college bound students

What is All This Mail My High School Junior is Getting and How to Prioritize It

If you have seen a lot of mail from colleges coming for your high school junior, it’s most likely because they have just taken a PSAT or ACT. Colleges buy mailing lists from standardized tests. This is a way for lesser-known colleges to advertise to potential students. And a way for well-known schools to generate more applications which will then make their colleges more desirable and rank higher on lists like US News. This strategy began in the 1970s when the College Board agreed to sell names of students to colleges.

Sometimes the mail will seem personalized, noting the major your child is interested in. When the student takes the PSAT, they indicate their major of preference. This info is part of the info sold to colleges. Business schools can send mail to all potential business majors. Colleges also market to students based on their PSAT scores. So you may find that where University of Chicago is sending mail to a student who scored high on their PSAT’s their sibling who might have not scored so well is getting mail from lesser-known schools. 

Is it important for your student to open this mail? Only if something about the school is intriguing. This could be an opportunity for your student to learn about a school they never have heard of. Otherwise, you are free to recycle the paper mail and delete the emails. 

What if a specific school becomes aggressive in their mailings? The schools can be aggressive sending weekly emails with quizzes and activities to engage your child. They can ignore all of this. It will not make a difference if your student engages in these emails even if they plan to apply to that college.

Some college advisors suggest the student create a separate email address for all of their college related information. So before taking the PSAT help your student set up one of these emails. That way they can separate all the college-related email from their regular life email. If your student didn’t do this, then set up a folder with in their email box where they can store all the college-related emails. When they have downtime, they might spend a couple minutes looking at the emails, and then they can delete them. 

Organization is important during the college search. Your student will also gather college brochures from tours and college fairs. So perhaps setting up a storage box and some filing folders will be a great way to store important items without them getting lost. You can toss the snail mail in there too. 

The mail will slow down. It won’t be a solid two years of your mailbox being bogged down. But be on the lookout for those acceptance letters during the spring of their senior year. You don’t want to ignore those!

How to Get the Most Out of College Fairs

This time of year is College Fair season where representatives from colleges and universities around the globe visit high schools. Sometimes college fairs are organized by majors. For example, schools focusing on STEM programs might be in attendance one evening and schools focusing on Arts programs might be in attendance another. The Ivy’s travel together and have one big event usually at a central hotel. The events can be overwhelming. I suggest that you look ahead and mark the upcoming dates on your calendar. Then give yourselves some time study the schools. Learn as much as you can about them beforehand and narrow down the ones your student is most interested in. Time at the fairs will be limited, so it’s best to pick the top four or five. Popular schools may have lines, so familiarize yourself with some schools that are not so popular and visit those. 


At the event you and your student has a chance to talk to the representatives. This is the first impression your student will make. Most likely the rep will ask the student to fill out an info card with their name and address and email. This not only puts the student on the school’s mailing list, but begins a file on the interested student. The representative may make notes on the student’s info card. It’s best for your student to come prepared with specific questions for the rep. The more prepared, the better they will look. The rep will most likely then give the student their business card. If that happens, then make sure your student follows up with a thank you email, perhaps with another question. The rep will add the email to the student’s file and when it comes time to review the application, a relationship with that student has already been established. 


Also make sure your student is open to looking at schools that might not have initially been on their radar. Smaller lesser known schools are represented at college fairs and will try to interest students with strong financial aid packages or majors that may not be offered at bigger schools. At a recent art school fair my son became interested in the Art Institute of Chicago, a place he never would have considered just reading about it. But the rep gave such a good pitch, and the program sounded remarkable, my son is now considering the school even with the recent -22 degree weather reports!


Be prepared, keep an open mind and follow up with the reps and your student will make the most of their upcoming college fairs. 

Stay Productive This Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break is soon upon us. Depending on your school or district’s policies, you may receive two days, three days, or a whole week off of school. Between stuffing your face and watching football, the week doesn’t lend itself to productivity.

When I was a teacher, district policy forbade teachers from assigning homework over Thanksgiving break. As such shackles no longer bind me, I’m going to assign you just a bit of homework for you to accomplish over break.

In this article, we’ll look at different things high school freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors can accomplish during their time off school. And because I want to make sure you have a chance to relax this Thanksgiving, none of my assignments should take more than two hours to complete.

If You’re a Freshman

As a high school freshman, you don’t have to worry about high-stakes standardized tests and applying to college just yet. Instead of research or test prep, I want you to spend your two hours performing some self-reflection that should help you with the big decisions you’ll face in the next few years.

