Admissions Officer Advice: Why You Need College Application Help
Join us as former Admissions Officers, Arianna Pagan & Ferrell Armstrong, share the importance of receiving admissions guidance during the college application process.
2021-01-12 Admissions Officer Advice: Why You Need College Application Help
[00:00:00] Welcome to CollegeAdvisors’s webinar, Why you need college applications help to orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in the live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our sides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. My name is Ariana Pagan. I have been at CollegeAdvisor over a year now. Um, I’ve been in higher education since 2016, and I’ve worked in a variety of admissions offices from Northeastern Boston university, Emmanuel college, Babson college. Um, so I’m really excited to be here with Ferell today.
Um, and answer any questions you guys might have and sort of explain why CollegeAdvisor might be a really good option for you. Um, so with that, I’ll pass it over to. Hey, good evening, everyone. My name [00:01:00] is Farrell Armstrong. I’ve been with CollegeAdvisor for just over a year. Myself. I’ve been in college admissions, my entire career, just over 12 years.
Now, I’d like to say that the wrinkles on my face are not from sitting at the beach. Um, I’ve spent my time primarily working as an admissions officer at the university of Georgia, just got the national championship. And then, um, majority of my time was actually at Vanderbilt university. I was their chief of international admissions and I was one of the five voting members of their admissions committee.
We’re really excited that you’re here tonight. You know, there’s a lot to talk about. So we’re definitely gonna go ahead and jump right in. Uh, but to start out, this process is it’s challenging and it’s something that we’re going to, you know, talk about here in one second. But before we do, we’re going to start with a little bit of a poll
Okay. So our poll first poll for tonight is what grade are you in? We want to get a sense of who our audience is so we can make sure we’re kind of directly speaking to you all. [00:02:00] You have some very experienced admission officers here tonight who have a good amount of content they’re ready to share. Um, okay.
So I see the responses coming into the poll. So, so far we have about 60% of our participants are in the 11th grade. Followed by that 20% are in 12th grade. Then we have some 10th graders and then just slightly 3% are other, okay. Thank you. All we’re Philadelphia poll. I will turn it back to our panelists to kick it off into our presentation.
Well, you know, it’s so funny that 60% are identifying as 11th graders, because if you’re an 11th grader right now, something that’s probably on the start of your mind is, you know, when do I say. And that’s a common question. I think I hear from so many families and students now having done this for as long as I have is when is the best time to start?
The reality is, is that forming and college lists is one of the most important things that [00:03:00] you can do in this process. And you can never do that early enough. Um, your lists will really determine, or should I should say, determine the different types of things that you’re getting involved with. So time is your greatest asset.
You want to start preparing for this process. Now, whether you’re a freshmen, sophomore, a junior, um, we even work with students that are, you know, as young as seventh and eighth graders. And the reason for that is the process has become so competitive. You know, when a lot of students put this off and wait to the end of 11th grade to start putting a list together, or to start preparing essays, they’re really putting themselves at a disadvantage.
So I like to tell families to give yourself the benefit of time, give yourself the time that your competition won’t. So that you can stand out later. Um, so why do you want to start putting the schools together as early as ninth and 10th grade? Well, you know, the reality here is that when you put the right list together, it takes time to do that.
You don’t just start with eight or nine schools. You really need to start by looking at 20, to even [00:04:00] 30 schools. And as you do that, you really need to be looking at a variety of different things that you might be looking for in your future institution, that you attend things such as the type of major that you’re interested in.
It’s geographic location, cost of attendance, even diversity study abroad opportunities are all important aspects that you should be looking at, uh, when you’re forming the school list. I think one of the most undervalued pieces that families don’t look into is average debt of a graduate. You know, that’s something that I think you need to be thinking about considering the cost of attendance today.
Um, so as you start to kind of build these factors into the right school list, you can start to narrow down your list from that 20 to 50. To a more confined list, in my opinion, between eight and 12, right now the average student is applying to eight schools. But how do you get to know what schools really the right fit for you?
W what is the right balance? I think a lot of times today, students and families are taking the word of [00:05:00] just the school’s admission site. And, you know, with all due respect to all schools, you are being recruited. And, and I do want you to just keep that in the back of your head. It’s always better to take the time, to get to know the different students that are attending these schools and even recent graduates.
And you need the time to do that. Those conversations can make you more aware of what that school’s community and culture are really about, and that can also make you more prepared for, at your essays. Some of that already on is going to touch on here and just a little bit, you know, but how many schools and what’s the right balance?
Well, as I said, eight to 12 is my personal opinion. Um, but the balance to me is between having both public and private. Private schools are actually more likely to give you scholarship and financial aid than public schools. And in many cases, they can end up being cheaper than some in-state public institutions.
Once you are awarded that scholarship, but then you need to break your list out between, you know, reach target and safety schools, you know, reach schools. These are the schools that are popular across [00:06:00] the board. You know, we define them as schools that have an emissions rate, 30% or less target schools are those that have an emissions rate of 55% or better.
And safety schools are those that have an admissions rate of 85% or better. In our personal opinion, here at CollegeAdvisors, we tend to recommend about three regions. For target schools and three safety schools. If you were to apply to 10 total. Now, what I’ll tell you is that that can vary by applicant.
Um, but in order to make sure that those schools are the right fit for you, you need to also know what they’re looking for in an applicant, right? And so, as you start to understand how this process progresses, one of the best ways that you can help yourself is to learn more about how these schools will be making their decisions about you.
Enrollment management is the science behind modern college admissions. And in what it is, it’s an actual data science, a recognized data science, where there are actually [00:07:00] multiple PhD programs offered for enrollment management across the country. Today, these schools are operating by using data analytics and predictive modeling to make informed decisions of who they select to admit.
