Creating Your College Admissions Timelines for Sophomores and Juniors

Are you a Sophomore or Juniors who is ready to start the college application process? Get help creating a timeline from

Former Admissions Officer Angela Park-Pennington will share her tips and advice on how to start preparing for college during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.

In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:

– When should I start thinking about college applications?

– What can I be doing now to start preparing?

Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 12/13/2022
Duration 1:02:45

Webinar Transcription

2022-12-13 – Creating Your College Admissions Timelines for Sophomores and Juniors

Hello everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s Webinar, Creating Your College Admission Timeline for Sophomore and Juniors. To orient everyone with the webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in the live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists. Good evening everyone. It is wonderful to meet you all. Um, happy to share tonight’s, um, webinar with you. My name is Angela Park Pennington. Um, I am a former admissions officer, and tonight I’ll be sharing a little bit about. Um, my advice about, um, how to start preparing, uh, for college applications, um, earlier and more intentionally.

Uh, so a little bit about myself. Um, I graduated from UC Berkeley, um, and, uh, I, I started linguistics. I went on to receive my master’s in international relations from UC San Diego, and I have spent the better part of the last decade working at a few different undergraduate institutions in admissions offices.

More recently, prior to joining CollegeAdvisor, I was an Associate Director of Admissions at USC’s Marshall School of Business for their undergraduate business program and specifically managing their, uh, global business program, the World Bachelor in Business. Um, so if you have any specific questions, there will certainly be a time during the Q&A later.

Um, but I have a, in, uh, a very, very informative presentation prepared for you tonight. It’s chock full of what I will hope is helpful information to you. I’m going to do my best, um, to not go over time tonight and still allow for plenty of questions that you will have. Um, but I wanna be as informative and maximize our, our evening together as much as possible.

Um, so that’s my goal for us tonight. Um, but yeah, I can start on the presentation. I think before we get started, we are gonna do a quick poll, which I already launched. And of course, because the presentation is geared towards sophomores and juniors, that is exactly who’s here in the space. So we have an even number of 50% of sophomores and 50% of juniors.

I’m also looking forward to hearing your presentation as well, because sophomore and juniors always like, what do I do, you know, as I get ready for the college application process. So I will turn it over to you, Angela, to uh, kick us off into your presentation. Thank you, Lonnie. I was a little ex too excited to start.

Forgot about the poll for a second there. Um, really happy to see the even split here tonight. Um, I, uh, have a general overview up on the screen for you. Obviously gonna skip over kind of freshman and senior year. You can take a look at that if you wish. Um, tonight we’ll be focusing on our sophomores and our juniors.

Um, there’s a lot of overlap in that these two years are your primary preparatory years. I’m always so, so happy to see, um, sophomores, uh, and even juniors, uh, who are enrolling earlier on in our program and seek and coming to us for guidance. Um, because it is a lot, um, not just easier for us as the advisors, but it’s wonderful for you, uh, going through your high school experience to be able to make these decisions and more intentionally rather than, you know, coming in your senior year and kind of working with what you have and trying.

Uh, create a story out of it. And for some stories that is a very natural and sincere story. But for others, you know, there is sometimes a feeling of regret of, oh, I wish I had known this sooner. I wish I had thought about this sooner than I would have, you know, done this earlier on, and so on and so forth.

Um, so super happy to see all of our, uh, sophomores and juniors here tonight who are ready to kind of put in that early. So academic and extracurricular, um, engagement is going to be the main focus of not just your sophomore year, but in your junior year as well. Um, especially, and I’ll go into this in a little bit more detail.

I’m gonna divide it up and go further into sophomore year and further into junior year. Um, but your core passions and whether or not you’ll be doing testing as part of your application process, um, uh, you know, that’s something that we’ll wanna start thinking about identifying if that’s the path for you, uh, and if so, doing some hardcore preparation for that as well.

Um, I’ll also be talking about what leadership and personal impact means, uh, not just for you, but what it means for your application and the implications of that. And then, um, a little bit, a little bit of a peak into what your senior year is going to look like, um, in terms of an application timeline. So that’s a little bit of an overview of what’s, what’s to come if there are any students in the room who have no idea , what any of this is about.

Um, and there may be some of you who have done, you know, a little bit of preparation. Perhaps you have an older sibling in the family who’s recently gone through this. Um, then maybe this is a little bit of a review for you, but for everybody else in the room, um, just to kind of set a baseline, uh, what is a college application?

This is going to vary from school to school. For example, one university versus another may have a couple of different application requirements. Uh, but generally speaking, you can think about your academic profile, um, which basically means your transcript. The grades you have received, the types of courses you are taking, um, in high school, but also if you’re looking for opportunities to expand your knowledge outside of the offerings at your high school.

Are you doing that? You know, what are you doing to push your potential? So your academic profile, your extracurricular profile, which, which is all inclusive of any community service you’re doing. Any part-time jobs, you might have any internships, any clubs on campus that you’re engaged in. Um, any, you know, music, dance, sports, all of that.

Basically, what are you doing in your hours outside of studying and going to class, standardized test scores. If this is applicable to you, again, we will revisit this. Um, and then essays. . So the essays, that’s I think what, um, associates and triggers, potentially maybe, possibly the word triggers is more appropriate.

A lot of stress for students going into this process. Um, I think there are a couple of reasons for that. First, just volume, the sheer quantity of essays that are now required, um, but also. Just the, um, different type of essay that you are writing, that you will be writing that perhaps you are not used to, uh, in school, in essays that you’re required to write for English classes.

