CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: How to Organize Your College Applications

Ditch your spreadsheets and hand-written checklists! In a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session, former Admissions Officer Ferrell Armstrong will share how best to organize your college applications to increase your college admissions odds, using CollegeAdvisor’s tools and technology. Learn how you can research schools, keep track of your supplemental essays and materials, and more all from

Date 03/23/2022
Duration 1:00:46

Webinar Transcription

2022-03-23 CollegeAdvisor Masterclass: How to Organize Your College Applications

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Masterclass: How to Organize Your College Applications. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, which will be hands-on, um, you know, experience for you all. Then you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions in our live Q and A, on the sidebar.

You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q and A tab. Now let’s meet our panelists. Well, good evening everyone. My name is Ferrell Armstrong. I have been working in college admissions now for going on 13 years. Uh, formerly an admissions officer at both university of Georgia, uh, and Vanderbilt university.

While at Vanderbilt, I served as the chief international admissions officer on the highlight of my career is that I was one of the five admissions committee members that manage. It’s a pleasure to be with you this evening and excited to kind of walk you through how you can better organize with the [00:01:00] application process.

Okay. So before we get into our hands on demonstration of how to organize your college applications, we want to begin with a poll to get a sense of what grade you are in. So please begin submitting your responses now.

Okay. They’re coming in rapidly.

Okay. So it looks like about 60% of our attendees are in the 11th grade, followed by about 20% in the 10th grade, a small percentage in 12th grades. We have some ninth graders and then a small percentage of other. So I will turn it back over to you to get us started in our presentation. Wonderful. Thanks so much Lonnie.

Oh, well, you know, I think, um, the reality here today is that [00:02:00] organization is the key to the admissions process. And I think it’s so easy to kind of get confused on, you know, what can take place and, and how you can kind of create the difference for yourself on. So I’m going to try to start a little bit by explaining some of the background of how you should make your initial school list just briefly.

Um, I’ll talk briefly about some applications, strategies. Uh, which we recently did a webinar on about two weeks ago, that I would encourage you to go back and watch, and then I’ll dive into really how you should be organizing this in a way that’s going to make you as successful as possible and probably more efficient as well.

Um, but when you’re building your applications out, you really need to build your applications out by diversifying your list. So you need to have your list broken out by your early decision applications, your early action applications and your regular decision applications. And, uh, to that end, the reality here is that a lot of families don’t necessarily understand the difference between what those three [00:03:00] things are.

So I’m briefly going to try to illustrate that for you. Um, so early decision is a contractually binding agreement that your entire family will have to sign. So parents are. And the actual applicant him or herself will have to sign the document that states, regardless of financial aid and scholarship, I will enroll at your school.

Um, you can technically only apply to one school in the country via early decision. And, um, some schools will offer early decision one and early decision two, which has different deadlines. Um, most schools abide by an early decision, one deadline of November 1st, and then some schools will also offer early decision to, uh, examples being U Chicago Vanderbilt.

Uh, and they will require that application, uh, typically by January the first. Um, and so most of those schools are going to give you a straight answer there. They’re not going to defer you if they don’t take you. So typically when you get your response by either December the [00:04:00] 15th or January the 15th for early decision two, you’ll be either admitted or denied.

In most cases, some schools can defer you to regular. Early action. Um, most schools follow a deadline for that of November 15th. However, there are some deadlines such as Georgia, uh, where their deadline is around October 15th to October 20th and early action is a non-binding. So you are not forced to go to that school.

If you are accepted, then you typically will get your response for that format. By the middle to end of December, most schools will tell you with it by the first week of January. And then the last option would be regular decision. A regular decision. Most schools are going to have an application deadline between the first or 15th of January.

There are some schools that will do a February 1st deadline, and then some of your smaller regional schools, um, that maybe are not as competitive, uh, for admission, they will [00:05:00] have, what’s known as a rolling admissions process, which can last all the way through April and may. Um, but typically when you applied by a regular decision timeline of either the first or 15th of January, You will get your admissions decision, uh, typically before April 1st, but the date that they have to let you know by is April the first.

Um, I wish I was joking when I say this, but the reason they try to get it to you before April the first, except that there’s no, um, connotation perhaps of an April fool’s day joke, if you don’t like the outcome of your decision. Um, and there are stories about that. So to that end, um, those are the three primary ways and yes, I know there are some families here tonight going, what about restrictive early action for tonight’s conversation where we’re going to just keep it to early decision early action and regular decision.

But to that end in order to determine that you first need to have built out a list of 20 to 30 schools that you’ve come to be familiar with and you’re passionate about, and you should take that list of 20 to 30 schools [00:06:00] and cut it down to your final list in my personal opinion of, of 10 to 12 schools.

And that should then be where you start to decipher whether you should apply early action, early decision or regular decision. Many families today fall into the trap of the rumor mill. And the rumor mill will tell people that early action in comparison to regular decision is always better. Um, and that is actually not always the case.

Some schools, what you will have a better opportunity for a mission. Through early actions. Certainly some schools, you might have a better opportunity for mission, uh, through regular decision. Um, the schools that offer early decision, that contractually binding agreement that is definitely always in your favor because such a small percentage of applicants will actually apply that way because of being required to go to that school, if you’re accepted.

Um, so you need to understand the data behind the school’s admissions process before you actually say how you’re applying to a school. So you should be looking at two to three years worth of historical admissions data to determine, [00:07:00] Hey, at these four schools, I need to apply early action because that’s the better statistical advantage.

And these six schools over here may need to be regular decision because that’s what the data indicates to be the better advantage. So there’s some greater detail here that I want you to be paying attention to. Um, just because you see what an admissions rate is for a school at early action or regular decision may not actually apply to you.

And what I mean by this is typically in relation to applying to a public school out of state. So if you are applying to a public school that is out of your home state, many state legislatures will have, um, enrollment caps for out-of-state applicants. And a great example would be my, my first employer is the university of Georgia.

Um, they have an overall admissions rate of about 45 to 46%. Yet they’re only allowed to have a total enrollment of about 15% out-of-state population by their state legislature. So any out-of-state applicant applying to the [00:08:00] university of Georgia, it’s actually a reach school automatically, which makes it obviously it’s more selective.