For each of the following bullet points, I want you to journal a one-page reply:

  • Which subject is your favorite? What about it do you like the most?
  • In which class do you have the most trouble? Do you need extra help to succeed?
  • Do you work better by yourself or with others?
  • What careers (even if they’re pie-in-the-sky) do you think are interesting or would be worth pursuing one day?

What I want you to do is tuck these answers away. During Thanksgiving break for the next two years – when you’re a sophomore and junior — revisit these questions to identify how your preferences have changed. By the time you start seriously researching potential colleges during your junior year, you’ll be better prepared to select those that best match your interests and goals.

If You’re a Sophomore

Sophomore year is the time when you dip your toe into the college application pond. It can seem a bit overwhelming (that’s natural), but you can accomplish something this Thanksgiving break that’ll both reduce your stress and start your college journey off on the right foot.

For your two hours of homework, I want you to research potential colleges and select 2-3 to tour between now and the end of summer break before your junior year. Discuss options with your family, as they’ll likely come with you on these tours and play a significant role in your college decision-making process. 

If You’re a Junior

As a junior, this is the last full year of grades colleges will see when you apply next year. That makes your performance on mid-terms, which are only a few weeks away, more important than those you took in your freshman and sophomore years.

During the break, I want you to set aside two hours to study your most challenging subject. It doesn’t matter what it is. You need not only the practice but also the chance to identify the topics giving you the most trouble. Once you identify them, you can master them over the next few weeks with your teachers’ help and other resources (e.g., Khan Academy) they recommend.

If You’re a Senior

Your college application deadlines are coming up fast. For any remaining applications, here’s what I want you to do:

  • Reread all application requirements and make a checklist for each school.
  • Check off what you have completed.
    • Maintain these lists until you send off your last application.
  • Read all of your essays at least once. Make appropriate revisions.
    • If you’re going to visit relatives this Thanksgiving, it never hurts to ask an aunt or uncle to critique one of your essays.

Final Thoughts

I have one last piece of homework for everyone reading this to accomplish between now and the end of Thanksgiving break: find some quality time to relax. The three weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break are full to the brim with studying, tests, and anxiety. Recharge your batteries now so you can face these challenges successfully.

College Admissions & Demonstrated Interest

Students have a lot of things to get done for college applications. Putting together the perfect application for your dream school isn’t the only thing to do during this time, and the perfect application is not the only thing college admissions officers are looking for.

College admissions officers are starting to look at students’ demonstrated interest (or lack thereof). Demonstrated interest (in regards to college) is simply, going the extra mile to show true interest beyond the standard application.

The remainder of this article will discuss what demonstrated interest is in the traditional way, what it’s starting to look like with the growth of social media, and why this all matters.

 

Demonstrated Interest

Here is a short list of ways to show a college admissions officer your demonstrated interest.

  • Campus Tours
  • Interviews
  • College Fairs
  • Following up/sending thank you letters (when appropriate)

If you want to learn more, click here.

 

Changes in Demonstrated Interest – Social Media

College admissions officers are starting to look at applicants’ social media activity.

Why social media?

Answer: Social media is a great way for college admissions officers to get a glimpse into who you are based on what you follow and ‘like’.

Generally, people follow things on social media that they are interested in. Considering this, if a college admissions officer sees that you are following one or more social media accounts affiliated with the college, they will consider you to be very interested in the college and in turn, more likely to accept an offer.

Below are the results of a survey conducted by myKlovr asking its users if they would feel comfortable if college admissions officers checked their social media.

 

Out of 188 myKlovr users, 11.7% say “I’d love them to do that”, 69% say “I’m an open book, nothing to hide!”, 6.9% say “sure but let me edit first”, and 11.7% say “oh no please don’t”.

 

Why do College Admissions Officers Care About Demonstrated Interest?

Demonstrated interest shows a college admissions officer how likely you are to attend the college if you are accepted. Students who visit the campus, talk to the college representatives at college fairs, follow the college’s social media accounts, have a higher chance of accepting an offer.

College admissions officers are also looking for those students who are not only interested in their college on paper (college applications) but are actively going out of their way to learn more about the college.

Think about it this way, it is standard to send in an application, transcripts, test scores, and an essay. Demonstrated interest is going above and beyond what is required for college admissions which ultimately demonstrates the level of your genuine interest.