You know, you are used to writing a very certain type of essay. Um, this is a very personal type of essay, um, that you’ll be writing for your personal statement, but also for some of the supplements, which are additional essays required by different universities. Some of their prompts may encourage you, may prompt you to think about things and ask yourself questions that you may not have really considered before.

They may encourage you to consider, um, your place in your community and how you have been impacting your community and what does your community mean to you. So again, all of these things, all of these reasons are great for you to start on this early so you can start kind of putting that in the back of your mind as you navigate the next one year to two years.

And then finally letters of recommendation. Um, not all schools require this. Some schools require one, some schools require three. Um, so it, this is a, certainly a variable. Um, but, uh, nowadays, especially in the landscape that we are in now, where many colleges are, Um, either turning completely away from collecting standardized test scores, um, or, you know, making them optional.

Um, there are now other components of the application that are considered more important than before, and I think the letters of recommendation, um, is a great example of that. Um, uh, colleges really want to gain a better understanding of the strength of a student’s character. Really what kind of person are you?

Are you the type of person who is going to be a good fit at our college? Are you going to be an engaged, uh, member of our community? Uh, and those are all things that sure, you can try to advocate for yourself and your essays, and that’s kind of the point of your essays. Um, but the letters of recommendation add a secondary level of support, uh, for the things that you are kind of gunning for yourself in your essays, um, and a certain level of credibility as well as, you know, an adult.

you know, an a, a teacher or a counselor in your school who has observed you for a number of years and has really gotten a, a, a, a really familiar experience and exposure to either your work ethic, um, your personal values, how you treat others, um, and all of those kind of things that, that may be a little bit difficult to assess from the rest of your application.

Not listed on here, but because it’s usually, uh, more optional, are things like interviews or video recordings. Uh, again, not going to be required by every university or every, even every program within the same university. Um, but, but another kind of vari variable component here as well. . Okay, so this section is kind of geared for our sophomore.

So if you’re a junior, you’ve already kind of gone through this, perhaps you can take a water break or you can listen in as well. Um, so first we’ll talk a little bit about academics. Um, as I mentioned earlier, coursework is going to be one of the most important aspects of the application that admissions officers are considering.

The reason for that is because they wanna make sure this is one of the ways that they are measuring your potential for success. Um, uh, are you taking classes that are indicative of your potential for success, um, within their campus, within the, the rigorous courses that they will be offering? So in, in your school, whether that means honors courses, AP courses, IB courses, maybe your school doesn’t offer any of those.

So your. You know, taking community college classes, um, you know, whatever that means. Um, colleges will want to see that you’re really pushing your potential, kind of going above and beyond what everybody else at your school might be doing, um, or, um, you know, what your school offers. Um, so again, I don’t want students who may be, uh, attending maybe smaller schools that have, uh, fewer course offerings.

I don’t want you to feel limited by that. I know that can be frustrating if your eyes are kind of set on highly selective universities. Um, but, uh, but that’s another way for you to truly stand out actually. Um, because applications, your application will be considered within the context of your environment.

What that means is that your application is never going to be considered or is never going to be compared to, let’s say, you know, you’re attending a, a very small. Um, the whole school is, is less than 80 students, um, in a very rural area. Your application will not be compared to a student who’s attending, perhaps a highly resourced boarding school where 90% of their graduates go on to, you know, a highly selective university.

That would not be a fair comparison because the environments are completely different. Um, but they also don’t wanna discount the potential that you may have. So how you’re going to advocate for yourself is, again, by, you know, um, seeking opportunities that are outside of just what’s easily available to you.

So, take advanced coursework when that’s possible, when it’s not possible, you know, get creative, use the internet and think about, you know, what are some ways, what are some things that I’m interested in, first of all that I, I, I genuinely want to gain more knowledge on. Um, and educate yourself that way. Um, so academic achievement, definitely, you know, you wanna focus on your grades.

You also wanna start thinking about, um, uh, not when you’re, especially when you’re doing your core selection, don’t just think about your next semester or your next year. Think about your next two years. If you wanna graduate, um, uh, with, you know, a certain number of classes in a certain area, you’ll wanna make sure that you’re hitting the prerequisites to enable you for success later on.

Um, so it could be who you to either sit down with a parent or your counselor, um, or your, your CollegeAdvisor and think about, you know, a four year plan or I guess as of now, uh, a future two year plan. Um, you’ll also wanna meet with your counselor at your high school. Um, I mentioned earlier regarding the letters of recommendation.

Your counselor is going to be writing a letter of recommendation for you. Um, this recommendation letter is different from your teacher’s recommendation letter. Your teacher is really going to talk a little bit more about the personal character that they have seen you display within their classroom. Um, your teacher generally knows you a little bit better than a counselor does.

Um, so they’ll be providing more personal anecdotes. The value of the counselor recommendation letter is that they can speak to you. within the context of the entire school. So perhaps they will be the one that’s saying, you know, in the history of our school, you know, um, Amy here is the first student to do X, Y, Z.

She has impressed me so much with her ability to X, y, Z. Um, that’s the value of the counselor. They have a, a bit of a, a larger and a wider scope, um, of view and and context. So the theme with the counselor though, is that most students do not have a very close relationship with their guidance counselor.

It’s not your fault. Um, most counselors are assigned a student load that’s. , usually not very, um, reasonable , um, or not just, just not manageable for them to have close relationships with each and every student. Um, so here’s where you can make the additional effort. You can make your own extra effort to start developing that relationship.

Maybe that just means stopping by once a semester, um, to just say hi, to just drop in. Um, make sure that they remember you. Maybe chat for a few minutes. Um, maybe it’s a little bit more formal at your school where drop-ins are. You know, are not a thing and you do have to make an appointment. If that’s the case, then do so.

