Tagged: college list

Welcome to Your 2016-2017 Common Application!

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For those of you anxiously waiting, the Common Application is officially open and ready to use for this year’s college applications! Over the coming months, you will meticulously enter and review with a fine-tooth comb your personal, academic, and activities information. However, we want to focus on the section that just became available with the August 1st launch: Your Colleges!

It’s time to put your Admitster College List to Work!

We hope you’ve been using our College List Tool to research and create your personalized short-list of colleges and universities! Now, you get to take this list and put it into action! The first thing you will have to do is log into www.commonapp.org and create and store your username and password somewhere safe.

Then, you will want to click on “College Search”, where you can simply search for each school by name and add them to your list.  Once you have added all of the colleges you like (you can add as many as 20), click Dashboard and you will see your college list– it’ll be called “My Colleges”.

For each college, you will see four things: Questions, Assign Recommenders, Submission, and Writing Supplement (obviously, submitting is the last thing you want to do!). In order to understand the requirements of each college on your list, you will need to click on each college, and do the following:

Start with the “Questions”:  You want to carefully look at the Questions for each school. Here’s where you’ll see all the school-specific short answer questions, as well as prompts to enter things like your desired major or program. Oftentimes, entering a specific program (for example in engineering or the arts) will “trigger” some additional required questions and information. So it’s wise to enter in your major for each school (and maybe play with a few alternatives) so you can see you how a choice might impact what’s being asked of you in any given application.

Watch out for the “Other” Section: In many of the college’s Question section, you see something called “Other.”  I’ve seen this section contain straightforward questions, such as an honor code. I’ve also seen it be a somewhat hidden repository for longer supplementary essays. Some unfortunate students have not noticed these until they go to submit applications. Therefore, you should click through every single section, no matter how small it seems, making sure you don’t miss a thing!

Preview each Writing Supplement: Most of the time, this section includes the supplementary short essay questions. For example, you might be asked to elaborate on an extra-curricular activity, or explain your interest in the school. For strategies on crafting your responses, read this blog post.

However, oftentimes, colleges might have more extensive essays that are just as long as your college essay! You’ll be wanting to get to work on these quickly, as it may impact your topic selection for your Common App essay (as you generally should not write about the same topic in two essays).

Don’t over-rely on the Dashboard View: This is a helpful tool, for sure. It’ll have a symbol for each school that requires a writing supplement. As we’ve learned, since these supplements sometimes appear in the Questions section,  the Dashboard might inaccurately not list a writing supplement for each school. Again, this is why you need to carefully go through every section!

While the Dashboard presents application deadlines for each college, these are for regular decision admissions only. You will be responsible for tracking any earlier deadlines, such as Early Action, Early Decision, and Merit Aid scholarships.

Know when to work off-line: For any written content beyond the essentials, I’d highly suggest moving off the website and onto a separate document. You don’t want to accidentally submit rough drafts or lose work during a crash!

Word Count and Character Count: As you manage these written components, pay careful attention to the directions on each prompt.  Most questions will have a clear word count (very rarely is it unlimited). However, many short responses will often have a character count, or even a line-count. This implies that they are looking for precise responses (I’ve helped more than a handful of students edit an eloquent 250 word short essay to a pithy 250 character statement.)

So, now that you’re in this year’s application- have some fun, poke around, and most importantly, get organized. If you start to feel overwhelmed, we are here to help you succeed! Our college advisers have expert knowledge of each school and their requirements, and can give you the extra support you need to submit impressive applications to each school on your list!  Remember, we offer a free consultation to any new client (rising seniors- we’re looking at you!). 

The Seriously Cool College List Builder Tool

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list makingLike all journeys, the path to college begins by taking a first step. Now, you may have been thinking about college. You may have been working hard to keep your grades up and to engage deeply in the extracurricular activities that you love. You may have started to mull over different possibilities of who you can ask for letters of recommendation. However, for many, the college admissions process has been little more than a thought experiment – until now. Now the time has come to put pen to paper / fingers to keyboards and start work on the first draft of your college list! This is important because once you have established the foundation of a great college list, you can start looking ahead to further exciting steps in the process, such as scheduling college tours over the summer months, visits that can help you to then further refine your list. Of course, there are a number of different factors to consider when thinking about where you may want to apply to college, not to mention the financial aspects of being an undergraduate student, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Happily, we’re here to help!

