Archives for college

Test-Optional – What to Do?

The pandemic made last year and like no other for college admissions. The most significant change is that many schools have decided to go test-optional. Test-optional means you do not have to submit your ACT or SAT scores if you don’t want to and you won’t be penalized for it during the admission review.  

During the admissions cycle for the class of 2021, regardless of the school’s elite status, more than 1,000 campuses have dropped SAT/ACT as an admission requirement and admission officers have reviewed a record number of applications due to the number of students taking advantage of this option.

… test scores are important but not nearly as significant as students and parents think.

– Jeff Selingo

What to Do

In his book, Who Gets in and Why, A Year Inside College Admissions, released just before the pandemic, Jeff Selingo says, “..test scores are important but not nearly as significant as students and parents think.” Admissions officers use scores mainly to check against the transcript, asking questions such as do the grades and transcripts line up?  

It has been discussed among many college advisors that if you have a score lower than 1300, it is advisable not to submit your score. Anything below that, you may want to choose to go test-optional. 

What Happens Then

So, what factors does an admission counselor look at when reviewing an application without test scores? Many put the most weight on GPA as well as the rigor of the curriculum. They will also look at essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, and extracurricular activities. 

Don’t despair if your GPA is lower! There are many schools out there that provide excellent education and accept students with lower GPAs. Your selection of a major may be a deciding factor. 

Try to find opportunities while in high school to show your interest in this field and list them in your extracurricular activities list. Showing an increase in grades, an internship, a volunteer opportunity, or a unique project may be just the advantage you need to overcome a lower GPA. 

Looking for some help with discovering your strengths or figuring out how to showcase your accomplishments for your college applications? We can help! Contact us today. 

Early Action? Early Decision? Regular Admission? Oh My!

There is a little vocabulary to go with filling out your college applications: Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Admissions, and Rolling Admissions. These are like “time zones” of when you should apply to certain colleges. Each “zone” means something a little different. Beth has broken it down a little for you! 

Early Action

Early Action (EA) means the college will review and decide to accept you early (before their Regular Admissions). 

The EA deadline for most colleges is typically before November 15. Check the official date for your specific college on the college website.If accepted, you will receive a letter of acceptance, denial or they may choose to put you in a pile for regular decision. This letter typically arrives in December. 

Applying through EA does not mean you are required to commit to that college when you receive the acceptance.  Being accepted EA does mean you can rest assured that you have at least one (or more) colleges to choose from for your final decision (which is usually May 1).. 

Early Decision

Early Decision (ED) means you want to make an early decision (before May) and does require you to make a decision and commit to that college. If you decide to accept a school ED, you should withdraw your applications from the other colleges on your list.  

The ED deadline for most colleges is also before November 15. Again, check the date for your specific college on the college website. 

You apply through ED to the school that is top on your list and that you want to go to if you are accepted. Again, the school can choose to accept your application as ED or move you to the regular admission pile. 

Jeffrey Selingo, in his book, “Who Gets In And Why, A Year Inside College Admissions,” states that the rising popularity of early decisions is the most significant contributing factor to the admissions calendar. It can be very appealing to some students to secure their spot by December of their senior year, knowing where they will be going in the Fall.  However, Selingo says, “although this might be appealing, it can speed up the decision-making for some students who are not ready to make that decision.”  So be sure about your decision if applying this way!

Regular Admission

If you didn’t apply for EA or ED, don’t despair! Regular Admission is just that – the regular time colleges review applications and make decisions. Colleges leave many of their spots open for Regular Admission, which is the largest candidate pool for admissions counselors.  

The Regular Admission deadline is typically before January 15. Again, check the date for your specific college on the college website. Acceptances from Regular Admission usually go out as early as March, but others may wait until the last minute in April.  

If you haven’t heard from a school you want to attend, you should reach out to your admission counselor to ask about the status. Just be sure not to go overboard in your communication!

Rolling Admissions

While many colleges have admissions deadlines, others have Rolling Admissions, which means you can apply any time during the school year. 

The admission counselors will review your application and get back to you with a decision. Many times they accept applications even into June or July before the Fall semester. 

Keep in mind – there are only a defined number of spaces at each college. So if it is a college you genuinely want to attend, you should apply as early as possible! 

Final Thoughts

As you make your decision between applying EA, ED, Regular Admissions, or choosing a college with Rolling Admissions, think about your goals and personality.  

Are you someone who makes quick decisions, are you someone who wants to see all your options?  

Or are you someone that wants to wait until you narrow your list down before you start applying? 

While these are personal decisions, there is some strategy involved when applying to select schools.  If you need help trying to decide which route to take in the application process, please reach out to Beth or your school counselor to discuss the options and the right strategy! 

Finalizing Your College List and Submitting Applications

Seniors, it’s time to think about finalizing your list and submitting applications! On August 1, the Common App will open and you can start this one-stop-shop application process which allows you to send your application to all the colleges on your list that accept the Common Application.  So, one application and one essay topic!  Keep in mind though that some colleges do require supplemental essays, so you may have a little more to do later.  

When colleges closed their doors to in-person visits due to COVID-19, it was a bit difficult for students and parents to get a first-hand look to help make college decisions. The next best thing can be virtual tours. You can also watch YouTube videos featuring current students or attend college fairs, online or in-person, to explore which options may be the right fit for you. It can also be helpful to reach out to admission counselors to schedule a one-on-one virtual meeting. Some, like Abilene Christian University, are scheduling those calls with students and parents. Take advantage of those opportunities.  

It can feel like there are tons of things to think about when researching colleges. We’ve broken down the top 5 things to help you get started and feel less overwhelmed. 

Top 5 List to Consider when Finalizing your College List

  1. College is what you make of it.  Decide for yourself what is essential and what isn’t. 
  2. Focus on what you want to do in college rather than where you want to go.* Many schools offer an excellent education.  Your goal is to think about what skills you want to acquire while in college to make you marketable when you leave.
  3. Think about the cost of college when you are finalizing your list. The less debt you incur will impact you after you graduate.
  4. Balance your list.   Broaden your search. Don’t get fixated on one or two schools or only schools your friends want to attend. What is your long-term goal? What story do you want to tell in 10 years?
  5. Trust yourself to make the right decision. You have done the work to narrow down the list, now it’s time to get to work and put your best self forward when applying to each school.

Need help finalizing your list? We are here to help you navigate this process! Contact us today.