Seniors: Have you heard from your Early Action or Early Decision schools?


It’s December!  Holidays, family, days off from school – and college decisions?!  That’s right, if you applied to any of the schools on your list in the first round of early action or early decision, you’ll probably be receiving decisions soon (if you haven’t already).  This month be sure to: 

  • Watch for admissions emails or letters from colleges. 
  • Decide on your next steps. 

Which type of early application did you complete?  Pick from the following list the types of early college applications you used. 

Next Steps 

As decisions start to roll in, what should you do now? 

  1. I was admitted Early Decision.  Congratulations!!  You are done!! Early decision means that you are required to attend if the school offers you admission.  This means no more applications for you! You should call any other school to which you have applied to withdraw your application.  You should also not submit any new applications. Revel in the freedom from college applications for the rest of your senior year!  
  2. I was admitted Early Action (or Restrictive Early Action or Rolling Admission).  Congratulations!!  You’ve got some thinking to do.  Early action admits have until May 1 to decide whether you want to enroll.  You’ll be spending some time over the next few months comparing schools, academic programs, and financial aid awards.  You may also want to do visits (or second visits) to the schools you’ve been admitted to before making your final decision.   
  3. I was deferred.  It’s not over yet.  The school has not made a final decision on your application.  They’ve decided they want more time to consider you. You should follow up with the college to inquire whether you can submit any additional information like senior mid-year grades, new test scores, an additional recommendation, etc.  Consider submitting additional applications so that you have some back-up options.  
  4. I was denied.  So perhaps you were not admitted to your early application school(s).  That’s ok! You might have known it was a “reach” when you applied Early Decision but it still stings when you aren’t offered admission.  Take time to process that and then refocus on your other options. Submit any applications that are still outstanding and consider submitting as an Early Decision II or Early Action II candidate.  The second-round early deadlines can still give you an edge with your new first choice school.  

Take Action  

Use GuidedPath to manage all your admissions decisions.  

  1. Record your outcomes in your GuidedPath account.  Mark admissions, deferments or non-admissions under Decisions. 
  2. Use Plans to re-organize and add round 2 applications if needed. 
  3. Use Progress to view application progress for all college applications.

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Seniors: Don’t get the Senioritus Blues


Singing the Senioritus Blues

I worked my rear off four years straight 

Taken tests over and over with my classmates 

Volunteered in every school club 

Took AP classes until my brain was numb 

Ran for office more than was my due 

Played Varsity football, soccer, and wrestling too 

Made a list of colleges with my advisor’s might and strength 

Not too long, not too short, just the right length 

Essays and applications, perfected and polished 

Are what it will take to get me into college 

Soon my answers will come back clear 

No from some, I know, and hopefully a yes from one I hold dear

Now I can party and enjoy myself December to May 

Replace homework with music on my phone to stay 

Drop Calculus and take time with friends after lunch 

No need to study, or worry about the AP test crunch 

I can go to prom and stay up until dawn 

Forget about helping my parents or mowing the lawn 

Wait!  My college friend said to beware 

Or I will be singing the senioritis blues 

In a letter from the college I will get the news 

The college does not like seeing my grades in the cellar 

They care if my record is no longer stellar 

The college can and will withdraw my acceptance for fall 

Then my face will no longer grace the freshman hall

I have learned from my friend’s story 

I don’t want senioritis to get to me. 

Or I will be singing the senioritis blues.


Keep going strong in your senior year.  Colleges can and do check your mid-year and final grades for senior year.  Every year they withdraw acceptances for students who have not maintained their academic record.  Don’t be one of those students – make the most of your senior year! 

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How much I will pay for college?

A Thanksgiving Thought 

 Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.  Brian Tracy   

Keep this thought in mind during the Thanksgiving season. Strive to find a lesson in each of life’s experiences – good and bad – to make you a better and stronger person. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the GuidedPath team


And now for our regularly scheduled post –

How much will I pay for college? 

Paying for college is often compared to paying for airline tickets. No two people pay the same price.  What will your costs be at college? How much you pay for college depends on many factors. Knowing what those factors are, and how college will look at your family’s financial situation, will help you know what the price of your “college” ticket will be. Knowing how it will differ from one college to another will help you compare one college to another. 

Am I eligible for financial aid? 

What do colleges look at to determine how much you pay for college? The FAFSA or the CSS Profile forms are used to determine how much your family can contribute to your college education.  The forms include questions about: 

  • Your parents’ income 
  • Your income (if any) – even babysitting counts 
  • Your parents’ savings or investments 
  • Savings or investments in your name 

What is an “Expected Family Contribution”? 

The data from your FAFSA is used to calculate your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC).  This is the number is the amount (according to the federal government) that your family should be able to afford to pay for one year of college.  Colleges use this number to determine how much (if any) need-based financial aid you will receive.  

What else is considered? 

Besides income and assets, these factors are also considered: 

  • Your parents’ age. The older they are, the more savings they should set aside to retire. 
  • Size of your family.  Large families need more money to live than small families. 
  • The number of children in college at one time.  If more than one child is enrolled in college simultaneously, the EFC for each child will be less.  Unfortunately, parents enrolled in college don’t count.  

When do I file my financial aid forms? 

Timing is everything when it comes to financial aid. Watch for details about when colleges require the FAFSA or the CSS Profile form to be filed.  Plan to file the FAFSA as early as possible (You can begin to complete your FAFSA as early as October 1). This is the form needed to qualify for financial grants, work-study or student loans from the federal government.  The CSS Profile (a financial aid application by the College Board) may also be required by the college (or a scholarship program). This is the form colleges use to help know who needs money from the college itself. It is their way of distributing their own funds to the students with the most need.  Deadlines for the CSS Profile vary college by college. Check GuidedPath and check college websites for deadlines. 

Take Action   

Financial Aid Updates 

The formula for calculating financial aid is updated every year.  GuidedPath uses the latest tables available in the EFC Calculator.  Use the EFC Calculator to get an estimate of your financial aid eligibility.  Your parents will be glad to know ahead of time what to expect. 

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SAT Subject Tests

SAT Subject tests are based on curriculum you have in class.  It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of a particular subject. According to the College Board, 

“The SAT Subject Tests offer you an additional opportunity to show colleges what you know and what you know you can do. Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take.” 

Only a handful of colleges require SAT subject tests from students, but many will use SAT Subject test scores as a part of your admissions profile or for placement purposes (especially in foreign language). 

What subject tests can I take? 

There are 20 subject tests to choose from.  A majority of the tests are in foreign languages, with English, History, Math and Science thrown in too. The subject tests are broken down as follows:

Are the subject tests the same as the AP tests? 

No. There are more AP tests than there are subject tests.  For example, there are five Arts AP tests, and no Arts Subject tests. 

What about the ACT? 

The ACT does not offer Subject tests. They are only offered by the SAT/College Board. 

When should I take the Subject tests? 

The best time to take a subject test is right after you finish the class. It is also good to take the subject test at the same time you are taking an AP or other subject exam.  Schedule subject tests in May of your sophomore or junior year, and November of your senior year. 

How long is a subject test? 

Most subject tests are 1 hour in length. 

How many Subject tests can I take at a time? 

You can schedule and take up to 3 tests in one sitting.  Most colleges will use your best two scores. Some colleges will use 3 subject tests for admissions.  Check college website for testing requirements. 

When are the subject tests offered? 

They are offered 6 times each year: August, October, November, December, May and June.  Subject tests are NOT offered in March. Only the SAT is offered then.  

Are all subject tests offered six times a year? 

No.  Not every subject test is offered six times a year.  Plan carefully when you want to take any of the following tests: 

Which tests can I take on any date? 

The following seven tests are offered every time a Subject test is offered.

Can I see my scores before I send them to a college? 

Yes. You can use score choice to see your scores and decide which scores to send to colleges.  Remember to check college policies. Some colleges require you to send ALL your test scores. 

What is the latest date I can take the subject scores in my senior year? 

The latest you should schedule subject tests in your senior year is December.  If you are applying to any of your colleges early (Early Action or Early Decision) you should schedule them for October or November. 

Do all colleges require the SAT Subject tests? 

No. Many colleges do not consider Subject tests for admission purposes. Check the college website carefully for each college’s policy on Subject tests. 

Do I need to take specific Subject tests for my major? 

Sometimes.  Many colleges have specific subject test requirements for specific majors.  Engineering, science and math majors often require or highly recommend subject tests.  This is particularly true if you are applying to any of the University of California campuses. UC’s can’t require a subject test, but if it is highly recommended for your major, you will be more competitive if you take the recommended subject test. 

