Admissions Vocabulary: How You Apply

Will This Be Your Alma Mater?

Are you ever confused by words and terms you hear on a college visit or that writers use in articles about college admission? Read on to find explanations and definitions.

Early Decision      Early Decision is an application submitted by a student who holds a strong preference for a specific college above all others. At most colleges that offer ED, the decision is binding, meaning that if accepted, the student will enroll. All other applications must be withdrawn upon acceptance at the ED college. Obviously, a student can only apply to one college Early Decision.

Deadlines for Early Decision are usually between November 1st December 1st. Once all material has been received the applications are read. Decisions are sent out in 4-6 weeks fr the deadline and can be an acceptance, a denial or deferral which is putting the application into the regular decision round.

Early Decision is an advantage for the college because they know that students who are admitted will come, ie, seats that are guaranteed to be filled. ED is an advantage for the student who no longer has to wait for acceptances.

For students who are applying for financial aid, Early Decision is a disadvantage because they are committed to a college without seeing the aid package. If the aid doesn’t meet their needs or ability to pay, they don’t have other schools waiting for them.

Early Action     Early Action also shows a preference for a particular college by asking for an answer quickly. EA deadlines are usually 11/1 or 11/15 if the college does not also have an ED option.   When all the supporting documentation has arrived, the application is read and a decision made. The response can be acceptance, denial or deferring the application to the regular decision pool. Usually, the student is notified in 4-6 weeks. Early Action is non-binding so a student can apply to more than on college EA.  They must notify the college that they will attend by May 1.

Regular Decision is when the most applications are read.  Students not choosing to apply Early Decision or Early Action apply in this group.  With part of the class filled students considered to be a member of a group that is under-represented in the class may be given preference.  For example, women applying to  engineering,  men where a large cohort of women has been admitted, an athlete playing a less popular sport, someone applying to a new major, a student from an under-represented geographical region.  At most colleges the class is filled largely from among the regular decision applicants.  Decisions are either accept, deny or Wait List.

The Wait List is a holding place to see how many students send in a deposit by May 1.  Should you be wait listed you have the option to accept admission to any other college. If there are unfilled spots in the class, some students on the wait list are notified of admission.

Rolling Admission is the plan under which applications are read as soon as all supporting documents have been received.  Students usually receive the decision within 6 weeks of a completed submission.

Deadline Reading is used by a few colleges who like to look at all the applicants at the same time.  The deadline for applying is typically in January.  When all applications are complete, they are read and discussed by admissions officers and decisions are sent out to all students at the same time, by April 15th at the latest.

No matter which decision protocol you choose, be aware of deadlines. All documentation must arrive by that date to be considered. Incomplete early applications usually move to the regular decision pool. You can check you application online to see when scores and your high school packet arrive. It’s your responsibility to make certain that it is complete.

You might want to save this post for future reference.

Good luck!

Where to Find Money For College

Recently, we covered general information about scholarships.  Now we’ll talk about where to look for them.

Never pay  an agency to search for scholarships for you!  Your own diligence will reward you with more than enough material that won’t cut into your profits.

FIRST source of scholarships is the colleges you’re going to apply to.  When you make your due-diligence visit, go to the Financial Aid Office.  Make an appointment, if you can, so that you will meet with a professional rather than the work-study student manning the counter.

  • Ask if  this college has a policy of meeting full need without loans.  That will open a discussion of their aid package and merit aid options.
  • Next, ask about specific scholarships that you might fit.  Many families leave money to a college for an incoming student that is similar to a family member who attended.  Are you a left handed violinist?  Micro-economics major from Scranton?  Have grandparents from Lithuania?  These scholarships go begging because the FA office doesn’t have the resources to comb through the admitted students to find a match.
  • Many colleges have discounts for the children of educators or veterans or police officers; its good for you if your parent is one of these!

Second Review all the employers your parents and grandparents have worked for; make a list of organizations members of your family belong to; add any that you or they could join that offer scholarships to members.  Look for civil, social and professional group memberships.

Third  Look at companies with whom you do business.  Many corporations mention  scholarships in their advertising, in on-line profiles or on their websites.  Check brands you use or are familiar with. You’ll be amazed! You don’t need to be an athlete  to be eligible for a local team’s scholarships.

