CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Creating Your College Application Timeline
Learn from former Admissions Officer Angela on how to build your college admissions timeline, regardless of if you’re a freshman or soon-to-be senior in high school.
2022-01-04 CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: Creating Your Admissions Timeline
[00:00:00] Everyone welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Masterclass on Creating Your Admissions Timeline, To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and A on the sidebar. You can download your slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hello everyone. Good evening. My name is Angela Park-Pennington, and I am an associate director of admissions here at CollegeAdvisor. Um, I, prior to joining CollegeAdvisor, I was a former admissions officer. Um, going back a little further. I graduated. Uh, from UC Berkeley. Um, and I studied, I got my bachelor’s degree in linguistics, and then I went on to get my master’s in international relations, um, at the University of California, San Diego.
So I was a product of the UC system through and through both for my undergrad and for grad school. Um, [00:01:00] you know, as I say, I am a California native and resident. Um, afterwards I, um, went on to work in admissions at a few different schools. Um, I worked within the UC system and admissions, namely at UC Berkeley.
Uh, but most recently, and for the longest time I worked at USC, the university of Southern California here in Los Angeles, where I was an associate director of admissions at the Marshall school of this. Um, so today I come to you with about, uh, just under a decade, a year worth of experience in terms of working at various universities, both private and public, both large and small.
Um, and also having been a, an external admissions leader at a, at a couple of universities as well. So, um, wouldn’t be far off if I had to guess that I probably read about 50,000 applications over the years. Um, so lots and lots of essays and have seen lots of stories, [00:02:00] um, and have been on committees where, you know, we actually made the admissions decisions for the individuals applying to those schools.
Um, so I’m happy to share some of the insights and, uh, and this knowledge I’ve gained over the years, which is what I do with the students I work with, um, here at CollegeAdvisor. And, um, I’m happy to chat with you and spend an hour with you this evening. Okay, so now we’ll start off with a quick poll. So what grade are you currently in?
Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And while we wait on those answers, Angela, can you tell us a little bit about either some of your favorite things from being an admissions officer or even some of your favorite things from being an advisor here at CollegeAdvisor? Sure. Sure. Um, one of my favorite things working on the university side, um, as an admissions officer was truly reading all of the stories, um, that students would submit through their applications.
And I have to tell you that sometimes, um, you know, as a student applying to college, it can [00:03:00] really feel like either a numbers game or that you’re shooting a, you’re throwing a pebble into a very, very large pond into the ocean. Um, but honestly, there are humans, there are people on the other side, reading your applications, reading your life stories and the experiences that you’ve had.
Um, and either being very impressed by them, very touched by them or being very inspired by them too. So that’s probably one of the best parts of being on the receiving end of applications. Um, and one of my favorite, one of like the best parts of working one-on-one with students is going to be, um, developing that story, uh, for that application, you know, um, sometimes it can really feel almost like, um, you know, which is a counseling session or, you know, a therapy session almost because B we go really deep, um, with our conversations in terms of trying to understand, you know, what is your [00:04:00] life story?
What are those experiences that you’ve had that make you who you are today? Who are the people in your life who have influenced you? What are the things that really impact you? What are your life goals? What are the things that really excite you and having those types of conversations, um, in order to be able to create your application, your essays, um, that requires a lot of, um, backstory building and, and conversations.
You have to be able to say it in words, in order to be able to put it down on paper. Right. Um, so I just really love being able to connect with my students and have the really wonderful conversations. Yes. And we actually have a client together. So if you work with CollegeAdvisor, you can get to essentially, um, so it’s looking like we have 2% are eighth graders, 6% are ninth graders.
17 are 10th graders, 71%. So the majority of our 11th graders, 2% are 12th graders and 2% are other, so either parents or [00:05:00] transfers. Okay, perfect. I love that breakdown. Um, because today my presentation, when I wanted to talk about is mainly geared towards, um, juniors and some, you know, early starters for, you know, people who are in the sophomore year, sophomore year of high school.
Um, but even our eighth and ninth graders who are here today, which, you know, props to you for preparing early, uh, this is very useful and helpful information for you to just have in your back pocket. As you think about what you want your four years in high school to look like, um, there’s a lot of foundation building that goes into your application, but it was the preparation part of it.
So, uh, hopefully all of this information will be helpful for you to.
And you can control the science now. Okay, great. So I have the green light from McKenzie to just jump right on it. Um, so today I wanted to start with a [00:06:00] general overview of what a four year high school experience will look like, um, up until your senior year, when you are actually starting on your applications.
Um, then I want to talk a little more in depth about what your sophomore year and what your junior year will look like. I’m sure many of you have heard already, but your junior year is going to be the most pivotal year in terms of your college application. It’s going to be the final. Uh, a final full year of academic performance that the colleges will be seeing since you submit your applications at the first half of your senior year as well.
It’s going to be that last kind of most up-to-date performance at school. We’ll see. So that’s why junior year is still important, but that does not mean that freshman year, sophomore year, that those two years are going to be a time to just kind of kick back. Um, it’s definitely going to be the paving, um, of your stones.
It’s going to be your foundation building time. Um, so just as a quick overview, before we go [00:07:00] in a little, um, you know, more deeply in the next slide. Um, so freshman year it’s really going to be the time to start trying everything. Um, you know, I’m sure it’s exciting. And probably the eighth graders who are here today can vouch for this too.
You’re excited. You’ve just graduated middle school. You’re starting your, your high school experience. You know, you have all these clubs, you can choose, you have some say and independence and even selecting your course schedule. So this is the time to explore everything, join all the clubs, whether that’s in school, whether that’s outside of school.
