November Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

  • Send official test scores to schools that require you to send official test scores. To submit official scores, you must pay and have them sent through either the ACT or College Board. Please do not send official AP score reports to colleges; colleges do not ask for official score reports from AP exams until you are admitted/you decide to attend a school.
  • Many schools require submission of RD apps by 12/1 for merit award consideration. Please do not press pause once ED/EA apps are submitted. Some of these schools include BU, USC, Wake, Vandy, UConn, Clemson, and Richmond. College Kickstart has a list here outlining schools with 2019-20 Merit Scholarship Deadlines, but you will need to check the admissions website of the schools on your list to be 100% sure.
  • Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, you often are provided a “portal” from each school. Track the status of your app to ensure schools received all of your application materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a school 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 have any questions about what you see on your portal, please reach out to the school directly and ASAP.
  • Work on your “interest letter” for your top choice school (or schools!) if you have decided to write one.
  • Prepare for interviews!

Juniors:

  • Keep updating your resume and preparing for standardized tests.
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in. Explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think 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. 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!
  • Visit colleges in person. Fall is a great time to visit colleges. Please note, there are not many students on college campuses during December/January, so plan accordingly.
  • Some summer program applications will open over the next few months. If you plan on applying to an application-based summer program, check deadlines now so you can plan ahead.

Sophomores and Freshmen:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. How are your classes going?
  • Beyond academics, colleges also look to admit students who take part in meaningful extracurricular activities. You don’t need to join every single club at school (that is a bad idea, actually, please do not do this!), but if you are not involved in any ECs in or out of school, let’s discuss what might make the most sense for you at this time. You want to take part in a few things and try to continue with those activities (if you enjoy them) throughout high school. One definite “must” is something that allows you to serve others and give back to your community.
  • 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!
  • Some summer program applications will open over the next few months. If you plan on applying to an application-based summer program, check deadlines now so you can plan ahead.
  • Independent reading can play into how well you do on the SAT or ACT. Enhancing your skills during high school will not only help you perform better on college entrance exams but also prepare you for success in college and beyond. Regular reading of articles and editorials (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist) in addition to studying vocabulary lists and signing up for “Word/Article/SAT Question of the Day” can have an impact.

 

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Class of 2023 Waitlist Notification Dates and Stats

Admit rates and notification dates for the Class of 2019 (2023 if you are thinking college graduation year) are up on College Kickstart.

The landscape doesn’t look much different than last year, or the year before, or the year before. How the waitlist plays out depends a lot on yield. Yield in college admissions is the percent of students who choose to enroll in a particular college or university after having been offered admission. Some schools do a much better job of predicting yield than others. These schools have a high yield, and will not go very deep if onto the waitlist at all. The schools that have not done as good a job predicting yield will head to the waitlist to fill seats as needed.

Unfortunately, students can “hang” on the waitlist well into the summer, which drags out a process that for most should be finished on or around May 1. For all the waitlisted students out there, we feel your pain, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself busy. Check out our post on what to do if you are waitlisted. And give this one a read, too.

 

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Class of 2023 Admission Results

Decisions are out, and many colleges and universities have released admit rates and final numbers for the class of 2023. Head to College Kickstart for a breakdown and comparison to last year’s numbers at some of the top tier schools in the US. As in years past, schools have seen record application numbers and admit rates are going down.

In our work with applicants, we focus on creating a list that makes sense and doesn’t leave students with an insane amount of apps to complete, or an insane amount of rejections. However, some students do not take our advice. During the last four admissions seasons, we have had multiple students apply to 15+ colleges, most in RD. We did not advise this, but my guess is against the advice of many counselors, students and parents are pressing submit on as many schools as they can. Why? Partly because of how competitive the RD round can be, and they took some risks early, and it did not work out; partly because they can afford it; partly because for some strange reason they think Hail Mary’ing it might just work out. There are probably other reasons, but these are the three we most frequently encounter.

We say this every year, but we hope families begin to realize that this approach does not work. It is a waste of time and money. What’s worse, it creates an insane amount of stress on the student and most often results in more rejections than acceptances, which make students feel terrible because it is very hard, at age 17, to comprehend that a college rejection is really not personal.

In addition to surging application numbers (thank you, Common Application!), the competition is fierce. There’s a chance the profile that might’ve gotten you into your dream school a few years ago won’t hold up in the current admissions landscape…but have hope. There are more colleges and universities in the US and abroad than the top 20-30 schools! And guess what? These schools accept a lot of students, and you might even get money from them, and you will likely be just as happy there as a top ~20 school.

It is time to think outside of the box. The landscape now requires it—even for students with perfect grades and test scores. Those things are commonplace; you need far more than numbers to get into a top tier school. And what you need is what our work with students focuses on. Students have control over a lot in this process but only if they start early to develop what will help them stand out while at the same time broadening their college-knowledge and looking carefully at schools that might not have been on their radar initially.

Another reason to have hope is there are ways to differentiate your profile that actually work. Our students engage in extended research and outreach. Beyond getting close with reps, current students, faculty, and young alumni, our students connect with schools where they are already spending time: online. Connecting with schools via social media, as well as having a strong online presence via LinkedIn, can be beneficial. We believe your digital footprint and the presence of a digital portfolio can help not hurt you in the college application process. The students who take our advice become savvy networkers with the colleges on their list, and it pays off big time.

Anyway, back to the news. Thanks always to College Kickstart for providing all of our admissions-related data needs.

 

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Class of 2023 Regular Decision Notification Dates

College and universities are gearing up to release regular decision results this month and into April. Schools often post results in advance of their “official” notification dates, but with many reporting a record number of applications again this year, we will see.

My favorite college-admissions-related data site, College Kickstart, has compiled the most recently updated dates along with the notification dates from last year, which might help you predict when a school will release early if they do. Bookmark this page, as they post updates often.

 

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Class of 2023 Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

It is that time of year again! Early decision and early action decisions are already being released (we’ve had students admitted to Elon, Rollins, Penn State, Indiana and many more so far), though the majority of schools aim to send them out by mid-December, including the Ivies and other top tier schools.

College Kickstart keeps one of the most up to date lists on the web, here. Keep it bookmarked for quick access to checking early decision and early action release dates for the class of 2023.

With 12/15 falling on a Saturday, we might see many decisions released on 12/14 or even 12/13!

Update –> A few notable releases confirmed:

12/12 — Princeton, Barnard

12/13 — Harvard, NYU, Penn, UVM

 

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2018-19 Merit Scholarship Deadlines

Although most regular decision deadlines are 1/1 or 1/15, to be eligible for merit scholarships, many schools require you submit your application much earlier. College Kickstart compiled 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 12/1 include:

  • Boston University
  • Claremont McKenna
  • Clemson
  • College of Charleston
  • UConn
  • Richmond
  • USC
  • Wake Forest
  • Vanderbilt

Some schools set their merit deadline as their “early” deadline, so those are due even sooner (between 10/15 in 11/15 in many cases). Visit College Kickstart for their full list.

 

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Colleges with Notable Admission Rate Changes for the Class of 2022

A few days ago, this post went out from a beta site by mistake! We apologize, and you can find the “real” post below.

My favorite data site (heck, one of my favorite college admissions sites generally!), College Kickstart, has compiled a list of colleges with the most notable admit rate changes. There are lots of falling admits to report, and many are at some of the most popular schools (at least among the students I work with). Many of the UC’s are represented, as well as some smaller schools like Scripps, Colgate, and Hamilton.

Review the list here!

 

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College Interviews and Interview Prep

Not all colleges require interviews. In fact, many don’t offer them. At schools that do, they are not always evaluative or even considered in the admissions process. That being said, I still suggest you interview if you can. Why? It is a way to demonstrate interest, learn more about the school, and help the school learn more about you. Sounds worth it to me! If you can’t, don’t worry about it.

College Kickstart compiled some helpful interview data regarding colleges that require or strongly recommend interviews, and how that interview is used (or not used) in the admissions process. Head over to their website to check it out!

Below, you will find some common interview questions. Practice with a parent or friend. Never go to an interview (even those that are not evaluative) unprepared!

High School Experience

  • Tell me a little bit about your high school.

  • Tell me about the courses you are taking currently.

  • Tell me about your favorite class(s) you have taken. Why was it your favorite?

  • Which class has been your least favorite? Why?

  • Which classes have been the most difficult (or most challenging)?

  • What subjects do you plan on studying at [school]?

  • What activities and/or classes have you taken related to that field?

  • What is your dream job?

Extracurricular Activities

  • What extra-curricular activities are you involved with? What do you like to do for fun (outside of the classroom)?

  • When you’re not in class, studying, or doing homework, what do you do with your time (organized activities or things for fun)?

  • How did you get involved/started with ____ activity?

  • What activity is the most meaningful to you, and what is just the most fun?

  • What extra-curricular activities do you hope to be involved with in college?

College Expectations

  • What type of environment are you looking for in a college/university?

  • To what other colleges/universities are you applying?

  • How is the admissions process going for you?

University Specific

  • How did you become interested in [school]?

  • What do you find appealing about [school]?

  • Why do you think you [school] might be the right fit for you?

  • Do you know any students at [school]? Have you reached out to them to learn more about [school]?

  • If you had an opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee anything about yourself, what would it be? What would you want the Admissions Committee to know about you that may not come across on your application?

  • What have you learned about [school] that seems unusual or surprising?

Miscellaneous

  • Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you wanted to discuss?

  • Apart from looking at colleges, how have you spent your high school summers?

  • How would your best friend describe you?

  • How would your teachers describe you?

  • If you had a year to do anything you want, what would it be and why?

 

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Don’t Miss the Opportunity to Interview

Not all colleges require interviews. In fact, many do not even offer them. At schools that do, they are not always evaluative or even considered in the admissions process. That being said, I still suggest you interview. Why? It is a way to demonstrate interest, learn more about the school, and help the school learn more about you. Sounds worth it to me!

College Kickstart compiled some helpful interview data regarding colleges that require or strongly recommend interviews, and how that interview is used (or not used) in the admissions process. Head on over to their website to check it out!

 

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Early Admission Plan Changes for the Class of 2021

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More insightful data from College Kickstart!

Many colleges and universities have begun updating their websites for the Class of 2021 (Fall 2017) admission cycle.  While we expect the activity to continue into the late summer, several of the changes we’ve observed are worth noting.

In particular, roughly 20 schools have introduced changes to the early admission plans available to you this fall.  Unsurprisingly, the vast majority have added binding early decision options, including the University of Chicago (Early Decision 1/2), Wake Forest and Wellesley (Early Decision 2) and Tulane (replaced Single Choice Early Action with Early Decision).  Several also introduced/refined their Early Action programs, including Texas A&M (a new Early Action option for engineering applicants) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (revamped).   On the flip side, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo eliminated Early Decision.

Be sure to check out this College Kickstart list as it may impact how you decide to apply this fall.