How to Apply to Colleges Without a Great Test Score
CollegeAdvisor.com presents How to Apply to Colleges Without a Great Test Score as part of its Testing Series in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with college students and alumni. Our CollegeAdvisor panelist will share their insider perspectives on crafting a strong application without a great test score. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2021-06-24 How to Apply to Colleges Without a Great Test Score
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on How to Apply to Colleges Without a Great Test Score. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everyone. My name is Dominique Turner. I’m a graduate and the class of 2020 from Cornell university. I was a policy analysis and management major and a law society minor. And I’m super excited to present with you guys today. I’ve been working with CollegeAdvisor for the past year, and I’ve been working in the college admissions fee, the college admission space for about four years.
All right. So, um, here, the four different tests that qualify as standardized testing. [00:01:00] Um, if you’re in an IB program, you obviously have those sets of tasks instead of the AP exams. But for the most part, everyone usually takes either the act or a or sat. And then some schools do require you to take sat twos, which are also referred to as.
Um, usually students end up taking about three of those max. So those range from being chemistry, sometimes biology, history, English biology, there’s two different ones for biology and fact. And so a lot of students would like to add that into their application as well. AP exams are, of course, the tests you take at the end of the school year, um, for your AP courses, whoever.
Tend to sometimes take tests for, um, tests for classes that they didn’t necessarily take. For example, uh, my school didn’t offer English literature. However, I did take English lit AP exam. [00:02:00] So a lot of the times these are tests that really just show your expertise in a subject, especially if you’ve been studying it for over a year.
So we’re gonna move on to the next slide. So Saturday’s tests play a couple of different roles. The first one is they do provide a benchmark, um, along the times, um, especially when you’re looking at colleges and I’m sure most of you have and looking at their statistics and their average GPA and their average test scores.
Um, they just use it as a, basically a statistic to show what the average student is scoring, who is admitted to this. So if most of their students are scoring around 1400, they’ll probably put, um, 1450 as the average test score. And so it was really just kind of a good statistic in that way to measure what their students are scoring or admitted.
Um, it can also strengthen an application and we’ll get more into this later on in the [00:03:00] presentation, but a lot of the time test scores can add. Um, a little bit of a, to call it a little oomph with my students to an application, which really just means that it can really boost it a little bit, but it’s not really shifting the needle in any detrimental or dramatically.
They can also help students gain an earn merit based aid. So sometimes students that take the PSVT, if you score a certain score on the PSVT, which doesn’t count towards your actual college application, you can qualify, you can qualify for a merit based in, and additionally, a lot of schools, if you score above a certain score or threshold, you can qualify for merit based aid.
And so this is another, um, way that’s tests are used in the college process.
So if your score isn’t as strong as you would, like, what are other areas application you can focus. I love this question because personally, as someone [00:04:00] who can have the highest score, um, I make sure that every other part of my application was just, was just as strong, if not much stronger. So transcripts and grades obviously is something that when you’re applying as a junior, as.
Finishing up your junior year of high school, you can’t change so much, but this is something that you definitely have control of more so than your test scores or how you’re feeling on a certain day. When you take the test, right? Your common app in your personal essay also really important. And this is something that I stress a lot.
This is your moment to show. If your grades weren’t as what you wanted, maybe a certain semester or an entire year, if your test scores, aren’t where they want it, where you want it to be. Well, this is a great opportunity for you as a student to show who you are as an academic student, as a person, to really harp on a certain part of your life that you want to talk about.
And you think admissions officers should really know the [00:05:00] school supplements are also a great opportunities. Supplements are a great opportunity for you to explain to the school. Why do you think that you should belong there? Why, what you can offer the school, why you’d be a great student and what the school can give to you as well.
And so it really is the place where you can prove to the school that you are a student that should be in there. And again, supplemental materials. Sometimes this isn’t applicable for every application, but I’ve had students in the past who are either art majors, um, wanting to be architectural majors.
I’ve had some students who want to go into performing arts. So they’ve had the opportunity to submit supplemental materials. Maybe that’s their own artwork, uh, portfolio. Um, sometimes it’s a resume as well, and it just really is another opportunity. Another aspect of their application that isn’t necessarily reflected in the common app or any of your essays.
So the [00:06:00] common app and the supplemental essays are really important for highlighting certain parts of your life. Kind of your life up to the point, especially as a student. So I think that one thing that I’ve found least working with students these past couple of years is that this is a place where they can talk about aspects of their life that have nothing to do with school and nothing to do, even sometimes with their extracurriculars.
So I kind of want students to be able to use this opportunity to show them that they are more. And their test scores and more than their transcript, even because obviously from when you’re 18 and you apply to college, you grow and turn to a much different person. So called is really, also want to see that too.
It’s really going into the application process, but they’ll holistic approach. So most schools do evaluate students off of that, um, holistic viewpoint as well. So this is really a great time to kind of round out your application and, um, [00:07:00] Really apply everything that you have into it and through your interview as well, not every school will interview and I should make that a point.