Um, this is the time when you are really wanting to, um, try out various things because in sophomore year, you’re then going to want to start. Terminating your, your, your list in terms of, you know, what your schedule will look like, what are the opportunities that you will take advantage of? Um, so academic and extracurricular engagement are going to be kind of, you know, the pillars for, for [00:08:00] every single year.
So sophomore year, obviously we’ll be advancing your engagements, your involvement in extracurriculars, obviously continuing to ACE your classes and, and try for, you know, um, your, your, your highest potential. And, um, we will start to now think about what are the things that you really enjoyed your freshman year.
You joined a bunch of clubs, you started learning a few different, you know, um, skills and activities outside of class. Uh, one of the things that you have found really struck a chord in you and you just, you know, it doesn’t feel like work. It doesn’t feel like, um, uh, Yeah, it doesn’t feel like work because he just really look forward to it.
So those are what are going to help us identify, um, your passions. Um, that’s kind of laying the groundwork for, you know, this is something that I can maybe think about five years from now, 10 years from now, really enjoying if I pursued this even further. Um, or if we’re just looking at the next year and the [00:09:00] next two years, the next three years thinking, yeah, this is something that I really enjoy.
I would love to keep it as a hobby. Um, we’re going to start thinking about that. And the reason for that is because when we’re applying to applications and we’re jumping a little bit ahead here, um, but your applications are not going to allow you to lift every single thing that you’ve ever done in high school.
Um, so if you see, you know, older students, if you see peers who are, you know, seeming like they must not have enough hours in the day to sleep because they’re participating in so many things, um, just know that. Those students, you know, maybe some part of that you can think is like, is it a waste of time?
Because you know, eventually on the application, you’re really only going to be able to talk about maybe 10 activities that you’ve done. That’s covered the entire four years. Go into a little bit more of that later. But anyway, so that’s why in your sophomore year, we start to kind of whittle down. Maybe we joined several different clubs we [00:10:00] wanted, we want to kind of pare it down to the ones that you really care about because that’s where you will want to invest your time, your energy, your resources, because as the years go by, you will realize the classes are getting harder.
The homework is increasing. The assignments are increasing. The time you need to put into studying for tests and exams, um, that all increases. So that means that the time that you have for extracurriculars will decrease. So you want to make sure that you’re using that time very strategically and wisely, um, test prep.
So if you are a student who is planning to take a standardized test and sat or act as part of their college application experience, then that’s when you’re gonna, uh, you’re gonna want to start thinking about doing some of that crap. Um, the earlier you start the better, um, and then going into, again, the most important year that junior year, no pressure where the juniors in the room or for the sophomore is about to enter their junior year.
Um, but like I said, this is going to be the. All year, um, [00:11:00] that the most recent full year that will be included on your application by that. I mean, um, you will have your, both your fall and your spring, or if you’re in a trimester system in all three trimesters, um, you know, included worth of grades, um, they will see all of the activities that you’ve been involved in, um, including between that summer, the summer between your junior and senior year.
So the junior year is going to be where we want to have, you know, the most, um, achievements accomplishments. That’s the point to be the most up-to-date version of you. They’re going to see. Um, so even for some school, for example, uh, do not place a lot of weight on what you have done in your freshman year, you know, that they understand his groundwork for what you are now building into your sophomore and junior year.
The junior year is, is, um, uh, truly where it really most. And then going into your senior year, obviously that’s when we’re going to start completing those applications. Um, [00:12:00] and this is going to be something where you really want to carve out some time into your schedule your senior year, uh, because it, it truly is like taking.
May adding one or two additional courses to your schedule in terms of the amount of work, the amount of research that goes into it. Um, it’s a lot and we’ll go into a little bit more detail, um, now, so to understand how to prepare for a college application, uh, we kind of have to understand the components.
What goes into a college. Um, so obviously there are the, um, the essay that everybody knows about and kind of fears. Um, there’s going to be, you know, your extracurricular profiles. So what everybody calls, you know, your extracurriculars, you got to do your community service, you have to show some forms of, um, leadership, you know, there’s, there are kind of some of those, um, common sayings that go around about those [00:13:00] extracurricular activities.
Right. And we’ll kind of break that down a little bit later, too, if you are planning to submit standardized test scores, um, that is going to be a part of your application. And then finally your letters of recommendation. Um, sometimes that’s two, sometimes that’s three, sometimes it’s none. Um, but in all times we want to make sure that we’re prepared for that.
Um, and then the academic profile, which I kind of glazed over, that’s essentially your transcript, your academic performance. Um, right. So all of that requires a lot of preparation, a lot of ground work because you can’t really just whip up any essays and whip up an extracurricular profile. If you haven’t done the work to build up for that.
All right. So let’s dive a little deeper into the sophomore year, um, with academic. So there are kind of three pieces that we want to look at, but that’s going to include your coursework, your academic achievement, and then your relationship with the administration and kind of staff on campus at [00:14:00] school.
Um, didn’t think that was going to be important, but it ends up kind of being a crucial piece, especially for those schools that a require a letter letters of recommendation. Um, but also your guidance counselor and some teachers at school can really be truly influential. Um, as you’re starting to think about what schools to apply to what majors and programs to apply to these people, um, are your teachers are people who.
Um, spend a lot of time with every day and it can help you kind of identify your strengths and, um, uh, you know, your interests too. Um, so your coursework, we wanna make sure that we’re taking classes that are a kind of pushing you to your potential. We don’t want to, um, stretch ourselves so thin that we’re just focusing on taking all of the most rigorous courses possible, um, at the risk of maybe not performing well in them.
