then somehow some way I got set on becoming a doctor for all four years of high school after that. And then the first semester of college, I realized again that I really just don’t like science at all and a bunch of, and a bunch of other things, of course.
Uh, and pre-med was just not for me. So, um, it’s really just the time to really explore. Um, and starting earlier can really help you do this so that you’re better able to navigate this process based on your interests needs and how they change over to.
So, how can you start thinking about college earlier to improve your chances? So how can starting earlier? Um, so one thing is it reduces stress. So like I just went over that whole [00:06:00] list of the college admissions process. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. That was my short version of it. There are a lot, there’s a lot more nuanced out the process depending on what you need and what you want.
So I’m really, there are a lot of things and starting earlier can just help you reduce stress because, um, You’re getting your tests done earlier or you’re drafting and brainstorming your essay sooner. So you aren’t having to scramble and do that your senior year on top of all your homework. And then also another thing is just preparing yourself and your parents or guardians for this decision.
Um, this is a big decision, so it isn’t something you want to make at the last minute. And then, especially, um, depending on like, if you’re trying to go out of state or far away from home, your parents may be a bit worried or like the cost of certain schools are interested in your parents may be worried if you just throw it on them at the last minute.
Um, so really, um, taken this time to start earlier and really work with your parents and think about yourself as well. Um, it will help you when making these decisions just so it doesn’t feel rushed or so you aren’t scared. Cause [00:07:00] I know a lot of students towards like may when it’s decision time, get nervous about picking the right college, which I also did a webinar on.
Um, just because it’s like, there are all these things you have to consider, but if you start earlier, it won’t feel like such a big decision. Um, And then also, um, you can plan your high school career more accordingly to what you need and want for college. So this can be taken certain clubs or courses. And, um, we’ll go over this more in later slides, but really there are some programs that you really have to plan earlier for than later.
So this can just help you make sure you don’t have any shortfalls on your application. And then also you set yourself up for better scholarships and other opportunities. So like there are some scholarships where though you don’t necessarily need an sat or act score and you apply your like sophomore, junior year, um, having it conceptual, um, apart from other applicants.
And I’ll talk more about my own experience with that. Uh, and can also get you when you hear students talk about, oh, I got letters from colleges that just means you’re getting mail and [00:08:00] a bunch of information from different colleges. Um, taking tests earlier can help you with that and scholarships as well because they send out your information.
Um, to those different programs and opportunities through your test taking and other means, but mostly through your test taking. And then also just by thinking about yourself, your interests, your passions and skills earlier, and reflecting on yourself will help you to better understand yourself and make these post-secondary decisions.
And then also, um, be able to talk about yourself more because on the admissions process, it’s a lot of writing and talking about yourself and most people do not feel comfortable with that. If it is their first time doing it. Okay. So no, no. All right. So we are onto the second poll of the night, which is what grade are you in?
All right. So go ahead and start again, collecting those responses. Um, and in the meantime, um, McKinsey, what has been your favorite course at Cornell? So far? My favorite course was the art of education with professor [00:09:00] Perry. It was just talking about like different teaching styles and methods and learning environments and how to create curriculums and stuff.
And I’m a real education nerd. So it was just the best class. And I was able to argue in that class too, about what I thought was wrong with education, and I am very opinionated about education. Um, so it was just a great course. And then it also had field work to it. So I got to apply what I was learning in an actual workspace.
And then my job here at Allstate. And I really liked the courses when it doesn’t just feel like I’m learning information for the sake of, but I actually can use it and see how it plays out in real life, because that’s way more interesting. And I understand it better when I actually get to see it or do it in real life than when I’m just having to memorize something.
Perfect. Thank you for that. Um, so, uh, the responses have rolled in, so we have, uh, no eighth or ninth graders. We have one 10th grader and eight 11th graders. Uh, so 11% falling into 10th [00:10:00] graders and 89% falling into 11th grade. So, uh, which just totally on par with tonight’s title, so perfect that she showed out, um, Sydney with the, uh, So that I’m a bit surprised.
I thought there would be more sophomores about, um, okay. So, um, on that note, we will be focusing a bit more on the juniors, but, um, what’s just students be focusing on academically during their sophomore year. So this, some of this stuff will overlap with the juniors, but the most important thing is maintaining and improving your grades and GPA.
So freshman year is really your foundational year. So really getting your GPA in grades as high as they can be, so that you’re set up for the rest of the years and you’re not having to play catch up, but in case you are a case, of course, wasn’t it didn’t go as well. This is really a time to, um, improve your grades to show that growth, uh, or also just maintain your grades.
If you’re already a high flyer. This is a great time to start beginning to take or to consider taking more advanced courses [00:11:00] or college level courses. So like your gifted and honors courses, and then your AP IB dual enrollment. And I’m taking these courses not only good, just to show that you’re consistent through high school and taking the most rigorous courses, but it can also help you feel more confident during your junior and senior year when you’re taking these courses, rather than waiting until the end of high school to start taking these courses, just because they are a bit more intense, they have a bit more requirements and they can affect your, um, college, um, like credits if you want to take them et cetera.
And we’ll talk about that more later. Um, so that it’s starting earlier with just gets you more comfortable with it, just so you aren’t feeling so stressed out, um, junior and senior year. Um, and then if possible, this is my main recommendation. Fast-track your math courses. So like for your English and science and social studies courses, you more than likely have a set plan that you have to follow, and then you have your electives also.
But for math, this is usually where most people can skip a level. So instead of waiting until your junior or [00:12:00] senior year to take pre-calculus, it’s best to take that during your sophomore year, so that during your junior and senior year, you can take calculus or stats or the, um, high AP courses or IB courses, depending on what you end up doing.
