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

Senior Checklist

Senior Checklist

Senior Checklist

You are almost there!  What are your next steps? 

  • Finish strong!  Strive to finish the year with your best work.  We all know that the past weeks have been a challenge and online school is wearing on many people.  But honor the hard work you put into the year by finishing the last few days or weeks as the best student you can be.   
  • Check in with your college – often.  Situations at many universities are very fluid as administrators are trying to anticipate what the fall will bring.  No doubt you are getting updates via the student portal or by email but be sure to stay on top of changing information.  This may include updates for housing, orientation, registration, etc.  
  • Schedule new student orientation.  Many colleges may be making arrangements to move orientations to an online format for this summer – or delaying orientation until just before the fall semester.  Whatever the circumstance, you don’t want to miss it.  Orientation usually includes valuable advising information and will often be when you register for classes.   
  • Schedule placement tests.  Some colleges require you to take Math and/or other placement tests.  Find out the requirements and be sure to get it completed.  Sometimes your SAT, ACT, or AP scores will suffice, and you will not need to take a test.  If you have questions about placement test requirements, contact the college. 
  • Say thank you.  Tell teachers, counselor, coaches and others that have helped you, “Thank you”.  Give special thanks and appreciation to parents and family for support. 
  • Make summer meaningful.  Plan to work, improve your study skills, learn something new, or spend time (whether online or in person) with friends and family this summer.  Save any money you earn for when you start college in the fall. 
  • Get a physical.  You may need vaccine boosters or a physical exam from the doctor before beginning the fall semester.  Check with the college to understand their requirements.   

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC

Summer Plans for High Schools Students: Volunteer Opportunities

Summer Plans for High Schools Students: Volunteer Opportunities

A resource for volunteer ideas while maintaining social distance. The last few ideas are virtual activities that are not volunteer.

  1. Assisting the elderly with buying groceries. Students could organize this through neighborhood associations, churches/mosques, synagogues, other service associations, such as The Lions Club or Interact Clubs or Honor Societies at their school, and/or social media, using sites such as NextDoor, or help expand Invisible Hands to your area. CNN has already reported on one teen who has organized this kind of effort and volunteers are starting to offer to perform these services on Craigslist: here, here and here.
  2. Providing social connection with the elderly who are sheltering in place. One existing organization is making remote “Social Calls” to the elderly.
  3. There is also a current desperate need for masks for healthcare workers. #MillionMaskMayday even tells you how you can make them yourself so you can donate them. Better still, crowdsource all of the Californians you know who got N-95 masks during the wildfires and donate them to people who really need them This political PAC is currently accepting donations to order masks and donate them to hospitals in NYC.
  4. Doing remote volunteer tutoring for younger children whose school has also been canceled — again, students could use Nextdoor, social media, community organizations, and even their own teachers to find elementary school teaching colleagues who might spread the word and contact parents who might find it useful to have a teen help children with homework, teach lessons or activities, or just read-aloud remotely through an organization like Quarantutors. The Bay Area Tutoring Association might be a useful resource. Again, listings for this service are already appearing on Craigslist. Many companies, such as Khan Academy offer valuable resources. Other websites list multiple links to educational resource companies offering free access and other educational resources during this crisis.
  5. Even students on lockdown can organize virtual fundraisers (virtual concerts or other performances? poetry slams? offer online ballet, karate or taekwondo classes?) or teach online classes/tutor for younger children to help parents and donate the proceeds, organizing friends to help who are also stuck at home. list,
  6. Remote political volunteering. While the coronavirus crisis is ongoing, our 2020 Election political process continues. Students can volunteer to increase voter turnout through organizations such as Rock the Vote, which offers opportunities that can be done remotely, which offers remote volunteer internships, and Postcards to Voters, which can be written at home.
  7. Students with programming skills can do home-based coding for nonprofits that need help through organizations such as Code for Social Good, Benetech, or DonateCode. These students could also help develop apps or websites for some of the efforts listed above: helping coordinate neighborhood food service to the elderly, and/or families looking for remote tutors. Or help the people who are helping the rest of us through a Facebook group like Australia’s Adopt a Healthcare Worker and #ViralKindness , which started in England.

Some non-volunteer activities:

  1. Brush up on foreign language skills through Slow News in French or News in Slow Spanish — students already know current events; these sites give them familiar content spoken more slowly in the languages they’re studying in school so non-native speakers can follow along.
  2. Do “remote science” through the projects listed here: Citizen Science projects. This website has a searchable database of projects, some, like this one, looking for images of sea lions in photographs. There are even “crowdsourced history” projects
  3. Take an online course or learn to code online through IXL, Udemy, Coursera, EdX, Harvard online courses in Social Sciences, Stanford online courses, and Great Courses of the World. Or access the free resources of OpenCulture for ebooks and audiobooks or all of the TEDTalks. The Facebook group Amazing Educational Resources has assembled a pretty comprehensive listing of resources that companies are now allowing everyone to use for free during this crisis.
  4. Or do test prep for AP tests at Fiveable or use Crack ACT practice tests and free practice tests on the SAT CollegeBoard website
  5. Tour an online museum: http://www.virtualfreesites.com/museums.exhibits.htmlhttps://people.com/travel/stuck-at-home-you-can-visit-these-world-famous-sites-from-your-couch-for-free/, https://preview.houstonchronicle.com/art-exhibits/virtual-museum-tours-take-viewers-around-the-world-15137598, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75809/12-world-class-museums-you-can-visit-online, https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours, https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour, and https://lifehacker.com/you-can-virtually-tour-these-500-museums-and-galleries-
  6. American Red Cross needs blood donations org/giveblood.html
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

SAY YES TO THE (SCHOOL)

SAY YES TO THE (SCHOOL)

SAY YES TO THE (SCHOOL)

by Samantha Rose-Sinclair

“I like it a lot.”