Um, you know, we want to make sure that we are taking a rigorous, [00:15:00] uh, uh, core schedule to demonstrate that you are somebody that can, that you can hack it and you can not only survive, but you can do well in those classes to those college level courses or college prep courses. Um, but we also want to show that, um, You are excited and you’re curious, and you’re up for a challenge.
You’re not a student who just kind of lays back and thinks like, okay, well, as long as I pass this class, or as long as I’m, you know, I’m able to graduate, uh, that’s, that’s really not the kind of students that colleges are looking for, especially the more selective ones. So you’re going to want to take the most rigorous classes that your school offers.
Um, and I also want to recommend that if you are at a school where maybe the offerings are limited and then to look outside of that, are there community colleges nearby that offer, um, uh, college level courses in fields, in course, areas that perhaps your school does not offer, but you know that you’re interested [00:16:00] in it.
Do you aspire to become a lawyer one day? Um, I’m going to venture to say that most high schools they’re not offering all courses. Um, but that is a course that is offered at community. Those are courses that are offered at community colleges, um, introductory level courses, same thing with, you know, um, business or, or other areas where you just curious, you just want to learn a little bit more, see what that kind of industry or that field is about.
Um, then, then considering taking a course, um, especially for those that are not offered at your high school. Um, and that point to lay the groundwork obviously for your junior year as well. So that’s something that, um, when I’m working with my senior, uh, with my students is we spend a lot of time kind of talking with my younger students, spend some time thinking about what are the course offerings at your school, not just for this semester, not just one next year.
Um, but for the next couple of years, where do we want to be in our senior year? Do we want to be taking. Courses XYZ we’ll then what classes, what are the prerequisites for that class? [00:17:00] You don’t want to be in a position where you find yourself in your junior year thinking, oh, I really wish I could take AP statistics or AP or AP chem, but in order for me to take AP stats or AP chem, my school requires me to have taken this other course, and I find that out too late.
So we don’t want to be in that situation. So we do a lot of that kind of pre planning. Um, which I advise for, for any sophomores and even freshmen, too. Um, so yes. Focus on your grades. It’s kind of a given, right? And then yes, your teachers and your guidance counselor, people who can give you a lot of great information, um, and can, um, provide that level of guidance.
Um, especially if you are not working with a, a college advisor, you want to really get to know your teachers. Um, why is it important when it comes to your letters of recommendation? For, for colleges that require letters and recommendations as part of the application. Um, these are opportunities for schools to get to know you better than they can through simply or transcripts through simply your [00:18:00] essays and your extracurricular activities.
They want to get to know you on a more human level. Is this an individual that we want on our campus community? Is this somebody that we know has, uh, um, not only, uh, uh, hardworking, uh, um, mindset or a strong work ethic and strong leadership skills and obviously academic competency, but beyond that, are they genuinely a good person?
Are they a good human? Are they kind to their peers? Are they warm and friendly to newcomers? Things like that? Those are qualities that, um, a teacher might be able to speak about from their more personal interactions with you. I’m more than you can really kind of express yourself. So those are always, um, good reasons to, um, have great relationships with your teachers.
Obviously, you know, your teachers might be cool. Always get to know your teacher on a more personal level extracurricular activities. I kind of touched on this earlier, but this is again where you are wanting to explore all of your interests. So if that, [00:19:00] you know, might be in something you might consider a hobby, maybe you really, really.
Um, knitting. So you love to knit in your free time and you decide to turn it into a business, maybe started at C shop, or you, you sell your, your knitted items to your, your friends and peers. And then, you know, it becomes a business. You identify, you, you learn through that experience that you actually really love and are very skilled at running your own business and become interested in how can I expand and grow my business?
What is marketing? You know? Um, so these are all opportunities for you to understand and kind of discover, um, some new kind of pathways and interests. And, um, and it’s always, always great to have some of those kinds of independently, um, initiated activities as well. So something that we talk about is a passion project.
Um, that’s, you know, Uh, potentially that you can start in your, [00:20:00] um, sophomore year or your, um, your junior year, uh, essentially a passion project is anything where you will, are kind of independently, either doing research or initiating some level of activity and engagement with something that you are passionate about since the passion project.
Um, this is not a requirement at all. It’s simply, uh, an opportunity for you to explore in depth, uh, something that you. I just really, really curious about well that you really love and that can provide some potentially more content or your essay, or like I said, it can really become unexpectedly an opportunity for you to build out or learn about or discover, um, uh, I feel that you would want to pursue in the future.
So we talk about extracurricular activities and, and, and a word that you’ll often hear is leadership. Um, leadership, I think often it comes to people’s mind that, okay, I need to be the president of as many clubs as [00:21:00] possible. I need to get, you know, um, these, um, different titles and different organizations.
Um, that’s great. And obviously though, those are certain markers of leaders. Um, but I, I like to think about leadership in, um, uh, in a different angle or in a different perspective, and that is of impact. Um, so that really means what are kind of the difference that you’re making in other people’s lives.
What’s the difference that you’re making in the organization that you’re a part of. So let’s say for example, you’re a part of, um, a service club on campus and you are not on the board or not the president. That’s fine. Don’t think that that’s not going to matter. I don’t think that’s going to look bad on your applications.
Um, perhaps for your service clubs, do you have an idea, maybe there’s a problem that you want to resolve, that you have an idea for a solution for maybe it’s something on campus or in your community. You can bring up that idea at your [00:22:00] service club and talk about, well, this is something that I really care about and I have some ideas for it.
And if you initiate something like that and you know, you get your service clubs to kind of rally around that idea you have, and perhaps over a few weekends over a semester, you really work on, um, the solution to this. That’s absolutely impact that you can speak about on your college application and that’s initiative that you’re showing that’s drive and ambition that you’re showing.
