College Admissions and Academic Success
Greetings Students and Families,
I’m often asked when to start planning for College Applications. My answer may surprise some people-but there’s no better time than ASAP. But let me change up that question– instead of asking about College Admissions, as an Educator with over 30 years of university teaching, research and academic advising experience, let me stress that the question you should be asking is: “When and How Does my Middle/High School student prepare for academic success?!” Your focus shouldn’t be driven by college admissions acceptances- but rather, your focus should always be about being prepared for academic and social success. With 3900+ colleges and universities- chances are your student will find that perfect “fit” and I’ve spoken in all my blogs about the pillars of fit – Academic, Social and Financial.
Academic success means learning — and that means every student needs to focus on honing their skills and approach throughout high school to be prepared to engage within the college campus independently and with confidence. To ensure a seamless transition, the work to be done takes place in high school. Selecting the right classes – a balance of an appropriate challenge and manageability. It’s learning how to manage tasks, due dates and assignments and be intrinsically motivated to learn – not just complete assigned tasks. We could spend hours discussing student performance and attention- but that’s not my focus in this blog.
College Admissions Officers want to know two things about every applicant —
1 Who are You ?
2 What “Problem” do you want to solve- what do you want to learn with others on our college campus?
I previously spoke about all the moving parts of your College Application including.
- Transcript/ GPA
- Extracurricular Activities
- Standardized Test Scores
- Teacher Recommendations
- College Admissions Essays
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ABOUT SUBMITTING YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION Common App 2021-22
This Chart Describes each of these parts– and when/where/how you submit this information. if you’re not working closely with your guidance counselor or don’t have a private college advisor, please reach out to schedule your College Admissions Assessment with Online College Counselor Bonnie Rabin, PhD
|Required College Application Item||Where to Submit||Other Notes||When Do I Submit this Item?|
|GPA/Transcript||Depends on High School: Naviance, HS Fax, Parchment—|
This is NOT an item on your Common App for you to submit in that portal.
Your Common App can be submitted before or after this supporting document reaches the college.
|Request that your transcript(s) be sent by speaking with your high school registrar or your GC-|
An official “School Report” is also required. You high school would have told you by now how this process is handled.
*** Remove your SAT/ACT scores—see below
As soon as you have finalized your list of colleges – you can send on ahead. Best to wait for first quarter grades- especially if increasing and demonstrates your grades in your most challenging courses to date.
MID-YEAR Grade reports due after first semester
|Extracurricular Activities||On Common Application -In Activities Inputs Section|
There are 150 characters to enter this information- think carefully about your presentation.
Place those activities related to the choice of major at the top of your list. You’re limited to 10 activities.
|Some colleges will allow/require resume upload.|
Most will have essays to provide additional details on activities.
|During the application process|
|Honors & Awards||On the Common Application||You’re limited to listing 5. We may use the “anything else” essay to provide a lengthy list if this applies to you.|
These are also noted on your resume – and if a college requests a resume, you’ll submit here.
|During the application process|
|Essays||On Multiple sections of the Common App and College Specific Tabs of Common App|
>>>>> see next column
You will be writing no fewer than 2 essays and possibly as many as 10+ The more selective the college, the more essays you write.
This is perhaps one of the most important sections of the application to distinguish yourself from thousands of other comparable applicants with the same set of course and test scores.
|· Common Application Core Essay|
(Who Are You?)College Specific Supplemental Prompts — Typically 1 to 7 essays ranging from 150 to 800 wordsOther essays:Explaining Anything UnusualExplaining School ChangesThe COVID Prompt
|Teacher Recommendations||Common App –|
You can submit your application before or after these are completed. Please don’t be that student in November who uses the teacher rec as the “excuse” for why you didn’t submit your app.
|You’ll enter the teacher email address into the Common App for each and every college–.|
Teachers will receive an automated request and are familiar with how to submit – they’ve done it before.
If you are using a professor from a college- same process.
Some High schools also submit through Naviance on your behalf
|ASAP!! As soon as we complete your core essay, why major essay and finalize your college list- please provide these supporting materials to your teacher and request their letter of recommendation. The later you approach a teacher the less likely they will provide a detailed or timely note.|
PLS REQUEST BY AUGUST 1!!
|Test Scores||Official Score Reports are sent through College Board or ACT. This is required.|
Self report scores can be done in addition on your Common App
|Have your high school remove any and all SAT/ACT scores from your transcript -this requires an official request. As many colleges participate in Score Choice and Super Scores- pls remove “ugly” scores from your transcript.|
AP scores are NOT required elements of any college application. You can self report these on your Common App.
There is no place in college admissions for sending your AP scores.
These are sent to one college in summer following your senior year to assist with credit evaluation and proper course placement for the fall semester of your freshman year.
|Anytime after ALL tests are completed but before the due date- as late as December. By the due date of applications- you can submit your application months prior to sending these through- especially if you are still testing as late as possible- December 2020|
|Financial Aid||FAFSA – Required by all colleges|
CSS Profile – Required by many but not all colleges.
CSS is submitted through the College Board
*** Please gather the due dates and be familiar with which if any forms are needed – and any for non-custodial parent/divorced/separated/rem-married families.
DO NOT WORRY about any of this until October 15.
Do change address on file for any student in shared custody to match lower-earning parent for FAFSA.
|EVERY COLLEGE HAS SPECIFIC DUE DATES—October-ish to December/January- If you miss the date – you will absolutely not receive financial aid. Please speak with me ASAP about unusual circumstances—2019 vs. 2020 income, divorce, medical, business loss / gains – anything bizarre- let’s talk before you submit.|
- A Challenging “synergistic” high school curriculum (AP, IB, AICE, Dual-Enrolled??)
- Sustained, directed and meaningful extracurricular activities both within and outside of school (Involvement driven by genuine interest)
- Student directed research to explore a variety of emerging academic and career interests (Customized academic/career discovery exercises focused on your strengths!)
- Time management solutions(Parents- you’re too busy to argue with your emerging adult about homework!)
- Setting goals for target colleges, majors and scholarships (Overlapping interests?)
- Affordable college choices – FAFSA, CSS Profile, Merit-based aid??! (Yes, you can afford college!)
Juniors should begin the process of exploring major areas of interest. Leverage my university experience and knowledge of a variety of majors. Let’s explore together!
Look for synergies between your high school curriculum, your strengths and potential undergraduate majors of interest!
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.