However, most schools do interviews. And if you do have the opportunity to interview. Um, usually with an alumni, um, you should definitely take it because it is an opportunity for the school to one have based, um, based to face conversations with you. This person usually meets with you for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Um, usually if it’s on over zoom, I know that some in-person interviews have started happening. They go back to the school, they report you. And basically they’re like, this person is great. Um, I think she’d be a great addition to the school. I think she’s really enthusiastic about this, that and the other.
And it’s just a group, another point of another data point, basically in your application. Um, I haven’t met a student who had a bad interview. Of course there might be some awkward ones. [00:08:00] Um, at CollegeAdvisor were really great about making sure that you’re properly interview and that you feel comfortable.
And I like to tell my students to turn it more into a conversation then, um, a back forth Q and a, um, at least when I was interviewing, I try to talk about topics that I was interested in, even outside of school. Most of the time, the interviewer and I found at least one thing in common, whether it be a TV show, a place we had both traveled or even, um, what we ordered on the menu that day.
So I think one thing is that you just want to make it casual and be.
So one thing about the essays and extracurricular portions on the common app essay is I like to kind of use active language and tell my students that that’s kind of the best approach to go, especially when you’re first starting out and writing the essay. I think that more of the time that you can spend working on the [00:09:00] essay and making sure that it’s authentic to yourself and also making sure that it’s also.
Concise cause it’s only 650 words. And also making sure that it’s, um, kind of embodies what you want the admissions officers to know about you is really important. And so I know that was a lie and there’s a lot to put into a 600 people to essay, but it’s really honing in on maybe a moment or like a couple of moments that meant something to you and our.
Showing a bigger picture of who you are in terms of the university, in terms of, um, who you want to grow as a student and as a person over the next four years and why that place would probably be a good place to do that. Um, and the thing about the extracurriculars is you have 10 slots on the application.
However, um, I never really tell my students to put all 10, especially if you don’t have 10 extracurriculars. And to be honest, I was a student that was [00:10:00] pretty busy in high school and I didn’t even have 10 extracurriculars. So I’m definitely in this section, it’s definitely a quality over quantity part. So if you can kind of hone in, be really concise.
Detailed and show the level of commitment to the extracurriculars. It really goes a long way in showing that holistic viewpoint of you as a student.
Okay. So we almost quail, um, we’d love to know where you are in the application process.
It seems like we have quite a few people researching schools that makes sense.
A few who haven’t started yet, a few who are working on their essays. Wow. Two very impressive people who are putting together their application materials. If you’re that far along at this point in the [00:11:00] game. Good job. Better than I was better than I was two. Okay. It looks like the answers are starting to, even out.
We have nine people who haven’t started. That’s okay. It’s still June 28, who are researching schools, eight who are working on their essays and two who are putting together their application materials. Great. I’m always a proponent of researching schools, even if it’s October and like, why not as much research as you can do beforehand.
Yeah. Okay. I’m going to close out the poll now.
Sorry. So as we all know, COVID disrupted a lot of parts of art this past year. Um, one of the big ones being that a lot of standardized testing was either laid, canceled or taken move to in home testing. And so. [00:12:00] I my opinion, besides just the timing and the structure of it all, it’s really taken the emphasis off of standardized testing.
And what I mean by that is so many schools because they realized so many students, whether it be because they just literally couldn’t get access to a testing center or. Internet in their home. And like, there were so many different reasons that students couldn’t take the test. They were like, you know what, we’re going to make an optional.
And we’re just going to look at your application based on your transcripts, your essays and extracurriculars. And so having that test optional, um, aspect of your application has really been catapulted by COVID and so many schools. Wait for us. For example, being one of them is it was always a test optional school.
And so now so many schools have extended this into the 20 21, 20 22 application cycle. As we’ll see in this upcoming year,[00:13:00]
as I said, so many more schools have become test optional. And I’m sure a lot of students. Really excited about that weather because it alleviate a lot of the stress around the test itself, alleviate a lot of the stress around the testing circumstances within the past year and kind of just took away, um, the inequalities that were exposed through the testing, um, process.
Now what I will say. And I did touch upon this earlier in the presentation was that app, the application can be totally boosted by a really good test score. And what I mean by that is it’s a plus in that. So if you do really well, your test score, that’s another kind of going another checkpoint almost.
It’s almost like it’s a little caveat. It’s like Dominique did really well in her junior year and you know what? She really did well on her sat scores as well. [00:14:00] However, if you don’t necessarily submit your school, It’s not there. So it’s kind of just like, okay, it’s fine. It’s just, she has met her scores.
And I think a lot of us colleges, especially in a lot of their admissions counselors are starting to realize that the test is biased and a lot of students do end up having more access to different resources that can either help them on the test. And some students have limited resources. So I think a lot of schools just aren’t putting as much emphasis as because of.
Through, um, the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected testing,
kind of re-emphasize miss again, that a lot of admissions officers are kind of starting to say that you are more than your test scores and you are more than, um, what I had to put as like four hours on a given Saturday. And so I think one thing that admissions officers are going to realize is yes, it is.
