Juniors

How to Make the Most of Your College Visits

The College Visit 

Depending on your time and interest level, plan one of the following types of college visits: 

 

Basic Visit 

  1. Attend an information session.  Ask questions about admissions, financial aid, choice of majors.  IMPORTANT: Get a business card from an admissions person. 
  2. Do a college and dorm tour.  What does the campus look like?  Where do freshman live? What are the housing options? 
  3. Eat a meal on campus.  Go to the dining hall or coffee shop and eat.  Introduce yourself to some students and ask questions.  You will be surprised at how much they want to share about the college. 

 

Extended Visit 

In addition to the basic visit schedule – an information session, a campus tour, and a meal on campus – ask if you can add the following appointments at the schools that you are most interested in:  

  1. Meet individually with an admissions counselor.  Ask more about special programs, what the college has to offer, and your admissions expectations.  IMPORTANT: Get a business card from an admissions person. 
  2. Meet with a financial aid advisor.  What types of financial aid and/or merit scholarships do they offer?  What questions do your parents have that need answered? 
  3. Meet with an academic advisor in the field of study that interests you.  Learn more about the courses and professors in your selected field of study. 
  4. Visit a class.  Before your visit, get permission to sit in on a class.  This gives you a feel for what college will be like, and what it would feel like to be a student there. 

 

Overnight Visit 

Some colleges offer prospective students the chance to spend the night on campus to learn more about the school.  An overnight visit will provide great insight into student life on campus.  These visits are usually organized by the college, and include college tours, classes on campus, and the chance to stay in a college dorm with a college student host. 

Check with your counselor for a list of colleges that offer overnight stays. Save overnight visits for your top college choices. 

 

On Your Visit 

As you do the college tour of the campus, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Would fit in academically here? 
  • Would I fit in socially here? 
  • Do I feel comfortable with the physical location? 

 

Follow up after your visit 

  • Send a thank you email to the admissions representative that conducted the information session or that you met with individually. 
  • Record your visit using the Discuss Tab – or download our college visit form.  Pros/Cons can be listed on the Decisions Tab under Decision Details. 
  • Add visits as milestones or tasks.  Use college profiles to learn about a school. 

 

Take Action 

Make plans now to visit colleges on your list.  Enjoy your visits and find out which school fits you best!

  

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Road Trip: Preparing for Spring Break College Visits

continents

Using your spring break to visit colleges is a great idea, but be aware of spring break schedules for the colleges you wish to visit. It’s best to see a college when students are on campus. Here are a few tips to prepare for your spring college visits. 

 

  • Create a College Visit Itinerary. Using a map, look at college locations and decide on an itinerary that fits within your given time.  Don’t worry if you can’t see all of the colleges on your list. Focus on some of your top choices and then plan other school visits that are within the same geographic area. 
  • Register for college visits online.  Once you have a list of colleges to visit, register for campus tours online with the admissions office.  Resist the urge to plan “drive through” visits.  An official campus tour takes more time, but gives you a better feel for the college/campus. And don’t plan too many visits in a day –  one or two per day is best. 
  • Review your priorities for a good college fit. As discussed in the blog  What is College Fit, fit includes 4 components; academic, social, emotional and physical.  
  • Learn the basics.  Look up the school’s size, majors offered, and other details that interest you. Your visit will be more meaningful when you know the basics.
  • Create a List of Questions. Write down your Top 10 Questions for each college visit.  Focus on what you would study and who would you study with. 

 

Take Action 

Use GuidedPath to find links to college admission offices to schedule visits. Take a virtual tour of a college by viewing YOUniversityTV videos from the “Tours” tab. 

 

Review the details on the colleges by clicking on the “Info” and “FISKE” tabs.  Watch for next week’s email: How to make the most of your college visits.  


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Seven Tips for Acing the SAT


How can you ace the SAT? Here are 7 tips for you:

  1. Test Day Checklist.  Get a good night’s sleep before the test. Be sure you arrive at the SAT prepared with the right tools. See TEST DAY CHECKLIST. Be sure to bring a protein snack, a watch, and an approved calculator.
  2. Consider Using Score Choice. Consider waiting to send your scores until you see them. You can send them to selected colleges later.
  3. Guess. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the SAT or ACT meaning that the most important strategy is to answer as many questions as possible.  Eliminate as many answers as possible, then make a calculated guess. It won’t hurt your score.  If you see that time is running short on a section use the last minute to fill in as many bubbles as you can – you can add a few points to your score by simply guessing one more right answer.
  4. Brush up on Algebra 1 & 2.  The SAT emphasizes Algebra, with some Algebra 2 and Trigonometry.  Not much Geometry. The math section includes many word based problems.
  5. Pace Yourself. Remember you have two sections to do: Evidence based Reading and Writing, and Math. The optional essay section is at the end of the test. The test is 3 hours if you are not doing the essay section, 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay. 
  6. Prepare for an Analytical Essay.  The SAT essay is 50 minutes long, optional, and focused on analyzing content. Gone is the persuasive essay. Prepare to support your analysis in your writing.
  7. Relax.  This is just a test. It shows your ability on a single Saturday. It does not define the rest of your life.  You will have a chance to retake it or take the ACT. You have been going to school for over 10 years. You know more than you realize. 

