Fine-Tuning Your College List

Are you a high school student getting ready to embark on the exciting journey of college applications? Are you a parent seeking guidance on how to support your child in this crucial process? Join for an insightful webinar on “Fine-Tuning Your College List” designed specifically for high school students and their parents.

In this webinar, we will delve into the essential steps and considerations to help you create a well-rounded and personalized college list. With so many institutions to choose from, it can be overwhelming to narrow down your options effectively. Our former admissions officer Joanne Pluff will provide invaluable guidance and practical tips to ensure that you find the right colleges that align with your goals, preferences, and aspirations.

Key Learnings to Expect:

  • Understanding your priorities: We will explore the importance of self-reflection and identifying your personal and academic priorities. By understanding your unique interests, strengths, and goals, you can find colleges that are the best fit for you.
  • Researching colleges effectively: Learn how to conduct comprehensive research on colleges and universities to gather essential information. We will discuss various resources, such as college websites, rankings, and virtual tours, to help you gain insights into the institution’s academic offerings, campus culture, and extracurricular opportunities.
  • Exploring academic programs: Discover the significance of aligning your academic interests with the programs and majors offered by colleges.
  • Considering campus culture and environment: College life extends beyond academics. We will discuss the importance of evaluating the campus culture, student organizations, and overall environment to find colleges where you can thrive socially, emotionally, and intellectually.
  • Assessing financial factors: Understanding the financial aspects of college is crucial. We will explore ways to assess the affordability of colleges, including financial aid options, scholarships, and grants.

By the end of this webinar, you will have the tools and knowledge to fine-tune your college list effectively. Join us as we navigate through the college application process together, empowering you to make informed decisions and set the foundation for a successful academic journey.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gain expert advice and insights. Register now for the “Fine-Tuning Your College List” webinar and take a step closer to finding the colleges that are the perfect fit for you!

Date 07/24/2023
Duration 1:02:41

Webinar Transcription

2023-07-24 – Fine-Tuning Your College List

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

Now let’s meet our panelists, Joanne. Hi everyone, my name is Joanne Pluff. I am a former admissions officer and, uh, associate Dean of Admission at Utica College in Hamilton College, both in Central New York, and now I work at Howard University here in Washington, D.C. Wonderful. Thank you for being with us this evening or this afternoon, wherever anybody is today, this morning.

Um, I do wanna get started by getting a sense of who’s in the room with us. So you’re gonna see a poll up here in front of you. Now, what grade are you in? And so fine tuning your college list. You might think that, you know, getting into which colleges might be the right fit for you is maybe not a relevant question when you’re early on in your high school career.

But the truth is, and I’m sure Joanne will talk about this a little bit more, the truth is the earlier you start thinking about it, the better, you know, um, Think about it like dating. You need some time to really get to know these colleges, right? And so I do expect that we’ll have some juniors and seniors in here for sure.

But you know, any freshman, sophomore is good for you for being here early and thinking about this early. Um, looks like, you know, predictably, wonderfully, we have some juniors and seniors. That is the biggest group that we have today. But we do have some sophomores and we even have some, um, in the other categories.

So maybe some folks who are, um, not in high high school currently, maybe they’re post-grad or pre-high school or parents. Um, so welcome today. We’re so happy to have you with us. Joanne, I’m gonna turn this over to you for the main part of the presentation. Thank you. So this is, I would say, probably one of our more timely presentations as likely for the junior seniors.

You’re looking at really creating your college list. So while this can be a very overwhelming and daunting task, I’m hoping to give you some information that will at least set you in the right direction and assist you with your college process. So, When you’re thinking about, um, the college that you’ll attend when you graduate from high school, it’s important to look at the items on this list as they pertain to, uh, how you will fit in at this space.

So, I will say this, that there are thousands of colleges, both nationally and internationally, and just like Stacey said, you know, it’s kind of a dating session. They’re kind of like shoes. There is a hundred percent a college for everybody. Now it’s up to the student to determine what are the elements that you’re looking for in order to find the school that you attend.

So when we talk about fit, we’re talking about, um, four specific characteristics that determine or help you decide the colleges you’ll look to apply to. So obviously college, the number one thing that you’re going there for is to determine your major in your future. Um, if you have that nailed down, awesome.

So you’ll begin your search looking for colleges that fall within your major. I often tell students, especially ones that I advise. I highly recommend finding schools that have your major first. There’s nothing worse than, you know, falling in love with a pair of shoes that you can’t afford, or again, a college that doesn’t have your major.

So you wanna make sure that. As it pertains to your major, there are opportunities for internships if you want them. Um, career support, after career support, uh, additional master’s degrees, all of those go into the major components. Next, you’ll need to take a look at size. Not every student is looking for a massive flagship, let’s say university, perhaps like one of the SUNYs or the California State System schools.

Um, size is really important. If you are in a small town and you really do better in a 12 to one or six to one setting, looking at larger university universities will not benefit you. And know that within some of those, uh, larger inter universities, there is that one-on-one touch base that you like. For example, my sister went to a really large school of 50,000 students.

Um, she said she really liked it for the social aspect. However, when it came to her major related classes, she did have small class sizes. She was a biology major, so. Typically for lab classes and lectures, there were no more than, um, 20 to 25 students within her classroom. So taking a look at the size and fit, if you’re a student that possibly has an i e p and or learning differences, um, size does play a major role in that.

So again, if you’re coming from a background of a smaller school, um, where maybe there’s a less than a thousand students, maybe there’s 200 students, you wanna make sure that the learning environment that you’re looking for is accounted for on your list of college, um, colleges that you’re applying to.

And then think about the location. I was hell bent on going to a university that was super far away from my parents. I was a recruited athlete when I was going through the college process, but what I didn’t think about was if I was on the West coast for college, my parents wouldn’t be able to go to every single one of my schools.