Data [00:15:00] point or another statistic that we can use in a student’s application, but it isn’t the end all be all. And of course, even when I was applying to colleges like six years ago about, um, it was still, it wasn’t like that really. Um, there was definitely more stress on test scores. And so me as a student who applied with a different testing scale as well than they do now.
So even as a student who applied with, um, A relatively lower end score for Cornell. Um, I just made sure that the rest of my application was really tight and on point and kind of is just hoping that that would really make up for a relatively lower Tesler. Obviously a dead. Um, and obviously my admissions counselors saw past, um, my not so amazing score and it was totally okay.
So I’m very thankful for that. Um, but nevertheless, it was still a little bit stressful, but I think now admissions counselors in schools in general are really seeing that, um, students are more [00:16:00] than just appears when their application.
And so my kind of great piece of advice for this is use the application, the essays, the, um, supplemental essays, supplemental materials. If you have side and especially the extracurricular section to really put your best self forward, you authentic to yourself, um, focus on what you can control, truly the sat and the act.
I ended up being very random tests. Sometimes you feel great when you’re taking it and you just get a killer score and then sometimes it’s just knowing your best day. And so I can only tell you so much before you don’t stress out, but if you can just take as much stress and take that energy and put it into your application, um, I think that’s really where students really shine and where they really see the results that they want in terms of the application and admissions process.
And so. [00:17:00] Going forward. I would say that although the tests are very daunting sometimes and setting for them can be so annoying and believe me, but I would say that it’s going to be okay. You’re going to take the test. And the other parts of your application are really going to shine through regardless.
Okay. So this is the end of the presentation part of the way. We hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.
So you can see and then read them out loud before our panelists gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your QA tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, double-check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page. Okay. Our first question is do [00:18:00] admissions officers expect non-English speakers to take AP classes or exams
for personally, my students that I’ve had, uh, That English was not their first language. No. Um, a lot of the time that’s made very clear on your application. And so it’s not something that admission officers are usually questioning or confused about. I would say that make sure that it’s very apparent in your application, that English isn’t your first language.
And hopefully, um, the admissions officers are complete. Understanding and sympathetic tonight. Um, but I haven’t had any issues, especially with my international students, um, been with ever really. So it does seem like it is a pretty normal, um,
Our next question is I heard on another CollegeAdvisor webinar that some students [00:19:00] are already working on essays. How can students be working on essays if essay prompts are not available yet? Or are they, so the thing about the common app essay is that it is a personal statement, right? So anyone can essentially can kind of write about anything.
Um, within some bounds, most of the questions are recycled from the year before or their take little bit, there is a fifth option or a fourth option. I believe that is basically a create your own topic. So if technically the prompt doesn’t or what you’ve written about, um, for the students that have started writing.
If it doesn’t fit necessarily into one of those prompts, I always tell my students that it’s okay for them to just pick, um, the fifth option of kind of like create your own prompt. And so that’s really why students have started writing. Um, and you can honestly look at last year is coming up with questions and usually the next year questions will be very [00:20:00] similar, if not exactly the same as their.
Our next question is I know some schools have an option to send along a resume with your application. Do you recommend doing this? And if so, is there a certain format for these resumes? Yeah, so I always tell my students to do it, especially if it’s. Um, jobs, whether it be babysitting or working at McDonald’s, I feel like it’s another opportunity for admissions officers and counselors to really understand who the student is and what they’re doing with their time outside of school.
And even outside of their extracurriculars, a lot of students have gotten awards for non-economic, um, situations or non-academic matters. And. I think those are really important to show and sometimes they just don’t fit into the application or the structure of the common app as easily. Um, in terms of structure for resume.
I personally send my students [00:21:00] my own resume and just have them basically edited on word and go through and use that format. But miles’ secret is that I got mine from career center at Cornell, which probably came from Google somewhere. So resumes are not only on word alone. Like there is literally a resume template, but you can also just find different resume templates online even.
Um, and my whole thing times new Roman, 10 to 12, five bold subheaders um, Make it one page, max, nothing more than one page and keep the concise and keep it detailed, use active language as well. So that’s my advice with the resume. I think if you don’t submit it, you’re not your application isn’t being heard at all.
Um, I don’t think I submitted a resume on my end technically, but yeah. Each of my students, um, have really asked and I’m just like, yeah. So it’s kind of really up to you [00:22:00] on that point, but super easy to find super easy to, um, construct. Okay. Our next question is what’s the difference between test blind and test optional
test optional is if you don’t, if you want to submit the. You can submit the test. If you don’t want to submit it, you don’t sit in it. Test wine. And Hannah, please, correct me if I’m on the same, always get this confused. But test wine is that they don’t look at the test and they don’t consider it into your application.
Yeah. They won’t even accept, like if you send them the test scores, they’ll just like, be like, oh, thank you. And put it in the trash. They do not look at it at all. Um, so I think they use. Yes. Yes. Um, and again, it’s definitely a response to when the pandemic and to just understanding the inequalities behind the testing system.