Demonstrated Interest: A Primer

Believe it or not, getting into your dream college has a lot in common with getting your future dream job. Yes, both have the word ‘dream’ in the title, but the similarities go deeper than that. You see, the people who get into their dream college/get their dream job show demonstrated interest. In other words, they do more than the bare minimum – applying.

In this article, we’ll take a look at demonstrated interested: what it is and how to use it to your advantage during next year’s college admission season.

So, What Is Demonstrated Interest?

As the name suggests, demonstrated interest is when you go the extra mile to show a college that it’s your first choice. The trick, however, is doing so without becoming annoying and making the college admission counselor think less of you. We’ll discuss how to not be annoying in a bit.

And you don’t want that happening, do you?

Your goal, on the other hand, is to leave a positive impression on the admission department before (or during) the time when they consider your application portfolio. How do you do that? Let’s find out.

What Does Demonstrated Interest Look Like?

Let’s start with an easy one.

Take the Tour 

Taking the tour is one of the easiest things you can do to show demonstrated interest. No, you likely won’t come into contact with any higher-ups in the admission department, but the experience can benefit you in a few ways.

  • Your Personal Essay: The personal essay is a great way to bring up the fact you took the tour and “just fell in love” with the campus and what the student tour guide told you about the academic and social experience.
  • Write a Thank You Note: When you get back home from your tour, consider writing a brief thank you note to the head of the admission department. Talk about “how helpful” the guide was and that “your school is now one of my top picks.” In other words, it never hurts to butter them up.

If you can’t take the tour for whatever reason, it always pays to send a note to one of the admissions counselors. Ask a question or two and tell them a bit about yourself. Like any good cover letter, don’t let it go over 250 words.

Interview 

Not many colleges perform interviews these days, especially for undergraduates. If they do, that is an opportunity you need to jump on (if you can). If the school is hundreds or thousands of miles away, it doesn’t make sense to commit time and money to make the trip, especially if you’re on a budget. But if it’s a day trip in the car, don’t miss this critical opportunity. Here’s some specific advice, much of it applicable to the jobs interviews a few years in your future:

  • Dress for the school you want: When you go to your interview, it pays to dress up. How dressed up? Without going into too much detail, Google ‘business casual.’ That seems to be the sweet spot.
  • Have some questions ready: In all interviews, there always comes a point when the interviewer turns the tables and asks, “do you have any questions for me?” To leave an impression, you need to have a question or two up your sleeve. Fortunately for you, you can think up questions in advance, and if one should come to mind during the interview, that’s even better. Your questions show demonstrated interest and leave an impression in your interviewer’s mind. And who knows, your interviewer may be the person who has the final say over your application.

How to Not Be Annoying

This is going to be a relatively short section despite the topic’s importance. Again, let’s take a page out of the “how to get a job” playbook:

  • Be yourself: A truism if there ever was one, but be yourself is still the best advice there is. However, a better way to put it would be ‘be genuine.’ Sounds nicer, doesn’t it? In other words, the effort it takes to try to be someone else is exhausting, and if you mess it up, the person on the other end loses trust in you.
  • Don’t lie: Applying to college isn’t applying for a security clearance; plenty of people have fibbed about their accomplishments, like how long they participated in an extracurricular activity and gotten away with it. HOWEVER, lying is annoying and demonstrates an immaturity that no college admission counselor wants to see.
  • Avoid the Temptation to Pester: First off, there’s a big difference between pestering and asking relevant questions. For example, if a college says they will let you know when all of your application materials arrive and then you hear nothing, by all means, write them emails until you get a reply. But beyond that, avoid contacting admission counselors, especially if you think of something that would ‘enhance’ your application.
    • Your application is your one and only opportunity to shine. Sorry. That’s the way it is.

Final Thoughts

Demonstrated interest shows initiative and if done right, proves to a school that you’re committed. As long as you’re not annoying, whatever you do is sure to have a positive effect.

What Do You Do If Your Child Has Chosen a Career You Don’t Think Is Best For Them

My father wanted me to become a dental hygienist or a secretary. He thought he knew what was best for me. Those were different times and he was trying to be realistic. He attempted to steer me away from a career in the arts, but I wouldn’t hear of it.

