CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Admissions Tools & Tech
CollegeAdvisor.com Founder and General Manager Brian and Admissions Specialist Ferrell dive into the CollegeAdvisor.com web app to teach you how to research schools, build your college list, access resources, and more.
2021-12-27 CollegeAdvisor Masterclass – Admissions Tools and Tech
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s, masterclass on admissions tools and tech. To earn everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with the presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Awesome. Thanks for having us McKenzie. Uh, welcome everyone. My name is Brian Mitchell. I’m the founder and general manager of CollegeAdvisor.com. I graduated from the university of Virginia where I studied finance and data analytics. Um, and I founded called advisor.com about three years ago, uh, to create the best college advising company on the planet.
I’m joined tonight by my colleague admission specialist and former admissions officer from Vanderbilt university Ferell. Thanks Brian, happy to be here. And as Brian mentioned, former [00:01:00] admissions officer at Vanderbilt university, I actually got to serve as their chief of international admissions and also a voting member of their admissions committee.
Brian and I are excited to kind of sit down and talk with everyone this evening and kind of lead you through the growing urgency in this process and how the right resources can be of assistance to you and your family.
So we’re going to start off with the quick pause. So what grade are you currently? An eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be, if you are a parent or you’re younger or older or a transfer student, or just anywhere else besides these other grades. And while we wait for that, um, CA Brian, can you tell us a little bit about, um, why you started college?
Of course. It’s a great question. One. I get a lot. Um, so I started CollegeAdvisor, uh, pretty simply because I didn’t see college counseling services that were available in my area. Growing up, that I [00:02:00] felt like met the needs of the modern consumer, uh, or were accessible enough. Uh, there were a lot of college advising companies that were too expensive to get started with, um, or didn’t have online tools or an ability to meet online with an advisor.
And so I wanted to change that. Okay. That is very great. And it is a wonderful platform. So it is looking like we have 0% eighth graders. That’s not surprising 8% or nine, eight or 16%, 10th graders, 41% 11th graders, 22%, um, 12th graders and 14% are other, and he can take over the sites now. Awesome. We got a good mixture of folks on the call tonight.
Lots of different years, but it sounds like we have almost half of our students who are 11th graders. Um, There’s a lot that’s been going on in the world of college admissions over the last few years. One of the biggest trends that we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic has been a surge in the number of applications to competitive schools.[00:03:00]
So if you look at a number of the top 50 schools that are listed on your screen right now from, from Harvard Cornell, UCLA Georgetown, NYU, uh, just to name a few, um, we’re not only seeing double digit increases the number of applications, but we’re actually seeing an unprecedented level of growth. Certain schools receiving over 30% increase year over year, and the number of applications, um, members of the Ivy league, seeing 30 to 40% increases.
Um, and Pharell is going to talk a little bit more about why we’re seeing this in particular since the start of the panel. So one of the biggest things that I think so many families are surprised to learn about is just the reduction in test score requirements that these schools have been experiencing.
Um, obviously with the pandemic, we had a global lockdown families weren’t able to go where they needed to, uh, in order to take tests, especially in a safe manner. Uh, and so schools obviously had to become test optional. And what this has done is it’s led to a dramatic increase in applications when, when [00:04:00] someone thinks of Harvard or, you know, any Ivy league institution for that matter, saying that, Hey, no longer do you have to submit a set, sat or act score immediately spiked applications.
And now what we’re experiencing is a dramatic increase in what that’s leading to is very difficult decisions that these admissions officers have to make. You know, I’m still blown away to see that the university of Georgia has a 40% increase. They’re starting my career at UGA. And what I’ll tell you is that I, I think a lot of things.
For multiple reasons believe that this process really rests solely upon GPA and test score. And I think now because of the pandemic, because of so many schools going test optional, it proves that that is not in fact, the case and that you cannot start this process too late. You can only start early.
Exactly. And because of this increase in the number of applications, you’re also seeing an associated decrease in the acceptance rates. So here just again, a few acceptance rates, uh, per [00:05:00] year, uh, um, of Harvard, Yale, and brown mapped over the last 10 years. Um, and of course as applications go up, acceptance rates have gone down.
So it no longer is the case. As feral said that just having a great test score or just having, um, a great academic GPA or class rank will put you in a situation where you’re a LOC for top schools. The process now is much more holistic as is the common phrase now to talk about schools being, um, having a holistic admissions process and what this really means.
And we’ll talk about this throughout the call tonight, from both my perspective and Pharrell’s perspective, but basically what this means is that it’s, it, it, you know, um, th the process requires more elements than just your academics and test scores that making sure you’re a strong fit for the school, embodying their culture and values, um, maximizing your summers or, uh, doing internships or summer opportunities, [00:06:00] um, finding areas of passion to demonstrate your expertise or what you bring to the table that might be different from another applicant who also has a similar GPA to you, um, really unpacking these interests in your profile and in your essays when applying to a school is just as important as demonstrating that you’re a fit for the school academically, we’re having strong tests.
So let’s talk a little bit about what we’re going to cover on tonight’s call. So we want to walk you through the admissions process from the lens of, of, um, using product and technology online to make this process more efficient. As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why I started CollegeAdvisor is because I wanted to bring the admissions process into the 21st century.
Right. Um, we have all this technology at our fingertips, but we aren’t always utilizing the best of it to help us in the college admissions process. So tonight we’re going to talk about how you explore and develop your [00:07:00] interests and learn about what to study in college. What types of schools to look at, what you like.
We’re going to walk through that using our webinars feature, which has about 200 prerecorded videos from our admissions experts, walking you through different steps in the process. From there. We’re going to talk about how you develop your college list or the set of schools that you’re thinking about applying to with our college hub pages feature and doing really good school research in our product, comparing schools and finding schools have a good fit from there.
We’ll talk about how you actually organize all these applications, decide where to apply early action or early decision or whether or not to even employ that strategy and how you manage all of those deadlines and umpteen different supplemental essays required in the process. Um, and then we’ll talk about how to get help.
