Application Stress?

Application Stress?

Applying to colleges can be a stressful process under the best circumstances.  In 2020, with the education system turned on its ear, the admission process might seem near impossible.  Standardized tests are canceled for the spring, high schools are closed changing the dynamics of grades and extracurriculars, and colleges are shifting application requirements.  From week to week, it can be hard to keep track of the changes.  So, what’s a high school junior to do?   

Focus on what you can control.  Minimize your stress by focusing on the parts of the application process that you can affect.  Here are some suggestions of things you can do now for your college applications.     

  1. Start your Common App Essay.  Haven’t started any college essays? Now is a great time.  Look at the Common App essay topics – the personal statement has a choice of 7 prompts.  Or look at the schools you are considering to find out if they require additional essays.  You can view the essay requirements on the college profile in GuidedPath.        
  2. Register for Senior Year Classes.  We may not know what fall will bring in terms of in-person school.  However, you want to have a challenging senior year schedule regardless.  Your senior schedule may be doubly important if your school adopted pass/fail grades for this year.   
  3. Study for Standardized Tests.  Although spring SAT and ACT dates were canceled, and many colleges have adopted test-optional policies,  odds are you may still need to take the SAT or ACT.  ACT is planning to offer tests in June and July, while the earliest SAT is schedule for August.  Use this summer to do extra test prep especially if you will only be able to take the test one time.    

Although it may feel like the admission process for the coming fall will be anything but normal, trust that colleges and admission officers are still looking for the same qualities – good students and good citizens.  Getting a head start on parts of your college application will allow you to be more adaptable this fall as the process continues to develop.    

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Admissions, LLC

What’s with the Location of a College?

What’s with the Location of a College?

How do you describe where you live?  City?  Suburb?  Country?  What aspects of your current location do you like or not like – and how far are you willing to go from home?  As you explore colleges, one thing to consider is the location of the college.  Location can make a significant impact on your college experience.  Think about where you want to go to school.   

Here are the terms and definitions used in college “locations”: 

  • Major City: Population 300,000 or more: or within a 25-mile radius of a metro area. 
  • Small-Medium City: Population 75,000-299,999 or within 15 to 25 miles of a metro area. 
  • Large Town: Population 25,000-74,999 or within 10mile radius of a large town. 
  • Small Town: Population 5,000-24,999 or within 5mile radius of a small town. 
  • Rural: Population under 5,000, in or near a rural community. 

Things to consider related to location: 

  • Distance from home 
  • Nearest airport
  • Nearest large city 
  • Nearest outdoor experiences (beach, mountains, etc.)
  • Popular student gathering places on campus
  • Popular student gathering places off campus 
  • Nearest tourist attractions
  • Movies, shopping, restaurants, or other entertainment nearby
  • Employment/Internship opportunities
  • Your faith communityon or off-campus

Be sure to explore all the options.  View the college website for virtual tours.  Check for info on the surrounding community   Most importantly, look it up on a map. 

Take Action: Check your resources!

  • How many freshmen live on campus? 
  • Fiske Social Rating 
  • Fiske Quality Rating

 

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC.

Juniors: Re-focus!

Juniors: Re-focus!

People around the world are adapting to a new normal.  Businesses are reinventing themselves, restaurants are offering delivery and takeout options, television news and late-night shows are broadcasting from home, and colleges and schools across the US have adopted online learning formats.  Now that you may be settling in to a different routine, it’s time to refocus your efforts and adopt some new strategies regarding college admission.   

Keep Your Grades Up 

Many colleges have announced that they will waive the SAT/ACT requirements for Fall 2021 applications.  Some are also discussing how to view junior year grades given the abrupt change to online learning and some schools adopting pass/fail grading.  Although it’s impossible to predict how every college will review their applications, maintaining a high GPA is the best advice.  Check in with your teachers, ask for help, focus on doing your best with what’s asked of you. Having consistently strong grades or even an upward trend can only benefit you in the application process.  

