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Reasons to Begin the College Search Now

Posted by: Website Administrator on 1/31/2014

Now that spring semester of junior year is well under way, you might want to think about beginning your college search. It might seem early, but there are several important reasons to start the process now instead of waiting for summer vacation or fall of senior year.

Early Application Deadlines. Most college and university early application deadlines are in the first half of November. You want to give yourself a couple of months to work on those applications, sign up for interviews, and write your supplemental essays. If you wait to begin the college search until the summer, or the fall of senior year, you might not have enough time to decide on your top-choice schools and complete your applications with the care and attention they need.

Spring College Visits. You might be planning to wait to explore and visit colleges during your summer vacation, when you don’t have to worry about missing school or catching up on homework. However, the best time to visit colleges is when the fall or spring semester is in session. That is when most students are around and the campus vibe is at its liveliest. If you begin your college search now, you can identify a few colleges to visit while school is still in session. If you wait until the summer, college campuses will be much quieter, and it will be harder to get a sense of what it’s “really” like to go to school there.

SAT Subject Tests. Another reason to begin the college search now is so that you have enough time to decide if you want or need to take SAT Subject Tests. Subject Tests generally correlate with the curriculum of advanced courses in high school, specifically AP courses, but other honors or advanced courses can be good preparation, as well. If you begin the college search now, you will get a sense of if you’re interested in schools that require SAT Subject Tests. That will give you enough time to register and prepare for the tests in May or June, to correlate with cumulative exams at the end of this year.

Even though spring semester of junior year is packed – applying to summer programs, preparing for the SAT or ACT, and just keeping up with your schoolwork and extracurricular activities – it’s important to carve out some time to devote to your college search. You’ll want to have plenty of time to visit colleges while school is in session, decide on Subject Tests, and have plenty of time to work on your Early Action and/or Early Decision applications. The extra time devoted to the college search now will help make the process more manageable later on.

Summer Planning

Posted by: Website Administrator on 1/23/2014

It’s only January, and summer vacation is months away, but now is actually a great time for you to think about what you want to do this summer. How you spend your summer is important for your college applications, and also important in helping you learn more about yourself and what your interests and strengths are.

There is no one way to spend a summer that colleges prefer, or that “looks better” on a college application, as long as you are engaged in something interesting, challenging, or meaningful in some way. Colleges don’t prefer scientific research to working to community service, or athletics to theater or taking a college course. The options can be a bit overwhelming, so if you’re wondering what to do this summer, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to get started with your search.

What did you do last summer? Think about what you did last summer and if you would like to do something similar, or if you want to try something new. If you really liked what you did last year, you might want to build on your previous experience. Or you can explore a new interest and try something completely different.

Where do you see yourself? Whether you want to live at home, or study abroad, selecting a location is a simple way to focus your search. Your options will vary depending on if you want to stay close to home, travel across the country, or across the world, so it’s important to think about where you want to be.

What are you interested in? Let your interests lead the way when it comes to how you spend your summer. Colleges want to know who you are, and how you spend your summer can say a lot about your personality. You can continue exploring a long-held interest, or use the summer as an opportunity to try something you’ve always wanted to. It’s your summer, so you should enjoy it!

How much time do you have? The summer is pretty long, so you may not want to spend the whole time on your “summer activity.” It’s generally a good idea to spend at least 2 weeks on a focused summer activity or program, but don’t feel like you need to fill your whole summer. It’s okay to take some time and go on a long vacation with your family, or just hang out with your friends.

Even though summer might feel like it’s forever away, you should begin planning your summer now. Many programs admit students on a rolling basis, meaning it’s better to apply early when there are more spaces available. Starting to think about what you want to do now will give you enough time to make the best choice for summer without feeling rushed or potentially losing out on a great opportunity because of space limitations.