And, um, Sarah night’s testing in general has [00:23:00] created a lot of inequalities and, um, has really either kind of pull incidents and or health systems back in the past. So yeah. Okay. Uh, a sort of related question is how do I find out if colleges are test optional? Okay. So a really easy thing to do is just go on there, um, requirements for the school.
So if we were going on Cornell’s website right now, usually when you go to the applicants tab and you can see what you have to sit there for the school, they’ll say, please fill out the common app. I say, there’s a common app and it’s please fill out the common app. There’s a common app essay. Um, and there’s a supplemental.
600 words I would like to also fill out and then you’ll be able to say for Cornell, um, they used to require two subject tests and, um, sat or act. Um, however, if you see that now it will probably it’ll most likely, I mean, it will definitely say test optional. So because this application [00:24:00] cycle, okay. All the ideas I know for a fact are test optional right now in addition to other schools, but I’m using an example of Cornell it’s easily on their web site and they’ve put it pretty out in the open, just so they make sure that everybody knows that they don’t have to submit a test.
But, um, of course, um, I’m sure if you Googled it as well, you would definitely find out right away. There’s so many different forms about this, but definitely always check the websites through your most recent it’s your most reliable resource in terms of application mature. The one other thing I’ll say with that is that colleges aren’t trying to hide.
If their test optional, like all that information is out there and readily accessible, it’s just, you know, you have to look at each specific school. Okay. Our next question is, will it be very hard to get into colleges without a good act score? No. Um, I don’t think it is at all. I think that. A lot of students these days, especially, [00:25:00] um, that are just, it’s very hard.
Standardized testing is like really difficult or it’s very stressful. They, a lot of college admissions officers know that and they understand the stress behind it. And so I think that if you did average on your S on your act, it’s not the end of your application by any means, and it’s not the end of.
Your application and a specific school at all. So I think that students are definitely getting into schools with, um, maybe relatively lower as act scores, but even that sounds very, like, I don’t want to say lower or less average, it’s just not the perfect score. And so students are definitely not getting it.
I’m definitely not getting denied from schools. They want to go to because of their relatively lower sat act or sat scores. Okay. Our next question [00:26:00] is, um, do you think there’s a difference between the sat and act like does one stand out more than the other or look better? Okay. No. Um, so the act. Is different and its structure.
Um, it’s different and it’s types of questions and it’s different. Even the timing it’s technically a little bit shorter than the sat. Um, it’s the questions are just worded differently. Um, I haven’t taken an act in a real long time, but. It’s just a little bit different and different students like different tests for different reasons.
I personally took the sat over the act. My sister took the act of the sat. There’s really, it’s just really up to you. You, um, in terms of how much weight they may have, it’s, it’s really they’re interchangeable. Um, it really doesn’t matter which one you take in terms of your application and it’s um, and if it’s going to mix up the.
Whichever one, you feel the strongest? That [00:27:00] one.
Okay. Our next question is, do you have advice for writing questions such as why be you or the, the sort of like why X school questions and how to stand up? Yeah. So this kinda goes back to what I was saying about research. My really big thing with students is that. The why school is so specific. And so what I told my students is if I could take out that school name and put in another school, and the essay sounds the same.
That’s, it’s not that good of an essay in terms of why the school, so you want to be really school-specific. So whether that school has an extra curriculum that you’re really interested in a certain club, whether they have certain classes and certain professors that are studying a certain topic that you’re interested in, those are all really good examples, too.
Using your essay towards why blank. And so one thing I always tell my students is that make sure to [00:28:00] be honest about why you want to go to that school, if you want to go to that school for their acting program, be honest about that. That’s something that they, that these schools want to see. They want to see why their school is appealing to you.
It’s probably shows up in your essay if you not really wanting to go to school as well. So if you’re not that authentic about wanting to go to a school, it’ll definitely come through your writing. And so this is definitely a place where you have complete control over. Um, your choice to apply to a school.
And so if you’re writing it midway through and you’re not excited, and you scoured that website for things you’re interested in, it’s probably gonna tell that maybe you shouldn’t apply to that school. Right? So, um, if you have too many things right about at school, pick three, but that’s also a good teller, right?
That means you’re you have a lot of things that you’re interested in. So narrow it down to a couple of things that really draw drew you to the school and the first. Um, if you guys are [00:29:00] touring schools right now, or even if you’re just talking to students at that school, write things down. That was my big thing.
When I was touring schools and I tell my students the same thing, write things down about the school, that interest you. Um, I remember when I was touring Cornell, I just loved the feel of the campus. And I literally wrote in my phone feel of the campus, like check mark or something. Right. And I loved the major.
Um, that I applied to, I love the specific college within Cornell that I applied to. And I just wrote things down about it when I was on the tour, when I was in the, um, info session, when I talked to students there, um, whether it be in person or in a video chat like this. So I just made sure to remind myself and take notes about why Cornell, why.
