Finding Your College Fit

Join for an informative webinar on “Finding Your College Fit” and discover how to identify the colleges and universities that align with your personal and academic goals.

During this webinar, you will learn:

  • The importance of finding a college that’s the right fit for you
  • Strategies for identifying your personal and academic goals in the college search process
  • How to research colleges and universities to determine if they align with your goals
  • Tips for evaluating factors such as academic programs, campus culture, and location when selecting a college

Our experienced college admissions consultants will share their insights and expertise to help you navigate the college search process and find the best fit for you. Whether you’re just starting your college search or have already started exploring your options, this webinar is perfect for you. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions about your college future. Register now to secure your spot!

Date 05/17/2023
Duration 1:01:55

Webinar Transcription

2023-05-17 – Finding Your College Fit

Hi everyone. My name is Stacey Tuttle and I am your moderator today. Welcome to “Finding Your College Fit.” To orient everyone with a webinar timing. We’ll start off with a presentation and then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists.

Hi everyone. My name is Alana Herbert. I’m been on the CollegeAdvisor team for two years now. I went to UC, Irvine in California and I was double majored. So I majored in Urban studies and business Management. So, That’s awesome. And so just to get a sense about who’s in the room today, who you all are I’d like you to all, to answer a quick poll, you’re gonna see this pop up right in front of you.

So go ahead and answer. We wanted to know what grade you’re in. And while we’re waiting, Alana, I’m wondering do you remember when you were in high school, when you started thinking about your college list? Do you remember? Yeah, I definitely do. It was something that I really got intentional junior year.

I think that like seeing my friends that were seniors, like apply and being in some programs, it was like, you know, starting to talk about what your personal statement and your story was, that it was kind of like, okay, yeah, I think of this is really time to figure out, well, which schools is so many, right?

Which ones actually feel like it’s a good fit for me? Yeah, I totally, I think that was around the time I, I started thinking about it too and very much in alignment with those in the room. We have a lot of juniors, a lot of 11th graders. We have a good group of 10th graders as well. A few freshmen.

And there’s some answering others, so other folks might be kind of in an in between stage. So with that, I’m gonna close the poll and I’m gonna turn this over to you for the main part of the presentation, Alana. Well, that’s awesome. Always like to say it’s never too early to start your finding your college fit.

So it’s great to see that we have a little bit of everything here and really important that we have some juniors as well as you’re getting transitioned to your senior year. So I like to say that there’s like key four things that you have to think about when you’re looking for your college fit. So, one, I like to say know your numbers.

I’ll go into detail what that means shortly. You wanna build not just a, any college list, but a smart college list. Three, you wanna get an early start and four, you wanna prepare for the cost of college. So if you kind of think about those four elements, know your numbers, have a smart wishlist, get a early start and prepare the cost of the college, then you’re essentially, you know, being able to have these key things that’s gonna allow you to know that you’re actually going and fitting into the right school that’s for you, because what’s for you will be different sometimes from parents to friends.

So you definitely wanna make sure you have these principles in line when you’re thinking about colleges that you want to attend. Why college fit is so important is because it’s about a fit that’s good for you, and it’s not just. Academically, it’s financially. It’s culture like the more you feel safe, you feel excited you, you feel happy, you enjoy your classes, you’re gonna thrive better, right?

Like there are requirements in things in school that you have to fulfill. You have to make certain schools, you have to maintain a certain GPA. You have to keep a certain GPA from to. Keep scholarships or financial aid. So you wanna make sure that you’re in the environment that you, you do, you can thrive, right?

You could do well in, you’re not, it’s gonna help you with your stress, right? If you’re not feeling like you’re being challenged academically or you feel overwhelmed, or finances, literally, you know, it’s a challenge for you to pay your bill to be a student there. That’s gonna c cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and that’s not gonna make you be the best student that you can be.

So you wanna think about all those elements prior to applying. So when you’re looking at your entire list, you feel like, okay, you, you know that whichever happens, whether you get into some schools or you don’t like, you will be happy and be like, it’s a, it’s a good fit at that university. So overall just a better college experience when you, you like a, like the school, I always tell my students that I work with here at CollegeAdvisor is, yes, you have the transfer process, but you don’t wanna go into a school wanting to already transfer, right?

Like that not necessarily shouldn’t be your first option. Your first option is to have a list that you’re happy with. If anything happens or whichever these schools you get into, you know that it would, it would be a good fit.

So when I said no, your numbers, I like to say that those are like the head factors. Those are the sometimes the harder things to wrap yourself around because you’re really knowing what your test scores are. You’re really knowing what your GPA is, so you’re evaluating. Pretty much what your test scores maybe, or what your GPA is to the averages of what students are being admitted to that school.

You wanna know and understand if there’s, if you are below those averages, and that’s the beauty of being a ninth and a 10th grader and even a little bit of a junior still, you still have opportunity to improve those numbers. You have opportunities to retake, retest those scores. So and you, you have opportunity to also challenge yourself maybe too in your course selection.

And that’s really big too, depending on your major, making sure you’re taking the right classes that prepare you in high school, that prepare you for the right major in college. And then knowing your, your, you know, your financial situation as an, as a high schooler, you might not be talking about finances.

With your parents. But it’s important to also have them in this process because you, you need them to complete financial aid to be considered for, for that or scholarships. So you really wanna understand the true costs of attendance and affordability and know, okay, what are these schools are great at giving finance or a hundred need ma meet, meet school.

