Fine-Tuning Your College List
Struggling to finalize your college list? We’ve got you! Join CollegeAdvisor.com as Admissions Expert Joanne Gueverra-Pluff provides some best strategies and practices on how one can fine-tune their college list. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-09-06 – Fine-Tuning Your College List
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar Fine Tuning Your College List. To orient everyone with webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everybody. My name’s Joanne Plus. I am currently an Associate Vice President, uh, for student experience at Howard University in Washington, DC. Prior and previously I’ve been an admissions counselor at Hamilton University or College, as well as a Director of Diversity Recruitment and an Admission Officer at Utica College, both in central New York.
Yes. And real quick, we just wanna ask, um, what grade are y’all in? So eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other, and other can be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year. And if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your child is going into. And while we waiting for those, uh, responses to roll in joy.
And can you tell us a little bit about your own personal college list building experience and how that sort of worked for. Yeah. So, um, my dad actually currently, still works in higher education. So we lived in New England. I’m originally from Massachusetts. So when I came to college, um, I was really lucky to have somebody assisting me with the process.
My parents really wanted me to make my own decisions. Um, and I was determined to play a sport. I was a three sport athlete, so I played soccer lacrosse. Um, and I also ran track. So for me, the biggest factors were, and this is terrible. Don’t listen to my advice. Um, I wanted to go to a school that was sponsored by Nike and I wanted to play, um, at a big name school.
So I was recruited to do some of my sports, um, two at some one at the other vastly different from division one to division three. Um, and I’ll never forget. I had taken a trip down to Georgia to visit, um, the school that I was signing with athletically for soccer. And I was on the flight with my parents.
It was a lovely visit. Spent the night with the, the team and I’ll never forget I was sitting in the airport and my parents were like, just so you know, you know, this is a big deal. We’re not actually going to come to all of your games. Um, but we will obviously be supporting you from afar. So that was kind of a hard hit, which you think is kind of silly.
But as a kid who has always had their parents at the games, I started to, uh, have anxiety and was stressed out. Um, I called the coach the next day and told him that I would not be playing at that school. And my parents said, awesome. Um, you’re gonna go this alone because we’ve already helped youth apply to seven schools, so you will have to pick your own.
So I went on the path of still wanting to be recruited, but looking for schools that were within a four to five hour drive from my hometown. And I landed on a college in central New York. Um, people were very surprised that I went there because I actually hate snow. And this, uh, and McKenzie will tell you from the area that we both went to school, there is a lot of snow there, but I absolutely fell in love, um, with the campus.
It’s exactly what I was looking for. They were sponsored by Nike, um, and my parents were still able to watch me play. So I made my decision in November. Um, I got accepted a couple weeks later and then went to get my undergrad and, uh, master’s there. Great. Uh, it’s looking like we have 16%, 10th graders, 40%, 11th graders, 42% 12th graders and 2% other.
And also I’ll be adding some stuff to the public chat if y’all would like to look at that information as well. You will have to copy and paste it though, cuz I don’t think it saves the webinar is being recorded. So you will be able to view it again later on our website. And if you’re having audio issues, try logging out and logging back into the link that usually fixes it.
If not, it may be a wifi issue. Okay. And you can control the slides. All right. Awesome. So, um, you know, in preparing for this, uh, presentation, I was really thinking about what makes a good college list. So. Obviously students, I’m talking to you, the number one factor for your education is determining your major.
So if you have a couple majors that you’ve narrowed things down to awesome, go forth and search for schools with those majors, the biggest mistake I see students making is, you know, I wanna go to such and such state college because it’s really awesome. And I really love the atmosphere there. That is great.
However, if the school does not have the major that you’re intending to study or the career path for you, that’s not gonna work. Um, so you’ll definitely want to make sure that you’re picking. A college or college is based on what your end goal is. Um, size is definitely a huge factor. Um, I went to a very large public high school, so I was not afraid of being in a lecture hall.
That is not for everybody. That experience is not for everyone. If you are a student that really wants that one on one, you know, 10:1, 12:1 student to faculty ratio, it really, and truly is important for you to find a school that fits within that mold. Now, with that being said, for some of those bigger schools, they have smaller colleges within a college, um, and departments, you can probably find that there as well, but, um, size is a really big.
Factor when we’re looking at, um, colleges for students, because it truly is, um, about creating that learning environment that you wish. The next thing I would say that’s super important is location. So, um, college is definitely a family decision. So when you’re working with your parents, like I was, um, you know, location was really important to me just because of access to my parents.
Not because I thought that they would be there every day. They certainly weren’t, but because I wanted to be able to get to them. So if you’re comfortable with being a plane writer away from your hometown, awesome power to you, if you aren’t then checking out the location would be within those top three things, you’re looking for.
The last thing I have on this, uh, list is vibe. So I know that’s kind of like a young people term and it’s a little bit ambiguous, but the reality is your student is going to have to find a place where they see themselves fitting in. When I ask my students at the end of the process, you know, what is it that really sealed the deal for you?
They’ll tell me that it was a vibe. It was that I was sitting on a park at accepted students day, and I really loved and enjoyed just watching the students around me. So my vibe is definitely different than McKenzie’s vibe is different than everybody else’s. So it’s really about finding personally where you see yourself, uh, fitting in.
I’d like to talk to you a little bit about, um, the three terms, reach, target, and likely. So reach, um, would be those schools that are a little bit academically out of your academic profile. So once you’re conducting your research, we recommend that you go on and download, or at least screenshot each school’s, um, class profile from the class prior.
Typically schools will update this right after the national deposit deadline day, which is May 1st college signing day. So for the juniors in the room, that will give you a really good idea of where the students, um, fell that they accepted. So if you are, you know, five to six points below that reach academically, that would mean that that school is a reach for you.
If you are a hundred fifty, twenty five points below that, that average, that school would be a reach for you. Something to consider with reach is also that. With some of these schools, they may have a low acceptance rate. So let’s take, um, my previous institution, Hamilton college. So we received over 14,000 applications.
It is a smaller school boasting only about 1800 students on campus. Our acceptance rate was only 12% for the year 2021. So when you think about that, um, 14 to 20, 20 to 14% to that, um, acceptance rate is quite low. So also you need to take into consideration their acceptance rate based off of that algorithm of the combination of your SAT as well as your GPA.
Target schools are schools that a student fits in a hundred percent dead on with their academic requirements. So if you hit the top to the middle of the range for the GPA, as well as SATs, you are a student that should apply to that school. Target schools are schools. You feel comfortable knowing that they have everything that you need and that you are highly likely to get in.
And then of course there are your likely schools. So schools that you are above the app academic profile, there’s a high acceptance rate and there’s of course, um, high probability of acceptance. So with the, those three categories, it’s important to make sure that you have a well balanced list so that our students are able to.
Have a lot of different options when we’re looking at the college process. So when we’re talking about ratios for all of these, I would say for target, you want to shoot for between five to seven schools for reach one to three, and then likely one to three, make sure that those reach schools are definitely those that are within your reach.
You don’t want to overpower your list with reach schools because it probably would not bode well for you. Um, in the long run, we wanna make sure that the college acceptance time is important and it’s a fun time. So yes, rejections might come. However, we want to make sure that you’re getting into schools that you are academically fit.
Um, and it won’t be a surprise of course. All right. So the big the toughest thing that McKenzie and I are working on right now, um, is how to narrow down your college lists. So I’m working with a number of, uh, high school seniors on picking colleges. So I was just telling McKenzie, I have a student who, when we’re looking at students’ needs, she has determined that she wants a school with a really awesome library.
So student needs is listed there because each student is going to have vastly different needs. So if you’re a student that perhaps has a disability, if you have a 504 plan and IEP it’s important to make sure that the college that you attend has that location. Of course, and class size definitely make it there.
But if you’re a student that’s looking for a school where students ride their bikes everywhere, it would be important not to be located in the countries because you may not have access to do that. If you are a student that does not wanna be in a big city, then you should really be making sure that that college does not have that.
When we’re evaluating colleges, uh, based off of their major, we typically will regurgitate as admissions officers, uh, fast facts about this graduates being gainfully employed. Gainfully employed means that they are employed within the major that they exited college. So even if it’s a roundabout, so I double majored in public relations and marketing with minor communication arts.
Um, I currently serve an Associate Vice President. Am I gainfully employed? Absolutely. I do all of the marketing for the admissions department as well as enrollment management. So that would be a person that is gainfully employed. All of your admissions officers and admissions contacts should be able to tell you the amount of their graduates, um, that are, are working.
Within the degree that they attended for another huge, important thing, um, as we’re entering the workforce and I’m sure parents, you can reinforce this as well. So typically students, you should know the stakes are high when you’re entering the workforce, you do need some type of experience. When you exit college, finding a place just like McKenzie did that has co-op opportunities, internship opportunities, but within the curriculum is very important.
You wanna make sure that you’re able to take the time to get outside of your college environment and really get into what you’ll be doing. I always tell students, if you can do some shadowing hours within your first semester of college, that’s really important for our students who love nurses, but then are nursing and then find out perhaps that they don’t love blood.
Um, that’s something important for us to know sooner rather than later. So you want to make sure that whatever college you choose does give the opportunity for some type of, um, shadowing hours and or internship hours. Another huge thing, um, is career re reinvention. So I typically do a lot of hiring and there are people who say, you know, if this job doesn’t move me, I’ll just find another, which we absolutely support.
And we want people to be working in a happy, uh, field that they, they want to be in. So my Alma mater, um, as well as the place that I currently work, we provide after college support for all of our alums. So if McKenzie decides she’s going to be a rocket scientist, um, after graduating Cornell and studying something completely opposite, you wanna make sure that the career services department will be there to support students.
So definitely wanna research that every single school has some type of career support, but make sure that it fits within what you need. Um, and for the fields that you need. Of course, when we’re talking about higher education, it is a price tag. So monetary value is really important. Figuring out how much schools, um, will offer you in financial aid will come after acceptance, but you should be able to get a general idea of any college by doing the net price calculator.
Every single college in the United States has a net price calculator. You can go right onto that website and, um, do some research. All you need to do is input your family’s income. Um, and if you have a general idea of your student’s GPA, as well as SAT or ACT, you will be able to see, um, a baseline idea of how much your student would be qualifying for in both federal, as well as institutional aid.
So it’s important to check that out. Another factor, especially for the private schools and a. Amount of the state schools is looking at if they meet full need. So meaningful need means if your family’s estimated family contribution is around 19, typically $19,000 typically, uh, colleges will allow or tell students that they do have to pay that $19,000 for some families that might be difficult.
Um, and for some colleges, they don’t offer that much in scholarships. So going on and figuring out, um, and taking a look at the FAFSA to see, as well as the CSS profile to see what you qualify for is important. There are schools out there that meet 100% of your demonstrated need, but they that there are very few and far.
Another huge number that we look at, um, in the realm of higher education is the loan indebtedness. So it’s important to take a look, you know, if students aren’t gainfully employed, um, if you didn’t receive a lot of scholarships, chances are they’ll be paying a hefty price tag. So it’s all fine and good to go to medical school and we support that, but we also wanna make sure that you’re able to survive after graduation.
So taking a look, um, you can typically do a Google search to see the loan indebtedness of any school. Um, and I recommend so that you figure out how much your student might be having to pay back, uh, upon graduation. If you’re one of those few that your family is able to support you and has set aside, um, a college planning account for you.