The school that I wanted to be at. Um, because when you sit down in front of a computer, it seems sometimes that thoughts just magically disappear and you’re like, I don’t even know. Um, so I think, um, if you have that personality, definitely take [00:30:00] notes. Think about it again, scour their website. Um, look into what you’re interested in.
If they don’t have a program that you’re interested in. It’s okay. Colleges have a maker, own majors situation, look into that as well. That’s also a reason. Um, a lot of times schools will ask you, what are you interested in? Like, why do you want to pursue that at our school? If you’re like, I’m undecided, but Cornell has these 15 classes or this certain track that I think would be really great for me write about that.
That’s a really good reason. Um, so use that to your advantage, the school. They get really excited about these essays and they want to be able to admit excited students about them as too. So this is stuff that’s definitely honestly, sometimes a bigger opportunity than your common app essay. Definitely. I will say also, as long as it’s not like inappropriate or too much, you could talk about the weather.
You could talk about, you know, the hiking around there. You [00:31:00] could talk about, I went to this really amazing cafe on my tour and I want to eat there every week. Um, but specificity is, is. Is awesome. Yeah. Okay. Our next question is if I’m an international student, uh, should I send my academic supplement translated into English?
Yes. Um, my only thing is that make sure that you don’t want the tone of the essay to be lost sometimes within, when you translate from one language to. I know that sometimes it doesn’t what you’re trying to relay and the message that you’re trying to relay. And maybe the entire tone of the essay can be a little bit off.
So I would say if you do have someone that is, um, speaks English fluently and whether it’s their native language, definitely have them read over it a couple of [00:32:00] times to make sure that it is what you want the essay to sound like. Um, even beyond radical things. You just want to make sure of the essay is the same through, through, um, before you translated it.
And so that would be like my, um, qualm with that, but still yes, definitely translate to English. You don’t want to get a message three weeks after you submit it being like, I don’t know what this is saying. Okay. Our next question is, is it true that while colleges are test optional, they will prefer an admit more students who do submit a score, but just don’t say that that.
To be honest, I’m not an admissions counselor. So I have no idea how the inner workings are. I will say that the admissions counselors that I’ve had talked to you, especially in terms of testing, they really are staying authentic and true to being test optional. And it’s not submitting your test scores, not [00:33:00] putting that against you and not marking, marking you up for that type of thing.
Um, However, I, you know, we can only say so much. We only do so much because we’re not on that side of the application process. Um, so we can hope that yes, that is that that’s not true, but you never know. Um, and like I said before, yes, a really good essay can help. I mean, sorry, good test score can help you.
But, um, it definitely is not going to hurt you if you don’t submit. Yeah, we had a webinar last week with an admissions officer who basically said, um, if in a test optional situation, if you don’t submit a score, Um, they will just consider the application as if a test score had nothing to do with it.
They’ll consider it holistically. A great test score might help your application, but a really bad test score could hurt your application. Um, so it’s not, [00:34:00] uh, In the, in the world of test optional, it’s a good idea to sort of think about whether or not your score is helping or hurting you. Okay. Yes. And I would say, just use your best judgment on that.
Um, definitely it’s nothing to be stressed out about. If, if you don’t feel comfortable with your score, they’ll submit it. You know, like if you’ve seriously are like getting a pit in your stomach about it, and then you get your test back and you’re like, oh no, this is not what I wanted. And you’re not going to take it again.
Then Jensen minute, it’s not worth your stress and it’s really not, it’s not worth your time. And in that sense, so, um, but if you have a great score, then go right ahead. But seriously, Don’t don’t kill yourself over it. I, I believe me, I was stressed out. I, my stomach was always turning the minute my mom would drop me off at the test score.
I would like, I’d be like, can I just fake pass out right now? Like, can I do that? Is that, is that okay? Just be like, please leave my car. [00:35:00] But like, if that’s don’t do that, it’s not worth it. Um, I wish I had, I wish I applied to more schools that are test optional, definitely, but it just made the process so much more or less stressful.
Okay. Our next question is, since I have a learning disability, my grades are not as strong as some other students. Would you suggest making the admissions office aware of this and how would you let the admissions office know this? Definitely. Um, so there actually is a section on the common out for the us and it’s within, I think it’s the part it’s towards the end of.
Near where you literally submit your common app essay. And it’s says something along the, along the lines of like, if you would like to explain any parts of your application, this is basically your opportunity. And, um, I had helped some students, um, word that correctly so that they’re getting [00:36:00] directly, they’re directly getting what they want to say across.
So whether that means that they had a learning disability, um, I’ve had a student who had a death in her family one year. Um, definitely that was, that definitely took a toll on her grades and backend the performance. And so there is a space for this in the common app, and I would definitely use it to say, um, to explain your situation and they definitely do read that part.
They definitely do check for it as well, especially if they, um, are seeing a little bit of inconsistency in the application. Um, so definitely use that to your advantage. I think it has helped a lot of students. Um, explain their application, you know, obviously if you were there, when they were reading it, you would just answer and be like, yeah, you know, this was happening and blah, blah, blah.
