Senioritis

Senioritis

Article published in the College Board

Do your seniors know that slacking off during the spring semester or after being accepted to college may jeopardize their future plans? Every year, colleges rescind offers of admission, put students on academic probation, or alter financial aid packages as a result of “senioritis.” How can you help prevent this common syndrome?

Colleges may reserve the right to deny admission to an accepted applicant should the student’s senior-year grades drop. (Many college acceptance letters now explicitly state this.) Admission officers can ask a student to explain a drop in grades and can revoke an offer of admission if not satisfied with the response.

And because the colleges do not receive final grades until June or July, students may not learn of a revoked admission until July or August, after they’ve given up spots at other colleges and have few options left.

What colleges expect

Colleges see both a midyear grade report and a final (year-end) transcript and they expect students to maintain previous levels of academic success.

Colleges expect seniors to complete courses they enrolled in, including high-level courses. Many college applications ask applicants to list senior-year courses, with information about course levels and credit hours. College admission officers are interested in academic commitment and course completion.

According to an article in The New York Times*:

  • The University of Colorado Boulder rescinded admission for 45 of its accepted students, 10 of whom had already attended freshman orientation, selected classes or met roommates.
  • The University of Michigan sent out three different letters to its incoming freshmen with poor final grades: 62 issuing gentle warnings, 180 requesting an explanation and nine revoking admission.
  • Twenty-three would-be freshmen found themselves without a college when the University of Washington revoked their acceptances during the summer because of poor final grades.

Tips for keeping seniors on track

One way to prevent senioritis is to ensure that students remain excited, active, and focused throughout their senior year.

Challenge your seniors to:

  • Enjoy their senior experience — responsibly. Encourage them to celebrate the last year of school. They may enjoy cheering at football games, going to the prom, attending graduation festivities, and participating in clubs, sports, and volunteer work.
  • Commit to an internship or career-focused job. This can help them make informed decisions about their education and career goals. Or they can try out college early by taking a class at a local college in a subject that interests them or in which they excel.
  • Keep a calendar of their activities and deadlines. This includes tests, college applications, senior-year events and extracurriculars. Caution them not to overextend themselves.

Challenging your students in these ways will not only inoculate them against senioritis, but will leave them in a stronger position to transition from high school and face the rigors of college.

*Laura Pappano, “Slackers, Beware,” The New York Times, April 22, 2007.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR CHANCES FOR ADMISSIONS?

HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR CHANCES FOR ADMISSIONS?

How competitive for admissions will you be at a given school? This is based on several factors. Some factors are more objectively measurable in the college applications process than others. The easily measured factors include:

  • Your GPA
  • The quality (rigor) of your course schedule
  • Your test scores on ACT, SAT, Subject Tests, and APs.

Less measurable, but equally important in your college application process are:

  • Your resume of activities, work, and other experiences
  • Contributions you made to your community
  • Your love of learning
  • Your life’s experiences
Using Measurable Factors

Check admissions data for each college on your list. Look at the range of SAT or ACT scores and GPAs. Your test scores will put you in one of three zones for the college: green, yellow or red.

What puts a school in your GREEN zone?
  • your test scores are in the top 25% of students
  • the college has acceptance rates of 60-100%
What puts a school in your YELLOW zone?
  • your test scores are in the mid 50% range, along with most other students
  • the college has an acceptance rate of 20-60%
What puts a school in your RED zone?
  • your test scores are lower than the average scores at the college
  • the college has a low acceptance rate (typically under 20%)
The big question: How many schools should you have in each zone?
  • 2-4 in the GREEN zone. These are your SURE BETS or SAFETY colleges. For schools in this zone, you can often expect to receive merit scholarship awards.
  • 3-5 in the YELLOW zone. These are your EXPECTED or TARGET colleges. A majority of your college list should be in this zone. It is your sweet spot for college admissions.
  • 1-3 in the RED zone. These are your REACH colleges. This is where immeasurable factors can be very influential.