So I. It was a hard pill to swallow and think about, um, that they wouldn’t be at every single one of my games. While some people that’s okay, that was not okay for me. So I had to switch and pivot and figure out where I was going to go to school so that I could force my parents to come and watch me play.

Um, think about, you know, if you’re looking for an urban setting, if you’re okay with a school that’s right smack dab in the middle of the city, like perhaps my university currently, or maybe you’re looking for a smaller, um, college town that comes alive during the year and then is a little bit sleepier throughout the summers and the winter season.

And then of course, um, just the vibe You’ll find typically when students are going through their admitted colleges, that they’re really the fit is how you feel when you show up on that campus. You know, are they playing the games on the quad that you want to, are there the extracurricular opportunities that you ha you’d like to get involved in?

Is there a pool? Um, one of my students this year, she really wanted a, a school with a lot of libraries because she likes to go to the library. Therefore, she wanted to make sure she had ample libraries to check out throughout the year, and she wanted to make sure they had food. So, if that really is important to you, this is one of those times in your life where you can be very, very selfish and, um, take advantage of the fact that there are so many colleges.

So if the vibe or if you’re looking for a school with sports, if you’re looking for a school without sports, this is the time to make that decision. And then when we talk to students about, um, creating their college lists, three words that you’ll hear quite often are reach target, unlikely reach is a school that will be a stretch academically.

Um, every, I would say around this time, August, I, uh, colleges will come up with what we call our, um, profile of a student. So when you go to the college website, it will give you the averages of the student’s SATs or acts if required, um, their general g p A range, as well as if they’ve scored on, um, APS or IBS or, you know, even high level courses if you’re an international student.

So once a profile is generated around this time, you’ll be able to see where you fall within that category. So for reach school, let’s say you have a 92 G P A and you know, 99% of their applicants have a 98, that would be a reach for you. Um, sometimes obviously that gap can be a little, little bit wider.

However, um, a reach is really beholden to each student who’s applying. And then of course, the target schools are schools that match 100%. You meet the requirements, um, and or surpass the um, requirements. So if it’s a school that you are dead on, you have the 92, you know, 98% of students have the 92, you scored a 1400 on your S A T, and most of those students have a 1400 that is a target school.

And then of course, there’s the likely school where you have swept that average, that G P A SS a T requirement, and you are well, um, above the amount of students that have applied.

So this is a question we get often, um, here at CollegeAdvisor. So when you’re thinking about the race ratios of reach, target and likely and why it’s important to kind of have a robust list, um, this is super important. I’m not sure if anybody out there has watched, never have I ever, but it made me, I did laugh.

Um, as it’s the student who is the main lead, um, within the show, she applied to only reach schools. So that would be creating a list of. A lot of Ivy League schools, we believe that really you should only have between one to three reach schools overall. Your list should be no more than 12 or 13 schools.

That really is the high end of things. We really want you to have, um, at least five target schools, one to two reach schools, and then one to two likely schools. If you have a high abundance of reach schools. We just wanna make sure again, that you have opportunities to, to, to fine tune your choices and make that choice for yourself.

If you’re applying to only reach schools, it may not bode well for you. And the ratio is important because while we do want you to, you know, shoot for your dreams and see if you can do it, we also wanna make sure and ensure that you do have a place to go in the fall. So applying to only reach schools does not bode well.

Um, it’s not a, a good system to follow. So that five to seven numbers really important. Um, and you’ll sit down with your family after looking through the list of majors and schools and all the things you’re looking for and create that list. Alrighty. So how can you narrow down, um, your. Colleges to a reasonable number.

So I’ll tell the cautionary tale of one of my students this year who applied to 36 schools fun facts about the common application. It only allows you to apply to 10 at a time. So just thinking about that, the amount of work that she put in while is awesome. Um, it’s highly unnecessary, right? So the number one thing you need to look at is the major.

So when we say our graduates gainfully employed, we’re saying after graduation, they give you about six months to kind of figure it out. Are they employed within the subject matter or business field that they attended The university for gainful employment is important. You wanna make sure that that investment that you made for four years will turn out for the best for you.

Um, internship opportunities also really, really help your chances of getting a job. So, As you know, um, the, the job place, the job marketplace is, is shifting. Typically, students are required to have some type of internship, externship, co-op opportunity, so you’ll wanna make sure that the colleges you’re applying to does offer that.

And then of course, um, after college support is also equally as important. Perhaps you did study biology like my sister did, and you decide, I wanna switch gears and be a history major. Most colleges, not all do offer support for alumni after graduation. So if there’s a moment, you know, you’re doing your thing, you’re in the lab and you’ve decided, I really am not interested in this, you can switch gears and go to a university, or I’m sorry, usually you can reach back out to the university to get, uh, career support.

And then monetary value. So how much financial aid, um, does this school offer? Typically with all of our students that we advise, we create a master spreadsheet that has all of these different components, and then of course, how much financial aid, um, students receive after application. Every college has what’s called the net price calculator.

The net price calculator basically will generate for your family an idea of how much you all will be paying for college. So if you have a decent idea of your students’, s a t acts as well as G P A and family income, um, you can do the net price calculator for every university that you apply to. Now, this is not something that’s set in stone.

It gives you an idea. So when you’re going through the application process, maybe you’re applying early decision, it gives you, um, just a little bit more information or gives you an opportunity to explore early decision to see if it’s something that would be affordable for you. Thinking about if a school meet full need financially.

So there are quite a few universities out there that will meet your entire financial need, which means if the school costs $20,000, they will give you a pa, a financial aid package of $20,000 or more, um, to make sure that you really can’t afford to go to the university. And then a lot of schools are required now to provide the statistic of loan indebtedness of the recent graduates, meaning when students graduate from that university, how much does the average student carry in loans and or debt?

They are required to share with you that information. So if you’re not able to find it on the website, I guarantee someone in your financial aid department and or the Office of Career Services would have that. And then of course we’re thinking about personal value. So does it have the things that you need?

