Why You Need College Applications Help
Struggling to navigate the college admissions process? Join us as former Admissions Officer, Ferrell Armstrong, shares his insight on the importance of receiving expert guidance during the college application process. The webinar will start with a 30-minute presentation and end with a 30-minute live Q&A. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-06-22 Why You Need College Applications Help
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor and I will be your moderator for this evening. Welcome to 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 a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Well, good evening everyone. Uh, my name is Ferrell Armstrong. I am a former admissions officer, uh, at both the university of Georgia and primarily at Vanderbilt university. Uh, while at Vanderbilt, I was the assistant director of admissions. I was the primary international [00:01:00] admissions officer, and I was actually one of the five admissions committee members.
So really excited to sit down with you this evening and kind of start talking a little bit more about, you know, the ins and outs of the application process and why it makes sense to get help, uh, considering all the intricate and ambiguous parts of the overall process itself today. Kick.
All right, first, we’re gonna kick off with a quick poll so we can understand what grade level everyone is in and help Ferrell to kind of direct some of the advise that he’s gonna go. So I will open the poll, let us know if you’re in eighth grade, ninth grade, 10th grade. or 11th grade, 12th, grade or other[00:02:00]
so far. Are you from the south originally born and raised in Nashville? That’s kind of a weird thing day down here these days. Uh, almost almost everybody’s around town now, but born and raised right here. So awesome. I’ve I love Nashville. I have really great food down there. and, um, actually enjoyed some like political action stuff there.
So I it’s a very vibrant and I think diverse space. Yeah, it’s difficult leaving home. Let’s just put it that way. The food’s so good. all right. We’ll give folks a couple more seconds. I’m from New York originally. So I, I, I always am like intrigued by folks for myself cuz it’s very different. It’s very D yeah, I think, I think you have a speed.
I, I think new York’s the best food on the planet that hands down. So I think you have a speed for sure. It’s a diversity of the food. I think you can get a lot, a lot of different stuff. All right. Uh, but we will close out our poll and I will just share with you that the majority of folks are actually older.
So about 83% are in the 11th or 12th grade. Um, and 4% or [00:03:00] 8%, sorry are in the 10th grade. So since that, the majority of folks are on their way deep into the college admissions classes are just getting started. Thanks. Y’all awesome. Awesome. Well, you know, I, I think the, um, I think the important thing to talk about here right out of the gate is just first and foremost, understanding the process.
And I, I think the most important thing that I, I find students undervaluing is the benefit of time. One of the things that I, I, I will certainly stand on a soapbox and start talking about if given any opportunity is the fact that if you’re in high school and you have not started planning for this process, uh, without trying to intimidate anybody, I, I would say that you are behind.
Um, right now, what we’ve seen in just the last two years is almost a 90% increase in applications. Uh, and with that 90% increase in applications. We’ve seen, um, a dramatic increase in the selectivity of, you know, what these different schools are looking for. So it’s imperative that you start to form a school list and [00:04:00] develop an application strategy from the earliest stages of high school.
Um, so frankly, I, if you come in day one freshman year with a game plan, you are gonna put yourself at a much higher opportunity for admission to more elite schools. If that’s what you’re looking for, because now you can cater your entire high school career to that students at starting a little bit late in the process.
Now they don’t have as much time to make up ground or to, you know, adjust their calendar of score, you know, course selection or activities to be more in line with what a school is looking for. Um, so the sooner that you can start exploring schools and, and building an application strategy around that, uh, the better off you’re gonna be, because now everything is gonna.
A little bit more in line specifically with what each school on your list is looking for. So starting, starting as soon as possible, you know, for you juniors that are with us this evening. But what I will tell you is that, you know, your applications in most cases are doing about three and a half months from now, right?
Most schools have moved their application deadlines to an October deadline for early action, uh, [00:05:00] versus the November deadlines that they followed for so many years. And that’s all due to this, you know, dramatic increase in applications now in building school list. I think that is something that we should spend a couple of minutes talking about.
Your school list is actually the best indicating factor of success when applying to college. And I think first of all, you need to understand that you should be categorizing your school list or diversifying it. You should have public and private schools. I, I, I think a lot of students are overlooking the fact that private schools are more likely to provide you scholarships than public schools.
That is because they’re in direct control of their own finances. Uh, that being the case, you also wanna make sure that you are diversifying your schools across three categories. You should have reach target and safety schools, reach schools, being the schools that are the more elite, more popular schools in the country.
Um, the most selective your safety schools should be the schools that while nothing is a guarantee, it should, everything should nearly be a guarantee for admission at [00:06:00] that school. This would be a school that has an acceptance rate of 85% or higher a target school would be a school that has an acceptance rate of 55% or higher, but a reach school would be an acceptance rate of 30% or less.
But in order to determine what schools you should actually end up on your list, you need to start by looking at a couple of key factors. One, let’s start by talking with fi about finances. What is your personal financial situation is that should influence the schools that you would like to apply to? I don’t want anyone thinking about this process.
And, and being oblivious to the fact that it, you know, costs money to go to school. You should not be two and $300,000 in debt for an undergraduate program. Okay. Now that’s a personal opinion. Uh, but I, I would highly suggest against it. I would encourage you to be making a school list based upon your financial needs.
I would be looking at schools that are both need blind or need aware. Now need blind schools are the, the minority. Um, these are schools that will not pay attention to [00:07:00] your family’s financial situation in making a decision about your application need aware. Schools will take your financial need into account, uh, in influencing your final decision.
If they’re going to admit you or not, uh, that being the case. What about geographic concerns are, do you do better in hot weather or cold weather? Uh, do you wanna be near the beach or do you wanna be in the mountains? Do you wanna be in a, a city more of an urban environment, or would you prefer to be in a little bit more remote location?
Um, a little bit outside of a, you know, major metropolis. These are all influential things that you need to. Kind of coming down and making decisions on when you’re starting to make your school list. Uh, that being said, I would encourage you to explore 30 to 35 schools, uh, to then cut your final list down to about 12.
And the reason I say about 12 is very simple. The average applicant today is applying to eight schools with this dramatic increase in applications and the in, you know, increasing selectivity as a result of it, you need to protect yourself by providing you a buffer of at least two [00:08:00] to four more schools.
