CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Building Your College Application Timeline

Join former UC Berkeley and USC Admissions Officer Angela Park-Pennington for an exclusive CollegeAdvisor Masterclass on “Building Your College Application Timeline.” During this webinar, Angela will provide you with valuable insights and strategies for creating a timeline that will help you manage the college application process effectively.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • The importance of creating a personalized application timeline
  • Strategies for organizing your time and priorities during the college application process
  • How to identify and meet application deadlines for different colleges and universities
  • Tips for managing stress and staying on track during the application process

As a former Admissions Officer, Angela has extensive experience helping students navigate the college application process. She knows what it takes to create a successful application and will share her insights and expertise with you during this masterclass.

Whether you’re a high school sophomore who is just starting to think about the college application process or a junior who needs to get organized quickly, this masterclass is perfect for you. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from an expert and make the most of your college application experience.

Date 05/29/2023
Duration 1:00:28

Webinar Transcription

2023-05-29 – CollegeAdvisor Masterclass/ Building Your College Application Timeline

Hi everyone. My name is Stacey Tuttle and I am your moderator today. Welcome to “CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Building Your College Application Timeline.” To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start with a presentation and 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 panelist, Angela. Hi, everyone. Happy Memorial Day. Thank you all for spending your holiday, your day off with Stacey and myself tonight. We’re gonna have a great conversation and learn about college applications and all the fun details about planning your timeline as you prepare your college applications as well.

My name is Angela Park Pennington. I’m a former admissions officer. I used to serve as an associate admissions director at the University of Southern California, specifically at the Marshall School of Business for their undergraduate business school. I’ve also, you know, read applications and served on admissions committees for scholarship organizations like QuestBridge and also read for the UC’s UC, Berkeley specifically.

And a few other universities. So I hope to share some of my insights from the other side of the table in terms of, you know, the admissions office perspective. But really I’m here to talk tonight sharing my experience and perspective from having worked with tons and tons of high school students like yourself and families like yourselves.

Supporting them through the front end of the process of not just building and preparing college applications, but really formulating and curating their whole kind of high school experience. To really try to make the most of the four year the four years you have before college. And that will be the topic for our conversation tonight.

Wonderful. Thank you so much for that quick overview of your background, and we’re so excited to get to your presentation slides. But before we do everyone, there should be a poll that just popped up in front of you. We would just wanna get a sense of who’s in the room today, what grade are you in. And while we’re waiting for the results to come in, Angela, in your opinion, is it ever too early in your high school career to get started planning your timeline?

I mean, I think that definitely depends on the student, but in most cases, I don’t think it’s ever too early. I don’t think, you know, as a ninth grader you need to start digging into SAT prep and, you know practicing or preparing for your essays. But there are so many other things you can do to start practicing preparing like visiting college campuses and just, you know, absorbing information, starting to learn about what are the options out there.

And that’s all part of the preparation process. So yeah, I, I don’t think there’s ever a possibility of starting too early. That’s awesome. Yeah, I, I totally agree. And it looks like we have some ninth graders, some 10th graders, some seniors but the majority of the room today looks like you’re juniors, which makes a lot of sense.

So let’s turn it over to Angela to get started. Okay, great. Well, good to know that we have a pretty good spread of freshmen all the way through seniors who are here with us tonight. I’m going to assume that maybe if you selected senior, that you are a rising senior. Perhaps you just finished your junior year.

If you are. A true senior and finishing up an, an approaching graduation, then congratulations to you. Maybe you’re here to just reminisce about the process. But in any case this slide I wanted to start with just a general overview. And in the future slides and the coming slides, I’m gonna go into a little bit deeper detail into each of these four years.

So freshman year and sophomore year, your underclassmen years are really going to be your foundational years where you’re building the base of, you wanna build a solid base for, you know, what we kind of typically call your most important year, which is your junior year academically. We call it the most important year because it is going to be the most recent, fully completed with grades academic year that your application is going to include.

And then your senior year. Obviously this is the time when application deadlines occur, and the first half of your senior year, you’ll be completing your actual applications. So freshman and sophomore year, we’re going to be doing deep dives into the, the way that we advise our students. And then what we recommend is doing a deep dive into your academic interests.

Oftentimes most students do not know what their interests and passions are yet, so a big part of that deep dive into discovering your academic interests is really exploration and discovery. So trying a little bit of, you know, maybe not everything but things that strike your fancy, that attract you and interest you.

And then kind of honing what particularly. Interests you the most and then hopefully, you know, doing engaging in extracurricular activities that augment your academics, your academic interests as well. And then going into your sophomore year and especially your junior year, really starting to hone down.

You know, I’m really in love with my STEM classes, or I really love my history classes and I also love, you know, keeping up with current events and politics. You know, that’s my thing. So by, by junior year when you’re able to start taking more advanced coursework as well that’s a great time to start establishing.

Maybe I don’t know exactly what I wanna do in my career yet, but I at least have a stronger idea of the general field or direction I wanna pursue. And this is also a great time to start developing some of your your more meaningful impact in some of those activities as well. And again, we’re gonna go into some deeper slides, but this is just a general overview as well.

Okay. So for the next slide. Actually, before going into the year by year breakdown, I kind of wanted to take a step back and briefly describe to you the components of the college application, especially for our students in the room tonight who may be totally starting from ground zero. And you are not really sure of what a college application actually is.