Um, this is a complex process, um, full of many steps. And so we’ll walk through our 300 different admissions officers and advisors that are available to you through the [00:08:00] CollegeAdvisor team and how to use those upgraded client features that you get access to when you join our. And then finally, we’ll wrap up with a Q and a, and we know you all have lots of questions on your mind about how to stand out in the process.
And we’ve got an admissions officer on the call and Farrell to walk you through that as well. So let’s get going here. All right. So I’m going to go ahead and share my screen and give you all a tour of the CollegeAdvisor product. Just to remind you on how you get here. If you go to our website CollegeAdvisor.com, you can get started for free with our product by clicking this green get started button here or here.
If you already have an account, it’ll log you in. If you don’t, it’ll have you sign up and both parents or guardians and students can sign up on their calls. So go ahead and just click this. Get started button or logging if you haven’t already to follow along. So what you’re seeing here is, uh, my logged in called advisor product.
And, um, as we said, the first thing we want to [00:09:00] walk you through is our webinars feature. So our webinars feature contains. About 200 prerecorded videos. Um, we record all of our webinars just like tonight, and then we make them available directly inside of our products that you can view them for free as a logged in user.
Um, you can do these on the, go on your phone or on your laptop. And to start, we want to talk about a few key parts of the early stage of the application process. And in particular, this revolves around getting to know yourself better. So we, um, you want to start learning about maybe what you want to think about studying in college.
So a potential major, and to do that, we have a whole major series right here inside of our webinars feature, where we have advisors and admissions officers talking about everything from stem majors to arts majors, to business and economics majors or being undecided. Right? So let’s say you’re interested in learning a little bit more about what it’s like to study computer science in [00:10:00] college.
You could click here and go straight to a webinar where you’d be able to watch. Recording of multiple advisors from our network who studied computer science at different colleges. So here’s a Manda presenting who studied computer science at MIT, obviously a top school for, for computer science, but also he’s Shawnee, uh, who was involved in the PLME program, intersecting with computer science at brown.
So again, all of these recordings are available to watch directly through the product and you can really hone in on certain topics that are of interest to you. Um, so after you’ve, you’ve, you’ve learned a little bit more about picking a major. You also want to explore more about what types of schools might be of interest to you.
So we have a whole bunch of ways to do that in the product. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that in a second, but within our webinars feature, if you’re just here, you can search for tour and you’ll find a bunch of college [00:11:00] tours that our advisors have done for different schools. Um, as well as our panel series, if you type in panel, you’ll find a ton of different panels from schools all across the country.
So, um, because we’re not able to take physical visits as much as we might like to during the pandemic to these schools, it’s really important to do good research online. Um, and so feral, do you want to talk a little bit more about how this feature can help students explore their interests? Yeah. So I think the greatest thing about this is it really allows you to kind of get a sense of what the institution is going to be like by someone that’s been there.
It’s, you know, someone that has recent experience at the schools that themselves have attended, but I think more importantly, it’s also someone that’s not affiliated with the school’s admissions office. And I certainly don’t want to take anything away from being an affiliate of an admissions office. But what I do think it allows you to is to hear a genuine experience from somebody.
That perhaps has, you know, been at the school [00:12:00] themselves when you do a virtual tour. I think the important thing to remind you of is that you really want to be getting a sense of what this community might feel like when you’re on campus there. And as Brian pointed out, it can be difficult, uh, to get there right now.
And that’s the importance of these virtual tours, you know, myself having worked at Vanderbilt. You know, what I will tell you is that understanding, you know, what the community feel is, is very important. Understanding how a typical day might be structured on campus will help you decide if that’s the right place for you or not.
And I think more importantly, the earlier that you can do this the better, because it will go into helping you pick the right list, which Brian’s going to start talking about hearing that. Awesome. So definitely take advantage of the webinars feature as you’re, you’re doing some of that initial exploration of what might be of interest to you.
Um, as, as we talked about, we have panels and you know, in here, um, but we also have, uh, information about the admissions process generally. So if you’re looking [00:13:00] for how to do research on summer opportunities and internships, or how to look for summer opportunities in particular areas, right? So maybe you’ve identified that you want to go study computer science in college from learning more about that major versus others.
And then you want to go take that and find summer opportunities or internships within that category, or maybe you’re pre-med and you you’re, you’re thinking about exploring, um, uh, opportunities within the medical field. Um, this allows you to go one layer deeper by learning about what actual advisors and alumni from these different institutions who’ve got into these different institutions did during their high school path to be able to get into these schools.
Um, nearly 200 webinars available at your fingertips inside of the product for that exploration phase of the journey. So from there, we want to talk about what it’s like to actually build a college list, um, a little bit more in depth. So in order to do so we really have to talk about a few key aspects of fit.
[00:14:00] Um, so we’re going to go put the slides up one more time. Thank you, Mackenzie. So when we’re talking about finding a fit with a college, this isn’t just a one step or two step process, right? You can’t only look at, uh, what environment a school is in or only look at the admissions statistics of. Yeah, every school is different, right?
There’s nearly 2000 different colleges in the United States that are four year colleges. And so you really have to understand what factors are most important to you, and then use that combination of factors as a lens to do good thorough research online. Um, Beryl, how do you think you can recommend, uh, families think about finding a good fit with a school?
Yeah, one of the most important things I really focused on is academic support. First and foremost. Now this is going to be a place that you spend at least the next four years of your life on a life on life, you know, [00:15:00] interacting with. And I think a lot of families tend Brian and my experience just to prioritize name and rank, maybe even recognition of a school.
We reality. There are a lot of wonderful schools out there that have top rates, specific programs, but they get overshadowed because they’re not in the top 25 on a recent webinar. And I gave the example of Babson, arguably probably the top entrepreneurial program in the country yet. Very few people have actually heard of Babson.
