Crafting Your College List: Advice from a former Admissions Officer
Are you a high school student embarking on the college application process and feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of selecting the right colleges to apply to? Do you want to learn how to create a college list that matches your academic, social, and financial goals? Join CollegeAdvisor.com webinar “Crafting Your College List: Advice from a Former Admissions Officer” and gain expert insights from a seasoned admissions officer.
During this webinar, you will learn:
- How to assess your academic strengths and interests
- Factors to consider when selecting colleges, including academic programs, location, and campus culture
- Strategies for researching colleges and universities
- Tips for visiting colleges and engaging with admissions representatives
- How to narrow down your list and create a balanced application strategy
- Common mistakes to avoid when creating your college list
Whether you are just starting to explore your college options or looking to refine your college list, this webinar will provide you with the tools and guidance you need to create a well-informed and effective college application strategy.
Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and make your college application shine! Register now for “Crafting Your College List: Advice from a Former Admissions Officer”.
2023-04-18 – Crafting Your College List: Advice From a Former Admissions Officer
Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar, Crafting Your College List: Advice From a Former Admission Officer. To orient everyone with a webinar timing. We’ll first start off with a presentation and then we’ll be able to answer your questions in a live Q&A. But before we get started into our presentation, let’s first meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. My name is Joanne Pluff. I am an Associate Vice President at Howard University. I was a former admission officer at Utica College and Hamilton College, both located in Central New York. So I’m excited to chat with you all about building your college list. Probably one of the most important things you’ll do through this process.
So I’m pumped to hear what you all have to say and the questions that you. Thank you. So before we get into it, we wanna get a sense of what grade you are in whether you are in a grade level or perhaps you are a parent. So let us know. I know for a lot of our juniors, you know, college list is even more important as you all are getting ready to move into your senior year, into the actual portion of your college application process.
So let’s see who we have this evening. The responses are coming in. Okay. So we have. Representation from all grade levels. Mm-hmm. This evening we have eighth grade students here. We have about 30% of our participants are in the 11th grade. We have 10th grade students, ninth grade students, and then we also have 32% of our attendees are parents.
So I will turn it over to Joanne to kick us off at our presentation. Awesome. I’m very impressed by our eighth grade friends. It’s quite early to start and recognize you likely might change your mind in the next few years, but I’m excited that you’re able to join us. So I just have to say, so I’ve worked in higher education for going on 15 years.
And the really cool thing about college is that there is one for everyone. So while I’m giving you good tips and you know, suggestions, things like that, the reality is you could be as well prepared. Like I currently have a student that I’m working with we had a fully cultivated list and I would say we did make some mistakes when she was going through the process.
Like not visiting and things like that, which I’ll talk about. But I say that all to say is there is a college for everyone. So whether it’s the size, the location, things like that I know that we can give you some good ideas on how to find the place you wanna be for the next four years. So, When you’re taking a look at your college list it’s definitely important.
The number one thing would be to consider your major. So if you have decided or have an idea of the realm of space that you would like to work in when you grow up and graduate from college, major is definitely the most important thing. Just understanding that if you are applying to be an engineer and you are applying to liberal arts colleges that perhaps don’t have engineering and or perhaps they don’t have physics that can get you where you’re going, it makes no sense to be applying to those schools.
So right automatically. If you have an idea of your future career or general idea, you need to go in looking for the major. The next thing that I think is quite important is size. So the college that you apply to, are you looking for a massive, you know, 30,000, let’s say one of like the SUNY flagships or maybe a Texas or California flagship?
If that’s your jam, awesome. If not, don’t have colleges on your list that will overwhelm you. If you come from a school where the student to faculty ratio is 12 to one perhaps, and you’re in a class with less than 25 to 30 students, you probably don’t wanna be looking at those larger research institutions.
The size of your classes determine probably your learning style. So if you’re looking for more dis discussion based if you’re looking for open options with classes, you really need to take more careful attention to the size itself. The location for sure is also very important. I was a student who was recruited to play sports in college and I decided that I wanted to go down south to go to college. And it was a, it was a very rude awakening when my parents said to me, coming from Massachusetts, that well, just so you know, you know, if you go to school down here in Georgia, we’re not gonna come to your games every single day. And yeah, that was a hard hit. I didn’t realize that that would be so important to me.
So you definitely have to consider the location. For some students, a change of scenery is exactly what they need and they’re up for that challenge. And for others, the challenge might be just going to a school that is an hour away, two hours are away, or perhaps you’re commuting to the school that you go to.
The location doesn’t matter to me. The location should matter to the student and the family. So if your family is comfortable with you being a little bit further away, awesome. If you’re down for that, cool. If not, there are definitely some local things that are colleges that you can. And then of course the students say, you gotta know the vibe of the campus.
If you are an art student and you’re very excited about arts, you should find a campus that has your interests. Don’t go to a school where you don’t feel as though you have the ability to grow and flourish and don’t have activities that tickle your fancy. So let’s just discuss what we talk about here at CollegeAdvisor, which are reach, target, and likely school.