Does it have four years of guaranteed housing? Do you have the opportunity to study abroad? Is there the sports, are there the extracurriculars that you’re looking for? That will be a personal choice. So creating that mini list of things that you’re looking for and then just double checking and making sure that school does check the box is also super important.

And the last thing that I will talk about as well is, um, student support services. So for students who have neuro disability and or i e p 5 0 4 plans, um, it’s important to check and see if those colleges that you’re applying to will also provide that support. Not every university is required. Some universities you do have to pay.

So if you are a student that needs extra time or if you need your lectures, read to you, whatever the circumstance could be, just make sure that you have that. And then of course it brings us back to the location and the class size. So again, if you’re not that lecture hall person, you shouldn’t be looking at lecture hall type universities.

All right, let’s see here. So when should students have, um, Finish your school list. So for the seniors right now is the time of year, um, that you’ll want to finish your school list. Typically, I prefer that my students are going into August, knowing about 90% sure where they’re going to apply to our athletes and those who are looking to apply.

Usually you would know at this point whether or not you’re being seriously recruited. So your timeline is a little bit more truncated. But for students who are headed to senior year in the next couple of weeks, it’s important to sit down with your family and firm up that, um, 12 to 13 list so that you can make some decisions come fall.

I believe, um, and Stacey can back me up on this likely, um, the timelines for applications seem to get closer to the summer instead of further to the summer. Um, for example, I believe, I think it’s F ss u the application was due mid-September, which was shocking to a lot of us. Um, but you know, we take it in stride.

So if you are a senior, don’t stress, you can do this. It will take a couple of days to get yourself, um, organized and on the right track, but once you get to that point, uh, beginning of your senior year, you’ll be ready to go. Anything to add Stacey? No, that I wholeheartedly echo at this, and I think, you know, I, I, I believe you’ll talk about this, um, in a few, like early decision, early action, um, perhaps decisions.

Those are always really early. Um, if you’re applying to California schools, those applications are due really early. So I, I do echo, um, that advice that some applications are due in September and October and it does sneak up on you pretty quickly, especially with the start of the school year. Anything else, Joanne, before we move forward?

No. Nope. Awesome. So with that, that’s the first half of the presentation. Um, we do like to check in and ask some questions along the way just to see where everybody is in the process. So you’re gonna see a poll here in front of you. Now, where are you in the application process? Uh, and so go ahead and answer that.

Uh, Joanne, do you remember if you applied early action, early decision anywhere when you were, um, applying to school? I know you were at an athlete, so did that impact. Decision. I actually only did early action applications. Um, I wanted to be able to make my decision sooner, but it also was determining on how, this is gonna sound crazy how the schools did that year for sports.

So I played a fall sports, so I was like, well, at least I’ll know. And if they were really good, then I’ll bump ’em up my list, which is crazy. Don’t do that. That is not my recommendation. Um, to each their own. I wanted to go to a winning program, so I wanted to see if they’d win. So I knew, um, just before Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, where I had been admitted to, which was really awesome.

And it was a good feeling. And it gives you a lot of time to plan your life. Yeah, definitely. Um, not, definitely not the best choice for everyone, but it’s something I did as well. I did early action too, and I knew my decision, um, before Christmas. A lot of schools have rolling admissions too. Even if you apply early, you might hear back from them as well.

Mm-hmm. So, um, Given the population we have here today, there is a good chunk of you who haven’t started, you know, depending on what, where you are in the process, you know, it’s always a good idea to start thinking about this early. If you’re a junior senior, definitely start diving in. Um, I’m researching schools.

Excellent. We love to hear it. I’m working on my essays. Makes a lot of sense for a lot of you seniors, rising seniors. Um, and I’m getting my application materials together. Yeah, that common app opens on August 1st. So, um, we have a, a big couple of weeks ahead of, of you for the seniors in the room. Um, Joanne, I’m gonna turn it back over to you for the rest of the presentation.

Absolutely. So this is a question that I firmly believe is one that you will know. Um, fit is something that, again, is very personal to each student. Like I said, I was a student who was being recruited. I fit for me was, were you good? Who were you sponsored by? Did you have my major and could you study abroad?

Those were the things that I was looking at. I wasn’t super concerned with, like location. I was a pretty easygoing human outside. Um, and I made it a point to visit every single school that I applied to early action, which is not something that financially every human can do, but luckily now, um, the one thing that’s I think has become from Covid is the ability for families to visit.

Universities virtually. So if you’re not able to go to any of the schools, almost every single college has virtual options right on their website for students to check out. So you’ll definitely wanna visit, talk to the current students and attend the events. Now, just giving this caveat, the students who are working the events obviously have been trained.

You know, we train them to say amazing things and they’re very authentic and awesome. But if you have the opportunity to go to the dining hall or stop by the library, stop by a game, talk to the current students about what they’re up to, what their life is like from the day to day. That’ll give you a really, really good picture into, um, what your life could be like if you attend that college.

And again, make sure, um, that the university has your major. They say almost every single student will change their minds. Um, As it pertains to the major that they’d like to study. So if you don’t know or you have a general idea, at least apply to colleges that have a lot of options within the field. And equally, a lot of colleges will allow you to change major.

Make sure that if you’re a not decisive person, you have the ability to do that. So if you really love engineering, but you could be down with philosophy, make sure that there is the opportunity to take classes, um, and that your credits will continue to go towards completing an degree in four years. And then of course, when you visit these universities, you have to check out the town.

So if it is a city, go be in the city, take your parents on a, you know, a lunch to the local hotspot. If it’s a smaller town, are you okay with a sleepy Saturday? Um, and maybe a farmer’s market. All of that stuff is really important and I guarantee that you will know. Um, the students say that it’s a vibe and they figure it out, but they really do figure it out, and I know that sounds crazy, but they truly do.