Uh, but even then there’s a greater selectivity, uh, in the early action process for out of state applicants, ironically, then in comparison to regular decision. So you need to look at how it comes out. Kind of the demographic that you’re applying by. It may actually change being based upon the fact that you could be an out-of-state applicant to a public institution that that can influence it.

Um, but that’s all covered in the previous webinar that I would encourage you to go back and watch, but you really have to have that foundation first in order to really decipher how to start working through this process, the reason you need to get that decided as juniors, especially for the majority of you being here tonight as juniors, is that should stipulate the order of what you start to work through your application essays.

Um, you should really not spend any time working on regular decision essays right now. You should be primarily focused on any school that, um, you’re going to apply early [00:09:00] decision early action to, uh, as long as their essay topics are gonna remain the same next year. Um, so I’m going to share my screen now and kind of walk you through the, the appropriate way to kind of be working.

Okay. Lonnie, can everybody see this? Yes. Perfect. So as, as you’re going through the process, what’s so important is to understand obviously the dates and the deadline for the schools that you’re applying to. Um, I love to use Stanford, obviously. It’s one of the most popular schools in the country. Um, and so within our system here at college advisor, we have over 2000 schools that are available to you to go through and decipher all the admissions data, to really inform yourself about what the school is looking for, whether it be sat or act middle 50% averages, looking at acceptance rates, early action deadlines.

These are all important things that you should be paying attention to because obviously that’s what you need to start staggering, your applications and working through them. [00:10:00] Um, you also gain, would it be paint intention to in-state versus out-of-state residency? You know, Stanford’s not the best example of that.

And I’ll show you another example here. Um, but you want to be utilizing these resources and these data points to understand how to target this school. And so as you go through, you know, something like our resource center here for our list of colleges, I’ll use George’s as the example that I was talking about earlier, um, you’re able to go through and really get a feel for the different dates and deadlines early action.

Obviously it’s October 14th at UGA. Um, and then you can come down further and you can see that, Hey, this is kind of unique. You know, we’re 17% out of state, excuse me. I was 2% off, uh, 17% out of state, 82%. In-state I, if you’re an out-of-state applicant, it’s an extremely limited chance. And that just starts to influence how you need to be going deep from your research.

But once you’ve started to explore a system such as that, this we have available to you here at college advisor, this is how you’re able to start adding [00:11:00] school to your list. So what we do here is we have your application staff. And so we believe in organization because we believe that’s the key to success.

We believe that efficiency also leads to see. I believe that you need to be able to list all of your schools in order by what they’re going to be applying to them. Uh, and as you can see from the applications tab here for what we offer, um, you’re able to see the different schools that a student may be applying to, uh, in the order that they will be targeting them.

Uh, for example, here, Babson and Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt, you see early decision in comparison to bass and Vanderbilt also offers an early decision to application. So you’d be able to primarily focus on your early decision applications first, because it’s the first in your column, obviously then your early action schools would come after that and then regular decision schools.

Now, as you’re starting to plan your applications, you need to really understand the different due dates. And where are you kind of staying within each one? When families do this on their own, the best organization [00:12:00] I’ve technically come across would be a Google sheets or Google document. There’s no real consistency of keeping you up to date with that.

And it, it leaves a lot of holes. It leaves a lot of questions because families and students, aren’t really sure where they stand. Um, within our process here at college advisor, um, we will actually track your status from beginning to end when you started it. Uh, but for example, let’s say that we’re going to, you know, use Stanford again as a school that you’re going to apply to.

Well, again, efficiency is what we want to focus on here. So we’ve already populated all of the different essay topics that you could choose from for common app. Um, and if you did not know just yesterday, it was either yesterday, the day before, um, common app announced that they are reutilizing the exact same essay topics for next year.

So. The same essay topics that students use to apply this last admission cycle that we’re in the middle of right now, um, are going to be the same topics for next year. Therefore you as juniors should already be working on them, uh, to get yourself ahead of [00:13:00] the process. So we have these populated here for you.

And the other thing is that we also populate the supplemental essays. And so Stanford really has a lot, as you can tell, and you’re able to see the different topics that might exist in your word count. I think a lot of times when students and families do this, it’s very difficult because you have to go look up for all this on your own.

Uh, and a lot of times you could be missing the total word maximum, um, or a nut to date topic. What I’m really excited about with what we do here is tracking every single essay needs to have a status by it. You need to know where that essay is. So as you’re consistently working through one school’s application process, You know, where you stand with each and every piece of it.

Um, we also believe in transparency with parents. You know, parents have direct access to these, you know, accounts with us here as well. And we want you to be able to see where your son or daughter stands as you progress through it. So you’re, you know, working through this, [00:14:00] what we like to do is basically flag an essay to say where we are with it.

And if a student has a problem with an essay, they need additional assistance and getting some, you know, guidance on how to navigate something. They’re not really understanding how to adjust to or to vocalize. They can flag it with, you know, registering something. And as things are going and process, we will go through the different essays reviewing, well, you know, flag it that it’s ready for review and things can be then moved forward after revision, editing stages have taken place.

But the reality of having this is that you can also change and organize how you want to apply to a school. And I said the reality, this, but the benefit of having this is that you’re able to adjust it on the fly. Perhaps you initially thought a school was going to be, you know, your best advantage to your best advantage by applying early action, but then you decided that you needed to change it to regular decision.

You can do that here. Um, and then it would just re update itself back under your [00:15:00] applications. Now, obviously I didn’t change the different Stanford. It would just update and reorganize itself right here. Um, you know, a good example would be, you know, UT if I was to go over her here and click into university of Texas at Austin, you’ll see once again, we’ll see the different essay supplements that are available, what is required, and what’s not.

You’ll see the topics pre-populated for you, but then let’s say that the last second you decide that you want to change from being a regular decision applicant and you actually want to move forward and go early action with UT you can just update it really quickly. And then as you go back after you click save, which I’m not going to do tonight, um, it will update back on the applications tab.