Than what the average applicant is doing, which is how we get to 10 or 12. Now, plenty of people wanna apply to 15, 16, and 20 and 25 schools respectfully. You’re gonna have a better outcome by selecting the best 12 schools for you and developing unique applications to those 12 schools than trying to crank out 15 to 25 applications to a bunch of different schools with the limited amount of time that you have left.
Uh, especially again for you juniors, if you haven’t started three and a half months away from those early action deadlines in most cases. Now, why do I, you know, say also not to do 15 to 20 schools? I, I don’t think a lot of families understand the amount of work that is involved in this process. If you are a parent that respectfully is reminiscing on your time going through the application process.
Uh, I certainly appreciate that. Uh, but unfortunately times have changed and the process is not just about GPA and test score. GPA and test score are only the first 30 seconds of the application review. Um, [00:09:00] that just determines if your application, as an applicant gets looked at to begin with what is really influencing the decision are your essays.
And the average school today is gonna have you complete four supplemental essays. So if you apply to 10 schools, the average that you should expect is about 40 essays for 10 schools. The average for about 17 schools right now, the last I checked was about 72 essays for 17 schools. So it can be as many as 10 essays per school.
Therefore you need to be giving yourself, you know, the ability to go through all the different schools effectively and complete unique and tailored essays for each of them. By applying to 2025 schools, you, you simply don’t have the time to make those as robust as they could, as they should be to give yourself the best outcome.
Now, the piece next that I want to cover is the science of college admissions. And that’s not a made up statement. Enrollment management is in fact, a data science, uh, and it is the science of college admissions. [00:10:00] It’s something where we incorporate predictive modeling and data analytics to make informed decisions of, of which specific students our institution should admit.
And why. So we, as an institution will be looking at multiple data points to influence how we’re gonna shape up our class for perhaps our arts and science applicants, and yet look at a variety of different factors to indicate why we should be taking specific stem applicants, therefore understanding a different schools, one different schools.
I should say. Enrollment management practices allows you to develop a more specific application strategy for the schools that end up on. Which should then influence the way that you physically apply. Now, the three primary ways that you apply to a school today are early decision, early action and regular decision for clarification purposes.
Early decision is a contractually binding agreement. All members of your family will sign a contract that state, if accepted, I will enroll at this school, um, [00:11:00] and in the fine print, it says, no matter what you get for financial aid scholarship, so you may not get the financial aid scholarship that you’re looking for.
And yet you still have to enroll that school because you’re bound by contract. Not a vast majority of applicants will apply via early decision. And that’s because they don’t wanna be bound by that contractor to go to that school. You can only apply to one early decision school in the country. Most applicants therefore are going to apply to early action or, um, regular decision based schools.
And for that matter, Most schools only offer early action and regular decision early decision is just not as popular anymore. Early action. The deadline in comparison to the early decision deadline has historically been November 15th for early action and November 1st for early decision, but most schools are moving their application deadlines up to October for those application formats, uh, as I’ve already discussed because the increasing application numbers, regular decision has historically been due the first or 15th [00:12:00] of January, depending on the school.
Yes, there are those schools out there that have February 1st deadlines and a few rolling admission schools that don’t technically have a deadline until may that being the case, you can apply to as many early action or regular decision schools as you would like. Where we begin to find trouble is the rumor mill.
People will talk about this process with friends and family and neighbors. And many people will be told that when it comes to choosing between early action and regular decision schools always prefer early action candidates over regular decision candidates, which is entirely false. Uh, at one school early action may be the best statistical advantage for you, but at another school, regular decision may be the best statistical advantage for you.
So more informed families will go look at the acceptance rate differences between early action or regular decision at a school. And yet even that is not enough research. You should understand how an applicant of your particular profile fares best within each school’s process that you’re intending to apply to.[00:13:00]
In other words, does an applicant of your gender, your race, your GPA, your test score, your major of interest, and perhaps your class rank does that applicant fare best early action at the university of Georgia? Or does that app applicant fair best during regular decision. These are all factors that you need to be taking into account.
The other piece that you need to take into account is going back to determining how to influence your school list and what types of schools you need to understand the difference of being an out-of-state applicant to a public school. You need to remember that most public institutions are limited by their state legislatures as to how many out-of-state applicants they can accept.
Uh, a perfect example would be my first posting at the university of Georgia. Their acceptance rate for out-of-state students is less than 18%, which makes them as competitive as a top 25 school for any out-of-state applicant. And that is simply because the state legislature of Georgia caps outta state enrollment at no more than 18%.
So as we move on, what I wanna start to focus on next. [00:14:00] Is establishing your own personal brand. And, and I personally think this is something that is not discussed as much as it should. And in fact, many times students and families will tell me they’ve never heard of this before. Um, think of a brand as your own personal narrative.
It’s, it’s your own story, but I, I think the importance of it is that it provides the missions office a greater understanding of, of your interest, right? It provides us an understanding of your pathway and allows us to start understanding why you think your values and strengths would be, you know, best fitted within our community and within our culture.
The way that you start to develop a brand for yourself is by slowly involving yourself in things over time, that directly relate to your growing interest and ideally narrowing it down. So the way that you essentially do this is that as you start to understand what you find to be of greater interest to you, you start to invest more of yourself in that pathway, whether it be through more extracurricular activities or.
Just in taking it into account, you [00:15:00] know, where you like to spend your time more, your brand is essentially the entire purpose of what your application is for your brand, conveys an idea or an image of you, which is exactly what the application serves as the medium to do, to convey that to the admissions office.
So by understanding the differences in the one school’s culture versus another school’s culture, you’re able to instill your own personal fit at that school by utilizing the application to show off why your values are more directly in line with one of the schools that you’re applying to that’s what’s gonna make the school more likely to take you because they feel that you would be the right fit in a right addition to that school’s particular culture and community.
They think that you’re gonna be, you know, a contributing member of that society, which is something that we’re looking for. Uh, more importantly, it personalizes you, right? Which we’ll talk a little bit more in a second. When we come to essays,
I see where everyone [00:16:00] is in the application process, especially given that we do have some folks who are in their back end of high school. So how far are you into it? Are you beginning to research? Are you just getting started with the applications? Have you started, but are looking for help, which is why you might be at this particular seminar or webinar and, um, or are you ready to submit?