Um, that’s, you know, independent thinking and creative solution, problem solving all of that. Um, that’s absolutely something that a college would be very impressed by not just I’m the president of this club. Whenever my club has meetings, I sit at the top of the class and I lead the meeting, um, more about what are the difference that you’ve been able to make.
Um, so certainly, you know, more about what you’ve been able to achieve rather than those titles. Um, okay. So I think in the interest of time, we have to kind of [00:23:00] speed this up a little bit. So taking advantage of summer opportunities the summer between that sophomore and junior year, and this again applies for the summer between your junior and senior year as well.
You definitely want to show that you are not a student who just kind of, again, kicked back during your summer a year, uh, your, your summertime, um, and just. You know, relaxes, it’s fine to relax, but you also want to take advantage of this really awesome opportunity to spend two and a half, three months on a, you know, exhibit a, your passion project or one of these other examples kind of listed on this slide here.
Um, if you think that, oh, you know, I’ll just do a retail job or I’ll just pick up kind of like a customer service job over the summer. It’s not going to be that impressive. I would really beg to differ because as somebody who has read lots of applications and have had many peers working at university admissions offices, I have to say that we are very impressed by those who pick up, you know, side [00:24:00] jobs or summer jobs work.
Um, really understand the value of kind of, uh, Uh, making money. That’s the, the, um, all of the hard work that goes into, um, keeping a job, getting a job, keeping a job. Um, so all of that kind of speaks to your level of maturity, um, your time management, your professionalism. Um, so, so those are, are always impressive too.
So if you are unable to find something that you might consider, oh, that’s not really an unimpressive internship, or I couldn’t get into this summer program or this summer camp, then, um, don’t really feel like you’re defeated. Um, there are always opportunities if you just kind of look around you and, and if you’re doing anything at all, that’s going to be better than doing nothing.
Um, so we, we chatted a little bit about the sat and the act, if that’s the right path for you, um, then absolutely spend some time studying for that. Um, so once. Before we go into the pool. I just wanted to make 1.2. Um, [00:25:00] uh, is the, for the, um, sophomores that we have in the room, you have probably heard from your school about the, um, the PSCT.
So that’s going to be something important for you to take, just to kind of understand what the PSVT is and in your sophomore year, even if you take it in your freshman year, those are just great opportunities for you to just take it as literally a practice test. I’m not going to count one, two, but in your junior year, when you do take that, the sat, um, eh, even if it sounds like, oh, this is just a practice for my sat.
The sat is what really mattered. The PSVT is important for a couple of different reasons. Um, one is that you can be considered, uh, for different scholars. Um, but if you, uh, if you do well, he performed well on the PSNP. Um, then you, uh, are, you know, you can elevate to the semifinalist or the finalist round and, and all of those kinds of achievements.
Um, colleges do look at, uh, and there are many, many, um, scholarship opportunities tied to those. [00:26:00] So I will say for the juniors in the room, if you’re taking the PFAC Siemens, then I would take it seriously. It’s not going to make or break your college application, prop your admissions process, but it’s extremely helpful for your, uh, for scholarship.
Okay onto the pole. Yes. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for that into the, can you tell us about, um, how you support your students through the process?
Sure. Um, and I have a spreadsheet I’m going to share my screen a little bit later too, to show exactly how I do so. Um, but, uh, in terms of a timeline, um, in terms of the college application process, um, there are various components. It kind of also depends on when. Um, start working with the, when in your high school experience, you start working with an advisor.
So for example, [00:27:00] if you’re joining us as a junior as, and that’s going to look a little bit different in terms of our interactions, what we’ll work on, uh, in terms of environment, if you join us at this as an a sophomore. Um, but let’s say since we have so many juniors in the room, um, uh, in terms of what we’ll focus on in the junior year is going to be a lot of that college research in order to build a college list that’s right for you.
Um, and then building out all the different components that we kind of talked about earlier, um, the extracurricular activities, ho how are we going to maximize, um, in the most efficient way possible your impact? Um, like I said, it’s not just about trying to get those leadership titles, um, it’s about, you know, making a difference and we can definitely talk about different ways.
You can do that within the clubs and organizations that you’re a part of, um, Okay. Great. So let’s go on to the junior year. That’s a great transition to going right into, um, the in-depth junior year. So I’m going to break this down into three kind of terms of the [00:28:00] fall, the spring, and then the summer.
Before your senior year. So in your junior year fall. So as you can see, it says school list, testing, academics, and extracurricular. So there are four different kinds of components that we’ll talk about in that fall of your junior year. Fall is still considered kind of early ish in terms of, there’s not a huge time pressure to start working on this app, that’s possible.
Um, but in terms of what is top of priority, uh, it’s going to be actually identifying what you want to study and what kind of school. Are going to be a good fit for you. Are you somebody that wants to be at a large school at a very, very, you know, metropolitan school, uh, in a metropolitan area, those kinds of qualities.
Um, we’re going to start, you know, whether it’s through virtual visits through schools or if you’re able to visit campuses in person, that’s fantastic. But doing that research into what all the different types of programs that colleges even offer, um, uh, [00:29:00] it’s not just about comparing school to school with, but also the programs that you’re interested in, that’s going to be, uh, a big, um, uh, okay.
So there’s some slight disability issues. Hopefully we’ll get that fixed up. And then the testing is going to be, um, I don’t want to say important because there are many people who are going to choose not to take that, uh, which is absolutely fine. I think we have a CollegeAdvisor advisor webinar that speak a little bit about testing.