You’re also able to update where you are within each application. So if you haven’t started an actual application, yet it would not be flagged as started, but once you’ve done or completed every supplement in every primary essay school requires we would flag it as complete. And so everything is tracked here purposely because we want to make sure that you’re progressing through this almost in a signpost [00:16:00] manner, your earliest essays.

We want to work on first, the earliest admissions deadlines. We want to work on first, all the way to the ones that are towards the various. Then you can see the different dates and deadlines of the 15th and even the first from Michigan down here. Um, one of the things I love to point out to families today is you can look at everything in one location.

Uh, again, you can also do something like explore school. So maybe you’re having second thoughts about a school at the last second. And you just want to do a last second review. Well, here’s the cool thing about our system here at college advisor, you’re able to go and directly interact with over 300 team members that have either attended these.

Been admitted to the schools or in the case of our former missions, officers worked at these schools and really sit down and interact with someone that has directly experienced that community, that social structure, and get a better idea at that definitely is the place where you are not. And that can kind of be that calming effect of, yes, I still want to keep working in this essay or this application, if you’re having, you know, [00:17:00] those occasional second doubts, which do occur for every student at some point in time.

Um, the other thing is, is that as you continue to progress through the system, everything is going to be, you know, self maintained. And what I mean by that is everything from your main common application to cap essays are tracked down here at the very bottom. And the reason that we do everything here with the family is for pretty big reason.

Um, unfortunately. A lot of students make the mistake of working on their application materials directly in the application. And a common problem is clicking submit accidentally. And once you click submit, you don’t get to submit another essay. Um, so families made the mistake from time to time of doing all their work and their editing within the common app or within the coalition app.

And if you, again, if you click submit, you cannot send an updated essay later on. Um, we’re also able to track other documents that are going to be important to the process and maintain them and edit them in the same way that we do your overall school applications. Things [00:18:00] like resonating, extracurriculars, scholarship essays.

We do the same thing here. You can add new. We can track off where they are in the process, beginning in editing needed. Um, and our goal is to take away the significance of the time that this process takes, but also the confusion that comes along with doing this on your own. Um, you know, going back to what I said earlier, I’ve been doing this now for almost 13 years.

And most of the families that I, you know, encounter the student, it has this on a desktop, right. Mom and dad or parent or guardian, they can’t see what’s actually happening in real time. And they’re like, Hey, are you doing your work? And like, yeah, I’m doing it right. And I don’t want to be negative, but I’ve been 17 before.

And I’ve, I’ve had the distractions of being a 17 year old and in a challenging academic environment of high school. Right. It’s, it’s easy to get caught up in and focus on something else. And so when you’re being led through the process like we do here at college advisor, [00:19:00] we want you to be able to log in and see instantly where you are in the process.

And that’s going to take away a lot of that stress and concern of wondering, Hey, you know, is my child, you know, doing what they need to be doing? Are they far enough along? And you can start to see the status of where they are and even their percentage of complete. So that’s, that’s our system and that’s what leads to us having, you know, such high-level success, uh, because we try to be, as I mentioned, organized what I want to, you know, remind every family of in this process today is that time is not on your side right now.

Um, more schools are going test optional and as a result of going test optional schools for adding more essays in many cases, uh, to make up for the fact that you don’t have to submit sat, act, test scores anymore. So it’s putting even greater weight on these particular supplement level. And this is not something that you shouldn’t be putting off.

Uh, this is arguably going to be one of the biggest decisions of your life and the [00:20:00] greater the time that you can give yourself to work through this consistently. Um, well, you should expect a better outcome because your final product should be that much better. Um, one thing I, I do also want to point out the families right now in, in going through this process is, you know, don’t, don’t make the biggest mistake that I find students making today.

Uh, and that is reusing essays. So when you were applying to attend 12, 15 schools, uh, it is inevitable that you will come across a school that is reusing an essay topic as the same as one of your other schools. And when you copy and paste an essay, you’re, you’re making a great mistake. Um, what you’re doing is you’re taking away that personal connection to a school.

And so while I’m looking at a school, like, you know, the university. And if I’m going through their essays and I come to, I don’t even know which one that says we’re going to find out together. And, you know, do you believe your academic record provides an accurate representation of you as a student? This is an excellent opportunity for you to add any last minute, um, information that you think might, [00:21:00] you know, update this school on your progress, but that may be unique to the university of Texas, right?

Why, why would they value something more so than another school might value something? So this might be a different answer for, you know, Versus what you might give to duke or, or university of North Carolina. So you don’t want them to always be the same, uh, more importantly for some of those more school specific essay topics.

Um, and I think this is a great one here. Um, being the environment that you’re raised in this is a very common topic that will be shared across schools. And the reality here is for some of these, if you can make, you know, this turned back and tailor it towards the school that you’re submitting this to, um, it, it really can benefit you because it can really connect you with the fit that you’re going to have with that school.

So in this topic here, you know, describe your family home neighborhood or community and explain how it shaped you as a person. What I would be turning this back into is now linking that back to why the university of Texas at Austin. [00:22:00] Particular community and culture draws, you know, it has this draw to you, right?

What brings you to that community? What if you submitted that same reasoning to UNC or to duke or to, you know, Stanford, they’re not necessarily going to have as much of an, uh, you know, maybe the same reaction to it because you may be copying and pasting something that really doesn’t apply to them. So that’s why you don’t want to reuse essays.

That’s the benefit of starting now. And that’s the benefit of having everything in order and being able to see what you’ve written for these different schools to make sure that you’re not making the mistakes of reusing things that should not be reused. So our hope is that this takes away a lot of stress.

And it makes the process a lot smoother. Um, what I will tell you, you know, currently in the process, what we’re seeing is a significant trend, uh, towards schools. Um, adding, you know, as I mentioned, more essays and even going back to internships, I’m sorry, internships to interviews. And the further along that you can get yourself in this process by starting [00:23:00] now and ideally submitting your applications by beginning to middle of October, um, the better off you’re going to be, because that allows you to get to your scholarship applications and essays.