Where that means they give aid, if you there, there’s a need or they’re good merit base where they have a lot of scholarships to offer out. Or you have a specialty, right? Like you might be applying for an art scholarship, athletic scholarship, et cetera. So just wanna kind of know and get a true sense early on, like what is affordable for you and your family.

And then like to say, the heart factors, these are part of the other principles. This is what makes you fall in love with the college, right? It could be. The academics, it could be the major, the program, it could be the class environment size. So you might like a liberal arts school because you have a smaller intimate learning se like sessions or classes.

The social reasons, right? The activities, the diversity. Do you feel like it’s diverse in the students that I met weekend activities, sports, et cetera? Like, do you feel like you’ll have fun outside the classroom at that university? Right. And then they’re other great, other preferences for then. These are just all examples.

These might resonate with you and there might be others here that you might value a little bit more. And that’s good. You wanna consider your heart factors? What like, Like what really makes you full and happy? If it’s like the location, right? I’m a California girl, so I had to go to a California school.

It’s important. I like the sunny weather. I like, I like being close to my family, so it didn’t make sense. Boston University could be the great, the best school, but it’s cold in Boston and it’s far and it snows. So it wasn’t the best school. It’s not a best, it wouldn’t be a best school for me. So that’s what I mean about thinking about your preferences and what matters and being intentional about these things because your list should look different than others because you have your own set of things that you are prioritizing and your family’s prioritizing.

That might not be a big factor for someone else. So, yeah. So you have just your career exploration and this overall feelings and vibes. I remember when I was, I got admitted to UC, San Diego, and at that time they’re a better ranked school than UC, Irvine. But when I walked in UC, San Diego, I felt overwhelmed.

It was just so large. So to me it’s like I wanted to go to a big school, but maybe not like big, that big in physical space, but I didn’t know that until I went and visit. So those are just examples of how like, heart factors really play into what you think your, your ideal college could have, or colleges could have to make you f make you feel happy.

So I like to say when that fit comes together, we are, we’re putting that head and heart together. So you know your numbers, you understand the implements of your test scores, your GPA, how that factors up to the schools you, you are interested in, and you’re thinking about that, the heart, right? Those things that might not be, might be non-negotiable for you in terms of location, class size preference in the academic setting type, type of programs major.

And so when you put those two things together, that’s what’s gonna help you actually graduate from college. So yes, you’re in the phase of like, thinking about the school and applying in high school, but the ultimate goal is to like finish writing and, and get the degree and be able to have the experiences and be able to, you know, move forward in life.

Whatever you wanna do in your career or your passion. And you, you know, you in college it’s a great opportunity. You meet a lot of lifelong friends and you do a lot of networking, right? So just also thinking beyond just maybe what matters to you in the short term, but think about the long term. So that’s why those head and heart factors have to be aligned because you wanna finish the program.

Okay. So we just wanna get a sense now of where everyone is in the application process for those of you who are here today. And, and while we’re waiting for your responses to come in, this poll just came up. It’s funny that, you know, just reflecting back on my own heart factors when I was looking at colleges, location is always such an important thing at the forefront for so many folks.

Either they wanna be really far home or really close to home, and I know that was important for me. I think one of them that really doesn’t get. Appreciated enough is major slash programs. Yeah. A lot of students I’ve had, I’ve counseled in the past have not ensured that there’s enough majors or programs that they’re interested in.

So I think that’s a really, really interesting one to emphasize. So looking at the results here, it looks like most of you are researching schools in the moment, which is fabulous. That’s exactly why a lot is here today. Yeah. Some of you’re working on essays, getting application materials together, and a lot of you actually haven’t started, which is totally okay.

You know, you, you’re here to learn more about how to pick those schools. So let’s keep going with the, the rest of the presentation. Alan, I’ll turn it back over to you. Yeah. So, yes, so now we kind of have an idea of the, we talked about knowing your numbers, so now we’re on part two, right. How do you build a smart college list?

Right? And you really want a smart college list to one, be grounded in your own like, Interest. That’s where we have our, our, our heart factors, but also reflective of where you are academically within your, like Tesco or, and or g p a and also class selection as well. So the first thing is when you know your numbers, you also wanna consider what are your long term career interests or goals or even hobbies.

Like it, even if it’s short term. Like you wanna see like, does this school offer what you wanna do? Always give a great example of like, there’s not, there’s a, there’s, I went to a UC school in California and it’s a very STEM focused school. There wasn’t a lot of UCs that actually have business, so, Irvine stood out to me because I was still undecided on what my major might have been, but I knew I had this like, interest in business and seeing the connection with people.

So like that also was a reason why I, I wanted to apply to, to that uc, Irvine for particular. So sometimes it might not be a hundred percent, but you still wanna consider, like, does they, do they have a film program when I know I wanna be a director? They don’t. Is that really a line like it, it might not be.

So continue to like research. So, you know, through your web searches, even through your, your webinars like this, you’re learning just a lot of like the concept of what you should be looking for in these webinars. You wanna look through video campus tours, and then some programs are great opportunities.

So I know that you all are like a lot of ninth through 11th graders definitely utilize having a productive summer. And so you can even get to stay on campus, live, you know, live in the dorms take college level classes. So this could be a great way to see if that type of major you’re interested in is what you wanna pursue or if that’s a, a school or a type of environment that you en enjoy.

I think by your research for step three, you’re going to be able to redefine your list with the goal to actually make it be balanced. So that’s what makes it actually just a smart list. So anyone could just be, could think about these things and be like, name 10 schools, and that’s, that’s great, but you want a smart list where it’s defined.

