🌞Before you head to the lake to ski, beach to picnic, or forest to hike, it is wise to prepare yourself for some fun in the sun. While some of us rarely burn, it is important for everyone to apply sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to protect our skin against sunburn.
Likewise, you should plan how you will apply for college, so you do not get burned.
Some students do not like to make plans for the summer, they just want to live in the moment. Be spontaneous.
Executive Function Coach Seth Perler shares that planning is a part of your executive function. Some students have to work harder to apply themselves and plan.
Seniors, here are four decisions you need to make before you apply to college.
🧴 Decide What Career You Want to Pursue
Making this decision will make it easier to finalize your college list. You should:
🧴 Decide Which Colleges You Want to Pursue
You are pursuing them, just as they are pursing you. Of the colleges you have researched and visited, each should:
🧴 Decide When You Want to Apply
Deciding now will help you schedule your essays and applications. For each college, you should:
🧴 Decide How You Want to Apply
While application deadlines vary, applications may be available as early as July 1.
😎 Yes, these are four big decisions! Take the time to plan, apply yourself, apply for college, and avoid getting burned.
Last week, I wrote about the anticipation of receiving a college admission decision.
Once your applications (college, scholarship, financial aid) are submitted, you are now waiting for the college to make its decision.
With over 4,000 college options, there are about eight possible admissions outcomes.
👉🏻Here are the first six possible college application outcomes.
These are specifically from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech is in Atlanta, Georgia) based on their email to students. The terms are universal among universities.
🍂Fall Admit: Admitted first-years for fall have until May to choose whether or not to attend Tech. Last year, 21 percent of students were accepted through Early Admission.
🏖Summer Admit: Each year a limited number of students are admitted to the summer term. Students admitted to the fall class may opt-in to the summer term if they choose. About 20 percent choose this route.
✋🏽Defer: Students who apply for Early Action may have their application deferred to our Regular Decision round. Now you have to wait until March for a decision!
📃Waitlist: A limited number of students will be offered a place on Tech's waitlist. If waitlisted, look on the college website for data that explains your chances. For example, 3,800 students were offered a place on the GT waitlist and 2,623 accepted their place on the waitlist.
🚫Deny: First-year applicants who receive this decision are denied admission to Georgia Tech. If a student is denied in Early Action, they may not reapply in Regular Decision.
🔁Transfer Pathway: Some students will be offered a transfer pathway, which provides an opportunity to transfer to Tech after a year in college elsewhere.
👉🏻Another possible college application outcome could include being admitted to the university but not your intended major.
💉Impacted majors (like nursing) at the California State University system schools mean they accept more eligible applicants that the major can handle. By design.
Applying to an impacted major means local students receive priority, you could be referred to an alternate campus, or, if accepted to the university, you’ll have to compete even harder to get one of the coveted seats after your freshman year. If you don’t get accepted to that major, you have to switch majors or switch colleges.
👉🏻Another possible college application outcome could include a condition to attend a community college before being admitted to the university.
👍🏻Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) teamed up with Blinn College (a 19,000 student community college) to admit hundreds of additional qualified students into the Texas A&M freshman class than would have otherwise been possible due to enrollment limitations.
It is a two-year program that allows students to take academic courses on the TAMU campus while completing basic courses with an admission guarantee as a junior.
No matter how the college notifies you or what the college decides, there is a seat for you in college.
During the application process, you need to learn how to remain hopeful, wait patiently, and be flexible.
Parents of Sophomores and Juniors:
💰Along with earning merit aid and being awarded scholarships to pay for college, there are two ways to apply for college financial aid: the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile).
There are about 400 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs that require families to complete the CSS Profile to award institutional aid.
Knowing what to expect will help you avoid scary surprises if your student is interested in Baylor, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Hillsdale College, Patrick Henry College, Michigan, Notre Dame, or hundreds of others.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Firstly, know that the CSS Profile is a more detailed look at your family’s finances.
Among the larger differences between the FAFSA and CSS Profile are how they treat your assets (ex. FAFSA ignores home equity), your income (ex. CSS expects students to contribute up to $6,000 per year), and your family (ex. FAFSA considers income and assets of custodial/non-custodial parents/stepparents).
