COLLEGE ADMISSIONS FROM THE INSIDE OUT

52 Weeks to College: Week 5

College admissions officers use a three-prong analysis to evaluate academic records. Your senior year will count, so prepare accordingly!

Anna Ivey

January 30, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 5

College admissions officers use a three-prong analysis to evaluate academic records. Your senior year will count, so prepare accordingly!
January 30, 2023
Permalink

Choosing Your Senior Year Courses

For most of you, it’s time to choose which courses you will take in your final year of high school. While it might be tempting to dial it back academically, you really can’t do that if you aspire to get into a selective college. Here’s what you need to know:

College admissions officers use a three-prong analysis to evaluate your academic record:

  1. Curriculum: What courses you take
  2. Rigor: How demanding those courses are
  3. Performance: How you do in those courses

Your senior year will count in that evaluation, even for those of you who apply and get in early. Admissions officers get periodic reports as you progress through senior year, and any offer of admission will be contingent on completing the courses you showed you were taking on your application, AND getting grades consistent with your prior performance. So, for example, if you have a 4.1 GPA going into senior year, they expect you to finish senior year with pretty much the same GPA.

WEEK 5 TO-DOS

THIS WEEK

1. Start researching your class options for senior year and make a plan. Meet with your counselor to discuss your choices and make sure your planned schedule is doable.

2. Check with your school counselor about visits from college admissions reps. Add any college rep visits to your calendar.

THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS & TRICKS

1. Curriculum: You must take English and Math and at least 3 other academic solids.

Even though there are now multiple college prep curricula out there, selective U.S. colleges are steadfast in their expectations about the coursework that high school graduates will have completed (and the knowledge they will have acquired) before they begin college.

Four years of English and Math are non-negotiable. If you have already taken every English and Math class you can at your high school, take a course at a local community college or nearby university. If that isn’t an option, take a for-credit online course.

Along with English and Math, you should take at least 3 other academic solids. An academic solid is a course in one of these 5 core areas of study:

  • English Language & Literature
  • Foreign Language & Literature
  • History, Philosophy, Religion & Social Sciences
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Natural & Physical Sciences

Note that you can double up in English and Math if you are really engaged by those subjects. For example, you could take AP English and a Journalism elective if you’re really into English.

You’ll see that music, visual arts, and performing arts are not listed above as academic solids. That’s because colleges are split about whether they count those as academic solids. So if you want to make choices that give you the most options, don’t include those when counting up your 5 academic solids. Luckily, most of you get to take at least 6 courses, so you can add music, visual arts, or performing arts into your schedule without a problem.

For those of you intending to pursue music, visual arts, or performing arts as college majors or careers, you may find it hard to take the courses you need to take if you do not count music, visual arts, or performing arts as academic solids. In that case, contact the colleges where you will be applying and get their advice about what courses you should take in your senior year. All admissions officers are happy to give this advice and would much rather help you now than deny you later!

A note for international students: High school curricula vary greatly worldwide, and U.S. college admissions officers understand that. Generally, the curriculum mandated by your home country will be acceptable to U.S. colleges, but you should consult with colleges where you are planning to apply just to make sure.

2. Rigor: Create an overall schedule that either maintains your level of rigor or takes your rigor up a notch.

The rigor of your schedule is determined by the level of the courses you are taking. Your high school probably has some way of distinguishing the courses that are harder and more academically demanding.

Courses that are more advanced in particular subjects are considered more rigorous, so Spanish V is harder than Spanish IV. Accelerated, honors, AP, and IB courses are also considered more rigorous than regular courses.

So if you are taking 3 courses this year that are more rigorous, then you want to take at least 3 courses next year that are also more rigorous. It’s even better if you can take your rigor up a notch and include 4 courses that are more rigorous.

Why do admissions officers care about rigor? Because they want students who are ambitious learners and who can manage the increased rigor of college courses when they arrive. College is harder than high school, and they want you to be ready for the challenge.

3. Performance: Choose courses in which you can maintain or improve your grades.

Most of you put more emphasis on this third prong than you should. You are probably on the quest for the easy A in the hope of bumping up your GPA in your final year.

But here’s the reality:

A high GPA that you earn by avoiding academic solids or by reducing the rigor won’t help you. Admissions officers aren’t dumb. They know that an A in ‘Beginning Guitar’ or in ‘French for Travelers’ isn’t the same as an A in Honors Physics.