Sometimes we’ll look at two different students. And if I like the outcome that the second student provides me, as opposed to admitting the first student, I’ll go with that option instead. And so when students are putting in their school is together, they also need to be very aware of how they need to make themselves stand out statistically.
And so many of you are very probably aware of things like early decision, early action and regular decision in case you’re not, I’m going to explain what these are. These are the three primary ways that you can apply to a school today. Early decision is a contractually binding agreement to which you can only apply to one school in the country.
And for the record, not every school offers early decision. Um, that deadline is typically by November. The first and most schools will give you your [00:08:00] answer by December the 15th, early action, uh, deadline. Uh, in most cases, November the 15th, uh, there are some schools that will require it as early as up. And they’ll typically give your answer by the end of the first week in January.
And then there’s also regular decision. Typically it’s due either the first and 15th of January and you get your answer by April 1st. Now early action and regular decision are not contractually binding. You can apply to as many of them as you would. Like, why do we bring this up? Why, why does this affect your strategy?
Well, early decision in nearly all cases will always be the most, um, easier path. I should say the easiest pathway into a school. Um, when I was at Vanderbilt, our early decision acceptance rate was 28% compared to the regular decision acceptance rate of 7.9%. So statistically early decisions dramatically in your favor, but then when you come down to schools that offer early action versus regular decision, you will [00:09:00] encounter rumors.
You will hear people tell you that early action is always better than regular decision. And that’s just not the case early action in some cases will be. Because that’s how that school processes, their applicants. They have a set process that works for them and they tend to favor early action. But at other schools, regular decision might be more in your favor.
And when families are unaware of this, if they don’t have the data to understand how to target each school, they’re effectively applying blind. And unfortunately, this is not something that a lot of students are getting at home by their own research or even at their own school counselors. And I’m certainly not trying to speak negatively Vinny’s school counselors.
I have wonderful friends that are counselors today. Um, and a lot of times they just don’t have the resources to spend the time to make you aware of all of this. So when you’re building your school lists, it’s the foundation for everything else that you’re doing within this process, from deciding on the right activities, it’s going to affect the [00:10:00] order of which you start to work on eventual essays, building that personal narrative, which Ariana is going to speak to here in this.
The school list and the application strategy that you choose to take from there should start as early as possible. And truly you can’t start too early.
Uh, and going off of what Farrell had mentioned about, you know, not having the resources necessary, both for families and guidance counselors. I think one of the biggest advantages of CollegeAdvisors is that we spend so much time building relationships with our students and their families. And the reason we do this is because that is how we go about establishing your personal narrative.
And so what the personal narrative is, is really taking the different parts of the application. We’re taking your essay, we’re taking supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, um, you know, your [00:11:00] transcript, any dual enrollment. Test scores, everything and putting that together into the application. So that way, when you’re submitting it to a university, you are submitted.
Almost, you know, who you are in a packet, what you’re about what you bring to the table. And that is really where the competitiveness comes in to college admissions. Um, as I mentioned, you know, a lot of families, you know, we’ll go on tours and look at the website and ask, you know, what’s the average GPA, what’s the average test score.
But what you’re not being told is that behind closed doors and admissions colleges and universities are consistently looking for students that are higher than those averages that they’re telling you, they’re consistently looking for students that. Can contribute more to the campus community throughout their time at university.
And so developing that personal narrative and being able to say, this is what I’m about. These are my values, and this is why I want to attend this university and how I can [00:12:00] contribute. That really makes a huge impact on your decision and how captivating you are as an applicant to the admissions office.
Um, because what a lot of stuff. And families may not be aware of is that depending on the university you’re applying to, and, um, the acceptance rate, the number of applications that they get, you have on average about 10 to 15 minutes, um, in front of an admissions officer with your application, um, that’s about the average amount of time.
They’ll spend reading an application because they do read at high volume, having read ahead of all you make, can tell you that. And I know feral Ken as well. Um, and so, you know, throughout the course of a year, a year and a half, um, what we’re doing is we’re figuring out how you as a student contribute to these universities that you’re interested in, what are your values?
What activities are you, and can you get involved in early on to start showing, you know, X university [00:13:00] that, you know, if their value is community service, you know, I’ve been doing community service since my freshman year. I’ve given back to my community and X number of. Um, and also choosing activities and interests that demonstrate to the college that that’s what you’re passionate about.
You know, maybe, uh, you know, 14, 15, 16. You’re not really sure what you want to pursue as a major, but you’ve done enough activities and research to say, this is what I’ve accomplished so far. And this is what I know about myself so far. And so over the course of that year, year and a half, you know, I, I’ve had plenty of students on my caseload.
You know, when we get to the part of the process where we’re crafting an essay, or we’re trying to put together an extracurricular list, it can be a little bit overwhelming and they go, you know, I’m not really sure. What I’m passionate about. I’m not really sure, you know, what my interests are. And for us as the advisers, we say, wait a minute, you, you know, actually [00:14:00] established, you know, food equity in your own community.
Like that’s an amazing passion. That’s clearly something you love or, you know, you placed first in, um, uh, like online, you know, music submission competition with your piano skills. Like that’s obviously something you’re passionate about. You know, we get to know you so well that sometimes we can pull from what you’ve told us in the past, we pull from what, you know, we’ve discussed in passing.
Um, and so being able to align all of that together is what creates your candidate profile. It shows who you are. It shows what you offer to the university and how, in addition to your academic grades, Your extracurricular support, just how amazing you are. Not just as a student, but as a contributing member of whatever university you’re looking to apply to.