So reach schools might be a stretch academically. Every school has a a incoming class profile, so y’all are at a pretty good time for determining your lists. Now for those who are juniors, because in the next couple of weeks after the May 1st deadline, the colleges and campuses will release their school profile.
So that’s the time where you can take a look to see the average GPA, SATs, or ACTs that required. And you can determine the number one factor, which would be your academics if you fit within that class profile. So those reach schools are a few points over your GPA, your current GPA, and they’re ones that academically you likely may not get into.
There’s a chance, but there’s a high probability that you will not get into. For some reach schools might be the Ivy Leagues. For others, they might be stronger private schools. A reach school is different for every student based on their own academic profile. Now, a target school is a school that is specifically, that matches a hundred percent of the criteria within your academic profile.
So if you have a 95 GPA and a, you know, 1100 SAT, and you’re able to find schools that, that match that, then you would be falling into that category. None of course likely schools or better known as safety. Are schools that you would likely be admitted to. And you’re more than overqualified for the acceptance to those universities.
So just talking about ratios, I actually was thinking about this the other day when preparing for this webinar. I was reading a Reddit post that a student had applied to 143 different schools. So don’t suggest. Too much too many schools, too many applications, too many things that are, that could go wrong.
You really want to look at between, I like about five target schools. For the students that I advise three reach schools and then two likely schools. So you’re averaging out about 10 just under 10 that you’ll submit applications to because of the common app, coalition app, black common application.
It allows students to apply to many schools instead of just applying to one. Of course, there are some schools that have their own application, but with the common app, you can kind of reign it all in. So definitely look between five to seven targets, one to three reaches, and one to three likely schools.
All right, so how you can narrow down your college list. There are lots of things to think about. So major, of course, like I said, is the number one factor. It is the reason that you’re going to college because it’s, it’s assisting you to build your career. So are the graduates gainfully employed? So when you ask the, when you go on your visits and ask the students and ask the admissions staff, gainful employment means that they’re employed in the major of which they attended the university for.
So are they working in their field or did they jump ship? Are they now a sound engineer but they went to school for architecture? Those are the questions you wanna ask. How many internship opportunities do students get provided typically, almost every single school apply. Allows and gives opportunities for internships.
However, you wanna make sure that you have internships within your major as well as internships that can be paid and go towards college credit. So that’s a two-part question that students really should know. And then of course after college support. So the, my alma mater no matter what stage of life I’m in, they will support us through graduation.
And then of course, if I decided to go back, I don’t want it to be a rocket scientist, they would help me do that. So our alumni base is strong. You can call the Office of Career Services check in with them. They’ll help you with resumes, LinkedIn cover letters, all of that as well as the job search.
So it’s important to know what kind of resources they provide after you graduate from college. Then we’ll take a look at the monetary value. So how much does each school offer in financial aid? So for my seniors, what we do at this time of year is we create a massive spreadsheet with the cost of attendance, the scholarship they received, if they, they received one the cost for room and board, and then we break it down from there.
It’s also important to know the loan indebtedness of recent graduates. I know for this kind of generation that there’s a huge shift and importance is placed on the amount of loans that students are receiving inside college to graduate, but also how much that they are that they’re graduating with.
So take a look to see if there are lo any loan programs or rebate programs within the colleges, or just knowing does the school meet a hundred percent of demonstrated need? Do they provide additional need based scholarships? So, Those are things to consider. There are about a dozen schools across the country that are both need blind and meet a hundred percent of a student’s full need, while some will meet a student’s full need, but knowing how much They typically will take a look to see how much your family can afford.
This is generally based off of a FAFSA. Students will have likely have to submit that or the CSS profile to generate that monetary need. So it’s something to consider. And those who are saving for have a 504 plan. I think that’s what it’s called for the college savings. It, it’s something to take into consideration as well.
And then of course, the personal value. The student is, should be at the center of this decision. There is a lot that goes into the college decision. I think to myself, I didn’t make this decision by myself. I made sure that my sister was on board, my parents were on board. Even my grandma went to see the college that I went to.
So the personal value for me was I wanted to be at a place where I could be accessed by my parents but also that I could get where I wanted to go in life. So you have to determine what your personal values are. And then of course for students who need support services, not every campus provides support services.
And not every campus that provides support Services Pro provides them for free. So if you do have a current IEP or a student with learning disability, neuro disability, or perhaps you’re in a walker, wheelchair, things like that, it’s important to take a look and see if there are students before you that were able to be successful at that.
Location, class size, I can’t harp on enough. For students that are coming from smaller high schools, it is a vast difference to go from a smaller high school to be in a lecture hall of four to 500 students. Alrighty. So when should you have your list finalized? So probably soon. For the juniors, we are hoping that you’ll have your list done by I would say June of your Senior year. So the reason I say June is because a lot of universities will be open over the summer, and this is a great time for you to start visiting if you have a more broad list. So let’s say you’ve come up with a list of 15 schools, you need to narrow it down. This gives you time to be able to, to work through some of those lower hanging fruit or colleges that you’ve heard about but don’t have a lot of information about for the athletes.