All right. So what, uh, makes an admission officer think that you’re a good fit for their school? So the first thing we obviously look at is academics. So every admission officer, when you’re reviewing your stack of applications, we are looking to see if you have the right G p A and s a T combination. If.

They are, or a c t combination if they’re required. So if you’re not admissible based on G P A or s A T, unfortunately for some schools that will eliminate you from the pot. Many universities do what’s called a holistic review, which means they’ll take a look at every single piece of the application that you submit.

So for a student that perhaps had an academic blip, like maybe it was sophomore year, you’re taking, um, AP calc and it’s a little brutal for a semester. Maybe you got a B minus instead of your typical A. Um, the holistic review allows us to see your whole academic picture. So from ninth grade all the way up to 10th grade, we’ll be able to check that out.

We, a lot of offices will also take a look at what’s called demonstrated interest, which is a way for them to measure, um, unofficially how you’ve interacted with the school. So if there was an interview opportunity, did you do the interview? If they had virtual visits, did you sign up for any of those if you aren’t able to visit?

Uh, additionally, most colleges now have a supplemental essay that gives you about 500 words or less to tell, um, a little bit more about you that perhaps one of the common App prompts wouldn’t know. Did you attend the high school visit when they were in your town at your high school? Did you go to the open house or accepted students day?

If you get to that point. But those interactions really do help most universities and colleges break down their admissions officers by region. So likely when you enter the process, you’ll be assigned an admissions officer. I was an admissions officer for Florida, California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico. So I usually spoke to students from that region.

Um, typically when we send emails, they do come directly from the admissions officers, so know that somebody’s on the other end and we’ll be able to answer any of your questions. Your admissions officer is the number one connection to that school. Um, basically you wanna make sure that they know that you’re a good fit for the school, both academically and personally, and they know that you’re serious about being admitted.

And then of course, um, usually universities are looking for, um, individuals to add to their social scene, um, and who will fit within their current community. So my, uh, current university, our students are movers and shakers. They often make me feel like I have never attended college, um, with some of the things they do.

So they are looking for you to enhance the college community. So did you do some amazing research project, um, and you were able to, uh, impact your community positive positively. That’s some information that I would definitely share with your, um, admissions officer. Or was there again a sport that you played?

Is there an in instrument? How will you positively impact that college community? So once you take all of those things and mix it up, they basically will create like a little bit of a profile on you and determine if you fit. And if you fall within a lot of their positive categories, likely you’ll be a good, um, a good fit for that university.

So what last advice do I give to students? Um, Fine tuning their list. So the biggest thing is, I would say you have to be honest with yourself and your family. I think everybody, uh, when you’re younger, you have the, maybe not everybody, but quite a, quite, I would say a lot of students will say that they had the goal of, you know, studying away and, you know, being California or going University of Hawaii, things like that.

Um, you have to be honest with yourself and your family. If you really do have the goal of going to the University of Alaska, uh, a plane ride away from your family, plus, I think that’s fine. Um, but this is usually a family decision. So it’s important to be honest with your parents as you get into the process.

You are the person that has to attend for four years, so if you don’t love it, then they’re. There’s no reason for you to do that, but that is a tough conversation that you may need to have with your parents right off the bat. And then of course, this is one of those things, again, it’s the thing that you get to pick that determines your future.

So it’s okay for you to be selfish and say, I really wanna give this college a go, and I really, really believe that I could be successful here. You get to be selfish about it. Um, if you only wanna go to universities that are in cold places because you love the cold and your family never goes to cold places, that’s fine.

It’s totally, totally up to you. This is your choice. This is your home for four plus years. And then of course, be realistic. So I know with, um, a lot of schools removing the s a t and a c T option that, uh, this opens the door for many students, however, that G P A requirement is still there. So if you don’t have that 99 G P A and have not taken mostly AP courses, but the school has a 97 G P A, you do need to be realistic about it.

We don’t wanna set yourselves up for failure. So those student profiles really are useful. And like I said, they’ll come out in a couple of months, so, sorry, a couple of weeks here. So it will give you an opportunity to really see if you do fall within, um, their school profile.

All right. It looks like we have some questions. Yes. So that, um, before we head over to the questions, just a real quick overview for everyone. That of course was the end of our presentation. So I hope you found that information helpful. Remember, you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab and you will get a recording, um, link after the webinar is over to reference later.

So we’re gonna move on to live q a Now. I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the q a tab as, um, Joanne mentioned, we already have I’ll into the public chat so you can see them. And then read them out loud before Joanne can give an answer. As a heads up, if your q and a tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you join the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing page.

So with that, um, a popular theme in, in the questions right now, Joanne, is what if I have a list of all reach goals or mostly reach goals? And I think back to your never have I ever referenced, I literally just finished that episode. Um, and I, I would love your insight on this, but um, for those of you in the room who have watched that, that was the very thing that happened to this person.

No spoilers all reach schools. So Joanne, what’s your insight there? I would say that’s a terrible idea. Um, the, honestly, taking out the SATs and Acts has really evened the playing field for a lot of students. So, For example, we received 37,000 applications, right? So we were SS A T A C T, optional, so is Harvard, so are a lot of these other schools.

So you need to find a school that speaks to you that may not be as big of a brand name. All of these universities are good. 99% of them are accredited. Just because you don’t get to go to Harvard, which is an amazing university, doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna be able to change the world. So it’s about self-evaluation, right?

So if you’re applying to all reach schools, it is not gonna be good. It is not a good plan. You need to have a college to go to if college is your brand. And what I would suggest is if you’ve taken the SATs or acts, or if you’ve done any of those college profile, um, Questionnaires they’ll generate for you based on the things that you’re interested in, universities that would better fit your need.

So go back to college board and create your account, do the profile and they will give you some matches. We also do, I think, one free session for every family. Um, use it for, use us for that free session. We’ll help you come up with and generate a list. But applying to only reach schools is never a good idea.