I wonder now if I know what career is best for my kids? I watch them both closely and try to guide them towards their strengths. When my daughter said that she wanted to be a dancer I knew that was a bad idea. It’s so hard to become a professional dancer and you have to want it and nothing else. I knew she didn’t want it enough, but how was she to understand that? I spent a lifetime working with professional dancers and could see that only a few make it. Bursting that bubble was a tough thing to do. But I think she realizes now that she didn’t have what it takes. It’s confusing to her because she has the talent and sometimes questions her choice, but in the end, I think she gets it.

Right now my son wants to be an actor and everyone knows how hard that can be. So instead of suggesting another career I ask him questions like, are you sure you could study acting every day for four years in a conservatory school? After spending a month in acting school this summer he has an idea what that means and imagines wanting more out of his college experience. I also say things like, I can’t really see you waiting tables and going to auditions every day, which is the reality for an actor. He is starting to think of other jobs he could do that involve theater or film. He’s now thinking about set design and directing and dare I say it, writing.

A friend from high school wanted to be a doctor but learned during an internship that she faints at the sight of blood. She wound up writing medical text books. She managed to have a life in the medical field that she loved and earned advanced degrees but stayed away from scalpels. Not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer, but there are hundreds of careers that support those professions.

If your child is headed down a path that you don’t think is right for them, honor their interest in that profession. Research the various occupations in similar fields. Your child might say they want to go into marine biology, but what does that mean? There are thousands of jobs in marine biology. Instead of discouraging them, help them to find something specific in that field that matches their skills. Maybe they are good managers and can manage a marine biology team, or they could teach marine biology or even write about it.

My daughter just met the captain of her college surf team in the library studying physics. She asked him what he planned to do with his physics degree. He told her he wanted to design wave pools. How cool is that? He is taking his passion and knowledge of surfing and applying it to a real world job. That’s how we can help guide our kids. Help them find careers that combine their passions and skills.

What Do You Do If Your Child Is Not As Smart/Intellectual As You Are?

You have lived with your child for at least sixteen or seventeen years and by now you probably realize they are not the same as you. In many ways they are, but let’s face it, you are not clones. Now that they are about to apply to college navigating their journey will be different than how you navigated your own.

What if they are not as talented as you were, what if they aren’t as good at math as you were, what if generally they aren’t as smart as you are? These realities might be creeping up as you are looking at Harvard and they are looking at a local liberal arts school.

My advice is notice and embrace the differences between you and your child. You may have thrived in a city at their age, but you might have raised a home-body who loves fresh air and a chance to study under great oak trees.

This is their time to thrive and to shine and your time to support them. If their SAT’s are not as high as yours were, relish in what their accomplishments are. They are individuals and surely they have their own passions and strengths. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole, so don’t make them cram for that AP class if they just can’t handle the workload. Instead nurture their interest in community service or the school newspaper or a sport you never thought you’d want to play.

The differences you see in your child now will only become more prevalent once they go to college anyway. The doctor you thought you were raising might turn out to be afraid of blood. But maybe they discover a love for writing and end up becoming a medical text book editor or author.

Enjoy this time with your student and embrace your differences. The differences might be something that bring you closer together than ever before. And what do you have to lose? College is just around the corner.

Top 10 Colleges in New York

Interested in the top colleges in the state of New York? There are over 60 four year colleges to choose from in the state of New York.

MyKlovr has generated a list of the top 10 colleges in the state of New York.

 

1. Columbia University

Butler Library at Columbia University.

Location: New York, NY

Total Enrollment: 25,084

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Fun Facts

Columbia University was established in 1754.

The MGM Studio‘s Lion was inspired by Columbia’s Lion mascot.

 

2. Cornell University

Cornell University campus.

Location: Ithaca, NY

Total Enrollment: 22,319

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Fun Facts

Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865.

The chicken nugget was created at Cornell University by Robert C. Baker in the 1950s.

 

3. Colgate University

Colgate University hill panorama.

Location: Hamilton, NY

Total Enrollment: 2,890

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Fun Facts

Colgate University was founded in 1819.

The top three career fields of 2017 Colgate University graduates are Business/management, Communications/media, and Consulting.