But that’s your opportunity to do that.
Okay. Our next question is what’s the point of the essay? That’s a good question. Um, [00:37:00] in terms of showing who you are. I think it’s showing parts of your application that the admissions officers can’t just read. Right? So the parts that they can read are your test score. If you submit it, your transcript, um, they can read about your extracurriculars, especially if you like submit a resume or something.
Um, but the parts of your essay. Parts of yourself that aren’t really on your application or at least not like the hard parts of your health application. So I always help the students in your essay. What do you want the admissions officers to leave when they close your application? What do they, what you, what do you want them to say about you, right?
Or what do you want them to remember? So whether that means you want them to remember that you’re really creative or really. Forward-looking person then somehow through your essay, whether it [00:38:00] be through an antidote, maybe it’s through a tough situation that you faced. Um, you’re going to make sure that you leave them with that through that essay.
And so sometimes, um, people write about, um, a trip that they took that was really life-changing and something that really changed before. Um, I wrote about my experience growing up in Florida and then moving to DC and, uh, going to predominantly white schools. So that was something that they wouldn’t really get from my essay, just reading my grade really about my grades and they play field hockey.
Like they’re just not going to understand. That’s not like a part that they would just know off the bat. Right. So definitely use the essay to your advantage in the sense of. Show them the parts of yourself that, um, are not so apparent through your application. I think the one thing that I would add too is the application process can be really frustrating [00:39:00] and dehumanizing because it feels like schools only care about the numbers or they only care about you as an academic student, but schools really do want members of a community.
Like they want to build a community. Uh, cool, interesting people who will do cool, interesting things together. And part of that is academics, but they really want to know what kind of a person you are and they can’t get that from your transcript. And so the essay like, like Dominique said, is a wonderful place to, uh, showcase all of that and can have fun with it.
It’s a creative, it’s still a creative space, you know, and I’ve, I’ve read some hilarious essays that. Are just so enjoyable to read. I wonder, am I sitting in this? She wrote the most beautiful essay the other day and I just was very emotional reading it. Right? So this is a space that you can use to your advantage.
If you can be creative, you can be funny. You can be super, super serious as well. So, um, I think the whole point is just be your authentic [00:40:00] self and show them, um, Okay, our next question is, do schools have a way of knowing that you took the sat, but did not submit your scores? No. Um, no, no. Yeah, no. So yeah. I was like, um, not that I know of at least.
And I, I seriously think that the college board, which are the company that administered all these tests and like has your scores and everything. Technically they send it to the schools. So if you tell them not to send it, they won’t send it to the school. So, um, that’s kind of the only way they would know is if you told them that you sent it, that you took the test and sent your scores, but there’s no other way for them to know.
Um, yeah. So
our next question is, um, is it possible to go to an Ivy league without a perfect GPA and high. [00:41:00] Yes, that was me. Um, yes. And so many of, um, my peers and students, students I worked with, um, were not perfect students. Sure I was not. So, um, I think that’s definitely a misconception. Um, I think honestly, if everybody that went to those schools, um, had like perfect grades in high school.
It wouldn’t, you wouldn’t learn that much. Right? Like he kind of, you wouldn’t learn enough from each other. It wouldn’t be as diverse, um, on a couple of different levels. And so. Like Hannah was saying before, they’re really looking to build a community and these communities, um, no matter if they’re Ivy league, no matter if they’re other, um, really competitive schools, they’re trying to build a community and they’re trying to build with different types of people.
Right. Just because you didn’t have a 4.0 in high school does [00:42:00] not mean that you’re not intelligent, not smart. Don’t have so much to offer. Um, don’t provide a different perspective in general. And so for me, um, I did not have a perfect GPA whatsoever, but I knew that Cornell was a place that I really wanted to be in the place that I would do really well in and be challenged and loyalty.
So I made that so clear during my application and in my interview. And I just showed them that, you know, I’m totally more than my grades and I did have good grades, but I didn’t have perfect grades. And honestly, a lot of schools like to say that as well, that, um, you can show progression over your time, especially, and where I was taking it really, I was taking AP bio was really, really difficult for me just because I was more of a English history type person.
And, um, I didn’t have like the best grades, my first semester, AP bio, and then second semester improved a lot. So I think of us would [00:43:00] like to see that as well, that, um, you know, you are not defeated by your grades. You’re not defeated by a challenge. Um, and you know, if they ask you about it, be honest and be like, you know what?
That class was really hard for me. And I’m ready to take another hard class because that’s who I am and that’s okay too. And they really liked to see that Greg. That kind of like hardworking spirit, but also, um, kind of like an enthusiasm about school as well.
Okay. Our next question is if I’m an international student and I don’t have the resources to pay for standardized tests, will this affect my admission? And should I let my university know? So if you don’t have the, there is, there is, there are ways through the college board to take tests and they can waive a lot of the fees as well.