Fourth Use apps and online resources.  You might want to create a dedicated email address to use when signing up  online.  You can use this address for joining college blogs or reaching out to admissions offices.  Keep the address professional.

  • scholly app for android and iphone for $.99
  • scholarshipadvisor app ( from Washington Post)
  • scholarpro.com
  • tuitionrewards.com (Sage Scholars)
  • tuitionsfundingsources.com
  • moolahspot.com
  • finaid.org or fastweb.org (Marc Kantrowitz)
  • Scholarship Owl,
  • Scholarships 360,
  • Scholarship Points.
  • quatromoney.com/scholarship
  • Big Future/College Board

You will find that most scholarships are good for 4 years so long as you remain in school with a minimum GPA. However, some are for one year require you to go through the application process from the beginning for each additional year.

Good luck with your search! $$

Intro to Finding Scholarships

Lets face it, by the time senior year rolls around you’re too busy starting the transition to college, writing essays and attending Home Coming to spend much time looking for scholarships.

Once you turn 13 you can earn scholarships that will be held until you need them. By that standard, if you’re 15 you’ve lost 2 years in the free money hunt. No time like the present to get started.

The first thing on your agenda is to have a serious and frank discussion with your parents about what they can afford to pay for you to attend college. Remember that over the 4-6 years that you will be a student the costs will only go up, at least slightly. Keep in mind that your siblings will need college money, too. The conversation may be uncomfortable but it is a necessary step.

The very worst thing you can do is “just get in and we’ll figure it out”. That is completely backwards. Here are a few facts about college costs.

1. When a college lists average student debt on their website they refer to loans in the student’s name without including debt in a parent’s name.  The number is almost always just above $30,000.

2. Most Loans your parents take to finance your education must be paid beginning immediately and be paid every month like a mortgage or car loan.

3. Your financial aid package will have loans built into it that don’t cover the Expected Family Contribution for which many families must also borrow.

Now that I’ve convinced you to be serious about what you can afford, here’s a story about one student who made earning scholarships a priority and a job. The story comes from Susan Smith in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 6/15/13.

Christopher Gray of Birmingham Alabama, wanted to attend a college in the Northeast. To finance his education he spent 3 months in the library researching scholarships. Ultimately, he applied for more than 70 scholarships, of which he received 34, for a total of $1.3million, enough to pay for his Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D, living expenses and some to invest.

$1.3 million, yes your read that correctly. He is not the only student who has scored big by investing time and effort in searching for financial resources.

How to start your own search. Step One : Get Organized

You will need a filing system. Put it on your computer and consider a box you where you can put material mailed to you by colleges. You will need tabs for:

1. your resume, transcripts, test scores, and other official documents; tax records

2. informal records that you keep of community service, honors/awards, employment hours and responsibilities, leadership accomplishments.

3. scholarship information and a separate page or file for those applied for

4. articles you want to keep and leads

5. correspondence related to scholarships including from your school

6. college marketing material

The files can be used jointly by parents and students.

Christopher Gray created an app for android and iphones called scholly that sells for $.99. When you’ve set up your organization tools and downloaded the app, read the next post to see where to begin looking for free college money.

Read the next post for what to do next.

Current Financial Information for Students: Get Help, Loan Info, Stimulus Payments, More

Raise.me, a scholarship program that helps first year college students, has posted valuable information to help students find or keep money during the Covid crisis (https://www.raise.me/blog/students/financial-wellness-during-covid-19/). Raise.me is addressing concerns of current college attendees, and is not a prediction of what the money landscape will look like for today’s high school seniors or juniors.

For those who aren’t familiar with Raise.me, the basis of their scholarships is a student’s high school record. $$ are awarded for each A or B, activities, and leadership. The program offers a one-time scholarship that can be applied to first year college expenses.

There are 2 downsides to this bounty. It is only available based on high school experiences so there is no follow up for the rest of one’s college expenses. The money dispersed is considered income when the financial aid package for year two is calculated. The money has been spent on expenses for year 1 and now can reduce the amount of aid given to pay for year 2. If you have earned a large sum for year 1, get help calculating the difference it will make in year 2 and if you will have to borrow .