Categories: College Counseling

Regular Decision Follow-Up

Posted by: Website Administrator on 1/21/2014

If you submitted any Regular Decision applications, congratulations! You can breathe a little easier now that you’re done with your essays and applications. However, before settling in to wait for your admissions decisions in the spring, you’ll want to be sure you follow-up and confirm that your application is complete and that everything is in order. Review our post-Regular Decision checklist to make sure you’re on track.

The Application Itself. It might seem obvious, but you’ll want to confirm that your applications were submitted properly, and that any application fees have been paid. Many colleges send an electronic confirmation when you submit your application, or provide an electronic account where you can check your application status. If you didn’t get an acknowledgement from the college that your application was submitted, you should get in touch to confirm.

Standardized Test Scores. Confirm the testing requirements for each college you’ve applied to, and make sure that you’ve sent the appropriate scores (SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, TOEFL, etc.) to each college according to their requirements. And if you haven’t sent them yet, be sure to send those official scores as soon as possible!

School Documents. You should confirm that your guidance counselor has submitted your transcript and School Report, and that your teachers have submitted your recommendation letters. Most colleges send you information about how to check your application status electronically, and for any Common App schools, you can see when the college downloaded those materials through your Common App account, assuming they were submitted online. If your counselor or teachers have not submitted your recommendations or school forms, you can send them a friendly reminder.

Check Again! After you’ve checked that everything on your end has been submitted – application, test scores, recommendation letters, etc. – wait a week or two and then check your official application status with the college. If anything is still missing a couple of weeks after the deadline, call the admissions office to follow-up. Ask if you need to re-send any documents, or if the missing documents are still being processed. If you do need to re-send anything, be sure to ask the best way to send it! Some colleges have an email address or fax number specifically for application documents.

You might have to wait a few months until you get your admissions decisions back, but you should still be proactive and check early to make sure your applications are complete!

Deferred Application Advice

Posted by: Website Administrator on 1/7/2014

You may have recently received a defer decision from one of your early application colleges, and you might be wondering what that means, and what you can do about it. This blog post should clear a few things up, and help you plan for the future.

What does it mean that my application was deferred? If your application was deferred it means that for any number of reasons, the admissions office chose not to give you a final decision in December. The college will re-review your application in the spring, and give you an updated admissions decision along with the rest of the Regular Decision applicant pool.

Why was my application deferred? That’s very difficult to say, as every college defers applicants for different reasons. Instead of focusing on why your application was deferred, it’s more important to look forward to what you can do to potentially improve your chances of admission in the next round.

So what should I do? The first thing you should do is send a friendly and polite e-mail to your area admissions counselor telling them that you’re still very interested in the school, and ask if there’s anything that would be helpful for you to send them. Sometimes, they might have a very specific request, so it’s important to ask. For example, they might just want to see how your fall semester grades turned out. They might also have specific advice about what you should and shouldn’t do to increase your chances of admission. If there’s nothing specific that they need from you, here are some ideas for you to strengthen your application.

  • Send a short, sincere, and specific letter or e-mail of interest to your area admissions counselor. Let them know you are still interested in the school and why.
  • Ask if you can have an interview (if you haven’t had one yet). Many colleges will not allow deferred applicants to interview, so don’t be discouraged if this is not an option for you.
  • Ask the admissions office if paying them a visit would be a good idea (if you haven’t already visited). Some schools care about demonstrated interest, and a visit could be something they would note.
  • If you feel that perhaps your test scores are a bit weak for the college, you can sign up to take the SAT or ACT again and send the college your new scores.
  • If you’ve had any significant extracurricular or academic accomplishments or achievements since submitting your application, you can send your area admissions counselor an update.
We recommend asking the college before doing anything beyond these suggestions. You want them to know that you’re still interested, but you don’t want to do too much. A few well-written lines can have more impact than an overload of information. There’s no guarantee you’ll be admitted, even if you follow the admissions office’s instructions to the letter. So you should think positive thoughts, and look forward to the admissions decisions you’ll be getting in the spring from all of the colleges you applied to.