Thinking about. What your likely target or reach school will be. And I’ll go into more what that means now. So like each college you wanna apply to, you wanna be able to put them in little buckets, right? So likely are, are like schools that you, most of the time will get in that students have like a 75% chance of getting that mid admitted.

So it’s kind of like we’re thinking about basketball. The NBA finals are right now, it’s like taking a dunk, right? Like dunks are usually, you’re right under the basket. Boom, right? It’s easy for NBA players to dunk. Target might be more of like, you know, your 50/50 chance, like you, you may be aligned, right?

With the numbers, you might be a little bit low, maybe a little bit high. But we really just don’t know. And it’s kind of like a free throw, where’re, you know, people have pressure, they get up there, some of ’em swish it easy, some break it, it just happens. We just kind of don’t know. And then your reach schools might be like, you might have less than 30% chance of getting in and think of that almost like a three, a three point shot, you’re far away.

Maybe a defenders with the hand up. It just might not, it might be harder to hit three pointers consistently and make ’em consistently. So that’s like just a reference to basketball, kind of thinking about that. And one thing to note with reach schools also, it could just be a very competitive school where you can get example, like your Ivy Leagues, right?

Like they are just competitive because they just have their, they just don’t have a high acceptance rate. So regardless, If your GPA is a 4.5, you’re valedictorian, it will be a reach. There’s a flat for anyone that applies just because their applicant pool is so much larger than their, that admin rate.

So sometimes school, some schools are just automatically reaches regardless of what your numbers are. So you’ll wanna keep that in mind too. And then when you’re keeping that in mind, if you’re, you’re finding yourself having a lot of those schools or always tell students like, okay, there’s nine Ivy Leagues and you’re applying the six of them and they’re all kind of different.

What, what about your list is like cohesive to the things of those fit factors? So that’s important too. You wanna don’t only wanna apply to a school because it’s a name or a ranking. You wanna make sure they have the things that you’re looking for, cuz you’re gonna be investing a lot of time. Four years at that university, right?

So you wanna make sure they can offer you some good things too that you wanna, you wanna do. So I like to always say, thinking about your college list and going to a school, it, it should feel like a two-way street. They’re looking for you to see what you can impact, but also you are looking at them to see what, what you, where, where you find your interest at and where you feel like you can make an impact.

And so how many target or likely schools should you apply to? I always say balance is very key. It’s really com Sometimes it can be really competitive and there might not always be aligned, but minimum, like, I think a good range for college for students to apply to is no less between nine and 12.

So you shouldn’t go under 12. And then when you get to 12, you’re, you’re, you’re solid. I, I mean, I would say you don’t wanna go over 20 either as then it’s like, How defined is your college list, but in the, in the good setting, if you just went through that nine, then ideally you would wanna have three reaches, three targets, and then three.

Three likely schools.

So how does a student know if a school is a reach target or likely school? So every college will share their average GPA average test scores and statistics on their previous, it might be two year, depending on when you apply their previous cohort or the previous two years cohort. So usually, I like to say just by looking, if you’re seeing your test scores, your GPA’s are above, then ideally might be more of like a, a likely school.

You can also see their admin rate as well. That’s a good indicator. So if you see, okay, their admin rate is above 50% and they have an average test score 3.75, I have a 4.2. You can almost, you can almost indicate that that might be like a likely school that you would get into, targets your right around the, within their ranges and then.

Reaches you might be a little bit below and, or like I said, it might be a, a admin rate that is under 10%. Under 5%. So it’s just very, very competitive. Another great resource to kind of compare colleges and a little bit more of their statistics and their data. So understanding like the field of studies they have, their admission rates, their costs, their results, how many students are actually graduating, right?

Because you’re, you’re there and it’s great to get admitted, but you also wanna finish. So college is a, it’s a government site that has a lot of just numbers and statistics if you wanna further your search beyond just like what the college is sharing on their website. And then college board too has a really good statistics as well.

So when you’re thinking about your college fit when you’re thinking about understanding students’ experiences, you wanna connect with current students, right? They’re doing the things that you plan and hope to do. So it’s very important to make those connections to the colleges. And you’re like learning from the source, right?

About that university. So it’s like, okay, when you’re thinking about psychology, if, if anyone wanted to talk to me about uc, Irvine, I was like, okay, you’re interested in psychology. You have to actually go into more research. Cuz Irvine offers three different psychology majors. So I can be able to explain that and share that because I know.

Going to that school, what the different departments and psychology inferences are. So it’s almost like you have to do beyond, you have to kind of just be, do beyond just having your own idea and your own interest to see if there’s a match with what that school’s offered. And usually students are shocked when they’re like, wow, wow.

I see psychology three times in the application. I didn’t realize it was different. Different so much discipline or more information to psychology. So this is gonna allow you to also identify if that college or university aligns with your heart factors. So when you’re talking to someone and their, their current student, or even if they’re alumni, if they graduate and they share, like, okay, I really enjoy the school spirit.

My college and you’re like, yeah, I, I wanna be an environment that’s prideful about the university. So that might be a heart factor that you can identify that that matters, that you might not, you might not, not have thought about that on your research and on your own, right. It’s like you kind of don’t know what you’re looking for.

So talking to others who’ve been through the experience or even your, even like your peers that’s went through the college ex, the college application process. Siblings, you wanna hear from them as well. So college, that’s why college tours are awesome as well, because usually there’s current students giving them and so they can give their insight as you’re visiting and learning about the university.