Awesome. Um, but for many students, the cost of attendance really does play a factor in their college. And then of course you have personal value. Um, personal value is one of those objective things. So I went to, I wanted to go to a school where no, no one knew me. So that was really important to me, not sure why.
Um, it was just something that I was really hung up on, but if you’re a student that wants to go to a college with a marching band that has a football team, awesome power to you, that personal value is for you to determine. Um, I always ask parents to take a little bit of a backseat to make sure that the student is able to make this decision themselves while college is a personal and family decision.
It’s important that we find the right place for your student for the next five years. Well, four. . So when should students have a school list? Uh, finished. So typically, um, we like to say early summer of senior year, summer for us in higher ed really starts in, uh, may. So really looking at April or may to making that determination, the reason being you’ll want to, if you’re able to visit, set out a schedule for your family to go and look at some of these colleges over the summer for students who are prospective athletes, that timeline is a little bit expedited, most likely for our division one athletes for the, uh, small 2% that end up playing division one, you will know whether or not you’re being, um, recruited.
So you typically will know, um, going into your senior year, who is offering you a scholarship may is that optimal time. It gives your family the option and the time to figure things out as the athletic division or deadline is someplace in the middle of the. The fall semester, but for typically for our students, we really love to walk into the month of may knowing where you would like to attend for the fall for the next.
Yes. And real quick, we’re just gonna do another poll. So where are you in the application process? Have them started? I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for those, uh, can you tell us how you go about advising your students when they’re building their college list?
Yeah, so it’s really a lot it’s really a lot of conversation. Um, I really take the time to get to know my students. We typically have that first orientation meeting with our students, which is, which is about 45 minutes to an hour with the family, which is awesome and great. And then, um, I schedule regular advising meetings at which that time we really take the time to dive down and drill down and to figure out what the student is looking for.
So typically it starts with location, like I said, They’ll come to me with a list. Um, and then we start talking about it and the students really do the work themselves because they start to shine. If a student is done research, that’s awesome. If they haven’t, I request that they do a little bit of Google searching and research.
And then typically we start doing any type of virtual visits or YouTube, um, recorded information sessions. If they didn’t get a good feeling from it, that’s fine. We know love loss. We just keep on moving to the next one. Um, just to make sure that our we’re not wasting our time, but typically by the middle of the summer, after doing a lot of the online visits, uh, talking to other friends, alums people in the area that I’ve attended, we’ve kind of whittled away the lists, um, that we’ve determined that will they’ll apply to mm-hmm , uh, going on.
Oh, it’s looking like we have, uh, 25% haven’t started 46% are researching schools. 16% are working on their essays. 11% are getting their application materials together. And 2%, the lucky you are almost done. And for those seniors who haven’t started yet, I don’t worry. Um, there’s still time. You just have to stay on track.
So a lot of the early action applications are due the beginning of November and or the middle of November, right around that Thanksgiving time period. So there’s still a lot of time left to work on this. I know senior year is flying by. It’s insane that it’s already September, the first week of September, but you do still have time.
and you can control slides. All right. So how will a student know of a particular school is a good fit? Um, this is a crazy thing to say, but you will just know. I encourage all of my students to do double visits. So start that initial visit in the fall, uh, or sorry, the summer of your senior year. And then if you’re able to visit for, uh, open house or do an accepted students day in the spring, that’s when you’ll really.
Start to know, um, if you wanna be there. So talk to current students, you’ll take your tours with the student ambassadors and the students who are paid to work in the admissions office, which is awesome. But on those bigger event days, it’s really great, especially because they allow you to eat in a lot of the dining halls, talk to the current students and see what it’s like to be there.
Those students will be very honest with you. I guarantee they’re not prompted. Um, and McKenzie can probably attest. So when you see the tours coming, you are more than welcome and excited to talk to prospective families. So definitely engage with current students when you’re attending visits. Definitely, please be engaged.
So don’t plan to go to a visit and just be on your phone. It’s important that you’re listening. You are the person who will be sitting in that seat and you are the one who needs to have all that information. Of course, it must have your major, whatever college or fit that is or whatever three, I cannot keep harping on this.
Um, more, but the major is really the most important thing. If the school doesn’t have your major, I’m not really sure how you’ll make it work. Um, I’m not one of those people that kind of like do things just to do it. We wanna make sure that while you’re doing it, you’re doing it to get to your end goal.
And then of course, um, if the particular school, if you’re happy with location and size, so again, for some students, the size does not matter. That’s awesome. I was one of those students and for others, the location matters. So I was one of those students. So it really is figuring out, um, typically what it is you’re looking for ahead of.
All right. So, um, when we’re talking about the admissions officer, looking at a, a student’s application, let’s talk about what makes a student a good fit. So the numbers, the number one indicator of course is going to be that your academics are right on target. So you fit right within whatever that equation, um, of acceptances the GPA, SAT, ACT, um, range.
And if, if your school ranks and they require a rank, um, that rank, of course. So that’s the first thing that we look for is, are you qualified academically? And the reason we look at academic qual qualifications is we want you to graduate. So if it is a higher academically rigor school, and you have not taken any AP courses, you may not be prepared that sets a student up for failure.
And we wanna make sure that you’re academically able to hold your own within those courses. The next thing we look for is if the student has interacted with the school personally, so they don’t love us for us to tell you this, but for a lot of schools, demonstrated interest does play a factor. So have you done virtual visits?
Did you do an interview? And if there were supplemental essays, um, that were optional on the application, did you fill them out? The reason supplemental essays are there is because we want to learn more about you. So if you have the time and opportunity to do that supplemental essay, it really is good insight into, um, a student’s eyes.
