🌞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.
The anticipation of receiving a college admission decision might have a similar feel to you.
🤞🏽Remember when you were waiting for that “I like you, too” response from that (fingers crossed) special someone.
You expressed interest in each other.
You talked with your friends.
You talked with their friends.
You swiped through their social media accounts.
You may have even explored other options.
Then you waited. ⌚
Waited for that mutual connection.
When it comes to college admissions, waiting to open your online admission portal to find out if they “like you” (and want to admit you) can be stressful.
On the CollegeVine blog, they shared that some colleges (like the Ivy League) might send a likely letter.
“A likely letter is a message sent to select students before an institution makes its official admissions decisions. In the letter, a school will indicate its intent to admit the student; in other words, they are ‘likely’ to be accepted.”
🎉Even though you feel confident, you are still hoping to see or hear the word, “Congratulations!”
🚁Aside from the typical college portal, students have received their decision news by letter, by drone (Lewis University), by tube (MIT), and in a box (College of the Ozarks). Some received a personal visit at their high school (Thomas More) and at home (Wheaton College).
No matter how the college notifies you or what the college decides, there is a seat for you in college.
You may have to wait for the right one.
🤷🏼♀️Which colleges are you anxiously awaiting to hear from this year?
To all of the members of the military who have served our country, thank you and Happy Veteran’s Day.
I am grateful to my father-in-law, an uncle, and my cousins who served in the armed services.
🧇While our veterans are receiving FREE waffles, FREE coffee, or FREE dinners today, high school students will receive a FREE college education by attending one of the military academies.
Even if you don’t want a military career, you should consider joining the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in high school.
JROTC will prepare you for ROTC in college (where 64% of active duty generals got their start).
💰There are at least three benefits to joining the ROTC in college:
TodaysMilitary.com offers the following descriptions for the three ROTC programs:
💥The Army ROTC is one of the most demanding and successful leadership programs in the country offered at more than 1,000 colleges. The training a student receives in Army ROTC provides leadership development, military skills and career training. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field, and are mixed with normal academic studies. Additional summer programs, such as Jump School, may also be attended. Upon completion, an Army ROTC graduate is commissioned as an officer in the Army.
💥The Navy ROTC and Marine Corps ROTC is offered at 77 colleges and offers a mixture of military training and normal academic study. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field. Upon completion, an NROTC graduate is commissioned as an officer and has the ability to choose an officer career in surface warfare, naval aviation, submarine warfare or special warfare. The Marine Corps–option requires classes in national security policy and the history of American military affairs.
💥The Air Force ROTC is offered at more than 1,100 colleges. Air Force ROTC offers a four-year program and a three-year program, both based on Air Force requirements and led by active-duty Air Force officers. Courses are a mix of normal college classes and the Air Force ROTC curriculum, which covers everything from leadership studies to combat technique. Upon completion, a student enters the Air Force as an officer.
📃If interested in the ROTC, join your local JROTC and contact each of the colleges on your list about their program. Some ROTC programs serve multiple colleges in that area. For example, the University of Texas at Arlington hosts the ROTC classes for students enrolled at five local universities and two community college districts.
🤷🏿♀️Which ROTC program would help you life out your higher calling?
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.
📉ADHD Executive Coach Seth Perler shared that the high school students he works with start to dip in performance 6-8 weeks into the semester.
🏊🏻♂Things fall apart. Now they having to swim upstream to catch up and turn in missing assignments.
🏈Then they are doing a "hail mary" in the final two weeks making up work and preparing for final exams. Exhausting!
🤷🏾♂Does this sound familiar? If so, would a different academic calendar be better for you to consider? If you take one course in three weeks or 2 in ten, would that improve retention and increase your GPA?
If you haven't considered the impact of the academic calendar, that should be a question to ask college representatives.
🧠In the comments below, which academic calendar would you prefer in college?
Semester (15 wks) - Offered in 90% of college settings. Most are traditional 14-15 week term while some use block terms of 3 1/2 weeks. Block terms are ideal for students needing to focus on one course at a time. It's intense. Then it's done!
Trimester (11-13 wks) - Some colleges are set up with trimesters. On one hand, you could possibly graduate faster; on the other, it's more challenging if wanting to change majors.