A nice enough stamp of approval, but not the reaction to a wedding gown that Say Yes to the Dress conditioned me to expect. “The dress” is a big investment and a landmark decision that can drum up emotions of the future ahead. “Like” is good, but shouldn’t my sister be gushing about her love of the dress? Should she be crying? Should I be crying? Maybe I should cry.

My sister, mom, grandma and I sat in a lovely dress shop in Savannah awaiting Alex’s next thought. She twisted while carefully observing herself in the mirror and smoothing the lace. “Yeah, I really like it,” she said with a smile. She turned to us expectantly and asked, “But what do you guys think?”

For those of you who have never joined in on a dress boutique shopping adventure, here’s the play-by-play of what you can expect: the bride usually brings suggestions of styles she likes. With the help of a consultant, she picks out styles in their shop that match as closely as possible, with the occasional curveball pick or two. They retreat to a dressing room to shimmy on the dresses, and the bride then comes out in the ones she deems “entourage worthy.” We assess while the bride shares her first thoughts, then the group offers feedback and praise (or not) while she stands atop a pedestal.

Now from here, everything I knew about wedding dress shopping (which came exclusively from TLC shows) told me I should be watching for “that moment.” You know, the moment someone tries on their dress and “they just know,” or when there is an obvious blubbering mess of emotions spilling out into the room. Yet here we were, and Alex was very measured and surprisingly calm. Well, not too surprising… she’s a Pediatric ED nurse, so I probably should have expected the calm.

All those magical things, including the notion that you’ll “just know,” are also constantly repeated about the college search process. Even I, as an admission counselor, am guilty of throwing those ideas around. But the concept of a dream college and the idea of one true fit that “clicks” as soon as you step on campus… that may or may not be your experience, and that’s okay. Colleges are real places (flaws and all), and a “dream school” sets an unrealistic expectation.

Just because you don’t feel that magical “click” doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the school, or more importantly, with you. If you’re more analytical, consider asking yourself questions that evaluate what you’re experiencing a little more tangibly.

When you’re researching colleges, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to learn more about this school?
  • Where could I fit into the big picture of the things I’m reading about?
  • Does the mission statement of this college resonate with me?
  • Could this school help me fulfill the goals of not only what I want to do in college (and beyond), but why I want to go to college? (this one requires a bit of self-reflection.)

When you’re visiting colleges, ask:

  • Am I counting down the minutes until I leave, or am I excited to explore more? (Note: as tough as it may be, try to separate out temporary things like weather patterns from your long term judgments. A gross rainy day can make you eager to leave, but that’s not what we’re going for here.)
  • Am I looking forward to the possibility of coming back?
  • Did I hear about any unique opportunities today that piqued my interest?
  • Can I see myself engaging in this community?
  • And for each of the above answers, ask yourself “Why?”

Sometimes a trusted confidant can help reshape things or put the process into perspective. The floor sample of the dress Alex was wearing came in an off-white that looked greyish purple. It was hard for her to get past that in order to make a decision, even though the consultant patiently reassured her the dress she’d order could come in ivory. After noticing the hesitation, I asked the consultant to grab a fabric sample of the ivory and we pinned it to the skirt of the dress. Now she could envision it.

Your support system can look at things in a way you may not have considered. You might be looking for a major in Game Design and overlook a program called “Computational Media.” A different term, but a perfect match. It can be helpful to have a second set of eyes to assist in navigating the roadblocks to a connection.

Alex also hedged her emotions a bit out of trepidation for the entourage in the room—mom and grandma’s opinions matter a lot. Sure, she liked the dress, but what if we didn’t like it, and we didn’t approve? Parents, guardians, and supporters: sometimes a little encouragement and praise can help! In the foreign environment of a college search, be reassuring. Your student may be cautiously expressive because they’re holding their breath for what you think, or they may doubt belonging there because impostor syndrome on college campuses is very real.

The dress matched everything my sister’s Pinterest board showed she was looking for, and she looked beautiful. But ultimately, Alex isn’t the “magical-fairytale-moment-crying-in-a-dress” type (Trademark, Sammy Rose-Sinclair). Remember, that’s okay. She still said yes! So with her family around her, we celebrated her decision with ”she/I said yes” tambourines (yes, I too just learned that’s a real thing, and now need one for all my decisions) and Alex bought the dress she’ll wear down the aisle next year.

She really likes the dress. She’s even thrown the word “love” around a few times since. Crazy, right? What’s most important, though, is how much Alex really loves her husband-to-be, Dave. They’re patient with each other, they’re thoughtful, silly, and kind. They’re incredibly excited about their wedding, but even more excited about the future that comes with it.

And that’s the real takeaway here: your college will be a wonderful place. I hope you really, truly, like it a lot. But it’s the things you’ll do, the people you’ll meet, the opportunities you’ll have, that will make it special.