And this goes for whatever major applying to it’s just better to get ahead on your math. Since that is one of the areas that most people tend to, um, advance in, but especially for your stem, um, people interested in stem programs or majors, this is really important just because a lot of programs may require calculus.
And if you aren’t taking pre-calculus early enough, you may not be able to take that your junior or senior year. And then also this just a great time to explore. Also freshman year is a great time to explore, but this is really where you explore like your career interests, major interests, different activities at your school, different courses.
This is just a good time to explore just so you can have a better idea of what you want to do when you really have to start the admissions process. And then also this is a great time to start studying for [00:13:00] and taking the sat and act, um, as well as the PSVT, which most schools require you to take regardless.
But, um, most of your high school is rather, um, but taking the act and sat 10th grade or younger can really help get you set up for those scholarships and other opportunities and can help you just see like what it’s like to take these exams, just so you aren’t feeling so stressed out your junior and senior year, which may be the scores you want to send, and it gives you time to take it multiple times.
Um, just so you can get your best. As for our juniors, again, maintaining a grades, improving the sat act, taking rigorous courses. But this is really the year when you start college planning. So like sophomore and freshman year is more exploration. You see all your options, you see what’s out there, but junior year is really when you start thinking about like, okay, what’s my working college list going to look like.
So like your work in colleges is just any school that you think would be cool. And then you start knocking them down to get your final list, which is where you’ll be applying to your senior year and more than likely. [00:14:00] This is a good time, mostly during the spring of your junior years to start brainstorming and drafting your personal statement.
And then, um, also, um, this is a great time to apply for scholarships and flying programs. Blind programs are similar to like summer programs. It’s like a summer program in a college tour mixed into one over a shorter period of time. So you can really get a feel for different colleges and they usually are free and offered at different colleges, but especially liberal arts schools.
Um, and you can just get, um, you get the college experience for a little bit, and those programs it’s best to just look it up. You can just type in, fly in programs and find out more information about that and see which schools offer them. I’m not sure with COVID how that’s working, but most of the time schools are offering those, um, And then, so, um, what you McCall call it?
So this is really when you want to start all this college planning so that when senior year starts, you’re not trying to scramble and find all this information or get everything together, but you’re really just able to take off as soon as the common app or the [00:15:00] coalition app and FAFSA all open, you’re just have your information ready and you just start submitting stuff pretty much just so you aren’t stressed.
And then also going back to those scholarships and flying programs, a lot of their application processes, processes and essays are similar to the actual admissions process. So I’m doing those can really help you prepare and get used to what this process looked like. Um, and also some of them may offer interviews, so that can help you get used to doing interviews for certain things and talking about yourself again.
And then also you can probably reuse these essays for later, since the questions do mirror, um, the admissions essay. Okay. So choosing the right courses. So there is another webinar on this, so I won’t go into too much detail about what these courses are, but pretty much you have like your advanced placement or AP IB diploma program slash the course candidate program in they’re kind of different.
Um, you have ROTC, you have other college courses such as, um, dual enrollment [00:16:00] or just that, that, or taking, um, college courses outside of school. Um, you have gifted honors general education, language courses. So like your Spanish and French and other languages. And then you have your electives, which not only includes like your fun ones, which are like math, I’m not math, um, music, theater, and art, but also career related one.
So like, if you have a magnet school that you can take courses that, or if you have like cooking or if your school is cool, Well, like at my high school, we had the career pathways. Um, so I was initially in the stem one. So I was taking some engineering courses. They also had a video game design one, uh, and then they also had the healthcare one, the education one, which I switched to.
And, um, I think like criminal justice or something, just different pathways. And he would take courses every year that relate to that. And then you get a certificate on your diploma or a stamp or something that says you completed this pathway. And each program really does differ. Our each opportunity course differs.
And it really just depends on what your [00:17:00] interests are, your commitment levels, what you need and want and what you’re willing to do. So, um, I guess that takes us back to the question, which is this, again, it really just depends on you everybody’s needs, wants, are different, but, um, depending on what they are, here’s some benefits.
Um, so getting credits, so, um, uh, you need certain for AP and IB programs. You have an exam at the end of the year and you get a score back usually to get credit in college, you need a really a high score. Um, and this just means that you can either get credit sort of show up on your transcript. Or some schools may not offer credit, but you can skip a level.
So instead of taking like freshmen math, if you took the AP calculus exam and got a high score, you can skip to that sophomore level math, which means that the freshman level math won’t show up on your transcript, but you’ll just be able to advance further while you’re in college in that, um, in that setup.
Um, also, um, a lot of schools may not even offer credit for AP or IB or other programs [00:18:00] just because, um, they’re their own school. Like Cornell doesn’t really offer AP or IB credit. And even for the programs that did allow students to get at, I did not submit, uh, my scores, um, to get that credit just because I felt like since I’m at Cornell, it’s a different level than what my high school was.
So I just would rather stay in the freshmen course or, um, just go at the regular pace rather than trying to skip or get credit and just be able to learn what Cornell was like, rather than trying to advance so quickly. It really just depends on you who you are and what you wanted. Um, but another thing again, if the school doesn’t offer credit, it’s really to this as my English teacher said about getting your foot in the door.
So taking these AP IB and other courses really just shows that you’re able to get to the level of rigor you need to be for, especially the more rigorous IVs or advanced schools, um, rather than about getting literal credit for it. So it really just depends on who you are and where you’re applying in-state versus out-of-state.
So, um, [00:19:00] this is where dual enrollment comes in, um, in terms of in-state schools, it’s good to do any of them. Um, but dual enrollment, you can tend to get credit easier if you stay in state than if you go out of state, just because you’re in state schools, we’ll know what those schools you took, the dual enrollment program, or like, um, cause most of the times dual enrollment is through a community college or a local college.
Um, So those surrounding neighboring in-state schools will know what the Accra accreditations of that school are, but out of state schools and like the more rigorous IVs would more than likely not accept your dual enrollment credit, just because they think you’re, their accreditations are sus in simple terms.