So let us know where you all are in your process.
I appreciate you bringing up for the enrollment enrollment management piece as a data science component. Um, for me, I, I never thought about it that way, but it is, um, it is really important to understand it as like a data point as a scientific approach that it’s not kind of random and luck, which I think a lot of folks, um, feel it is at times.
Yeah. I mean, I’ll tell you it’s very, I think overwhelming. When I, when families learn a lot about that. And it’s, I think one of the reasons why so many families are completely [00:17:00] oblivious to it is because schools specifically choose to avoid that topic of conversation because the process in and of itself is already overwhelming, right?
So they don’t wanna overwhelm a student more and scare them away from applying. But I believe personally, every applicant needs to understand how these schools are making informed decisions, because I think that will make you a lot more selective with the schools that you choose to apply to so that you’re putting all of your energy into schools, that you would have a legitimate chance on.
Not to schools that you may not be the best fit for what they’re looking for to begin with. Yeah. I mean, from, from an advisor standpoint, I think it also helps with just helping to guide research right. Of how do you figure out that list and how do you be strategic in it and not just kind of throw the top 100 schools exactly, um, on your list.
All right. So thanks everyone for submitting your responses. I’m gonna go ahead and close the poll. Um, and just for your reference fer, um, a lot of folks are beginning to research are just getting started. So I do think they’re here primed and ready to figure out what are the best next steps to get started?
No one is [00:18:00] that ready to submit. Um, so there’s a lot of room for growth for us, um, for the thoughts on call. So yeah. Thank you. If anyone had said that they were ready to submit, I’d be a little scared. I’m not gonna lie. That would make me think that something’s been rushed. So I’m glad to hear that for sure.
Um, okay. So it does seem like we need to get a lot of families here a little bit further along in the process. So let’s, let’s start talking about extracurriculars right now. Okay. I, I, I think once again, uh, I’m gonna step on my, my soapbox of, of breaking rumors, uh, and that we need to address the overused term of the need to be well rounded.
Uh, if there is one term or one statement about college admissions that I wish I could permanently ban, uh, and I’m all for free speech, it would be the need to be well rounded schools are much more likely to take you if you were defined or well angled for what you are applying for. It’s very simple. If you were building a home and it was now time to wire that home for electricity, [00:19:00] my question to most families would be, are you going to hire a random person that so happens to claim that they can do it, and that they’re serious about being able to do it?
Or are you gonna. Hire the individual that has historical proof that they can do it. And as soon as I give that analogy, not to cause a conflict here, but many families, primarily parents will get a little frustrated and they’ll say, well, how is my child supposed to exactly know what they’re wanting to do?
I’m not saying that they’re supposed to exactly know, but they’re, it’s better if they can start to indicate that they’re trying to figure it out. So the more that you can start to narrow down what it is that you want to do. And the more that you can show, experience and activities that relate to what you’re applying for, you are making us see a little bit more of a historical connection or proof.
Um, That kind of backs up your, your area of interest, if you will. So your activities obviously need to illustrate why you’re applying for, you know, what it is that you’re spending an application for. And to that end, that brings into account all the [00:20:00] different things that you can be involved with in school, right?
There are a number of things from internships to job, shadowing experiences, uh, athletics, you know, community service, all these different things that you’re gonna be judged on. And what I want you to understand is that there’s, once again, more rumors and people put greater emphasis on things that are not as important as others.
And I’ll just kind of come outta the gates right now with it community service. Uh, if there is something I hear about nearly every call with a new family, it’s, well, I have this many community service hours and I gotta go get more community service hours. And then I’ll typically respectfully let the family, you know, kind of get done talking about it and I’ll say, Hey, you know what?
I’m not as concerned about community service hours. And the reason for that is that there’s not a single school in the country today that requires community service hours. You won’t even find it listed on their websites. It’s not something that these schools place great emphasis on now, is it a nice thing?
Absolutely. Does it, does it, you know, reflect well on the individual that you are, does it show that you are gonna be contributing member to the [00:21:00] school community? Absolutely. And that’s something I would definitely be appreciative of and, and reward a student for in the application, but that’s not what I’m primarily looking for.
I, if you are applying for biomedical engineering, I would like to see some type of experience, ideally, that relates to that stem focus or that biomedical focus that you have. Uh, so to that end, I actually place greater emphasis on things like shadowing experiences. Internships, uh, you know, clubs that gave you access to those types of things, research.
And then of course, passion projects, passion projects are a, um, I think a very new term in the last couple of years. And they’re, they’re talked about quite frequently yet. They’re still not done in mass. And yet I think they are an incredible way to build value in your application. Uh, because if you think about it, when you create something, you build something from the ground up, there’s a lot more determination and grit that that takes to do than just going and joining a preexisting club.
Now, I, I’m not trying to take away from a preexisting [00:22:00] club. They’re, they’re wonderful, you know, hosta national honor society, all incredible things that you should be involved with and taking part in for sure. Um, but having your own passion project that you’ve built from, you know, the start you created the idea of it, or I’m sorry, you came up with the idea of it.
Uh, you created a path forward. For its own development and you shared it with the world that takes a lot of time and commitment. And that’s certainly something that I would, uh, be actively rewarding you for. Now, this brings into question leadership, right? When I say sometimes you might wanna focus on passion projects as opposed to joining some preexisting organizations.
What I want you to understand is that leadership is something that these schools are looking for, know if ands or buts, they want to see leadership, but I think leadership needs to be redefined. Leadership is not just counted by having the, you know, title of president or vice president of an organization or a captain of an athletics team.
Leadership is done in multiple ways. You can be a leader through [00:23:00] your service to your local community. Again, I didn’t say that I don’t wanna see community service. I said, I definitely value it, but it’s not something I’m expecting or immediately looking for, but dedication to your community and giving back to those around you, serving those around.
That’s leadership in its own, right? That’s a great way to acquire some. Um, I should say when I say acquire some acquire some appreciation for the leader that you may be within our community, uh, to that end passion projects, right? You’re creating something and distributing it to others. You mean to grow an interest in a field that in and of itself is also leadership.