Every Little Bit Helps!

Words of Comfort for Juniors

Dartmouth

In our up-side-down world, applying to college seems daunting and alien. You aren’t getting the support from your guidance office that you once had, you can’t visit colleges, information is scanty and occasionally conflicting. Never mind that you won’t be finishing your high school career in the place and manner you expected.

Read these words from the blog of the Georgia Tech admissions office and see how well the people who read applications get the predicament you’re in.

In the work you do with me as your educational consultant, in all those pieces of information I request, updates and preferences, reviews and visits, I see you and help you see yourself. You have to know who you are to show that to the admission committee. The more we do the easier it becomes. We’re on the right track. They will see you through your application.

IB Exams Canceled for 2020

From the IB website:

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak FAQS Last update: 23March 2020IB STATEMENT ON MAY 2020 DP AND CP EXAMINATIONS

Our students, their well-being and their progression in future stages of life have been at the forefront of our thinking as we respond to this extraordinary pandemic. As an organization, it is critical for us to ensure that the options we provide our global community of IB World schools are based on compassion for our students and teachers and, fairness for the difficult circumstances our students and educators are experiencing. We are grateful for your patience and consideration.

As a result, the IB with considerable advisement from stakeholders across the globe including schools, students, universities and official bodies has determined the most responsible and ethical way forward. The IB will be taking the following actions for the 2020 May Examination session:

The May 2020 examinations as scheduled between 30April and 22May for Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme candidates will no longer be held.•Depending on what they registered for, the student will be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate which reflects their standard of work. This is based on student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes. Full detail and FAQs will be sent to schools by 27 March 2020 (CET).

Best of luck to everyone. I know you’ve worked hard and will continue to do well.

AP and IB Exam Update

College Board has announced that AP exams will be taken online in May. Material covered will be reduced to reflect what most students will have covered by mid-March. Each 45 minute exam will be offered on 2 dates. Specifics should be available in early April.

Free review material can be found at https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates?utm_source=Applerouth&utm_campaign=3b7149ea3c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_23_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_41a7cbffe6-3b7149ea3c-108463421#free-ap-classes

International Baccalaureate is working on their plan for testing which they expect to have in place by the end of March. You can access information on their website at https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/

As information comes available, I’ll send you an update.

Maximize Online Learning

Bring Your A Game to Distance Learning

Keeping focused while taking classes online can be difficult. Bring your study skills, time management and persistence to your new work space as you stay on top of assignments.

Creating a habit is probably most important to succeeding with online courses. When I don’t want to do something I procrastinate. I tell myself that there is plenty of time to complete the task. This is the exact opposite of what is needed with online classes. Make a schedule and stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is when you have a framework for getting started.

If you don’t have lessons from your teachers you can find lesson plans and help at Khan Academy (khanacademy.org). You’ll find math, science and more. Khan even provides lists of books for reading for pleasure or to alert you to iconic works for cultural literacy.

One of my favorite websites is freerice.com. Challenge yourself with this vocabulary quiz were you will have a choice of meanings for the word that pops up. When you score well you are boosted to a new level of difficulty. When you guess incorrectly you remain at that level or drop back. Best of all, every correct response triggers donations of rice to communities that suffer food insecurity.

For college bound students this time without 24/7 scheduling is a blessing in disguise. You have time to deeply research colleges. Many admissions offices are putting the information sessions on line. Most have virtual tours of the campus led by one of the ambassadors who work for the admission office. Reach out to the admissions staff with questions. Join college social media although not much is being posted at the moment.

Khan Academy has SAT prep on their website for students who will be taking a standardized test. Even Freshmen can benefit from exposure to the prep sessions.

Online learning isn’t new to colleges. You will find that brick and mortar institutions make some of their classes online to facilitate getting the courses needed for graduation. Online learning isn’t dumbed down versions of in-person classes and some students find them more difficult. Time management is the key and persistence is right behind. The habits you develop while home from high school can be valuable when you are a college student.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash
Here’s another fun thing to do: go to the database www.citizenscience.gov and look at all the real time science research you can take part in. The image above illustrates one of the astronomy initiatives. You don’t need any special knowledge or training: if you can click of a mouse you’re qualified to take part. I’m curious about the cosmos so I chose to look at astronomy projects but there are hundreds of other fields. You can add tags for keyword search to documents in the Library of Congress. A task on Rosa Parks looks interesting. Other topics include Gardening, Biology, Environmental Science, Social Science,Clean Water Management. Go forth through the internet and explore the universe, or atoms or people!