And so, you know, throughout our time together, it’s understanding and building a connection between your interests, your activities, your strengths, [00:15:00] and values, and then building and setting goals that are achievable along the way to eventually submit the application.
okay. Give our presenters a second to catch their breath. We’re going to go into another quick poll. Um, so our next poll is where are you in the college application process? So. Options include if you haven’t started, perhaps you’re in the research phase, um, working on your essay, maybe you’re getting application material together, maybe a student.
Almost done, but just needs some reassurance and making sure they’re doing everything right. You know, I love that for real share, just like one of the foundation or first starting points is building the college list. Cause that really provides kind of the guide [00:16:00] to how you’re going to approach your application process.
Okay. So responses are coming in. So most of our participants about 60% or so are currently in the research phase. They are researching schools follow by that we have a few that haven’t started, but I’m pretty sure after tonight’s webinar, they’re going to go ahead and get that, um, research going. And then 7% is working on their essay, 6% getting your application material together, and 7% almost done.
So congratulations to those who are almost done. I’ll turn it back over to you.
To hear that 7% are almost done. That’s awesome. Then for those of you that are working in your essays, I mean, hats off to you and, you know, I think that’s, again, I I’m, I’m a stickler for time. I normally wear a watch. I’m not tonight, but it’s your greatest asset and you’re going to feel the difference compared to your friends and in the fall of your senior year, they may not be able to come out and get ice cream with you when [00:17:00] you’re having fun with your family.
They’re stuck because they’re swamped with essays in the future. Um, so let’s talk a little bit more about extra, uh, excuse me, extracurricular needs and impact, you know, going along with it, Ariana status, you know, this process is about defining yourself. And I think so many families today, and I will fall on my sword here, but so many families today tend to listen to the rumors.
They listened to what their friend Johnny or Judy did, or, you know, what their cousin did, who got into Dartmouth 25 years ago. And that’s great. Um, but the reality here is that the time is now, it’s not two years ago and things have changed. Um, the term being well-rounded is, is a often overused term in college admissions today.
Uh, the more selective the school that you’re applying to, they truly are, as Ariana started to point out, they truly are looking for more of a defined more well angled pathway. They really tend to use your activities to kind of explain why you’re applying. [00:18:00] The very first thing and admissions office is going to do is they’re going to look at what you’re applying for.
And the very next thing that they’re going to do is they’re going to go to your activities list or your resume. And they’re going to hopefully find 2, 3, 4, even 500. That directly correlate with the major that you’ve listed on your application. Okay. Um, and the kicker here that so many students don’t ever get help with is that certain schools are looking for specific activities.
And you won’t find that a lot of times, a lot of times this is not illustrated or mentioned on a school’s website. Sometimes it’s not something that schools particularly advertise because they do use it as a way to trend the amount of applications that they have to review. So they use your activities to kind of, in some cases, weed out certain applicants.
And in other cases, they use it to be what they use, I should say, to create impact who they value more in their particular process for perhaps a particular school or college within their institution. And so you should be very [00:19:00] inquisitive as to what a specific school is looking for. You know, what Carnegie Mellon is looking for in a computer steins applicant is vastly.
But what I’m trying to illustrate for you here is that every school is different and you need to understand the ins and the outs of how the schools are making their decisions. And that’s why help is so necessary. Um, and so a lot of times when we talk about this family, start to think that it’s, you know, clubs, specific clubs or specific internships.
Sure. That that is the case. Those are definitely impactful. Um, I like to tell families all the time, the more, you know, job observations you can have, you know, it certainly looks wonderful, but at the same time, I know I said, you know, don’t focus on being too well-read. Don’t be [00:20:00] afraid to have some activities that are outside of your, your pathway.
Um, it shows, you know, that you’re grounded. It shows that you’re a part of the community. Um, you know, one of the things that I like to spend so much time on is getting students to understand that you don’t just have to join something. One of the most impactful things for me as an admissions officer was always seeing someone that created their own opportunity.
That takes a lot more initiative. Uh, and I typically gave students a lot more value for that. I awarded them more points in our review process when I saw that, uh, the same thing can be said for leadership. You know, leadership just doesn’t have to be, you know, X at something like a vice-president role in an extracurricular activity or the secretary of a club.
Uh, leadership is very much about, you know, creating an opportunity for your local community. You know, I’ve had students that have taught finance classes for elementary students to try to teach them about money, maybe. Uh, students that I’ve taught computer science or should say coding to younger [00:21:00] students to, to instill that passion for coding, uh, for students that may not have access to that knowledge base, uh, where they live.
And so that’s a form of leadership and thinking outside the box, um, that a lot of cases has greater value for you, as opposed to just jumping in and doing something that everybody else is doing. Listen schools, once you, for the unique individual that you’re created to be, and you need to make them aware of that, you know?
And so I think one of the benefits of getting help from people that have sat in the room and made the decision. Able to identify what makes a student a better fit for particular school or not is by starting early enough, you can start to build a pathway that is truly that unique to each school that you wish to apply to.
So if you’re a junior right now, it can be a little difficult to go do some of this late. You need to work with what you have. You need to be making last minutes planning for the summer, but there are specific activities that might create more impact for you this summer. Considering the time you have left, if you’re a freshman or a [00:22:00] sophomore, you need to be working to figure out what these schools are truly looking for.
And that maybe the 10, 15 or 20 schools you’re starting to look at right now, so that you can slowly start to narrow that pathway down so that after sophomore year you’re starting to become more definitive in what it is. You’re targeting that. Being the case. I do want to spend a little bit of time and talking about the differences and having the experience and conveying the experience.