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Secondly, know that you will need a lot of your financial documents and information.
These include your tax returns, W-2 forms, untaxed income and benefits, assets, and bank statements (cash on hand). A complete list will be given after you register.
😨Don’t be scared; be prepared!
📌Finally, know that the CSS Profile is not free like the FAFSA.
Along with the college application fees, the College Board charges an initial $25 registration fee with one free school report. Beyond that, you will be charged $16 for each additional report required.
Visit https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org for more information.
All of this to say…
🏫You and your college-bound teenager need to start considering potential colleges today. For a sophomore and junior, an ideal list would have 4-10 options. For the colleges that require the CSS Profile, you can plan ahead and be prepared.
As you are working on your college application essay, you will brainstorm, write drafts, edit, delete paragraphs, proofread, write and edit more, and possibly turn it in for a grade. More than likely, you'll write more than one college admissions essay and have to answer many "short" answers.
For each essay and short answer, you should RYEOL.
What does that even mean?
📣RYEOL means Read Your Essay Out Loud.
👉🏼Because YOU are the best editor of YOUR essay.👏🏼
While receiving feedback from an essay tutor or counselor is important, reading your essay out loud is the easiest way to identify grammatical errors, to make sure you are answering the prompt correctly, and to hear how your essay flows.
You don't have to get in front of a mirror like you are auditioning for a play, but you do want to speak clearly, with confidence, and, well, out loud. Whispering does not count. 😶
Visualize yourself reading your essay with the admissions reader or scholarship committee.
Read the question, then read your answer.
👂🏼Hearing yourself read the essay forces you to pronounce those fancy words you choose. Application readers want to hear your voice, not a cluster of sesquipedalian words you looked up in a digital dictionary.
👂🏼Hearing yourself read the essay in your voice will help maintain the consistency of your voice. Application readers know when you are not being yourself or when a parent or professional has written the essay.
Once you've completed your essay...
📣RYEOL once then walk away.
📣RYEOL a second time making your edits (remember, YOU are the best editor). Then invite a teacher, counselor, college student, mentor, or parent to read your essay and offer feedback.
📣RYEOL a third time and finalize your essay.
Now you can be proud of what you wrote.
I am sharing a series of seven thoughts from the Making Caring Common report, “Turning the Tide II” that addresses character in college admissions. This is specifically for parents.
As a recap, here are the first two lessons:
 Keep the focus on your teen.
“In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts.”
 Follow your ethical GPS.
“The college admissions process often tests both parents’ and teens’ ethical character.”
 Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education.
The college admissions process is the same for everyone.
The college admissions process is different for everyone.
Unfortunately, both statements are true. When applying for college, students are made aware that “there are vast differences in access to resources in the admissions process, and that college is unaffordable for staggering numbers of families.”
The Turning the Tide II authors point out that this where students may “struggle with how much they can embellish their applications and ‘play the game’ without compromising their own authenticity and integrity.”
One of the challenges students face is standardized testing. As FairTest.org summarizes in a report, “young people of color, particularly those from low-income families have suffered the most.”
Students from low-income families have lower scores because they lack the support and/or resources to prepare for the tests.
Boys are affected more than girls.
Students of color score lower on the admissions tests. This prevents them from being considered for merit aid scholarships (which rely on test scores more than GPA).
This has not always been the case. “Standardized” tests were created to make the college admissions process fair for all students.
Enter the coronavirus.
Since the testing sites are not able to host students or are booked because of local social distancing regulations, most colleges (public and private) decided to be test-optional for 1-3 years.
And many of those same schools are test-optional for merit aid scholarships as well. This means the high school GPA has more weight on admissions and scholarship decisions.
We are hoping this testing reprieve will challenge higher education to create a better, equitable college admissions process.
Parents, we have an awesome opportunity to help our teenager(s) navigate the ethics of education.
The Making Caring Common team recommends that we "beware of mixed messages" and "work through [our] irrational feelings."
Our teenagers need to be kind, be fair, be true to themselves, remain above reproach, and be prepared to support all claims made on their essays, tests, extracurriculars, and college applications.
What are we doing to help them develop character that lasts?
The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
The group of qualities that make a person, group, or thing different from others.
Who you are when no one is watching.
Each of the above sentences define character. Developing your character matters because it is becoming a part of the college admissions process.
As the high school senior class of 2021 begins to write character-based essays for their college applications, underclassmen should continue working on their character. This is more than a 280-character post or a 500-word essay. Who you are is the one character that counts.
Character is developed through everything you do (shovel, build, read, serve, mow, watch…) and every person (parents, coaches, teachers, telemarketers, janitors, CEOs…) you communicate with (post, debate, lead, email, phone…).
Character is developed through your online and offline interactions.
Character is developed through your setbacks, struggles, and suffering because “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
So, what are you? Who are you?
The Making Caring Common project, endorsed by over 50 college admissions deans, is seeking to “elevate ethical character, especially concern for others and the common good.”
Doing the right thing is not about building your reputation or résumé. Colleges are working to help potential students change their expectations from “look at what I’ve done” to “look at who I am.” You can’t develop character while you are applying for college. Essay readers will see a fraud within the first paragraph. You begin developing character when you are born, as you listen to the caring adults in your life, and as you apply what they teach you.
MIT Admissions Dean Stuart Schmill said that colleges are working hard to admit students who lead balanced lives, pursue interests with passion, and work with others. They are trying to move away from admitting students who are just checking the boxes.
Your application or resume introduces you to the reader. Think of it as a preview of the real you. In some colleges, two or more admissions officers independently review your application before sitting down to discuss it together.
Some colleges require students to interview with an alumni or admissions officer. They want to know if your application matches who you say you are. Let’s take it one step further. Would your academics, conduct report, relationships, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and essay reflect who you are if the admissions official invited you to dinner at her house?
Paul wrote that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Who you are will be impacted by the company you keep. So do you keep bad or good company. You reflect the values of those you hang around the most (online and offline) including Jesus Christ, your parents, youth leaders, YouTubers, TikToc’ers, teammates, and friends. Jesus said that “the tree is known by its fruit” with the tree representing each person (Matthew 12:33). “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad.”
Jon Mertz describes character as something “engraved within us.” The engraving isn’t always planned and clean. The word “character” comes from the Greek kharakter that means “engraved mark.” The character trace goes back to another definition of “to scrape or scratch.” For Mertz, the combination of engrave, scrape, and scratch fit well with what character really means. Here’s why:
David Brooks, author of The Road to Character, writes about people of character. He shared how we can take “the bad things that happen and turn them into a transcendent purpose” like Dorothy Day. From Bayard Rustin, he teaches us the “power of leading with self-restraint.”
Could you be someone Brooks writes about? Are you becoming a person of character or just a character? As prepare your college applications are you sharing who you are or who you want them to believe you are?
Brooks posed this question during his TedTalk, “Am I living for my résumé or my eulogy?”
Let me bring this home. Are you living your life to build your college application or are you living your life to build your character in the image of Jesus Christ?
“Three seniors at Brooklyn, New York high schools are determined to get their entire classes to college, even though they aren't even sure they are going to make it there themselves. They are working as college counselors in their three schools because many of their friends have nowhere else to turn for support.”
Does this resemble your high school? Why or why not?
What would you do if your school lacked college planning resources?
Unfortunately, some public high schools lack the funding to support a college resource center. Some school counselors can only spend 22% of their time to work with students planning to go to college. They also have to do mental health counseling, check on attendance, volunteer as bus monitors, administrative duties, and much, much more. While private high schools may have better resources and support, rural and urban public high schools need help building a college-going culture on their campus.
This is one reason why this documentary was filmed. To help the general public understand what students have to do to apply for college and why it can be hard for many. It’s the raw and the real.
Only 16% of students from low-income backgrounds obtain a bachelor’s degree, in comparison to 60% of students from high-income backgrounds.
To help fill the gap, many organizations and CBOs (Community Based Organizations) are working to provide the college-going resources needed for these students. However, school counselors and peer leaders are still needed. People (not programs) are the key!
“PERSONAL STATEMENT is a feature-length documentary that follows Karoline, Christine and Enoch through their senior year and into college. They work tirelessly as peer college counselors to realize better futures for themselves and their peers. They struggle and they stumble, but refuse to succumb to the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college.”
I had the opportunity to preview Personal Statement during the 2018 NACAC Conference in Salt Lake City (a conference for college counselors).
You’ll laugh at what happens at the dinner table. You’ll feel the suspense when the students open their acceptance notices. You’ll see the determination of three students. You’ll learn how hard it was for one student to simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’ll understand how their life experience becomes their personal statement.
There are thousands of high-achieving students who don’t know HOW or WHEN or WHERE to submit a college application. And there are hundreds of school counselors that desperately want to guide their students to discover the right fit college and career.
This is why I am encouraging all policy makers, parents, principals and people interested in higher education to watch and support this documentary. Especially if you work with low-income or first-generation college students!
HOW TO WATCH
Use this episode link: http://bit.ly/ARF_PersonalStmt to stream the film online.
You can check your local PBS station schedule to see when PERSONAL STATEMENT will be broadcast by your local PBS affiliate here: https://www.thirteen.org/schedule/
HOW TO SUPPORT
To help spread the message of this documentary, donate here. To make an immediate impact and support the college expenses of the main characters in the film (like Karoline above), donate here.
After watching the documentary, share your thoughts below…
Do early birds really have an edge in admissions?
The answer is often yes!
The purpose of submitting an application to a college early is to indicate your top preference for that college or a small group of colleges. They appreciate knowing you are likely to enroll if admitted. With Early Action and Early Decision, you hear sooner whether you’ve been accepted to your “dream” school” and there is often a significant admission advantage to applying early.
Knowing sooner allows family members to know what type of college swag to buy you for Christmas.
What is the difference between the three early application types?
Why Apply Early?
There are advantages or disadvantages to applying early. However, the following table shows an advantage in admissions when applying Early Decision at some of the top universities in the country. If you have a school that clearly stands out as your “Top Choice”, it may be wise to apply Early Decision to gain a better chance of admission.
You can now submit financial aid forms starting Oct. 1, using last year’s taxes - referred to as Prior-Prior Year (PPY). This gives colleges an opportunity to consider your financial aid or merit awards along with your admissions decision. Often students who apply early are offered more financial aid.
Contact me if you have any questions about how to apply to college or need someone to review your applications.
Credit: GuidedPath Guru
The great (and frustrating) thing about playing fantasy football is that anyone can play and anyone can win.
It’s great because you get to play with friends or co-workers.
It’s great because you research potential players, apply your strategy to draft a winning team, make weekly managerial decisions, and watch football a little differently on the weekends.
It’s frustrating when the first-time player who literally auto drafted her team while she was on vacation in Spain and didn’t make any (I mean ANY) adjustments to her weekly roster makes it to the semifinals. Very! Frustrating!
…but what does fantasy football have to do with planning for college?
The great (and frustrating) thing about planning for college is that anyone can plan and anyone can attend.
It’s great because you get to plan and even attend college with friends.
It’s great because you research potential colleges, apply your strategy to get accepted to the right fit college, make weekly college planning decisions, and you might watch college football a little differently on the weekends (as long as you don’t choose a college based on an athletic program alone!).
It’s frustrating. Well, college planning can be confusing. It can be frustrating if you’re the first person in your family to attend. It can be frustrating if you are an international student. It can be frustrating if you don’t make any adjustments to how you prepare.
It’s frustrating…if you don’t have a plan! Solomon wrote, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
Just for fun, let’s follow the outline from The Dummies Guide on How to Play Fantasy Football and try to apply it to college planning.
1. You join a league.
Fantasy football league owners send out invitations for players join public or private leagues.
College admission officers send out invitations to prospective students with the hopes of getting them to apply. Know that an invitation does not mean the college knows what you want to study or what you have to offer. Many times, your GPA or test score qualified you to be placed on that list. Which is awesome!
Invitations give you an opening but you get to decide if you want to attend public or private four-year university or attend a two-year college.
2. You prepare for your league draft by scouting players.
Before choosing a fantasy team, players spend time researching, ranking them based on their personal preference, reviewing their draft strategy.