Even sooner, that’s going to take a significant, you know, pressure off of both the student and parent guardian, and it’s going to make your process a lot more successful. And so we’re about to kind of transition over into a Q and a session here, which I’m really excited to take your questions. But what I will tell you is that if you’re feeling kind of confused by any of this, um, or if you’re feeling law.

If you’re hearing, you know, three different things from three different people and you want to get some more solid guidance on what makes sense at the end of our time together this evening, uh, there’s going to be a Calendly link and you can actually just book a time to meet with one of my colleagues and we’ll actually call you and we’ll be able to sit down and kind of answer those questions for you and kind of talk out what you might need to be thinking on, uh, or what you may need to be adding to your process so that you have the outcome that you want to have, but very excited to start taking your questions.

Thank you, [00:24:00] Ferrell. Thank you so much for that demonstration. So as Pharell just shared, that is the. In of our presentation portion of the webinar. And so now we’re going to move into the live Q and a. I’m going to read the questions that you submitted in the Q and a tab I’ll then paste them in the public chat so that you can see them and read them out loud before our panelists.

That gives you the answer as a heads up, if your Q and a tab isn’t linear, you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page. Okay. So our first question, I received the question that someone wanted to ask. If you can clarify again, the difference between early action, early decision.

Yeah. Yeah. Easy, no problems there. Um, it’s so important to do it so early decision. Um, of course, let me say this. The admissions industry doesn’t make anything easy by basically using similar lingo, uh, for two different application types. Right? Um, so early decision [00:25:00] is a binding. So you will actually sign a contract that states that you will enroll at that school, if you are admitted.

And that contract will also state that you were doing this regardless of any financial aid and scholarship opportunities, some schools will hold you to it pretty, pretty strict case. Other schools will be a little bit more flexible to it, but you should not sign that contract unless you are willing to go to that school.

Um, and, and that’s why you really, um, see such a higher emissions rate for early decision versus early action, regular decision, but not every school offers early decision. Um, so that deadline is November the first so early decision. The only contractually binding agreement is due November 1st. Okay. Now remember there are some schools also do offer early decision to a, which is the exact same thing.

It’s just a different deadline and that deadline will be January the first for those schools. [00:26:00] The difference then between early decision and early action is that early action. There is no contract. You can apply to as many schools, early action, as you would like. And then if accepted, you are not forced to go to those schools, you can even wait and give those schools your decision all the way until may the first, uh, by national candidate reply day.

Um, so early action allows you to have a lot more options. So is regular decision. Uh, but statistically speaking early decision will be, if it’s, if it’s offered at a school, it will be the best opportunity for admission because so few students actually applied that way. Um, but again, you have to be more than a hundred percent certain that that is the dream school and that you’re going to be ecstatic going there.

There’s no questions about it and you’re comfortable paying for financial. Okay. Our next question. How do we find a schools [00:27:00] and mission data? That’s a tough one. So unfortunately, um, you know, we keep our site updated consistently, uh, and not there. I shouldn’t say that’s unfortunate. That’s a good thing.

And what I’m saying is unfortunate is this, um, unfortunately, um, a lot of schools won’t actually publish their data, but every year and a half or so. And so a lot of the times the data that you’re seeing is actually out of date. You may be seeing that actually on the school’s website itself. Um, and so it’s difficult to keep up with it.

Most schools are also not going to keep a historical, um, you know, database on their website for you. Um, and so it’s kind of something you have to track over time. Uh, so tracking over time is, you know, it’s time consuming, right? It’s, it’s something that we have to spend our time here doing at college advisor to make sure that we’re up to date on all these school’s policies as well.

Um, there are some schools that you can actually dig in deep to their, their, their, uh, inner workings of their websites. And you will find some of their common data. Some schools will have more than one or two of those, uh, listed are [00:28:00] available. Uh, but most schools that have given time are only gonna have about a year, a year and a half worth of data on our website.

Okay. Next question. In your opinion, how important with supplemental SASB in comparison to internships are extracurricular activities there? Okay. So personal statement here, essays are the most important part of the application, but if you’re coming into the application with no connection, uh, via extracurriculars to what you’re wanting to do, you’re you’re in trouble, right?

So you could be an incredible writer, but if you’re, let’s just say that you’re applying for, uh, let’s just go with computer science, right? And let’s say that you’re incredible writer, but you’re applying for computer science and you’re not able to show me any connection to computer science through your extracurriculars, or you don’t have an internship.

You don’t know a coding language. That’s a massive problem. So they’re both extremely important in the process. One without the other is problematic. You need to have both, [00:29:00] um, you know, and, and I’ll, I’ll let this lead into another question here that typically get, um, is it okay to go test optional? Well, yeah, it’s okay.

I mean, schools are giving you that option. Um, but the reality here is if you go test optional now, everything else from your essays, your extracurriculars, your letters of recommendation, your personal branding, all of that is now weighted two, three X more, right? And so it puts greater emphasis on these things.

And if one of those areas is weak, then you’re at a greater disadvantage. So I’m in a bigger fan of trying to submit as much material about you as possible. Um, that really stacks the odds in your favor and starting to sound very much like game of Thrones now. Uh, but, uh, three out are not game of Thrones, whatever that was.

Um, but, um, to that point, let me also say this. When it comes to your essays, the reason they are the most important part of the application, and I will never, self-describe something influential other than this. Um, you’re not applying to. You need to be in the mindset of applying to a community. People [00:30:00] don’t let strangers in their front door without getting to know them first, right.

Schools are going to try to get to know you through what you’re sharing with them about yourself in your essays. So you need to open up and be vocal. You need to be personally revealing and vulnerable so that we feel like we’ve gotten to know you. That’s, what’s going to make us a lot more passionate about thinking, oh, you know, Johnson’s the right fit.

He’s gonna, you know, jive. Well, Dr. Wednesday, you know, the essays get us there. That’s who we, you know, what we use, I should say to get to note, oh, that is some really, this is a really great advice that you’re providing to our attendees. Um, our next question we have is when, um, cause you did talk about the number of schools that someone should have on their lists.