So, um, if you want to have a better chance of getting into those out-of-state schools or getting credit, it’s better to do AP and IB though, doing dual enrollment won’t hurt your chances of getting in there. It just may not help you with getting credit, um, scholarships. So if you are in ROTC or you’re interested in getting into it, you can go to [00:20:00] college for free.
At a lot of schools, those schools are called yellow ribbon schools. And, um, and then also different schools have their own programs. But if you continue doing it throughout college, you can go to college for free. So like if you’re in ROTC here at Cornell, you can come here, Bree tuition from what I saw and I was kinda mad about it.
Um, and then, uh, you can also get a stipend if you join this, um, Marine program. Uh, it really just depends. You got to look at school’s website to find out more information, but that is just a good way to get a full ride, um, honors and awards. So, um, depending on, um, what school you’re at, they may give you awards based on how well you do in a class.
So like at my school, I got the award for best student or most advanced something. And my math course in 11th grade and my, my IB math course in 11th grade and my pre IB English class in 10th grade. And though these awards made me nothing at any other school, they helped me on my application individually, just because I could say, Hey, how’s it.
I was the best student [00:21:00] in my class. Um, so if your school offers that, that’s just a good thing. Um, And then also, if you take a certain number of AP courses, you can get, um, an award. I don’t remember the specific details behind it, but I think it was like five AP courses or 12 AP courses, something like that.
You got an award. Um, so you got to look into that to figure that out. And then also, um, with taking the IB program, if you take the full IB diploma program, you get a second Poma. Um, so I graduated with two diploma, so I have my regular high school one, and then I have my IBD, um, IB diploma. Um, so yeah, it’s just something else.
A GPA boost, most schools give you 10 points to your grade, um, for AP and IB courses. Um, so that can just help with your unweighted GPA, which can just make you feel better about your GPA though. When you’re applying to colleges, they do their own calculations, but just do well in your courses that extra 10 points.
It looks nice because I had 109 in my IB math course at the end of the year, it was almost the most perfect [00:22:00] score you could get in the world. Um, but, um, as for dual enrollment courses, you don’t get those 10 points and those are actual college courses that can affect your GPA. So if you take those, you want to make sure that you’re doing well because it can affect your real life, college GPA.
Um, another thing that these courses do is show demonstrated interest in your major career. So especially for the most rigorous or more niche programs, um, as for niche programs, it’s good to take. Like if you’re interested in taking anthropology, for example, it’s good. If you took like a lot of history courses or anthropology course in your high school, just so it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to game the system when you’re applying to college, like you just apply to this major because no one else is applying to it.
So you can have a better chance of getting in and that’s its own topic on it. Um, but then you have nothing related to it. Colleges will see that and be like, oh, they’re probably just going to switch to whatever major they actually want it. They just want to use this as a free ticket in, that’s not a good thing to try and do just, um, so yeah, if you’re interested in a more niche [00:23:00] topic, um, it’s best to just go on ahead and take some courses related to that, but I will talk more about why that isn’t necessarily the case for everything.
Um, And then also for more, um, rigorous programs like your stem programs. It’s good. Just to show that you’re actually interested in these content. You’re not just applying to it because it looks good and that you’re actually able to keep up with the rigor and be committed to these, um, programs. Um, so yeah.
Uh, and you can download these slides if you want more of this information later. Uh, so what are colleges looking for and what are some college requirements? Um, so some majors, like I was saying, especially the stem ones require you to take certain courses. So like for. Engineering students, you more than likely will have to take a high level of physics and you will have to get to calculus or higher at your high school.
Because I remember some of my friends, even though they were in IB and IB has different math levels, um, they weren’t able to apply to Georgia tech just because they didn’t have the calculus requirements like they were supposed to. So it’s [00:24:00] really important that you look on the school’s websites when you’re doing your exploration, figuring out what your requirements are, to figure out how to map out what courses you’re taking in high school to make sure that you have it all the bases covered.
And, um, if you’re applying to multiple schools and they have different requirements, always go with the school with the highest or hardest requirements, just so you’re covered for all schools, because most schools aren’t going to say, Hey, you are overqualified to apply here. And what if your school doesn’t offer it?
Um, so, uh, you can, uh, if your school doesn’t offer AP, and I know a lot of schools don’t offer IB or dual, um, it’s always an option to take these courses outside of school. So like you can study and prepare for the AP or IB exams and just take them at another score, another location, and you’d be able to get that credit.
It wouldn’t show up on your transcript. You would just have to tell the cause that you took it and show them your certification. And then same thing with college courses. It won’t show up on your transcripts, but you can show them that you took the course, especially if it comes with their certificate.
But, um, even if your school doesn’t [00:25:00] offer this, remember that you won’t be, um, your chances won’t be knocked down necessarily when applying to schools because you aren’t being compared to like another school that offers all AP, every single AP course on the books or all of the programs available, and students are able to take it because if your school did not offer those, because that just wouldn’t be fair.
You’re compared to students within your school’s context. So they’re seeing if you took the most rigorous courses, offered to you at your school and compared to other students, applying to their college from your school, that’s who you’re being compared to. And then, but for the most part, I just recommend that you take, um, you go always go ahead, go higher than you did the year before semester before.
And. But stay at your comfort level. Don’t take something just because you feel, you have to, unless you have to, um, just, um, just, uh, because you may not do as well, but if you feel comfortable and confident in that course, please do take it. And then, um, yeah, so you can read that information more in detail later.
Um, [00:26:00] what should students be focusing on their non-academically their sophomore year? So this is a great time to really join an Explorer activities. And then if you had some from June, I mean from, um, freshman year, um, to really continue those activities, but just remember don’t pick clubs, cause you think colleges want to see them do stuff that you actually liked doing or else it’s not going to be any fun.