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Weil College Advising, LLC

info@weilcollegeadvising.com

Activities during Lockdown (part 2)

Activities during Lockdown (part 2)

()Their lives may be sooooooooo over but there are plenty of things teens can do to keep themselves occupied, and even some that might allow their parents to spend precious time with them (which is a bonus, as we all know teenagers don’t want to hang out with their mom and dad!) Read on for some ideas I found amongst parents of teens and tweens.

Take an online photography course: Now is the time to learn a new skill, and surprisingly there are tons of photography courses online. Ideally, they’ll need a DSLR camera – luckily that’s one thing that hasn’t sold out on Amazon – but there are also courses in smartphone photography that focus on capturing interesting angles and concepts, and using natural light.

Learn to touch type: Have you seen how kids type? That two-finger jab thing they do on the keyboard (or worse still, the iPad stabbing that makes me want to layer 72 screen protectors on their devices). Learning to touch type will speed up their essay work too, so they’ll stop claiming carpal tunnel syndrome as an excuse to avoid their English and History homework. Disclaimer: this may not improve the quality of their writing… 

Enrol in Stage School: It might sound strange but lockdown is the perfect time to start acting classes. Stage Academy is an established performing arts school, like everyone else has had to temporarily stop live classes. But they’ve put together online versions that are so good they actually stand alone as a way of taking drama lessons on an ongoing basis. 

Build a website: Why not learn to code? Code Academy offers free coding classes online. You could build your first e-commerce site, or start a blog!

Create an Anime: If your teenager is into graphic design,  Anime is a good way to use time and learn a new skill.

Start a podcast: If your teenager fancies having a YouTube channel but is too shy to put themself out there a podcast might be a good alternative. It’s super easy to get started, and podcasting is really taking off right now. There are lots of podcast hosting platforms, and most of them have really good idiot guides to explain how to do it. Podcast.co allows you to download a pretty comprehensive guide with no obligation to sign up. Only once you have a recording you want to put on the podcasting apps do you need to pay for an account. If you’ve never listened to a podcast, here’s mine – Teenage Kicks, a mental health podcast aimed at teens and their parents.

Cook dinner: I’ve seen lots of parents say their teenagers are taking it in turns to cook dinner, and now is a perfect time. I’m such a control freak in the kitchen that I’ve never handed that task over to my kids, but they need to learn to cook more than beans before they leave home. I’m going to start easy with baked potatoes and build up my nerve from there! Similarly, kids need to know how to budget and plan food for the week, so hand in hand with cooking, I’m going to ask mine to make a meal plan together. This will either result in a huge row, or us eating ravioli for an entire week.

Wash the car: It can be a fun (and lucrative) idea!

Learn car maintenance: change the oil and water, and change a tire.

We are full of ideas for teens. Contact us for more!

The Weil College Advising Team

Info@weilcollegeadvising.com

Latest questions from parents

Latest questions from parents

What is the CSS Profile, and why do colleges need it in addition to FAFSA?

The CSS Profile is an online application that collects information used by nearly 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award non-federal aid. (For federal aid, you must complete the FAFSA, available Oct. 1 at fafsa.ed.gov.) Some colleges may require the CSS Profile from both biological/adoptive parents in cases of divorce or separation. 

Why do some colleges require two forms? FAFSA will provide information based on the latest tax returns filed by the family. The CSS offers valuable information to the financial aid office to accurately evaluate the family’s financial information. Expenses like trips, home renovations, cars, second homes, and the projected expenses for the upcoming year will all be recorded in the CSS profile. Look up the college’s deadline to present financial aid information (on the website’s financial aid page). The CSS profile “lives” in the College Board website.

How many colleges would you recommend on a college list?

My students usually apply to 9 or 10 colleges. I say “usually” because some students apply to uber-competitive programs (Conservatories, for example), and their list will be longer. It is very important that the college list is:

  1. Balanced! We want reaches (20-25% chance), targets (50%), and likelies (70-75%) for that student. Note that this is not based on the admission rate but rather on the student we are working with.
  2. A good fit for the student. Every college on that list should be a place where the student will be happy and thrive academically and socially. It should be a financial fit too…
  3. Based on the criteria of the student and the family. Some of the variables to consider are location, size, type of curriculum, access to professors, special programs, research opportunities, alumni network, and about 50 other variables!