So leadership comes in more ways. It doesn’t just come by title. It comes by experience and your demonstrated efforts never let someone try to convince you otherwise. Finally, the unfortunate and sad point in, in modern college admissions that you may have all these activities. You, you may be if you’re a premed interest, if many of you may be too young for this, but hopefully your parents will understand where I’m going with this.
Uh, you may be the modern day, Doogie Houser [00:24:00] look that up. That shows you how old I am. Um, but essentially that means somebody that has, you know, basically an incredible amount of qualifications for what they’re already applying for. And yet you could still get. What these schools are not telling you about is that they are actively rating you in the review process.
There are categories for review. In other words, they’re rating you for things on school fit in order to determine if you’re the right fit for our community, we give you a school fit rating. Um, there may be a personal rating. In other words, do you have the right personality for what we are looking for?
Do you have the right academic rating? In other words, do you have the right academic performance? Do you have activity involvement? Do you have the type of involvement that we would, you know, be more pleased with? These are all different categories and there are others that I’m choosing not to list right now, um, that you will be acquiring points for.
And the more points that you acquire, the more likely you are to be admitted. Well, unfortunately, when we get to the activity section, these points are rewarded in a fairly narrowminded [00:25:00] way. In many cases, you see, first of all, the activity section limits you. They only provide you with the ability to list 10 total activities or experiences for all of high school.
Each activity is capped. When I say activity, each activity description is capped, uh, to 160 characters. So essentially you have 29 words to provide a description of what you’ve been involved with. And yet you need to make yourself seem more unique in comparison to thousands of others that have perhaps had a similar experience, what it comes down to are the words that you choose to utilize in representing these experiences.
And what admissions officers are being trained to do is they’re trained to identify the type of activity something is. And from there, they’re taught to start looking for predetermined keywords and phrases within your activity descriptions. If you have the keywords and phrases that they are looking for, they will award you more points.
And if you don’t, you may not acquire enough points or any points, [00:26:00] and that can come back to hurt you. The problem is that they will not be telling you about these keywords. And without that knowledge, you are at risk. And I’ll give you an example. My second to last year at Vanderbilt, we had a young man that applied for mechanical and civil engineering.
He had a 1570 on the S a T and he interned at NASA, and yet we still denied him. Now for the record, it was, uh, uh, a pretty frustrating situation because the student, uh, was incredible. And, and when we realized that there had been a mistake made, I, we kind of quickly reconvened to figure out what had occurred.
And what we later discovered is that when it came to his activity descriptions, he did not provide a keyword that we would’ve ordered points for throughout any part of that particular section of the application. So he did not acquire enough points for his activity rating, and because he did not get enough points in his activity rating, he was not viewed as being admissible.
And so the algorithm that determines if you didn’t get moved up to be discussed by [00:27:00] the admissions committee, Put him in the auto deny then from that moment forward. So after his admissions officer reviewed him, he was then denied, uh, because he did not get moved up for further discussion by the admissions committee.
Now, how common is that? Very, when you hear the, the horror stories that you’ve had a friend or a family member that, you know, got denied at a school, uh, that they were more than qualified for, like they were incredibly talented and they still get denied. In many cases, this is a direct result of that.
These students did not have enough points in the review process, uh, to be drawn into further discussion. And I want you to have a plan for this. Uh, it’s an imperative thing that, you know, without any guidance on, does put every applicant at risk.
So let’s talk about arguably the most important part of the application today. Uh, and that is the essay. Uh, the essay is the only time that these admissions offices are ever gonna hear your voice. And for me, it was [00:28:00] my favorite part of reviewing applications, because I really felt like I got to know you that way now, why, why is this so important?
Well, I’ll, I’ll start with the final point on this slide and that is that it, it truly establishes your story. It it’s what allows us to get to know you what you’re about, what you’re in pursuit of, because this is the only time in the application process where you get to directly lay something out for us in your own words.
So to that end, why this becomes so overwhelming and, and so stressful for most applicants is because the amount of intense self reflective detail that you have to provide about yourself. And most students struggle with it and they struggle with it because it’s a variety of whether they’re not confident in talking about themselves or just uncomfortable, um, or.
Many cases in, in what I would say is the majority is that students are uncomfortable in general talking about themselves because they’re afraid of coming across as rude or arrogant. And so they naturally hold back. Well, my problem with that is if you hold back in most cases, I don’t learn enough about you to begin with.
And [00:29:00] if I don’t learn enough about you to begin with, that’s like a stranger showing up at your door in the middle of the night, demanding to be led in. I’m not opening that door. You need to allow us to get to know who you are so that we understand why you would be the right fit within our community.
Your essay, your personal statement is the best opportunity for that to occur. And you need to capitalize on what that opportunity provides you a direct route into this particular institution that you’re applying. So all of that being said, what I’ll tell you is this it’s overwhelming, right? It, it’s certainly a process that, you know, takes significant time.
It’s certainly something that you need to get clarification on. You don’t need to listen to the rumor mills. You don’t need to listen to people that went through this process. Five years ago, the process that someone went through five years ago is entirely different than what you’re going through now.
And I can tell you a great example, algorithms you see five years ago, [00:30:00] only about the top 15 to 25 schools in the country were using algorithms. Now almost every school. To some shape or form is using algorithms. Uh, in many cases, students applying to schools in the top 60 to top 100 are gonna go through three algorithms.
If they are admitted, you see there’s an algorithm that determines if we even review you to begin with, if you make it through that algorithm, now you get reviewed by an admissions officer and based upon your ratings, a second algorithm determines if you go to the admissions committee and then the admissions committee will use a third algorithm in most cases to determine your likelihood enrollment.
And that is the final piece. So understanding this process, understanding what you have to go through and having a game plan, that’s unique to each school that you elect to apply to is, is really gonna create a difference for you. So by getting assistance, what you’re gonna find is a few key things. One you’re gonna be more efficient, right?
You’re not gonna have to spend as much time and effort researching all the ins and outs of these different institutions. We [00:31:00] can simplify that process for you. More importantly, we’re able to develop that application, utilizing that data experience, to really understand how you should apply to a school and create that difference for you.