I love reading supplemental essays, um, for where I work now, the questions are very random. Um, at previous institutions there’ve been like, what superhero would you be? Who is your, um, who would you identify for as a cartoon character? We love reading supplemental essays because it gives us a little bit more insight into who you are.
Um, also think about, um, high school visits. So typically admission officers will travel around the, um, area to visit different high schools. So if you are a student that’s gone to that high school visit. Awesome. Um, it’s one way that we can garner your interests as well as get to know you more. That definitely falls in line with of course, open house and accepted students days.
And then of course, um, the number one thing, the other number, one thing that students are always questioning about is your list of extracurriculars. So do you fall within some of the clubs and organizations that we have on our campuses? So in my current institution, we have over 500 clubs and organizations.
So most likely students there is typically a club and organization that you would fit into. Um, but there’s also that slim off chance that a college does not have that club or organization. We would love for you to start a new club, um, on campus. There’s nothing better than assisting with the student affairs side of things and engaging your community.
So if there’s something that you really truly enjoy, and we feel as though you would bring to our campus, that is a huge thing that we would love to extend. So we do look for those outside kind of quirky, um, activities that students will put on their applications as well.
All right. So my advice for fine tuning, um, your college list. So the number one thing I would say is you need to be honest with yourself and your family. Um, I’ll talk specifically to the athletes in the room and students who have played sports for a few years. So if you are a college athlete, you should know that less than 5% of, um, Seniors will go on to play sport in college.
And that is between division one, two and three. So there’s a very slim chance that your student may be academically and athletically, um, able to do that. So be honest. Um, there’s a little bit of self-evaluation in this process. So I knew that there I’m a terrible basketball player. I look like I can play basketball.
I’m about 5’11”, however, I’m not great at it. Um, I recognize that that was not something that I could do while I’m joking. Um, you do have to do some self-evaluation on your part to make sure that you’re making the right decision for you. There’s nothing worse than the let down. Um, so be truthful about your, your athletic ability, but the reality is you need to be honest with your family.
So like I said, you know, my parents were very hands on in the beginning and then kind of left it to me. Um, I obviously was not honest with myself about where I wanted to be, um, for those four years. And once I realized that it was a little. Very cutting it close. Um, but the sooner I was honest, I was able to find the place that I wanted to call home for four years.
So I really, really recommend, um, if you’re having a tough time having that conversation, I think we give out one free advising assessment, advising session. We can definitely work with you to have that conversation with your family. Be selfish. Um, this is the place that you will live. Um, and McKenzie can probably echo this.
You spend more time at your college those four years than you do at home. So you need to pick a place that you really want to be. It’s not about, you know, being your parents or being your grandparents, legacies are awesome. Um, however, it is the place that you will live. So make sure that it is the place you want to be, and don’t feel bad about being picky about it because it also is a large expense.
So we wanna make sure that you’ve picked a place that truly represents you and also be realistic. Right? So we talked about picking those reach schools. There was a reason that we only said pick one to three. We want you to pick schools that fall within your academic range, have your major and really speak to the person that you.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can, um, download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, and this webinar is being recorded. If you would like to view this information again, later on our website, um, moving on to the live Q&A I’ll re read through your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab, and, um, read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up.
If your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links in, into your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also known as the website or else you won’t get all of the, um, features of big marker. So just make sure you join through that custom link.
Okay. So going onto our first question, a student is asking, uh, where did it go? Um, Oh, and I would like to ask everybody, since this is a larger audience tonight, please don’t vote on your, um, questions cuz it disrupts the order of the, um, Q&A tab. Um, but yeah, so a student is asking, um, do you recommend applying to a niche or non-competitive major to optimize your chances of getting in.
Oh, this is a very controversial topic in higher education. Um, so I don’t recommend that at all. So some schools don’t allow you to transfer into a different school. So for example, um, I work at Howard university. There are many students who wanna be in the Chadwick Bosman college for fine arts, who will try to apply undeclared.
We typically do not allow internal transfers into that program. And here’s what happens. Um, you’ve already wasted a semester. Right. So for colleges that are non-liberal arts and very specific, like mine are, you have wasted one semester of college and that has already put you behind if you are looking to get in.
And it is a reach school apply for it. As a reach, you do need to have some backups, um, and some target schools so that you get where you need to go. I get it. Um, I hope I didn’t crush anybody’s dreams, but the reality is you should be applying for the major that you want to study. If you are a true undecided student, know that every school, um, has like a small percentage of undecided students, that they help matriculate into different majors within the colleges.
Yes. And also, uh, AO’s also say that they can tell whenever you’re trying to game the system, um, cuz usually your activities and um, letters of recommendation and your essays will line up with the major that you’re interested in. They don’t always have to, um, you can show different interest or like you could have a recent change in like career paths, but um, just applying to something that’s really niche.
Usually you should have an interest in it. Like if you’re applying to anthropology, you should have had some sort of relation to anthropology before you applied. Um, just because that would be hard and yeah, applying to, um, Trying to transfer within school can be difficult if you don’t have credits. Um, and the other thing that we always tell students too, um, and McKenzie brings up a great point, is your application should be tell, should tell me a story.
Right? So when we do those dress rehearsals, when I’m done, I should be able to sum up an applicant in like five to six minutes. So if you’re applying to biology, but your application says only information about business, like something there does not compute. So you really want to, you do want to make sure that everything kind of flows together.
Like she said, because we do know when you’re trying to game us. uh, going onto the next question. Since you mentioned being undecided, how can someone that is an undecided, undeclared or unsure about what they wanna do in the future? Uh, how can they go about building their college? Absolutely. That’s a great question.