That in that information needs to be cited sooner rather than later. You’ll typically college bound athletes that are being recruited, that recruitment process starts the fall of their junior year. So if you are a student that is working off of that timeline, it’s important to know and work with the coaches at the different colleges that you’re being recruited because likely college signing day for you will come sooner than the May 1st deadline.
Okay, so we’re gonna do another poll. Thinking about the preferred college size. So we wanna know what is your preferred college size? The options include large, would a diverse student body and many academic options. Medium with a mix of opportunities and a strong sense of community, small with a close knit community, and personalized attention from faculty, or the last responses.
I don’t know. How should I decide? This is a new poll question for us. I’m eager to see the responses. So we have 46% prefer a medium. Size college, followed by that we have 25% that prefer a large 16% don’t know, and they wanna know, how should I decide? And then 11% prefer a small, close-knit community.
So for those that don’t know this is where visits really come in handy. So every college in the fall will have their open house. Typically colleges have two or three. Additionally, they will have programming for juniors and seniors over the summer. So I highly recommend if you have the ability to go, just, you know, if you’re in a, a decent state school system, go and visit those state schools.
Even if you’re not planning to apply, it assists with giving you the ability to check things out just for size purposes. So I work at a larger institution. I would say we’re larger to, to medium size. We do whole smaller events, but when you see our student body, it is 13,000 students. So it’s typical that that small field is not found on every campus.
So it’s important to go and visit. And then we just had a pop-up question. If I could just repeat the GPA needed for the reach target and likely, so Target is your student is a, is exactly what that GPA is exactly what that average SAT/ACT score is. Reach means your student falls just below what the average GPA/SAT score is and likely means your student has superseded by a lot what the minimum requirements or average GPA is.
Okay, so how will a student know particular school is a good fit? So, this is a crazy thing to say, but the reality is your student will know, even for our students that are undecided or they take a long time to make a decision, they will come to that decision. You must visit these universities if possible.
The good thing about the pandemic is that many universities are now extending the ability to do virtual events. There are virtual tours listed up on websites, and while they’re not exactly like being on campus, it does give you an opportunity to meet with some of the faces that you’ll encounter. So I highly recommend checking out those.
And then my favorite mode of seeing if it’s a good. Is to talk to current students. When you go to campus tours, of course, the student ambassadors and students who work in the admissions office are the creme de creme. Obviously, they’re trained to be fantastic, outgoing and well-knowledged about their subject base.
Of course, you should stop current students outside of your admissions tours and ask them, you know, tell me about this day on campus. What’s your favorite campus activity? Where do you like to study? Have those conversations so that you can get to know the students that you’ll be interacting with.
It definitely helps, and yes, the canned questions and rehearse questions are important and typically they are well knowledged, but you want to hear from a student who’s, you know, not looking to, I wouldn’t say sell you something but doesn’t have an answer for everything. I just talked about attending visits, of course.
And then if the school doesn’t have your major, it would be crazy for you to go there, right? Like that college is too expensive to waste this much time on a school that doesn’t have the thing that you’d like to study. Now, would I have loved to go to ucla? Absolutely. However, they didn’t have my major, so it knocked it out of the running for me.
And then of course, making sure that you’re happy again with the location and size, because if you learn in a specific environment, you need to make sure that that environment is there for you. All right, let me.
Okay, so what makes an admission officer think a student is a good fit for their school? So we will automatically qualify or disqualify students based on their GPA and SAT or ACT. So the academic target is the most important factor. While it’s excellent for you to enhance your candidacy with other items, such as your essay, list of extracurriculars, your letters of recommendation, that is excellent.
But we really need to know if you’re able to sustain the academic rigor. So when we’re talking about more specifically the college profile, typically they’ll tell you, you know, how many AP scores, if the students were valedictorian, salutatorian in the top 10 percentile if they were ranked. So really do make sure you pay attention to the To the school profile because it will give you a lot of information about the incoming class.
We also take a look to see if you’ve interacted demonstrated interest is something that some schools do pay attention to. So while as much as this is an admission process for you, we’re looking to see if you really wanna be part of the school community. So have you done virtual visits? Did you do any interviews with either admissions officers or alums. Did you do the supplemental essays? Of course, there are the college fair and high school visits that students can attend throughout the fall. And then of course, open house and accepted students day. So if you’ve interacted with the teams, either personally by email that’s something that is tracked.
And then of course, just make sure this is a little insider information. It’s really important that this comes from the student, right? So yes, you have curated and crafted this human into being an excellent a applicant, but we wanna hear from the student and not from the parent. We’ll also take a look to see if your extracurriculars fall similarly within those in the current community.
So are you super excited about Glee Club? Do you have an extensive, you know I have no idea. Rock collection that you can add to our student body. There are many things. So it’s important to see that you fit in with a current student body.