Um, it’s expensive. First of all, those applications are typically a lot more. Um, and second of all, we want you to go to college. We want you to be successful. And a, a list of only reach schools will not make you successful. And, and it makes us sweat too. Like for the record on the other side of this. Like it’s not, we don’t wanna push you to do something that you don’t.

However, in my professional opinion, it’s one to three reach schools max. Yeah, I love this advice. Um, I totally agree. I always say that you can have an Ivy League education anywhere as long as you know you’re a resourceful student and you’re focused and you know what your, where your passions lie. Um, I encourage students to spread a wide net and the more important thing is that you actually like the campus and the campus life and the culture and the programs and majors they have available in terms of how they align with your career and educational goals.

Um, prestige of course for everyone is important because with that does come networking, um, availability and things of that nature. But, um, it’s really important to have the balance list and the truth of the matter is, to some degree, once you know those academic cuts happen, Some of it is luck. You have a bunch of really great applicants, right, Joanne?

Um, and you’re trying to create a community and there has to be cut somewhere. Um, you know, there’s really these excellent students out there and, you know, maybe you just didn’t need that particular, um, part of the country, um, that many students from that part of the country, right? So definitely really great advice.

Um, uh, a question back to timing of setting your college list. Joanne, um, a student asked you. At what age is it ideal to check on your colleges from your list? Um, I know you touched on this a little bit, but what would you recommend in terms of the right time to do that research? Just to, yeah. I mean, so for the juniors, I think right now, you’re right on point.

This is an excellent time and just with a caveat that that list is gonna change, right. So like, I think I had, again, only schools on the west coast my junior year, which was ridiculous. Um, and just would not have worked out. And it really evolved to a list that was more in on the eastern side of America.

So, I think junior year is really the optimal time to just word vomit and put as many places that you can think about. And if you have opportunity to visit and start doing those virtual visits, awesome. You can start crossing, um, universities and colleges off as you go. The, what I would say is if you’re a senior by now, you really should have, um, that core target list and then it’s kind of like fun to pick your reach schools out and to pick your likely schools.

So if you are a senior and you’re here, you’re probably right on time. The next couple of weeks, like, um, CC said the common app will open up on August 1st. So you do have about a week or so to start making some big decisions. If anything, to focus on right now, seniors, it would be, um, your target school. So finding those schools that you are right on the money for.

Um, because again, application deadlines are shifting, they’re moving, they’re coming up. And then of course, um, once you have that core list, Then the fun part is, so start picking out the other, um, colleges and components you wanna add for your reach and likely, yes. Thank you so much for that, Joanne. Um, I think that’s really great advice around the timing.

Um, uh, another question here is about being an athlete. Um, can you talk a little bit more about what timing looks like for athletes, um, as it relates to the college planning process? Um, what other factors might an athlete consider? In, um, the college list building process is, does that look different in some significant way?

Yeah, so I think this, um, varies from division 1, 2, 3. So of course, um, division three athletes, they’re not given scholarship funds so they can receive merit from the admissions office and then financial aid based off of the family fafsa. So typically for our students that are, um, looking to play, that recruitment will start like January of your junior year.

So they will invite you to camps across the summer. Um, come and see you play in your senior year if you’re a fall sport. Typically, if you’re a winter sport, they will take any film from your junior year. Then if you’re a spring sport again, they’ll take that film from your junior year. I saw there was a question like, who do you, uh, speak with more?

Whether it’s the coach, usually the coach is the person who’s recruiting you. So I would direct your questions directly to them. They, if you have specific financial questions, if you are entering that division two or division one stage, they’ll send you to the, um, the financial aid department to make sure that you get them, um, answered appropriately.

So junior year. And then, um, college signing day is the middle of October for Division one sports, so you’ll know whether or not that school wants you. Typically, if you’re applying to a college and you’re being offered a scholarship, you’re more than likely required to, uh, terms of the scholarship. You’re more than likely required to apply early action or early decision.

So by mid-October, your application should be in and submitted, and they will have that scholarship offer for you. With division three, it’s a little bit more lax, where you can still do like an early action or a rolling, um, but a lot of the coaches like to kind of shore things up by January-ish, so they know what their incoming, um, athletic class is For a student who’s truly looking to play like I was, um, I, it was important to me to know how many people played my position, how many girls were, um, being cycled off, that kind of thing.

So I kind of waited until the last minute. I think it was like just before New Year’s, um, when I decided who, if I was gonna play, because I wanted to know if I really had a shot. So how many people on the varsity team played my exact position? I don’t think that you need to get as in depth with that. Um, typically coaches are pretty honest and are straight shooters, so you can just say, you know, what is a probability that I’ll actually take some time on the pitch or will I be on the sideline?

And they will tell you, obviously anything can happen and there’s no way to foretell the future, but a lot of the coaches will be honest with you and let you know, um, where you kind of stand with them. Thank you for that insight. That was really helpful. Um, and you have the perfect background to elaborate on that.

Um, can we talk a little bit about what the process looks like for international students applying to US schools? Um, does, do you have different advice for students, different timelines that you might suggest, particularly as it relates to the tofl. So I don’t have a lot of different advice. Um, I, so cost was something that was really important to me and my family.

I have two siblings, so I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t like burdening my parents. My sister is only a year older, so she was also in university at the same time. So a lot for our international students. I always recommend, um, early action if possible, or application deadlines that happen before or around January 1st.

The reason being, if you are an international student, once you decide you have to come, that triggers um, the need for your visa. And depending on where you’re coming from, a lot of those visa appointments do take a little bit of time. So, I recommend, um, applying earlier because, uh, universities also usually have a specific amount of dollars that they can dedicate towards international students that you are required to submit a lot more a, um, financial documents to the university outside of what a domestic student would require.

So to me, again, I’m a person that just likes to know. Doing those early rounds of applications will just allow you to again, have all the information so that you can make a financial decision. There are not many schools who are also need blind for international students. So again, cost is a factor. So you’ll wanna know, um, how much you can afford.