And then also remember that some clubs you need an invitation from so like beta or NHS. So don’t worry if you don’t get invited immediately. I wasn’t invited to NHS until we my senior year and that still got me into Cornell. So, um, Just keep maintaining and improving your grades, and that will improve your chance of getting into those clubs and seeing what French and Spanish honor societies and other language honor societies.
You need a certain grade to be invited into those courses, uh, when you’re taking those classes. And then, um, this is a good time to begin doing broad research on colleges, programs, and careers. And this is a good time to take like career aptitude test to figure out what you may be good at, interested in, or want to do so that you can help, um, [00:27:00] figure out what you need to do throughout high school.
Um, as for our juniors, this is a good time to, again, continue what you were doing in the years prior, just to show that you’re committed and show a progression through these, but it’s also a good time to start thinking about how you’re progressing into more leadership positions in clubs and activities that you’re.
And though you don’t necessarily need to be like the president or the main leader of that course. It’s just good. If you take more, um, as I’m going to talk about now more initiative into these clubs, either by starting your own thing or by, um, doing your own, starting your own club entirely or project entirely or starting something within your clubs.
So maybe if you’re in beta, maybe you start your own service project, even though you aren’t the president of beta that’ll show up. That still shows a progression within that club. Um, and then another thing you should be rebuilding rapport with anyone you would consider for a recommender, especially in the subjects that you enjoy [00:28:00] and or need for your major, just so you can get those really good recommendations for the next year.
And then also if you’re interested in going to west point or going into military school, but specifically west point, you need to start thinking about getting a recommendation from a state representative, such as the governor or Senator your spring junior year. So that is its own process. Look at the west point website to find out more information.
And then begin having more discussions with your family and school about what your college plans are, um, while you’re doing your research. And I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Okay. So picking and I need to start picking up picking your extracurriculars. So I have a suggestion at the top and you do not need to follow this to a T.
This is just my own thinking and it can vary student to student it’s based on interest, but having one career or a major, um, related, um, club having a. Uh, honor society related club or service-related club, and then having a club just for funsies. Um, just so you can have a good, well rounded balance, if you’re trying to figure out what [00:29:00] you should be doing, but remember that having a certain amount of activities or obligations is not a numbers game when you’re applying to college, it’s really about your commitment level.
So clubs and activities can include different things such as sports and clubs, summer programs, and more traditional stuff like that. It can also be activist groups if you’re interested in protesting or doing activism work, um, volunteer, work, experience, research, and shadowing family obligations. But this doesn’t mean just, um, doing your chores.
This means it takes up a considerable amount of your time and keeps you from doing other activities. So if you have to babysit or take care of a family member in spite of joining school activities, that’s an actual activity, not just, oh, I had to clean my room every week. Uh, passion projects, contest and other things in there, more, um, webinars on that in other places.
Um, but when participating in these activities, it’s remember, it’s important to remember that the most important thing is being more than just a member in these clubs. So like I know when I was applying, I was [00:30:00] just a member in deck. I couldn’t tell you anything I did in there. I was just existing. Um, but for other clubs and stuff, um, I had way more to talk about.
I did a lot more things. That’s the more important thing it’s about being able to show that you had a significant role and can exemplify this and your application, not about if you were president or if you were just in a bunch of clubs or whatever. And then remember there is no perfect activities list.
It’s just about doing stuff that’s interesting and meaningful and relevant. Okay. Uh, when do you start taking standardized tests? Um, most students wait until their junior and senior year, but personally I think this is a low too late, especially with everything else going on in these years. So it’s important to not wait to take your standardized tests until senior year for the first time.
It’s really good to start earlier. So my suggestion for my dad is to take a dummy test earlier. So like your freshman and sophomore year, so that you can get a feel for what the test is like. You don’t really need to study for this just to get out of the way and see what it’s like. And then you start studying and prepare for the areas that you [00:31:00] need to improve in.
And then, um, again, like I said earlier, you get sent information from different organizations by taking it earlier, um, you can apply to more scholarships and then also you can super score. So starting earlier allows you to take it more time so that you’re able to send in your best scores. Cause most schools will allow you to spend in the best score from each section of the exam, depending on which tests you take.
Um, and to, in order to get the highest score post. Okay. When do you start to write their application essay? So there are different application essays and it varies depending on the application 40 or applying to, but for the most part, you have your personal statement and your supplements. So the personal statement is your big essay about yourself.
On any topic you want to talk about. You can look on the common app to figure out more about what the topics are. And usually this is the hardest, just because a lot of people haven’t reflected on themselves or don’t know what they want to share. What’s important to them. So really this is when you want to start earlier and start brainstorming ideas for so that you can get a better [00:32:00] idea of what you want to talk about and write about and figure out how to edit it or change it before the actual admissions process begins, because this is the hardest one to write, and you’re not going to get it perfect on the first time.
And there are more webinars on that. Uh, supplements are school specific essays that vary in word count and prompts. And these ones you don’t usually start until your senior year because they aren’t usually released until the application process actually starts for your year. Though. You can look at their old supplemental essay topics just to get an idea of what kinds of questions they ask.
So, yeah. Uh, when our applications do so really it’s due the first semester or the fall semester of your senior year, those specific Soper sophomores that’ll mean you’re applying, um, fall of 20, 23 and then juniors you’re applying next year fall. Um, so, um, specific dates for a school can vary, um, school to school.
And then it can also vary depending on if you’re applying early or you’re playing regular, or if they have [00:33:00] rolling at Michigan admissions are priority deadlines. Usually if you’re applying earliest between October and November, and if you’re applying regular it’s between January and February, but you have to look at the school specific website during the year, you’re applying to figure it out because it may change from year to year program to program.