I think this is important background knowledge to have because it provides important context to why the timeline makes sense and why certain things, you know, you start preparing it for at a certain time. So your college application is going to consist of your academic profile, which basically means your transcript.

What types of courses are you taking in terms of the subject, but also the the academic rigor. Are you pushing yourself and challenging yourself to take more difficult courses? Are you taking honors in AP courses or IB courses? What’s available at your school? And are you taking advantage of the opportunities available to you?

Academic profile will also include standardized testing, like AP exams, IB exams things like that. As well as any other academic opportunities that you’re taking advantage of? Academic opportunities. What does that mean? That means, you know, are you going outside of the purview of your high school and taking additional classes to supplement your knowledge, to increase your knowledge in an area you’re interested in.

For example, community college classes, online courses, you know, whatever it might be. Colleges like to see that you have a curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Your extracurricular profile. This is probably something that you’ve heard about a lot. You know, gotta get your volunteering hours, gotta get your leadership in.

Those are kind of keywords or I guess buzzwords that you might hear a lot when we’re working with our students. Rather than you know, trying to. Devise an application that has a lot of things that might look good, that might you know, fulfill some things that a lot of people believe that colleges want to see.

Rather than that, we try to work with our students. We try to recommend our students to try to again, that, that the importance, emphasizing the importance of that exploration and discovery to really understand what it is that appeals to you personally and how it is you’re going about exploring that. So, if you have a lot of opportunities at your high school or in your community to get yourself involved in different groups and different organizations then that’s great.

If you don’t have opportunities, you know, colleges love to see, well, what are you doing to get around that? How are you creating opportunities for yourself? What are you doing to make sure that you’re really enriching how you spend your time? Standard I, I will go into extracurriculars a little bit deeper in a in, in a further slide as well.

Standardized test scores and parentheses, and this is key if applicable. Test scores include, of course, the SAT or the ACT. Not all colleges are going to require testing. And if you are applying to schools that are test optional, then it, you know, it could be in your. Your your best benefit to, you know, take a couple of test scores, maybe one test, figure out if this is the right path for you and then, you know decide if, if it is worth spending a lot of time preparing for it to try to increase your scores.

I could go on and on and fill this whole hour talking about sanitized test, but I know that’s not the topic for tonight. I believe we have done several webinars around testing that you could, you could look up on your own time as well. Essays you’re probably familiar with the 650 word personal statement.

This is going to be, you know, basically the main essay that is distributed to all colleges that are on the common app, the common application, which is the most commonly used application platform for our colleges. And then each university is also going to have their own set of. What we call supplemental essays, so it’s a supplemental essay because it’s in addition to that main essay that you have already written.

And these are going to, these prompts are going to really differ pretty significantly from school to school, even in the number of essays, supplemental essays that are required. That’s going to vary quite a bit as well. Some schools will have none and some schools will have a lot. And then of course, you know, I’m speaking kind of generally about the common app.

There are other application platforms including the UC, the coalition. There are a handful of schools that have their own kind of homegrown application as well. So. For tonight’s kind of purpose of convenience, I’m just gonna be speaking about the common app. For letters of recommendation this is again, something that is variable depending on the university.

Some schools will require, most schools will require one letter of app recommendation from your guidance counselor at your high school, and then at least one commonly two letters of rec from an academic teacher. There are some schools that will allow for a third letter of rec. Sometimes that’s open and they’re not conditional on who that letter of recommendation needs to be written by.

But for the most part, generally speaking, you’re probably going to need that one council recommendation and around two teacher letters of rec. So those are the kind of main basic building blocks of the college application. So as I’m talking about the timeline, I’ll be referring to a few things. So, Hopefully this will give you that basic knowledge.

All right, so I’m starting with sophomore year. I know we have some freshmen in the room. I don’t want you to feel excluded. But honestly, starting from freshman year, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to study really hard in school, really apply yourself and to get involved in whatever looks interesting in high school.

In terms of the clubs that are available to you. I will say that the advice that I’m going to provide for sophomores is going to be highly applicable to freshmen who are planning ahead. And if you are here tonight and you’re a freshman, then I think you kind of fall into that bucket. So first of all, we’re starting with the talk, talking about academics with coursework.

One of the things that I highly recommend students to do is, rather than planning for your upcoming year of classes that you will take, is to zoom out a little bit and look at your whole four years, or I guess if you’re a sophomore now, then you know, your, your three year picture, your sophomore year, your junior year, and your senior year.

What are the courses that are available to you? What are the course offerings at your high school? This varies wildly from high school to high school and oftentimes maybe you had an older sibling. Sometimes those course offerings can change from year to year. So that being said, come in with a good amount of flexibility because those things can change.

But to have a general idea, have a basic plan of my sophomore year, I’m gonna be taking this class because I wanna take this in my junior year and possibly this in your senior year. The reason why that can be important is because oftentimes for advanced coursework is, so if you’re planning on taking AP classes, sometimes AP classes can have prerequisites.

You cannot take AP calculus without having taken pre-calculus, for example. So if you want to and that’s one example, but there are some other classes where that may. Might apply as well. So you wanna make sure that you’re in a position where you have the most options and choices available to you.