Study for AP Exams 

The CollegeBoard announced that both the May and June SAT dates have been canceled.  This means you can stop thinking about the SAT for now.  Instead, focus your efforts on studying for any AP exams you may have.  AP exams will be given online meaning that you may want to prepare for the test a bit differently.  CollegeBoard has a list of helpful tips in preparing for an online, open-book/open notes exam format.  Acing your AP exams is another way to show colleges your academic chops and potentially earn college credit saving yourself money and time in the future.           

Consider Virtual Volunteering or other Self-driven Extracurriculars 

With most school extracurriculars canceled, it’s time to rethink your activity list.  There are countless creative ways to demonstrate your skills or interests to a college.  Jodi Glou, another independent college consultant, compiled a great list of virtual volunteering opportunities.  Virtual volunteering is a great alternative to canceled summer plans and also an opportunity to use your skills to benefit organizations that may no longer have the in-person staff or funding to accomplish their mission.   

Take Action 

Don’t stress!  Andrew Palumbo, dean of admissions and financial aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass, wrote an open letter to high school juniors this week.  While he admits that there is a lot to worry about right now, he says grades and SAT scores shouldn’t be on that list.  His message to students: “We’ll figure it out together.”   

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Advising. LLC

AP’s: New Format for 2020

AP’s: New Format for 2020

Worried about your upcoming AP tests or final exams?  In a normal year these exams can be anxiety-producing, but this year that may be particularly true.  AP exams will now be offered in an online, open-note/open-book format.  And as schools continue to cancel in-person classes for the rest of the year, you may find yourself taking more online or modified final exams.    

With all the information available to you, an online, open-book exam should be easy right?  Surprisingly, that may not be the case.  Open book/open note exams usually push students to synthesize responses that demonstrate comprehension rather than just regurgitating facts.  You should expect questions that may ask you to apply concepts in new ways.  The CollegeBoard has put together a list of tips for preparing for online exams.  Ultimately, knowing the material and having organized notes/resources will be your best strategy.  This means you should continue to devote study time to your AP exams just as you would if you were taking them in person.      

Thinking about scrapping the AP exams altogether?  You are not required by the CollegeBoard to take the AP exam (although your high school may have different policies around this).  The main incentive for taking the exam is the possibility of college credit.  While many colleges are adopting test-optional policies for admission, most have said that they will still award AP credit the same way they have in the past.  CollegeBoard has said that the AP exams will test content covered through early March.  You’ve already done the work for the exam; you just need to refine your skills.        

Take Action 

Find more tips and resources for preparing for AP exams on the CollegeBoard website.  You can apply these study tips to high school finals as well as future college exams.      

Seniors: Final Decisions During Covid-19

Seniors: Final Decisions During Covid-19

May 1 is traditionally National College Decision Day.  Typically, schools require that students choose where they will enroll by submitting an enrollment deposit on or before May 1.  That makes April – decision time.  Of course, this year things are feeling very different.  A large number of colleges have already extended their enrollment deadlines to June 1.  Making a college choice right now may feel difficult (or easy depending on where you were in the process).  Regardless, you might be asking yourself some of the questions below.

Can I ask for an extension? 

Of course!  It doesn’t hurt to ask.  Although the college may still have a May 1 deadline, many have said they will make extensions on a case by case basis.  You could be waiting on a financial aid appeal, or for more information from one college that would affect your decision at another.  Make your case requesting an enrollment deadline extension in writing to the admissions office.

What if I’m on the waitlist? 

Unfortunately for many students, it seems like colleges are sending lots of waitlist offers this year.  Forgive the sports metaphor – colleges want a deep bench in case their freshman enrollment numbers don’t play out the way they typically do.  Waitlist updates could continue throughout the summer.  As with every year, it’s best to send an enrollment deposit to a second-choice college that has admitted you even if you are on the waitlist at your first-choice.  There is no way to know if you will get accepted from the waitlist.

Maybe I should do a gap year? 

It’s possible – if you truly feel that’s in your best interest and you have a plan.  However, this may not be the best choice if you weren’t already considering this before the pandemic.  Most colleges defer enrollment for only a small number of students and they usually consider those requests on a case by case basis.  You should have solid answers for these three questions:  1) why do you want to take a gap year; 2) how will you spend your time; and 3) what will you learn from your experience?