Okay. So what is a holistic process? So this means they’re looking at all aspects of your application to get a sense of who you are, not only as a student, but also a community and family member who you are outside the classroom, who you are academically. And then also they’re using this to figure out if you’d be a good fit for them.
And if they will be a good fit for you, if they can meet your needs and wants and desires also. And pretty much that just means test scores and GPA are not the most essential part. They aren’t the most crucial part, but they still are important because they give a good idea of how you’re doing as a student, how you’re progressing.
If you’re able to maintain, though, they aren’t the end all be all to your application. They’re also your letters of recommendation, who given an idea of who you are as a student community member. They’re your essays that show off your personalities, [00:34:00] thoughts, ideas, interest in background. There’s your transcript and your counselor letter, which gives them the context of your school.
So like when I was saying, you’re not compared to other students from other schools, but from people from your school, this shows them what sort of courses. They offer and what their school is like. Um, and then it also can show your transcript, can show academic, merit and growth. So if you had really great courses, um, that you took in more rigorous courses, how well you did in them.
And then also if your grades dropped, does it show that you came back up, you like, um, improve them and figured it out? Cause that’s also good if you’re worried about if your grades dropped at some point, and then that is a good place where you explain in your, um, in your additional information, um, section, um, why your grades may have dipped, um, just so they can get a better context cause that isn’t shown in the application.
And also there’s your activities list to show how you spend your time and then your, um, other section. So like the additional information portfolios, interviews, et cetera. [00:35:00] Okay. So how can students tell if your application is. Strong pretty much. Um, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate or activities list or perfect, anything really.
Um, the only thing you can do is present yourself in the best way, present your best self. Um, so that means, are you maintaining your grades your best grades and or are you improving them? Do you do well? Um, one of my tips is to do well in all of your courses, but especially do well in subjects that you enjoy or are most interested in applying to.
And this doesn’t mean just like doing good grades, getting good grades. This also means participating more, being a stellar student, getting on the teacher’s good side, so you can get those recommendations, uh, and going above and beyond on assignments and projects. Cause you can, may be able to use these.
These projects and assignments in your application. So like if they allow supplemental materials to be submitted, or if it’s something you want to talk about in your, um, application. So like for me, my IB cast project, which if you join IB, you’ll find out more about, I used my, um, [00:36:00] cast project, um, to talk about in my personal statement, which was starting my college readiness club at my high school.
And that was a very important part of my not only my application to get into college, but also getting internships and getting my job here at CollegeAdvisor. So that’s something you can think about. Um, and then also, like I had to write an extended essay on any topic I want it. And if I would’ve done a bit better, I could have probably used it as a supplemental materials.
But depending on who you are, what you’re interested in, you can take those projects and use them to your advantage for more than just getting a good ride in a class. Um, keep a brag sheet. And this is just a list of all the activities, contests, volunteer, work, work, everything that you’ve done throughout high school, keep that as early as possible.
And then, so, um, So you can see how well you’re doing, how much you’re doing throughout high school. Um, and then, uh, just in case, you’re wondering, think about these questions to yourself. Did you take the, did you study for the sat S act, did you do as best as you want to do? Or do you want to retest, um, have you [00:37:00] been, um, have you tried both or just stuck with one of them?
So I stuck with the act for the longest time, and then I switched to the sat and I did better on it. So that could be the thing that’s setting you apart. Um, do you enjoy at, um, different activities that you’re taking. Do you have a good work-life balance? Are you feeling overwhelmed by these courses and programs you’re doing, um, that can really show you like, um, how well you’re doing in these programs and courses, but also show you, um, how to navigate the admissions process.
And then, um, could you be admitted based on what you’ve done in a cheap now that’s a really good question to really think about. And do you meet the basic requirements for admission or are you slacking in some areas? Um, just because even if you do something extravagant, if you aren’t taking that physics course at your high school that you need for a stem program, you won’t get in just because you haven’t taken that regardless of what you’ve done, unless you can figure out a way to finesse.
Okay, so this is just a broad overview. So you can look at that. Um, okay. So how was I preparing? So, like [00:38:00] I said earlier, I started back in middle school. So this meant that I took, um, a high school level math and science course, um, during my eighth grade year, and this was good and bad, just, it was good because it got me ahead in my math courses, it was bad because I got a C in the science course, and that was the only C I had on my transcript and it was from middle school.
So, and that did affect my GPA. Um, so that’s something to really think about when you’re taking these courses. Um, I started getting more exposed to, um, colleges and different programs. And then I also, um, took the act my eighth grade year. So this is really what just got me interested in college. And then my dad constantly talking about it.
I took engineering ninth grade teaching 10th psychology, 10th, eight exited a lot. And during 10th grade, and then I did IB 11th and 12th grade year, but I also had dance and theater and art classes throughout high school. So I was really able to explore my different interests and figure out what I wanted to do.
Um, I took the act eighth and 10th grade and I took the [00:39:00] sat 12th grade. Um, it would have been better to take the sat sooner than talk about it just because it was a bit stressful taking it right before my applications were due for early decision. But, um, it still worked out in the end ninth grade. I did science fair.
I got an award for that, um, future medical leaders, Congress 10th grade. So I was invited and awarded for that. And then, um, I also learned how to do a letter, ask for letters of recommendation. So I asked them one of my teachers thrive. Scholars was 11th and 12th grade. I was, I applied and I got accepted and I, through this, I got used to asking for letters of recommendation again, and then also an interview process.
Um, I joined NHS. Well, I was invited to NHS. I was in beta all since elementary school. I, um, had DECA 12th grade though. I didn’t really do anything in it. And then I did some clubs that I started myself. So like advocates for advanced learning was one thing I started, which was like an initiative for getting more people in AP and IB.