And again, with the visa appointments, like we have quite a, we’ve had quite a few students from Nigeria, Ghana, they were not able to get to the embassy to get their visas and had to defer a semester in or take only online classes. So I recommend applying, uh, ear the earlier the better, so that you can start making those appointments to start your transition to the us.

Thank you for that. Um, it’s a very popular question in webinars, um, is taking that international student background into consideration when giving this advice. So thank you. Um, Uh, another question has to do with decision timelines. If you don’t get accepted into any schools, could you technically apply?

So if you’re applying this cycle, Could you technically, if you didn’t get into any of this past May, could you technically apply and get in for like winter or spring? Is do you, have you seen that with schools before, Joanne? I have. Um, I think it depends on the university. Mm-hmm. So for the few, the two colleges that I’ve worked at, we only, we prefer for first year students to start with the first year cohort in that fall semester.

So not every school is okay with that. Um, and I think they do it just to make sure that you have like the traditional four full years on campus with your cohort. Um, I think starting in winter is a little tough, however, um, there are quite a few. Other universities out there that will let you defer for a semester if, you know, perhaps money is a factor.

You know, last year I had a student that was going to the Olympics, so she deferred a semester. Like there may be a specific reason, um, that would, would necessitate a student starting later or sooner, but that’s gonna be depending for each university. I wouldn’t have an opinion on whether or not, um, it helps or hurts your application.

I do think it really does fall within the parameters for each school, but I’ve seen it done both ways. There are definitely the universities that say we start in the fall, we, you know, only transfers are transferring in in junior year, or I’m sorry in January. And then you have other universities where they’re okay with them coming in a semester later.

So it really does depend. Yeah, that I is my experience as well. Um, and so, you know, the goal would be to create a balance list from the get go, as Joanne mentioned earlier, with your reaches your safeties and your targets. Um, another question I saw just a moment ago, go, uh, resources for learning about colleges when you can’t go in person.

You mentioned, you know, doing virtual tours. Are there any other, you know, online resources that you might recommend in addition to college websites? Anything that comes to mind? So, I know this is crazy, but, um, I think every college has like a pretty awesome YouTuber on campus and a lot of. So at our university, there are a lot of students that will do, like, this is where I’m living this year.

Like, check this out. Like this is homecoming at Howard. So I would say go to YouTube. Um, everybody loves a good YouTube video. Y’all are supposed to be the YouTube generation. I highly guarantee that you can find, um, additional information and candid information from the students at the university on the university, um, if you search that university on YouTube.

But outside of that, each college, and I would be shocked if they didn’t have a virtual tour component or some type of live, um, like Zoom or webinar component where you can talk to people who are currently there. Um, I think that again, is one of the benefits of Covid is we were able to pivot and give more opportunities to visit for students who weren’t able to.

Thank you for that. Um, I’m gonna take a second now, um, to talk about a great opportunity, um, for those in the room who are already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admissions process can be. Joanne alluded to this earlier. Our team of over 400 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate all of it in one-on-one advising sessions.

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

And so that QR code’s gonna stay right here on the slide for those of you who wanna take advantage of that opportunity. Um, there are quite a few questions in the chat about major selection as it relates to selecting your college, um, your college list. How one student asked, how do you find out the typical student profile of an impact in major?

So these majors that are very high demand, um, Which can look different than the average profile of a student applying to that school. Can you speak a little bit to that? Yeah. So if it’s a highly selective major, usually your admissions officer can rattle off all of that profile information. Um, so it’s like selective between a selective major within a target school.

Right. Which is an interesting concept. Um, it is just making sure you have the right, uh, usually when we’re getting that specific, the right courses in high school. So did you take four years of math, science and English, or history or marine biology? They usually have, um, sports specifications for those more selective majors.

And again, the departments and or the admission officers can tell you directly what the requirement is. Usually a major like this is nursing. Usually you need at least up to calculus with nursing and a biology, um, and four years of English. So. They usually are pretty good about that. Um, but again, you will be given an admissions officer and if you haven’t been assigned one, I guarantee if you go to their website and just search, you’ll be able to find who your direct contact would be.

But again, um, most of those profiles will be created and you’ll be able to find that information. It’s not something that schools typically hide. We don’t wanna waste your time just as much as you don’t wanna waste your own time. So we put as much information out on the website so that you’re able to do your own soul searching and, and, you know, matching for us.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s that dating metaphor at its finest. It’s the shoe fit in both directions. Um, uh, an interesting question, um, in the chat has to do with academics. So you’re looking at colleges, you, you, you’re seeing that, you know, you fit a college’s academic profile, um, but you’re still denied. W In your opinion, what are kind of some red flags that could happen on a student application and other components, um, that have nothing to do with the academic profile match to the school?

So it has nothing to do with academics. Um, demonstrated interests would come to mind. So just because you’re an applicant, just as much as you’re dating them, we’re dating you, we wanna make sure that you wanna be here. So if you’ve not engaged with us, um, that’s usually a dead giveaway that you’re just applying kind of to apply.

Um, fun facts about college admissions. So on our side of things, all those emails we send and text messages, we know if you open them. We know if you read them, we know if you clicked them. We track that, right? So we want to admit students who want to be in our campus population. So if you’re a student that was denied, even though you are completely on target, but you’ve not engaged with the university, I would chalk it up to that if you’ve shown no interest on in being there.

And we’re kind of just like a last ditch effort. No college wants to be, you know, second pick. We wanna be first. So just like I said, if you’re, as much as we’re dating, you’re dating us, we’re dating you to make sure that you actually wanna be here. Yeah, absolutely. Um, a couple more questions as it relates to athletics.

Um, is there an overall earlier timeline for students interested, um, in athletics at schools and the recruitment process for that? Is the timeline actually different? Um, and earlier, and then also, can you talk a little bit about what it means to have a reach school academically versus athletically? Yeah, so the first question about the timeline, it is a little bit more truncated and you’ll find that again, that I.