Um, and to that end, it’s, it’s understanding what an actual program involves, what the approach of the, of that particular schools are going to be for the, you know, program that you have interested, you know, going back as well. Just something that I want to bring up is, you know, community and culture. And it goes back to just, you know, focusing on, you know, using our webinar resources for tours.
When you’re trying to determine if this school is the right fit for me, I don’t like students to think of it as a school start genuinely thinking of this as a community. Am I going to be able to get involved [00:16:00] in this community? What is the culture, how am I going to fit in? How can I help create change?
That is how I want you to be looking at this because most importantly, that’s how an admissions office is going to be looking at you. When they make the decisions on you, they’re not admitting you to a school they’re admitting you to their institutional community. Um, and so taking that approach when putting, you know, your initial schools together, really, I think will put you in a better position and will more generally help you find the right institutions.
Um, of course, as Brian mentioned, you know, we’re going to be looking or you should always be looking at your, your mission’s data, your statistics. Um, but as we said at the start of this meeting this evening, it becomes less, it has become less and less about the emissions data and, and more and more about, are you going to be in addition to that institution and how are you going to benefit from it?
That’s how you should be looking at this. Awesome. So there are, as Beryl mentioned, a number of factors that are more important than just the prestige of a [00:17:00] college. Uh, we get that all the time as a college counseling company on maximizing the, the selectivity of schools that our clients get into is often a priority for our clients.
And we certainly help them get there and have a lot of success doing so, but we like clients to really unpack the meaning behind, um, why these schools are attractive to them beyond just, uh, you know, where they rank on the U S news list. It’s one important factor, but really not the only one that should be considered when we start doing this research.
So again, let’s jump into the product and showcase how we can do this inside of the CollegeAdvisor product to learn more about these schools. Um, so if you’re in side of the portal, uh, again, you’ll just be able to click this co colleges feature right up here. So if you’re on the homepage, just go to colleges.
And we have these nice cards that summarize, um, the schools and they’ll add, you know, they’ll show more schools as you scroll down, you also can search for particular [00:18:00] institution, but where it gets really cool is when I click on one of these schools, I get taken to what we call the college hub page. So this is all data that we’ve sourced from.
Um, uh, you know, the sources of the highest veracity online. So sources where the colleges post directly to them, um, after each admission season. So this data is live as of the last admission season, and we not only show off the different, uh, statistics that are key for that school, including their acceptance rate, the deadlines for applying whether that school offers early action, early decision, which we’ll talk about a little bit more about necessity.
Um, how many applications they received? Oh, um, how many acceptances they received? What the typical, uh, sat ranges. Um, more about the price of the school, um, uh, the diversity of its student body, um, the breakdown of international versus us students, [00:19:00] typical class size. So whether the classes are typically smaller or larger, what the student to faculty ratio is what the most popular majors of the school are.
And then some extra CollegeAdvisor goodies, where we showcase many of our advisors who were accepted or went to Stanford as well as the different webinars that we have connected to that school. But that was just a kind of an overall summary. Let’s take a little bit more time and unpack some of these things.
So let’s start by going over how to use the admissions statistics of a school to determine whether, you know, it could be a decent fit for you. And this is all let’s pick another school just as an example here, because we’ve been going with Harvard a lot. Um, I think university of Michigan is playing in the college football playoff Friday.
So let’s give them a. Um, so Farrel, can you talk a little bit about how families should view, uh, these admissions statistics engage? Whether or not a school is, um, you know, within the realm of possibility for [00:20:00] them or whether they should be applying to it. Uh, and, and in particular, talk a little bit about how this has changed with a test optional becoming more common since the pandemic.
Yeah. So I think the thing that, you know, keep in mind right off the bat, When, when putting a school list together, you really need to be honest with yourself about what the likelihood of admission is, which the very first thing I’m going to draw any student’s attention to is their overall acceptance rate.
And by their, I mean, a school’s overall acceptance rate, you know, for all intents and purposes, you know, my, my recommendation is anything, any school that has a sub 30%, you know, admissions rate should be considered a reach school. Okay. Um, in any school that’s above about 50%, I would place at a target school.
And then any school that’s above, approximately 80 to 85%, you should consider that a safety school. Now, what I will tell families is that acceptance rates, it’s, it’s just one part of the process. Right? And so understanding that acceptance rates should, first of all, give [00:21:00] you an understanding of what the reality of the situation is.
When you look at the average GPA of an applicant, right? In comparison to the acceptance rate that can explain a lot of questions for you right there, determining. Do I really have a fair shot at this institution? The other thing that I’ll focus on it to draw attention to Brian’s last point is of course, the sat or act ranges here, as you can see, it’s a 1342, a 1530 here for Michigan.
And what I will say is this, there’s a couple of things that you need to be paying attention to as well, without something negative. If you do plan to submit a test score, you want to pay attention. If you’re in the middle to upper end of that middle 50% testing range, you know, just because you’re in the average testing range, doesn’t mean you’re going to be admissible.
And I view as I’m illustrating this, I want to point something out. You know, I did mention earlier tonight that it’s not just about test scores and GPA, these schools turn away students with perfect GPA, perfect test scores every year I’ve done it. And I’m not proud [00:22:00] of that, but they do it in mass every year.
It’s not one or two it’s 80, a hundred every single year. So as you start to see the differences that these schools are having, what they’re testing. The impact of the, of the pandemic has been pretty significant schools have not necessarily been able to make the informed decisions. You can test scores as they primarily have.
So what that’s doing, it’s putting a lot more emphasis on things like other identifiers. Okay. So schools are paying more attention now than ever before, to things like, you know, sexual notification majors of interest, things of that nature, because they are trying to make sure that they’re maintaining certain data points and certain spread.
Um, one of the things that I try to remind students opposite places, Greater emphasis on things like essays and activities list, which Brian’s going to talk about here in a second and having a strong plan for that matters. Um, but Brian, if you’ll scroll on just one second here, what were the things that I really want students to pay attention to is residency that right?