And then also, um, doing, um, college readiness club. I did Japanese [00:40:00] club, just different things just to explore interests. And then I originally applied, um, pre-med and all of the things I did did really help me prepare for that. But, um, upon, uh, getting into college, I realized that pre-med was not moving. I ended up switching majors and dropping pre-med and, um, being able to reflect on all the activities I did not only, um, helped me when I was figuring out what to apply for.
But later on, when I decided to switch majors, I realized I did not like science at all. And I still don’t. I started thinking about the reasons I chose medicine. I started reflecting on how my courses and electives more so lined up with what I’m doing now, which is education focus, because those were the things I enjoyed the most.
And one thing I’ll leave you with is for those that say, I want to help people when I grow up, remember that you can help people in more ways than becoming a doctor. So that’s why it’s really important to explore. Um, Okay. And before we run out of time today, uh, this is what I’m going to [00:41:00] leave you with.
Um, so be selfish and that sounds crazy, but what I mean by that is reflecting and understanding yourself better. So that means understanding your passions, interest in thought process. So they’re able to pick majors and careers that you actually enjoy rather than just doing it because others say so, or because you feel you have to, um, and really just being able to understand what you want to do and what you’re willing to do and what you like doing.
But another thing is understanding your strengths, but not only that your weaknesses, so understanding your strengths can really help figure out. What you’re good at what programs may fit or careers may fit, but also understand your weaknesses can help during the college research process when you’re figuring out what schools are best for you, because some schools, um, may offer the support you needs, um, while other schools may not.
So like, um, if you’re maybe perhaps, um, a weakness you have, I guess, is not being able to, um, write really fast. So maybe you want to [00:42:00] take more discussion-based courses. So you want to go to a school that offers those more discussion, intimate, um, smaller courses than a big lecture hall, where you’re just going to have to speed right.
Through all these lectures, or I’m thinking about like, what sort of support systems you need. So like, do you need therapy and counseling? Cause some schools offer those for free while other schools do not thinking about, um, if you want to be far from home or close to home, thinking about. All the things you need to feel, um, like your, um, you’re supported, um, but also your, that you’re in a location where you can thrive and where you’re able to explore everything you want to do.
Another component of this is self-advocacy. So being able to speak up for yourself and ask for what you need, this is something you need to start practicing now in high school, rather than waiting until college, because it gets a lot harder when you’re forced to be an adult when you couldn’t just get used to it while you’re younger.
So. What I mean by that is like doing things like going to tutoring while you’re in [00:43:00] high school. So going to tutoring, um, for me personally, I had to go to office hours during, um, when I was in my summer program for thrive scholars. And it felt like the walk of shame because I was a gifted kid all my life.
And I felt like I did not need support. And now I feel shame because I need support. But learning that, uh, going to office hours was really helpful. And I got better at calculus through this program. Um, doing that earlier, before I got to college, really helped me to, um, get over those initial fears and jitters and get used to asking for help and asking for stuff for myself earlier on.
Um, before I actually needed to really apply those skills in a real world setting. And it made going to office hours during college, easier, it made asking for help easier. It made it raising my hand to say this don’t make no sense easier. Um, so that’s something you really need to practice younger. And then, um, Also, um, during high school, I know a lot of kids say like, oh, these courses are hard.
My teacher sucks. I had a lot of bad teachers too. Um, they don’t make any sense. They can’t teach. [00:44:00] Okay. Colleges don’t really care if your grades drop because this teacher didn’t make any sense. You can’t really explain that in the additional information section, cause that’ll look bad for you pretty much.
Um, so with, think about ways to get around this. So ask, um, um, don’t just say the teacher hates me or they can’t teach think about ways to get around it. So like asking another student in your course that understands it, asking another teacher that teaches the course to get that support going online at YouTube and figuring it out.
You have to really start, um, you really have to start taking stuff into your own hands sometimes. Cause that’s more so what college is going to be about, not just saying there’s a problem, but actually being able to, um, solve it for yourself.
Sorry, this is just the last slide, but, um, my last advice, keep a brag sheet. Another thing reflect on yourself, constantly thinking about your whites, dislikes needs, wants, and the changes and all of that. Keep your parents, guardians and [00:45:00] everybody else in the process in the loop. So they know what they need to do.
What’s going on and have better peace of mind and know how to better support you rather than just feeling like everything gets thrown at them on the last minute. Um, consider my suggestion for clothes. Remember you do not need to fall it to a tee everybody’s different use class projects and essays to your advantage.
Don’t just go for the grade, go for even more than that. Um, do a passion project and I did a webinar on this back in may, so you can find out more information, um, take the sat and act as early as possible. Cause taking it senior year is not fun. Uh, and then if you’re interested in going into the military, going to west point, join ROTC to really figure out if that is something you would.
Perfect. Um, so that is the end, uh, of the presentation webinar, 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 tab. Uh, so we’re moving on now to the live Q and a, [00:46:00] uh, I’ll read you the questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them into the public chat so everyone can see, uh, and then read them aloud so that our panelists McKenzie can give you an answer, uh, as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, uh, just double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.
All right. So let’s go ahead and get started. I have already started pasting, um, a few questions in the chat. So, uh, the first one for you, McKinsey. You know, how does one manage their time so that they have time to complete homework assignments and, and do extracurriculars. So that, that one is a very personal question.
It really just depends on you as a person. So if you’re one that procrastinates, it’s better to not join a million clubs also, cause then you’re going to procrastinate and have a bunch of activities to do. But if you’re. Uh, if you’re not, or you’re trying to improve that, um, [00:47:00] it’s possible. Cause during senior and junior, I was doing IB.
I did cross country and I did a bunch of extracurriculars. The main thing was using your time to the best possibility. So like if you have study hall at your high school or you have a class where the teachers don’t really teach for half of it using that time to do your homework, if possible. Uh, definitely during study hall though, don’t ignore your classes to do homework.