It’s kind of a lot to go into in the time that we have available today and then academic extracurriculars. Um, that’s something that we’re going to focus on. Again, expanding as much impact as possible. Um, Okay. And then your springtime, springtime is really when we start revving it up. Um, so at this point we will have completed, you know, research, a wide breadth of research of different schools that maybe you’re interested in, that your advisor will kind of suggest to you [00:30:00] that you may not have heard of.
There are literally thousands of schools and colleges, um, just even, even in just America. Um, so there are, it’s going to require quite a bit of researching and figuring out what are the best fit schools for you? Uh, we’ll narrow it down to. Just 20 to 30 school, that’s still a lot, but it’s your preliminary school list.
Uh, we’ll continue to work on the school with, even up until your, your, you know, early part of your senior year. Um, but the reason why we start with this school, there’s a preliminary list of about 20 to 30. Is that over time as we start interacting with the school more, um, in your junior year and that summer, that’s when you’re going to want to start, you know, um, attending different, you know, either virtual or in-person events, different programs that schools offer, just to kind of increase your, um, uh, your.
Engagement with the school and then maybe you’ll find out. Nevermind. I don’t think the school is the one for me. Um, or maybe it will become even more passionate about a certain school. [00:31:00] We’ll start thinking about application deadlines and policies, which I’ll talk about in a couple of slides that the early and then the regular decision round, um, and then academic and extracurriculars kind of continuing to have that impacted performance there.
Now summer starting from your early summer is when we’re going to start to really whittle down your final school list, which should be around 12. Um, depending on what type of program you’re applying to, if you’re somebody that’s applying to very, very specific and selective programs and majors, maybe we’ll increase that number.
Um, and then even scholarship, we want to consider that as well. Um, identifying when you’re applying to each school, um, that’s going to be pivotal as well because if you’re, uh, decide to apply early, um, those dates, so those deadline dates can start kicking in and even in October. So we’re going to want to have the essays, all of the application pieces complete by the end of summer.
That’s why basically at the end of your junior [00:32:00] year is when we really start jumping in to the actual composition of your applications and specifically your essays as well. Um, so your personal statement is going to be probably one of the biggest hurdles, because you’re really being asked to tell either about your life or just something that’s a major part of your identity, um, in.
And one 650 word essay. And then depending on what school that you’re applying to, there can be a lot of additional essays you need to write. Some schools will require you to write 10 extra essays on top of that personal statement, um, that may vary in length. Maybe it’s 200 words, maybe it’s another 650.
We’re not saying, but it can really vary. Some schools might just ask you to write one or two, but depending on that, that will also kind of color, you know, the school list as well. Um, that’s why I said, we have to think about it as adding essentially one or two extra classes to your course schedule in terms of the amount of blood and time that goes into [00:33:00] it.
Um, okay. So, like I said, the timeline for traditional four year universities, um, August, so essentially kind of, um, end of summer ish, mid, mid summer is when all of the application portals open. Um, and that’s when we will find out have any of our schools that are on our list, change their, um, questions, their essay prompts since the past year.
And this is why we don’t really recommend our students to start on their essays before, too far before this. Because if we start composing and finishing our essay before, you know, uh, by the early summer, and then we find that, oh, no, they have completely revamped their essay prompts. That was somewhat of a waste of time.
It’s not a waste of time to, to write. Um, but, but you may feel that. It’s a little more strategic to start after the questions are released. So there are some schools that do rolling admissions and those deadlines can really vary [00:34:00] from even the beginning of summer, all the way through to the following spring.
Um, for those who are interested in plan to apply to financial aid, that will be, um, open October. And then through November, um, even as early as mid October, November is when, uh, traditionally the most pools have their early deadlines. I believe we have a webinar talking about what the difference between early and regular decisions are.
So I won’t go too much into that, but this is hopefully going to help you shape an idea of why we need to start so early. Um, even if we say senior year applicant or your college applications are for your senior year, uh, it is really about that summer before senior year, where, uh, we work with our students to do the most intensive amount of work on those essays, just simply due to the fact that they take so much time.
Um, and then yeah, in the spring time is when those, uh, decision admissions decisions come out and students must commit to a school, um, May [00:35:00] 1st. Okay. So, oh, sorry. Before we go into the Q and a, I did want to share. Um, that timeline that I wanted to, um, show you in terms of what it may look like, um, for the work that we do together.
So this is a copy of a student, a college advising spreadsheet, one of my students, um, and uh, this student joined us in the spring of their, um, their junior year or their junior year. Um, This student, uh, we worked quite a bit in this, uh, in the springtime of their junior year. Um, because they, we, they joined us, you know, I wouldn’t say late.
Um, but I would say the ideal time is kind of right around now, actually for any juniors who are considering, um, um, joining our program, um, because it did take quite a bit of time to start building out this [00:36:00] college list and, um, uh, throughout, so we spent the bulk of spring. There was a lot of homework assignments kind of in between here as well between our meetings, um, where the student did their research on the college lists.
Um, uh, and then between the summer months is when we started working on a personal statement, um, finalizing the college list and determining. You know, what are we going to write about for that personal statement? Um, this student also decided that they wanted to apply to an early, um, school, so that decision deadline or that application deadline was here October 15th.
So that gave us just about September and October to really work in that school had several essays due. Um, and in addition to the personal statement, so we did quite a bit of intensive essay work just with that first application that I’m just going to kind of scroll through here to show you what that fall and going into winter look like for us.
Uh, we were essentially meeting every two [00:37:00] days for about three months. Um, this student applied to just six school with me. Um, they applied to a few other schools on their own, but what their package looked like included 16. And edible the total of 26 essays. Um, so that required a lot of work. So every other day, basically there was some assignment due or in a meeting where we went over the essay, the next draft, um, the student also had to do an interview prep call because they were called for an interview as part of their admissions process for the university of Pennsylvania.