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Barnard CollegeLiberal Arts2,588New York, NY17%Urban
5New York University University250,550New York, NY32%Urban
6Hamilton CollegeLiberal Arts1,879Clinton, NY26%Rural
7University of RochesterUniversity11,209Rochester, NY38%Suburban
8Vassar CollegeLiberal Arts2,424Poughkeepsie, NY27%Suburban
9Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtLiberal Arts964New York, NY13%Urban
10Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteUniversity7,442Troy, NY44%Suburban

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

4 Steps With myKlovr That Will Help You Write a Compelling College Application Essay

The changing landscape of college admissions

Technology has facilitated many aspects of our lives including college applications. With The Common Application platform, it has become easier than ever to apply to many colleges at the same time. In 2015, According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 36 percent of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more colleges, while 10 years earlier, this number was only 17 percent. What are the consequences of this increase in applications? College applicants can ‘cast their net wider’ and increase their odds of admission. On the other hand, college admissions officers have to review this ever-growing number of applications. The average number to be reviewed is as high as 850 applications per admissions counselor.

These changes pose new challenges for the high school seniors preparing their college applications. Transcripts, grades, and test scores remain very important, and nothing can compensate for poor academic performance. But when there are hundreds of applicants with similar academic results like your own, how can you increase the chances that an admissions officer chooses your application among many? A college application essay may be the answer.

The importance of the application essay

According to the research that we conducted in 2017, an application essay plays an important role in the candidate assessment process. In general, there are three types of essay topics:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Tell us why you have chosen to apply to our college.
  • Write a creative essay.

Colleges ask for essays to evaluate students’ writing skills and his or her ability to formulate a logical argument, as well as to learn more about them. This task helps to assess the student’s overall fit with the college, along with understanding how a student can contribute to the college’s community and culture. Last but not least, colleges want to see how well a candidate can complete a major piece of work that assignments like writing an essay constitute.

When working on your essay, you have to make sure that it is well structured and written, factually true, and meets all the formal criteria that a college expects to be met. But an essay is also an opportunity to tell your personal story, engage your reader: the admissions officer. It helps to make you stand out in a crowd of applicants. Just imagine how many essays an admissions counselor has to read. Do not fall into the ‘dull’ category.

At myKlovr, we propose that you take four steps to be better prepared to tell your own story.

1. Discover what makes you special

College admissions officers are not looking for personal essays that are biographies or full of dates and places. They are in search of young people who will be successful in college and will make great contributions to the school.

We believe that everyone is special, but not everyone has discovered what it is that makes them special.

The research that we conducted among college counselors and admissions officers revealed 12 personal qualities that are associated with college success. Six of them, which we call interpersonal, are related to how we interact with other people (e.g. collaboration, empathy, leadership), and the other six, intrapersonal, describe traits in themselves (e.g. enthusiasm, critical thinking, perseverance). In the Personal part of the myKlovr Student Portfolio, you will find a short assessment where we invite you to reflect on which of these character features define you as a person. It is a great idea to ask others for their feedback. Remember that your parents, friends, and teachers may see you differently than what you think.

The objective of the assessment is to help you identify what makes you special and which personal qualities can constitute the main thread of your own story. Do not expect to max out on every personal quality. This is unrealistic and perhaps not very helpful when you want to tell a unique and compelling personal story.

2. Don’t tell, prove it

Admissions officers are skeptical by nature. They need to be great listeners but equally, they need to read between the lines and to separate ‘the wheat from the chaff’. They will expect you not only to tell them how great of a candidate you are, but to prove it and convince them of this.

How do you do that? With facts. Your myKlovr Student Portfolio has a few sections where you can capture your experiences, roles, achievements and recognition that you were awarded. These parts are there so that when you are writing your essay, you can look there for evidence that endorses your story. Claiming that you have great leadership skills is one thing, but explaining how you organized a group of fellow students to clean up your neighborhood’s  animal shelter after it was flooded is quite something else.

Sometimes, it is hard to remember these events when you need them. Details may be difficult to recall. This is why we encourage you to include all these events in your Student Portfolio. You will not need to use them all, but a well selected, relevant story can give your essay a lot of credibility and make it a more memorably engaging read for an admissions officer.

3. Engage through storytelling

Everybody has heard about the power of storytelling. Human beings pay more attention and better remember stories than data. In fact, our ancestors accumulated and passed knowledge on from generation to generation via stories; think only of the ancient Greek mythology or the Bible.

Once you have chosen what personal qualities will provide the backbone for your own story, and selected the facts and events to substantiate them, it is time to articulate your story. The ‘About Me’ part of your myKlovr Student Portfolio is there specifically to help you put together, practice, and elaborate your story. Start writing it early and come back to change and improve it as often as you want. Invite other people to read it and offer you their advice. If you do that early enough, you will be less nervous in your senior year.

We also encourage you to produce a personal video. All it takes is a script that you can write yourself, a smartphone (plus a tripod if you want to be really fancy), and a free YouTube account. Why would you produce a video? Just think about an admissions officer who is reading through a pile of essays. Wouldn’t it be a welcome change for them to check out an applicant’s video and see a real human face? Your video (must be under 2 minutes or otherwise few people will watch it) gives you an opportunity to connect with an admissions counselor, tell your story, convey your emotions, and ultimately be remembered.

4. Share your vision

Colleges look into their applicants’ pasts, but also assess their future students’ and graduates’ chances. Once a college admits you, they really want you to do well and graduate successfully. They care because a graduation rate. It is an important indicator that affects a school’s reputation.

Admissions officers would like to know what your vision of your future is so that they can assess if their college is the right place for you to achieve your goals. If you love animals and want to become a veterinarian, and they do not offer a relevant major, there would be high likelihood that you’d not be happy at their college and transfer to another one – something that colleges do not like.

In your myKlovr Student Portfolio, we have included a section entitled ‘Statement of Purpose’. We invite you to write about your future here. What do you want to achieve in life? How do you want to get there? What is a college of your dreams? What majors are you excited about? These reflections are important for two reasons. First, they will help you formulate your expectations, and secondly, you will be much better prepared to choose a college that is right for you. Moreover, you will be able to convincingly explain to an admissions officer why you are applying to their college and how you expect it to help you achieve your life’s destination.

Nobody can write your college application essay for you better than you will because an authentic and emotionally engaging essay has to come from a true source.

Overcoming College Admissions Terrors

Boo!

Didn’t mean to scare you, but I couldn’t help myself. Halloween is a day of scares, frights, terrors, and most importantly, candy. For high school upperclassmen, Halloween is scary, too, but for different reasons. Instead of ghouls or zombies, this holiday brings another horror: the kickoff of college admissions season.

Boo?

Yes, college admissions can be terrifying, especially in the final weeks leading up to application deadlines. Though you may feel fine now, the pressure will mount as the days count down. Even if you are a high school junior, this time of year includes added stress, as upcoming midterms will have a significant effect on your all-important junior year GPA.

In this article, I want to take a little bit of the terror out of the holiday, giving you the chance to enjoy that sweet, sweet leftover candy.

College Admissions Stressors: A Review

College admissions come with a lot of stressors. Before we get to the solutions, let’s review the problems:

  • Tight Deadlines: There are many of deadlines and important dates related to the college admissions process. To add insult to injury, rarely are two important dates on the same day. This deadline jumble can lead to feeling stress over an extended amount of time, which causes the same mental exhaustion as having many big deadlines on the same day.
  • Family Expectations: Halloween, and the holidays that follow, will put you into contact with members of your extended family. If you are a high school upperclassman, they will barrage you with questions about your plans. These questions, though innocent, can make your stress levels skyrocket.
  • Grades: If you’re a high school junior, you don’t have to worry about applying to college just yet. Even so, midterms are fast approaching, the results of which will significantly influence your junior year GPA. College admissions counselors closely examine applicants’ junior year performance when making their decisions.

Now that we’ve covered the terrors, let’s talk solutions!

Beating the College Admissions Terror

Though your first response may be to calm yourself with copious amounts of candy, I’d recommend against it. Besides causing stomachaches, candy does not help solve your stress’ underlying causes. Let’s look at a few ways that do:

  1. Organize and Track Your Deadlines: Whether on an app or an old-fashioned calendar, write down all of your upcoming deadlines between now and your final application deadline. Not only will seeing the deadlines give you a sense of perspective, but you will also feel great each time you mark one off the list.
  2. Create a Midterm Study Plan: Even if you are a high school senior, it’s still important to study for (and do well on) midterms. Though rare, some colleges do rescind acceptances if a student’s senior year grades falter. Once you know your deadlines, find time in the two weeks leading up to midterms to study for these crucial tests. It may be a tight squeeze, but the sooner you start planning, the more time you will find.
  3. Stay Physically Active: A lot of eating happens this time of year, and though food may bring some temporary comfort, a lot of sugar and fat can make you feel unwell. You need to be at your best, so make sure to exercise at least three times a week. You’ll keep off some of the holiday pounds, sleep better, and feel healthier overall.
  4. Set Aside Some ‘You’ Time: It’s easy to lose yourself in tests, applications, grades, and everything else going on this time of year. That’s why it’s important to take some time just for you. Do something you enjoy!