First of all, some basic list-building tips: Your list should include at least three reach schools (where you have a 10%-33% chance of acceptance), three target schools (where you have a 34%-66% chance of acceptance), and three safety schools (where you have a greater than 66% chance of acceptance). You should also have one school on your list where you have a 95% or higher chance of acceptance, and you should include two schools where you have at least an 80% chance of acceptance. And fear not – the College List Builder tool lets you know your chances of admission at each of the schools on your list, so you’ll have all of the information you need at your fingertips! “The College List Builder tool?”, you ask? Yes! Read on…

Through Admitster, you have two different options to help you build a well-balanced and robust list of schools. Option #1 is to take 20 seconds to register a FREE account with us, giving you full access to the online College List Builder tool. Then click on “My Profile” to enter some information about yourself, for instance, in terms of academics, extracurricular activities, and leadership initiatives. From there, click on “My College List” and let the fun begin!

Depending on where you are in the college list-building process, you can do a few things:

  1. If you are starting from scratch and really aren’t sure where you’d like to apply, then simply click on “Take The Survey” – we’ll ask you a few questions about your preferences and will then offer suggestions of colleges you may be interested in, based on your survey responses.
  2. If you’ve already started building a college list and have a few schools that you know you’d like to apply to, but still need to expand your list, then click on “Find Similar Schools.” We’ll use your profile and the schools that others like you have applied to, and show you relevant suggestions for additional schools that you may want to consider. We may even surprise you with some schools you’ve never before heard of but would love!
  3. If you believe that you already have a nearly-completed college list in-hand, then you can enter all of those schools into your “Current List” and we’ll let you know whether your list is indeed well-balanced and complete, or whether it needs further revision. Voila!

However, if you’re looking for more personalized college list building guidance, then you may want to consider Option #2. This route means taking advantage of Admitster’s Your Perfect List service, through which our experts work with you to build your college list. We’ll get to know you better, through questionnaires and/or interviews, and throughout the process you’ll be informed of the thinking behind each suggested addition to your college list. Click here to learn more about this fantastic service!

Having a balanced and well-considered college list is one of the first tangible steps that you’ll take on the journey to college. Through the use of our free, online College List Builder tool and/or personalized, affordable Your Perfect List service, Admitster offers incredible guidance and support as you begin your college admissions adventures! It was Lao Tzu who spoke the words, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Know, however, that the road to college need not be traveled alone. We’re here to help.

Shouting From The Rooftops!

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I recently came across a college counseling company’s website and was stunned to see that they’re charging nearly $3,000 for only their “College List Advising” service. Enough! Stop the madness!

To be honest, reading about that service at that price made me feel a bit like this:

screaming

Happily, Admitster is out to help level the college admissions playing field and we will provide you with a college list-building tool for FREE! All you have to do (be you a student, parent, or high school counselor) is take 30 seconds to register an account with us. Then click on “My Profile” to enter a bit of information about yourself, for instance, in terms of academics, activities, and leadership. From there, you click on “My College List” and let the fun begin!

Depending on where you are in the college list-building process, you can do a few things:

  1. You are starting from scratch and really aren’t sure where you’d like to apply. If this is the case, simply click on “Take the Survey” – we’ll ask you a few questions and then offer suggestions of colleges you may be interested in based on your survey responses.
  2. You’ve started building a college list and have a few schools that you know you’d like to apply to, but need to expand your list. If this sounds like you, then click on “Find Similar Schools.” We’ll use your profile and the schools that others like you have applied to, and show you relevant suggestions for additional schools you may be interested in and want to consider.
  3. You may feel that you already have a completed college list in-hand. If this sounds like you, then you can enter all of the schools on your list into your “Current List” and Admitster will let you know whether your list is well-balanced and robust or whether it needs further tweaking.

In going about this process, don’t forget our tips for creating a balanced list of schools! Your list should include three reach schools (those where you have a 10%-33% chance of acceptance), three target schools (those where you have a 34%-66% chance of acceptance), and three safety schools (those where you have greater than a 66% chance of acceptance). You should also have one school on your list where you have a 95% or higher chance of acceptance, and you should include two schools where you have at least an 80% chance of acceptance.  Remember, Admitster’s College List Building tool lets you know your chances of admission at each of the schools on your proposed list, so you’ll have all of the information you need at your fingertips!

We want to help.

We offer a number of free online college counseling tools (not only the College List Builder tool and extremely accurate projections of your acceptance odds, but also the What If? Engine, which allows you to experiment with different scenarios to see how they impact your admissions chances at different schools), it’s true. We also offer college essay review servicespersonalized admissions advising services, and tutoring & test prep services, all of which are accessible at price points that are designed to be affordable for everyone who wants to access them.

I’m shouting it from the rooftops! Admitster exists to help everyone, and not only those with tremendous financial means, to own the journey to college. Click here to learn more!