Um, just fill them in on what’s going on in your life and make sure that they’re aware of your goals too. Um, so they can provide some more information about local opportunities. I think that’s another value of a counselor, is that they’re very, very aware about local opportunities and local scholarships, awards, competitions, things like that.

So if those are things that you are interested in and hinted, maybe you should be, um, then, you know, going to your counselor for some ideas, suggestions on things that they might be aware of and that they might recommend for you to pursue. Your counselor has a wealth of knowledge about those. Um, secondarily, you want to also start to develop a relationship with your teachers.

Again, when it comes time to the letters of rec. Um, you’re going to want to request the letters of recommendation from teachers who have known you for ideally at least two years. So a teacher who you’ve only been in their class for one year. Um, if, if you’ve had a great and wonderful relationship with them, um, then that’s, that’s perfectly fine to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation.

Um, but a, a, a, a letter that is written by a teacher who has known you, you know, maybe your entire high school, um, career, maybe they’ve taught you in a class, um, for, you know, two or three years, they can really speak to your growth in not just your development as a student, but as a person overall. They can talk about your maturity, um, how you have taken on responsibilities so they can speak to a lot of those character qualities that they have ex have witnessed and observed in having known you on a personal level for longer.

Um, so certainly, you know, make an effort to get to know your teachers on a little bit more of a personal level than just kind of going to class and, and doing the assignments. So next is extracurricular activities. If you, um, in your freshman year, you know, you were really excited and just signed up for a bunch of clubs on club day and, um, you know, you, you found a few quite interesting and you found a few less interesting, um, then that’s great.

You know, sophomore year is the year. Freshman year is honestly the year to do that is just to, is to dive in and to explore and to kind of just, um, raise your awareness of all the opportunities that are around you, especially on campus. Sophomore year I would say is, is when you wanna start narrowing things down.

Um, what are the things, what are the clubs, what are the, um, fields that you found, you know, really interesting and they, and just more fun for you, um, and continue to engage in those area. Or maybe your school doesn’t offer many clubs. If you have an idea for a club, certainly think about, maybe talk to an advisor or administration at your school about what it would take for you to start a club around something that you, you have an interest in.

Um, so on a related note, that would be a time where you wanna identify where, what are your passions, and start to, you know, cultivate, um, more engagement and more impact in those activities. As I mentioned, you know, this can start, this can originate, or it can even stay within kind of the walls of high school, of, of your high school.

Uh, but if it means you’re seeking opportunities outside, that’s great too. Um, and when you. Think about like leadership is kind of, you know, a flag word that is, is very much circulated when talking about college admissions. Um, and I think, you know, it can often lead to an idea that, okay, I have to become president of a club.

I have to, you know, be on the board of this. I have to participate in student government. That way the colleges will know that I’m a leader and I’m. Playing leadership. You know, that is certainly if you are interested in those things, if you’re genuinely interested, then great, go for it. But I also want to encourage students and families to, um, think about leadership in a more nuanced way.

I want you to think about leadership in terms of impact. Um, so that’s another kind of buzzword within college admissions is impact, impact, impact, the impact that you are having on others and the impact that you’ve received from others, and how you are reflecting on that impact and how you’re processing it and applying it in your life.

Um, so the impact that you are having on others is, is certainly something that colleges want to hear about as well and see that, that genuine effort. Do you, are you somebody who cares about others? Are you somebody who cares about making. The world a better place. Your high school a better place, your family a better place, your smaller social circle, a better place.

You know, what are you doing to achieve that goal? So they want to admit people, admit students who are thinking about not just themselves. Um, and I think when you kind of hear it that way, it sounds, sounds a little obvious, right? Like, who wouldn’t want to either befriend or work with or, you know, um, or interact with somebody who is selfless and thinks of others and wants to contribute, um, to improvement.

So that’s, uh, that’s a, um, an area where you’ll wanna think about, Hey, what’s a group that I care about? Um, I really, really like, you know, the, the trash pickup club at school. I, I really love my high school. I think it’s a really beautiful place. I love having lunch under the trees. I really love going to the library and using the computers there.

You know, I love my campus and I see that some other students don’t appreciate our campus as much as I do. I really wanna help make our campus a more beautiful place, a more appreciated place. So maybe that means that you, um, Encourage other students. Maybe it means that you come up with an initiative or a campaign, um, at school, maybe you advocate to your school administration to value and prioritize, um, environmentalism and school cleanup and school beautification more, whatever that means.

So that’s, that’s an area where that doesn’t necessarily mean, Hey, I started a club. Hey, I’m a president of this. Um, but it also still demonstrates that you a cared about something enough to do something about it. And then even better if you can show results and say, I was able to convince my school administration to.

put more recycling bins around or put more signage around to, um, to encourage students to participate in this. Um, and I’m going to leave this impact on my school for years, even after I graduate and leave. That’s where you can genuinely point to real impact. And that’s a very small example that I, um, that I’m just kind of making up on the spot here.

But I hope that kind of shares, um, what, um, impact means in how it’s related to leadership. Because I think that you can make an argument that, that example I just gave now absolutely embodies leadership. It, it embodies a student who has a sense of responsibility and who has an idea, a plan, and they’re able to carry it out and execute it successfully.

That’s absolutely leadership. Even if it doesn’t come with a title. So, um, if you are also part of a club that you really enjoy, um, then I would also encourage you to, uh, start becoming more active in that club. Um, you know, um, instead of just kind of doing or just showing up to meetings, start, you know, con coming up with ideas or suggestions to make the club a better place.

And that’s how you lay the foundation to, you know, either in your junior year or your senior year to be able to successfully pursue some more, um, roles in leadership. Um, perhaps you can join the board, um, because you’ve now demonstrated that you really care about this club and that you have kind of a track record of helping the club become a better.