That being said, you can use this third prong, performance, as a tiebreaker when it comes to making choices that are equal in terms of the first two prongs. For example, let’s say you are choosing between AP Statistics and AP Computer Science. If you think you are going to nail it in AP Statistics, but will struggle in AP Computer Science, then by all means, take AP Statistics.

One thing you should definitely take into consideration is the interaction between rigor and performance. Should you take the more rigorous course if you will get a lower grade? For example, should you take AP Physics and get a B, or take regular Physics and get an A?

Our recommendation is that you take the more rigorous course as long as your grade is likely to be no more than one grade lower than your grade in the regular course. B is one grade lower than an A, so in this example, take the more rigorous course (and of course do as well as you can). But if your grade is likely to be a C in the more rigorous course and an A in the regular course, then take the regular course.



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of
Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 4

February is almost here! It’s a short month, but there's plenty to do. Juniors, here's how to tackle

Anna Ivey

January 23, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 4

February is almost here! It’s a short month, but there's plenty to do. Juniors, here's how to tackle
January 23, 2023
Permalink


Start Planning Your College Visits

One of the few silver linings to come out of the pandemic is that schools have finally embraced virtual visits (first out of necessity, now by choice!), and our guess is that they are here to stay.

So if your budget and schedule (and life more generally) enable you to visit colleges in person, that’s great! If not, you have a lot of virtual options now, and you absolutely should take advantage of them.

WEEK 4 TO-DOS

THIS WEEK

1. Think broadly about which schools you want to investigate, and schedule your virtual or in-person visits.

Those visits will help you identify what you do or don’t like about different colleges, where and why you might might want to learn more, and discover more about your own preferences. That in turn will help you make better choices about where to apply when it comes time to build your college list. You’ll save yourself wasted application fees, and long term can also save you from wasting your tuition and your time on a college that isn’t the right fit for you. You can always narrow down your lists later. You’re just in the exploration stage!

Also, your chances for admission at many colleges will be higher if you “demonstrate interest” in that college, and a college visit is one really good way to do that. Colleges track who attends them.

2. Check with your school counselor about visits from admissions reps.

Representative from various colleges might also be coming to your high school or town or region to meet with students in person. If and when that’s the case, make a plan for attending those events, if possible. Those are usually hosted by your high school, so stay in touch with your school-based counselor about what that calendar looks like.

THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS & TRICKS

  • Practice speaking with admissions representatives at virtual events. This is one of the reasons it’s a good idea to explore broadly at this point. You may not think you’re excited about a particular college, but at a minimum you’ll have a chance to ask questions and practice your conversational skills in that setting. You’ll find that these conversations feel easier and more natural over time. Note too that these events are not the same thing as an official admissions interview, so don’t lose sleep over those conversations. But do have good manners, and do look and sound interested whether in person or on screen, because every interaction with a representative from a college has the potential to leave a lasting, good impression.

P.S. Want this 52 Weeks to College series to land in your inbox every week? Sign up for our 52 Weeks newsletter here.



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 3

Whether and when to take standardized tests

Anna Ivey

January 16, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 3

Whether and when to take standardized tests
January 16, 2023
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Which Standardized Tests to Take and When


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, standardized tests like the SAT or ACT are still a major part of the college admissions process at some colleges. And a small number of colleges are test-blind; those college won’t look at your test scores even if you have them.

Most colleges, though, are test-optional, which means you don’t have to take the tests in order to apply, and if you do take the tests, you have to figure out whether your test scores help you and are worth submitting.

The list of test-optional colleges continues to grow, and while some are truly test-optional, full stop, with many colleges there’s a lot of fine print. They might identify and market themselves as “test-optional” but still require standardized tests for certain majors, scholarship eligibility, international status, homeschooled students, or other categories of applicants.

If you are going to be taking tests, what you need from us is ruthlessly practical advice about how to get the scores that will serve you well when applying to colleges. But we’ll say it again: Your health matters more than these tests, and that includes your mental health. Many colleges don’t require standardized tests at all, and they will seriously consider you with or without test scores.

In this post, we’re focusing on which tests to take, how many times to take them, when to take them, and how to prepare for them.

WEEK 3 TO-DO’S

THIS WEEK

1. Make your schedule for any standardized tests that you decide you need or want to take, and plan for test prep that starts at least 8-10 week before your scheduled test.

THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS & TRICKS

1. Which tests should you take? The only way to know about college admissions requirements is to do your research. Visit the colleges’ websites and see what their policies are. (And they are fluid! Whatever they were last year might look different this year or next year.)  READ THE FINE PRINT to check whether or not you’ll still have time to take tests, even if the college is otherwise “test-optional” for most applicants. If you want to maximize options, we have this general advice:

  • If you need a standardized test, take the ACT OR THE SAT. You don’t need to take both. Even though the tests are similar, there are some key differences, and you may be better suited to one or the other. The best way to find out which test suits you best is to take practice tests for both and see if you score better on one or the other and then pick one to focus on. Some test prep companies also offer free diagnostic tests.
  • International students should plan on having to take an English proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo) unless they were educated in an English-language secondary school. (US citizens are by definition not counted as international students, even if they are living abroad and are being educated abroad.) Each college will have its own requirements around who must take these tests, and which tests it will accept.

2. How many times should you take the tests?

  • ACT/SAT: If you plan to take the ACT or SAT, plan to take it at least twice and leave room in your schedule for a possible third time. Why? Because some colleges permit “superscoring” (the policy of taking your best subscores from multiple tests to create your best composite score), and that favors having taken the test more than once. Not everyone can afford to keep taking the tests, or you might sit them out entirely because of Covid. Adapt this advice to your individual circumstances. Do NOT take the tests as many times as you can, just because you can. Most students don’t have the knowledge or skills to perform well until late in their junior (11th grade) year, plus you can only take it so many times between then and when applications are due. Your scores are only likely to improve significantly if you have time (2-6 months) between test administrations to improve.
  • English Proficiency (TOEFL etc): There is no superscoring for the these tests, so you should only take it more than once if you have not achieved the minimum score required for admission, or if you have barely achieved the minimum and you have reason to believe that you will do better.

3. When should you take the tests? We recommend the following schedules for taking the tests, but you can and should adjust this schedule for personal or school conflicts and for the Covid situation. Also, be aware that not all tests are available everywhere and at all times.

  • ACT & SAT: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • English Proficiency: Early summer (after ACT/SAT), late summer, and early fall (second and third dates if you need/want to retake)

4. How should you prep for the tests? You should not take these tests without preparing for them, but HOW you prep for the tests is largely a matter of time, resources, and personal preference. At a minimum, you should take advantage of the free resources provided by each testing agency and follow the advice we gave in Week 2 on proven strategies for improving scores. If you want to do more prep, then you’ll need to invest in study materials (either paper or online), group courses, or one-on-one tutoring. Here are some free resources:



P.S. Want this 52 Weeks to College series to land in your inbox every week? Sign up for our 52 Weeks newsletter here.

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 2

Applying to college requires some big decision making. However, it’s all about working smarter – not harder. Get our tips & tricks...

Anna Ivey

January 10, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 2

Applying to college requires some big decision making. However, it’s all about working smarter – not harder. Get our tips & tricks...
January 10, 2023
Permalink

The Keys to Improving Your
Grades and Test Scores

Conventional wisdom about how to improve your grades and test scores goes something like this: Buckle down, work harder, and devote more time to studying. But conventional wisdom is just plain wrong. You don’t have to work harder; you have to work smarter.

WEEK 2 TO-DO'S

THIS WEEK

Pick 1 or 2 classes where you could bump up your grade with just a big more focused attention.These are the classes where you have the B that could be a B+, or you have the B+ that could be an A-. Figure out what it takes to get the higher grade and start doing that. If you have no idea what it would take, go and talk to your teacher. Trust us, your teacher will be very happy to give you some suggestions to help you perform better.

Why do this? Your grades in the last half of 11th grade are the most recent evidence that college admissions officers will have about the kind of student you are. So better grades are very helpful. Plus, they contribute to an upward grade trend, which is also impressive. Finally, it lays the groundwork for outstanding recommendations from the teachers in those classes where you demonstrate your commitment to performing to the best of your abilities.

THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS & TRICKS

1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. One study showed that college students who increased their nightly sleep from 6 hours to 7 hours showed a whopping 10% boost in exam performance. That’s a big improvement for just giving your brain the sleep it needs!  For great tips on improving teen sleep, check out this article from Dr. Craig Canapari, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center.