When do you suggest, um, that I have my list? My school is finalized. All right. So I’m aggressive. Um, I, I want to own this up front. I’m aggressive. Um, I, I tell every student that I wished their school is finalized. Holiday break of 11th grade. And that seems crazy to some people, but I [00:31:00] default back to why would we, why would we waste time on the biggest decision of your life, right.

Arguably in the top three decisions of your life, right? So the sooner that you can have your school is finalized the better and not to overly stress, anybody. And I genuinely mean this, but if you could have your school as if you were rock solid at these 10 or 12 schools where your schools by, you know, three quarters of the way through 10th grade, even better.

And the reason for that is now you can start really crafting. I should say, being very selected, uh, which particular extracurriculars and other activities that you’re involving yourself with to kind of really cater it towards what these schools that you’re going to eventually apply to, to what they’re looking for.

So the sooner your school list is in place, it actually weaponizes you to really kind of funnel all of your activities to be really in line with what the schools that you’re targeting are going to be admitting you for. And it gives you a greater period of time to then stack experiences up that you can then list on.[00:32:00]

Great. Um, this question is more about college advisors. So can we always schedule meetings with one of your advisors to help us at any time? That’s right. So, uh, this is what I love about college advisors. So even though you’ll be working with, you know, your assigned advisor, we only work. One-on-one like we don’t do, you know, you know, sessions, you know, with you and, and 10, 15, 20 other people.

It’s just you and your advisor. You still have access to our entire team, right. Over 300 advisors strong. Um, and you can set up a time and maybe it’s Lonnie that you want to talk to you. Right. It may, maybe it’s, you know, somebody, um, you know, like, um, Katrina who’s, you know, has a historical career as a former admissions officer.

Um, so there’s, um, all this access that you have and you get to directly set that up through your advisor. Yes, absolutely. I am one of the advisers with college advisor and we are always willing and ready to meet with you as often as you, you know, may need. Um, our next question is this is, um, [00:33:00] I’m a junior that could possibly graduate in the summer.

Should I start applying to schools? Can I start as a junior applying to colleges? So when you say applying to colleges, now, I, I’m going to make an assumption. Are you, if you’re going to start applying to colleges now, like submitting your applications, now you’d have to be looking for schools that were still taking applications for fall enrollment at this point.

Um, those are going to be kind of your, some of your smaller regional schools. Um, The other option that you could actually be clicking submit for right now would be spring enrollment. So you’d be able to start January of next year. Um, you know, my personal recommendation don’t rush it. Um, this is just me.

Okay. And this is not a college advisor statement. This is a feral statement. Um, I would take your time. I would not rush this process. I would really plan this out, apply in the normal timeline. So you would get your admissions decisions by, you know, December this coming December [00:34:00] or by April and of next year should say.

And from that point, you know, enroll in the normal timeline that you’d be in and use that time that you’re going to have to maybe, you know, explore, maybe get a job and work for six months to a year travel. If you can. Um, you know, we’re trying to, you know, become more involved in something that’s really meaningful to you.

I would not encourage rushing this considering how selected the process is. If you don’t get in somewhere, they’re always going to save your application materials from the year before. So if you apply again, they’re going to go back over and see why they turned you away the first time. So I would say take the time to get your applications where they need to be and give yourself the best shot the first time.

Okay, next question. Uh, oh, wait. It disappeared.

It disappeared. Um, okay, well I’ll, I’ll come back to that question. Let’s see.

Okay. So [00:35:00] this question is more of opinion question. Do you think we should start at a college in our state for two years to get familiar with college and perhaps transfer to an out-of-state college? Oh, man, that’s a loaded question. Um, and this is my answer is probably going to burn some burn, some feathers here.

Um, so I will try to answer this in the, in the best way I can. That’s a very personal decision. Okay. Um, there’s, there’s a lot of things that can influence that maybe, maybe you’re the type of person that, and I’m not trying to pre-judge anything like that. Maybe you’re the type of person that isn’t ready to be fully out there on your own.

Yet you want a year or two extra kind of at home, able to kind of commute from the house, you know, with your parent guardian. Cool, fine. Um, maybe this is a student that, uh, academically isn’t, isn’t where they want to be. Um, and you need to kind of get your GPA up a little bit, to be miserable to the schools that you want to go to for that four year.

That’s fine too, if it’s me. And if I have the ability to go directly into a four year [00:36:00] school, even if I’m a little anxious about it, I’m directly going to four-year school. And the reason for that is not all of your credits are guaranteed to transfer. So you could go do. All this work at a two year school, and then still be forced to retake certain classes.

Once you get to the four year school, you also have, and in many cases by most schools, a three-year minimum to graduate. And so if you go the two year route, and then transfer in a lot of times, you’re going to be doing it at least five years before you actually come out with your undergraduate degree.

Um, and then the case of like engineering programs, some, uh, undergraduate engineering programs, they will not give you credit for any prerequisites unless you do it with them. Um, because they’re the ones signing off on your certification for that. Uh, and so you might have to redo, you know, some significant amount of undergraduate coursework that way, uh, if you’re going like an engineering route.

So there’s, there’s a lot of pros to it. There’s also some cons to it. I think it’s a very personal decision. Um, but you know, in states like California, Tennessee, you know, both of those [00:37:00] states and I’m in Tennessee myself, you, you have two years of free community college in Tennessee. And if, you know, don’t, don’t be rushing off.

If you’re not a hundred percent sold on that, you found the right place for you or not, then yeah. Go that two year route, feel it out, give yourself some more time to really decide where you want to be. Uh, and then move up from there. That’s another great reason to do it. Okay. I found the question. When do the essay topics become available for the upcoming application?

You’re not the common app. All right, everyone. Hold on. This, this is the big moment here. Most of them are already ready because most schools don’t change the topics every year. And so if the schools at the beginning or middle of its cycle of using it’s essay topics, you should already be writing those essays now.

And I know it’s a blunt stick. Uh, but I, I say that, cause I don’t want anyone to kind of go what all, what he’s actually thinking is I want you to be writing your essays now, if you can. Um, and so most schools will [00:38:00] announce, you know, when they are going to be releasing new essays, they’ll say, Hey, these will be our topics for the next two to three emission cycles and they will put a year on it.