Um, so this was a pretty, pretty intensive calendar because this student joined kind of later on in their, in the spring of their junior year. Um, so I just wanted to give you a little peak at that, um, uh, for our students that, um, you know, we have a little bit more time together. We’re able to, um, uh, approach this process with a little less stress.
Um, and, um, [00:38:00] and yeah, we do a lot of pre-planning and strategizing to make sure that we take advantage of that summer as much as possible and do kind of like that groundwork again, those, um, uh, the narrative building conversations next spring time. Um, okay. So I think that, um, right now would be a good time to go into our two and a right Mackenzie.
Yes. 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 handouts tab. I know a lot of people were having some issues with seeing the screen. So the webinar is being.
Record it, which you can find on our website, or if you just go to the website and click on the webinars tab. Um, oh no. Okay. And, um, you can also download the slides and the handouts tab, but now, um, we’re moving onto the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions. You submitted in the Q and a tab and paste them in the chat so you can see them and then read them aloud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads up, [00:39:00] if your Q and a tad, isn’t letting you submit the questions, just make sure you join the word seminar through the custom link sent to your email, not from the join through.
Um, so our first question is considering the changes due to the band DEMEC situation, how important are standardized test scores like the sat act. And what about school grades? Um, yes. And I think we also have a whole webinar that goes into this too, if you would like to have a more in-depth answer. Um, just as kind of a, a rough overview to this question, which is a great one, is that more and more schools, even before the pandemic actually, we’re moving away from considering the standardized test score as a critical component of the application, because there are a lot of inequities tied to that number.
Um, but in terms of how important is this test for, um, [00:40:00] if you are somebody who, um, let’s say for example, you are applying to a, uh, uh, uh, a major that is either math heavy, um, and your math grades on your transcript are not that strong. Perhaps you take the sat or the act and you do Barry very well. You’re you’re you kind of.
ACE and especially the math section. That’s, that’s an absolutely great example of when your, your test score can help you, um, your, your kind of, you know, providing evidence to the fact that yes, I am not just competent, but I’m pretty darn good at that. Um, and, and this is just a data point for the college admissions office to be able to understand the student will be able to, uh, perform well, uh, in, in their program.
So for the, uh, The sat act. I don’t necessarily encourage all my students to take it. Um, I say taking the [00:41:00] PSVT as kind of a good peek into am I, you know, a good test taker or am I just, I hated that experience. It just gave me so much, um, stress and anxiety, and I don’t really want to go through that again.
Absolutely fine. Uh, if you’re somebody who kind of loves taking that test, um, or you just did very, very well. Um, even without the preparation you felt like, oh, with some prep with taking it a couple more times, uh, I think I could really, really get a high score then that could be a good opportunity for you to, um, take the test.
Um, you you’re able to, to see for a participant, um, universities, uh, what is kind of the average or at least, you know, the 50%, um, uh, kind of, uh, range of their past years, uh, freshmen applicants, test scores. Um, so if you can look at that information and say, well, you know, um, my test score kind of fits into the upper, you know, [00:42:00] the.
Uh, 25% quartile of this, of this range. So that’s a pretty good indicator that I bear well academically. Um, again, some of the other students that were admitted to this program, so that could be a good sign for you to go ahead and submit that score. If you take the test and you’re not proud of your score, if that core also kind of either is on the lower end of the range that it’s at a school publishes or is lower than the range published, then that would be, um, uh, a wiser judgment to not submit that score.
Yes. So I’m going onto the next question. Um, when does the application open for my year and how early, or when should I start preparing for the application? Oh, okay. So, uh, the applications, um, let me see if I can go back to this slide. Uh, the applications generally open August 1st, that’s kind of the [00:43:00] typical, um, widespread date.
Um, there are some rolling admission schools that may open earlier. Um, and, uh, but for the most part, they will open August 1st. So that’s when you’ll see any changes that have been mixing made to the application from years past. Um, but if you want to get started early, you can always see, uh, you can, uh, go on Google and see what the past years have been.
You can also see if this school has a tendency to change their prompts or their prompts to kind of stay the same for many years. Um, that’s generally a good sign that they might not change it. Um, but you can start working on those essays in advance. Um, really the, the common app, you know, all these different applications, portals them opening.
Um, it it’s really. You’re not necessarily going to be intensively working on the application until you’re ready to kind of start submitting the portions, uh, uh, uh, or entering the questions as you’re getting ready to submit all of the other pieces. You can work on [00:44:00] external. So for example, my students and I, we work on Google docs and, uh, on their essays.
Uh, we have spreadsheets going where we’re, um, holding onto all of the different extracurriculars that they’ve been doing so that when it comes time, um, if they have 20, if they have 12 activities on that list, we can start thinking about what are the top 10 that we want to include on your, um, your application.
So all of the application prep work, we don’t have to wait until the applications open on August 1st. You can definitely start early. And, and my students definitely start early on that. Um, in terms of when should we start, um, the earlier the better, um, for, in terms of actually intensively working on the actual applications and less about the foundational preparation, um, that happens at the end of the junior year.
The reason for that is because. Uh, we don’t necessarily, I have some sophomore students who are saying like, I want to start on my essays. Now. I have some great [00:45:00] ideas for my essays and, you know, I see that it’s, it can be really stressful in the junior year. Um, so I, I, there are very industry students who want to start early.