February, March-ish of your junior year. Coaches will start contacting, you usually recruited athletes, um, have been on this path and they’ve been talking to coaches, so you’ll know come application time because they’ll, they’ll give you a fee waiver if they want you to apply. They’ll invite you to come sleep on campus, um, the beginning part of September, or they’ll invite you to watch a game or maybe they’re coming to see you play at a combine, something like that.

Um, the coaches really are courting you to see if you, again, fit in and if your skills match what they’re looking for and that player position. And then the question of, um, if you fit athletically, but if you don’t academically, Honestly, it really is a tossup, but academics always went over athletics. So if there’s anything that you can do within your senior year, typically coaches will tell you.

My husband, for example, he’ll tell you he played football. He knew he needed to take a stronger schedule because he did in his junior year. So come fall his senior year, he was taking AP courses, um, a calculus courses, a dual enrollment, because he wanted to really show them that he could actually, um, do the work.

So sometimes the coaches will say, we really need you to take, um, such and such course, or to do well on the SATs and you know, have your guidance counselor speak to why perhaps this grade was lower. They’ll give you that information. It will be different from school to school. There’s no guarantee. But typically coaches, like I said, are pretty dead honest with you and we’ll give you a heads up if there’s something they need you to do.

Great. Thank you again for that insight. Um, lots of athletics questions in the chat, so I’ll try to pivot for a little while and then we’ll see if we can bounce back to some of them. Can we talk about how rolling admissions works? How would you incorporate that into your college list strategy? So, Yeah, so rolling admissions means, um, you apply when you feel like it, and they release decisions kind of in batches on a continuous basis.

I love a good rolling admission, but my personality doesn’t allow me to wait. Um, so again, I only applied early action for some of my humans who I was working with last year. We had finished all of their early action, early decision applications. Um, we were waiting on some decisions and then come January for some of their reach schools.

I said, all right, so you’ve taken a break for about a month. It’s time to get right back in it. So they applied, rolling. Rolling is a also good fit. Like let’s say you ended up applying to only 12 reach schools. There are so many schools that do rolling and they won’t close their application until like May 1st.

So they’re not like a safety academically, but it’s a safety more of like a life plan. So I love a good rolling option because it allows you to take a little break and, um, when you’re ready to come back and get back into it. They’re ready for you to apply. So it’s kind of a quick burn, right? So you apply usually about three, four weeks.

You get a decision. It’s pretty quick. Great. Yeah, I agree. Um, and I do like a good rolling decision. I think students are pleasantly surprised when they do apply to those schools with rolling decisions versus early actions. Sometimes you even hear back earlier. So yeah, it’s very exciting. And then you have a lot of decisions, um, all at the same time.

Um, for students who’ve changed, decided to change their major focus as they start, um, reaching that end of junior, early senior year. How do you, you know, choose, first of all, choose your colleges given that major change so late in the game. And then also demonstrate that interest to the schools on your list now.

So luckily most of the stuff will stay the same. Um, and I always tell students if there’s been a major shift in your focus, use that common application and use those, um, school specific supplements to talk about it. Nobody’s saying that you a hundred percent have to pick a school based on major. But it is a big part of the process, which is why we talk so heavily about making sure that it has the major.

Always, always, always do the research to see, let’s say you decide to change your major when you, you know, arrive at Harvard, what does that look like for a student? So what you’re applying and you’re doing your search, you wanna know, right? So if you’re applying undecided and think you may end up doing philosophy, what does that look like for you?

What is that process and how will that affect your four year graduation? Um, taking a look at all of those factors is really helpful. I don’t think many colleges will penalize students for changing, you know, their major because it’s a year of exploration for you. We want you to be picking the college you wanna attend based on the career you have.

So nobody’s gonna hold it against you. But if it is something that, you know, you, you had the opportunity, let’s say, to take. Extracurricular courses, um, or electives in school, maybe a dual enrollment. And they were really focused on engineering. Nobody’s gonna be mad that you took engineering colleges or classes at a local community college.

Like that’s never going to discount you if anything is gonna help you. We love to see dual credit. We love to see dual enrollment. We love to see ap, so it’s totally fine. Um, just talk about it. And you’re also required to submit your counselor recommendations, things like that. Character references, have somebody talk about it in one of the recommendations.

We, again, we read everything that you submit for a reason. That’s why this application is so long. We wanna get to know you. So if you had a very drastic shift from engineering to theater, it’s probably one heck of a story. So tell us what happened and tell us how you ended up here. Yeah, absolutely.

There’s also, um, it seems like a lot of major related questions in the chat. Um, there are, so I mean, if you go back to the webinar presentation, which was so, uh, well done by Joanne, you know, there are a number of factors to consider, not just major, when it comes to college fit. And so you can emphasize a lot of different components of, um, college life, the campus culture, the resources on campus.

Um, some of you might decide to apply undecided. Um, and, and that’s a, a very important choice as well. Um, and so how do you frame your interests, your career goals, your educational goals? If you’re not selecting a major, you really have to ask that question for yourself and really delineate that focus. Um, Uh, you talk a little bit about students who might take a gap year and how that might work to their disadvantage or advantage in selecting colleges, um, and applying colleges.

Yeah, no, I love a good gap year. Um, I think they’re really interesting. I think a lot of students are afraid to take a gap year because they’re worried that they won’t get back into it, which I totally recognize. Um, for those of you who fall into that category, I think I’m one of those people. I think students who take a gap year are brave.

My advice with a gap year is just make sure that you do something right. So like, yeah, work at the grocery store, but continue to volunteer and feed your passions. So were you a Girl Scout or an Eagle Scout? You should continue doing those things in your pastime. Taking a gap year. I’m not saying work just alone is not good enough.