Right. Well, do you use these through 2023? We’ll use these through 20, 24. So when a school has done that, they’re, they’re holding to that. And um, if, if that school’s using, you know, the current topics right now through the time that you’re going to be graduating, you can be running those essays now.

Okay. Um, can we submit our college applications online with college advisor? So, great question. What we do is we develop everything in our S in your, I shouldn’t say our portal and your portal, that would be unique to you. And then we will walk you through bringing it over to your, either your common app or your UC application, your applied tax, that your coalition app, your Georgetown app.

Sorry, I have to, um, and then we’ll double-check and triple-check once again, that everything’s good. And then we’ll click submit. Um, our [00:39:00] system is not an application, but you don’t want to work again. You don’t want to work on your material in the actual application, in the event of an accidental submission.

So we, we will transfer over double, triple checking to make sure everything’s good before clicking submit, but we will do all of that. Okay. So this question is for our young, our younger attendees, what should you do as a freshman going into sophomore year? Great question. Um, a couple of big things, uh, going into sophomore year like this summer right now, I will be using that summer for very big exploratory opportunities.

Um, if you, and I say this with all respect intended, um, if you can, you know, take part in a summer academic program or a research program that might be a little bit more exploratory. Um, I will encourage you to do that if you’re still kind of trying to figure out what you’re wanting to kind of start focusing on.

Um, it’s a great opportunity for you to start exploring schools. Um, I really don’t like it. When families look at schools, you know, going into junior year, you [00:40:00] want to do it sooner than that. Um, so, you know, be trying to play in your summer, um, around school visits and connecting with current students and recent graduates of, you know, different schools to really start identifying, you know, schools that you want to.

Take additional time to explore and start evaluating if it’s going to be the right place for you or not also at the great time to start a passion project. Um, you know, if you’ve got something, if you’re already starting to go down a pathway, um, that you’re pretty serious about there’s, you can, you should start a passion project.

The moment that you really feel called to something that passion project, the longer that you can be, you know, building it and continuing to help it, make it grow, I should say. Um, it’s going to have even further and deeper impact for you, the admissions review. So, um, you know, utilize that time to your, to your benefit and, um, you know, webinars, other things you can do from home.

Cause then the COVID still, you know, a concern. Um, you’ll be exploring schools via, you know, virtual tours and webinars. Like we have here at college advisor, um, you know, again, be connecting with current [00:41:00] students and recent graduates and having deeper conversations about what led them to pursue a particular type of field of interest or a particular school.

Um, those are all great things that you can be doing right now, going into.

Okay, next question. If a student doesn’t have a clear direction for area of study and did not engage in any sort of internships for that reason, what then is Wade? Okay. Um, so you’re, you’re really going to be evaluated on your, your academic performance, your GPA. If you’re submitting a test, score, your test score.

Um, but, and this is I I’m trying to be cautious in how I deliver this because I don’t want this to come across as rude. Um, the reality here is that the U S system is not just academically driven. Um, it is both academically and socially driven. So we are rating you. We are awarding you points based upon.

Things like, you know, leadership activity involvement, [00:42:00] academic performance, right? Um, are you the right school fit? We, we call it school fit or community fit. We’re going through this big rating system network giving you points for during the entire application. If you are not having a connection right now, if you’re a junior right now, you need to be weaponizing your summer to try to figure that out.

If you can’t, you need to try to get one to two experiences on your resume, um, immediately that you can start relating back to what you’re applying for. If you don’t have any experiences whatsoever. Um, I mean, I would say, and, and you still know what you want to apply for. I would say, look at a job opportunity.

I, I would always give a student a higher ranking if I saw an actual paid job, um, because a lot of kids today don’t want to work. Um, they want to play video games and, and kids will put video games as an activity. Not because they were applying for game design because they was like their activity. I didn’t give a lot of points for that for the record.

Um, so that. You know, things that you can be doing, um, you know, job observations, you know, even though you may not know [00:43:00] something, or you may not be field, you know, feeling called or to pursue something in particular, trying to just jump in and do two, three job observations over the summer two or three days a piece, um, that’s something that you can put on a resume and show that you’re making the effort and that will get you more points in the review.

Um, but I, I want to say this, not that I think you’re implying this, um, I think way too many families today, especially, you know, mom and dad that graduated 15, 20 years ago, they still think that this process is just GPA and test score driven. It’s not, you know, we went from about 80 to 84% of applicants submitting test scores, uh, prior to the pandemic to under 40% of any test scores now.

So it’s everything else. That’s the answer. So you really have to stack that resume if you can. So if you’re a junior you’ve got this summer, you need to start planning your summer around building those activity areas of. Okay. I’m glad you just mentioned that last line because someone then asked, what should we be doing as I get rid of going to junior year?[00:44:00]

You want to add on to that? Did you say going into junior year? Yeah. So it was the one asks now. Um, you know, what about if I’m a sophomore getting ready to go into junior year? What should I be focusing on? Yeah, I mean, um, so ideal situation, you already know what you want to do, and you’re able to start slowly defining your activities to be more relatable to that, right?

If you, if you don’t know what you want to do, it’s, it’s the same thing that I just kind of share with the student that would be going into the senior year that you need to be utilizing this summer to, you know, do exploratories, whether that be multiple internships or things that you would think would be.

You know, no for you. Um, you need to put yourself out there and be comfortable being uncomfortable. Essentially. You need to have an open mind and go explore things. Um, school review, you know, getting to understand these schools more. I mean, the reality here is truly like, I, I genuinely want students to have a school list as soon as possible, and I want them to start having their application strategy as close to being locked in as possible by [00:45:00] December, because I genuinely want you to start writing your essays December, January of your 11th grade year.

If you can. I mean, statistically, you will have a better performance that way. So to that end. You know, and I said this in a recent webinar to, um, you know, I believe in, in trying to have a schedule for yourself four to six months out. And, and, and I mean that for students, not for parents, I mean that for students, what are your goals over the next four months?

What are you trying to do? So you have the outcome that you’re looking for in your college process. Um, one other thing I’ll tell you, you may already have, you know, schools of interest in mind. Like a lot of families will come to us, they’ll say, well, we want to go to Stanford. We want to go Harvard. We want to go to Yale.