Quarter (10 wks plus summer) - Colleges with quarter academic calendars are beneficial for students transferring after a few weeks into the semester. If your college setting is harder than you imagined or your family needs you closer to home, you would stay on target attending a college with this type of system.
4-1-4 (4 mo + 1 mo + 4 mo) - This means you'd take a 4 week, "mini-mester" in January instead of having an extended winter break. Colleges with a 4-4-1 will offer a "Maymester."
🥓What motivates you to get up in the morning? Playing on your PS4. Cheerleading practice. The virtual school bell. Bacon. Your father.
The motivation to apply for college may not have the same urgency because it seems so far down the road.
As you prepare to enter the future workforce, Ken Costa, author of Know Your Why, reminds us that we are called to worship God in every area of our lives.
He writes that we need "to make our workstations our worship stations." 🛐
Most high school students are not thinking about this marketplace ministry mindset sitting in their classrooms. Even as followers of Jesus.
For those students, it's simply about graduating high school, being accepted to a college, and finding a way to pay for their education.
Let's stop and think about Costa's three reasons why people work. Which group you see yourselves in right now?
💰 Some want to work for cash – to make ends meet.
💼 Some want to work for a career – to move up a ladder.
🤝🏻 Some want to work for a cause – to make a difference.
For the majority of adult workers, I would believe that cash is the motivating factor.
My high school junior is focused on cash. Apparently, he needs another pair of sneakers!
As you research your careers and colleges, which motivating factor (cash, career, cause) is informing your decisions?
When deciding on a major for your career, you need to know your why. Developing your vocational calling - the type of work God has created you to do in the marketplace - will make that decision easier.
Also, college admissions officers know you have "passion" for your chosen field. Is that enough to set you apart? Is that enough to motivate you to "work for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23)? Is that your why?
Know that God wants the best for you - plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope, plans to give you a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Not to flounder without motivation.
🤷♂️ As you think about what motivates you to work, what conversations do you need to have with parents, teachers, mentors, or advisors to help you shift the focus to your calling?
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?
Last week I wrote about why character counts because the coronavirus has prompted a change in how applications are being considered.
In a recent Zoom meeting, Temple University shared that they are thinking about how they can extract characteristics like “citizenship, social justice, or tenacity” and admit students that exhibit those traits.
Swarthmore College has been looking for students with “intellectual curiosity, creativity, generosity and problem-solving skills.” For years, they’ve struggled with how to measure those traits in an application.
As we move forward into the new admissions cycle, it may be easier for a college to deny admissions if they see evidence that is contrary to the character they desire in their students. More on that later.
On August 24 it was reported that over 100 admitted freshmen had their admissions rescinded from Northeastern University (Boston) because they posted their intent to gather on campus against NU’s coronavirus guidelines.
Colleges are serious!
Over the next few weeks, I’m 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.
 Keep the focus on your teen.
The “college admissions process is a key rite of passage in adolescence and can be a wonderful opportunity for parents to get to know their teen in a deeper way. It’s also an important opportunity for parents to model the empathy in their relationship with their teen that is key to their teen’s relationships.”
We love our teenager(s) and want the best for them. As I am learning as a newly adoptive father of a sixteen-year-old, we want to fight for them. In my experience as a youth pastor and educational consultant, I’ve observed that too often, parents want the best for their teenagers based on what THEY perceive is the best. They adjust the focus on opportunities THEY missed out on when they were a teenager.
“In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts.”
Since you are not going to be in the classroom or on the campus, use your past to teach and lead the discussion. Remembering that your children are uniquely made (Psalm 139:13-14), help them discover what problems they want to solve, and which career and college will prepare them for that task.
The focus should be on your teenager.
Preparing your teenager to make long-term decisions a part of the college decision process.
Your involvement is important to them.
Really, it is.
Sometimes parents, we just need to “pause and listen.”
Here are four recommendations from the Making Caring Common team:
1. Take time to listen. Ask your teens how involved you want them to be in their college planning process.
2. Check your blind spots. Find out "where your own and your child's views about college" differ and how to work through those conflicts.
3. Be alert to red flags. If you are asking all the questions, your college-bound teenager won't take ownership of this process.
4. Reflect on your assumptions about "good" colleges.
What adjustments do you need to make so your college-bound “baby” takes personal responsibility for their career and college decisions?
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?
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.