My school is not open, I haven’t talked to my counselor, what about my final transcript?

Colleges understand that these are exceptional circumstances.  No one in education has ever experienced a disruption of quite this level.  Although colleges require your final high school transcript as a proof of graduation (and most also review your final high school grades), allowances will surely be made to get those transcripts submitted.

We are doing online learning – they say our grades will be pass/fail.  

Again, colleges are going to be making way for a lot of exceptions.  Don’t panic about final grades not looking like they normally would.  High schools across the country are doing their best in this unprecedented situation.  Colleges understand that.  Whether it’s sending unofficial documents via email, or extending the deadline, or waiving final grade requirements – submitting final enrollment paperwork may look differently this year.  The same will likely be true for orientation, housing contracts, and registration.

Take Action

The best advice for now is to stay informed.  Visit the admitted student websites (often) for the colleges you are considering, attend any online enrollment events, and read all of the email communication you receive from colleges!  Be in touch with your advisor (and your high school counselor) as they may have updates about changes to deadlines or policies.  And finally, NACAC is providing this online resource to students and families as a centralized place where you can check for updates on all your schools.

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC

info@weilcollegeadvising.com

College Applications During Covid-19

College Applications During Covid-19

The ripple effects of COVID-19 are just starting to make their impacts.  It’s safe to say that the coronavirus has upended the college admission process for the coming year.  You probably have a lot of questions and colleges are just starting to make adjustments to their admission process for next year.  Here are some of the topics that students and colleges are grappling with:

I was going to take the May SAT but it is canceled. 

CollegeBoard and ACT have been monitoring the pandemic in an attempt to provide students with options.  Currently the June 6 SAT is still scheduled.  ACT has tests scheduled for June 13 (rescheduled from April) and July 18.  However, it’s true that you may only have one opportunity to take the test.  As a result, many colleges have announced they are going to be test optional (at least for the 2020-2021 application year).  FairTest has a list of test optional schools and schools that will be temporarily test optional.

All of my activities are canceled for spring – what should I put on my activity list? 

Colleges understand – no sports, no spring performances, no student council or volunteer hours.  Your activity list may look a bit different than what you had planned.  Maybe it will include all the books you read while staying at home, a new language you taught yourself on Duolingo, or the tech support you offered your grandmother so you could all keep in touch.  If necessity is the mother of invention, maybe boredom is the mother of creativity.  Time to get creative.

We are doing online learning – they say our grades will be pass/fail.  

Colleges are going to be making a lot of adjustments to the way they consider applications.  Don’t panic about your grades not looking like they normally would.  High schools across the country are doing their best in this unprecedented situation.  Many colleges are doing the same for their own students – offering them the option to have pass/fail grades.  They will be understanding of whatever your school decided for grading.

I think COVID-19 will make a great essay topic. 

It’s possible that the pandemic has changed your school/life experience in dramatic ways.  It would be natural to think this would make a perfect college essay.  But don’t forget, many students are sharing this same experience. You want your college essay to stand out, attract attention, or be remembered by the admission staff.  Consider whether your experience or perspective is unique.  You don’t want to be just another coronavirus essay…

What about college visits? 

Many juniors were planning college tours for spring break and those in person tours were likely canceled.  However, there are still plenty of opportunities to get to know a college.  Take an online tour, attend a virtual admission events, chat with student tour guides, follow a school on Instagram and comment on a post.  Not only does this help you gather information, but colleges also track these online connections as part of “demonstrated interest.”  Some colleges consider demonstrated interest in the admission process.  Hopefully, in person visits will resume in the fall.

Take Action

The best advice as always is to stay informed.  Visit the websites for the colleges you are considering to find updates on admission policies and requirements and be in touch with us about changes to your upcoming applications.  NACAC is providing this online resource to students and families as a centralized place where you can check for updates on all your schools.

Latest News! By popular demand I am offering a free zoominar on this topic Tuesday, April 21 at 5 pm.  To participate, register at:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83585934825?pwd=WEt4YXROOFI3QmdxWTYrU3RkaGswUT09

Meeting ID: 835 8593 4825

Password: 093434

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC