December Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

December Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors

• If you have been admitted to your top choice school and the process of applying has come to a close, congrats! Remember to maintain your GPA as schools don’t like to see your grade dip 🙂

• Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, be sure to periodically check your school-specific portals. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools.

• Do the schools on your list require midterm grade reports? Check requirements online and talk to your school counselor about having them sent to colleges as needed. Also, re-share your RD list and make sure they know to send docs accordingly and far in advance of deadlines.

• It is difficult to write essays and complete applications between December 15 through January 1 because of the holidays, and…

• It’s always a good idea to submit apps ahead of deadlines. Aim to complete all RD/ED II apps by 12/15 so you are not in a time-crunch over the holidays and beat the RD app submission rush! Don’t forget to send official test scores, as required, to RD schools.

•If you still can, you should interview where possible…and consider which schools on your list you will send an interest/update letter to (no more than a month or so after you apply).

• If you were deferred, check back for a post on that soon (or look back to this time last year on the blog). If you need help creating your deferral letter and strategy, reach out to us.

Juniors

• Keep going on tours and attending info sessions (virtually of course!).

• Beyond academics, colleges look to admit students who take part in meaningful extracurricular activities, and summer is a great time to do something fun and meaningful that possibly explores what you might study in college. You might want to consider going beyond a pre-packaged program to something more self-initiated, like an independent study (will share more on this later in the month) or a purpose project.

• Start to think more about your major (or majors!) of interest and how your activities support this interest. Don’t forget: you should be exploring your interests outside of the classroom/school. But what if I do not know what my interests are?!?! Interests are not necessarily inherent, waiting to be found—they need to be cultivated. You have to get out into the world and work to determine them, and this can take time. We believe this is why it is important to start exploring early in high school. Explore through after-school programs, clubs at your school, a summer job, free classes online, by reading books, academic journals, or even watching Ted Talks. What we are getting at is, to really determine your interests, which might someday turn into your focus of study in college—or who knows, maybe even your passions later in life—you have to put some thought into it and do the work!

Sophomores & Freshmen

• An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. How are your classes going? Review interim grade reports, and take stock of where you have room to improve.

• Beyond academics, colleges look to admit students who take part in meaningful extracurricular activities, and summer is a great time to do something fun and meaningful that possibly explores what you might study in college. You might want to consider a purpose project. 

• As we excitedly approach the holiday season, think about how you might be able to help out those in need. The holidays can be a tough time for many families, and high schools and community centers often have food drives, toy drives, coat drives, etc. where you could give some of your time (or food or coats or toys!). Get involved, give back!

 

Enjoy the holidays and winter break! Take some time to relax.

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Remote Volunteer Opportunities!

Remote Volunteer Opportunities!

We shared a bunch of these back in the early days of COVID. However, we found a few others recently that looked interesting. Check them out below!

Robotics for All: Robotics for All strives to provide equitable educational opportunities to students of all backgrounds, particularly low income and under-represented students, with an emphasis on teaching the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The goal is to reduce the opportunity gap, allowing students to gain beneficial skills for the rest of their academic and professional careers. We believe that it is important for students to have access to a quality STEM education, regardless of socio-economic status.

As an online volunteer teacher, you will be responsible for running an eight week long online class. This includes leading the two weekly synchronous classes (either on Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday), evaluating student homework (assigned between each synchronous class) and managing teacher’s assistants. It will be your responsibility to ensure that the class runs smoothly and take care of any issues, whether related to student behavior or errors in code. You must possess strong leadership skills and a high level of independence. Our current curricula for online classes are the Code.org Curriculum (for K-3rd graders), Scratch Curriculum (for 4th-6th graders), Python Curriculum (for 6th-8th graders), CAD Curriculum (for 6th-8th graders), and Fusion Curriculum (for 7th-8th graders). You are expected to have mastered the curriculum they teach. Learn more here.

The Empowerment Factory (TEF): a non-profit dedicated to giving youth the skills they need to lead happier, healthier more empowered lives. We focus on three areas of development: creativity, self esteem, and civic pride. Our Creative Squad programs blend hands-on activities with social emotional learning (SEL) and environmental education. Our vision is for every child to develop the confidence and ability to express themselves and become successful in school and life. Every child should feel that they matter and can make a difference in the world around them.

The Empowerment Factory is partnering with The United Way to bring you a fun and safe volunteer opportunity folding paper Peace Cranes! The purpose of this initiative is to share positivity and hopeful aspirations for our community. The Peace Cranes will be used to create a public art installation in January that aspires to exemplify the goal of this tradition. Learn more here.

Girl Scouts: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We seek to accomplish this by providing girls opportunities to develop their potential and have fun with their peers in a supportive, all-girl setting.

Do you have a passion for a particular topic or life skill? Do you want to create a fun event that shares your enthusiasm with girls? You could design an event that helps girls earn a Girl Scout badge related to your specialty or help teach girls a skill they need to grow into the leaders of tomorrow! If you have a love for STEM, outdoors, or the arts – there are ways you can use your skills and resources to provide an experience that helps girls explore something new. There are dozens of new badges that will inspire you to think of creative ways to bring the projects to life for a group of girls, including things like “Inside Government”, “Eco Advocate” or “Philanthropist” badges! You can decide how many girls you’d like to participate, select what age girls you’d like to involve, and pick a date and time, and an online meeting platform that you’re comfortable with! You can also use materials we provide to host a meeting rather than making your own program. Learn more here.