Um, so you would be narrowing it down to different career opportunities. And then the number one thing you have to look for is how those colleges treat undecided students. So if there is a specific undecided track, that’s my favorite. It means that they have specific advising for you as well as like how we have, um, undecided first year seminar.
So basically they get a showcase of every single major. They go on different trips. There’s even a floor on one of our campus for, Uh, one of our residents hall for undecided students. So make sure that they have, um, those checks and balances in, in place to help you if you’re undecided and you’re considering a few, make sure that those major, those few majors are on the list of academics offered at the place that you end up.
mm-hmm uh, for me, when I was going through picking schools, um, it was between Cornell and Howard. Um, but, um, Cornell really had in, within the college of human ecology like how she was mentioning. There are different colleges at certain schools. The college of human ecology is more of like a small liberal arts and stem school within Cornell university, which is a large research school.
Uh, and the majors that it offered were all interesting to me. So they had policy, they had human. They had, um, stuff related to medicine, um, fashion design. So it’s like when, um, choosing the college of human ecology. I knew if I didn’t like my first major, I could keep switching until I found something. Um, though, you know, you have until spring semester, sophomore year, but, um, to declare, but, um, I end, I did end up switching majors, so it ended up being a really good fit for me.
And my credits were able to transfer over to my new major. So it all worked out. So that is something to consider if you’re undeclared, like make sure it really does speak to your different interest or even looking at schools that have a more interdisciplinary major or focus to their curriculum can also help mm-hmm
Absolutely. Uh, for questions asking about like UC’s or specific schools go to the school’s website to find out more information. And we do have, um, a few webinars on UC, uh, applications, if you’re interested in that, uh, going onto the next question. Um, so a student is asking, uh, if you could give an example of, um, uh, academic reach versus a target, like if you can explain those a bit.
So, um, there are a VA I think what was their acceptance rate? Maybe 1% last year. So I would say Harvard is usually an academic reach MIT. Um, those Ivy league schools, target schools, maybe your state schools or private schools. It really, really depends on the GPA, but typically a reach school. I, for the vast majority of humans in this world, um, are our Ivy league schools.
So I wouldn’t be able to give a specific, uh, recommendation without having the students SAT/GPA. But I, I would say Harvard is a reach. Um, and then depending on where you apply, um, perhaps those state schools, some of those smaller private schools would be targets for. Mm-hmm uh, okay. I’ve seeing a lot of questions asking about like admissions requirements for school.
So, uh, I’m seeing some students asking about if SAT or ACT are required for college admissions and if any is preferred. Uh, and then I’m also seeing on like, um, how much does GPA matter specifically your senior year GPA and just to throw in another one, um, related to course rigor, um, uh, how does that factor, and so, like, how do those different aspects, the numbers courses, um, relate to the, um, admissions chances?
Yeah. So we all look at what’s called the strength of your schedule. Um, many schools, quite a few will do a holistic review. So we will take an account, your GPA, your, um, SAT ACT if they’re required, um, as well as the strength of your schedule. So for your juniors, um, truthfully that’s the hardest year, right?
So that is kind of the basis that junior, sophomore year of your total GPA package. So let’s say I am reviewing an applicant from my high school. Um, there were 25 AP courses that were offered at my high school. How many of those AP courses did a student attempt? Did you do a suicide year and did all 25 in those four years and then bombed, um, a plus for effort, but that’s not really what we’re looking for.
Did you balance thing, app things out and take maybe two or three AP courses per year and did relatively well. So it’s about maximizing your. A schedule by taking as many, um, GP or AP classes or honors classes that are offered at your school. Nobody is suggesting taking every single one. That’s not realistic for any human.
Um, but we do recommend at least challenging yourself. If we, if your school does not offer APs or honors, typically students can take community college courses, which we also recommend. So if you can take, um, perhaps a language at a local community college, an English 101 class, um, that would be a way for us to see that you are challenging yourself.
So when it comes to your application package, as well as the list, it really is looking to see, um, those average GPAs SATs. Do they fall within the range? Uh, that the college is looking. Yes, and check out our other webinars on schools. Um, what test optional is not every school is gonna be test optional.
There are some schools that are requiring SAT, ACT. Again, usually you’ll only have to submit course for one of the tests, but you can take both. You can submit both. It really just depends on you. Um, but do check out our other webinars for more specific information, uh, going onto the next question.
Since you mentioned that students should be applying to, um, a handful of schools as students asking, is the common app a good way to apply to schools or is it better to apply individually? And then also just to add onto that, what are some other options for applying. Uh, common app for life. Absolutely. Um, if schools are on the common app, I would highly suggest it.
It would, you can focus yourself on one thing and not have to worry about all of the individual applications. The only tip, um, that I would give you is just make sure that when you’re writing that common app essay and I am reading, and I’m from Georgetown, um, that you’re not talking about how much you love Howard university.
So make sure that your common app, um, essay is answered in a nonspecific way. And it really does answer the question. That is the number one mistake that we see is students start spouting off how much they love different colleges, um, and that kind of detracts and takes away. Students can also use, um, different states like New York state has the SUNY app.
Um, there’s the black common application as well as the coalition application. And then of course, for some individual colleges, they do have their own application, but take your bets. If you are applying to many schools, I would try to knock as many as you can out with a common application as possible.
Mm-hmm , there’s also, um, I saw some questions about HBCUs. There’s also the Black Common App, which has a list of 60 to 70 of the HBCUs out of 107, uh, on there where it’s similar to the common app where you apply to different schools, um, through it, but it doesn’t have like the big names like FMU or Howard, Howard’s on the common app.
FMU is on, um, FMU has their own application. Some schools have their own application portal, which is the only way you can apply the UCs or schools in Texas have their own application portals to apply to those schools. Um, check out our other webinars for more information on application portals, uh, going on the next question.