How do I decide on a college if I have never been able to visit?

Colleges had an online presence pre-COVID. However, since March of 2020, colleges have had to find ways to explain (and differentiate!) themselves to prospective students. Hence, we now have various videos, interactive sessions, and recordings from students to “visit” almost any college campus online. When I work with students on their college list, I teach them to “read between the lines” on these websites to understand the colleges’ values and mission. For example: how are the academic programs structured, are majors interdisciplinary? Do students seem to study across different schools? Are volunteering and social action a big part of student life? What are the demographics like on campus? Besides, we look at blogs and testimonials from current students or recent graduates and often make connections with those who have first-hand experience with the college. They are the best source of information!

More questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

1.914.723.8080

info@weilcollegeadvising.com

Run YOUR Race

Run YOUR Race

Run YOUR Race

by Rick Clark

I went for a run in the woods the other day. I do that a lot this time of year. Last weekend it was a 15-mile trail race in North Georgia. In early December, I’ll go 19 miles through the rolling pines near Warm Springs, GA, where FDR famously spent time. Late fall and winter is a busy time in college admission, so multi-hour runs are a catharsis of sorts.

On a particularly long and isolated stretch of forest last week, I began thinking about a conversation I’d just had with a friend whose daughter is a high school senior. He called me because they were arguing about her applications- mainly where she should apply and if she’d applied to “enough” colleges. “So, what would you tell her?”

I said I would think about it. And so somewhere around mile eight, that’s exactly what I was doing. Ironically, the more I ran, the more I realized how much trail running and college admission have in common. I also realized there was not much to “tell” – but definitely a lot to hope for.

So, seniors, as you run YOUR race this year- as you work on applications, await and receive admission decisions, and head into your final holiday breaks before heading to college, here are my TOP 5 hopes for you:

  1. That you will not be overly influenced by the opinions or experiences of others. Remain true to yourself and your unique and deeply personal college admission experience. Listen. In races you see some runners go out quickly. They charge up the hill or around the corner. That is not wrong, but it may not be your style or best approach. Maybe you did not have an Early Decision school that you felt 100% sure about and now you are questioning if you did something wrong by not applying under that plan. Maybe a few friends have already been admitted to college and you are still waiting on decisions or working on essays for other applications. Maybe you look around and believe everyone else knows where they want to go and you are still unsure and open. My friend, that is absolutely fine. Perfectly normal. You are not alone. Ultimately, your goal is to find a college campus where you can thrive both academically and socially. Pace of getting there will naturally vary. Keep the end in mind.

    People will use the word “process” when they talk about college admission. This makes it seem like it’s a one-size-fits-all equation or formula, or that there is a specific way that leads to a predictable conclusion. That is a bunch of crap. Reject that. This is an experience. You have choices, options, and there will be inevitable turns and twists along the way. Run YOUR race. The beauty of trail running, in my opinion, is that you have to make decisions and keep your head up to look for blazes on the trees or signs in the woods. Unlike a road race where everything is clearly marked, train running requires more thought and decision-making. The same is true for college admission. If you are doing this right, you won’t do it the same as your brother or best friend or the way you read it online in some guide. Keep your head clear and be confident. Run YOUR race.