More importantly, we do all of this one on one. We, we don’t put you in a group of 15 or 20 other students and tell you to do the same thing as everybody else. Schools are gonna want you for the unique individual that you are. We wanna help build upon already existing story that you have and make sure these schools understand why they can’t miss you.
So to that end, we do that through establishing a brand with you, you know, creating that school list to fit that brand. And then of course walking you through things like essay development, mock interviews, to get you ready for the increasing number of interviews that have now made a surprising comeback in popularity.
And then of course, Doing things like as, um, excuse me, extracurricular development, you know, building a resume, that’s gonna support your area of interest, determining passion projects and internships or shadowing experiences that you benefit by, and then incorporating the right keywords that you acquire enough points in the [00:32:00] review process.
By doing this, you’re gonna keep yourself on time, on track and target. And most importantly, it’s gonna reduce the amount of work that this is, and take away a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with the process. The stories that you hear of your friends and family that were overwhelmed by the process are typically because they didn’t give themselves enough time.
Furthermore, They were doing this on their own without guidance and being left to wonder if they were doing it right or wrong, when you get help, whether it’s with us or somebody else. The most important thing I want you to understand is that a qualified organization, such as ours, they’re not gonna let you get something wrong.
Cuz we have team members that have worked at these schools previously called the shots at these schools and we know exactly what they’re looking for so that we’re gonna keep you on the right pathway and not let you have to worry about getting it wrong to begin. So if you’d like to get some assistance now is the most important time that you can do that, especially for you juniors.
I would highly encourage you to scan the barcode, uh, that is now in front of you, uh, and, and sign up for a [00:33:00] time that we could sit down and have an initial conversation. See what your areas of need might be and discuss how we might need of assistance to your family. If you’re a freshman, if you’re a sophomore, the time is still now for you, as well.
As I said, at the beginning of our time together this evening, it’s important for you to capitalize on the time that you have to narrow this process down and make every part of your high school experience as unique as possible to the eventual schools that you’re intending to apply to. So do take the time now to scan that barcode and sign up for a time that you can speak with myself or another one of our colleagues that we have here at CollegeAdvisor, you know, our success is real.
The vast majority of our students, 91% are being accepted into at least three other top eight schools. And we have acceptances to every single one of the top 50 schools in the country, every single year. So it’s been a pleasure speaking with you this evening. Very excited to kind of sit back and take some of your questions.
And, uh, I look forward to that time.
Thanks so much. Ferl um, so that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you all found the information [00:34:00] helpful. I will say I’ve been doing college admissions for just about a decade and I found some new information out during the conversation. So I appreciate it. Um, remember that you can download the slides from the link, any handouts tab, and as you move on to the live Q and a, the way that it will work is I will read through the questions that you’ve all submitted.
I’ll paste them into the public chat so that others can see them. I’ll read them aloud and then give an opportunity to answer them as a heads up. If you aren’t able to see the Q and a tab, um, or submit your questions, double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email and not from the webinar landing PLA page, that’s been TPIC of people up today.
Um, so if you are having that issue, try logging out and then logging back in through the link in your email. Um, otherwise we will move forward and get started with the questions I will ask. Quick, uh, follow up question that came through. Just, can you clarify between early action and early decision? Can you do both?
Yes, you can. So you can do early action and early decision because early [00:35:00] action is not a binding agreement, like early decision. So you can apply to one early decision school in the country. You can apply to as many early action schools as you would like at the same time. Totally fine. Cool. Thank you. Um, let me see.
Oh, this is from, I think a stressed parent. Um, they said that they have twins mm-hmm um, and so they asked how should I manage the process when I have two children applying for college at the same time, one is undecided on everything. Um, so how would that impact the way that we plan out our, so I, there there’s a multitude of questions to answer there.
First of all, are the twins wanting to go to school together? That’s a question you have to answer immediately because that will influence their decision. If, if you indicate to a school that you want to go to school together as. And they will utilize that in the decision making process. Um, and one student’s outcome could affect the others.
So to that end, that’s the first conversation that has to be had in, in plan for second to [00:36:00] that. Um, if, once you have that decision in mind, what are each of the students applying for? Are they applying? Obviously one is more decided. One is undecided. You have to develop a plan for each of them unique to one another, regardless of them applying to the same schools or not, um, a student is gonna be best off by making self known for what they’re passionate about.
And if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, the best plan is that you need to be trying to figure that out and showing these schools what you are trying to determine what you may or may not be wanting to pursue. So by, you know, having a plan, developing a unique plan for both, uh, you’re helping yourself out in, in the, I would say respectfully.
The worst thing that a student with a family I should say, which ones could do is try to do this collectively for them together. They still need their own individual plans for what they’re looking for. And you need to be picking schools in my opinion, that are gonna fit their areas of need. They’re gonna be, you know, economical for your family, but more importantly, they’re gonna provide the [00:37:00] resources that each individual needs to be successful at the college level.
You need to individualize it per student and then act from there. I appreciate you sharing that. I’ve worked with some sets of twins and it was all a very emotional experience of them realizing that this was the first time they might pivot. They might, you know, be a part, want different things. Um, cuz I think from, you know, K through high school, you can kind of keep them on the same path and college might be the point where you really have to do that.
Differentiation. Um, thanks for that. I appreciate you going into that detail. Um, let me see. Sorry. A lot of questions coming in. Uh, one interesting question that came up was, do you have tips for keeping up with the application deadlines and managing my schedule? Oh, loaded question there. Um, so, you know, first of all, you, you should certainly create an account with us, right?
When you have an account with us, you can see a lot of those deadlines, um, that they’re right there for you. Uh, but the reality here is that you need to be creating a, a, a regular schedule for yourself in this process. You know, this is not something that [00:38:00] you should be, you know, skipping around and coming back to you need a work plan.
You need an actual schedule of events of, Hey, this week it’s focused on this school next week, I’m focused on that school. You need to essentially structure the application process. Now through the application deadline for each school, that’s on your list and you should have that on your calendar. If you’re in high school, you should have a calendar right now.
Um, you should be using your phone, or if you. Do what we did back in, back in mind. I can’t believe I’m saying that now at 34. Um, but maybe you use a handwritten calendar. That’s cool, but you need to be keeping everything organized setting alarms, if you will, on your phone, uh, to keep you aware of where you need to be at a given process at a given time.
Thank you. Um, so one que I, I think this is a quick question, but a person asked what are the stats of acceptance if, if they were to pursue a relationship with CollegeAdvisor. So what, what are, what are the internal acceptance rates or success rates [00:39:00] within college? Yeah, so again, so 91% of our students are being accepted into at least three of the top eight schools.
Most of our families are coming to us and targeting, you know, top 50 schools in general. You know, we have, you know, four times the national average at Stanford, uh, just to kind of give you some context, right? So, you know, highly successful. Um, the, the other thing is just the scholarship generation. Um, if I remember correctly, I think last year we were right at like $4 million in total scholarship accumulation for the students that we serve so highly successful.
Uh, but I, I think what’s most important is it’s not just the success. It’s our ability to make the process unique to you. And it’s the ability to have access to so much re to so many resource, excuse me. Um, in, in one location, you know, when you’re working with us a CollegeAdvisor, you have not just your own advisor that you work with every single time, you can still lean in on the experience of other team members that are part of our organization to clarify maybe, you know, certain school, you know, culture, community that you might wanna be utilizing to influence your final school.[00:40:00]
Thanks fer. Um, so there have been a lot of questions of guarding clarity on extracurricular activities. The first one I’ll ask is when you said that there were some keywords that admissions officers look for in the activity section, can you give some examples of those keywords and what are the specific words that folks should be thinking about as they put together the extracurricular list?
So I’m gonna give you some brief high level examples, but the thing that you’re not gonna lie about my response is that you’re not gonna be able to know what these are without getting help. Okay. Uh, schools today, they don’t talk about this. It’s not on their website. It’s not on Google for anyone that wants to go Google and, and try to check me on this.
It’s not these schools don’t publicize this because this is how they make their cuts. Okay. They certainly won’t talk about it in their information sessions either. Uh, the reality here is things like selectivity, right? I was selected for, I was elected to, I was appointed by my school leadership team to this set role, those show rarity.
Right. It’s not something that everybody’s getting to do. Another example is the level of [00:41:00] participation or, or, um, you know, performance, um, that you’ve had in an organization or a team, you know, did you compete at HOSA at the national, you know, convention HOSA, which is in Nashville, you know, this week, um, did you, you know, go to nationals in, you know, debate or extent, or, you know, I interp, you know, performance, um, the different level of performance each, you know, kind of echelon up that you, you know, reach more points will be allocated to you.
So schoolwide city county, regional state national international more points will be allocated to you for the different levels that you reach with your participation and performance. Those are quick examples, but then every school’s looking for different things and you need to have a plan, uh, to make it more you unique to each school.
And again, you’re gonna have to get experience with former admissions officers that can make that more clear for you for those specific schools. thank you for that. Um, so yeah, like I said, a ton of questions regarding extracurriculars and, um, how to order, how, how to organize them. Are they good [00:42:00] for you?
They bad for you. One thing I will say one tip, I will say that I don’t think is giving away the bag is quantified. Um, as much as you can, within your extracurriculars, the impact that you’ve had, if you’ve done your service projects, how many people were impacted by those things, but right. Um, I won’t drive too far away from, uh, your answer.
Um, so a student asked their rising senior, they have a project for PA. They have an idea for a passion project, but they haven’t started yet. So what do you feel like is the ideal timeline for getting organized with a passion project? How much time should feel to be trying to put together for having a really thoughtful passion project?
So the answer to that is, is dependent upon your workload. It depends upon how far along you are in the application process. Right now, if you’re trying to start a passion project right now, and just for example purposes, you don’t have a school. You don’t have time to do a passion project, right? You’re, you’re, you’re at a point now where you have to focus on getting your, your school list, put together and, and, and operating with what you’ve done thus far.
Um, if you have a school list [00:43:00] together, you, you have a pretty solid list and you’re, you know, already kind of in the development stages of essays, things like that. Certainly you have the time to develop a passion project, but that is completely based upon, you know, your resources that are around you to make that, you know, come to fruition.
Um, is that gonna overwhelm you or overload you based upon other commitments that you already have? Um, I, if the answer is no to that, and you feel calmly comfortable that you can handle that without taking on too much additional stress, um, and that you can, you know, get it built to a level that it has some significance then sure.
Go ahead and operate with it, do it for sure. Passion projects. Don’t have to be some grand thing. They can be very, you know, small, you know, I, I had a student that had the passion project that he simply did from his own iPhone, uh, utilizing Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram. Uh, he was essentially putting out rehabilitation exercises for.
His elbow, he tore his elbow, uh, pitching and he put out free content. And it related to the fact that he eventually wanted to go become an orthopedic surgeon, so that that’s a passion project in of. Yeah, [00:44:00] I will second that, um, especially for gen Z, that social media is an opportunity to explore some interesting passion projects.
I have a student who started Instagram page, similar to your student, um, sharing mental health resources locally, and wants to expand that to the state and things like that. So there are ways you can express your interest, um, via social media, without it having to be, feel like this large, um, overwhelming project.
Um, there was one question around extracurriculars. Again, can extracurriculars negatively impact your chances of getting in and this student I think, is coming from the perspective that they are in a budget, different extracurricular activities. So some relating to art, some relating to stem, does the diversity of extracurriculars, um, have a negative impact on the application?
Not at all. And, and the number one thing I want you to remember is that you don’t have to report all of your extracurriculars, right? You, you don’t have to put everything down on the activities list either, right? So, uh, no, your, your diversification of your extracurriculars is not going to negatively impact, um, I will say, [00:45:00] if you want to list everything, that’s fine.
Make sure to put them in the correct order, right. The order by which you list your extracurriculars actually has impact on this decision as well. So make sure that you’re perhaps focusing on the things that you are more driven towards, that you’re more, you know, passionate about pursuing in college, make perhaps those, some of the very first ones that you talk about, you know, that that’s a way to look at it for sure.
Um, last section curricular question for right now. Um, so I think this is from a parent who has a student who is a very dedicated athlete, um, apparently in all state, but also wants to pursue all aerospace engineering. So I think for the students who might have a lot of time consuming interest, um, what would be the advice for how they should balance the choices that they need, need to make or what they should prioritize in the college, in the college process?