Um, what is a common misconception students have about safety or likely schools? So I think the biggest, um, common misconception is that they’re not academically stronger and there aren’t any opportunities. So just because the school admits, um, you know, Let’s say 90% of their applicants. It does not mean that you leave that college academically weaker or with less opportunities.
So don’t discount those schools. Um, every college has different like goals when it comes to enrollments. So that 90% acceptance may be based off of their, wants to build a new hospital for the nursing students. And that’s what some schools do in order to generate that revenue. What do you need? You need butts in chairs.
So that would be students in those seats. So perhaps they’re over admitting some of those students. So I would say the biggest misconception is that those with higher, um, acceptance rate and our quote unquote safety are perceived as easy, um, and not, uh, academically worth it. And that is highly inaccurate mm-hmm cause I’m sure that I still probably would not be able to do those, you know, Biology courses at any school, cuz I’m still not able to do it.
Mm-hmm another thing that I saw with my students is that they would look at safety or likely schools as just, um, just to keep on the back burner. They wouldn’t really like the schools. It would just be on their list for the sake of knowing that they’re going to college. Every school that you put on your list should be a school that you’ll be happy to go to it.
Doesn’t all, they don’t all need to be your top choice, but you should be happy and feel like you’re gonna get great opportunities by going there. You can have your dream schools, but you do need to like all of the schools you’re applying to you don’t just apply to a school because, um, you wanna back plan cuz that usually won’t you won’t be happy with it.
No, you won’t. Um, And it’s not worth your time either. Like I can’t stress about how much fun senior year is, and we want to make sure that you’re doing those things that make you happy. Um, so wasting your time on an application for a school that you, eh, kind of love is not worth it. uh, okay. I’m seeing a lot of niche questions.
There are a lot of questions, so we might not be able to get to all of them during this webinar. Um, I’m seeing students asking about specific, like HBCUs living situations, um, different extracurriculars and stuff. Check out our other webinars, um, on our website, by typing in the keywords to the questions you’re asking.
Um, because those go into more detail on those specific topics, as well as our webinars that are on specific schools, different panels, different AOs. Um, those can give you more specific questions. And then if you’re looking for questions about a specific school, go to that school’s website to find out more information about them.
Um, but going on to the next question, um, students are asking, um, what are some good resources or like search engines, um, to do the college research process? Like where should they go to like find different schools? So I most colleges have, and most high school students have a nav account or Naviance depending on where you’re from.
Um, so using those to drive your searches is pretty awesome. So I know on the student side, you create a profile and then the profile will generate some colleges that would fit within what you’re looking for. So step number one, um, check and see if your school has a Naviance. Um, It has a Naviance app or link that you all can utilize.
But truthfully I did, and this I’m like, I’m gonna date myself. Um, I did a lot of my research just doing Google. So I Googled all the schools, put myself on the, the mailing list and I really wanted to get like paper materials from them. Um, and they started sending that stuff to me and typically during the fall.
So this is the best time to have this conversation is all of the colleges are traveling around. I would almost venture to guess many of your high schools have some type of either virtual, regional fair or enlarge big scale college, fair in the area, go and talk to them. Um, talk to those admission officers.
Like, don’t take my word for it. You wanna talk to the people who work there and then they’ll invite you to come to open house for those who can’t visit. I know so many schools are still doing your, uh, virtual events. But to be honest, it’s just good old fashioned. Google is the best way to get that out.
And then if you’re able and you’re on social media, almost every single college or admission office has a, um, a Facebook or Instagram account for the admissions team follow those pages because they push out tons of student driven content so that you get information about that school. I can’t tell you the amount of students who tell me that they just search Instagram for information.
That is the student information. So it’s not like you know of an official capacity, but it’s definitely run by students. And those who are driving the content are looking to share with you different things, whether it’s how good the food is or the best places in town to have coffee. Um, if that again is important to you, that information is out there.
So check social media and truthfully use Google. Mm-hmm , uh, kind of going off of that. We know that the admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike, especially with trying to figure out, um, what sort of schools you’re looking for, where do you wanna go, um, building this college list.
And so we highly recommend, um, signing up for CollegeAdvisor because our team of over 300 former admissions officers, such as Joanne and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it on one-on-one advising sessions in these advising sessions, you’ll be able to, um, really, uh, get to know your advisor and they’ll help you with finding schools that are a good fit for you, figuring out what your needs and your wants are in the school.
Um, I know that I saw some students asking about, um, if their school, um, If their personal high school would provide college and career counseling. And I know a lot of high schools don’t, so this is a really good resource for students in that situation. Um, just because you can get that, not only even for schools that provide, um, information on the college process, it can be a bit broad and not feel as helpful for your specific needs, especially when trying to figure out what did, what are your qualifications, get you?
What scholarship schools offer signing up for CollegeAdvisor can get you, um, that’s individualized support that you need. And also by joining CollegeAdvisor, you also get access not only to your personal advisor, but also to our network of advisors and admissions officers who have attended or were accepted into the schools that you are interested in putting on your list.
So they can give you more information about these schools, different perspectives to really help build your application and build your college list. So you can know that it is going to be a good fit for you. So, um, By, um, scanning the QR code on the screen. It’ll take you to a page where you can sign up for a free, um, 45 minute strategy session with an admissions expert.
Uh, in this meeting, you’ll go over your applications, uh, your qualifications, uh, what sort of financial and schools, um, you’re interested in, uh, and they’ll be able to set you up, um, with the best package and you’ll be able to learn more information about CollegeAdvisor and what we offer and how that will support you through the admissions process.
So just scan this QR code and you’ll be able to get more information, uh, going on to the next now back to the Q&A, but going on to the next question, a parent is asking how can parents help their students, um, search in the admissions? So I think it really depends on the relationship you have with your student.