Update: When you need to add some PE to your class schedule, or you’ve just had enough chair time, there are some places you can find a workout or a class. I’ve done this challenge; I hate squats but this is a fun break from sitting at the computer.

Several places are offering their virtual classes for free: Beach Body Fitness, Les Mills, Edge Fitness, Down Dog downdogapp.com. Enjoy!

College Visits? What To Do Now

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Oh, no!  Colleges are closing! 

Under other circumstances you would be executing planned college visits over the next few weeks and are finding that admissions offices are canceling tours and info sessions as their campus closes down.

There are some things that you can do now to learn about the colleges on your list.

Take a deep look at the college website: It tells the story of the college.  When and why was this institution founded?  What do they value?  Look up your potential major to see what is required to graduate.  Look at the required courses to see how interesting they seem.  Will you be able to take advantage of study abroad and internships?  Check out a few other subjects you might be curious about.

Take a virtual tour of the campus that you find on the college website.  It’s not the same thing as being there but you can see the layout and buildings.  Usually, the tour is led by admissions office ambassadors (tour guides) and is similar to the tour you would take in person.  If you like what you see, ask the admissions office to put you in touch with an ambassador or student similar to you, maybe from your high school or studying your major.

Campus Spotlight, https://www.collegematchpoint.com/college-matchpoint-blog/tag/Campus+Spotlight reviews some school.  Check out niche.com, too

Access campus tours through Campus Reel.    Campusreel.org offers tours of many campuses in 15,000 videos.  The quality varies as does the information.  An annoyance is that you must click the speaker icon at the bottom of each video as it loads so that you can hear the audio.

While campus is closed down, most admissions offices are up and running.  Make a list of questions you can’t find answers for on the website and call your admissions rep.  You will likely be able to have a conversation with him or her.  Not only do you get answers but you are showing interest in that college.  Some schools track Demonstrated Interest for consideration when processing your application.

Connect with college social media.  Instagram, Twitter, YouTube are good access points.  If there is an online campus newspaper you will be able to see a back issue or more; the campus radio station might still be operating.  From either, you can learn what is popular, what students care about.

Even though you can’t meet with anyone or take guided tour, it’s still possible to drive through  or walk around a school that you’d like to know more about.  Take time to visit the area surrounding the campus to find the local Thai restaurant, hair salon, movie theater or Target.  If you move here you’ll spend time eating, shopping and socializing in the neighborhood.

Let me know what you find out! 

Rising Discount Rate Means Lower College Tuition

The cost of a college education can be daunting to say the least. Many college hopefuls are deferring applying or, once enrolled, find the costs overwhelming.

Each year the demographics of the applicant pool change and one current trend is favoring applicants. We are in a period in which the size of high school classes is decreasing so that the number of potential college students is also declining.

Colleges need to fill seats and beds in order to have enough income to keep the lights on and the professors paid. Competition for students who will enroll has increased substantially in the last couple of years. The discount rate is the difference between the published Cost of Attendance or tuition and what students are actually asked to pay. Many students are finding that the discount can be up to 50%.

To attract students, financial aid packages have been beefed up and other perks are being offered. Some colleges have frozen tuition. In addition to not raising tuition for this year, some guarantee keeping tuition the same until a student graduates.

In the past it has been difficult to get one of your colleges to increase the merit aid in your package but that may be changing. If you have a better offer from College B but want to attend College G, you can try by showing the award letter from B and asking if G can match.

Prepare to apply to multiple colleges, looking for those where you will be highly desirable. Choose those where your credentials are in the top 25% of the applicant pool or where they need your tuba, experience, your interest in an under-subscribed major or to fill a demographic slot.

Until the number of high school students begins to increase again, college applicants will have more leverage: take advantage of all of your options.