Um, you know, I always tell them we should wait because the junior year is where a lot of, kind of your developmental experiences happen. Um, it’s also the most recent reflection of yourself. Um, May not make apologies. They’re going to want to hear about your more recent experiences and maybe some things that you experienced in your freshman year or your sophomore year, and then want to hear a little bit more about some of those, um, you know, um, more maturing experiences that you had, some of those experiences with others that have been very impactful to you and how you’ve been able to process it.
What have you learned from it? How do you want to kind of take that into your life in the future? Um, it also is going to be a time when you’re really pushed to your potential, right? Like I said earlier that junior year is a pivotal year for you. And maybe it’s going to be one of your more Rick [00:46:00] know, most rigorous years.
Um, so, you know, from adversity, from challenge from hardship comes, maturity comes development and comes learning. So that’s where we’re going to be able to talk a lot about those learnings and those experiences within your application essays. Um, that, and that’s essentially what colleges are looking for.
Not necessarily the quantity of experiences that you’ve had, but really the depth and quality, really. What have you taken from this experience that you had? You know, what are you learning from this about yourself? And, um, colleges love to have students who are self-reflective introspective and can take what they’ve learned and, uh, want to understand how to apply it, um, in their college experience and their future.
Um, to, to sum it up, you want to start early as possible, but we definitely start diving in at the end of the spring time of your junior year. Yes. So a lot of students I’m following up on [00:47:00] like when to start a big part of spark, the college admissions process is like building your portfolio, essentially like your activities list.
So, um, I’m gonna read two questions. So, um, as a junior, is it too late to find extracurriculars to do due to the circumstances last year, it made it difficult to find activities to boost my application. And another student is asking whether or not they should drop some of their activities. Um, just because it’s getting stressful, even though they’re doing well in those activities.
Oh, okay. So, uh, that, that has been the first question is one that many of my. That’s maybe all students have tackled over the last couple of years. Um, and, and students and colleges certainly have had, um, a level of grace and understanding and empathy about the limited access to resources and opportunities that the applicants from the past year, from this [00:48:00] year, and even for the next couple of years to come, they’re going to look different from, you know, applications, pre COVID, um, and even applications a couple of years from now who knows where we’ll be, what the world would look like.
But, um, but, uh, I would not use that as either a crutch or an excuse because there are many, many students out there who despite COVID have still been able to, uh, find different opportunities. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that. You know, um, you will have an, a space and opportunity on your college application to explain, you know, any extenuating circumstances.
Hey, my community was really, really hit hard. Um, my family was really hit hard. I had to really become a caregiver to some of my relatives, uh, and that really took away some of the time I will be able to commit to my academics and my extracurriculars. Those are absolutely opportunity. Um, um, uh, uh, reasons that a, uh, a college will understand and [00:49:00] empathize with, uh, for the most part students, um, should be, you know, taking their research online.
There are virtual opportunities that students can seek out. There are things that you can do and within your community, Um, uh, for example, one of the major, uh, I think obstacles that faced by some of my students were those who are interested in applying to med school, they’re looking at pre-med program.
A lot of that involves kind of that in-person experience, whether that’s clinical, whether that’s shadowing, um, some of those students really felt kind of, you know, between a rock and a hard place. How can I, um, display and demonstrate, uh, my, not just my experience, but my true knowledge and familiarity and exposure that some of these programs are looking for.
Um, so that required a lot of, um, I think it’s a popular word this year, but pivoting, um, in terms of students finding out, uh, what else can I do to show and demonstrate my passion and [00:50:00] interest in this field? So it’s not a lot of students turn to research. Research is going to be a huge part of your college experiences, especially if you’re in a stem program, especially if you’re planning to apply to med school and the next, you know, four, five years from now.
Um, so, so that was something that students could do independently. That was something that student could do virtually if they were starting to do some, you know, research assistantships with, um, with faculty. Um, so those were, that was, that became very, very popular, but some of the students I was working with, uh, but in any case, um, the main thing I wanted to say was that there are opportunities out there if you are looking for them, many, many of those summer camps and programs turned virtual, which is absolutely fine.
And colleges will not be thinking that a in-person program carries any more weight than a virtual program, not at all. Um, so, so definitely, you know, don’t give up and continue to seek out those opportunities. Passion projects are also wonderful for things that you can keep within your control. If you want to start your own business, [00:51:00] write a book.
Um, if you want to start a nonprofit with some of your peers, some of your friends, some of your siblings, um, to help with some kind of problem in your community and your neighborhood, um, your school. So there was something, something that I really encourage, because again, it shows that kind of Intrepid, um, level of initiative and independence that you have the perk of not being tied to some type of program where you never know in my day counseled, or it might get delayed or whatnot.
Um, so I really encourage a lot of that independent kind of, um, making your own, um, experience. And then, you know, you can work with your advisor to best describe that experience on your extracurricular activities list. Um, but it’s also a wonderful story to tell in your personal space. Yes. And I did do two webinars on that.
If you look on our past webinars on the website, under the webinars tab, you can find, um, how to create a [00:52:00] passion project in high school. And then also how to write about a passion project. And on January 10th, I’ll be doing another webinar on creating fashion. Perfect timing that honing in on those passion projects.
But, um, for a quick side note, once work one-on-one with an advisor from our team of over 155 advisors and admissions office. So please sign up for a free consultation with us by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom right of the screen. And, um, from there, just write in consultation and alive team member.
We’ll get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with. I’ve seen a lot of questions asking about like how to go through certain aspects of the application process. Um, asking for more specific questions on like, what can I do to get into XYZ program or how can I help my application? And with CollegeAdvisor, we have a wonderful team of advisors with varying experiences, um, in different fields [00:53:00] also, um, that can really help you through each part of the application process, um, from start to finish, um, whether that’s just finding your schools or looking at, uh, how to edit and find the right words for your essays.