Um, so I’ve listed a couple of activities down here below that perhaps you’ve had a chance to read. Now I’ll go on to the next slide, the sophomore between the, so, uh, the, the summer between the sophomore and junior year is when you really wanna start taking advantage of opportunities. And I’m gonna, you know, hammer this in again between about the summer, between your junior and senior year as well.

Um, but this summer between 10th and 11th grade is a really wonderful opportunity to, um, to dive into what I like to call, kind of like the ex exploration and discovery phase. It is absolutely fine if you are a sophomore or even if you’re a junior and you have no idea what you wanna ma major in, in college or you have no idea what you wanna do after college.

You don’t have a. Um, 10 year plan yet, or a career goal yet? That is absolutely fine. Perhaps right now you are in that exploration and discovery phase. You have a few interests. Maybe, you know, architecture and interior design seems really interesting to you. Maybe you feel like you have a little bit of a knack for it, but then you also think that, um, you know, you, you have an immense amount of respect and admiration for, for what doctors do, and you’re interested in, in seeing more about what a career in healthcare could look like.

So if you are still kind of in between options, this is a prime time for you to dive in and, um, and gain more exposure into what those fields could mean for you. So summer opportunities, um, are, you know, are, are just numerous these days, especially when it comes to immersion and, um, uh, gaining more exposure and awareness into what.

uh, a career field could really look like. Um, so there are summer programs. There are summer internships. Um, I think an easy way, um, uh, I, I again wanna encourage you to take advantage of your counselor who may have local recommendations in your area. Um, but also, you know, um, virtually there are tons of remote opportunities too.

A lot of universities offer programs pre, pre-college programs that are catered to high school students. Some of these even include an opportunity for you to actually stay in the dorms on campus. Many of these summer courses and summer programs are led by actual faculty. So the professors who teach the undergraduates at their school will be the ones who are leading these courses too.

So, great opportunity if you already have a couple of colleges in mind that you’re interested in and maybe thinking about applying to. This is a great way to get to know that school better. Very, very, um, intimately by actually staying on campus and learning from their professors. Um. So those summer opportunities I always, always encouraged because, um, you know, it goes kind of hand in hand with the value of doing college campus tours as well.

It really gives you a better sense of what a campus environment, um, it really feels like what it could. You like to live in a certain city, um, and, um, and, and, and just generally get a better sense of, of an undergraduate institution. Um, you know, other things that you can pursue are, uh, additional courses that you can take in an area that you’re interested in.

Maybe it’s an online course, maybe it’s a community college course. Um, whatever that might be, you know, increasing your education and knowledge about a topic that you’re interested in. Um, absolutely helpful. This is also a time when you wanna start thinking about standardized testing. Um, so generally you’ll take the piece at, um, you know, but, but in terms of SAT or, or the ACT as well, um, the SAT and ACT are things that you.

Remember, are on your horizon. Many students will take it for the first time in their junior year. I know some really ambitious students who take it for the first time in their sophomore year, just because they wanna get a sense of what the SAT is actually like. Um, you don’t have to really put yourself through that.

You can easily see what the SAT is like by taking a practice SAT test. Um, there’s lots of free ones you can find online. But generally, you know, I would start doing a, i I I don’t think it’s wise to kind of go into a formal, an official SAT test, you know, totally unaware of what to expect. So I always recommend taking a practice test at home or multiple practice tests.

Um, but in advance of, you know, your first sit down s a t testing date, um, you wanna start thinking about should I take a class, should I do an online class, um, or do I wanna independently study for this and buy a book? Um, you know, you wanna start thinking about those, those options.

Okay. We’re gonna take a short pause just so I can share a little bit about our new essay editing package that we have within CollegeAdvisor. Um, so, you know, I know that this presentation is mostly for sophomores and juniors, but I wanna, we want us to let you know, because we are currently now in the application.

Process and deadlines are just around the corner, so make sure that your supplemental essays are in tip top shape with CollegeAdvisors. New essay editing packages. These packages are designed for seniors in the thick of application process who aren’t yet working with If you register for a package, you’ll receive two rounds of unbiased and expert reviews per essay, all within 72 hours or less.

Take the next step to improve your college essays by signing up for an essay editing package using the QR code on the screen. Okay, I will turn it back over to you, Angela. Thanks Lonnie. Um, so now moving into the junior year, um, I’ve broken down the junior year into a few segments, uh, in the months of September to January.

So if you’re a junior now, then, right now, um, the ti this is the time to kind of focus on a few things that I’ve listed here, your school list, um, standardized testing, which I was just talking about, um, your academics and extracurriculars, kind of reiterating the importance of investing your time and energy in those areas.

So, for your school list, if you haven’t already, again, just wanna emphasize, um, to start researching, um, I emphasize a, a wide breadth of schools because there. Hundreds, if not thousands of colleges just in America. Um, and it’s, it’s really difficult to say which one is the right one for you. And there are so many factors that go into identifying which one is the right one for you.

Um, I think a lot of students will start with just kind of googling, maybe saying, I think I have an interest in computer science. Let me just Google top programs for computers for computer science or top university programs for confer computer science. And that’s totally fair. That’s a totally fair place to start.

But the thing with that is it’s gen generally going to spit out kind of the same 20 to 30 schools. Top schools, most competitive schools, most well known, renowned schools, um, uh, that everybody else is applying to. Um, and that’s, again, I don’t want to diminish that and, and say that you shouldn’t apply to those schools simply because they are popular.