Last advice that I would give to students for their list. So the biggest thing for me is to be honest with yourself and your family. So if you are, you know, a fourth generation legacy of x, y, Z college and it’s just not your vibe, it’s important to tell your family ahead of time so that you don’t go down that road and have to break the news to them later on.
College is definitely a family decision. Like I said, my entire family, I made sure that they loved where I was going to college. But you are the person that has to go there for every day, with the exception of June and July. So if this is not where you want to be, you need to make sure and you talk with your family about it, this is the one time in your life that you get to be selfish and picky.
So, for the place that you’re going to spend, I would say, 80% of your life for four years, it’s important that you find a place that you wanna be and then of course, be realistic. This is a tough conversation to have with students. Typically colleges will recalculate your GPA to an unweighted gpa.
So yes, you may have a 4.0 on paper, but perhaps your core class is yield you to have a 3.79. You should look at the weighted versus unweighted GPA because that is what the colleges are looking at. So if you really believe that you are a scholar that can go to, to Harvard, I would assume that you have a perfect 4.0 and a 1600 SAT.
There’s no reason to be not realistic. This is your future. And again, like I said, when we started this process, there is a college for everybody out there. I’m, I’m sure of it all right. And then, yes. So thank you Joanne. We’re now gonna move into our live questions and answers. Thank you to everyone who’s already been submitting their questions, and we’re very eager to go ahead and answer them.
I do have one that popped up that I can get started on while you’re kind of sifting through the questions. Yeah, go ahead. Okay. So there, someone was asking, is there any way to find an incoming class profile for a specific major and how many incoming class profiles are accessible? So this is something that’s typically run on a yearly basis, so they’ll run it at some point in the middle of May.
Major specific GPAs. I don’t know that every college will tell you that’s kind of like the secret sauce, but you’re welcome to ask. Every college typically does their recruitment by region. So at some point in the next couple of months, you’re. Student will be assigned an admission officer. Once you decide to join their mailing list, you’ll receive their information and or can call that office and they can give you the specificity if they provide the major profiles as well.
But typically it’s just an overall general class. Okay. So this question reads, I’m having trouble choosing what I want to major in or do in the future. I’ve tried quizzes and analyzing my likes and dislikes, but still can’t seem to figure out what to do. I’m a very hands-on person when it comes to learning and deciding if I like something or not.
Do you have any advice for me? Yeah, so this sounds like a person that would be really good for the type of college that I went to. I went to a liberal arts college, so the jam with the liberal arts means that I took classes in everything. So yes, I did have a dedicated major, but my first two and a half years I was taking philosophy.
I took some English courses some film courses. I did a lot of writing courses. So, for you, the, the important thing would be to look and find a school that has some of the majors you’re interested in, and then look and see the ability to move between schools and colleges. So is it easy to transfer to different majors within the School of Arts and Sciences?
Or maybe you’re interested in biology, but you’re also looking at business? Can you major in business and minor in biology or vice versa? Does your tho do those schools allow that? How do credits transfer in front interdepartmentally? So taking a look to see, you know, kind of how you can move through that internal system.
The unfortunate thing is that we’ll look vastly different at every university where some are more flexible and others aren’t. It sounds like you need a school that is a little bit more flexible to allow you to take those exploratory years. Also, luckily, quite a few schools across the country do not require students to have dedicated major because we recognize that this is a pretty big decision.
So you’re typically looking for schools that have outcomes of students that fall within some of the things you wanna do. If you go in undecided when you start doing your tours, talk to them about what it is to be undecided. My university has there’s a floor for undecided students, so we put them all together.
They’re specific programming. We take them on trips and adventures throughout the year, and then we work with them up until sophomore year for major declaration day. So there are definitely opportunities, but you would need to talk to each school individually to see how you can curate that plan also.
And then I’ll get off of this. Typically colleges have like an interdisciplinary studies, which is a major or exploratory sciences that you kind of choose your own destiny. So your final major would be exploratory sciences. But perhaps you were really interested in lamp making and you were able to find somebody who would assist you with the history and the process.
And so taking a look at that too, so if you see interdisciplinary studies or exploratory sciences those may be some of the, the catch majors for you. Okay. And then this question is kind of similar, but it’s what advice would you give to a student that has not decided on a degree slash major when creating?
So just to know that almost every single student changes their mind. I don’t know. Lonnie, did you go to college with the same major and end with the same major? I actually came in undecided because I was a student that just could not figure out what I wanted to major in. And then my university ac offered very similar opportunities as going on field trips and doing other excursions and taking other classes so then we can decide we wanted to major.
So I was, I was definitely that, that undecided student. Absolutely. And I would say I was the opposite. I knew that I wanted to study public relations and marketing. I did that. But I am very atypical. So students arrive and they have this fantastic idea of what they wanna. And then they talk to a friend or they take an amazing class with a professor that just works for them and they go down that route.
So, deciding your major, don’t be afraid, I would say about switching. And usually schools are pretty good about switching within those colleges. Now if you go from nursing to business, will you have some time to make up? Absolutely. Because you are going from science-based courses to more practical business management courses.