2. Take practice tests. According to this article in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, taking practice tests is a far better way to study than highlighting, rereading, or summarizing (the most common ways students study). What kind of practice test should you do? Ideally, you use a practice test that is as similar as possible to the real test. So if you will have a multiple choice test in your Chemistry class, then ideally you would study using a multiple choice test that has previously been given in that Chemistry class. What if you don’t have access to a prior test? Doesn’t matter. It turns out you will still benefit from practice testing as long as the practice test addresses the same subject matter. So where do you find practice tests?

  • For standardized tests of any variety, there are practice tests available from many sources. (AP, IB, SAT, ACT, TOEFL) – use them!
  • For tests in your school courses, treat the questions at the end of a textbook chapter as a test, using homemade or purchased flashcards to test yourself, or searching online for tests in the subject matter. You can also see if your teacher will release old tests for you to use as study tools.

3. Set a study schedule that includes shorter sessions over time rather than a giant cram session. After comparing what scientists call “distributed practice” to “massed practice,” the results were pretty clear that distributed practice wins. Great. But what does that mean?

Distributed practice is a fancy way of saying that you break your studying into shorter sessions over time, rather than cramming everything into bigger, less frequent sessions. (Also the same approach you’re taking to your college applications in this series!)

Based on our experience working with students, here is what we suggest:

  • For standardized tests: Commit to doing at least 2 study sessions a week for the 10 weeks prior to the test.
  • For tests in school courses: Commit to adding at least 1 study session of the practice-test variety into your “homework” each week for every course.

P.S. Want this 52 Weeks to College series to land in your inbox every week? Sign up for our 52 Weeks newsletter here.



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 1

It’s time to kick things up a notch when preparing for college...

Anna Ivey

January 3, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 1

It’s time to kick things up a notch when preparing for college...
January 3, 2023
Permalink


Welcome to the “52 Weeks to College” Series

Welcome to the last half of your junior year!

It’s time to kick it up a notch when it comes to all things college related.

We know, we know. You probably already feel stressed and overwhelmed, so how do you kick it up a notch and not lose your mind?

It’s all about pacing and breaking things down into smaller chunks, and that’s what our 52 Weeks to College series will help you do.

From now through the end of the calendar year, we’ll be posting every week with specific to-dos to get done that week and all kinds of pro tips and tricks to help you knock out that list in the most efficient and effective way.

The important thing is to stay on track with your weekly to-dos, and that way, when the time comes, you’ll be submitting your best college applications with a minimum of drama or last-minute cramming.

Most weeks you’ll be able to polish off the items on your list with 1-2 hours focused on college stuff and a little bit of extra effort directed at things you are already doing. We promise this is doable.

If you are working with your school counselor or an independent counselor or a mentor, you can always adapt this schedule as needed.

See you next week, when the work begins!  💪

P.S. This series is mainly aimed at students applying to so-called “selective” colleges in the United States. In this context, “selective” means that their admissions rates are less than 50% (meaning, fewer than 50% of applicants get in), and those colleges practice a “holistic” admissions process. “Holistic” in this context means that admissions officers will look at an applicant as a whole person, and not just your grades or test scores. Those numbers will still matter, but they will be placed into the context of the rest of your life — your background, your achievements outside of the classroom, your opportunities, your challenges. And you’ll also be submitting other application components like essays, recommendations, and activities lists. Learn more about holistic admissions in this short video.


P.S. Want this 52 Weeks to College series to land in your inbox every week? Sign up for our 52 Weeks newsletter here.


Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 52

You're Done – Celebrate!

Anna Ivey

January 2, 2023

52 Weeks to College: Week 52

You're Done – Celebrate!
January 2, 2023
Permalink


It’s Week 52 and you are DONE! You have prepared and submitted your applications to every college on your list. You may or may not have gotten into one or two. Most of you are left with nothing to do but wait to hear from the colleges – and that is likely months away. So now what?


WEEK 52 TO-DOS



THIS WEEK

  • Celebrate!

  • Wrap up doing anything you need to do in response to the colleges you’ve heard from.

  • Finish submitting your applications if there are any lingering. If the deadline is in February, get those applications in by January 15 at the latest.

  • Finish your financial aid forms if there are any lingering.

  • Respond to any invitations for interviews and interview.


THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.

  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS AND TRICKS



Celebrate. We doubt you need a huge amount of help figuring out how to celebrate, but you may not be sure exactly what you are celebrating, especially if you haven’t gotten into any of the colleges where you’ve applied. So let us tell you!

  • You are celebrating that you have crossed a major milestone on this seemingly endless journey to college.