Um, but I also really wanna encourage students to think about, um, the bigger picture and, and long-term goals too. Especially if you are somebody who is considering a career that would require graduate school, or even if you’re just wanting, you know, uh, more opportunities. So things like location, things like extracurricular opportunities that are offered to you.

In the computer science example that I gave, perhaps you are interested in pursuing a career in. it might make sense for you to, you know, attend a university that’s located in a, in a city or a general region that has a lot of tech companies so that you can take advantage of not just summers, um, but even, you know, opportunities throughout the course of the year.

Um, To do shadowing opportunities to attend workshops, to attend off-sites, to have, you know, people from, um, a certain, you know, uh, field or industry come visit your campus. Um, and, uh, a lot of times those companies will come and do recruiting on your campus. Um, so location can be very, very important. And you’ll wanna think about, you know, especially for whatever industry you’re, you’re considering pursuing.

Um, apart from that, you know, if your. Uh, if there are other things that are important to you, perhaps you’ve done dance or music all of your life, you wanna make sure that the school that you’re attending, you know, A: has the programs that you’re interested in, but B: also has other opportunities that you’ll wanna make sure that you have a very rich experience there.

Um, you’ll be living there for four years. That’s a good chunk of your life, . Um, and you wanna make sure that your experience isn’t just about studying. You wanna think about how am I going to have a really rich, um, full four years with colorful and diverse experiences? Am I going to meet people who have never met before, who have different interests, who have different passions?

Um, am I going to have opportunities to explore new things, you know, even off, off of campus? Um, so those are some things that I would encourage you to consider. Some of that you can certainly get a sense of through virtual tours, through checking out a college’s website through following, um, a school on their social media and, and looking at things that they highlight.

They’re watching YouTube blogs of perhaps students who attend there. Um, there’s a number of ways you can feel like you get to know a school better. Um, and I think one of the best ways is to do an in-person campus tour, um, or, and, and speak to a current or recent graduate as well. Um, I think I can go on and on about all the different factors that go into really thinking about, um, what, what schools could be a good fit for you At, for example, at CollegeAdvisor, we literally have a four page questionnaire that students fill out before we even start putting together a college list to start kind of, you know, um, gathering together all of the factors that are most important to you in, in finding a good fit.

Um, so standardized testing. If you’re a junior, um, and you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet, then definitely think about doing. So. Um, this is a conversation that you’ll wanna have with your advisor, a parent, um, somebody who you know is, is a mentor or a guide for you. Um, and this kind of goes, ties into the college list conversation as well.

If you are somebody who has, uh, whether or not you’ve taken the SAT yet, I think that some, I think some students make this decision after they take the SAT at least one time. Um, but sometimes students will decide, you know what, it’s not for me. Um, I don’t wanna put myself through that again. Um, that’s totally fine.

There are numerous colleges now that are either what we call test optional, where it’s completely your decision whether you want to share a test score or not. Um, some schools, and I think there are kind of different schools of thought on this, when they say they are test optional, they actually mean it.

Not having it is not punitive or doesn’t disadvantage you in any way. Um, and some schools they say they’re test optional, but really they kind of like it when you share your test score and especially if it’s a good one. Um. Uh, and then, you know, there are also schools that are completely, um, test blind or test free, in which case, even if you had a perfect score, they, they’re not gonna look at it.

There’s no place on the application form to even include that information. Um, so, so oftentimes that’s good news for students who decide that that’s not for them. If you are on the other side and you think that, Hey, I took it once, you know, uh, I’m pretty proud of my score. I think if I practice a little more for it and focused, you know, this time on studying on some of these areas that I thought were a little bit more challenging for me, then I think I have a pretty good shot at, you know, significantly improving my score the next time.

Then you wanna allot yourself plenty of time to a, make that decision so that you have that freedom of choice, uh, and, and time to prepare for the next time. Um, so this is a good time to, again, you know, register for the first one if you haven’t taken it already. I think most students, you know, um, should take it twice.

Uh, if, if you’re planning to, to pursue this, . Um, I think a lot of students take it a third time, and then beyond that, um, don’t really see too much of a difference. In which case, um, it, it’s really diminishing returns in that you are spending a lot of time, energy, and stress preparing for this, taking it it’s hours in a day, um, and your score is not necessarily improving.

Um, then it’s, it’s really not an advantage for you because you could spend that time on other things, on your actual schoolwork or on your extracurricular activities. Um, so, you know, I, I don’t want students who just kind of, you know, um, uh, blindly just register and register and register for all these tests so they can have multiple sittings, because super scoring is a thing.

Super scoring is where they’ll take the best score from each of the sections of the SAT, um, uh, regardless of, you know, how many times you’ve taken it. So if you got a really high score and a lower score one time, then you got a really low score and then a high score, the next time they’ll just take the two highest scores from your difference, um, sittings.

Um, in any case, um, I, I don’t necessarily recommend taking it more than three times again because it’s, it’s really just kind of sucking up your time at that point. That being said, um, academics, you know, um, same thing I was saying earlier. Um, at the time of your application. Um, they will either be seeing just the courses that are in progress of your senior year, because remember, you’re submitting your applications usually, um, most regular decision deadlines.

I’ll talk about the timeline of deadlines soon. Um, they’re going to happen. Um, very soon for our seniors. Now, um, end of December, early January, there are a lot of students, and you may be within this pool who decide to apply early, and those early deadlines start in October. So if you’re starting in October and you start at senior year in September, you really don’t have much to say about senior year at all.

You have one month of senior year under your belt. So that being said, uh, your application that they’ll be, that they’ll be assessing you on is completely only between up to your junior year from freshman to junior year. It’s your academic performance, your extracurricular activities, anything you have to say about yourself and your essays.