But many schools will allow that. So if you don’t know what you wanna study, just find a place that has a few of the things you think you wanna study, and then you can go from there. Okay, so this question reads you know, this student recently visited college and they loved the college, but they did not like the city.
Should that be a valid reason to not apply to the school? So I think it is because if you don’t like where you live, you will be miserable. Take it from a person who decided that they did. I don’t like snow. I have no desire to be near it. And for me, living in New York in the winters was tough. I stuck it out.
But again, I, I don’t think I was an atypical. I was not a typical student. I had other things that I was doing to kind of keep myself busy, but my best advice now is if you are not interested in being in a cold climate, don’t go to a cold climate. Like there, there’s not enough to force you to go to to stick through that.
If you don’t like the city, then it’s unfortunate. But again, there are hundreds of colleges across the country and many different cities that you can go to. Okay, so this question is how can I boost my demonstrated interests? Is it track slash measured? So, yes, we do track slash measure The demonstrated interests.
Demonstrated interests does look different from college to college. And for some it’s even within major to major, right? So the Ivys are pretty notorious. They don’t track demonstrated interests. They’re just looking for students who fit within their academic profile. With that being said, some of your more selective universities.
So basically what happens is in the internal systems, the students get a profile that’s created. This profile will track you through the application process to your visits and everything like that. So basically when an admission officer sits down to review the application, We can see, you know, did you open this email from, you know, the day before spring break and did you read the email?
We are usually sending some pretty important information and typically the information is segmented by major. It’s segmented by financial aid, self parents, stuff about living locally. We do want you to read it so they know if you read it. Many universities also have an arsenal of like student callers and or text campaigns.
My team who does the texting they’re real human beings. They actually do like, put in their phone numbers and text people. So if you send a text message back, it’s likely that it’s not a bot and then it’s a, a human on the other side. So we do keep track of all of that. It’s all compiled into a system, and then we’re able to view that once you go to review the application.
That is some really good insight actually. Mm-hmm. So my how to boost that. Interviews are always excellent if you have the opportunity. Not every school gives every student opportunity for interviews, so if you get one, you should do it. Visits, of course, going to the open houses. If there’s like a, you know, such and such college night at your town, you should pop in for a visit to introduce yourself and then connecting with the alums as well.
Great. Great. Okay, so next question. What if a student decides not to submit the SAT score and apply to the test optional school? How does that student determine whether the school is a reach or target? So if you’re applying without the scores, you have to look at the GPA without the scores. So truly schools that are test optional, it’s like those scores don’t exist.
It’s not at a disadvantage even if they see them. Most systems will expunge them from the, from the application so that the admission officer doesn’t even see them. So if your scores are below and you know that, don’t even bother sending them, you’re solely going based off of GPA requirement, so don’t send it.
It’s like an wouldn’t have even happened. Does that make sense? Mm-hmm. Does someone ask, could you repeat the times when colleges will release their profiles? So what actually will be happening in the coming weeks? So May 1st is the national deposit deadline. So students. Across the country will be making their decision on May 1st, and usually once the May 1st deadline has passed and we everybody gets through commencement they’ll generate the class profile.
So around mid-May, I would say the class profile is updated on each website, if not mid-May, then very early June. I know summer programs at colleges don’t help that much, but does it show interest? Are there better ways to spend your summer? I think college programs do help. For me, well, the students that I advised that did the college programs, it helped them to learn how to do college work.
Yes. I think it also depends on the school, right? So, Johns Hopkins is, has a very large summer program, summer bridge program for students. That is a, a part of interest to be accepted and to attend that program. If you have the opportunity to do it, I would absolutely do it, especially if it is pertaining to the major or the fields that you’re interested in studying.
But the summer bridge programs, I think if you’re planning to apply again, that profile is created and will connect to the fact that you attended the program for the summer. So I would say yes, it, it is a part of the demonstrated interest.
Okay. Our next question, these are are really good questions that are coming in. How do I get more involved with the schools? I think I am going ab that I’m thinking about applying to. So the first thing would be to join the mailing list. All of the mailing lists will give you invitations to anything that’s happening on those campuses.
There’s also a way parents for make sure that the student enters your information into the mailing list as well, because like I was seeing, they do send students information, but if they have your information, they’ll send you segmented info. Every college has their own, I would say, suite of visits. So they’ll arrange from open house Saturday information sessions, daily tours high school visits, and then in the spring it will turn to the admitted student programs and different kinds of activities like that.
So once you’re on the mailing list and you apply, you’ll gain access to some of the upcoming events. Every single school has a portal. The portal will give you as much up-to date information as it comes through. So interacting with the schools, I would say the first step one would be to definitely sign up for the mailing list and then of course, see if the interviews are an option.
The interview option is a way for students to To give us some more information that perhaps the application does not. So every student is answering the same questions and you know, for that matter, supplemental questions as well. But the interviewer can ask you, you know, what is your, your application doesn’t tell us why you’re super excited to go to x, y, Z school.