  • You are celebrating all the accomplishments that you highlighted in your applications — every grade, every activity, every idea presented in your application represents an accomplishment. There are lots of them!

  • You are celebrating all the life skills you’ve learned in the last 52 weeks, including how to manage a major project, how to roll with the punches presented by a global pandemic, and how to present yourself in your best light.

This is all huge. HUGE. Celebrate it!



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 51

Deferrals

Anna Ivey

December 30, 2022

52 Weeks to College: Week 51

Deferrals
December 30, 2022
Permalink


Last week, we covered what to do if your applications were accepted or denied. There’s a third category that is a bit of a limbo state: deferrals. This week, we’ll cover your next steps if your application shave been deferred.


WEEK 51 TO-DOS



THIS WEEK

  • Do what you need to do in response to the decisions you receive from the colleges about your early applications.

  • As soon as you’ve heard from your early schools, you will know which, if any, regular applications to submit. Do it now! (Aren’t you glad you had them ready to go?)

  • Continue doing what it takes to finish the term with great grades.

  • Get all your financial aid forms as close to finished as possible.


THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.

  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS AND TRICKS



1. Treat your deferral as a second chance. Being deferred is a bit disappointing, but you haven’t been denied. Instead, you have a second chance to be admitted! Your deferred application will be reconsidered in the regular round of decision making. Assuming you have continued on a positive course in the first part of your senior year, you have new information that can and will make the application you've already submitted even better.

2. Update your application in one go. Rather than sending things in dribs and drabs, assemble all your updates into one package of materials and submit them all together with a short and polite cover letter. That way, all the updates together will make a cohesive and persuasive statement about you. (Sending updates individually also makes it more likely that something will be misfiled or lost.) If that college remains your first choice, make sure to reiterate that in your cover letter.

3. Use good judgment about what to send in your update. Here are the five kinds of updates that can help your deferred application (listed in order from most influential to least influential):

  • New (and good) grades

  • New (and higher) test scores (if you took tests at all, and your test scores stack up favorably, send them even if you didn’t send test scores initially; the schools can decide what they want to do with them)

  • New academic honors or awards

  • Anything you have done that demonstrates interest in that college (unless a college expressly tells you they don’t care about demonstrated interest)

  • A positive word from someone who has a deep and influential connection to the university (major donor, board member, alum, tenured faculty, high-level staff); most people won’t have these, so don’t sweat it if you don’t either

You can, of course, also submit other kinds of updates, like additional essays, recommendations, or supplementary materials. But we're not as enthusiastic about encouraging you to submit those, because those kinds of updates get mixed reviews from admissions officers. They tend to be more of the same, and they usually serve only to make your file fatter and more time-consuming for an already harried admissions officer to get through.



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 50

Accepted, Denied – What to Do Now

Anna Ivey

December 23, 2022

52 Weeks to College: Week 50

Accepted, Denied – What to Do Now
December 23, 2022
Permalink

If you submitted early college applications, some decisions are rolling in now (some won’t come until later). You’re no doubt doing a happy dance if you were accepted, scratching your head if you were deferred, and nursing your wounds if you were denied. Regardless of your situation, we’ve got tips about what you need to do now. We’ll cover acceptances and denials this week, and deferrals next week. Remember – it isn’t truly over until you’ve arrived at college next fall!


WEEK 50 TO-DOS



THIS WEEK

  • Do what you need to do in response to the decisions you receive from the colleges about your early applications.
  • As soon as you’ve heard from your early schools, you will know which, if any, regular applications to submit. Do it now! (Aren’t you glad you had them ready to go?)
  • Check in with your school counselor and your teachers to get anything you need from them before the holiday. Get tips about this in last week’s post.
  • Continue doing what it takes to finish the term with great grades.
  • Get all your financial aid forms as close to finished as possible. Delay any that aren’t due before your holiday break so you can stay focused on schoolwork.


THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS AND TRICKS



IF YOU WERE ACCEPTED:

1. Share the happy news with your high school counselor and your recommenders and thank them.


2. If you applied EARLY DECISION, and you have received your financial aid package, and you have read all the fine print, and you can afford to attend, then you are bound to accept the college’s offer and you should do the following:

  • Make your enrollment deposit by the stated deadline (usually by January 1).
  • Withdraw your other pending applications and decline any other offers of admission. All you have to do is send a two line email to the admissions office at the other colleges: Please withdraw my application from consideration. I was admitted to [name of college] through Early admission and I will be enrolling there. Sign it with your full name, your birth date, and the name of your high school to make sure they withdraw the right application and mark the right offer of admission as “declined.” You must withdraw directly with each individual college. It is not enough to notify your school-based counselor or update your account in Naviance (or whatever internal platform your high school uses).
  • Follow through with financial aid deadlines and documentation.
  • Don’t lose steam. You have to graduate, you have to keep up your grades, you still have to stay out of trouble….