It’s a really valuable program and I recommend that you sign up. Um, but in case you aren’t looking to sign up, we do have our webinars, which provide a more specific answers to some of the questions you’re asking me. So if you’re asking about like early decision or, um, activities list, our other webinars may provide more.
Answers to your questions. And we do have future webinars coming up, but going back to the Q and a, um, and since we are coming up on time, if you see any questions that you wanted to answer, please feel free. Um, as we come up on time. Okay. So I’m going to click over to the Q and a and, um, oh, there’s quite a few questions.
Um, uh, me kind of scroll to the [00:54:00] top. Um, so we talked about extracurriculars in the pandemic. Um, Hillary asked about having research opportunities seem to be really effective in the application process. How can we connect with professors to search for research opportunities? Um, the students that I’ve worked with who have obtained those research opportunities often were doing cold.
Uh, well, it’s not really cold calling, but cold emailing, uh, reaching out to different professors, whether they were local, um, or just simply, you know, if it was going to be virtual anyway, then it really. Takes down all of the barriers you can work with a professor who is at a college, you know, several states away, if it’s virtual anyway, um, and helping them to compile research and compile data, that’s all really fantastic experience that you’ll be able to, um, include on your resume, just that familiarity and exposure with the research process.
Um, so again, to answer that question, connecting with professors, I would really, really look at programs that you’re interested in, um, who is doing the research that you find really, really fascinating. Is it about a [00:55:00] topic that you are genuinely interested in learning about yourself and perhaps doing pursuing research when you were in college, then absolutely reach out to that professor and, um, do a cold email.
Um, and one of my students said that they reached out to 30 plus professors before they finally, you know, got one person saying. They would be willing and happy to have the students work with them. Um, so sometimes it can really take some plugging away at it, but if you just have a template and have a list of different faculty, different professors who are in the field that you’re interested in, um, it’s really just a matter of putting in the time to reach out to those, um, to those professors.
Um, yes. And since we are coming up on time, can you just give any last minute advice for the students about, since some, a lot of them are like in the midst of just starting the admissions process. So can you give any words of encouragement, anything to look for, or really get started on now as they go throughout their.
Yes, absolutely. I [00:56:00] think the key is starting early. I cannot emphasize this more. Um, we have, you know, students who joined this program as seniors, so in the fall of their senior year, and it was, um, not impossible, but I will say that it was a lot more stressful for those students and those who started in their junior year and even less.
So for those who, you know, started in their sophomore year. Um, so all of the preparation that happens at each earlier year that you start is going to look a little bit different. There’s going to be a lot more research, a lot more exploration. Um, but all of that is great. Just kind of groundwork or when we start working on your application.
So you don’t want to think of college apps as just. The application. There’s a lot, they’re just so much foundation building that goes into it. Um, and then, you know, for my, because the majority of the people in today’s room are juniors. My main piece of advice for you is right now is the best time to start.
Honestly, as I showed you that spreadsheet of my, my student who joined in, I think it [00:57:00] was like the late spring of their junior year. Um, even with that student, we really just, we dived in and yet even then, um, with only six schools, this person was applying to, uh, we were intensively meeting for three months.
Um, and that means that in the, like, if they had started in there in January, that early part of their junior. We could’ve done a lot more of that research time, a lot more of the comparing and contrasting of schools and whittling down to kind of that perfect school list for them. Um, that all of that just could have happened a little earlier.
Um, and you know, I think, uh, my philosophy towards applications and just about anything in life is how can we approach this as efficiently and stress Listly as possible. Um, and all of that requires just a little bit of forethought at the beginning. Before you start working, before you start kind of, um, you know, putting your, your, your sweat into it, uh, which is putting a little more thought and planning into the whole process [00:58:00] and figuring out, you know, when everything needs to be done and then working backwards from there and figuring out, you know, if I have a deadline in October, then.
I don’t want to be an October 15. I don’t want to be submitting my application October 14. Right. I want to be submitting it before. And that means I need to have things done by September. Everything’s done by August, so on and so forth. Um, so yes, uh, just, um, you know, start looking at colleges as early as possible, the more colleges that you start familiarizing yourself with the more you’re really going to realize that goodness, they are all so, so different.
And this is kind of your first opportunity to really choose the next chapter of your life. You get to choose where you’re going to live, what you’re going to study, all the different types of activities that are going to fill your personal life outside of school, outside of classes. Um, so all of those are huge factors into, you know, determining.
Really how much research that you need to do and really how much, um, just, uh, knowledge building that you want to do about all the different options that are [00:59:00] out there. There are a lot of wonderful options, not just top 30 school. Yeah. Yes. Um, so that is the end of the present our a webinar. Thank you everyone for coming on and thank you to our wonderful panelists.
I hope you all found this information helpful. And we had a really great time telling you about how to create your, how to go through your application process. And we do have more webinars coming up in January, um, focusing on how to navigate the admissions process, especially for people that are new to the admissions process.
So, um, I do recommend coming to those webinars and having your question. Uh, as there again, uh, just because those may be a bit better to answer some of your questions or watching our own webinars again. And then we do also have our CollegeAdvisor blog where you can find more detailed descriptions on like essay guides or different aspects of the application.
And, um, other than that, um, joining CollegeAdvisor would probably be the [01:00:00] best way to go, just because you can to get that extra support and you can work one-on-one with an advisor or even two advisors, depending on the package you get, and really get that support throughout the application process to better your application and really help with some of that stress alleviate Asian, uh, and get the necessary resources that you need.
Um, but it isn’t impossible to get through the process without CollegeAdvisor. It would just be a lot easier. Um, thank you everyone for coming out and good night.