Um, I would definitely ask her admissions counselor about that just because I’m not very sure of the ins and outs of that. [00:44:00] So I don’t want to tell you something. Um, now that’s not true, but I know for a fact, um, there are ways to waive those fees. Um, and then there also are also ways to waive application fees as well.
So that’s also a good thing to look into when you’re applying to schools, um, in won’t affect your college application or your call admission status whatsoever. Um, if you do have to go that route to pay for your tasks, however, um, it is important to know that there are options in terms of, um, paying for those fees, because I know they are very active.
Okay, so we’re going to take a quick break and I want to let you know what you can do if you would like to work with one of our advisors from our team of over 155 advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation with us by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking. The green button, green chat button in the bottom, right of [00:45:00] the screen from there, just write in consultation and a live team member will get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with us.
Okay. And back to the Q and a, our next question is if I have a below average test score and no consistent extra. Dealers due to COVID. Am I on thin ice? I’m trying to make an effort to prepare for upcoming tests and get more involved in my community, but my parents are still very protective of me as they would prefer that I stay away from larger medium-sized gatherings.
Should I write about this in my personal statement packs for this question sent to me. So I was going to, I’m going to read it over again. Just one second. I going to read over your question.
Yeah. So to answer the first part of your question, um, with below average test scores and no [00:46:00] consistent extracurriculars, that’s definitely something that a lot of my students this year, and honestly, um, students that were applying last year as well, ran into. It’s definitely understandable. I would say, um, do your best to talk about what else you’re doing outside of school, even if it’s only one thing, it still counts.
So definitely do your best to talk about that one thing and your commitment to it or your interest in it? Um, that’s totally okay. And I think admissions officers have definitely to shift their mind in the way too, that students, you know, they couldn’t go to swim practices. They couldn’t volunteer, um, at their local homeless shelter.
They couldn’t, um, Go to their book clubs even, right. Like everything got really shifted or halted or ended completely. So I think they’re very cognizant of that. So, no, I don’t think you’re on thin ice at all. Um, I just think that, you know, whatever you do have on your application, um, speak really well towards it.
Um, [00:47:00] make sure to elaborate as much as you can and definitely, uh, Explain that like, this is something that you are really interested in, you know, albeit all this stuff with COVID was happening. Um, to answer your second question. Um,
yes, but I don’t think like you can write about the situation in your common FSA or your personal statement, but I don’t think that it should don’t let that. You like your only option to write. If you want to write something about something else in your personal statement that you find would resonate with you more resonate with your application more.
Go ahead and do that. Don’t feel like you have to use the personal statement to explain parts of your application. Um, like I said before, make sure using the common app essay to. Talk more about yourself and expand on who you are. Um, you don’t have to use it to talk about these extenuating circumstances and thing.
Um, [00:48:00] you could use that box that I was talking about below. Um, with previous student ask about throwing disabilities. You could use that to explain, um, maybe some inconsistencies in your application, if you felt you wanted to. So that’s how I’d go about it. Okay, our next question is when should you start writing the why us essay?
I mean, if it’s, if it’s a school that you’re applying early to, um, you can start as soon as, you know, you want to, um, I usually like to get the common app essay out the way first, just because it is a bigger of a beast, but, um, everyone works in different ways. The way I work with my students is usually.
You get the common app essay done. And then we kind of shelf the common app essay for a little bit, work on the supplements. Um, and then when we raised him, it becomes back to the common FSA, maybe tweak a couple of things. If maybe we were a little bit repetitive in the other essay, if it felt maybe too similar [00:49:00] to the common FSA, but I would say, um, you can start at any time, any time that works for you.
Um, especially if a school that’s like, you definitely wouldn’t want to go to then go right ahead. But I think getting the comment that. Um, out of the way has been helpful for my students in terms of just figuring out, figuring out how to write these essays too. Cause it’s not like an English class essay.
It’s not like, um, anything usually right in school. Like I said before, it’s definitely more creative. So I think the comment Bessie is a really good place to warm up to that type of writing. And then when you get the supplements, it’s like you’re off to the races and it’s much easier to write the supplements after you’ve not got the common app essay for.
I do very much recommend though. Like Dominique said, if you’re touring schools take notes, um, that is a huge help later on, you know, sometimes six months later when you’re writing these essays and they all blend together. [00:50:00] Yeah. Because a lot of times it’s great. When my students have notes on. They just literally go to the notes on their phone, on their laptop.
And they’re like, oh, this part I’m talking about this, drop it in. And then you’re just exaggerating on something you already have. That’s great. Yeah. Okay. Our next question is how do we tell the college board not to send our scores? Do we just not do anything? You just don’t seem, um, you just don’t submit a score there’s ways on, and I’m pretty sure also your admissions counselors at your school.
At least the way my admission counselor did it is I. Hopefully by send scores and, um, they have access to them and they can send them and, um, basically just told them not to send them.
Okay. Our next question is, do we only have to write one essay as in pick one of the prompts for the common application and coalition application? Yes. Um, for your personal statement for the coalition and common FSA, you [00:51:00] only pick. Please don’t write to, um, and please only submit one as well. I think you only have room to submit one anyway, but yes, you only submit you always write and submit one.