It doesn’t tell us your favorite pastime unless you specifically write about it. But an interview gives us a little bit of insight into who you are as a person that we won’t get from those 10 pages of the common app. So I definitely recommend doing an interview if you’re able. Okay. So next question.
Are Ivy Leagues really worth it? Do they take AP credits? I’m a very academically and community driven, and I aspire to go into the medical fields. So we’ll kind of keep it at that. Definitely love, love hearing about your, your inches. That’s that’s very impressive. Yeah. No, that is impressive. I mean, I wouldn’t turn down going to Harvard or Penn or Yale at all.
I, I think, you know, there are great minds. Again, I will say that there is a college out there for everyone, and there’s no bad college. There’s no bad college experience, we hope. But we want to make sure that you find the place to be. So I do think the Ivys are worth it. If you’re able and you fit within the profile, it could be reach school, it, it’s, it’s worth it, right?
So a lot of those schools will meet a hundred percent of the students need. So why not take a shot in the dark and apply. What was the part, second part of the question? It was do they take AP credit? So every school is gonna be different about AP credits. For example, the university that I work at, we only take a five or better on AP testing.
So you would really need to do your research, you and end up working with CollegeAdvisor. I’m sure Lonnie, you do this with your students too. We make a massive spreadsheet once we have created the list and that’s one of the questions like, do you take AP testing? You know, what’s the threshold for the scores?
Do you take dual credit? So, My suggestion would be to create a large spreadsheet once you finalize your list and create different subheadings for categories that will help you identify what each school has to offer, because not every school is going to be the same. For example, if you’re applying to engineering school, it is highly likely that they will only take you know, a five or above on the AP Calc BC.
But maybe at Oberlin, the teaching college will, they’ll only take a five or above on English. So it depends on from school to school. Okay, next question. Hello, I’m currently in dual enrollment. I would like to know if it gives me any advantage in slash or a leg up in my college applications. So, dual enrollment is an interesting thing.
It can give you a leg up for sure, because it’s different than your high school classes. So if you’re taking dual enrollment courses, it’s a good introduction to what college life is like and the caliber of college work. Will it give you a leg up? It might have you, before you are attempting to take the dual enrollment courses, have you maxed out on the math, science, English, and history courses that your school offers?
Like, did you take the AP history and now you’re at the level of taking the college course? So, luckily every ad, not every, but most admissions teams will review your application in the context of your school. So if you don’t have APs, but dual credit is the next best option, then yes, that will work in your favor.
We prefer if you have AP classes to take the AP class and then do do the AP exam. But if you’re not able to do that for whatever circumstance, it’s not going to be held against you. Dual credits are great for your entry level courses, but again, not every college is going to accept dual credit. It really depends from college to college, and also depends on the grade you get in those courses.
Great. Okay, so we’re gonna take a short pause for me to share a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor. So for those who are in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admission process can be, especially for competitive applicants like yourselves. Our team of over 300 former admission officers and admission experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one college advising sessions.
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After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and a time for a phone conversation with a member of our team. So we’re gonna continue to take more questions and we will answer them accordingly. So our next question that we have reads, I’ve done a lot of research and it seems that a lot of colleges don’t offer full ride scholarships.
So is it common for a school to offer full ride? Scholarships are not. Or is it easier to get a small, to get small scholarships and then add them up to pay for your college tuition? So, scholar colleges will typically do a combination of merit-based and need-based aid. The need-based based aid will be based on your FAFSA CSS profile.
I can say it at my university in, for this incoming class, we’ve only offered, I would say, less than 50 students. A full ride, a quote unquote. Full ride is typically not something that’s offered these days. But what schools will do is they’ll meet your demonstrated need, which is based again off of the EFC, on the FAFSA and or CSS profile.
Is it easier to stack scholarships? I don’t know. I think that there’s ample opportunities for students to apply to scholarship and many go unutilized across the country. So I recommend taking a look at your local civic organizations. So Rotary, girl Scouts, boy Scouts, your guidance counselor, the library, McDonald’s grocery stores.
They all offer college going students. A lot of scholarship money that you can utilize. There’s also a great website called fastweb.com, and they it’s like a search engine for scholarships that students can apply for. Is college worth it? Yeah, I, I think it is. And when we, when I talk to my students about, you know, their financial aid and what they’re going to do, I always use this as an, as an example, right?
So typically you’re, most average Americans have family has a car, right? At least one car perhaps live in a major metro city, and you don’t have a car, which is realistic, but. People don’t bat an eye when they need to get a car loan. Right? So it’s something that is a necessity. I think that students are falling into the trap believing that they will all receive enough money to cover college without having to pay a loan.
And that’s unrealistic. I know when my daughter in, in 2035, when she goes to to college, I know that I will be writing some kind of check. It is important to start having those financial dis conversations with your family to see what you can afford. If you can afford to be solely in a state school, then that’s okay.
You’ll find that state school that works for you. However I think everybody on this call, everybody in America needs to recognize that college is something that unfortunately is a cost that is rising and financing that education is a conversation that nets needs to be had. College is worth it, but it, it does cost.