Head to Volunteer Match to search for other remote roles!

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Tips for 11/15, 11/30 and 12/1 Deadlines

It is time to press submit (if you haven’t already!)! A few things to keep in mind as you finalize applications:

    • Send official standardized test scores ASAP if the schools on your list require officials. Double-check score reporting policies. Some schools require that you send all of your scores and do not participate in score choice.
    • Meet with your high school counselor and have them review all of your applications before you submit. After any final changes, print all of your applications and review them the old-fashioned way (using a pen, on paper). When you press the review/submit button (on the Common App), a PDF is generated, which is very easy to print. You can also generate a PDF in the Coalition App. Printing each app is not environmentally friendly, but worth it. Don’t final review apps on a screen. Print them and read them back to front.
    • Follow up with the teachers writing your letters of recommendation and encourage them to submit their letters now. Don’t forget to say thank you!
    • If you added “Other” recommenders to your applications—for example, a coach, work supervisor, or research mentor—shoot them a friendly reminder, too.
    • Track your application status after you submit. Once your applications have been submitted, track your app’s status online to ensure schools received all of your materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a college is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools.
    • If you applied test-optional, check your portal for additional requirements as some colleges are requiring an essay on why you are not submitting scores — for example — Clemson and Michigan. 

And though not exactly related to submitting your apps, don’t forget to:

  • Study for any remaining standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SAT Subjects).
  • Interview where possible. Check to see if the schools on your list (even those you are applying to in the regular decision round) have priority interview deadlines.
  • Write interest letters or follow-up emails to top choice schools.

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Support with Financial Aid/FAFSA/CSS

Support with Financial Aid/FAFSA/CSS

I wanted to share a recent note from my colleague Blaine Blontz, a wonderful resource on all things financial aid. Reach out to him for all your FAFSA/CSS needs, and plan ahead. It is not too early for parents of underclassmen to start thinking about the FA process.

Early financial aid deadlines approach

At this point, November 15 is a common FAFSA and CSS Profile deadline for early decision and early action applicants. If you haven’t completed the forms and need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Next month, we’ll look into opportunities to maximize the financial aid families receive through processes of appeal and negotiation. We offer services that will navigate families through these processes.

For families with juniors in high school and younger, a common question I receive this time of year is how to prepare for the college financial aid process. I recently published an article on this topic. In addition, we have services that can help families determine what they can expect in terms of financial aid and how to best position themselves for maximum eligibility. Let us know if you’re interested in learning more.

Reach out to Blaine here!

 

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College Admissions Interviews: Alumni Interview Protocols

College Admissions Interviews: Alumni Interview Protocols

Alumni interview season is upon us!

For many students, college admissions interviews are fear-inducing. And though there is some decent prep material online, you can often go right to the source for clarity on what the process entails. There is no reason to fear your alumni interview because many schools have their protocols and the guidance/instructions they give your interviewer available for you to review online—including possible interview questions.

Knowing the questions you might be asked is one thing but thoroughly preparing is another completely. You do not need to spend hours preparing answers to hundreds of questions to thoroughly prepare for alumni or any other college admissions interview. Canned responses sound unnatural. In my experience, taking the less stressful approach bodes well for students: they do not waste hours preparing, which can detract from other important tasks (homework, community engagement, application essays, sleep) and because they have not overprepared, they will sound far more natural and “themselves” therefore win over an interviewer.

Remember, so much of a college admissions interview (and this entire process!) is about likeability—rehashing your resume word-for-word does not make you likable, but being able to hold a conversation and do so with ease does! Getting to the point of doing so with ease is the hardest part for high school students (who have not interviewed all that much, typically), but over-preparing won’t help. Resist the urge.

Below, I’ve compiled a few of the alumni interview links for some popular, selective schools. Take some time to read over the information provided, but do not obsess over it.

You can find a general list of potential interview questions in older posts, but contact us if you want individualized help preparing for your college interviews—alumni or otherwise—or want access to additional materials. We’ve helped hundreds of students ace their interviews and gain acceptance to their first-choice colleges and universities—don’t miss an opportunity to shine live!

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LaunchX Summer 2021 – Apply Now!

LaunchX Summer 2021 – Apply Now!

Applications are now open for the LaunchX summer 2021 high school entrepreneurship program.

LaunchX 2020 was an overwhelming success, bringing together close to 300 students from around the world to its online course platform, virtual classroom sessions, mentor meetings, and more. High school students started over 60 companies past summer and you can become one of them in the summer of 2021. 