  2. Enjoy your one and only senior year. Anytime you only have one of something it’s precious and should be treated and cared for as such. Enjoy your year. Don’t rush it or wish it away, because it will go fast enough on its own. Look around you in class or in the hallways or in the cafeteria next week. These people you have grown to know and love- and who also know and love you– will not be with you on a daily basis next year. Don’t take that for granted. Be proactive and give them a hug and tell them you appreciate them. Be specific about why they’re awesome. Make time for these people. You’ll never just have it.
  3. Be a light. Encourage people around you and help them. This is not going to help you get into college, but it is exactly the kind of person colleges are looking for. One thing I love about trail running is when someone misses a blaze and goes off track, other runners call to them. If a front runner sees a rock or a root or a branch, they call out or point to those obstacles and possible hazards. No matter what anyone tells you college admission it is not a zero-sum game. On almost every admissions panel I’m on someone in the audience will raise their hand and ask, “So if you have two applicants with the same GPA and same test scores, which one do you take?” In reality that’s not how it works.

    I’ve often heard from high school teachers or counselors about students who won’t help others study for tests or share notes from class, because they’re afraid that will give their classmate a leg up. We’ve read essays about top students vying to be valedictorian who compete so ruthlessly academically they sacrifice their friendship. If thoughts like that are going through your head this year, I am imploring you to see the bigger picture. Helping others, sharing what you know, encouraging and facilitating the success of friends, classmates, teammates, colleagues is a life skill that will take you much further than the distinction of being valedictorian or getting into a specific school.

    If you’ve been the subject of this type of behavior, I’ll simply quote the prophet Taylor Swift and say, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate…” They may end up with a specific title or offer of acceptance, but long-term that type of behavior, character, and approach ends up empty and often alone.

  4. Celebrate every offer of admission. I get that some of you go to “college preparatory” schools or take Dual Enrollment classes. I understand that you’ve taken more Advanced Placement classes than I have hairs left on my head. In your family or school or community, it may be a foregone conclusion that you’ll go to college, but that is not really what the world looks like. Did you know that less than 40% of Americans hold a bachelor’s degree, and worldwide that number is less than 10%? Keep this in mind when you receive an offer of admission. It is not “Just the University of X…” No. No!! It is “I was admitted to the University of X!”
    This is an opportunity and a choice. This is what you wanted from the beginning- options, choices, and offers. Congratulations! Celebrate every win. Go to dinner, buy yourself something. You do you. But promise me you’ll celebrate—and also thank those around you who have made your achievements possible.
  5. Tell your parents/family/support network THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU! I am always amazed when I get to the end of a long trail race and see how many family members are there with signs, food, smiles, and hugs. People drive long distances and wait patiently for hours (often in crappy weather) for runners to arrive at the finish line.

    That teacher who wrote your recs or helped you prep for exams; that coach or club sponsor or boss who gave you opportunities, challenged you, and encouraged your best— that’s who I’m talking about. Write them a note, give them a high five, send them a text. Be sure you let them know you appreciate them, their time, & their part in your success. They don’t expect thanks, but they deserve it. If you are a senior, this is your job.

    And for your family- whatever instrument or sport you play well now used to be very painful to watch and listen to. Still, they kept driving you, encouraging you, paying for lessons or practice or competitions, etc.

Not convinced? Go open up the cabinets in your kitchen. Pull out any bowl or plate. Then ask your mom, dad, or whomever has raised you how many times they washed that or filled it with food. Think about five years ago when you were twelve or thirteen. Seems like a long time ago, right? Well, for the first five years of your life (time you basically have no recollection of), they fed you, clothed you, rocked you, nursed you, sang to you, woke up in the middle of the night worrying about you. They may not be able to physically still hold you the way they did then, but they are still doing absolutely everything they can to lift you up and support you now. Does that love look kind of crazy at times? Absolutely. Love is weird like that. What can I say? Nothing. What can you say? “THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU!” Make an effort to say that weekly from now until you graduate.

Along the trail in a race, there are all kinds of variables: hills, rocks, roots, creeks, downed limbs, changing temperatures, rain, wind, snow, blazing heat, major elevation changes. You have to adapt and adjust. It’s unpredictable- and college admission is the same. So while I can’t promise or predict exactly where you’ll start in college next year, I can guarantee that if these hopes come true, you’ll finish this year well- and that is a race worth running.

Love this article by Georgia Tech’s head of admissions, Rick Clark!

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.