Take Action 

Review your testing schedule and keep track of test registrations. Add all your spring tests to your testing schedule. 

Registration links: 

ACT
SAT  

Ask at your school about taking a practice SAT or ACT test.

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Who’s watching your social media?

Alan Katzman, founder and CEO of Social Assurity, guides students on creating a winning social media presence. He is a pioneer in developing and advancing techniques to teach students how to use social media to build a compelling and reflective digital presence as a game-changing tool for creating academic and career success at all educational levels.  We’re giving you his top four reasons why you should be aware of how social media can impact your college planning. 

Reason #1: Admission Officers Are Looking at Your Social Media
Thanks to Kaplan Test Prep and its annual survey of college admissions officers, we know that at least 35% of admission officers in the United States looked at applicant social media during the 2016 admissions process. We also know that admissions officers are more likely to look when considering scholarships and when invited to do so by applicants. 

Reason #2: Since They’re Looking, Why Not Give Them Something to See?
College admissions officers have neither the time nor the interest to search social media simply to find reasons to reject qualified applicants. If and when colleges look, logic dictates they are looking to learn more about the applicant, opening the door of opportunity for the prepared applicant to make a strong impression and set themselves apart from other qualified applicants. 

Reason #3: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Almost all colleges now have a prominent social media presence and encourage applicants to interact with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  By optimizing social media to showcase their activities, interests, accomplishments, and service, applicants can freely and safely interact with colleges and may very well impress the right people as a result. 

Reason #4: Managing Social Media is an Essential Life Skill
Social media is here to stay and will continue to influence character and credibility assessments made by colleges, scholarship committees, and employers. Today, a thoughtful, transparent, and reflective digital presence across social media networks can help students achieve their academic and professional goals and aspirations.  

     

Take action
Review your social media accounts.  What would you like colleges or others to see about you? Want to do more?  Social Assurity offers online classes to get your social media presence right. 

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It’s never too early to start thinking about your essays.

Last week, the Common Application announced that the essay prompts for 2019-2020 will remain the same as they were in 2018-2019 application.  So, what are you waiting for?  Now is a great time to start brainstorming topics for your Common App essay.    

 

2019-2020 Common Application Essay Prompts 

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 

During the 2018-2019 application year, the most popular topic was #7: “Share an essay on any topic of your choice…” (24.1%).  With this last prompt, you have free-reign to write about practically anything.  How should you decide?   

Keep in mind that the colleges will already have a lot of information about you in your application – your high school transcript, your activity list, demographic information, maybe even recommendations.  Your essay is an opportunity to tell the college something they don’t already know – to give them greater insight on what makes you – YOU!  The key is to find a topic that allows you to tell your most important story in an authentic voice.  

 

Take Action 

Look at each Common App essay prompt.  Give yourself two minutes for each question (set a timer) and jot down the first idea (or two or three) that comes to mind.  Some prompts may spark multiple ideas – some may challenge you to really think.  However, in less than 15 minutes, you’ve already created a working list of essay topics.   

Put this list away for now and try this exercise again in a week or two.  Do you find yourself gravitating to one or two of the questions?  Which answers come most naturally to you?  Which is your most important story?

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What are the top 5 Myths about Paying for College?

myth debunked

Here are the top 5 myths about paying for college our counselors hear.  Don’t fall victim to these myths! 

1. My family maketoo much money to qualify for financial aid.
This is one of the biggest myths out there. You may not qualify for aid at one school, and qualify for lots of money at another school (see blog How Do You Get Money for College?)

2. It costs more to go out-of-state than to stay in-state. 
Not so. With increased tuition rates in many states, it is not always cheaper to stay in-state.  There are out of state tuition waivers available for many students. Also, colleges offer scholarships to students for athletes, scholars, certain majors, leadership, and other categories. Don’t narrow your list of colleges to just in-state schools.

3. It cost more to go to a private school than a public school.
Not necessarily.  Each family situation is unique and you may find it will cost less for your family if you attend a private school.  See blog: Can you Pay Less to Go To A More Expensive College? for Jack’s story of paying less at Dartmouth than CSU Los Angeles.

4. Outside scholarships help reduce what you pay out of pocket for college.
Not true. Scholarships don’t necessarily reduce your family’s out of pocket expense unless you pay the full cost of college out of pocket. Scholarships are part of your financial aid package. Colleges may subtract outside scholarships from their own merit awards, or from your student loan/work study allocation.  Ask colleges for their policies. This is why it is in your best interest to explore your choices for college.  Find one that best fits your situation and needs.  

5. Financial aid only helps with tuition.
Financial aid is available to pay for ALL college expenses: tuition, room and board, books, transportation, and personal expenses. Colleges realize you need to buy toothpaste and have a pizza now and then. Financial aid can apply to all of these costs. 

Take Action
GuidedPath offers lots of resources to help you plan for college costs. 

  • Take the EFC Calculator survey to determine your EFC and generate a strategy for reducing college costs. 
  • Read how the College Information Financial Aid Graphs provide insight into the financial aid packages offered to students. 
  • Utilize the Financial Aid Form Report in GuidedPath – it summarizes all the financial aid requirements for each of the schools on your list.   
  • Take a look at these financial aid documents prepared for GuidedPath Families including “Tackling the Basics of Financial Aid” and “How to Compare Financial Aid Offers.” 

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