It’s just until your junior year. So that’s why your a. Um, and your extracurricular performance too, but mostly your academics is really, really important. In your junior year, it’s your last kind of opportunity to show your academic potential. It’s to show that you are, um, taking, you know, uh, advanced level courses and doing well in them.

Um, so, so certainly really, really important to, to strive for strong grades always. You know, you are, you wanna show that you’re a hard worker and that you care about, um, your education. Um, but, but in the junior year could not stress that more in your extracurriculars. You can wanna continue to pursue, you know, uh, the impact that you’re leaving and how you are supporting others, how you are helping students who are younger than yourself, who are, um, maybe less privileged.

Um, you wanna continue to show, uh, those efforts within your extracurricular activities. So February to May. So your second half of your junior year, um, at this point, you will have that long list of perhaps 20 to maybe even 30 schools you’ll start working with, you know, if you’re enrolled in our program, you’ll start working with your CollegeAdvisor at this time, um, to start thinking about your application strategy.

So I mentioned the early deadlines, you know, if you are planning to apply early, um, and your first school’s deadline is in October. Uh, this summer is, is going to be incredibly important and, and just a very critical time for you to complete your application. Not start, but complete your application, which means that, uh, for many of you who, who do end up planning to apply a little bit early, um, closer to like may end of junior year, you’re already gonna be starting to, um, to, to, to look at applications to start writing some maybe practice essays and doing some of that and certainly narrowing down your college list.

Um, a lot of what I wrote here with the testing academics and extracurriculars, you can take a look at that yourself. It’s really kind of reiterating, um, what was previously mentioned. Um, the only, the other thing that I do want to say is that, uh, when you’re thinking about your college list and you’re thinking about, um, uh, uh, preparing for your applications, so much more goes into it than just, you know, um, okay.

You know, I, I’m ready now and, and the application is open. The common app has opened and I’m ready to just start writing. Um, there is an incredible amount of reflection and inner growth, honestly, that happens with students that we work with. Um, and, uh, a lot of that takes time. It does not happen overnight, and that’s why we encourage starting that process a little bit earlier.

Um, and, uh, one of the things that we also encourage our students to do is to create a, a practice account on the Common App website. That way you can kind of navigate, um, what they’re looking for, what they’re asking for, and that can, you know, not just save you a little bit of time, but just mentally prepare you for, for what is to come.

Um, so going into that spring slash summer, um, June and um, June, July and August, this is a time when you’re really finalizing your school list. It says eight to 12 schools there. I will say, honestly, that eight is probably on the lower end of, um, the school count. That’s on most students list, at least the students that we work with.

I think it’s a totally fine number, especially if you are, um, very certain about what you’re going into, what school, what, what, uh, areas you’re going into. Um, and also if you have worked, um, to create a school list. Um, uh, has enough of a safety net. So when we’re composing a school list, we think about your reach schools, which means that even if you are the valedictorian of your school, um, and you have invented numerous patents, , and you’ve, I don’t know, solved world hunger, even if you are that student, there are just a number of schools that are so highly rejective that it’s still going to be a toss up if you’re gonna get in or not, just because the sheer number of applications that this school receives, um, the, the, the, the, the odds are stacked against you.

So that being said, you wanna come, come up with a list of schools that you know, have your, your, your dream schools on there. Um, but also a good amount, a good balance of schools that are, um, you know, more likely and more target range schools for you and your advisor will work with you to kind of identify.

um, what kind of fits in those categories for you? Because that considers a number of different things. Um, uh, but, uh, I think most students nowadays are applying to, yeah. At, at least around 10 to, to 15 schools. Especially if you’re, you’re, you’re somebody who, who is really aiming for the highly selective, highly competitive schools.

You just, um, uh, you just have to kind of broaden your. your safety net and make your bucket that you’re putting your eggs in that bucket a little bigger. Um, you also, within your research of your college list of the schools in your college list, you wanna start looking at what kind of programs do they offer?

Do they offer scholarships? Do they offer honors programs? Do they offer research opportunities? You wanna start looking into those specific details so that when you write your essays and, and almost the only for your own personal knowledge too, um, uh, you wanna be able to know those schools better so that you can speak to them more sincerely in saying, Hey, I’m really passionate about your school.

And saying to yourself, Hey, I am really passionate about this, this school, this program sounds awesome. I can’t wait to be a part of it. I really hope they pick me. You want your school list to be full of schools that you genuinely are like. I, I wish I could be there. I wish I could be a student there. You don’t want to just kind of come up with a college list that’s, um, you know, been com comprised of schools that you kind of pulled from the net.

All right. So, um, testing and extracurriculars, you’ll see it’s just kind of more continuation and college apps. We really, we a CollegeAdvisor, really take advantage of the summer, um, of, you know, really starting early on those essays. The personal statement prompts generally don’t change year, uh, from year to year supplemental essay prompts, which again, are the additional essays required by different universities.

Not all schools have them. Um, many, many schools do, and many. Have many essays, , that you would have to, um, write, you know, honestly can range from a hundred words. So shorter essays to 600 words, which is essentially a whole other personal statement. Um, and, uh, the summer between your, um, let’s see if it’s on the next slide.

The summer between your junior and senior year, again, is kind of that last summer to demonstrate, um, all of your potential. So if that means taking additional classes to show, Hey, I’m really, really interested in coding, um, I’m gonna take an extra coding class this summer, to, to just really improve and increase my own skills, um, purely for my own interest, uh, because I’m, I’m interested in this, I’m interested in learning more.

Um, or if it means, you know, Hey, I’m really interested in business. This is a summer that I think I wanna try starting my own business. It’s gonna be something small. Maybe I’ll just, you know, help out, um, my local community in some way, or provide, um, a need that’s really missing at my, in my school or, or what some other area of your community.