So and, and, and I know that not all high schools will allow students to talk, start taking advanced courses in your sophomore year. Many high schools will only allow students who start taking AP classes starting from their junior year. But if you are at a high school that that’s not the case where you are able to take advanced coursework starting from your your earlier years then I encourage you to explore that option.

At the same time, I’d like to recommend, you know, approaching that with understanding what you can manage and what you can take on. If you have never taken an AP class before, it’s maybe not the best or even an honors class, it’s maybe not the best idea to jump into taking, to signing up for suddenly three or four AP classes.

They are significantly harder, more rigorous and much more demanding than a regular. Class and sometimes often, you know, more so, more so than even an honors class. So try to go in with an understanding. Understand your expectations. Manage your expectations. Oftentimes, you know, what can help is speaking to upperclassmen who have taken those classes or talking to the teacher and also being flexible.

If you might, you know, if you signed up for a bunch of classes and the, the school year starts and you see the syllabus and the curriculum, and you’re very overwhelmed then, you know, talk to your counselor ASAP about, you know, what can I do to maybe level down? The reason why I say that is not because I want you to immediately jump to, oh, this is too hard for me.

I, I need to get out of here. But but if you believe that, you know, it’s gonna be really hard for me to pass this class, or, you know, I, I just feel like, you know, I’m, I’m not a strong test taker, and this class is all about te There’s not a lot of. Homework assignments or projects then, you know, then talk, you know, you knowing yourself, talk to your teacher.

If you feel like you might fail a class or you know or you know, have a difficult time getting a strong grade in that class then it might be better for your. Academic profile for your transcript, for your gpa, even to take a class where you feel a little bit more confident in getting that A or getting that b B plus.

And then for, you know, your, your teachers and your guidance counselor. So I talked a little bit about letters of rec in the previous slide. When we talk about when we work with our students about trying to decide who to request their letters of rec from, oftentimes the advice we’re giving is, you know, ask for a letter of rec from a teacher who you have a strong relationship with, who knows your character, who knows you on a more personal level who may have.

Taught you for more than one year so that they can speak to your growth over time. So, so you know, if you are a sophomore now and you are taking a class with a teacher who you, you know may teach you again in the, in your junior year then, you know, possibly consider, I think it’s always great to start enhancing and developing your relationship with your teacher so that they can write you a great letter of rec later on.

Okay, so extracurricular activities in your sophomore year. So kind of stemming off of what I was saying earlier about, you know, freshman exploring and exploration and discovery is important in this stage as well. But you know, if you signed up and if you you know, Became a member of a ton of clubs in your freshman year because you were just so excited to be in high school and, you know, club, club signup week was an awesome time for you, and you just signed up on the clipboard of every single club that you saw and maybe joined a lot of clubs that your friends were in.

Maybe now this is the time to start realizing, okay, I’m in freshman year. I don’t know that that club was just okay for me. It was nice to hang out with my friends, but I don’t think I really gained a lot out of being in that club or, or the experiences that club was offering. So, sophomore year is a good time to start honing down what are the things that I really enjoyed.

What are the things that I was looking forward to the most in spending my time, maybe on the weekends? You know, your precious time as high school starts really ramping up and a lot of your after school time becomes focused around doing school work. Your, your extra time that you have to devote to extracurricular activities becomes really limited and honestly really, really precious.

So you wanna make sure that you’re not spreading yourself too thin and just doing kind of everything that your friends are doing and starting to really kind of analyze what are the things that are most important to you and feel the most meaningful to you. So that maybe in my junior year and senior year, I can, as I’m investing more of my time and energy into these specific activities, perhaps I can lead up to building more responsibility and taking on a leadership role in the next years.

So I have some examples down here of what those activities can include. Okay, so the summer between sophomore and junior year, you are now graduating up, you’re leveling up to your junior year. This is an important year because you know, this is going to be a time where you’re still kind of doing that exploration, but you’re also setting yourself up for success for your junior year.

So if you are, no, if you already know that in junior year you’re going to be taking a bunch of really, really hard classes, this could be a great time to do a little bit of prep work. A lot of times I know a lot of juniors who are taking on several AP classes and then they have their extracurricular activities on that junior year becomes really, really intense.

So whatever you can do early on to help prepare yourself for that really, really makes a difference in terms of just being able to manage your time in junior year. It’s also a great time to start Seeing what’s out there. In terms of summer programs pre-college programs. Pre-college programs are basically summer programs that are offered by universities and they’re created for high school students.

So oftentimes it’s an opportunity to even stay on the dorms at a certain college and be able to take classes that are taught by the faculty of that university. So if there is a university that you’re already interested in or a handful of universities you’re already interested in, I highly recommend just googling, typing in the name of that school and either like pre-college program or high school summer program and seeing what turn what turns out for you.

Maybe it’s a school that you know your sibling went to or, or any family member went to, so you already have a little bit of exposure to that school. And a good impression of what type of atmosphere and what type of experience that that school can provide. And you wanna know a little bit more. Great opportunity to explore a college, a pre-college program there.

Or maybe it is a school that you are that you know, offers a certain program that you are interested in. A great, again, a great opportunity to kind of familiarize yourself with the school on a even more even, even deeper basis. This is also a great time to start thinking about a, either a passion project or an internship or something if you have already kind of figured out what it is that you want to either pursue career-wise or field wise.