Um, perhaps it is a financial reason and you need to help out your family. Make sure that the gap year you take is meaningful, um, and is something that. It is just not you sitting kind of around doing nothing. Um, like I said, we had an Olympian, a girl that was going to the Winter Olympics. That is something meaningful.

Um, but meaningful to me is definitely meaningful to you. Usually when you are doing a gap year, even if you’ve been admitted and you’re using the same application again, we supply those supplemental essays. Somebody will say or ask you, you know, why have, did you have this year, um, of no education? And that’s your opportunity to talk about it.

So if you are gonna apply fresh, um, you’re gonna take the gap year and then do all your applications a year from now. Make sure that you talk about what you’ve been up to for a year. Because somebody will ask you, they will definitely ask you what you’ve been up to. So make the best of it. Do a research project, study abroad, do Teach for America.

They’re always looking for volunteers. Um, do something super cool. Yeah, I love that advice too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an admissions officer come up to me and say there’s this gap in their resume and I don’t know why. Um, and if you leave that question up to the admissions officer to fill, that raises a lot of red flags.

So definitely don’t leave out what you be you did during your gap year if you decide to take one. Um, what are, I had an interesting question in the chat as well about applying to international schools. If you’re applying to international schools and US based schools, does that change how you approach the reach, target and safety list?

Like how many do you still incorporate them into that same logic? International schools that is. Yeah, you still incorporate them into the same logic, but know that international schools on a very different timeline than our domestic schools. So that’s just something you should be conscious of. Um, you should know, uh, when they’re starting their applications, you can use common app.

There are things like that that all a lot of these universities still use, but it’s the same concept, right? So they’ll create a profile. You, when applying internationally will become an international student. They will have an international student profile that you can research. You’ll be able to see all of their requirements.

Um, you know what parts of the. The us they’re being admitted from what parts of the world they’re being admitted from. So it really is the same process, but their timeline is just slightly different. Um, I have a friend whose, um, student is a, just was accepted to a university in London, so he doesn’t start school to the middle of September.

His application process, however, started this time, his senior year, he had needed to submit his application. So it’s just important to be, um, conscious of all of that when you’re making that decision. Yeah. Thank you. Um, answering a couple quick questions here about APS versus IBS versus dual enrollment.

APS and IBS are both, you know, um, Considered, I think, weightier in terms of academics, um, versus dual enrollment because there’s consistency and expectations and examination for those. Um, and so I just wanted to address that very quickly, that dual enrollment tends to, while it’s great for a student to pursue that opportunity, ap, if you have a choice, AP and IB courses are preferable, um, from an academic assessment perspective.

Um, and then I wanted to, this was a good question, Joanne. I I’m gonna read it verbatim. We’ve heard from friends that the application process isn’t enough. There’s a whole list of extra things that kids need to do. Is that true? And what are these things, quote unquote, uh, what are your thoughts? Um, I would say it really depends on the school.

Are there extra things that they look for? I. Perhaps, um, I think this is where demonstrated interest comes in and if you’re serious about these schools and you’re getting the emails and seeing the different opportunities, you should take advantage of them. Um, one of my schools, I’m not sure if you all are familiar with like Duolingo, we did what was just called a hello where you can sign up to say hello to the university.

And basically it was you go to the computer, there’s a prompt that you don’t know until you arrive at the computer and you log into your portal and it gave you 10 seconds to prepare and then you had to spit something out, things like that. Um, Schools really love to see. Some schools will ask you for a playlist, for example, like, I’ll never forget we had a student who did all Metallica songs I’ve never heard of.

Um, but it’s just what they’re interested in. So demonstrated interest is something that’s really important. And parents, you should know that if your email is in that portal as well, they are courting you too. So read the emails, look at the videos, go to the events if you can. All of that stuff kind of adds up.

It is some, for a couple of months will become a little bit of a part-time job to keep up with it all, but it is just for a few months. Um, and then hopefully your hard work does pay off. So unspoken sure, but not every school is looking at that stuff. I would say that’s more of your selective, um, highly selective.

Perfect. Um, I think with that we have one time for one more question. Um,

Uh, how generally how would you sum up engaging with colleges before you’re admitted? Um, if you could do three bullets, you know, what would be your top three pieces of advice for engaging with colleges before you’re admitted? Yeah. Um, go on the visit. Number one thing, if you can get yourself there, do it.

If you can’t do the visit, go to some type of live virtual event where you can talk and represent yourself. Number two, um, supplemental essays. I hear you students, when you say you’re essayed out, you’re exhausted. I get it. I totally, totally get it. Um, but 500 words is not a lot of words, so you can do it.

You’re just gonna need to suck it up for a little bit. Sorry. I don’t want your parents to be looking at you crazy right now. Um, So do the supplemental essays because we want to know more about you. That’s why we put them out there. And then the other thing that I would, you’re asking for things that you should do, but I’m gonna give you one that you should not do, is don’t constantly email the admissions offices.

Um, typically anything that you need is in your student portal. Every student that applies to a college nowadays has a student portal log into it before emailing everybody and their mom. Um, colleges do not love that. They give you a point of contact, use that point of contact, but use when it’s necessary.

Uh, typically not a lot changes from year to year, and anything that does change is pretty public knowledge. So just being realistic about that. You are one person in a sea of, you know, seven to 8,000 applicants that that person might have. So we’d love to hear from you, but. Be realistic about your expectations and, um, know that they’re not gonna get back to you in like seconds.

It will take a while. So it’s not gonna be a 12 hour turnaround, but they will get back to you. So just be patient. Thank you so much, Joanne. Wise words, great advice. Um, thank you all for being with us tonight. Uh, thank you again to Joanne for great presentation. That’s the end of our webinar. We had a really great time telling you about fine tuning your college list and here’s our July series, um, if you are interested in attending any of other, our other webinars this month.

So have a great morning, afternoon, evening, wherever you are. Thank you again for joining us today. Thanks everyone.