There is a key importance to me, [00:23:00] um, because of the fact that this is a global situation today. When I say this, I mean, U S admissions process as a global situation, you are competing, get students from all across the world and you need to understand just how many families are going to be applying both in-state and out-of-state in schools are in fact competing for money, your money, and they are going to be making the best decisions for themselves financially as they possibly can.
And so residency, we’ll go into this to some degree as well. Brian, I’ll let you go from there. Awesome. So, um, as Beryl was mentioning. Peeling back the layer beyond just whether you are in a place academically or with your test scores. If you choose to submit them to apply to a school it’s really important to start developing a strategy of how you think you can match that school’s culture or identity and reveal that in your application.
So one of the features we wanted to highlight in our product that’s really unique to our product is the ability to do a virtual [00:24:00] tour of that school. We showed you the ability to do that through some of our webinars in the previous feature. Um, but if you wanted some smaller videos that done directly from students at each of these schools, we have an integration with campus real, um, where students that are currently attending.
Um, each school hosts, um, short verified videos about what it’s like inside of the dorms, what it’s like in the cafeteria, what different aspects of the culture there are like from Greek life to walking around how long it takes to get to class, what the athletic facilities are like. And so all of these videos are directly available inside of the CollegeAdvisor portal for free on every school.
So here are them on university of Michigan. And as you can see, we can get this like nice insight from students live at that college. So, um, just another tool in your arsenal here, right inside of the CollegeAdvisor product to do some of that school research without having [00:25:00] to take a physical trip to the school itself.
Um, so let’s transition, uh, from here, uh, to actually starting to add a few schools to our lists. Um, Pharaoh’s started to talk a little bit about the difference between safety schools, target schools and reach schools, and there’s different terminology that will be used, but we like to call them safety target and reach schools.
So, um, although these differ for every student based on obviously, uh, you know, where you stand in the admissions process, Pharaoh gave some general rules of thumb earlier, such as if a school is below a 30% acceptance rate, such as university of Michigan. It’s probably either a reach or maybe a high target school.
If you have an incredible GPA in our, you know, first in your class or something, but for the most part, um, these are going to be considered, uh, reach schools. And we advise our clients to have anywhere from two to four reach school. Four to eight target schools and then two to four safety schools.[00:26:00]
Obviously some students and families are interested in applying to 15 to 20 colleges. Total others want to apply more to a smaller set of schools, maybe like eight to 10. Typically we advise our clients to be between 10 to 12 total schools in their lists, but we have seen that number increasing as the selectivity at these schools, you know, has been increasing so much as we showed you earlier.
So, um, let’s start adding some schools to our list. So again, we would probably consider university of Michigan, um, a high target, uh, or a reach school in this case. So let’s go ahead and add that to our list. Um, let’s go ahead and add another read school, um, in Harvard. Uh, so we can add that to our list by going to the requirements and clicking add, as we’re doing.
We’re adding these schools into our program. So you notice that if you go to the, my program section of the, of the portal, you’re seeing these different schools that we’ve added show up here, nicely identified by their school colors. And [00:27:00] so this is really designed to start replacing any type of spreadsheet that you might be keeping in Excel or in Google sheets.
Go ahead and just swap that out for the CollegeAdvisor portal itself. It lets you add these really easily from this page as you’re finding schools, that might be a good fit. So let’s just add a few more here. Um, let’s go ahead and add university of Washington, shout out Seattle. Let’s add a couple of university of California schools.
Those are always very popular on James Madison, a great, um, a great safety school perhaps for me here in Virginia. And so once we’ve added a few of these schools to our. We can check back into our program and start really managing to the actual application process. So we have to keep in mind that when we’re thinking about applying to college, we need to think about our strategy, right?
We can’t just go in applying to every school the same way because schools have different, uh, academic, uh, or admissions policies. Schools have different admissions requirements. Schools have [00:28:00] different essays that they require. Some schools offer what’s called early action, early decision, which we’ll unpack here.
Second other schools don’t right. Some schools have deadlines that are super early in the process. Others have deadlines. It might be a little bit later. So depending on all of these different factors, we’re going to set up our admission strategy and we can design that here directly within the CollegeAdvisor product.
So one of the first steps that you need to take is thinking about where, or if you’re going to use early action or early decision in applying to schools. So Farrel, can you unpack for the folks on the call who might not be as familiar with all this terminology? What do we mean when we say early action, regular action, early decision and things like that, and how do those policies differ?
Yeah. So the significant difference is when you apply early decision IE, the early decision requires that you as a family sign, a contractual obligation, [00:29:00] that you will in fact enroll your students. Um, at that school, if accepted. Not to get too confusing. And every school’s early decision policy has its own stipulations.
But what I will remind you, what is that most of them are having you sign an agreement that states if accepted, I will enroll at this school regardless of scholarship and financial aid offers. Okay. Uh, you, in most cases have eight to 10 business days to cancel all of your other applications. Early decision you apply typically by November the first, typically, uh, and you will get your decision on or shortly before December the 15th.
Um, most schools, not all schools, but most schools. It’s a, it’s a solid answer. Some schools will defer you though over to the regular decision pool, which I’ll get to here in a second. Um, if not accepted, then you have early action. Early action is, is not contractually binding whatsoever. Um, early action.
You can apply to as many schools in the country that you would like to that way. As long as it’s not something known as restricted early. [00:30:00] Um, restricted early action. Not to get too difficult. Here is a agreement that will be that some schools will have you do where you can apply to as many early access school as you want, but only one private early action school is how some schools will, will do it.
But for now just primarily think of early decision and early action. The biggest difference is the no application to any other school via early decision. Other than that one that you chose, statistically speaking at schools that offer early decision, it is your strongest opportunity for admission because schools are willing to take a little bit of a risk on you when you’re committing to their financial requirements.
Um, when I was at Vanderbilt, we would take students routinely two to 3% outside of our normal ranges because they were saying 100%, we will enroll regardless of, you know, whatever financial opportunity comes, our way we have to fill the class. We have to maintain enrollment. That’s very enticing, um, early.
It is not, um, something that [00:31:00] allows schools to have that confidence, but more students apply early action than early decision because they’re unwilling to sign a contractually binding agreement. So early decisions statistically is in your favor. Majority early action is in many cases, still better than regular decision.
No early action. You applied by November the 15th. In most cases, there are some early deadlines in October, and you will get your decision by typically the 10th of January, depending upon the school. Plenty come earlier as well. Regular decision is a due date between the first and 15th of January, depending on the school.
And you will get your answer on. And hopefully before April the first, um, the major differences between early action and regular. In terms of, um, lack of admission. It does still very slightly, there are a few schools where a regular decision might make more sense for you based upon the program that you might be applying for.
Um, but in many cases, early action can [00:32:00] be a more, you know, higher chance of admission over regular decision. What I do want to bring everyone’s attention to is the benefit of applying early action and regular decision, because I shouldn’t call it a benefit, but it does allow you to make an informed decision at the end of the process, which we can talk about here in a minute, but early action and regular decision, you do not have to respond to that school until on or short on may.
The first is what I should be saying. And so that gives you the time to do additional research, um, secondary visits, things like that, which early decision does not allow you to. What that does. Is it places the emphasis on you to understand what these schools are, or excuse me, what they’re all about, what they’re focused on, um, because it really is your school list that stipulates the strategy here.
It should tell you by it. I mean, your school is your school that should tell you which school should be applied to first, whether it’s early decision early action, that means which schools you just start working on essays for to begin with then which schools you should put [00:33:00] off towards the latter part of the process for the regular decision process.
So your list does in fact, determine everything in addition to things like activities as well. Awesome. So, uh, for more information on early action versus early decisions, um, you can go to our website and just type in early action into the search feature, and you’ll find a bunch of articles we’ve written.
But the main takeaway is that I’m applying early action or early decision to schools is a great way to demonstrate interest to those schools. And depending on which institution can give you a boost in terms of your ability to get accepted relative to applying regular. But you really want to think strategically about using early action, early decision, especially early decision because early decision is binding, um, where you are contractually agreeing to attend that school if you’re admitted.
So, um, let’s pretend in this example that we’re walking through that out of our lineup here, we’re going to apply [00:34:00] early action to Harvard. Um, and because university of Michigan is a public school, we can also apply early action there without affecting our, um, early action application to Harvard. So. Once we know our strategy and the order in which we’re going to complete these applications.
I E applying to Harvard here with our first deadline and university of Michigan with our second deadline, and then the rest of our deadlines a little bit later in January, we can start the actual process of writing the applications in the. So something to keep in mind as you’re going through our portal is that, um, we’re one of the only products online that shows you all of the required essays to apply to the school directly within the product.
And lets you check these off as you complete them and upload essays to keep yourself super organized. So a lot of students will utilize a Google drive or a folders on their computer, um, to organize essays as they go. But I’d recommend just keeping them directly [00:35:00] inside of the CollegeAdvisor product and checking them off as you complete them, which will give you a feeling of making progress across the essays.
Um, and, and let you know that you really haven’t missed anything when applying as soon as you’re ready to actually enter these into the application portal, um, that the school offers it’s really easy to just take them from here and then copy and paste them over. And that makes sure that you haven’t missed anything when going through it.
So, um, uh, a word to the wise and supplemental. Um, every school has a different number and offers different support, different supplemental essays. So, um, that is a little bit, uh, confusing initially for many folks, right? So, um, the common application or the common app, as you probably heard, it is one application system.
And one main essay called the personal statement that you use to apply to several schools. So as you can see here, the common app is available for Harvard. But if I go back to my school list, [00:36:00] the common app will also be what I’ll use to apply to university of Michigan. So the common app is a system for multiple schools and I’ll write one essay that will go to multiple different schools.
That’s different than supplemental essays, which are school specific. So university of Michigan, for example, has a different set of supplemental essays here, right? Then Harvard does or rice does or wash U does. Right? So, um, because each school has different supplemental essays. It’s even more important that we stress those aspects of learning about a school and learning about what makes you a good fit for that school, or what’s attracting you to that school, which we covered before.
So the information that you’re going to glean from watching a webinar on a particular school, or learning more about what that school offers you, it gives you better, um, fire power inside of your. Um, for things to cover that make you, um, make you stand out as a good fit, [00:37:00] right? Anybody can, uh, write about, um, you know, something very common about a school that one could find on their website, but going that extra layer, um, to talk about a specific program at that school or specific aspects of that score their culture, that show a greater understanding that makes you stand out more in the eyes of an admissions officer.
And it makes them feel like if they accept you, you will have a greater likelihood of accepting them back or matriculating to their college. So, um, Beryl, any more tips on the essay writing portion of the process. Uh, my number one tip is to give yourself as much time as possible. And I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but this is the most impactful part of the application.
In my opinion, it’s what binds me to use an admissions officer. It’s what makes me feel connected to you. And more importantly, it’s the only time I’m going to hear your voice when we’re reviewing you for admission to our school. Um, as Brian said, incorporate your knowledge of the school’s culture [00:38:00] and history and your responses, and it, nothing can make a school more.
I think, attached to you and more secure in their feelings that you’re the right fit for them. Then you showing them just how serious you are about their institution by incorporating your knowledge of things that you can’t just go find on the website. It’s a massive boost in our confidence in you.
Awesome. So to wrap up this essay portion, I just wanted to kind of go back to the fact that before we talked about adding 10 to 12 schools to our list, A typical set of essay requirements for a school might be anywhere from two to 400. So if we’re applying to 10 to 12 schools and each one has two to four unique essays, the math shows that we’re going to be writing anywhere from 20 to 40 essays to apply to that set of 10 to 12 schools in the U S admissions process.