Again, like I said earlier, even if it’s, it’s okay if you don’t know what you wanna do in terms of a long-term career. And mind you, even if you do know right now there’s a good, pretty good chance that that might change by the time you graduate high school or by the time you graduate college.

But in any case, it’s always great to increase the exposure you have, the amount of knowledge you have. And just experience you have, the more people you can talk to who are in that field already the better it is for you to start, you know building up your kind of own database of knowledge about what you know about this field.

It’s also a good time to start studying for standardized tests. So if you are planning to take the SAT or ACT you know, it’s always good to go in having done a little bit of prep rather than going in completely just unfamiliar with what, what to expect out of this, you know, three hour test.

So, you know, some students will take the test multiple times, so taking it, you know, once in the junior year and then, you know, a co maybe a couple times towards the end of junior year and summer between senior year is kind of the timeline around testing. So if you wanna take advantage of that summer before junior year to start doing a little bit of prep work again, that can help you just manage your workload.

Of just the intense junior year. It, it is a lot to manage, you know, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and sitting for your SAT all during your junior year. Great. And so I just wanna take a second to take another poll and we wanna get a better sense always of where you all are in, in the college application process.

So fill out that poll. It should be in front of you now. Of course we just dive deep into a lot of academic and extracurricular components, but we’re about to transition over to talk about much heavier meat and bones right. In the junior and senior year. So, let’s see. It looks like many, many of you are in the middle of researching schools.

Mm-hmm. Which is great. Some of you haven’t started totally fine. Some are working on essays and some are actually getting their application materials together, which makes sense given the time of year it is. And so, That gives a really good sense of where you all are right now. Makes sense. Given your grades.

Let’s continue on then with the rest of the presentation. Angela. It’s a great way to put it. We’re getting into the meat and bolts. So junior year, and I understand we have a lot of juniors in the room, which is so great. So. I put SA September to January. I know that there’s a lot of students who start school in August as well, but just generally speaking, this is a great time to start thinking about your school list.

So this is actually, you know, some advice that generally applies for our juniors, but also for underclassmen as well. If you have not really started looking into colleges or doing campus tours, if you and your family happen to be in any area any major city for any like, family trips or anything like that over the course of your high school, you know, period, your experience.

Then always try to see about like, there’s, there’s generally going to be a university or a college or something in, in a major city. So see if you can squeeze one into a family trip, that’s a good way of just kind of spreading out. Instead of trying to do like one big, we’re doing like a two week, one week long, just like college visit tour.

It could be a good way of spacing that out as well. But, okay. So for juniors in your the beginning of your junior year, this is a great time to start thinking about what types of programs are you interested in? What type of schools really attract you in terms of the resources that they offer, the opportunities that they offer, the type of ambiance on their school.

And that’s why I say that visiting college campuses can be really, really helpful to you. And if it doesn’t make sense for you, it’s it doesn’t work out for you to be able to visit colleges either outta state or whatnot. See what’s local to you. Even if you’re not interested at all in going to your local university, you’re like, I just wanna get as far away as possible.

I wanna get to the other side of the country. That’s okay. Just familiarize yourself with what a college campus even feels like. If you visit a college campus and there are some qualities that you find really amazing and some qualities that you’re really like, I, I do not want to have that in my college experience, then that is all helpful information to you.

One thing that we do with our students is have them fill out a college list questionnaire. It’s many pages long, and we ask them a ton of questions about what’s important to you, what are your preferences, what are your must haves, and what are your deal breakers? So, you know, for a student who has never.

Really visited a college campus or has not really done a bunch, not you know, even just general research on a few schools, those questions are really hard for them to answer. To kind of even get a grasp of what size school are you looking for? A small school size, you know under 5,000 students, under 3000 students versus a large school size of 10 to 15 thou thousand undergraduates, plus many students have a really hard time understanding what’s the difference.

College is college, you know, I see it in on TV all the time. Students are just going to classes and having a great time. The, the experience can widely, widely vary. So I highly encourage you just to familiarize yourself with the college campus and start thinking about the, and start taking note about the, the different qualities that you do like, and things that you know you would like to avoid having at your future college.

So I, I spoke a little bit about the testing timeline, the junior year of fall. If you can squeeze it in. As you’ve done a little bit, if you’ve had some time to do a little bit of prep, good time to take the SAT or the ACT for the first time. If you have not had a chance to do any prep at all. Even if, you know, just a a, a few weeks, it doesn’t have to be a whole summer’s worth of prep to feel like I’m ready to go in and to take the real, real deal now.

Take a few practice diagnostics and, and I think that’s totally fine. It’s your first time you’ll have an opportunity to take it again if you’re taking it this early for the first time. So don’t don’t worry too much about it if you feel, if you’re the type of person that feels like just a little more confident going into a testing environment, having.

Felt like you’ve done your best in terms of preparation, then that’s okay. You don’t necessarily have to take it during your junior year fall. Why don’t you take your winter break to do a little bit of prep during that time, so you just feel a little bit more confident, more comfortable going into your first testing experience.