So if you have the ability to save those eighth grade friends that are on there, start saving start looking at those scholarships and of course looking at state schools that are more affordable for you to stay within the. Great. Great, great. Next question is, how prominent are essays on one’s application and could they be the deciding factor of your acceptance?
Yeah, I think they definitely can. The trap with some students always fall into is that they forget that the common app does go to every single college. So if I work at, I. And you’re writing about how much you love Baylor in your essay. That writing sample is the only sample that I have to go off of unless there’s supplemental.
The university where I work, we read every single application and every single essay. So that is your introduction as a college writing student to the admissions officer. So we do pay attention to it, we want to read it. We love reading fun essays, and we love sharing with our colleagues the great essays that we read about.
So it’s important to recognize the, the topic of course, and then how well it’s written. So take a moment to read it, send it to your parents CollegeAdvisor. We even will read essays for you. There’s ample opportunity for people to review them. So yes, it’s something that every college will review and will rate you on.
So it’s important to put your best foot forward. Okay, so this question states, what about direct entry programs such as nursing that are all very competitive? How can you balance your list? Yeah, so again, with the direct entry programs specifically for nursing, things like that engineering, even those schools likely will give you the, the minimum requirements or the average requirements to be admitted specifically for nursing.
Like I know that they will flat out say, you need this SAT, this score and these math classes and science classes to be admitted. So you’ll know I know everybody keeps asking about the profile. It will be available and the admissions team will be able to regurgitate to you whatever those requirements are.
The direct entry programs will have minimum baselines. If you don’t meet those minimum baselines, that school turns into a reach for you.
Okay, so this question reads, hi, how are grades truly looked upon? Are semester grades the most important or final grades or quarterly grades? Is it a B in a single? Is a B in a single quarter bad, even if you’re semester and final grade is an A. So we look at all of it, to be honest, which is a terrible answer that most people don’t wanna hear.
But the the thing is, is we’re looking at how you’ve progressed for the, for all four years. So for those students who are applying early, recognize that large emphasis will be. Paid placed on your junior year, right? Because by the time you apply, if you’re applying in early October or even early November, we may not have that first set of grades and or courses.
So you do have to take a look at the prior years leading up to senior year. I love a good upward trend myself. So let’s say you had a not so good ninth grade year, but you worked yourself up. I appreciate that. The essay is also a great place to write about some of the struggles that you may have had and to speak to any blips that might be on your on your transcript.
Is the final grade important? Absolutely. But we also like to see that you have sustained capacity to do the work. So again, utilize the essays, utilize your counselor recommendations, your teacher recommendations, and if there’s any supplemental space that you can write something additional that. Can speak to what has happened on your transcript, you should do that as well.
If you are applying to a school that has a 3.9 unweighted gpa, then likely having Cs and or Bs on your transcript would not make you an ideal candidate. So typically the GPA matches the transcript, matches the profile.
Okay. Our next question reads, when colleges state the required gpa, is it usually unweighted or weighted? If it’s unweighted, do admission officer pay attention to the most classes that are like honors classes. So every school is different, but we typically calculate to your unweighted GPA. We do pay attention to your full core.
So science, reading, math history To create that unweighted GPA. So if you are a student that has tons of our classes and you’re applying to engineering, like I said before, that may not bode so well for you. And it’s highly likely that you may not be the right candidate. We want to make sure that you can do the academics and if you’re not able to do that, you’re not admissible to the university.
We don’t we don’t place emphasis on when the courses are taken through the, the progression. But they do all calculate up to that unweighted gpa. Usually there is somebody in the admissions office on calc or Recalculating, and they won’t share with you what that like equation is to, to create the gpa.
What is the right amount of AP classes someone should take, especially those who are interested in pursuing medicine. So I wouldn’t say that there’s a right amount of AP classes. It’s about challenge and strength of your schedule. So if you are able to take, you know, two per year, are you doing that?
Are you taking one per year? Are you taking any per year? There is no right amount. And again, let’s say your school doesn’t have AP courses, obviously there’s nothing you can do about it. Again, every applicant is reviewed within the context of their school. So if you have the opportunity to take them, but you just opted for, you know, regular level one math then and you want to do a, an engineering that probably would not bode well for you.
We want to see that you’ve challenged yourself over four years. So, Yes, I have a student who’s taken 26 AP courses. I don’t know how he did it and how he does it daily. That is a stretch for any human being. He’s also quite lucky that his school does offer that many AP courses because not every school has the ability to do that.
Again, we won’t punish students for the context of their school, but if you’re able to take them, it’s good for us to see you attempting them.
Okay, so is it better to go to a college with the majors wanted or the location wanted when you can’t find both? I would say major for me, the major’s gotta win. So if you can’t find, if, you know, if you’ve decided you have to stay in state and you’ve found four colleges and three of them in are in cities where they all have your major, you need to pick one of those cities and go for it.
This is, this determines your life. So not being able to get your studies down pat and the skills you need to do the career you want would be crazy. You have to go where the major is, just suck it up. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I agree. And this question res, great presentation, very informative. When does budget come into play?