Um, but um, also like, um, w having practice immediately after school, that meant I would have to go to practice. And then when I go home, I have to like eat, do homework and stuff that one’s really just gonna come down to you, like, um, really. Thinking about like how you use your time and how you go about doing an assignment.
So like some people have an easier time writing essays than others. So if you have a harder time writing, like long essays, or even starting an assignment, maybe just start by looking, reading over what the assignment is, the direction and stuff, getting an idea of how much work it might be, and then planning [00:48:00] out in your schedule, like, okay, I’m going to start this part of it today, or I’m just going to start brainstorming it on this day.
I’m going to have it complete by this day. And my main tip is to always put the deadline a few days before the real deadline so that you trick yourself into, if you do procrastinate doing it at the last minute, but you still got two days to like, look over it again. Just kind of, you have to force yourself to forget that the deadline is actually two days later.
Um, but that’s something that you kind of had to learn for yourself and figure out what your needs and wants are, and that alright. Uh, so there’s, there’s no clubs or societies related to my. In my area. Uh, can I still do other clubs? Yes. You do not have to join any clubs or activities that are specifically related to your career.
It’s mostly about what you do when the clubs that you do have. Um, so, um, that means that, Hmm. Okay. So I didn’t necessarily have a pre-med club, but, um, I was able to do like outside of school stuff. And then I was also [00:49:00] able to do other clubs, like service activities, or just interest based clubs. Um, and it’s not even about the, that they were necessarily exactly related to medicine.
I had a lot of like participation in them. I did my own projects. Um, I was a leader and those sorts of skills and experiences are transferrable to, um, careers because they, even though. Say you’re leading a project on making cards or something for the elderly, um, that may not necessarily line up to medicine cause that has nothing to do with it, but it shows that you’re caring, you take initiative and you can lead, and those are skills you need when becoming a doctor or doing anything else.
Um, so they don’t necessarily have to line up. It’s just showing commitment, showing participation, um, and showing that you’re actively involved. Cause colleges really want to see that you’re doing more than just reading the books because when you get to college, they’re expecting that you’re not just going to classes, but you’re also joining clubs at, on [00:50:00] campus outside of campus and making their school look good by being a great citizen and participating in everything.
Perfect. Um, so his, his junior year too late to start clubs, um, you know, I, I was knew if the students said that they were new to their school in ninth grade, so they didn’t get involved enough. So it was junior year to late junior year. It’s never really too late senior year. Maybe it’s had bit, but it’s never too late to start clubs or to join clubs even junior year.
Um, it’s really about what you’re able to get in that limited amount of time or that long amount of time, extended amount of time that you’re in something. So it’s not really even about quantity or. Quantity of time or quantity of actual activities you’re in, it’s about what you do in that time or those activities.
So like, are you just attending meetings or are you leading discussions? Are you just showing up at the service project or are you creating them, starting them leading them and you don’t necessarily need to [00:51:00] be the president of a club to do something like that. It’s just about being able to speak up and get involved in more ways, even if you are just technically a member.
And, um, even if you’re not in an official club or activity, you can do your own thing. And, um, I’m kind of going to skip over to the passion project question too, but you can start your own thing. So like you can do a passion project or a hobby that you do for a long time. And talk about that in your application.
So this could mean doing an official project, like starting a website versus say, or starting a club and. And talking about what you’re able to do with that. That’s really good. Even if you do it for a short amount of time, just because it shows a bunch more skills than just being a member in a club for a long time.
Um, but you can also, they’ll do like a hobby that you’ve done for a long time or learning new skills. So like, if you want to teach yourself coding, that’s something you can talk about, even if you never did years before, that’s just a new skill that you’d be able to talk about. You can, um, what’s another hobby.
Uh, you can [00:52:00] start teaching yourself how to paint or make a mural or something. That’s a project or a hobby, but that is something that you can talk about or show in your application so long as you’re able to explain it and really show that you’re committed to it. That’s the more important thing then what year you did it?
Perfect. Um, what are some ways to build relationships with our teachers and guidance counselors? So, um, as for teachers, um, teachers do okay. All of them have a lot of students they’re working with, but for teachers, it really just depends on like how you are as a person, how the teacher is. So I can’t really say how, like the relationship with them.
So like for me, my English teachers, especially my sophomore year teacher, um, Mr. Rameau, he was also my cross country coach. This man was the best. Um, and then the reason like his personality is just worked really well. And like, he was very SAR, sarcastic and stuff. And I kind of vibe with people like that.
So I was able to be more [00:53:00] comfortable with him as a teacher and then also him being my coach, um, So that one has to deal more with mine, his personality, but then also I really like English and my humanities courses. So like I would raise my hand more. I would have more to say in the discussions, I would do the most on my essays.
Like when I tell you I have a problem with word count, I have a problem. I, I can write and write and write, but that’s me personally. So it’s really about finding people that you can connect with. And, um, it’s good at that is like a core teacher, like your English, science, math, social studies courses, just because those are more, so the recommendations they’re going to ask for, um, then like your art teachers and stuff, but you can still have connections with them and use them as the other recommender.
But even if you don’t necessarily like talk to them all the time or say good morning to them, or you can, yeah, you can do that. You say good morning to them. Everyday. Teachers love that. But, um, even if you aren’t the most extroverted person just doing well in your assignments and really putting [00:54:00] all your effort, teachers see that, and they’ll be able to talk about that.
Um, and then as for guidance counselors, they’re a bit harder just because you don’t see them as often. So when I said starting earlier and getting everyone in the loop, that means just checking in with your guidance counselor, being like, Hey, introduce yourself, um, what you want to do, what your ideas are and getting them in the know so that they can remember you.