Okay, so, and then now this is more about me, so I’ve been kind of sharing my story, so, But what was my experience in selecting UC I as my, my perfect fit is I can’t truly say when I was your age, I did not have a balance wishlist applying to school. So it also allowed the results to be just, it was just not aligned.

I, I applied to maybe about, like, I did apply to maybe about 14 schools. But it, it was not balanced. It was a lot of reaches and a lot of safety. So it, it, it was hard for me to find a target. But I remember UC, UC, Irvine was, it became the perfect fit because the heart factors really stood out to me. I think when I was building my list, I was so about the head, the numbers, the rankings that I didn’t quite prioritize, and I was like, I just wanna be open.

Like, you know, college will be a new experience, so I’ll just, I’m open to any school. I just wanna apply, I just wanna get in, I just wanna finish high school. And some of you all might have that same mindset, but again, like I said, it’s always like a two way street, right? Like, yes, you’re applying to show them interests, but the college should be showing you interest of what you wanna do.

So Irvine stood out big one I the location because it was kind of closer to home, but not too close that I felt like my parents would just like pop up on me during any given day. Like the traffic from LA to Orange County can be brutal. So I knew that they wouldn’t just do that just for fun. So that was like, maybe it’d be a plus.

I had really good financial aid and scholarships. I remember I received the, the camp, the, the Chancellor’s Scholarship. So it was like a four year scholarship that stayed with me. And then I had like a book stipend with this, so that was just like nice to kind of see like the additional scholarships that I’ll receive.

One things that stood out to me was just student organizations. I, when I went to the admin day, it was students like leading and running a lot of those events. So we had like a overnight program and being able to stay, you know, with a current student. And I just liked that students were like doing things and leading these initiatives.

So that stood out to me as someone who loves, like people and I love doing those type of activities. I did student government in my high school, so the sorority life and the Greek life stood out to me because there were a lot of member, there are a lot of people in those organization leading those efforts.

So that kind of made first kind of tweaked my interest of like, oh, I might wanna join a sorority and then Irvine. Had that like present. So that was something that stood out. The diversity, you know, even though it’s, it’s like California students are coming from all parts of the world at Irvine. So it was just a great opportunity to get outta my comfort zone.

So I, I liked that element. And then I liked that the fact that it was a range of academic interests because I, at the time, I was truly undeclared, unde, undecided. So I felt, but I felt like they had a good, they had a good reason, or they had, when I was talking to admissions, they really explained to me thoroughly how undeclared and undecided work.

And it wasn’t like I was being, I felt like I was not gonna graduate on time. Because how they do the, their exposure, everything, it aligns that it’s not a step back if you’re undecided. So that made me feel really comfortable where I didn’t quite get that from other schools that I was applying to at the time.

And look at me. I ended up applying to two majors after not having no idea what I wanted to major in. So I liked that it worked out that way. So those are some of my experiences. And those heart factors definitely played a big piece and a little bit of a numbers with the financial aid and the scholarships.

But I think that’s why I said I think they both have to come together for it to really be a, a great fit.

And the last advice I would give students looking for their perfect college fit. It’s get a early start. I’m glad the ninth, the 10th graders, the 11th graders, you guys are here. This is step one. You’re learning and getting the information and the resources. If you are interested in CollegeAdvisor or you are working with a CollegeAdvisor, definitely connect with.

Your advisor to, to get the, the process going, kind of share what your interest is. And then we are always here to support and give suggestions. So that’s key. The earlier you do it, the better. And then really identifying what is important to you. And I think just think about what’s important to you.

Now, I think if you can identify those things, which of your clubs you really enjoy, what of the sports do you really enjoy? What are the leadership roles you’ve had in your clubs? Which one stood out to you? Did you really enjoy being a treasurer or a financial manager of your chess club more than you did the program events that will kind of help you assess of what your career and interests are.

So like kind of just think of where you’re at now and what you’ve already done, and then what are ways in time if you’re younger, which is great, right? Or even if you’re a junior, what can you still maximize in getting experience to be more secure? I remember when I was in high school, there was a career into the medical field.

In my high school program, I had no desire to be in the medical. The medical field. But I’m so glad my mom actually pushed me to apply because she was like, just what? Do you have anything to lose? Like just take the class and go do the field work. And then I, I even though I was, it is didn’t want me to be in the medical field, I got to see a lot of like the programming coordinator and the business side of the medical field.

So then that kind of tricked my interest. So sometimes I think if you see opportunities, even if you don’t see a direct alignment, still go after it. Don’t over, don’t stress yourself or over, over burn, overwork yourself. But it’s important for you to, to do that cuz it might lead or allow you to identify something clearer you might wanna do later.

And do know that your list will change and evolve and that’s okay cuz you’re changing and growing. If you’re starting this process, you’re here with us in ninth grade, I hope. Your list is not the same when you get to your 11th grade because you’ve had more experiences. So you kind of can know what you like or don’t like.

Okay, so that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. So moving on to the live Q&A. Now, I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the Q&A tab. I’ll make them public in the chat so you can see them, and then I’ll read them out loud so that Alana can give you an answer.

As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page. And so with that, our first question in the chat, Alana, do you have any insight on how applying internationally would perhaps be different than schools in the US?

Yes, I, I do. A lot of it is just a, a little bit of the, there’s like a visas and there’s some like additional testing that has to occur. So the process. Looks different in terms of themes that you might need to, to show or prove. But in terms of what you need to do to become a good applicant, they’re very similar in terms of you’re still gonna have to share about your extracurriculars.