This is why the us admissions process gets a reputation for being so onerous and so complex. It’s because to a [00:39:00] large degree of these unique supplemental essay requirements of each school. So really leverage the features of our product to not only track and understand these different, um, uh, essays, but also to be able to get help with.
We offer over a hundred different essay guides for free on our website. You can get there through our product just by hovering over more and clicking essay guides. And so you can find essay guides on pretty much every school, um, that we’ve talked about tonight and many, many others, and these are written directly by, um, experts, um, who have gotten into these schools.
And they’re really in depth ways to approach these essays. So take advantage of those and take advantage of this portion of the product. So, um, we haven’t gotten to cover, uh, everything, uh, within the product. Um, but we’re going to start to wrap up a little bit because I want to leave plenty of time for Q1.
Uh, the last portion of the product that we want to cover is what becomes accessible to you when you join as a CollegeAdvisor [00:40:00] client. Right. So what happens with, um, in terms of extra functionality when you join the CollegeAdvisor, uh, uh, client services. So all the features that we just walked through, um, uh, on the call thus far, are available for free to anybody, regardless of whether they’re a paid client or not.
But these next set of features are only available to paying clients. So CollegeAdvisor has 300 different admissions officers and admissions experts from over 120 of the top institutions in the country. What I’m showing you right now is our advisor search feature. You can explore all the profiles of our advising team directly online by clicking this advisor feature.
And let’s say we want to look at folks in our network who, um, we’ve talked a lot about it on this call, um, but who have attended, uh, or gotten into Harvard. So, um, we find a number of folks here, so let’s check out, um, one of them. So let’s check out Julia review. Um, and I [00:41:00] can see Julia’s background. I can read her profile.
I can see a nice profile picture of her. See what she studied there. Um, let’s say I want to search for advisors from Stanford. I can type in Stanford and similarly find folks, um, who went to, or are currently attending Stanford. I can view other schools that they, um, got into. I can also see admissions officers and their networks.
So if I wanted to hide. Only admissions officers. So these are folks who like feral work directly at the institutions themselves. I can see all the amazing, um, former admissions officers that are within our network ready to start working with you. And so when you join a CollegeAdvisor admissions package, you get paired directly with a personalized advising team that we build for you.
So we use all the information that we learn about you in a consultation. What types of schools you’re applying to, what your academic background is, um, uh, you know, what your availability is. Do you prefer evening calls weekend? Um, are you an [00:42:00] international student? Are you from the U S we use all that information to match you with an advisor or an admissions officer, or in this case, both, um, to help you with every step of the application process we’ve covered tonight.
So they’ll help you build your list of schools. They’ll help you decide where you should apply early action, early decision. They’ll help you pick a major, they’ll help you write stronger essays and make sure that your story is standing out as much as possible to help you find internships and things to make your profile stronger.
So in this case, um, my test student is named Sophia and she’s matched directly with Maria Acosta Robio, um, who studied pre-med at Harvard and is currently get, uh, at medical school as well as an admissions officer, Angela Park, Pennington, uh, who was the former associate director of admissions at USC, and has also worked at UC Berkeley.
So. Uh, when you get matched directly with these members of your advising team, you get access to additional features. Um, you can schedule meetings with them directly through our products. So if [00:43:00] you click schedule video chat, it takes you in to be able to schedule a video chat session with Angela directly, right through here.
She don’t have to wait for that whole back and forth or picking a time Dee to schedule meetings with your team. Um, additionally you have the ability to chat with them directly through the product so you can message them back and forth. Um, without having to, again, go through kind of, you know, old fashioned email and waiting for waiting a long time for response, our advisors get back to you in less than 24 hours directly in your product.
Um, so again, our team of nearly 300 admissions officers and advisors are available to you. Uh, once you become a client with us and now, um, is really the best time ever to get started with our service. We’re going to talk a little bit about our holiday sale, uh, that we’re running currently. Um, so currently we are offering a 30% off discount.
This is the biggest discount that we’ll run, [00:44:00] um, really this entire year. So it’s the best time to get started right now. We’re running this now through Thursday, December 30th, and we only have 48 more spots left in this deal. Um, so it is going quickly if you’d like to get started, it’s really simple. Just go to CollegeAdvisor.com/holidays.
You see the link right here on your screen. That’ll have you fill out just a couple of quick details online, and then a member of our admissions team will call you and set up a free consultation, uh, tomorrow, or if you’ve already had, if you’ve already had a consultation with us, we’ll get you reconnected to your specialist to take advantage of this deal.
Um, so with that, let’s turn it off, uh, over to Q and a and see what’s on, uh, everyone. Thank you. Okay. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handout step, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions.
You submitted in the Q and a [00:45:00] tab and paste them in the public chats. So you, um, you can see them and read them aloud. Uh, before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page, because if you join through the webinar landing page, you did not get all the features of big marker.
Okay. So just to start off, this is a big question that we often get from students, but how a lot of students are worried about how they can stand out, um, in the admissions process. So how does CollegeAdvisor help students to stand out.
Well, I think that first and foremost, the biggest thing that’s going to help you stand out is by understanding the selectivities process and getting more in line with what’s going to make you, um, that more competitive applicant using these resources, understanding what other students have done to get into the schools that they themselves have attended, uh, is the very first step that you can be taking in order to make yourself stand out.
[00:46:00] You know, there’s never, you know, too early than a time to begin starting this process, when you consider frankly, some of the resumes that these students are coming to these apps they’re applying with today. So working not only just with our, you know, our, our portal along with getting assistance with a former admissions officer, being able to understand exactly how you’re going to be reviewed, what’s going to make the significant difference where you just simply upon upon how you present something in your essay or in your virtual resume, um, makes a significant.
You know, now some of these schools are starting to rely upon artificial intelligence and sometimes it comes down to having the right keywords and phrases in the right spots to gain as many points in the review as possible so that you do stand out and you are admitted. Yeah. I think just picking up on that, I’m wanting to talk a little bit more about demonstrated interest.