So I say this as a former recruited athlete, um, I, I was recruited by D three school to swim in college. Um, you have to first and foremost, underst. What’s the level that you’re gonna go to. [00:46:00] Right. You know, what’s your end goal. Are you trying to go all the way to the league? Um, perhaps you just wanna play, you know, you know, your sport or compete in your sport through college and that’s it.
You’re going to school to do something that’s gonna benefit you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, as we age athletic competition goes away. So I, I would respectfully turn that question back and say, what is gonna be your, your long term focus, right? Um, I, if you can handle both obviously great, if you’re a high level performing athlete, um, that, you know, you want to still focus on competing.
Awesome. But if you wanna be, you know, competing while also taking part in a school, uh, or I should say attending a school that has rigorous coursework, that’s really gonna set you up for amazing opportunities in perhaps, you know, aeronautical engineering or aerospaces engineering. Then you have to make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to dedicate yourself to other activities that relate to that engineering interest.
To show a connection to it, to begin with you. Can’t respectfully. You can’t just say that you’re, you’re gonna go into that particular engineering field with nothing but sports on your [00:47:00] resume. You, you will need to create some awareness, uh, and some proof that you are genuinely passionate about that perhaps that’s using your, your weekends, perhaps that’s using your hours directly after school to create a greater connection to it, by doing some job shadowing, right.
There are ways around it, but you have to be dedicated to holding your schedule, um, and, and keep giving you the ability to do it by holding your schedule to firm, you know, point if you will affirm regiment. Um, and, and that may mean, and, and families aren’t gonna like this. That may mean a loss of sleep, you know, and, and I’ll just be upfront with you.
I’m not. That’s what you, you know, need to do. I’m saying that some students, that’s what they have to do. If they want to do something at high level like that for, for two different fields like that, um, it’s a personal basis, a case by case personal basis. And you have to make the final decision on what is best for you.
Not, you know, for, you know, anybody else, you have to make the decision based upon what’s best for you, the applicant. So since we’re, we’re talking about athletics, there were a few, um, [00:48:00] questions regarding athletes. And so one was, should an athlete apply to the college after receiving an offer or before?
What is the, I guess, order of admissions? Um, if they’re getting recruited and then another person asked tangentially, how does an athletic offer impact your chances at a. So the only time that an athletic offer is gonna impact your chance of admission is when they’ve offered you an official scholarship, that’s it.
Okay. And unless you have an official offer on the table, nothing is gonna impact your admissions decision. Okay. Um, and that may be a, uh, an athletic offer can be a walk on a guaranteed walk on or preferred walk on. Um, that’s, that’s an offer, right? That will impact your decision. Um, you know, to that end most schools, I, I would not encourage you to apply to a school until you have an offer on the table.
Uh, that being the case, what I will also tell you is that by having the right academic plan, by having something to show these coaches, you actually make yourself more recruitable. When they concede that you have, you know, a kind of a pathway laid out for yourself, you’ve created a brand in your academic field because now a student like that is already [00:49:00] more naturally admissible by the admissions office.
And the coach can work with the admissions office in any cases to get you an academic scholarship and not have to award you one of their, uh, limited athletic scholarship. And so now it actually makes you even more recruitable to a lot of different schools, uh, for athletics at the same time, cuz they don’t have to burn, uh, an athletic scholarship on you.
So it’s kind of a twofold process, but I, I would never officially spin an application to a school until it offers on the table. All right, I’m gonna move us over to testing cuz there are a few questions that came in. Um, do, do we need to take the a C T and the S a T is one preferred over the other. Okay.
There is not a test that is preferred. Um, you should take frankly, if, if you do well, if, if you don’t enjoy science, start with the S a T. Okay. If you don’t enjoy science, start with the S a T that’s a personal opinion, um, on the a C T um, it’s fine. It, it [00:50:00] incorporates science and the tests are very different most well.
Almost every school will do. What’s called a super score of the S a T, which is where they will take. If you’ve taken the test more than. They will take your best subsection scores and combine them for an overall new cumulative score. So almost all schools will super score the S a T the a C T is not designed to be super scored.
And some of your more highly ranked and elite schools will not super score. The a C T like the S a T will be. Now, that’s not, that’s not a sign of preference. Um, it’s just that the schools, or I’m sorry that a CT was not designed to be done that way. And so a lot of schools won’t do it. Other schools will, there are plenty of schools that will super score the a C T, but you should take a test.
You should see how you do, and then perhaps take that test a second time. You need to, you should not just blindly apply test optional. If you have the option of submitting a test score, if you have a good test score for that school, submit the test score. It’s gonna help. If you’re applying to a school that is test optional and your test score, isn’t that great [00:51:00] for that particular school, then go test optional.
But you should always remember that if you go test optional, now your activities and your essays are waited two to three times more in the. Uh, yeah, I would, I would just second the taking it twice, but also spacing out the second test. I had some students, as soon as they got the results back from the first test for like registering for the, the next test the second day.
And it’s like, give yourself someone’s time. Do some prep, do some study, um, take advantage of trying to improve the score, cuz taking it over and over again, without that prep in between won’t benefit you or won’t, you know, improve your score in the way that you want it to. Um, you kind of mentioned this story as the end of your answer, but um, do test the question is, do test optional schools truly not consider, um, or are they, is the application considered less strong if it’s submitted without testing and how do you, what do you offset it with?
Well, it, it’s not that it’s considered less strong. It’s just that they have less data points to go off of. Right. So, and, and even how I stated that might make someone feel like they don’t prefer it. No, if they’ve given you the option, they’ve given you [00:52:00] the option. Uh, and, and I say this with all respect, try not to overthink this.
Test optional came about when students during lockdown were not able to go submit or take S a T and a C T tests. I get it. That being the case, when a school has giving you the option, you don’t have to submit a test score in order to apply. That is what test optional means. Okay? So to that point, if you choose to go test optional, they will then have to put greater value on things like your extracurricular activities, your essays.
And, and so perhaps if you’re weak in your activities, maybe you don’t have enough strength that relates to what you’re applying for. Maybe that’s not the best plan to go test optional, right? It it’s, you need to understand it’s a school by school basis and, and people get tired of me saying that. But again, I, I say this all the time, you need to understand that these schools aren’t making the same decisions as everybody else they’re making decision on what’s best for them.
So you should be tailoring every part of this process, individually that each school that you’re submitting to. [00:53:00] Yeah, I will say, I think some schools that were previously test optional before the pandemic have said that they put more weight on essays or on interviews. Mm-hmm um, in addition to looking at the, um, your activities or other parts of your application more thoughtfully.
So I don’t know if that offsets some concerns that folks were having, but it is actually test optional and they just kind of focus or put some attention in different parts. Um, last kind of academic question is how do colleges, I guess, pay attention to IBS and AP classes. So loaded answer here. Um, very rarely will the school offer both IB and AP.
Okay. Very rarely will school offer both, cuz it doesn’t make sense for them to, but some schools will most cases a school’s gonna have AP or IB. Um, some schools don’t offer it at all. The answer here is depending upon the type of school that you’re targeting, you should be taking the most rigorous curriculum that you can perform in.
So if you’re wanting to go to a top 25 top 50 school, And you have AP courses [00:54:00] available to you, your high school to be competitive for a top 50 school, you should be taking AP courses. Okay. And doing well. I need to add that caveat in, um, if, if you’re applying to a top 50 school and your school offers IB courses, then you need to be doing IB and doing well.
If your school offers both these schools are gonna put a preference on IB over at AP. Okay. Um, and you need to understand that so the most, and this is gonna sound very arrogant and it’s not intended to, but the, the most common question I would get at when I was still at university admissions, author is, Hey, should I take AP or ID and, and make a B, or should I take honors and make an a, the answer is if you wanna go to a top 50 school, you know, more elite select to school, you need to be taking the most challenging career of your school and doing well.
Cause if not, you’re most likely not gonna be competi. um, thank you for that. I, I think that makes me wanna pivot to a different kind of academic aspect. [00:55:00] So once students said, what should my plan be if I wanna take advantage of the free two years at a junior or community college, and then adding onto that, what are the disparities between freshman applications and transfer applications if students do pursue that type of option?
So it, the free two year thing is a very common thing in California and Tennessee. Um, but I would caution you. Uh, I say that depends upon what you may be wanting to go to school for. Uh, let’s use stem engineering as an example, most engineering departments will make you retake all of your undergraduate.
I’m sorry, your undergraduate, your, all of your prerequisite, uh, requirements when you come in, because they cannot certify and sign off on you. If you have not done it through their own system. So in many cases, if it’s a stimulated major, um, a two year program may not be the best fit. Right. Especially if it’s engineering related specifically, um, also, you know, two year programs aren’t guaranteed to transfer.
So in many cases, by going to a two year school, first, it’s gonna cost you more time and more money, which you’ll have to, you know, take additional courses, uh, again, for things that you already did, [00:56:00] you know, during those two years, in many cases, it doesn’t save you any money. Uh, and it cost you more time.
Yeah. To the second part of your question, sorry, I kind of had a moment there. Um, if you would remind me, cuz I, it was, I believe the difference between freshman applications and transfer applications. Correct? Exactly. Yep. Mm-hmm so the difference between a freshman application and a transfer application freshman application, we’re strictly basing our decision on you based upon high school, uh, transfer application, we’re looking at high school and your equivalent, you know, experience at the university level.
So whatever you’ve done in your first or second year at another school at the university or college level that will now be used in the decision, in addition to what you’ve done in high school, um, a quick re rehash of early action and a student asked if I don’t get in with early action. Can I apply to the same university again with regular decision?
Depends on the school. Sorry. I asked the questions. I know the answer um, it does depend on the [00:57:00] school. Um, some questions came in about essays. So one person asked what types of information should be in a college essay. How long should the SA do all colleges require an essay? So any, I guess, guidance or general update you can give on, on the structure of the essay would be helpful.
So I, I would encourage you to start going and looking through current essay topics to get a better idea of what they’re looking for, right? Because just for the common application, personal statement, you have seven different options to choose from one being to create your own. Um, then the schools that do make you do supplements, which is the majority of schools.
Um, they have all different topics that they might have you speak on, perhaps why that school perhaps why that particular program at that school, uh, perhaps something that may be political in nature, right. Or philosophical in nature. It, again, it depends on the school. There is no. And I’m gonna say this with all respect intended, there is no one stop shop for the SA process.
Everything is gonna be unique to what that individual school is asking you to complete. Um, [00:58:00] and then I guess, uh, someone was inspired by the a AP versus junior co. So they’re asking, should they take community college courses, overtaking AP classes, if they’re still, no, you should take AP over community college.
So community college at, at more, your top schools is viewed as not being as rigorous as AP. Because AP in order for that course to be taught, the instructor has to be certified for it. A community college, the consistency of who’s teaching, that course is not the same. And the level of, of rigor changes on a given semester.
So AP is viewed as being more rigorous than dual enrollment, AKA community college. Um, so I would always go AP, uh, curriculum first. Then if you’ve exceeded the available AP curriculum, that’s offered at your school, then you can do it all. Okay, that we are at the end of our time, there are so many questions.
I’m so sorry to everyone who we did not get a chance to answer really quickly. I will say early action is the opportunity to apply early to a school [00:59:00] without it being binding and hearing your decision earlier, we would recommend you do that to a school you’re very passionate about, and then test optional as being able to apply to a school without having to submit S a T or chat, or a C T scores, just for clarity on those vocabulary pieces, um, that some folks ask in the chat.
Um, but again, thank you everyone for coming out tonight. Thank you to Faroh for answering all these questions and, and rapid fire going through them. That is the end of the webinar. We hope you gained a ton of insight on why college application support is valuable and that you do decide to work with us.
I, some folks say that the QR code isn’t working for June, so we might be, I think, book. For the month, we will follow up with folks, uh, to encourage you to sign up. Uh, we will also have a, um, workshop on the 26th regarding developing a strong extracurricular profile. So for folks who are having questions there, please definitely come back and join us.
And we will close out the month with building your college list on the 29th. Um, but thanks everyone. Have a great evening. Take care.[01:00:00]