Cause I’m not a lot of students are going to their school counselor to tell them like, Hey, what’s up? Um, so just doing that and just giving them the general information, keeping them up to date on what you’re doing can really help them when it’s time for them to send your information. So you don’t get sort of lost in the loop of every other student applying.
And so you stand out a bit more to them and they can write you better recommendations. Oh. Um, so want to work with one-on-one with an advisor from our team of over 225 advisors and admissions officers, uh, sign up for a free consultation with us by going to [email protected], clicking the green check button in the bottom, right of the screen.
And from there, just write in the word [00:55:00] consultation and alive team member. We’ll get back to you, uh, to help coordinate your free consultation with us. Perfect. So back to the Q and a, um, so the next question that we have for you, McKinsey is how did you go through your essay writing for college? So for me, um, this is why I say starting early is better.
I did not start writing my essay. Well, this was still pretty early, but I started writing it only because I was in thrive scholars, also known as SCS Noonan scholars, and they made us do it. Cause I didn’t know anything about the personal statement before then. And this was my summer going into senior year.
So my summer after junior year and. They made us write it. And I wrote one version throughout the summer and stuck with it. And then when I got back to school, I realized I hated that version just because it was about talking about I’m having a hard time in my math and science courses and then learning.
I’m still a great student that is just not a great story at all. And it didn’t [00:56:00] really show anything about me. And I ended up getting a good grade in the class, so it didn’t really show a growth. It just showed like, oh, you struggle, but you got may, uh, they don’t care. Uh, those stories aren’t necessarily bad.
It just depends on how you go about it. And how I went about it was very, very not important. Um, my next topic was on that. I started the beginning of my senior year. August September, um, was about, um, my identity as a black woman and stuff in my social context. Uh, those aren’t bad essays again, the way I wrote it was just not good.
It didn’t really demonstrate anything about me that was actually interesting or meaningful. And I did not really have much to say about it. Um, and then, so October ish, my scene, my senior year, and I was applying early decision, which was due October 31st, um, for, um, Cornell and, um, how our university, I, um, ended up rewriting my essay about my [00:57:00] college readiness club that I started as my passion project for senior year.
Even though I had only been doing it for two months, I had a lot to say about it. I had a lot of things about education. I had a lot of experience with education, so that’s what I ended up writing about in the end. The essays for college are. Interesting to say the least, um, the personal statement is probably the hardest one, just because it is talking more about yourself and reflecting on yourself.
So that’s why I say it’s good to really think about yourself constantly. Maybe even keeping a diary or something to really keep up with how your thought processes are, what you’re interested in, what you like, what you don’t like, so that you have some starting points of what you may want to talk about in your essay and ask for the supplements or scholarships essays, which are a bit more school or program specific.
Um, a lot of them may ask about your personality. So asking you, like, what do you think, exhibits good characters. So if you reflect on yourself a lot, you’ll have a better idea of what you think that character is. And some of these questions you can’t really plan for it. You [00:58:00] just kind of have to know what you think about stuff.
And then as for the other types of supplements, which are more like, why do you want to join this? Why do you want to come to the school? Why do you want to do this? Those ones, the answers to those will come up more as you’re reflecting one on your like interest and steps, what you want to do for a career.
Um, if you know what you wanna do for a career and why you want to do it and why you’re interested in why you love it, that’ll help with those types of questions are asking, like why major, um, or like why career questions. And then as for a school specific asking, like why school, those ones come up more during the college research process, but then also reflecting on yourself.
So when you think about what you need and want, you can figure out what schools have that. And then you have to explain to them why they have everything you need and want, why you’d be great for them. And that’s why school pretty much. So that’s what the essay process looks like. It, depending on how many schools you’re applying to, it can be a bit more strenuous or what programs you’re applying to because some have more essays than others.
But, um, [00:59:00] for the most part, that one. That is like the biggest part of your application process and the most time consuming. So that’s the one you really have to prioritize other things. It’s kind of just like clicking buttons, filling out stuff, but that when you actually have to think and plan and write and rewrite and stuff, all right.
Um, in our last question of the night is do sports really matter to colleges know us, so they don’t, um, if you want to play a sport in college, that’s when it matters. And then that’s a whole thing on like recruitment or getting on the team or walk-ins and different things. That’s its own process. But I did cross country 11th grade year only.
And I cause my, um, favorite teacher, I ended up leaving, so I didn’t want to do it senior year. And then I, um, did track ninth grade though. I did not run any events during that whole season cause I was injured and I just hated track at that point. So, um, I did not put any of the, either sport or any sport I did on.
[01:00:00] My activities list. And, um, so it didn’t really matter to my personal narrative. If you’re saying you want to join a sport, but you never did a sport in your high school career, that’s when it matters. But if you are not interested in doing sports, it doesn’t necessarily matter. It can just show like, oh, this person is interested in this.
Um, whatever activities, clubs, sports, family, responsibilities, work, whatever you do. It’s not necessarily about like, if it connects to what you’re doing or colleges are looking for it, it’s really just to show, like, what do you commit to, how do you, how much do you commit to them and how you’re able to exemplify this in your application?
Because you could be a. You could be, uh, I’m gonna just use sports just for the example. You could be a star athlete, had the most, um, running times or whatever, or points or something. Um, but if you’re not able to explain that in your application, you just sort of miss it or you don’t get a recommendation for something about, for that or [01:01:00] any activity you do.
It won’t really hit as it should. Like, it’s not going to give what it’s supposed to gave. Um, just because you didn’t explain it well enough. So that’s really what the application is there for to explain all these things you did so they can get a better sense of who you are, how you are, what you are.
Awesome. Thank you very much for that. Um, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists McKenzie. Um, so that is the end of our webinar. Um, we had a really great time telling you about college admissions timelines. Here is the rest of our December series on the screen. So be sure to mark those dates in your calendar, um, we look forward to having you join those sessions and have a wonderful evening.