Here are just a few things to look forward to in LaunchX Summer 2021:

  • Speakers: You can customize your experience and learn from leading industry experts, entrepreneurs, and renowned faculty members from many top US universities.
  • Engaging Materials: We continue to iterate on our renowned course materials each year to bring you cutting edge materials and delivery.  The ‘classroom’ is super interactive, with lots of breakout sessions, case studies, simulations, and more…
  • Support: There are discussion groups with other top young entrepreneurs from around the globe, weekly meetings with your Lead Instructor, and each team is supported by a team of mentors who is your Mock Board of Advisors with whom you meet each week. We are dedicated to supporting you in every step of your entrepreneurial journey and help you build your startup network. 
  • Apply your Skills: You apply all of the lessons in real-time through discussion groups and weekly pitches to your peers and instructors. The program culminates with a Demo Day Event where you can showcase your newly acquired skillset by pitching your startup to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs.  Many teams continue past the program, too!  

Apply Link –> https://apply.launchx.com/prog/launchx_2021/

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Don’t Press Pause After You Submit Early College Applications

Don’t Press Pause After You Submit Early College Applications

After you submit early apps, it can be tempting to press pause completely. Take a few days off if needed, but after that, get back to work! Please don’t sit around waiting for results or go back and read through your early apps. Focus instead on completing interest letters, your ED 2 app, and your RD apps. You can also…

  • Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, you often are provided a “portal” from each school. You need to check this periodically (and be checking your email every day too!). You track the status of your app to ensure schools receive all of your application materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a school is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. *Do not expect portals to be updated automatically; give schools some time and do not immediately email if you sent something but it is not reflected in your portal. They don’t like getting emails asking why it is not updated when you just submitted…two days ago.  Expect things to be slow this year as many schools are working in hybrid formats/not everyone is on campus at all schools, etc.
  • Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily) so you do not miss correspondence from schools. This directly applies to the point above.
  • Continue to learn about the schools on your list (and demonstrate interest) by attending online / virtual events. Tracking interest does not stop once your app is submitted, and don’t believe for a second that it won’t help you to connect with schools in this and other ways (beyond submitting the app). Show schools love!
  • Keep track of updates that might be relevant to and positively support your application. Schools benefit from knowing about meaningful awards, new test scores, things like that — not every single tiny thing you’ve done since you pressed submit.

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Watch “Personal Statement” and Access the #WeBelongInCollege Curriculum

Watch “Personal Statement” and Access the #WeBelongInCollege Curriculum

For our educator friends!

The free #WeBelongInCollege curriculum unit amplifies the power of the experience of engaging students in creating their own #WeBelongInCollege stories because it incorporates a screening of the film, PERSONAL STATEMENT. In the film, three high school students share their stories of struggling and persisting through the college process and into college.

You can request a free copy of the film if you want to use the #WeBelongInCollege curriculum unit with your students.

You can request a DVD and/or a streaming link so that your students can watch the film remotely and the curriculum includes a free digital slide presentation making this a great resource for both in-person AND remote, online instruction.  

You can watch the PERSONAL STATEMENT film trailer here.

Additionally, below are resources that you can adapt and use for your own campaign to close the college guidance gap. Some of these were created by Philly School Counselors United for an advocacy campaign in Philadelphia. The resources include:

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After You Submit Early College Applications

After You Submit Early College Applications

Add these to your to-do list post-submit!

  • Let your high school counselor know you officially submitted your apps so they get your transcripts and LORs in ASAP.
  • Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, you often are provided a “portal” from each school. You need to check this periodically (and be checking your email every day too!). You track the status of your app to ensure schools receive all of your application materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a school is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. *Do not expect portals to be updated automatically; give schools some time and do not immediately email if you sent something but it is not reflected in your portal. They don’t like getting emails asking why it is not updated when you just submitted…two days ago.  Expect things to be slow this year as many schools are working in hybrid formats/not everyone is on campus at all schools, etc. 
  • Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily) so you do not miss correspondence from schools. This directly applies to the point above!
  • Continue to learn about the schools on your list (and demonstrate interest) by attending online / virtual events. Tracking interest does not stop once your app is submitted. 
  • Keep track of updates that might be relevant to and positively support your application. Schools benefit from knowing about meaningful awards, new test scores, things like that — not every single tiny thing you’ve done since you pressed submit. 
  • And of course…keep working on essays for ED 2 and RD schools.

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Don’t Miss Early Merit Scholarship Deadlines

Don’t Miss Early Merit Scholarship Deadlines

To be eligible for merit scholarships, many schools require you to submit your application by a specific deadline. Many of these deadlines are earlier than RD deadlines. 

Every year College Kickstart compiles a list of some of the most popular schools with early merit scholarship deadlines.

A few of the schools you’ll need to submit by 11/1 include:

  • Indiana
  • Michigan State
  • NC State
  • Purdue
  • TCU
  • UF
  • UMD
  • U Miami

A few of the schools you’ll need to submit by 11/15 include:

  • DePaul
  • Emory
  • OSU
  • Rutgers
  • South Carolina

A few of the schools you’ll need to submit by 12/1 include:

  • Auburn
  • Boston University
  • Claremont McKenna
  • Clemson
  • FSU
  • UConn
  • Richmond
  • USC
  • Wake Forest
  • Vanderbilt

Visit College Kickstart for their full list.

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