I think a lot of students and families to. Make a similar mistake in thinking that just having the experiences is good enough. And it’s not, unfortunately to me that’s much the same as when a student or parent thinks that it really just comes down or I should say it. I think a lot of families think that the admissions decision really comes down to test score and GPA in it.
It doesn’t that just defines if you’re reviewed or not. In terms of your activities, bringing impact, getting the value out of what you’ve done truly comes down to what you share. Unfortunately, the [00:23:00] application in most cases limits you to not talking about more than 10 activities. And for each activity description, they limit you to 160 characters to essentially 29 or 30 words.
And so when 29 or 30 words, you yourself have to create, you know, attention, you have to be that standout applicant amongst several students that might have the same experience as you. What was different about your particular. And it comes down to keywords and phrases, these admissions officers, they’re looking for very specific keywords and phrases as they award you points in the review process.
And what we did at Vanderbilt is in Georgia, we were specifically looking for keywords and phrases that related to particular types of activities. If you had these in your description, you got more points, but if you didn’t have these in your activity description, you may not get any points. And then your impact was less and you were never really felt or known in our process.
My favorite [00:24:00] example I love to give is the NASA summer internship. Um, my second to last year at Vanderbilt, I was a reading behind a younger admissions officer checking their work as most admissions offices will do. And I noticed that they had actually recommended that a mechanical engineering applicant should be denied.
And when I was going through that applicants activity list, I noticed that, uh, the young lady was actually a summer intern at next. Which is actually pretty, a pretty big deal. There’s only 20 to 30 NASA summer interns per year. And when we later went back and talked to that admissions officer, we found out that they were doing their job as they were trained to do.
They, they were only really looking for those key words or phrases that we told them to focus on. Right? So the fault was with us, the institution and our training mythology, uh, not with the admissions officer themselves. So I use that example to not say that Farrell saved the day that’s, that’s not the purpose here.
I use that example to say that that’s probably a rare case that it got caught, right. [00:25:00] It’s probably a rare case that’s actually caught and, you know, taken care of and fixed so that that student didn’t fall through the cracks. Most students are going on. But the problem here is that these schools don’t really talk about this well enough.
They don’t illustrate the process. They aren’t transparent as much as they should be to say what they’re really looking for these activities. Scriptions, um, you know, and that’s why getting help having someone to help you really get this down to the nitty gritty, the points that we know will make you pop and stand out.
That’s why you’re going to benefit from getting that assistance because you won’t get it elsewhere. Ariana, do you have any stories that relate to that? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I can’t tell you how many, how many students, you know, in the review process, you know, based off of the scales that we use and, you know, the admissions methods we use to give points for acceptance or denial, how many times.
You know, that system has been flawed in how many times I and colleagues have had to advocate for [00:26:00] students who maybe didn’t meet that standard that we were looking for, but were exceptional in other ways. Um, and you know, admissions offices will do that, but again, it has to be such a strong com com you know, it has to be a really strong narrative.
It has to be, you know, a really unique experience that may separate that student from the rest of the application pile, where, you know, maybe they have the GPA and maybe they have the test scores, but this one particular thing really sets them apart. Um, and we want them to be there. Um, and so I, you know, I do have an example.
Um, I remember reading for, um, computer science students in, at, um, Northeastern. And so. Similar to yours, Northeastern doesn’t require students to come in with any experience in coding. Um, but they do expect students to come in with a certain level of math knowledge. You know, those students require a [00:27:00] certain, a piece to have been completed in order to be accepted into that program.
Um, and they have to, again, there are certain keywords and I remember this one student in particular didn’t have, um, the AP scores that we were looking for, or even just the AP experience, you know, they had the GPA, they had the test scores, um, but based off of scoring, they really didn’t meet. Yeah. General admission standards.
But in reading the application and looking at that extracurricular list, the student had actually created a free sat math prep course for 10th grade students as a senior, he had scored so well on his SATs that his teachers actually asked him to help them create this program so that students ready to take the PSA T had at least some sort of prep had some sort of knowledge or extra care before going into those exams.
And so that ended up itself really demonstrated a level of not just [00:28:00] commitment to math, but also a commitment to giving back and ensuring that his community was also uplifting his community as he was on his way out. Um, and so students like that really, you know, shine, um, You know, it just goes back to what you see on the admissions website, what you hear from friends and family about who got in where, and this was their test score.
This was their GPA. That’s not really what defines the acceptance at the end of the day. It is so much more than that.
Um, so higher, uh, higher education actually did. Um, inside higher education actually did a study on stress levels of students throughout the application process and the top three stressors they found, um, for students in order of most stressful to least stressful was, uh, essay writing [00:29:00] GPA and cost of attendance.
And I did think it was interesting how essay development and essay writing was the most stressful, because from my perspective, having done, you know, Working in a college environment, but also working with college adviser for so long, the essay is actually the easiest part. Um, and the reason being is because what we do is break down the process into manageable parts, into goals that are not as stressful as if you were just looking at this from, you know, a bigger picture point of view.
So you don’t have to wait until the last minute to write things. You’re not listening to your friends and family say, you know, so-and-so already completed their essay or, you know, I already have three versions of my essay. We do a really good job of helping students stay on track and break up the process into manageable goals.
And so with your CollegeAdvisors, you’ll go through the entire admissions process overall, but then you get to a point where you actually start to do some [00:30:00] research on what a good essay is and what makes an exceptional. Because a lot of students, when we start that conversation about the essay, the first thing to come up as well, I haven’t had anything tragic to happen to me and I haven’t had anything exceptional happened to me.