And now, you know, kind of a smart Alec response, I’ll go why? And they’ll go because Stanford, because Harvard, because Yale and like you just repeated the school names to me. You didn’t tell me why you want to go to those schools. Right? So I want you to also understand why you want to go somewhere. Just like I want you to start understanding why you want to pursue something in particular, those two things, as you go into junior year, really gonna make a difference for [00:46:00] you and make the process of getting your school list.

Cut down to your final 10, 12, maybe 15 schools makes it a lot easier for. Okay, sorry. Attendees are asking some really great, great questions. We’re going to take a slight pause, um, from our questions and answers, um, for me to share a little bit about college advisor. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know that the college admission process is overwhelming for parents and students alike.

You’re already learning more about the importance of getting an earlier start in the college application process. So our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in a one-on-one advising one-on-one advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle.

Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and accepted into Stanford at 4.4 times the national. [00:47:00] Sign up for a free consultation with us by filling out the brief form that will auto-populate on your screen. After the webinars conclusion from there, a member of our team will reach out to you.

Don’t forget also to register for our free web [email protected] So that’s where students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application deadlines. As we showed you all this evening research schools and more all on our website. Okay. So we are going to continue with our live Q and a I’ve actually, I’ve actually got one that I want to answer because, uh, I have a student here that I met with recently.

Uh, so Piper’s good to see, or I can’t see you, but it’s, I’m glad that you’re here. Um, to answer your question about what’s the most accurate method to figure out costs of a school. Um, so by law, U S federal law, every school now has to have what’s [00:48:00] called the, uh, cost calculator linked on their website. And so if you will go into that cost calculator, um, you can plug in your financial details, basically using last year’s tax return information.

Um, in most schools will guarantee the accuracy of that estimate within two to 5%. Um, so that’s, that’s the best way to kind of figure what that school cost is going to be for. Um, I’m a massive believer in, um, in, in having the financial conversation early. Um, I, the worst experience ever my time, it was the second worst experience of my time ever.

Um, at Vanderbilt and Georgia was, I had a gray mother’s sweetest lady in the world, call me and say, Ferrell, please help. I can’t afford to send my baby to her dream school. And it crushed me. Um, I want you to have those conversations up front as a family. No one likes talking about finances. I hear you. Um, but let’s, let’s get the difficult conversations out of the way first, and that will also help make your school list a lot easier to build, [00:49:00] um, in target schools that make more sense for you academically, financially, socially, culturally, all those.

Okay. Um, yeah, definitely. Don’t want to forget about the costs of attending the institutions. Uh, so next question is, oh, Disappeared again. Okay. So during the researching process, how can you find out a school’s best program? Wait, say that, say that one more time during the researching process. Yeah. During your, during the researching process, how can you find out a school’s best program?

So I guess this, this person is trying to find out how to find out what are the best programs when I’m doing my research. Where do I go? If you, um, in fact, I’ll show you check this out. Um, if I come back here and I do this really fast, I’m gonna pull this up and I’ll share my screen again. Um, this is a great example here.

Um, what we do is we’ve actually pulled, you know, what the best colleges are for these institutions. So I’m sorry [00:50:00] that’s called the best programs are at these institutions. So as this loads for a second, I’ll share it. Just give me one second here. It may not let me, uh, there we go. And I will do it this way.

Yeah. Cool. Uh, so if I do this here, wanna, can you see my screen?

Perfect. So if like let’s go back into, you know, exploratory let’s click on the old blue devils here, go down to duke. Um, if you come here, we actually list out their most popular programs right here. So computer science is what they’re absolutely known for biology and econ as well. Um, and so you can come here and see what they’re most known for there, which is a great thing.

Um, obviously, you know, one of the, you know, best, you know, and most consistent tools, um, would be, um, what am I trying to say would actually be, um, us news and world report. So to that end, um, I think a lot of families today, um, you know, don’t go to us news and world report as maybe famous dead just 5, 6, 7 years ago.

Um, [00:51:00] but they have a, a consistent ranking of how they ranked certain programs and majors at institutions online. Random websites. Um, the other thing that I will tell you is you’ve gotta be careful where you’re getting your information. Um, there, there are a lot of just false, you know, websites out there with information that’s either out of date or completely not true about a school.

So, um, I really encourage you to, you know, check the validity of, of where this data is coming from and you, you can’t go wrong with, you know, us news and world report. Uh they’re, they’re kind of like the gold standard. Um, and then all of our information is, you know, we’re getting it direct from the data sets of the school.

Nice, nice. And this is all on the college advisor portal, all on the portal. Yeah. And then again, from there, you can directly connect with one of our advising team members that have attended these schools and ask them questions about that experience. Wow. That’s very efficient one-stop shop for, for most of the things that you need for your college application process.

Okay. So [00:52:00] next question that we have is, oh, They’re coming in, the questions are coming in, so then they start to disappear. Let me see published it. All right. I’ll come back to that. I’ll look for your question again.

How do I find a college? That is good slash right for me, that question. Yeah. So, um, you, you’ve got to give yourself the time to connect with, with people that have attended these schools. Um, you know, I think it’s one thing to play the name and rank game, which a lot of families want to do. And it comes back to the question that we just answered a second ago about how do you find the best programs?

You know, I’ll have people tell me all the time, like, Hey, I want to go to school for computer science and I’m sorry. They want to go to school for business and they want to do it at MIT. MIT is a wonderful school, but they’re not a business school. Right? Like, um, I, and of course, I don’t want to throw MIT into the bus because they’re [00:53:00] truly amazing.

Um, but you, you want to be understanding why you’re targeting a school and the best way to do that is to connect with people that have lived this experience at that school. Um, you know, what I want to respectfully remind families of is that while admissions officers generally care about what they do, um, they’re still recruit you.

They’re still recruiting you. Like my job was to recruit you for the school. Right. Uh, and so you’ve gotta be careful sometimes you’re, you’re only going to be getting a perspective and not the full picture of what that school’s, you know, communities really like. Um, you know, I had a student one time tell me that she’d, uh, interacted with an admissions officer and I, I won’t name what school.