But, um, like for my particular circumstance, it was pretty awesome that my parents were in and involved in it. Uh, when I had outlined, I would say like the top five things that I was looking for, they did their own searches and we kind of came together, um, to compare and contrast and look at notes and such.
So if you have the ability to do some research for your student and you know, that working relationship where if you suggest something, your student would listen, that’s really awesome. Um, I typically tell students, like, don’t go to a place just because, you know, one person there and you know, this is somebody from 10 years ago.
Colleges have changed. Right? So renovations have happened. Experiences have changed. Student type of student has changed. So work with your students to really, really just look at that research. If you kind of figure out what it is your student is looking for, you can do some of your independent research and then show your student what you’ve come up with.
But truthfully, just being supportive, um, and allowing your student to be the driver in this case, if they would like to be, um, is really important. I will also say that if you are a hover, no. Um, and you know who you are. Um, you have to realize that we want to empower the students to be pushing this process because once you drop them off or they drive away, you know that, uh, couple years later they will need to be able to stand up on their own.
So work with them, um, hand in hand with this process so that your a not doing everything and B, they know that you’re supporting them. uh, parents can provide some insight, cuz I know a lot of students have a hard time, like really thinking about themselves or reflecting on themselves. So parents, you can provide that insight into like what you think your student would like or what sort of interest they may have.
But with one of my students, um, her parent, uh, Wanted her to go to her Alma, Alma mater um, and, uh, the student was kind of interested, but the school didn’t have her major. Uh, she did end up getting into that school and attending it. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out since it doesn’t have her major.
Um, but that can be a bit hard. It’s really about where your student is going to fit. What’s gonna get them to the next level. You can provide some options, but at the end of the day, it is gonna be our student’s decision. Um, so yeah, uh, going up to the next question, I’m seeing a lot of questions on how to actually look for schools that suit you.
Like if you could go over some other aspects about a school, um, that would make it a good fit and how a student career really. Yeah. So if volunteering is really important to you, um, you can start by looking at other clubs and organizations. Are there clubs and organizations on campus that allow for students to volunteer?
Um, that a civic responsibility is very important, um, at my campus, students love to protest, so that real like protesting vibe of changing the world was, is really important to our applicants. If you, you know, if we’re past size of our past major for past location, um, It’s what you want. So typically college is very much like high school.
It’s just your parents happen to not live there too. So if there are things that you do right now, like whether it’s debate and you still wanna continue that, make sure that debate is on your list. If you are really interested in doing intramural softball, make sure that they have that opportunity for students and that it works for you.
Um, like I said before, I have a student who really, really, really just wanted to have a really awesome library. So every tour that she’s gone on, she’ll come back and report, she’ll say, Joanne, this library wasn’t it, it was across town. It was really dark. I didn’t like it. There was no coffee in there and I’m like, well, that one’s not for you.
So make sure if there are things that, you know, your student would really love. Like, I really, really, really love, um, Starbucks. I went to a school that had a Starbucks. In the academic building. So that was something that was important. Um, so you do have to figure out what’s important and they can be silly things.
So do you really wanna have a car freshman year, then you should find a college that has the ability for you to do that. Do you wanna be near the Metro? And you’re cool with taking public transit. Cool. Find a school that has your ability to do. mm-hmm and I listed in the public chat, some other webinars on choosing between schools and researching schools that go into more detail on some factors to consider.
Um, also, um, when doing the admissions process, you’re gonna have a lot of supplemental essays and a lot of them can lean on asking. Um, why do you wanna attend this school? Those essays can usually tell you, um, if that’s going to be a good fit for you because, um, Which gonna call it. If you cannot answer that question, it’s more than likely not a great school for you.
Or if the only answers you can give to that, um, question are it’s the top school in this specific program or it’s the best school in the country? The part on is the top program in the country can be good just because, you know, having funding for a program or a lot of attention, best professors for a program is very important, but you need something a little bit more than just flattering the university.
You need to be able to say like, what are you gonna do there? Why do you wanna do it? How’s it gonna help you? Um, like really when you’re looking at schools, it has to be a place that can get you to that next level. So like something very, very niche. One of my students is interested in pre-law and she’s, um, Interested in social justice and activism in the innocence project.
And so when talking with her, the difference between schools for her and picking them would be, um, a school that’s, uh, would be good for her is going to be one that’s focused on social justice issues, focused on the humanities, um, really diving into issues and looking at like having more of a sociology approach, whereas a school that’s like the top in the country, maybe more focused on numbers, getting the big clients or preparing you with the skills to be like the big, bad lawyer, essentially.
So like looking to see if a school fits your morals values, skill set that you wanna build is also important. That is a bit nitty gritty, but you can kind of get the vibe of schools going for based on their mission statements, what sort of projects they’re doing, how students are acting on campus, different things like that.
Uh, going on to the next question. Um, do students need to apply to 20 schools? Um, what’s a good range. And how do you balance applying to so many schools? I don’t think anybody should apply to 2020 schools. Um, that’s a little intense and that sounds like a lot of applications. So I do not recommend that at all.
Um, I think the max really is about 12 and in fact, Common App kind of bottoms out at 10. So 12 is really it. So if you do the common app and you fill those up, maybe you can do some, um, personal applications for those schools. But I, I don’t think that that is a hefty decision to put on yourself. Right. So what if you’re accepted to all 20 of them, then you have to decide you really should cut that list down to.
A more appropriate size to really 12. Um, but 10 would be the DS number. Um, so I, I would not apply to that many, that, that that’s a lot. Um, and that would take a lot of work on the students part to constantly be updating the common app too, if they’re all common app schools as well. What was the end of your question?