You’re still gonna have to share your academic transcript, you’re still gonna have to write a, some type of essay. So those things are very in line. It’s just the smaller details. And then once you’re ready to pick, there’s also like enrollment things that you have to do. We like to say like once you decided, you matriculated, like, Hey, I’m going to that camp, that university, they might have additional things that you need to do that vary from maybe if you were in the States.

But ultimately, like here at CollegeAdvisor, we can definitely help and support you if you are an international applicant. Wonderful, thank you. Moving on to the next question. What was the best indication that the college you chose was for you? And I know you touched on a little bit of this back in earlier in the slides, but what was that one maybe major factor for you, Alana?

Yeah, I think for me it was just this, the closeness of like the students. I felt, I felt the like positive energy. I think when you go, if you ever go to UC, Irvine, you just see a lot of community. You see people like on any given Tuesday just, you know, dancing or they have their boobs for their club. So I just, I felt, I felt that that made sense for me as someone.

Who likes to like, give back someone who enjoys working with others? I, I felt that Irvine made it very easy to build community very fast. And so that’s why it, it really just like aligned that this was, this was the right school for me. Great. Thank you. Next question was UC your reach, target or safety?

Yeah, it was a reach school for me at the time. So that’s why you also want the balance and not shy away from reach schools because you never know, right? Like reach schools, we’re defining it as just only your numbers, but that’s not only part of your application, right? You have. Your story, you have your extracurricular activities, you have your leadership, you have your core selections.

So like all that is is being factor. A lot of schools do a, we call like a holistic, so they’re looking at all elements of your application. So that’s why you don’t wanna just count out reach schools either. So I’m glad I got into a reach school and it, and it had the fit factors that I need. That’s what made it so great too.

So. Great. Excellent. This is more of a question about how to approach the application if you don’t. Have your test scores yet. Mm-hmm. How do you approach choosing colleges if you haven’t taken your test or if you’re considering not submitting scores? Yeah. This is actually a great question because of covid, actually, a lot of schools don’t make it a requirement or it’s test optional.

It, it also just so what you wanted to answer your question? Yes. What you wanna do if you don’t have that information is still look at some of those statistics of where the. How many total like applicants applied, how many got in, what is their average gpa? Also, they’ll let you know, sometimes the schools will let you know the region, like they have some schools prioritize certain regions of the country is the state city you live in a popular like admissions, like, so there’s so things beyond that are more head factors.

And then working with CollegeAdvisor, we have access to some of those data points as well. And there’s also within our own portal system working with us. So I think it’s just digging a little deeper beyond just, just test scores, but also just waiting too. That’s the great part too about getting an early start.

It’s okay, you don’t have your test scores now, but you eventually will, right? Or you’ll eventually take that test. Or even if you’re a ninth or 10th graders, you all still have P S A T scores if it’s not a direct correlation, but you can find what that is. So like, okay, if I got usually. It’s been a while, but I think you usually just add a zero at the end sometimes, or you can literally, there’s converters on, on the website, so you can kind of get a sense with my PSAT score or my plan, this is what it would be for ACT or SAT.

So that’s the, the benefit too about getting the early start. You, you have the luxury of not knowing everything, but you’re doing the process to learn. Wonderful. Yeah. That’s a really big question and I’m, I’m really happy somebody asked that so we can get your insight. Another question. When you’re visiting college campuses, what would you say are.

Some of the things that you would advise a student to look for? Like say they’re going on a tour or they’re just visiting for the day, what are some tips? Yeah, so definitely you wanna be able to really assess like the environment, the walking, like you’re gonna be walking like, oh, is this, is it easy to to, to get to classes?

Do I see, or is there resources, labs you might not be able to visit or go into them, but it’s like, okay, I know I want to be in the medical field. And what, what, what are some opportunities? I think being curious and asking questions too. So like if you already know your interests, really assessing, do you see your, those interests or things that appeal to you?

That the university has. If you’re able to sometimes you can see where dorms are. Usually they won’t let you visit them because students will be living there, but you might can be able to stay, you might can be able to eat in the diary. So just anything you can do there that you, that you’re able to do, I would say take advantage of that.

And usually if you wanna prioritize if you’re visiting or you’re doing some travel, I would say prioritize, at least having a visit when school’s in session. Sometimes when we go on breaks or when schools are on breaks, you don’t get a full, you don’t get a full element of what the school environment could be like.

So that would be, I would say the priority. Or sometimes summer is a little, a little less dull. So if you can at least try to visit the school when the school is actually in, in session. Well, so that’s actually a good segue into another question. What if you can’t visit most of the colleges on your list?

That’s a, that’s okay. I think the great thing now we have a lot of colleges promote like webinars. I’m not webinars, this is a webinar. They have virtual tours on their website, so you could see even like the campus buildings, different floors, you could see like a mock of diff of the, the housing. So definitely leveraging any Any visit, any visit, any virtual tours.

And then a lot of, a lot of times, I will say any schools you’re considering get on their mailing list because they will let you know when they’re in your town. So there might be a college fair in your community that you can go to. And then they sometimes, a lot of times they’ll bring not only admissions, but they’ll bring students there too.

So that’s where you get to talk. Remember my presentation I shared about connecting with current students or connecting with alumni who’ve been there so you can get a sense of what they experience. So definitely if there’s opportunities, even in your high school, sometimes some colleges go to high school campuses, you know, do them go to them.