3. If you applied EARLY DECISION, and you have NOT have received your financial aid package at the same time, sit tight because you do not have to withdraw your other applications until you have received your financial aid package. When you do receive your financial aid package, read it carefully, including the fine print. If you cannot afford to attend, nobody can force you to attend, and you are also free to submit new applications in that scenario. You must let your ED school know if you cannot afford to attend. Do not abuse this process.

4. If you applied EARLY ACTION, then you have some decisions of your own to make because you are not bound to accept the college’s offer.

  • Decide whether to accept the offer now, or whether to wait and apply elsewhere and decide after you’ve heard from your other colleges.
  • If you decide to accept the offer, follow the checklist above for Early Decision.
  • If you decide not to accept, then submit your remaining applications and wait.


IF YOU WERE DENIED:


  1. Wallow in your misery for a short time and then move on. No question that being denied by a college where you applied feels bad. So let yourself feel bad for a little bit. Allow yourself a couple of days to rant, rave, cry, or be grumpy. You just don’t want to get stuck here.
  2. Then regroup quickly. Remember life isn’t over and you can go on to a perfectly wonderful future. So dust yourself off and get back in the game. You still have the option of applying to other colleges for their Regular Decision or Rolling deadlines. Sometimes we take a shot and we miss. We all do at one point or another. Don't quit now... tap into your inner resilience and keep going.
  3. Do some analysis of what went wrong this time. Then set about doing it differently. Was that school a long shot because of your credentials? Do you have newer, better credentials that you can showcase for your next batch of schools? Could you have done a better job telling your story? Do you have a more realistic list of schools to pursue for the next batch? Did you lose steam when you got to the application forms themselves? What can you do better or differently or more realistically going forward? Do you need to take a gap year to fix bigger problems? Consider both your short-term and long-term options. Read this excellent post by Jon Boeckenstedt to find out why that might be.

Next week we’ll cover some tips for applications that have been DEFERRED.

Enjoy the holidays, you deserve a break!





52 Weeks to College: Week 49

A Few Final Things to Do Before You Break for the Holiday

Anna Ivey

December 16, 2022

52 Weeks to College: Week 49

A Few Final Things to Do Before You Break for the Holiday
December 16, 2022
Permalink

Most of you are getting close the time you will break for a winter holiday. And when you have a holiday, so do your school counselor and your teachers. There are a few things you’ll want to do before everyone has some much-needed rest and relaxation.

And, of course, I haven’t forgotten that it’s right around the time to hear from the colleges where you applied early. Next week’s post will be all about how to handle the news – whatever it is. For this week, stick to the plan to get the things done that you need to do before the holiday. You’ll thank me next week, when you can be singularly focused on the big news. Promise.



WEEK 49 TO-DOS


THIS WEEK

  • Check in with your school counselor and your teachers to get anything you need from them before the holiday.
  • Continue doing what it takes to finish the term with great grades. Get some study tips in last week’s post.
  • Get all your financial aid forms as close to finished as possible. Delay any that aren’t due before your holiday break so that you can stay focused on schoolwork.



THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS AND TRICKS



1. Update your school counselor and recommenders about where you are in the college application process and thank them for their help so far.

Your school counselor and your recommenders WANT to know what’s happening. So give them a brief update along with a thank you before you go on break. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just an email along with these lines will do the trick:

Hi Mr. Delaney:

I just wanted to let you know how things are going with college applications. I’m waiting to hear back from three colleges where I submitted early. Depending on what I hear from them, I plan to submit one to three more applications by the end of the year.

Thank you so much for all you’ve done to help me. I
really appreciate it. I’ll keep you updated about decisions as they come in.

Have a wonderful holiday!
~Stephanie Student



2. At the same time you send your update, confirm that your school reports, counselor recommendations, and teacher recommendations will be submitted before the holiday IF you are submitting applications with deadlines that come during the holiday.