Um, demonstrated interest means how you showcase to a college that you’re applying to, that you would attend that school. [00:47:00] If you were admitted, colleges care a lot about a metric called yield, which is basically if they gave out a thousand acceptances and 500 of those, a thousand students chose to attend their yield will be 50%, right?
If they gave out a thousand acceptances and only a hundred out of those, a thousand chose to attend their school versus others, their yield would only be 10% in that. The higher, the yield of a school, the better the rankings that they will go and get in those review cycles where us news and other, um, organizations and media, uh, rank them, um, with the idea that if a lot of students are choosing your school over others, that’s a good sign, um, uh, of, of, you know, it’s prestige relative to competitors.
Schools want to make sure when they’re using an acceptance on you, uh, that you’ll actually attend. And it’s important to be able to understand how in your essays, like we talked about earlier, but also how you learn information about a school or information that connects parts of [00:48:00] your profile, your extracurriculars, or your passions to that schools that allow you to go, um, a little bit deeper than what the typical applicant might write about.
Who’s not doing as extensive of homework. And again, that’s where starting early and taking advantage of these resources and research gives you that edge relative to someone who’s not doing that and is just kind of skimming over the website prior to writing an essay quickly at the, at the end of the day.
Uh, going off of that. Um, so, uh, we mentioned, like we touched on a few parts of what CollegeAdvisor has to offer, but can you go a bit more into detail of like our, um, what our advisors do or even our new financial aid team or essay review team and all of our different teams? Pretty much. Absolutely. So there’s a number of different components that we walk our clients through in the process.
And I’m just going to go through. Those kinds of highlights, um, in order. So when a client starts [00:49:00] with us, we have, what’s called a kickoff call where we meet with the entire family. So the student, but also, uh, you know, uh, parents and guardians to really understand, um, how this is going to, how this is going to go when we’re going to have meetings.
Um, what the typical cadence of those meetings will be like when we’re going to meet, we onboard you onto the platform. We set a game plan for you to really orient you to what we’re going to do together. From there, we dive into what’s called our candidate profile and extracurricular development box. So that means better, um, understanding what extracurriculars you’re currently doing and then giving recommendations for other extracurriculars, summer opportunities or internships to add into your profile, to make you stronger.
It also includes actually helping you apply to some of those different, um, extracurricular opportunities or summer opportunities or internships. Um, from there we go into developing your college list. So we have, what’s called our college list team, which takes a whole research document that we build with you and uses [00:50:00] that to actually proactively suggest colleges that you should add into your portal and the reasons why.
Um, we also looked at financial aid as, as part of that. So many families have certain stipulations for how much they’re looking to spend. Many are looking, uh, at schools. Uh in-state versus out-of-state based on those financial priorities, many want to work with us to understand potential merit scholarships that they can apply to alongside of colleges.
So we will take into account, um, during that phase of the process, those financial considerations, especially, um, with mom or dad, usually, um, from there we move into application strategy. So that includes looking at who’s you, who’s going to write your letters of recommendation, looking at whether you’ll apply with test scores, looking at which school you are, which schools you’ll apply to early decision or early action.
Um, and then of course, uh, a large chunk of the process, uh, spent on essay writing and. So typically we’ll spend anywhere from six to [00:51:00] nine months on supplemental essay, writing, personal statement, writing merit, scholarship, essay, writing, um, certain, uh, specific programs have additional essays. So we really take time to do multiple reviews of every essay and you get edits and commentary, um, on each essay in the margins, by your advisor.
Um, and again, you can get multiple edits, not just one. We also have a 24 hour essay review team. So if you ever needed an urgent review of an essay, um, for an application, we can provide that as well. Um, and then finally, just to touch on a couple of other highlights, we have an interview prep team, which we’ll do mock interviews for you.
So if you have scholarship interviews or some schools have alumni or admissions interviews that are required, we prepare you for that. And we simulate that, um, with folks who actually serve on those, uh, interview committees, um, we also do dress rehearsals of your application prior to. So that’s where a former admissions officer will review it and basically give you a practice review, um, with [00:52:00] all real commentary.
Um, but you know, of course it won’t be like the real deal. Um, but it will be giving you an insight into how an admissions officer from that school might look at it and some ways to improve it. Uh, prior to applying, we have a financial aid specialty team, as Mackenzie mentioned, and then we also work with students post submission to help them if they get on wait lists.
So they might want to write a letter of continued interest to that admissions department. If they’re on a wait list, they might want help with
the term learning, which school was financial.
Yes. Okay. Uh, so touching on something that you brought up earlier about, um, residency, one student is asking, what did you mean by residency when you were talking about like international versus, um, [00:53:00] uh, us students, uh, and how they want to know, how does that impact your, uh, application? And then just to add onto that, how can CollegeAdvisor help international students?
So, you know, let me address the residency question first. Uh, I definitely let that kind of unanswered. So first of all, um, your potential need for financial assistance to enroll in the school can be used in the decision-making process. So there are schools that are known as being need aware, and there are schools that are known as being need blind for schools that are need blind.
They will not be utilizing whether you need financial assistance or not in their decision about whether they’re going to enroll at URI, or I should say Mitch, you are not, but there are other. That will in fact be leveraging that in their decision making process, because of the fact that, you know, at certain schools, enrollment has been down in recent years, um, some of these schools are a little bit more financially in a position they’d rather not be.
Uh, and so [00:54:00] they are a little bit more aware of what the incoming class will look like financially to their institution. They’re less likely to get financial aid at the same time. Some of these schools are starting to see an uptick in the amount of, out of state applicants, that they are in fact admitting because of the increased fees, especially specifically public schools, because the increased fees that come from out of state applicants, into another state institution, Not their United state of residence.
So residency is starting to be used more frequently at some of these public schools because of the increased fees that they get from that now to your international question, um, you know, being an international student, it’s wonderful. You know, we have a lot of international students and while I was at Vanderbilt, I, as I mentioned, I was the chief of international admissions.