When creating your college list? So that’s gotta be a question at the forefront right now. Typically colleges increase in costs between two to 3% per year. So you can really average out. There are some schools out in the ethos that will lock students in for tuition for all four years. So that’s something to consider.
So what you all can do and every single school in America has to have this, it’s something called the net price Calculator. So if you have a decent idea of your students GPA and or SATs of submitting and your family’s taxes, you can go right to the net price calculator and that will determine and give you an i ballpark idea of what you would be looking at for tuition.
I highly recommend doing that before saying, all right, this is the list. And it, it will help you make that decision. It’s not to the t it’s not to the dollar, but it does give you a general idea.
Okay. So do colleges look at international students, one who has spent most of their life in the US and then moved to a different country differently when looking at applications? I would say no. You know, if you’re a resident or citizen of the United States, you’re looked at within that, the domestic side of things where students who are directly coming from and are citizens of a different country, they’re reviewed as international students.
So I wouldn’t say that you would get looked at differently. I think you fall, again, it’s really based on the, the context of the school that you’re applying from. I, I would say it’s, it’s pretty interesting, right? Something you could write about growing up here and being from another country or how you’ve transitioned, but we, it’s not something that we would consider positively or negatively.
Okay. Next question is, do you have any advice on making it easier to find slash filter out colleges that have a major or program you’re interested in? I’m pretty positive. College Board still does their search based on your SATs or ACTs. So if you are taking the SATs or ACTs this year, they will take that information and then based off of your profile for college board, they sell your name to colleges who fit within the needs that you’re looking for.
So some of this is done for you, so if you’re wondering why you’ve started to get, you know, Emails or calls from different schools is because of your college board profile. College board, again, has a search engine that you can use to break down to find schools for major and honestly, good old Google is always really, really helpful.
There is an instrument within CollegeAdvisor where we will take a, like a short questionnaire for each student and we’ll send it to a team that will find co colleges for you that fit within the things that you want. So some just shameless plug for us as well. Mm-hmm. Yes. Yes. I definitely really love utilizing our college list team and how they break down the colleges feature on the, the match types.
Mm-hmm. Joan so someone asked just like a follow up. Where is the Nest, the net price calculator found? It’s on every single university’s website. So if you go to the website, typically it’s found under like admissions, financial aid, things. You could even Google it or search on the website’s, the college website search engine, and it will pop up.
And even if you just put directly to Google, like, you know, NYU net price calculator, it will, it will pop up.
Okay. The next question is, are there significant, significant differences between colleges and universities? No. I think there are large university and large colleges as well. I think there are small colleges and small universities. Universities definitely. The reason they have that designation is because they offer more PhD and master’s level courses where colleges don’t.
But there’s, there’s no difference. If you find a place that you love, I, I would say it, it doesn’t matter. Again, you ha are mostly focused on the, the undergrad and then of course opportunities for graduates after graduation would be involved in that conversation of your search as well. But I would say there’s no difference between a, a university or a college.
Okay. So do counselors, so this is around like the timeline. Yeah. For applying, do counselors have students complete essays or applications during the summer and then the admissions is in May of your senior year? Just a bit confused on the timeline. So right now for our Juniors Rising Seniors, the application for fall 2024, those typically open in August.
So we start telling our students that you can start a common app profile today. You can go on to common app, create a profile, start filling out the demographic information. And then start working on your list of extracurricular activities. After that you start working on the essay. The common app essay prompts typically don’t change, so you can copy and paste them.
Usually senior year in high school, the English classes and or college prep classes will work with students on the essay throughout that first month, and then you’re ready to go. If you are confident in your writing and you wanna start now, you are encouraged and welcome to start writing that essay. Now, once the students are through the applications or the the profile, each college has a different timeline for submission early action.
Early decision is usually early part of the fall. Then regular decision will fall between the, the winter slash January, the new year of their senior year. Admissions decisions will come out, start rolling on a basis, I think. I wanna say Auburn started giving out decisions at some point last October.
So they started earlier and earlier, but they will roll all the way through. And some will continue on through the summer. The bulk of admissions decisions and applications will be due between November and February, and decisions deployed in the month of March. So with National College decision day, every student has until May 1st.
So this time next year, your student should have been admitted. They should have their financial aid packages and ready to make their final decision for the first. Okay. Thank you to everyone who inputted a question. We have many questions that we didn’t get the chance to answer. However, there is opportunity to discuss a little bit about the college application process and meet with a representative from our team.
There will still be an additional pop-up screen that will come up at the end of this webinar. But thank you, Joanne for sharing all this great information about crafting your college list. And for those who are interested, we still have upcoming webinars that we are doing for the month of April.
Actually every week we have a webinar or two that’s geared towards preparing you for the college application process. So continue to join us. I know I see some, some familiar faces in the, in the, in the chat. So we look forward to hearing more from you and our upcoming webinar. Thank you everyone. Have a great evening.
Thank you, Joanne, again. Goodnight. Thanks. Bye Bye.