Okay, so academics, again, we spoke about this a little bit earlier, but this is going to be the first time or so the, the, the last full academic year with grades that the college, a admissions office is going to see. And the reason for that is because most application deadlines are going to be at the very end of December and the very beginning of junior year.

There are some schools where application deadlines go all the way up until February. And if you’re applying to schools that have something called rolling deadlines, which means that they don’t have a hard date where that’s the last, that’s like a hard cutoff. Then there’s a little bit of flexibility there, a little bit of flexibility there.

Before the, for the most part, you are going to be looking at deadlines that occur. Around like the Christmas, new Year’s weeks. This is not taking into consideration of course applying early, but again, that’s a, that’s a whole other conversation to be had. So just kind of generally speaking for the, the general deadlines around the end of the year, you are most likely not going to have your first semester senior year grades at that point.

So on your college application and the transcripts that you’re submitting, they will see completed grades for all the way up from freshman year to junior year, and they will see in progress the courses that you are taking in your senior year. So for that reason that’s, that’s why a lot of people say that your junior year is really, really important cuz it’s the last grades that they’re going to see the most, you know the, the most current and accurate reflection of your academic ability.

So extracurriculars this hopefully by your junior year, you will have done a little bit of more honing down of what is the activities that are most important to you, the activities that you enjoy spending the most of your time in. And, you know, we talk a lot about you’ll probably hear the term leadership being used quite a bit in the conversation around college applications.

I do wanna say just one thing I, because I think it’s really important and it’s a little bit tangential to our, our conversation around timelines. But I know this pro, this is kind of a source of a lot of anxiety for a lot of students because it kind of breeds this thought of, I need to do, you know, I, I need to become the president of this club.

I need to start, you know, a club or an organization. And and that’s quite a lot of pressure. You know, there’s only so many clubs. There’s only so many organizations. Not everybody can be the president of that club, of all the clubs. So what I like to focus on is personal impact. When college admissions officers are reviewing your application, they’re not necessarily going through your resume and your activities that you’ve participated in and seeing, okay, president of this club, president of that club, president of this club.

Okay. So this student gets this many points for all these leadership titles. It’s, it’s really not like that. What college admissions officers are trying to ascertain around the concept of leadership is how strong is your sense of responsibility. How, you know, do you lead and guide others? And how do you act upon things that are important to you?

How, and that’s where personal impact, that’s all kind of encompass in that kind of term of personal impact. So if there is something that’s important to you, if there’s a cause that’s important to you, think about, you know, is there a problem that I, in my community that I can try to help solve? You know, without necessarily focusing on the accolades or the recognition that you would get from it, or the leadership title that you would get from it.

Really, I. College admissions officers can evaluate, you know, your personal impact on how you discuss your accomplishments. So even if you were a member of a club, you did not have a leadership title, but you had a wonderful idea for some type of campaign on your, your high school campus. You had, you know, you really kind of drove, you know, that cause forward and you spoke about that on your college application.

Then, you know, colleges will give you the credit for leadership. Really, it, it’s not a credit system, but they, they will acknowledge, you know, the efforts that you have made. And the leadership skills that you have demonstrated and cultivated through this, you know, experience that you’re discussing.

So that was a little bit of a side note on that, but I, I think it’s always an important note to make. So going into the second half of your junior year this is kind of a time when you wanna start you know, creating that preliminary school list. And I suggest you start big. So instead of like, when you’re doing your college research, instead of starting to think, okay, you know, I’m planning to apply to about 10 to 12 schools.

So starting to look at, look for only 10 to 12 schools rather than that, you know, cast your net wide. Start looking at many, many more schools than the schools that, the number of schools that you plan to apply to. And you know, the reason why I say that is because I think it’s really helpful to you to make sure that you’re making as informed of a decision as possible and to make sure that you have as many choices that that make sense for you.

I just think that that’s the best position that you can put yourself in. And I, I, when encouraging my students to cast their net wide, it also encourages them to consider schools that they may not have heard of before. And just because it’s a school you’ve never heard of before, that does not mean that it’s not a great school with fantastic opportunities.

Most school, most high school students can probably name about. I don’t know 10 to 15 school, like college names off the top of their head. And those are the schools that are likely going to be either the most selective schools and, you know, they’re the most kind of publicly known. You know, it’s probably Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a few more.

And then maybe it’s a few schools that, you know, people in your, your, your, your network your support system have attended. And that’s just, that’s just not fair to you to only make your choices based off of that, that very small sample size of schools when there are so many great schools out there.

So, you know, I really encourage you to do your research come with it, come to your research with a really open mind. Application deadlines and policies. So I kind of briefly touched on this earlier, but there are opportunities to apply earlier than that December, January timeline that I mentioned.

And some of those deadlines occur even as early as October, which is kind of crazy to think about considering you started your senior year in September. So just one month later you are required to submit an application when really you have just, you know, not even barely started your senior year yet.

So some of those applications again deadlines again, those early ones can occur as early as October 15th. And many times they occur between November and very early December as well. We have a lot of webinars around the early application policies and kind of the strategies around deciding which school to apply early to.

But because so I’m not gonna go too much into the nitty gritty of applying early, but I just wanna put that thought out there for you that there is a possibility to apply early, and if you are going to apply early, then that kind of moves up your timeline by about a month or two. So the summer becomes really, really important in terms of you know, preparing for, you know, your senior year applications.