McKenzie? Um, oh my gosh, I forgot. Um, what is, uh, should they apply to 20 schools? What, oh, how do they manage, um, having us a lot of essays and stuff like a lot of application things to do for, um, applying to multiple. Yeah. So basically you’re gonna do a spreadsheet, right? So if you join with us, um, every single one of us has a way of outlining.
You basically put the school application, deadline, the supplemental deadline, um, and the rest of the deadlines, whether it’s for FAFSA CSS profile, uh, if you’re an art or dance student, any of those auditions are listed there. So I create a calendar for each one of my students, and I just get Google alerts.
I’m on Google calendar, like ding, ding, ding, remind, remind McKenzie, you know, in a month, this application supplement is due. Um, so we organize it based off of a spreadsheet. Anybody could do that, just start with the colleges, the names, the due date, the supplement, uh, the requirements, essay requirement, the amount of essay requirements, then put your list of, uh, extracurriculars of course, and then your list of recommendation.
But we recommend just using a spreadsheet to kind of keep track of it all. It’s the only way really to keep track of it. mm-hmm , I’m seeing a lot of questions again on, um, GPA do grades matter in senior year, they, they matter all your grades every year matter. um, uh, how do SAT/ACT standing out we have other webinars, again, just type in those keyword.
Um, there are a lot of webinars aren’t standing out in the application process that go into more detail. Um, but going onto the next question, um, where is it? Uh um, what is, oh, what is a common mistake students make when building or fine tuning their college list? It’s easy putting too many reach schools, uh, kind of going off of that.
Should a student have any Ivy league on their list or should a student have only Ivy leagues on their list? How do those sort of factors play into way? That is a question that can only be determined by knowing your actual GPA and SAT. Um, if, if you’re looking for advising, I recommend you looking into joining with CollegeAdvisor, but we, I can’t make a statement based on, I can’t answer that question without having all the information.
Um, if you’re a student that fits into the academic profiles, then go for it. You know, I have had applicants who’s, who’ve been accepted to all of the Ivy league schools, but she had a perfect SAT a perfect GPA and a very strong schedule. So if you don’t fit within those categories, then you should not have every single Ivy league school.
But if you fit within the, you know, the, the requirements for Princeton, you should apply for Princeton, um, I wouldn’t say it’s like one or none. I would say it’s subjective to each person and, and a. mm-hmm uh, going on to the next question, should it, uh, there be a mixture of in-state and out-of-state schools on their list.
Is it okay to just apply in-state or just apply? Out-of-state it really depends on the student. Um, I don’t think that typically matters if your student is comfortable going out of state. Awesome. Um, if they’re not awesome, it really is, is preference. So if you’re in state, most likely you’re applying. If you’re applying to state schools, those and cost is a factor in that decision of where to go.
Um, the recommendation would be to apply to state schools because they traditionally will be, um, a lot more affordable. Mm-hmm , uh, going up to the next question, uh, does a student need to have a dream school and, um, what can a student do if no schools on their list really excite. Oh, that is a bummer. Um, so there is a college out there for everybody.
So if no school on there excites them, then you gotta find what it is they’re looking for. So, and I would say this to any applicant. Um, college is what you make of it. And we all have activities. We all have beautiful libraries, beautiful grounds. You know, some are in city, some are rural. You really do have to find what works for your student.
So if you have not found that, that, that college, that excites them when they talk about it, um, that they’re pumped to go to. you all need to do some more research to find it, push your student to go out of their comfort zone a little bit, because maybe their comfort of that, like two hour or in-state school, it’s not there.
Um, and they may need to look to other options, but trust the process. Like there’s a reason people go to college and are happy in college and there’s some of the best years of their lives. It’s because we’ve been able to connect students with the ability to be themselves and grow as adults and individuals.
So just trust the process. Um, and I would push them a little bit out of state, um, or out of their comfort zone rather to find the place that they’re looking for. Mm-hmm and also a lot of students get stressed out about picking the perfect school. The first time around, just know, transferring out of the school is always an option you can leave.
It’s never said in stone, even if they give you a scholarship, though, you may not wanna give up a scholarship. It is always possible to leave afterwards. Um, even if you applied ed. So like though you can’t get out of the enrollment process for ed, unless you have financial reasons. Um, you can leave after enrollment.
So nothing is ever said in stone, you can always change. Um, this is just one of your first big grown up decisions. Um, going on well, since the webinar is coming to a close, is there any last minute, um, remarks or advice you wanna give to. I, I truthfully just tell students to not be afraid. And I know it’s really easy and probably easy for you to stay sitting from where we’re sitting, because we’ve already done the process.
So I’m not your atypical, I’m not atypical student. I did not go through the process in a very designed, like progressive matter I kind of was all over the place. Um, but it really showed me a lot and it gave me the ability to, to take charge of my education. Um, you’re everybody, you are blessed to have people in your life that are helping you.
So if it’s a guidance counselor or a teacher or a parent or a friend, take that help, um, and recognize that everybody is looking at it with a lens with you in mind. So take that chance. If you haven’t found that school, do that virtual visit go out of your comfort zone because there is really a place for, for everybody there really, and truly is.
Yes. So that is the end of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slides from link in the handout tab, and this webinar is being recorded. If you wanna view it again on our website at app.CollegeAdvisor.com/webinars, thank you to our wonderful panelists, Joanne, for all this great information.
Uh, and here is the rest of our September series where we’ll have different webinars on different colleges and different aspects of the application process and how to really build your application. Uh, also consider checking out our other webinars on topics, such as Standing Out in the Application Process, test optional, what courses you should be taking.
Um, the admissions process overall, if you’re meeting, uh, like a timeline of the admissions process and also check out our blog, which gives more in depth, um, writing material or reading material, um, on different topics in the admissions process. And so, yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight, goodnight.