Our next question is, should you tell the college that the sat centers keep on canceling last? They don’t need to know that I’m from you. At least they already know. I think that there has been a lot of issues between, um, testing centers around the country. And I think the reason why also besides the points of the SATs and the actsh and alternate testing has been super.
Um, stressful and annoying. It’s double that because of COVID. So I think all of them, them being the colleges and these admissions counselors, they all know that the testing has [00:52:00] been really weird and last minute and quite unreliable. So I would not use that. I would not take it to space in your application.
Um, talk about it at all. It’s something they definitely already know. Our next question is, is it better for me to apply early and submit essays and test scores then, or wait? I’m just scared that schools are going to expect better applications to arrive. So they wouldn’t want me to become their student yet.
So in terms of applying early, um, if you were to apply like early decision, for example, um, so for me, I took the sat. Three times. And the last time I took it was October. So I ended up submitting that test score by November 1st. Um, they’re not, they’re not, that’s not how they evaluate your application. So they’re not evaluating based on like, you know, [00:53:00] there’s going to be better applications coming through.
Like we’re going to hold off and not meet today in a different application. They’re evaluating you at that time in terms of that application pool, in terms of what you’re giving them. Um, obviously, if you don’t, if you’re on, maybe you think you’re on the cusp of a great score and you just don’t want to submit your application.
Um, definitely don’t um, again, don’t submit your score don’ts with our patient. If you’re not comfortable with. Um, don’t apply early if you’re not comfortable with that school, if you’re not comfortable with like your essays and stuff like that. But I would say don’t, um, try not to have the mindset of that.
They’re just going to defer you or reject you because they’re waiting for something better to come along. Um, I think a lot of students have that mindset with regular and early and the difference between those, um, my whole thing is apply early. If you one want to get the apple applications out the way, like apply early.
Or like early action where it’s not [00:54:00] committing applied early decision. If that’s a school for you, you want to go, that’s it. Um, those are the only things that should be determining whether you apply earlier regular. Um, I have students that are really undecided and have like 10 schools they want to apply to and they can’t decide on one.
They all play regular or early action. Um, and that’s kind of the only thing that should be determining whether you do this or that.
I’ll also say that for people who, um, might be deferred or, uh, or something like that, you know, it it’s such a numbers game. That doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a competitive applicant or any less deserving to be at a particular school than, um, someone who got in early action versus someone who was deferred and then got in regular decision or someone who didn’t get in.
Our next question is, could you [00:55:00] submit a score for some schools and not choose not to submit a score for another? I have a high score for some schools, but not others. Yeah. You, um, I think that, um, when I think I applied to wake forest and I didn’t smash my score for them, but for Cornell, I had. So I, I didn’t Smith’s war for workforce and I did for Cornell.
So yes, you can do that. Um, definitely obviously you just use your discretion up to you. Um, definitely make sure you’re specific about what schools you’re submitting to. If you do do that, cause you don’t want to accidentally send it to a school that you didn’t want to stuff like that. Um, but yes, that is very possible.
If you want to.
Our next question is when does the common app open up for your college choices?
I believe August 1st, um, is usually the date that they have set that [00:56:00] opens, but I’ve had students in it. They’re filling it out right now when I was in, um, When I was in, when I was applying to schools, they used to reset the entire application portal August 1st. So let’s say you were filling stuff out July 31st.
It would just not be there August 1st. I think they’ve since changed that, but, um, usually I don’t really, my students usually don’t even log on until common up until August. So, um, definitely don’t feel stressed about that. I would say, um, in August, September, usually when people are going on and actually filling out.
Okay. I think this is probably going to be our last question for the night, but what if I don’t have any awards or anything special to me? I mean, to be honest, I didn’t, I think I had like one, one word. Like, I, I always get questions about awards and my students are always coming to me very stressed about awards.
And I’m telling you right now, And if it’s not a thing it’s not a thing to be stressed about. It’s not something that you [00:57:00] should be turning you in about being like, oh my gosh, I should’ve, I should’ve like done French club and gone in the water science, Olympiad. I promise you. It’s not something that a lot of students truly have.
I think that, um, it’s something nice added to your application, but it’s not the end all be all of your application at all. Um, So I would not be stressed about it. I don’t think it can negatively affect your application if you don’t have any definitely a good plus if you do. But, um, I would say it’s not a, not something to, um, loosely before.
Okay. Yeah. I think not something to lose sleep over is a great way to, I mean, I think it’s hard to hear that, but it’s true of everything with your application. Okay. So thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight. And Dominique, thank you so much for presenting. Thank you. I’m really enjoying answering all your questions.
I hope I helped. You guys just kind [00:58:00] of move along in your application process of a little bit, um, find some advice or some insight that, um, will hopefully help you down the line. All right. So this is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time telling you about how to apply to college without a great test score.
And since this is the last webinar for June, here’s our July series. It will start on July 6th. I read everyone have a great night.