And then we’ll talk about the summer between junior and senior year in just a little bit. Okay, so testing, we talked a little bit about that kind of spreading out, you know taking the test. If you’re planning to take it a couple of times academics and extracurriculars, you know, continue to chug away at those things.

You know, doing your best. Figuring out what’s the most important and meaningful thing to you and putting your all into it. I think it’s more important and more meaningful to college admissions officers to see that you are a student who is very committed and very dedicated to a handful of things that are really important to you and you invest a lot of your time, energy, and just yourself into those things rather than, you know, a student who is involved in, you know, a billion different things, but on a kind of lighter level.

Another reason that I advise students to really start honing down their interests early on is because actually on the common app, you will only have 10 slots of activities that you can discuss. And those 10 slots are gonna cover everything you’ve done from ninth grade to 12th grade. For some students that you’re gonna say, okay, that’s great, that’s fine, because I have about eight things right now, so I can add on a couple more.

If I wanted to, you know, completely fill up all 10 slots you don’t have to fill up all 10 slots. Then there’s gonna be students on the other end of the spectrum who are like, oh no, I’ve done 20 things. Now I have to, you know, pick the 10 that are going to, you know be the most reflective of, you know, my story on my application.

And also, oh man, you know, now I’m not gonna be able to show them the other 10 things that I spent so much of my time doing. So yeah, so, so I will say that that’s, that’s one kind of a parameter to keep in mind as well, that there’s only 10 slots. So kind of going into now the end of your junior year, leading into summer that preliminary school list that, that big long list that you started with, you wanna start narrowing that down.

You don’t necessarily have to finalize it yet at this point, unless you are a student who’s looking at an October deadline, then you at least wanna finalize that part. But but you know, talking with your family, talking with your, you know, guidance counselor or if you’re working with us, you know, a CollegeAdvisor to really figure out the schools that you’re going apply to, there’s a little bit of flexibility around that.

I would say I’ve worked with students who, you know, had a list of maybe 15 schools, but then once we started really, you know, working on the applications or as they started doing more college research, or maybe they had a college visit planned in the summer towards the end of summer, and when they visited that school, they said, Nevermind.

I wanna knock it off my list. So there’s, you know, there’s, there’s adaptability there. You know, I listed a couple of other things on this slide about things to consider when you are finalizing and shaping that school list. And then for college apps, I. It’s a good time. I would say to start and I’m so sorry.

This, this title says the, the title of the slide says Junior Spring, but as you can see, the months are June through August. So it’s actually the summer. So the, this summer between junior and senior year is a great time to. Do as much of your college applications as possible before senior year hits.

And the senior storm kind of starts, senior year is obviously still going to be very rigorous academically, but now you have the added like, oh, there’s all these social activities that are going on, and now it’s, it’s my senior year, it’s my last chance to ever do, you know, this activity as a high schooler.

So a lot of seniors become a lot more actively involved in the, the, the social opportunities at their high school. So just keep that in mind as well. So that summer be before senior year and that’s when a lot of our students are working on their essays, the personal statement. So we have, if we have juniors in the we and for, for our juniors in the room right now, the common app, main personal statement, those prompts are already confirmed that they’re gonna be the same as last year’s and the same as, you know, the year before that.

So start, you know, look up Google, you know, common app, personal statement prompts, start, you know, taking a look at them and thinking about brainstorming, what you might wanna talk about. Essays I will say you wanna give yourself as much runway as possible in terms of time to prepare and work on them because they are not a math problem that you can solve.

They take a lot of time, they take a lot of reflection. If you are hit with writer’s block for a week, you don’t, you know that you’re hit with writer’s block for a week. So you wanna make sure that you’re giving yourself as much cushion as possible to, to, you know, Have multiple iterations of drafts or to scrap this, this idea com completely and start fresh with a totally new idea.

You wanna give yourself that grace. Supplemental essays will be confirmed on August 1st. That is when the whole cycle for the next year, that the next incoming, you know rising seniors in the next incoming freshman class can, can see the, the new common app for their year. So for that reason, you know, supplemental essays, you can start doing a little bit of prep by looking at last year’s prompts of course.

But you know, you can really start working on the prompt themselves. After August 1st. Okay, so summer, you know, you can also start filling out your common app. Like I said, August 1st is when the common app kind of refreshes for your year as a senior. So that information might not save, but it’s still a good idea to just create a common app account.

If you’re a junior now, just to poke around, you know, look around and, and see what the common app looks like and what the platform is, just familiarize yourself with it. I’m not gonna go too deeply into this timeline cause I kind of talked about it throughout this webinar. But like I said, August 1st important date to consider for our students who are rising seniors right now.

And then you know, around October through November, you know, some early decision, early action deadlines. And then you know, your, your spring of your senior year is when decisions come out. Okay? So I think we have a good chunk of time for some questions. Yes. Thank you so much, Angela.

So that is the end of the presentation, part of the webinar. I hope you found this information to be helpful. I know I did. And remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. So we’re now, we’re gonna move on to the live q and a. I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the q and a tab, paste them into the public chat so you can see them, and then I’ll read them out loud before Angela can give you an answer.

As a heads up, if your q and a tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. And so with that, let’s start with our first, I wanna say set of questions. A lot of these questions are around the content of the application, Angela, so.

The first set of questions has to do with letters of recommendation. Okay. And where those are coming from. So the first question, these two are related. The first question is, is it helpful to have them come from different subject teachers like science and math, or can the teachers be related in the sciences, like bio and human anatomy?

And then a related question is, is it better to get one rec from an academic class, academic probably in comparison to like maybe a more recreational class. What are your thoughts on kind of where your, your rec should be coming from, how you can balance that? Yeah. So this is going to. Depend on the colleges that you’re applying to.

So some universities will have very specific stipulations for who they want to see your letters of rec from. For example, some schools will say, we wanna see one letter from a teacher who taught you in a STEM course, and then another teacher who taught you in the humanities course. So those are, you know, the, the, the subject areas from which we wanna see your letters of rec coming from.

A lot of schools don’t have a stipulation as long as they’re coming from an academic teacher. So I guess that is a stipulation then. They, they would like to see the, the letter of rec come from a teacher who has taught you in a core academic subject. I, I mentioned earlier that there are also some schools that will allow for like a, like a supplementary letter of reg, an optional letter of rec, I should say.

And that can be open-ended. So I’ve seen some students submit that letter of rec from a coach from the athletic team that they’re part of, or if they have a job, maybe their boss at work or a mentor that they work really closely with. Maybe if you’re part of a club and you know, there is a teacher who is a sponsor of that club and you, you spend a lot of time with that teacher for that reason, but they haven’t necessarily taught you in their class that’s, that’s a great person to write to request a letter of work from as well.

So when we’re thinking about, so aside from the stipulations of that come from each university’s own guidelines, when we’re thinking kind of strategically about who is the best kind of teacher to re, to ask for your letter of rec or teachers? There are a couple of things that we like our, we recommend our students to keep in mind when kind of going through, like, who should I ask?

So, you know, Strength of the relationship. You know, is this a teacher who, you know you have a strong relationship with because that, that classroom size has been very small. It’s allowed for a lot of great conversations. Discussions. You feel like your teacher knows you on a personal level, not just your name.

And, or maybe it’s a teacher who you know, you, you, yeah. Again, the strong personal relationship. You know, you go visit them during their, their off hours, like outside of class, I mean, to ask them questions or ask for extra support so they know that you are trying really hard. So, When I say a strong relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean like you need to be best friends with that teacher and they know everything about your personal life.

It just means that they know you on you know, a, a different level compared to maybe most other students in that class. So that is kind of one good example. I will say, if you are known to, you know, if you know that that teacher has seen you trying really hard, you know, maybe there’s a, a, a a. A topic in your math class that you’re really struggling with.

So you’ve been coming to all, like, to the tutoring sessions. You’ve been asking for extra help, you’ve been asking for like extra credit opportunities because you know you didn’t do so well on that last test. You’ve been asking for extra materials, like, you know, extra resources asking for, you know, different websites that you could look for for extra help.

If you have demonstrated that effort, then your teacher, believe you, me, your teacher recognizes that, they remember that too, because not all students are doing that. And it’s, and it leaves quite a strong impression on a teacher to know that, oh, okay, I know the student is maybe not, not getting the best grade in my class, but I know they’re trying really, really hard.

And that makes a very positive impression. And that’s the kind of thing that they’re gonna write about on their letter of rec. They’re gonna say, Hey, you know, Haley in my class has always gone the extra mile to try to really understand a subject that, you know, they’re struggling with. So you know that that’s a great example of asking a teacher who maybe you haven’t, you know, always gotten a’s in on in their class, but you know that your teacher has a, has a positive impression of you as a person and as a hardworking student.

Thank you so much. That was a really wonderful answer. I’m actually seeing a number of questions in the chat, Angela regarding test scores that are optional, of course, that’s a very hot topic. Can you give us a, just a brief summary of kind of how to approach the test op optional scenario? I’m seeing folks who are saying like, what if I’m only interested in test optional schools?

Do I just not take the test? Could you give a few sentences on that? Yes. This is definitely I, I’m not surprised that there’s a ton of questions around this too. And, and like I said, I I, I do think we have another webinar that ha has gone more deeply into this. But in just kind of a nutshell, I will say that the general advice that I provide my students is if you are taking the test, whether it’s practice tests at home, or you have already taken the formal test once or twice and you’re just not seeing the score that you’re really proud of or that falls maybe a better description of this or a accurate assessment of this is it’s not falling into kind of the middle 50% range of the average s a t scores at the schools that you’re applying to.

And, and this is. Open information that you can Google and find, and oftentimes a school actually just shares it on their own website as well. If you look up, you know, a freshman class profile you know, Colby College or something you can see, you know, their most recent, all, all this average stats of like GPA, SAT scores or, or whatnot.

I don’t know about Col Colby College specifically. I just kind of pulled that out there as an example. But you can, you can generally find that information from those universities. So if your test score is, is not falling into that middle 50% range or falling like significantly below that, that might be a good sign that you are going to be going test optional.

I don’t think it’s a good use of your time and honestly your stress levels to be forcing yourself to sign up for an SAT tutor spending hours a week for months preparing for a test when you could be spending that time honestly on your class, your school classes, your schoolwork, or on extracurricular activities that mean a lot more to you and are, and are going to strengthen your application and your essays a lot more.

So and was working with some students and looking at some, some stats on this most recent. Class of students who were admitted. And I think that middle 50% range often scares off a lot of students because now this is, you know, we’re on what year two or year three, I think of stu, most of, of the mass vast majority of schools having gone test optional.

And that advice of only submit, if you’re in that middle 50% range every year it’s, it’s bound that that range is gonna increase higher and higher because students are. Naturally only going to submit test scores if they have a higher test score. So the students, so that that’s gonna skew the average.

So that being said the schools have also provided data that of, of how many students in their application or the applicant pool who have submitted test scores. And it’s generally varies a little bit from school to school, but it’s about half. So half of their applicants are not submitting test scores.

So again, that also skews that average number, that average range. So, you know, that also means that they’re admitting students about half of their students who have not submitted test scores. So that is one thing I also think is important to, to convey is that even if you are not submitting test scores, you’re, you’re going test optional that does not, you know, reflect negatively on your application.

They’re not gonna automatically assume, oh, you know, Tom didn’t submit their s a T score. He must have taken it and gotten a bad score, and now he’s, he’s withholding it from us. That is absolutely not the assumption that schools make. You know that, that’s, that’s not where their thinking is gonna go.

So I, I would say, you know if you decide that it’s not for you, then, you know, don’t, don’t waste any more of your time on it. But also know that maybe your school list is going to have to be limited to schools that are only test optional. There are some schools out there that are not test optional at this time.

And if you are a younger student, I would keep that in mind as well, younger as in you’re not applying this upcoming application cycle. Because those policies are not, for many schools, they are not set in stone. For some school systems like the ucs and whatnot, you know, they are saying we’re not doing that anymore ever again.

But for some schools they are still saying this is our policy right now, check back in with us, you know, next year to see if that changes. So, so that’s something to keep in mind for some of our younger students in the room. Great. Thank you so much. I know that’s not an easy question to answer, but I echo every piece of advice here wholeheartedly.

I think that was a really great synopsis and I just wanna move forward to our next slide here. Because I do realize we’re not gonna have enough time to address all questions and many of these questions are requiring a personalized response. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admissions process can be.

Our team of over 400 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate all of it in one-on-one advising sessions. So take the next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for this free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team.

And you can do that using the QR code on the screen there. During this meeting, we’ll review your current extracurricular list and application strategy, discuss how they line up with your college list and outline the tools you need to stand out in a competitive admissions world. So if you don’t, we don’t get to your question, or you have, I’ve responded to that you do have a more personalized question, I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity.

So now back to the q and a. Angela, I know you talked about essays. Can you speak a little bit as to where the supplemental essays fall into the timeline? Yes, absolutely. So supplemental essays you in terms of timeline preparation wise, of course you can prepare for them early. Even if you’re an underclassman, maybe you’re curious, what are supplemental essays?

What do they look like? What, what is a prompt? You can absolutely just, you know, Google it and, and take a look and maybe even just do a writing exercise and, and just do write an essay about yourself. But August 1st is when you will know for sure what the prompt for a specific university is going to be.

For some cases, universities will publish that on their own website and say, these are gonna be our prompts for the upcoming year. So if you are going to every, you know, school on your college list and going navigating to their admissions page and looking at their application requirements, that is often where you can find that information.

So go to the university admissions page and then application requirements. And that’s where you’ll find that information. But if you don’t wanna go to every single school on your list of 20 schools or however money is on your list then you can wa wait till August 1st to know exactly what that prompt is going to be.

Preparation wise, in terms of timeline, I still don’t think it hurts to spend that summer prior to August 1st, just doing a little, little bit of preparation. The reason why I say that is because I, I mentioned earlier that writing is a, an iterative process, but it’s also not something that you can rush.

It’s not something your college application is not something you wanna, you know, hammer out the night before, even the week before. You want to spend a lot of time doing a lot of inner reflection to really share, you know, the best side of you in the most kind of authentic and sincere way possible.

And oftentimes that involves other people. Maybe you wanna spend some time talking to your family about an experience that happened to you in your childhood. Maybe you wanna spend some time asking, You know, your English teacher to take a look at your essay that you’ve written or talking to your friends.

So it’s, it’s definitely in many cases it can be kind of a communal project because sometimes those supplemental questions and, and actually even your, your main essay, your. Your personal statement asks you some very, very it’s a personal statement, some personal questions. So, you know, a lot of students will dig deep and, and talk about a really formative experience that kind of transformed, you know, their worldview or how they approach problems, and maybe that involved other people, or maybe it it was an experience that they shared with their, with a grandparent or somebody that was really important to them growing up.

And it can help to have that conversation with that individual. So, so again, it’s something where, oh, just to circle all the way back to the beginning of my, of our conversation tonight, it’s, you can never start too early. Just to start doing that reflection and, and all of that is part of preparation.

Great. Thank you so much. And thank you all for being here tonight. That is the end of the webinar. We had a really great time telling you about building your college application timeline. And again, thank you to everyone. Thank you to our panelists. And that is the end of the webinar. So thank you all.

Have a great evening. Thank you, Stacey. Bye everyone.