You know, I think it’s worth missing lunch if is during your lunchtime or anything like that. Because you’re just really getting direct hands. On with someone who actually will be reading your application. Usually the people for work and admissions, if they’re traveling to your area, they serve your area.

So they’re gonna be able to put a name in a face. It’s gonna go a long way. Just they’re people too. So you’re just gonna learn a network and build relationships with them earlier. That’s wonderful. I’ve seen this question a couple of times, Alana. How would you advise approaching the early decision?

Versus regular decision discussion when it comes time to, you know, looking at that whole college list. Oh, yes. Always tell students that everyone should consider early, early decision, or at least early action. Because I think that one, you’re, you’re the first pool, right? So that’s the benefit, benefit of it.

So that means you’re the first access that’s to get admitted and to get awarded any financial aid. So I say when you’re trying to lock in, what’s the one school that you’re like, it, it checks all or most of those boxes. Those, that would be the, probably the school That makes sense. Or sometime, which is, which is great.

Now there’s actually like ed programs like, I dunno, posse or Quest Bridge as well, where you kind of have, you’re open to the school, but you know, like the benefits of those programs and it’s a full ride or full to tuition. Like, it, it makes sense that you can be open or like you, you have identified some schools that you’re interested on your own and then those school, they work with those programs.

So yes, I think everyone needs to consider early action, early decision. And really the, if getting a early start is the, the big indicator where sometimes some students shy away from early action and early decision because of timing. But that’s the benefit of getting a early start. If you know those.

Those college essays don’t change often year to year, start working on them your junior year. Like if you set yourself up junior year really well, then that won’t be a challenge doing the time of EA/ED. But everyone should definitely consider it. If there’s a, a schools or a few schools that kind of stand out and they might be more on that competitive range or that competitive reach side.

Those, those would be the schools I would consider to do, to do early action or early decision if they’re, if that’s an option. Great. Yeah, that’s a really big, that’s a big question mark for a lot of my advisees. I see a lot of questions in the chat that might not necessarily be related to the topic.

Of the webinar necessarily. They’re a little bit more specific to the college application process. So for those in the room who aren’t already working with us, we know of course how overwhelming the admissions process can be. And our team of over 400 former admissions officers and admissions experts already to help you and your family navigate all of it in one-on-one advising sessions.

So you can take the next step in your college admissions journey by signing up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session with an admission specialist on our team. And you can do that using the QR code on the screen here. During that meeting, we’ll review your current extracurricular lists and application strategy, discuss how they line up with your college lists and outline the tools you need to stand out in a competitive admissions world.

So I highly advise taking advantage of that opportunity. And now I’m gonna bounce back to the Q&A. So I am gonna approach some of these questions from the perspective of finding your college fit rate. There are a number of questions in the chat about college essays, Alana how would you address essays that specifically ask about why?

Why this college? You know, Yeah, that’s a great and that goes back to your research. They wanna know what, what about us that you like, like about us? So you find that those questions are actually easier. The right, the more you, you’ve researched and you’ve actually like, explore what they have and you, you feel connected, you know, with the, the major, the campus, the programs, they have the initiatives like what are they doing, like what do they offer, you know, first years that makes that a unique experience.

Sometimes students are able to live abroad a semester, even their freshman year. Like if that’s something that excites you, then you’ll be able to share and, and, and share why you’re interested in those uniqueness about that school. So that’s also really important with your research is being I did to identify those fit factors.

And I think that question. Is really aligning to the, the topics we share today on how everything has to flow right to your list, to your writing. It, it will become easier because you did the research and you know the schools that you are invested in and why you’re invested in them. So you’ll be able to write about that.

Awesome. Yeah, I totally agree. This is a kind of a unique question. Do you have any websites you recommend where you can re like visit college reviews, basically you know, assessments of a college from an individual’s perspective? Yeah, there’s like Yeah, so you have like from the col Oh, from, wait, from like the college perspective, it sounds like just college reviews, so people just reviewing colleges.

Yeah. I’m not sure if there’s any resource like that you’d recommend. I, I do. I wanna echo your sentiment in that the best way to get to know a college is really to visit and go to their website and really talk to students and alumni. I don’t know if I necessarily have a resource in in mind, but do you have anything you’d recommend, Alana?

No. Sometimes you’ll, you’ll see like blogs or there are some, like college, it, it, it might even be called college or you might kind of see those things, but I think you have to take them. It’s almost like when there’s this thing called Rate your Professor when you’re in college, right?

It’s someone’s opinion. Or like, even when you do go to Yelp, someone could be like, oh, my Turkey burger was overcooking. When you go and you eat it, you’re like, this was the best burger I had. Right? Everyone has different like, Needs and wants. So what might, what might a school offer that you enjoy? Someone, it could be not a good environment.

Like I said, UC, San Diego. I said like, whoa, I’m overwhelmed. If I would’ve put that in, review it, someone can go in and be like, oh, this is amazing. Look at all this space. I’m right by the beach. Like, they can have a totally different perspective. So sometimes I think you, you have to take those reviews with a grain of salt and really go and learn from yourself and talk.

And like, I think when you have that dialogue too, you can, you can hear it in someone’s energy or like you can feel that they hated it or like why, or, or they’re, they’re being authentic. Where sometimes like reading something on a blog or reading something online, like it could come off, it mainly come off how, how they interpret it is not what they meant.

Or you’re just like, You can come off like a group, you just never know. So I would just actually more caution those because everyone has different needs and wants. So someone’s yuck might be your young or vice versa. Your Y. Your yuck might be someone’s young. I love that. That’s a really fun way to put it.