Um, but start thinking about things that you wanna do that a, you know, you, I can, I can truly say that, like, sets you apart, um, but also again, is aligned with your interests as well. . So I’m not gonna read through all of these. I think you can take a look yourself. This is a general timeline for most four year universities.

The reason I’m putting this up is because I think it gives you a better scope of understanding of just, uh, what to have a sense of urgency about. And this is probably a little bit more applicable to our juniors in the room. Um, but as I mentioned earlier, um, October or, uh, sorry, August is, um, so in the middle of the summer is when most application portals open up.

So prior to August, um, really you are kind of seeing either last year’s application or in most cases you can’t see it at all unless you’re making like a practice account. Um, but starting from August 1st is when you’ll be able to see most applications and the updated, um, some, some universities will change their essay prompts from year to year, so you’ll be able to see the new essay prompts.

Um, prior to that, I always recommend my students to, um, even if you’re working with last year’s essay prompts, you know, prior to August start doing some practice essays just to get a hang of it and just to practice your writing skills. And then once August 1st rolls around, you’ll either, you know, find out that they have not come up with new prompts.

So, you know, your past work over the past few weeks, um, was not for, not. Or you can consider it just as some, some nice writing practice. Um, there are some schools that are under rolling admissions deadlines, which basically means that they are accepting applications and making as admissions decisions throughout the year rather than the more conventional method of having, um, a very set kind of universal, um, uh, one deadline where they accept all applications and then do a full review and then make decisions at one time.

Admissions enroll admissions is kind of throughout the year, so those schools are going to have a little bit of a different timeline, obviously. Um, if you are going to be applying for financial aid, you’ll start having the opportunity to do that in October. You don’t have to do it right away, but I think it’s helpful, um, because.

Require quite a bit of work, especially from the parents’ end. So you wanna make sure you have ample time for that October and November. I think October 15th is kind of the first, um, the first gate to open, um, between, you know, most universities for an early deadline, but between November 1st, but from the 15th to December 1st, there are various different, um, opportunities for students to us to submit an application early.

Um, this is, uh, there are a number of other webinars that go much more into detail about the difference between early action, early decision, and kind of the benefits or the implications of that. So I highly encourage you to, to visit that. I don’t think we have enough time today to go into more detail, although I would love to, um, but just, just know that that’s a thing and um, you can Google that or attend another webinar about that.

If you are applying to a school that offers interviews, that’s going to happen generally between November to February. There are some programs that offer these interviews a little bit earlier. Um, but that is when, um, the bulk of them happen. Depending on if you applied early or to a regular deadline, um, uh, your, you can expect to receive decisions anytime between December up until, um, and I, I think April is kind of the last time.

Most students are going to find out a little bit before that. Um, and then you have until May 1st to make a decision and to let other colleges know if you, you know, won’t be going or not. Um, uh, and. Yeah, wait. Listing is also a thing. Um, and um, and, and you will be notified of that around the same time as well.

Uh, and you have a little bit more time to decide, um, cuz colleges will notify you if you’ve been kind of graduated from the wait list to an acceptance. Uh, you’ll find that out in the summertime. So that’s a little bit of a quick recap. I told you I wanted to make sure we left enough time for some questions and, um, I hope we can, um, uh, I hope I can answer a few over the next about nine minutes.

Okay. Thank you Angela. So let’s jump into the first question. I’ll give you a, a moment though. Um, you’ve been presenting some really great information. Okay, so our first question is because of Covid. During my freshman year, I did not participate in any clubs. I did one thing outside of the school. Does that negatively impact me?

Hmm. So that’s a, that’s a, um, pretty nuanced question. I’d be curious to know what that one thing was as well. Um, I think, you know, uh, there is a lot of empathy and a lot of understanding from universities about the restrictions, the restricted experience, uh, the very limited experience that high schoolers, um, had as a result of the pandemic.

Um, there are are also some, some students who took advantage of that time and, um, you know, uh, found opportunities either virtually. Um, or took that time to perhaps improve on a school, a skill at home. Um, so that’s a difficult, um, question to answer. The thing is though, that that was during your freshman year and you have all of your sophomore year, your junior year, and part of your senior year to fill out the rest of that picture for our college admissions offices to say, Hey, that was because of that, but look at all this oth all this other stuff that I’ve now done.

Um, so I don’t want you to dwell too much on what you feel is lacking from your application. I want you to think about the things that you can now do to bolster your application. And, and maybe that’ll be, you know, what kickstarts you to, um, to really kind of go into, to, um, to, to full drive into some of the activities you’re, you’re now engaged in.

Great, great. Our next question is, how should your core classes and electives reflect your focus in your future major? Does it have to reflect your future career interests? And how should your classes tell a story? Oh, this is, uh, a great and multi-part question. Um, I think, um, generally speaking, you wanna think about the field that you’re entering.

And I, I know it’s gonna be a little bit difficult to say, how can I really show this story through my classes when basically my school offers the same courses to everyone, you know, a math, a science and English, and a history class, and maybe a couple of other electives. And that’s kind of what every high school has.

So how can I stand apart from that? I think that’s a very fair question to have. Um, so I, I want to, um, uh, will a, um, suggest. opportunities outside of your school, um, if your school doesn’t offer that. Um, so I know some schools will kind of offer maybe like concentrations and specialties. Um, a lot of schools don’t.

So if you’re at a school that that doesn’t offer, you know, taking for example, um, intro to business, they don’t offer that at your school. Uh, it’s more likely they don’t offer that than they do. But some high schools do. If you’re at a high school that does offer it, absolutely take it if that’s in your interest.