Final Thoughts

Halloween should be a time of scares rather than worry. By applying my tips and tricks, you should feel better about the weeks ahead, leaving you some breathing room to enjoy the holidays.

Now please pass the bag of individually wrapped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Charting Your Educational Path

Today is Columbus Day, and if you have the day off from school, good for you. A lot of high school students don’t, so enjoy your free day. But since you have some time on your hands, let’s talk Columbus, or more specifically, his first journey 525 years ago. Columbus, despite all his promises to the Spanish monarchy, had little to no idea what was he was doing when he set sail. In fact, if the winds hadn’t been favorable, he and the crews of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria would never have made it back home.

Columbus was unsure about a lot of things.

I bet you’re unsure about what this year of high school will bring. Thoughts of college convey the same sense of trepidation, only magnified. Like Columbus, will you make it there? And even when you ‘arrive,’ will your destination be the one you intended? So on this Columbus Day, let’s examine your educational path. Our goal will be to help you create the outline of a map charting your journey to college.

After all, I bet Columbus sure wished he had a map in 1492.

Step One: Determine Where You Are

You can’t figure out where you’re going unless you know where you are. That means sitting down to evaluate everything that makes you, well, you. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What are my interests and passions?
  • What is one thing that makes me unique?
  • If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be?
  • If I could not take one subject in school, what would it be?
  • How have I performed academically in high school so far?
  • Am I enjoying my extracurricular activities?
  • Am I taking an active role in my community?

The answers to these questions will help you create a small, personalized student profile. You’ll have to face a few hard truths, but there will undoubtedly be reasons to pat yourself on the back, as well. No matter what you discover about yourself, you will have taken the first step of your educational path.

Step Two: Decide Where You Want to Go

Deciding to go to college is a big step, but after that, you have to find your dream school. With literally thousands of options, the choices can feel overwhelming. If you’re going to ‘set sail’ for college, you must pick a direction.

By completing step one, you already have a powerful tool at your disposal. For example, by identifying your likes and dislikes, you can write off many colleges due to their course offerings or campus culture. Your academic performance plays another significant role. If you’re a junior who has struggled academically, it’s doubtful that an Ivy League or ultra-competitive school will accept you.

The point is that you’re looking for a college that works not for your parents, not for your peers, but for you. And since applying to college is competitive just about everywhere, you need to choose 4-6 possible colleges where you would be perfectly happy. Make sure your list has the following:

  • One reach school (<20% chance of admittance)
  • Two to three maybe schools (40-70% chance of admittance)
  • One safety school (>90% chance of admittance)

In short, cover your bases. To get you started, here are some key self-reflection questions:

  • Which colleges offer majors in the subjects in which I’m interested?
    • Are these programs well-respected? What are current and former students saying? Where do graduates end up working or go on to graduate school?
  • Do I want to stay close to home or explore a new part of the country?
    • This may seem like a trivial question, but your future school’s location will have a large impact on your life outside the classroom.
  • Why do I like ‘College A’ over all the others?
    • Self-reflection can help you identify other colleges similar to the one you prefer the most.

Step Three: Chart a Course

So you know where you’re going. That’s great! Don’t know how to get there? That’s okay! We’ll figure it out together.

Get out your list of potential colleges and universities. For the moment, ignore the ‘maybe’ and ‘safety’ schools. To chart your educational path, we’re aiming for the top of the list. Everything you do from here on out will make you attractive candidate to that one school.

Why shoot for the moon? Easy. Even if you don’t make it into your top-choice school, you will make yourself the best applicant you can be to all the schools to which you will apply.

Let’s dive into our final set of questions to help you chart your course:

  • Are my standardized test scores comparable to what this college expects of its applicants?
    • If not, how can I improve my scores?
  • Are my classes challenging me?
    • Colleges love applicants who take rigorous courses. (I cannot overstate this enough.)
  • How can I set myself apart from thousands of other applicants?
    • For example, if your dream college promotes community service, you can set yourself apart in your application by promoting the community service you performed in high school. (e.g., Make it the topic of your personal essay. Write about how you went above and beyond!)

Final Thoughts

Well, loyal readers, I hope I’ve given you some tools to help you start your academic journey to college. There’s a lot to do, so don’t be shy about going to your parents, teachers, and college counselors for advice or help. Yes, adults are very busy, but the one’s who offer their help will have the best advice.

Finally, may calm seas and good winds bless your journey.

Back to Top