And the reality is, is that admissions offices are not looking to read about tragedy and we’re not looking to read about an exceptional experience. What we’re looking to hear about is who you are, your grades say one thing, your activity say the same thing, but the essay is really your opportunity to speak directly to an admissions office.
And either highlight some parts of you that can’t be seen in your extracurriculars, or maybe it’s only highlighted in a reference or to highlight those activities and those references. Um, and so your CollegeAdvisors is a great resource at essay development at writing drafts of the essay. But in addition to [00:31:00] that, when putting together your application.
We, uh, we actually give students the option to submit their essays to the essay review team, which is a team of, um, former admissions officers who will read your essay based off of the institution that you’re applying to and tell you if applying to this institution and based off of this essay, this draft, this application kind of where you stand, where you could stand out a little bit more, what would be, you know, uh, something more to hone in on in terms of a topic, um, and giving you additional advice that you can then incorporate into a final draft.
Um, so, you know, we, we try to make the process as stress free as possible because we take our time with our students to do that. You know, we, John Hopkins actually has a really great resource on their website where they each year from their applicant pool, they will pull some of their. Application essays.
And so students can read those and, you know, I’ve gone through some of [00:32:00] those with students just to see that it doesn’t always have to be about your grandma having cancer and dying, but it also doesn’t have to be about your parents’ divorce. It could be about something fun. It could be about, you know, maybe just, I honestly, the best essay I’ve ever read was about a student’s 15 minute walk to CVS.
And it was probably one of the most ordinary experiences. Right. But the way the essay was written, you know, she was kind of daydreaming and she described, you know, what she was planning on getting, and, you know, an event that also happened throughout the day and, you know, Seeing, you know, the girl Scouts outside selling cookies.
And then before she knew it, she had already made her purchases and was on her way back home and found herself back on her couch, all ordinary things. But the way it was depicted, the story, it told the captivation in that to this day, six years later is still one of the [00:33:00] essays that I remember the most.
And so what was interesting about it was not just the writing, but also how it highlighted her interests in psychology. She wanted to be a psychology major. She specifically wanted to go into neuroscience. And so hearing, you know, where her mind was navigating to how she was walking us through the process really tied together, her understanding of psychology and also her understanding of.
Human behavior. Um, so that essay really can be an important narrative in tying together the entire application and really giving you a great opportunity to present yourself on paper, to an admissions office. Um, and so with that, I will turn it back over to Ferell, um, for the next part of our, of our, uh, within our today.
But I love what you said. I mean, the essays were always my favorite part of the application, uh, to review, you know, as it was the only time I ever got to hear the student’s voice, which to me was [00:34:00] pretty impactful. It really, I felt connected with those students and, and I think, you know, so many students today don’t know how far to take it.
They don’t know how far to take the essay, how personally revealing they should be. And, um, you know, that’s why you have to give yourself time to work through this. No. I know I sent it at the start of our time together this evening, but this really is a doing process. It’s not something that you can afford to wait on.
Um, you know, I think a lot of students wait for their GPA and their grade to improve, um, or they wait for their test score to get a higher test score in the latter part of junior year. And they think that’s, what’s gonna make the difference. But I hope tonight you’ve gotten a sense that it’s more than that.
It takes this entire process that Ariana and I have tried to kind of create an image of for you that really makes you that competitive applicant. That’s not only going to be admissible, but that’s going to stand out for scholarship. You know, with applications being up in, you know, many cases already this year, 40% over last, you need to do something about it.
You don’t need to put this off anymore, even if you’re a freshman, it should start tonight. What [00:35:00] you do tonight, changes your future. It’s what determines your future. And you need to weaponize yourself to stand out in the process because. Uh, more selective by the day. And so the reality here is that getting help matters, you know, over 41% of applicants today are getting assistance, you know, outside of their high school.
And so the difference that CollegeAdvisors specifically can make for you is that we can simplify the process. You know, as you heard, there’s so much that goes into this for you, that her parents here this evening, you have your careers that you’re focused on. You’re taking care of your children. You’re putting food on the table and providing a roof for your family.
And yet at the same time, you have these hopes and dreams that you want to send your children to school. But then how do you spend the time to do all this research with your already busy schedules? We can simplify that process for you. The reality here is that you need a strategy. You need a process.
That’s going to lead you through this, you know, with an end goal in mind. And the best way to do that is to be working with people that care about you in this process. Now we want you to succeed. We’re not [00:36:00] here to let you submit new material that is below standard. We’re here to help you improve what you’re putting forth in this application process so that you stand out.
So working with you one-on-one is what we do. Now. We don’t do group sessions here. If we have 10 students doing the same thing from a group session, there’s nothing unique about that. It’s about one-on-one time with your advisor to get you to where you want to be. And I think the big thing that we spent so much time talking about tonight is, you know, building those essays, building that brand, that personal narrative that Arianna described.
So fluently here, you know, creating things like interview preparation through mock interviews, it all comes together. Everything must be connected and you have to give yourself the time and ability to get through effectively. So don’t wait, you know, as, as this process, something becomes more expensive, you know, it’s what you do now that also makes you more competitive for scholarships.
And so when you have more time to proactively work through this. You should expect a greater outcome, but most families are [00:37:00] putting this off. And they’re the ones that feel the stress. They’re the ones that feel the anxiety because they, you know, let 20, 30, 40 essay stack up on them over the eight to 10 weeks, summer that they have.
Right. Don’t do that to yourself. Get yourself the freedom of, you know, being able to take a break in between some of your essays that you’re working on by doing your school research now as a freshman and sophomore and defining your pathway. And as you enter that junior year, starting to really solidify your school list so that now when you get to about the midpoint of junior year, just after that midpoint, you can even start working on essays if you’re far enough ahead.