Um, because colleges, when they receive your application, they also receive something called a school profile. That school profile tells them all of the classes that are offered at your high school. So if they see. Hmm. She only took one AP class throughout her whole high school career. Her, her school offers 20.

Um, it feels like there was a, a few missed opportunities there, or it also provides a little bit more advantage to you if you’re saying, oh, I only have one AP class, but they can see that, hey, your school only offers five. Um, and most students are not even taking three. So, so those are, that’s the additional information that your school, that your university will receive from your.

your, your high school counselor. Um, I want you to think about, um, uh, the courses that your major will require. So what you can do, let’s say you’re interested in, in studying business or, or, um, or, or computer science, whatever that might be. Um, go to the school, uh, a college’s website. Um, look at the major that you’re interested in and see what is ma what comprises their course curriculum.

They probably will start with some general courses, and then as they re approach their junior and senior year of that undergraduate program, they’ll probably start going into some more focus classes, um, where you know, it, it’s, it’s more honed into your subject of interest, but at least for kind of the foundational classes, look at what they’re requiring.

Um, if you are, again, with that example of, of business, that’s a very math heavy major. Even if it was computer science or if you’re interested in pre-health or something, that’s a very, very math heavy program too. So if you’re going to be applying to a major that, um, is going to require a lot of math classes.

Even if, um, it doesn’t, you know, sound that connected, like, Hey, I’m not trying to pursue a math major. I wanna become, you know, uh, I, I wanna go into marketing and advertising, but the fact of the matter is business programs, aka marketing and advertising programs have a ton of bi of math classes. So it’s natural that if a business program is considering your application, even if they know that a marketing and advertising person doesn’t need to, Be an expert in math.

They wanna make sure that you’re going to not just survive, but succeed and thrive in all of their classes, including the foundational ones. So take a look at the curriculum of your intended major and try to emulate that in high school, um, and, and take similar courses in high school. Okay, I am going to share a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor.

And 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 yourself. 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 advising session.

Take the next step in your college admission journey by signing up for a free consultation using the QR code on the screen. During the consultation, a member of our team will review your current extracurricular list, discuss how it aligns up with your college goals, and help you find opportunities for growth and leadership.

After scanning the QR code, you’ll be able to select a date and time for a phone conversation with a member from our team. Okay, so back to the questions and answers. I think we have time for just one more. Is that okay, Angela? Yes. Okay. Uh, let’s see. There’s some really great ones that are here. Hmm.

Okay, let’s do this one. So with taking more AP advanced classes have more of an impact on your chances of getting into a college slash university compared to if you took regular classes every year, 100%. Yes. 100%, yes. Maybe 1000%. Yes. Um, but again, this, this is entirely dependent on the context of your environment.

Um, so, you know, if your school doesn’t offer that, I don’t want you to hear me say a thousand percent Yes. And start sweating and thinking, my school doesn’t offer that. What am I going to do? It’s, it’s the main thing that colleges are looking for. Just remember that you are, what they’re really looking for is that you are pushing yourself to your potential and that you are challenging yourself.

So, you know, take the most difficult classes, show them that you’re ready for college. Show them that you’re ready to take on a challenge and show them that you’re ready to put in the hard work. That’s really what they’re looking for. Um, so if your school doesn’t offer that, that’s okay. Um, but also look outside of your high school too.

See what other opportunities are online. Um. And then if you are at a school that offers advanced courses, absolutely. You should be, um, thinking now about how you can position yourself to be able to take those classes. I also don’t want you to think, I ha um, I have to take as many AP classes as possible.

Right. Great point. Right, because if you spread yourself too thin, then that could decrease your, and this I think, kind of ties into the next question that just popped up too. Is it better to have an A in regular physics or a b in AP physics? Um, if you spread yourself too thin and you end up finding yourself, um, enrolled in seven AP classes in one year, and you are just absolutely just, you cannot come up for air.

You have so much to do, not enough time in the day to do it, and your, your grades start to reflect. I think that’s maybe the worst situation. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to take on too much and your GPA starts to go down. Your performance starts to decrease. Perhaps even your teachers start to have, you know, a lesser impression of you because they might think, Hey, she’s always sleeping in class, or she’s always doing another class’s homework in my class.

And, you know, and, and it’s, and it’s, you know, uh, I don’t want you to end up in that situation simply so that you know the number of AP’s on your transcript will increase, um, take on a manageable course load that is going to reflect that you are a person who wants to do hard work, that can handle hard work, um, and that can achieve success, uh, but not to the detriment.

You know, your own mental health insanity, um, but also to, to your other classes overall too. I think also when you start taking on so many AP classes, you don’t have enough time to invest in extracurricular activities and other things that are meaningful to you, and that’s a huge component of your application as well.

So if all you have to show on your application is a ton of AP classes that you’ve gotten straight A’s in, that’s great, and then you have nothing in your activity section and nothing of of, of substance to write in your essays because you have not had rich experiences outside of the classroom, then your activ your, your application is not actually going to stand out.

So, uh, make sure you have a good balance of the activities, the, um, the academics. and also that you’re allowing yourself to have rich experiences that will allow you to grow as a person and a human being. Um, that’s, that’s really what they’re going to want to see. Um, yeah. So I know we went a couple of minutes over, um, but those, that was a really, really great last question to end on, I think.

So thank you to whoever submitted that. Yes. And thank you, Angela, for sharing all this great information with us. We hope to see you in another webinar, maybe a part two, and thank you everyone for your participation this evening. That concludes our webinar. Have a great night everyone, and thank you Lonnie for moderating.

All right. Have a good night everyone. Bye.