So before choosing the college of your dreams, you need to research (check websites, visit the campus, visit the community), rank the programs and colleges, and review your application strategy.
3. You build your fantasy football team via the draft.
The draft is the most fun and exciting day of the fantasy season. Each fantasy owner reviews their draft strategy, drafts their players, and fills their roster with the best team possible.
College application season can be fun and exciting. You’re submitting essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and setting up auditions or interviews. You need to gather as much information as possible to make a wise decision.
Each college will review their admission strategy, admit their students, and fill their prospective freshman class with the best students possible.
4. Your team competes against another team every week.
During the pro football season, the real teams play every week just like the fantasy teams. Each players’ statistics of how they performed are posted to determine which team (roster) won the head-to-head matchup. The team with the most points wins each week.
During the college application season, you are competing against other prospective students for a spot in the incoming freshman class. Your statistics (GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, potential major, class rank…) are compared to the mission of the college to determine who would be a good match. In 2016, UCLA received over 100,000 college applications!
This is why applying to more than one college is important!
5. You make moves to improve your team.
As a fantasy owner, you’re in total control. You make roster changes if a player is not good enough or gets injured or is not playing up to their potential (in your mind).
As a prospective student, you are in total control. Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll still want to review the financial aid award letters to see if this will be a good financial fit. Don’t make a final decision until you’ve crunched all the numbers. You can even submit an appeal letter if your financial circumstances were not reflected on your financial aid application (FAFSA).
6. Your team (hopefully) makes the playoffs and wins your league.
The last team standing wins a thirty-six inch trophy or a gold ring (see above), or cash. (Some fantasy football players are serious!)
And it's not always the team with the most head-to-head wins the championship. Some winners barely got in to the playoffs but still finished strong.
Earning a college degree is not for everyone. But for those who begin, and finish in four-years (six at the most), there will be a winner.
By attending and graduating with a college degree, you will set yourself up to have the best start in life.
And that accomplishment is better than any fantasy football championship.
You may have read about the high school senior from Memphis, Tennessee who was accepted to 149 colleges and offered $7.6 million in scholarships.
As a future parent of a teenager, I am thrilled for her and her parents. Her college bills are paid!
As an educational consultant, I want to help you filter through a few outcomes reported in her story.
Her school counselor shared a list of colleges that did not have application fees. This was a smart, money saving decision! She would have spent over $6,500 on application fees alone (the average is $45 per college). And 20 percent don’t charge to apply. What is not shared is if the student created a list of colleges that were good academic, social, emotional, or financial fits.
Students should apply to at least four, but no more than twelve colleges and universities. Many counselors would argue that four is enough. While there is no cap on applying to colleges, anything over 20 can be overwhelming. While the reporter shared that she was maximizing her college options, this can be a stressful way to select a college.
As of May 26, when the article was published, the student was still trying to decide where to attend college. Decision Day (when your decision and deposit are due) was May 1. So, some of these colleges made the decision for her.
It is recommended that you visit each campus you’re interested in attending before applying. You wouldn’t buy a car (especially your first!) without checking it out, driving it, and finding out that is a good fit. So, if you haven’t visited a campus, you shouldn’t attend the college. I have visited 28 colleges in four years. This student would have visited one college a week for almost three years. That’s a lot of walking!
Colleges and universities are in the business of higher education. So, everyone must pay for their service. I’m assuming that most of this senior’s financial aid came from merit aid (which is totally, totally deserved because it’s earned by her grades and test scores). Merit aid is the best way to pay for college!
She was also crowned the charter school’s top Million Dollar Scholar (out of 145 seniors). Altogether, the senior class received $30 million in scholarship offers. A neighboring high school had 51 students receive more than $1 million in scholarships; some received $4 million.
Earning her bachelor’s degree at her top choice university has a total cost of attendance of $81,000. She won’t need $7,539,548 she received. What will happen to the private scholarships she was awarded but cannot use? Did she earn more than enough? What about the students who fell short of winning that scholarship?
While this is an extreme case, every student needs to finding the right college, needs to visit the colleges they want to attend (unless cost is prohibitive), and needs to find a way to pay for college.
I truly believe this student will excel wherever she attends.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.