So what we’re going to do now this evening is we’re shortly going to take two questions. And what I would like to point you to is if you’re looking for help, if you’re feeling a need, um, you should create a free account with us. You know, our institution that we have here at college, It has over 200 advisors that are ready to serve you a process.
You can set up a time to schedule a free consultation with us, but you can also create a free account and have access to over [00:38:00] 200 webinars. Just like this one at your fingertips. You should do that tonight. You should create a common application account tonight, but you need to prepare for the journey you need to prepare to take the next steps.
And so after this, webinar’s over, there’s going to be a form that automatically populates you should sign up for it. If you’re looking for help, if you need to raise your hand, because you’re a little bit nervous about what comes next, fill that out and we’ll reach out to you. And we can tell you about what we might be able to do to create that difference for your family.
Okay, thank you for HRA and Ariana for so much great information. That actually is the end of our presentation portion of the webinar. I hope you found this information very helpful and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, as well as a recording of this webinar will be since your email [00:39:00] immediately after now, moving on to the live Q and a we’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab.
We’ll piece them into the public chat so that you can see them. And then we’ll read them out loud before our panelists give you an answer as it heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions. Just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in the email and not the webinar landing page.
Okay. Now moving on to our questions and answers. Uh, first question is, um, do you think AP credit or dual credit. What better transfer to colleges slash universities?
Uh, I would say that it depends first what courses you’re looking to take for dual enrollment, um, and looking to see how that matches the program or major that you’re interested in [00:40:00] pursuing at the college level, because if you’re interested in, you know, In English degree. Um, but you’re primarily going to be taking, you know, a physics or a math class.
Does that really transfer over, whereas taking a physics and math course at the college or university level may transfer really well for a stem program, um, or maybe will transfer well for, um, if you plan on, if you have general requirements that are fulfilled. So definitely looking into the program you’re looking for specifically, and then also, um, what courses are going to be offered for dual enrollment or credit for all?
I don’t know if you have, um, anything else to add on that. And I, I would just say really be cognizant of this each individual school’s policy right at, at Vanderbilt. You know, we had a, from AP over dual enrollment, we, if you were taking dual enrollment in our eyes, you were taking a less challenging.
Curriculum, uh, in comparison to AP. Now, keep in mind that most of these schools are going to be reviewing you within the [00:41:00] context of what’s available to you at your school. So if AP is not available teacher school, don’t, don’t fret about that, that you’re missing out on AP. Um, but if your school is offering you AP or dual enrollment, I think you need to be cognizant of what the actual schools that you intend to apply for put priority on.
Great. Thank you. Okay, next question. Will you be accepted based on what you have offered to the world?
Uh, I would say it’s not so much what you have offered to the world so much as how you can convey that. To an admissions office. Um, so again, it goes back to that personal narrative. If you can convey what you, how your contributions to the world align with your values and thus the values of the university you’re applying to then yes.
Um, but [00:42:00] definitely about how you communicate that to the university and whether that matters to the university that you’re applying to. Um, and it’s, so it’s also important to, in your research. I know many of you are researching, um, to look and see what the values of the institution are that you’re interested in.
Okay. Next question. This is kind of a followup from the previous question. Um, so on the college class note, what if you have an associate’s degree transfer before college, how would that transfer? Um, that it really depends on the institution. I know there are, I’ve worked at private institutions that.
Don’t accept associate’s degree. They will only accept a certain amount of credits. And that tends to apply more to private universities. Feral. I don’t know if you have anything to add on that. Yeah. Same thing. I mean, exact same thing, nothing add there. It’s um, it’s always case by case, which is so frustrating.[00:43:00]
Okay. Um, so this question is, um, you know, how do I get into an Ivy league school if I don’t have, um, not so good grades.
So I think the thing is. You know, when you say not so good grades and obviously, I don’t know where you are in your high school curriculum right now, if you’re a sophomore, junior, um, freshmen, but the reality here is you need to be honest with yourself. And if there are certain things that you can be doing to build a profile, build a narrative for yourself.
Um, but I, I’m a little bit honest with families and, and sometimes perhaps me being honest comes across as blunt. And that’s not my intent here. Um, you do need to be honest with yourself about your reality of admission to a school that you’re looking at. Um, you know, if your GPA is, you know, a full half point out of what that school’s looking for on average, you might want to reevaluate, um, you know, if that school should end up being on your list or not, I understand, you know, [00:44:00] putting some schools on there that may seem completely out of reach just to see what happens.
Um, but to that being said, your story’s always gonna matter, right. Um, what you’ve done is always gonna matter, but the foundation for what these schools are initially deciding to review upon is your academic.
Okay, next question. How can I get a professional to review my college essay draft?
So one of the easiest ways that you can do that is to, you know, feel free to sign up for one of those accounts, you know, contact us directly. And in fact, this, this form that you’re going to see is the conclusion of the webinar. Be sure to fill that out tonight. And one of our colleagues will reach out to you as, or at least tomorrow morning.
And we can talk to you about what that would look like with, excuse me, what that would look like with us. Um, what I will tell you is it’s, it’s great to get an extra set of eyes. Someone like Ariana that’s, you know, been doing this now for as long as she has. She knows what’s going to catch that [00:45:00] admissions.
Officer’s eye more recently than I am. Right. You know, I’ve been out just a little bit longer and, uh, she’s no more up-to-date and irrelevant with exactly what the tone and language needs to be within each of these essays. So it’s very beneficial to do so. Okay. Um, and speaking of the essays, Arieanna, you might want to take this one, um, do college essays have to be a narrative or slash story, or could they be a journal or opinion piece?
That’s a great question. It can definitely be more of a journal or opinion piece. It’s also important to remember that when it comes time to writing the personal statement or your specific college essay, there are prompts given to you in the college application. Then there’s typically seven to eight prompts, um, that you can choose from.
One of them is, you know, just writing, you know, your own narrative. So if that, if you have something that’s very compelling that may not align with any of those other essay [00:46:00] prompts, then that’s definitely an option to. And again, it’s how you say it.
Okay. And this question is, um, how has COVID changing the selection criteria? Oh boy. So COVID is everyone’s favorite cousin, best friend, worst friend. Everyone wants to ask, you know, bad family member to go away. Right. That’s a horrible joke now. Um, COVID is changing everything. Um, you know, prior to the pending.
Um, we saw just over about 80%, it was proximately 83, 80 4% of applicants were in fact submitting test scores. Okay. So sat or act. Now it’s about 50 to 51% in most cases. And so the schools have had to reevaluate how they’re prescreening applicants. So prior to the pandemic, most schools decided who was physically reviewed and who was not reviewed by looking at the [00:47:00] school GPA and the student’s GPA, uh, their class rank, if the school provided it, um, or if that institution track, they can also estimate your rank.
Uh, and then of course your tests. And so now with so many, um, students not submitting test scores, because all these schools had to go test optional during the lockdown schools have not been able to, um, use their standard pre-screening process. So many of them have in fact resorted to purchasing algorithms.
So AI is actually being used in the pre-screen process now. Um, and it very much does come down to, you know, putting the right word in the right place. It can be the difference in you getting looked at or not looked at, um, you know, some of the schools like we did it at Vanderbilt, uh, schools for years, you know, I shouldn’t say years, but the approximate in the last 10 or 11 years, some schools have been using AI well before now, um, they would actually be using algorithms to determine your likelihood of enrollment if we admitted [00:48:00] you.
So for some schools, AI has been around, but now there’s a bigger shift to using algorithms in the pre-screening process.
Yes, that is some really valuable information. Thank you for sharing that for real. Um, our next question is, could you please give us more examples of what particular colleges are looking for when reviewing applications?
Yeah, I think, uh, and keen sort of tag team, this one, um, you know, one of the really important things to do if you’re early on in this process is to research the universities on your application list because, um, that will differ from university to university. You know, as Farrel mentioned, some universities are looking for specific key words.
Some universities are looking for demonstrated interest. So I think, you know, Ultimately, we want to see a level of professionalism in your [00:49:00] application. You know, we want to see that, um, you know, there aren’t any grammar mistakes. You’re not trying to be funny cause that can really come across the wrong way.
Trust me. Um, and that there’s a genuine tone of who you are. There’s a, there’s a level of authenticity to what you’re writing about and what your application presents. Um, yeah, feral. I don’t know if you want to add onto that. Yeah. I mean, the thing is here is it really. You really have to understand, you know, what that school is putting a focus on.
And I think one of the best ways to be doing as connecting with current students, recent graduates of the schools, to really understand what went into their applications, because understanding that, and also figuring out kind of the vibe of the institution will also tell you what the admissions office is looking for in and out.
Right. I think that’s something that’s undervalued by families. Um, tone is everything. I love that you said that to me, [00:50:00] tone was everything and the right tone could completely just, um, everything for us as an admissions office.
Okay. So this question, um, you know, how does call, how is CollegeAdvisor prepared to equip international students with the assistance they need to ensure their chances of admissions. Um, and so the U S colleges. Yeah. So, you know, we actually have, um, a fair amount of our families are internationally located families.
We have families all over the world from China, Korea, India, um, south America, parts of Europe. Um, and so we work with you around your schedule. We do have over 200 team members that we are able to be flexible to your schedule. Um, and so we actually have one team member in Dubai. We’re actually still live as well.
And we are very familiar with the different curriculums that are exist across the world today, whether it’s, IGCC an IB curriculum, obviously Cambridge style [00:51:00] system. Um, and we can sit down with you and, and base a plan for you based upon what’s available teacher school. And what I like to tell students is that universities also understand the differences in what’s available in a specific country in terms of like activity availability, uh, in comparison to us activity availability.
And so in Dubai, specifically in the United Arabic. No students don’t have the ability to take part in internships because it’s against the wall. And so being able to help them navigate that process, students that live in the UAE, and that’s something that we can do because we’ve been in the position of mate of calling the shots at these schools and understanding how that student is going to be prioritized because of what was, or wasn’t available, where they live.
And so we can navigate that with you and help you straight, or I should say help illustrate a pathway for, for you.
Okay. Next question. Um, you know, what happens if I don’t have enough money for the, uh, big [00:52:00] college now, um, and instead, you know, decide to go to a two year or this the person is, are the participants asking, like, do I have to focus more on the application that will be for the college of a four, a four year college?
Or do I focus more on the two year college are both. So taking in consideration, like finance. Do I apply for year? Do I do two years? Do I do both? I mean, ultimately that depends on what’s best for you, you know, and what’s best for your financial situation. If for your financial situation, it makes more sense to go to a community college and then transfer to a four year institution.
Then at that point, it’s not focusing on the four year institution it’s researching what transfer requirements are for the institution you’re interested in. So if you’re going to go to a community college, you know, next fall or this fall, but you know, you want to transfer to X university, take a look and see what their [00:53:00] transfer requirements are.
Um, I’m not sure many students know this, but you can call the admissions office to talk to an admissions officer. You know, I remember I I’ve talked to students about that. I’m like, Hey, here’s the number like call and talk to this person. And they’re like, I can do that. I’m like, yeah, you can, you can call, you can ask questions, um, and speak directly to somebody.
Who’s going to read your applications and say, you know, I’d like to talk to a transfer counselor. Um, you know, what are, what are you looking for in your applicants? What was the, you know, um, what was something special about an applicant you recently read who was a transfer student, but if you think that in the long run, you’re going to get a better return on investment at a four-year institution, then that’s what you would focus on.
Yeah. And to add to that, you know, it’s a personal choice exactly. As Ariana said. And, um, I actually recently got some, um, some phone calls and some emails from international families that were looking to perhaps make the decision between a two year school and a four year school. And, um, it’s obviously going to be a very, you [00:54:00] know, personal choice of, you know, what’s available to you both financially, educationally, which they’re looking for.
Um, you know, one of the things I like to, you know, spend a little bit of time on here, You know, in working with international students specifically, I think one of the most important things to keep in mind is that, um, you know, knowledge of different countries, curriculum matters here. Uh, and so what we do here at CollegeAdvisor, you know, we currently have just over 70 countries represented, uh, for students that were supporting the process.
And, you know, when you bring that together and I think the cool thing that we actually haven’t touched on is when you bring that together with the amount of advisors that we have, um, actually I think I misspoke earlier. I think I said 200 over 300 advisors and admissions officers. Now you have access to all of that, right?
And so now you have access to Arriona, who who’s been at Babson has been in Northeastern, but you all have access to other team members that have also been at Stanford, uh, access to team members that have been at Vanderbilt, like my colleague Kim, through Glinsky, who I worked with. And so all of that’s available to you in one place.
And [00:55:00] that’s what allows us to kind of sit here and navigate each individual school with you. No matter your personal situation,
Alrighty. Um, how would, how would a college view a student who is not sure of what he slash she would like to study, but has a great GPA. How should the student deal with this situation? It’s important to know you’re, you’re not alone. That is actually the norm. For many students. I have read more applications for undecided slash general college applications.
Um, then I have for specific programs. So, you know, it’s also important to understand, like college is the place that we’ve been told is the place to explore, right? Like we’ve been told you do good in high school, and then you can do what you want in college and explore your majors and interests there. So, you know, from a college admission standpoint, we totally understand that.
So for a student who’s applying, you know, explain. [00:56:00] You know, and saying, you know, I’m not a hundred percent sure what I want to do. Isn’t the best way to approach the application the best way to then approach the application. If you don’t know what to do is to highlight what you do know and how, what you like and what you’ve done in established so far in your interests, extracurriculars, work, experience, internship, experience, whatever it might be, how that then contributes to the university and how being at X university is going to help you figure out what you want.
And that’s really an opportunity to then continue explaining how the research you have found aligns with your values and aligns with your future goals. Even if that doesn’t necessarily lead to a specific like career. If that makes sense, feral, I don’t know if you want to add onto that. Nailed it.
Oh yeah. So, um, expand on. Yeah. So I did just see a question in asking about how money’s a factor [00:57:00] when reviewing an application. Um, and so that the angle that I’m taking this with is I think you’re asking is, do you need financial it, whether or not you need financial label impact your mission’s decision?
Uh, and that’s a phenomenal question to ask. Yes, it depends on what school, but yes. Um, there are schools that are known as being need-blind and there are schools that are known as being need aware for the schools that are need blind, your family’s financial situation, whether you need financial assistance or not, will not play any role in your admissions decision.
However, there are some schools. A lot more schools like this that are need aware. And the fact that you may need some format of financial assistance in order to enroll, uh, will impact your admissions decision. Um, you know, as time has passed, you know, a lot of us schools have become more and more dependent upon tuition.
Uh, I should say, you know, to be fully enrolled, so they’d get tuition to pay [00:58:00] bills. Uh, and so for those schools, that’s what they’re concerned about. So a lot of these admitted classes at the more need aware schools will be making their decisions based upon your family’s financial situation.
Okay. So that is actually getting us to the end of our Q and a portion of our webinar tonight. I want to thank our panelists. So before we wrap it up, I just wanted to make sure if there was anything, um, our panelists wanted to share with our participants.
Um, I just want to say wherever you are in the, in the college process, whether you’re researching or you’re almost done, um, just always remember to. Only folk to focus what’s within your control. Oftentimes students will stress about things that are outside of their control. And so focusing on what you can control will not only help you manage your stress, but it’s [00:59:00] also going to help you focus in hone in on the parts of the application that are an opportunity for you to highlight who you are and are an opportunity for you to really explain yourself as to why you would make a great addition to this university and what you offer.
So, um, that would be my, my last piece of advice. Yeah. And I would just kind of build off of your mentioning of, you know, lowering that stress, get help. If you have questions, if you’re concerned about anything in the process, you know, reach out, get assistance in the process, because it will take away that anxiety that you feel, um, you know, again, at the end of this, there’s going to be a web form for you to fill out if you have any questions that we can help you with.
We’d love just to have a conversation with you and kind of help you navigate some of those front end questions. And if you’re looking for a little bit more specifics to go a little bit more than that, we can also certainly talk about. Um, it’s been a pleasure to have you do this evening. Yes. Thank you.
Thank you again to our panelists and thank you to everyone for coming out tonight. Um, last thing is, want to share is that we have some [01:00:00] more webinars are coming up for this month. So please stay tune, sign up for all of our webinars. And just as far as I said, once the webinar closes, there will be a form for you to fill out so that you can ask additional questions and inquiries that you have about CollegeAdvisor.
Um, so with that, everyone have a great evening. Thank you again for participating in our webinar. That concludes.