It looks like there’s a lot of questions around financial aid in the chat. And so I’m gonna try to approach these from the perspective of the webinar topic. There’s some questions around how schools are evaluating financial aid packages. Do you have a recommendation on like weighted versus unweighted GPA as it relates to merit considerations?

Any insight there, Alana? Yeah, so different. It, it, it, it really depends on the school. So usually the school will take weighted because they’re also gonna factor in some of your competitive schools, like IB programs and or, and or APs. Some schools even do weight it, but then they cap it too. Like, okay, like we’re only gonna give you so many, like, extra like recognition or points for having your APs like eight, 10.

It just, it can truly, truly vary. So I don’t think it necessarily depends on like, Well, it just depends on what it, I guess that whether they consider weighted or unweighted, I think it’s just more of like taking the right classes and doing well. Like regardless. Because if it’s, if they’re looking at what unweighted and you got an A, that’s still an A.

If they look at weighted and you got an A, like that’s still an A, right? So doing your best is what’s matter to the point about merit scholarships. And, and looking at GPA, that is very, that’s a big factor. You will see, you don’t see a lot of scholarships asking for you to apply under a 3.0. Some will even ask you to have a 3.5, 3.6 and above.

So just do know that like academic rigor and academic performance does play a big part in even having access to those scholarships. So yes, having the best grades is important. It’s important to perform well in all your courses. Great. And I would say also there was a similar question around test scores and consideration.

Again, if you are submitting test scores, and Alana, please chime in if you disagree. If you’re submitting test scores that will be considered likely alongside any academic considerations for merit-based aid. And so you do want to put your best forward there. If you’re doing test optional, then the school will consider that the test, obviously, because that’s not available to them.

So consider what’s at hand. And you added that, Alana. Yeah. So I think that’s when working with an advisor’s key to make what makes sense. Because I, I’ve worked with students where we’re like, okay, this school, we’re not gonna apply. Right? Because you’re, you’re a little bit under, you know, we’re not gonna use your test score, but this school Yeah, you’re, yes, definitely use your test score because you’re.

You know, you’re over like the 90 percentile. So it’s like sometimes you kind of need that expertise to experience, to know which, which way makes sense for certain schools. So don’t also, I mean, you don’t have to worry too, too much about like the ends and outs of that on your own. So I think that that’s also one of a benefit with working with us, that you will get guided on what makes sense for you to use your test scores and what might not make sense to use your test score.

And also major also plays a big P piece in that as too, in terms of some of our, like stem, if you’re doing a BSMD program, a five year program, some of those are just required. So you can’t, sometimes you, you’re, you’re just, you might not be able to have that, that option cuz you’re applying to that particular major or like nursing too further that school and you apply.

As a psychology, it, it, you don’t need to. So also keep in mind like what your major or certain programs are. You might just have to submit them. That, that’s really, really helpful insight. Again, lots of financial aid questions here. So another related one are, are there any challenges that you would like us to all to consider when it comes to applying for scholarships and financial aid?

Things that you would question as you start to look at colleges that you were maybe cha having challenges with when you were applying to college? Yeah, I think so. I’ll, I’ll talk about it in two twofold cuz I think with financial aid some people we, we don’t often. You just apply for the FAFSA when it opens your term.

But there is something called the financial forecaster. So you can also do a, a mock FAFSA. And this is great to sit down and work with your parents on too, cuz then it’ll honestly get, get a sense of what, what, what I mean your affordability in terms of what the college thinks, right? Like your parents might be like, okay, we think we can afford this, but this is what the, the school is actually saying what we can afford.

So I think that’s something you can always do early you and you should do that. Definitely before your, you know, during your junior year the latest, because then when senior comes in, you’re gonna actually do the real FAFSA free application for federal aid. And remember, it is free. So that’s in Portland too, that sometimes there are some scams out there, so you don’t wanna, you don’t have to pay for that.

In terms of scholarships. Yeah. Your essay writing is very, very important. A lot of the merit scholarships almost feel like college applications. They are like college applications. They’re almost echo them in the sense of their asking for the same things. They wanna know your, your transcripts, they wanna know your involvement.

They want you to write about why you’re invested in that scholarship or why you’re interested in, in being that business major. Or, you know, what would you do? Being, you know, associated with their organization. So that’s something I would just keep in mind is that like your essay writing and getting an early start is very important.

So you can even apply to scholarships as, as young as the ninth grade. So you don’t have to necessarily put off that. There’s some great resources where you can kind of see and then you can kind of prepare yourself for some of the bigger known, more known the known name ones, like I said, like the programs or like Bill Gates, the foundation, Amazon, the Dale.

Right. So I think just really prioritizing essay writing is very, very key for scholar for merit scholarships. Yeah. Great. This is a, a different question. How do you ensure that when you are doing your research and you’re trying to talk to individuals about a school, how do you ensure that like one person doesn’t bias your whole perspective?

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Because you could talk to one person who absolutely loves the school, right? And it might not be the right fit for that student. So what’s your advice there? And not by seeing yourself and tunnel visioning in one direction, I think you gotta get back grounded in those, those head factors.

So like the numbers too as well cuz it, it’s almost like a, a balance right between both of those fields. So sometimes like others might tip your, your heart factors and like any person you talk to might, you know, share. I can give an example, like NYU is like the best schools in New York. Yeah, it’s a great city.

And then, but it’s like, okay, what are, let me hone back on like what are my things? Cuz maybe, no, I wanna go to a more community or, or isolated environment like New York City. Just like spread it all over throughout the city. Right? So that might not be best for you. So I think, I think just knowing what, you know, be open to what others are sharing.

Be, be still grounded in your num, in your numbers. And then ultimately you are trusting your gut too. And I think there’s nothing wrong with. Like I said, you, you can only have to go, you only can go to one school, right? But we’re still, I still advise you to apply to at least nine, right? So you’re going to have options and that’s what we want.

I think that’s why we want you to apply to like likely target and reach schools. But I say that is like when you get admitted and you start visiting more, you, you’ll kind of know which one. If there was like, okay, was I, maybe you’ll, it’ll kind of redefine, you’ll go back to like your fit factors and that will let you know like, okay, this is the school and this is the reason.

Cuz you can have a great feeling about a school and not get a lot of financial aid and it doesn’t make sense, right? Like, okay, I literally can’t afford to go to this school. I would not sustain four years. So like, even though it was great, Okay. I have to consider now these, these four options I got in rather than this school.

So some schools will just, the situation might automatically like eliminate them from the final round, but it’s still good to apply. So you have, that’s why you wanna have options and that’s why we don’t wanna limit you to just a few or one, or two or three schools because it’s just, you just don’t know.

You don’t know if you’re gonna get a scholarship. You don’t, you don’t know if you’re gonna get a, you don’t even know if you’re gonna get in. You don’t know if you might get waitlisted, you know, like you, you don’t know. You might never come off the wait list. Who knows? So that’s why I think to your point, it’s o it, it shouldn’t happen if you’re, if you get grounded, but ultimately later on things will kind of work itself out where you’re, you might have to pivot what you were considering, not what you’re considering, but what, what, what happens with the results if you got in, if you got nod, if you got eight.

So there’s other things that kind of make that choice narrow. So, Great. Hopefully that answered the question. It was like a really good question. That’s a really good question. It is a really good question, and I, I do think that advice was, well, to use your word, well-grounded. That was very well put, Alana two part question on financial aid resources.

Is there a way to predict the aid that you’ll get at a particular school? I’m sure there’s like a federal resource versus a school resource. Maybe insight into that. And then also a second part of the question is like finding scholarship resources online in general. Do you have recommendations on how to go to about doing that?

So, two part question. Yes, there is a difference. A little difference. So the, the federal way is like your. FASFA forecaster. And that is actually on the website. So you’ll be able to, to see that there. That is just going to give you a little bit of what the financial aid offer the application is.

So when you submit that, you basically get an lg, you’ll get like, like a, a expected contribution number, but that is kind of shifting depending on your grade level. So the terminologies will kind of change moving forward for the class of 20, 24 and below. But essentially that’s what that number is.

Basically sharing is like the government thinks like you could, your family could pay this much to your college. It doesn’t mean they have to, doesn’t mean you won’t get any other aid. It just, it’s just an indicator what you get on the colleges, which are actually very great is cost, cost cost. Ca sorry, calculate cost of cost of attendance calculator or cost affordability calculator.

So then you’re actually putting your fin your parents’ financial numbers into it, and they’re asking questions based on their schools. They’ll tell you, okay, because you know you are interested in applying to the dorm, living on campus, we expect your cost to be this much. Versus if you commute, it might be this versus where you stay off campus.

So they can give you options based on like your living situation. What potentially like, just, it’s just a projection. So when I say know your numbers, those are things that you wanna do as a family together earlier. So, you know, so this is the plan. Also talking about. Sometimes school schools will offer like parent plus loans.

So this is a loan that the, their parents will get in their name for you to go to that school. Some parents are great with doing that, some are not. And I think that those are conversations you wanna know and, and know if that’s a reality. And also you have to qualify. Some people might not qualify. So it is just a lot of varying factors.

So I think that’s why, going back to having a early start and just having a conversation as you know, with your, with your advisor families, like what does affordability and financials look like? You know, for us, you know, as a whole or what can we commit to supporting you within? Or you will still need to get a job.

Like you, you need to apply to work study, or you, you know, like whatever the situation may be. You’re kind of having those conversations early. Great. I think we have time for one more question quickly. What about visiting schools after you get in? Is that helpful in your opinion, Alana? Oh yeah.

That’s what steals the deal. So anytime you get admitted, you usually, they have some type of welcome week, some type of fly in program like fly in opportunity. If it’s far away, definitely do those because that’s, as, that’s, you’re gonna get a real sense of like your experience there. And now it’s not hypotheticals, right?

You’re, you are admitted. So they’re really doing you the ball’s, like in your court. It’s like in the school’s court up until then, but that’s when you, you have the autonomy to be able to make the decision. So definitely go once you got admitted. I think that helped, that helped me steal the, the deal versus San Diego, cuz I, I thought it was gonna be San Diego and then Irvine just kind of came and like, Shook it up, you know, they gave me an extra scholarship that I didn’t get at San Diego.

They had the campus feel that I didn’t feel. So it literally was like those type of programs that kind of helped me identify what my fit was. Cuz I didn’t do that or I didn’t really do that. I just like, I’m just gonna apply and just hope I get to school. So now being in this program and working, I think using that before you’ll kind of have a, a fine know what’s your fit and what you’re looking forward to earlier than later.

Great. Okay. So that, thank you to everyone for coming out tonight, first and foremost, and thank you to our panelist Alana. That is the end of the webinar. We had a really great time telling you all about finding your college fit and here’s our May webinar series for your reference. We hope you all have a great night.