Many of you will be submitting applications with due dates during the holiday (think of all the January 1-15 schools!). That means you’ll have school reports, counselor recommendations, and teacher recommendations due then too. So it is vital that you line them up before the holiday comes. Do it at LEAST A WEEK BEFORE THE HOLIDAY STARTS.

Confirm that these have already been sent or are in line to be sent in, whatever way makes the most sense. You’ll know the system at your school by now. But do yourself a favor and double-check everything. If you submitted the form to request one of those items, check back with your school counselor or recommender and make sure they got it. Same if you sent an email request or made a request online through Naviance or something similar.

You can also just add a sentence or two to the email you’re already sending with the update to confirm. For example, Stephanie Student could modify her email this way:


Hi Mr. Delaney:

I just wanted to let you know how things are going with college applications. I’m waiting to hear back from three colleges where I submitted early.

Depending on what I hear from them, I plan to submit applications to the following colleges before January 1st: College 1, College 2, College 3. I have already requested that you send your recommendation to those colleges, but could you please confirm that you will do that before the holiday? I want to make sure they receive it by the deadline.

Thank you so much for all you’ve done to help me. I
really appreciate it. I’ll keep you updated about decisions as they come in as well as let you know if my application plans change.

Have a wonderful holiday!

~Stephanie Student


Stephanie should get a reply from Mr. Delaney confirming that he has sent the recommendation to Colleges 1, 2, and 3 AT LEAST TWO DAYS before the holiday break. If she doesn’t, she should follow up with Mr. Delaney and make sure he’s going to get it done. You can and should be diligent without being a pest. Just be polite, but firm, that you need to get his confirmation that the recommendation has been sent.



Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

52 Weeks to College: Week 48

When Will I Hear Something From Colleges?

Anna Ivey

December 9, 2022

52 Weeks to College: Week 48

When Will I Hear Something From Colleges?
December 9, 2022
Permalink

We know it’s frustrating while you’re waiting for your admissions decisions. This week, we’ll talk about when you can expect to hear and also help you refocus your energy on things within your control – like your schoolwork!


WEEK 48 TO-DOS

THIS WEEK

  • Do a quick check of when you are supposed to hear from your early colleges.
  • Return your focus on your schoolwork so you can finish the term with great grades. Check out last week’s post for a refresh.
  • Get all your financial aid forms as close to finished as possible. Delay any that aren’t due before your holiday break so you can stay focused on schoolwork.
  • Respond to any invitations for interviews and interview. See Week 45 for tips.


THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.

TIPS AND TRICKS

1. Finding out when and how you will be notified of a college’s admissions decision is usually a quick and easy research task.

Start by READING the emails that the college has sent you and CHECKING your admissions portal on the college’s website. Very often, the college either tells you or posts their notification dates. Some even give you real time updates. If there’s no joy there, then try this simple Google search: “early notification date admission [name of college here]” Scan the results looking for the most current information and give preference to information that is posted by the college itself because that is the most reliable. If you can’t find anything from the college, then and only then should you scour the discussion boards. Fair warning: the discussion boards are usually full of anxious applicants like you who mostly know nothing for sure. So take anything you find there with a BIG grain of salt.

2. You’ll probably know before the FAT ENVELOPE comes.

The majority of colleges will either notify you by email or post your admissions decision on your applicant portal on the day that the envelopes go out via snail mail. There are, however, a few colleges that still notify ONLY by snail mail and for those, the Fat Envelope is what you want to see! Since you should be getting your decision online, there are a couple of things to do to get prepared:

  • Make sure that email from the college is not going to your SPAM folders. If you find anything from the college there, then be sure to look there on a regular basis, especially on the days around the time you expect to be notified.
  • If the college has given you a link and log in information for an applicant portal or website where you can find out the college’s admissions decision, test it before the big day. Your meltdown when you encounter technical difficulties on decision day will be EPIC. Guaranteed. So test your log in now and avoid that drama. Don’t log in every five minutes, though. Colleges can see your log in history if they want to, so keep that in mind.

3. When the FAT ENVELOPE arrives, take the time to read everything inside it. There will be important information about deposit deadlines, housing, and financial aid. You don’t want to miss any of this critical information. Unfortunately, there are some colleges out there that will assume you’re not enrolling and give your spot away if you fail to turn in the housing form, for example. (This has actually happened.)

Now back to studying – remember to finish strong!!!


Get more essay help right within your copy of Inline.

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.