The, one of the greatest things that we can do for you here at CollegeAdvisor is, you know, being able to set you down and allow you to understand what’s going to make you connect with the school and even introduce you to, you know, other students that themselves are, have [00:55:00] an international background. Um, we actually have advisors that live abroad.
Um, and what I will tell you is the cool thing about what we do and working with you, what you’re a domestic student or international student is being able to do. Sit you down and through your advisor allow you to connect with, you know, members of our, you know, not our institutes, excuse me, but members of our organization that have attended these different institutions and give you real time feedback about what that culture is like.
It’s very difficult to do that. W you know, living out of the country, especially right now, and it’s not so easy to travel. And so by being able to connect with any one of our advisors, that’s a member of our staff here that have attended these institutions. They can wholeheartedly give you a response, but what the community is really like so that you can get that from somebody, again, other than just a school’s admissions office, it’s always great to have multiple different put your, actually take people, have input to help make an informed decision.
If you think the right school, excuse me, the school is the right fit for you. Um, and that’s the beautiful thing [00:56:00] about it in addition to the wonderful resource that are in that we offer, um, along with the fact that we have. Dozens of years of experience, you know, just working as former missions officers all in place to guide.
Yeah. I will just add that about 20% of all of CollegeAdvisor’s clients come from international countries. Um, and we’ve worked with, with clients from more than 60 countries globally. Um, so we are very experienced in helping international students with the admissions process. Um, just as we are with students from all parts of the United States.
So I’m going back to our wonderful advisers one student’s asking, uh, can we choose or change the advisors we are paying. That’s a great question. So, um, many times students will have already explored some of the 300 advisers or AOS that are available. We showed you how you can take a look inside of the advisor search feature of our product [00:57:00] and they’ll come to their consultation or they’ll, uh, or their post enrollment meeting, um, with a idea of an advisor or two that really stand out to them.
We will always take into account that preference, but we can’t guarantee that that advisor or admissions officer will be the best match for them. And the reason why is that such, um, when we’re, when we’re matching, we’re not just looking at what’s what institution or program they’re from. Um, but we’re also looking at, um, you know, whether the availability matches, right?
Let’s go back to international. Sometimes international students will have a much different time zone. And so it’ll matter what parts of the day or weekend they’re available to meet with their advisor. And so sometimes we’ll use the availability of the advisor, um, in addition to what colleges or majors or areas of expertise they have in order to make a match.
Um, what I can tell you is that [00:58:00] we have a team of human beings doing this matching, who have done over 5,000 different matches. And so we’re able to, um, use a whole variety of factors that we’ve learned over those thousands of different examples to make the best matches for you. And then to answer that second part of the question, if for whatever reason you start the program with an advisor or advising team, and you, um, are not having, uh, uh, an experience that you absolutely love or there’s particular features of the advisors that aren’t.
We will help you change them. Um, and so typically, uh, 90% of our clients stick with the original advising team that they’re paired with and they’re off to the races. And then about 10% of our clients will ask for that rematch. And we obliged rematching them with an advising team until they’re fully satisfied.
So we don’t want you to get started with a team that you don’t absolutely love. And so we will work with [00:59:00] you until you find, um, you know, that team, we have 300 different folks in the network. So, um, rest assured that we will find individuals that are, um, a perfect. And as an advisor, it is awesome getting new students and even ones that are rematched and it is great to just be able to be on the calls with them and get to know them.
And I think that that extra connection and be able to talk with the students for a long period of time, really helps with like editing essays, brainstorming ideas, finding scholarships programs that the student really likes because we’re able to like really get to know them as a person, not just a client.
Uh, and, uh, since we are coming up on time, if there’s any last thing you would like to say about CollegeAdvisor or any of our programs or how students can go about this process, um, please feel free. I’ll just wrap up with one comment from my side. Um, I really can’t overestimate the importance of starting this process earlier than [01:00:00] most, uh, families choose to, um, a lot of families end up procrastinating until the fall of their senior year.
And by then students who started in eighth, ninth, 10th, and 11th grade to at least think about these things and start building plans and doing the research like we talked about tonight have taken a, kind of a massive advantage over them by that point. So getting started early is key, and we’re here to help you do so Pharell.
I will just suck in that, to what Brian is saying. You know, having been in the industry, literally my entire career time is your most valuable asset here. And, you know, there’s, there’s no time like now to get started. And the biggest thing from tonight is take action. Um, you know, start an account with us, start a common application account, but you need to immediately take action.
If you’re not looking at this as a competition, you need to start looking at it like that. Now, moving forward, um, you know, with these schools, doing what they’re doing with so many changing pieces in the process right now with this pandemic, um, you’re only going to help yourself by, you [01:01:00] know, grabbing the bull by the horns and, and starting to, you know, in the process ahead of your friends.
And it’s what you do now. That’s going to make that difference. It’s what you do tonight. That’s going to allow you to do other things later on that friends of yours may not have the opportunity to do so. I encourage you to be the leader and to get out front and to start making the necessary steps to make yourself.
Yes. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our panelists. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides in the handouts tab and this webinar is being recorded. So if you would like to view it later. Um, so that is the end of, um, talking about, uh, the admissions tools and here’s the rest of our upcoming January series on new year, new you, and we’ll be talking about different aspects of the application process, especially for our underclassmen about getting started early, what you should be doing, how to navigate the process and different things you can do to really set yourself apart.[01:02:00]
And then we will have another webinar to go over some of the other features within college adviser, if you would like to know more information, but always remember that you can sign up for that free consultation, especially with that wonderful sale going on right now, um, to be able to find out more about different plans that we offer different things that, um, Are available.
And again, if we did not get your questions answered tonight, uh, remember you can join CollegeAdvisor and there are other webinars where you can get, um, more specific questions answered, um, where the topic is a better fit. So thank you everyone for coming out and good night.