Um, and it asked about writing support. Even though she was, you know, a decent rider. She still felt that she needed, you know, a good, strong support from like writing labs and others, academic support services. And so she asked the admissions officer when she sat and met with him at, uh, her school when he came to visit and he goes, yeah, are writing labs are great.

You’re gonna love them. Uh, but make sure you get your application in like, pretty quickly, like something to the tune of that. [00:54:00] But then she actually connected with, uh, one of her older sister’s friends that was a current student and her older sister’s friend goes, yeah, there’s, there’s two writing labs on campus for over 15,000 kids.

You can’t really get in. Right. So there was, there was a lot more context there about what that school’s community was really like. And so I, I would really encourage you to be getting both sides of the picture, both the school’s perspective and the student perspective that’s actively living on that campus or attending classes there, or someone that’s recently graduated.

That’s the real way to really feel it out. Okay. Next question is around financial aid. How do you, how do colleges react to someone who needs a lot of financial. And one who don’t meet it internally, that dense. So that’s a great question. Um, and this is this we’ll dive in deeper to some of the more strategic stuff.

And I’ll try not to go too, too deep into the weeds here, but, um, there are a couple of things that families should be aware of in this process. Some schools will [00:55:00] take into consideration whether or not you need financial aid in their decision to admit or deny you. Okay. Other schools will not. So, uh, schools that are not going to take that into account, they are known as being what is called.

Need blind. So your financial need will not play a role in that school’s decision on you. A great example of this is, you know, Dartmouth it’s Vanderbilt, um, you know, most of the Ivy’s most of the top 40 50 schools do this. Okay. Um, but then other schools are known as being need aware. And if you perhaps, you know, need a substantial amount of money, depending upon that school’s financial situation that could play into, um, their decision to either admit you or not admit you.

So it’s something you need to be aware of. And it’s, it’s something that you need to press these admissions officers on when you’re talking to these schools, like how much of a role is that going to play in my decision process here at this particular school. Um, and do not be afraid to ask that question.

I want you to respectfully [00:56:00] challenge them on that and get a legitimate. And, and for the record, this is something that is changing by, you know, by the day, um, a lot of schools today, believe it or not are not in the financial situation that they will have you believe. Um, you know, there’s one school, a very prominent school in the Southeast, uh, that I will not name and say private liberal arts school.

In, in 12 years, they lost $95 million from their endowment. Um, and they basically cannot take anybody that needs more than about five to 7,000 in financial aid. Um, and so there are a lot of schools out there like that, but of course, they’re not going to publicize that because they wouldn’t, people wouldn’t enroll with them because they’d be afraid the school shutting down.

Uh, so it’s something that you do need to press on it and ask them how, how much will financial aid, you know, my need for financial aid weigh in on my final.

Okay. Um, so on, when, where did you say to research what a school is known for? Um, someone sent us what, yeah, us news and world report. Um, [00:57:00] so us news and world report is basically the, kind of the gold standard of college rankings and program ratings. Um, you know, Princeton or, you know, review is kind of known for a couple of their ratings will always go with us news and world report.

All the other ones that’ll kind of be thrown in front of you. Schools love to promote their rankings when they like the ranking. And they don’t like to promote, you know, rankings when it doesn’t go in their favor. Uh, but us news is, has been the gold standard for over 20 years. And you can rely upon that and pretty efficiently.

Um, but again, I mean, I want you to, um, I really want you to. Connect and not just be told what that, you know, program that it’s good. I want you to actually, you know, get that answer from someone that’s paid for that experience. And Hey, did you really feel like, you know, this biology program and this neuroscience program that you are given the right tools to be successful, that you got, you know, the experience out of it to prep you for maybe graduate school.

Right. Um, there’s a difference in reading and rating on a website and talking with someone that’s paid for that experience and they can kind of break [00:58:00] it down, what you can expect. I’m going to lean more towards that personal interaction myself. Okay. And this will be our final question for the evening.

Um, can you elaborate on how someone begins making a college list since simply picking Harvard, Stanford along doesn’t answer, you know, answer why they were chosen? Wait say that last part again. So since someone said, can you elaborate on how someone begins making a college list since simply picking Harvard or Stanford alone?

Doesn’t answer why they were chosen. So basically when a student just maybe puts Harvard Stanford or list, because it’s a very popular school. So how do you kind of begin to make your college lists? Lotta lot of influence here. Do you like cold weather? Do you like warm weather? Do you like snow? Do you like ringing?

Do you want to pay a lot? Do you wanna pay a little, right. Like all these things should influence it. Um, do you want to be two hours from home? Do you want to be five minutes from home? Do you want to be nine hours from home? Right. Um, these are all different things that should go into it. Do these schools have the program that you’re looking.

Right. Do they have the [00:59:00] resources that are going to get you to the next step being graduate school or, you know, job security when you graduate? Um, this is how I’m, I’m, you know, forming out a list of schools, but I’m doing so in the manner of I’m looking at 20 to 30. And then my, my approach is let’s start diving in and talking to people that have paid for this experience and then see how they applied these resources at each school.

And did they have the outcome or are they having the outcome that they thought they were going to have? So that, that’s what I would suggest that you do. Um, again, check your data sources, make sure you’re working with people that are legitimate. Don’t listen to the rumor mill, the rumor mill kills. Um, so validate, validate, validate.

And if there are questions, ask legitimate sources, but it’s been great speaking with everyone. Yeah. Yes. And thank you everyone for submitting your questions. Um, thank you so much all for everything you are so informative. So knowledgeable. I always learn a lot when I see you present. Um, so with that, everyone, last thing I want to share [01:00:00] is that we do have more webinars that are coming up as we have one more.

That is on March 27. So we look forward to seeing you in that webinar. And again, at the end of the, at the conclusion of this webinar, you will see a screen auto-populate, um, please fill out the form and we will have someone from our company, reach out to you tomorrow to talk more about college advisor and how we can get begin supporting you through the application process.

Thank you. Once again, everyone have a great night and this concludes our webinar.