How can I prepare to take the SAT Subject tests? 

You can prepare for the subject tests in many ways. The CollegeBoard website has subject test prep.  Check for local SAT Test Preparation options. Check online. Check with friends and create your own subject study groups. 

Take Action 
Update your Testing schedule in GuidedPath with all your tests: ACT, SAT and SAT Subjects. Include PSAT, AP, or other tests you are planning to take. 

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Seniors: A Novel Idea – A Gap Year!

marie_schwartzGuest Blog:  Marie Schwartz, CEO and founder of TeenLife.  Visit the TeenLife website to find “the web’s most comprehensive directory of STEM, gap year, pre-college, overnight summer and community service programs for students in grades 7-12.” Learn more about Gap year opportunities.

A Novel Idea

It’s high season for college applications. Students are polishing off college essays, waiting on final test scores, pushing for that last GPA point. Meanwhile, parents are biting their nails and wrestling with financial aid forms. 

So, let’s talk about postponing college. 

What? Is that insane?! Not at all. This is the perfect moment to take a deep breath and consider taking a break from school before plunging into the next pressurized step. Now is the time to think about a gap year or semester that allows time and opportunity to refocus, polish skills, explore an interest, or simply re-energize. 

Gap years are more common in places like the United Kingdom where up to 25 percent of students who go to college take a year off. In the United States, that number is closer to 1 percent, according to the nonprofit Higher Education Research Institute. The statistics don’t tell why students take off a year, but the American Gap Association (AGA) reports increasing interest and attendance at the gap year fairs it holds around the country to familiarize students with gap programs. 

Why even consider a gap? For starters, researchers in Australia found that taking time out from school helped with motivation once students got to college. Gap benefits even outweighed other variables for college success, such as gender and socio-economic status. Researchers even argued that their 2007 survey of 338 gap year students showed that taking a break helped students focus on what they were going to do after college. 

And more than 90 percent of 600 gap students responding to a 2015 AGA survey said their time off from school increased confidence, maturity, communication skills, or the ability to get along with people with backgrounds different from their own. 

A gap gives teenagers that important chance to be independent outside of the structure of school and athletics and away from the watchful eyes of the usual mentors – parents, teachers, and coaches. It can help develop the grit that students need to be independent and resilient once they get to college. 

Gaps have become so acceptable that some colleges, such as Princeton, have set up their own fully-funded programs to encourage students to explore the world and themselves before entering college. 

Don’t be swayed by some of the myths about “gap years.”  

Myth: A gap lasts a year. 

Fact: A gap can be whatever length works with your plan. It could be just a semester or quarter of work and travel, interning, or participation in a political campaign or community service program. Many colleges offer January start dates. 

Myth: A gap is exotic. 

Fact: Of the students surveyed by AGA, the largest percentage spent their gaps in the United States. A teenager could work on language skills, for example, tutoring in a local immigrant center. 

Myth: A gap is out of reach financially. 

Fact: A student might work part of a year or semester and use that money to travel or pay for a structured gap program. Some programs or schools offer financial aid or fellowships. And crowdfunding gives students more options to raise money to support time off from school. 

Myth: A gap is just for kids who are unmotivated or unsure about college. 

Fact: All students can benefit from a break to learn problem-solving, dealing with conflict, understanding their own limits, managing time, and being responsible for themselves in ways that are so very, very important freshman year. 

If you’re considering taking a “pause” from your studies, go through the college application process but ask about deferral policies both for academics and financial aid. Thinking about those things now provides time to decide if a gap is a practical option. In the meantime, start exploring gap programs and options. Do you want something structured or freewheeling? Do you want to climb a mountain or work with children? Is this a time to work in a lab or volunteer at an animal hospital? Would you like to become fluent in a language, understand the inner workings of health care, or meet decision makers in Washington, D.C.? You can do all those and more on a gap. 

College application season is a stressful time but it’s also the moment to be expanding your world and thinking about what you want out of life. Isn’t it worth some time to explore?

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When do you select a major?


Many college applications require you to select a major or state that you are “undeclared”. But what is the best way to choose a major? Here are 5 ideas to guide you. 

  1. Start early.  It’s never too early or too late to start exploring your interests and connecting them to majors or careers.  
  2. Learn about yourself. Take advantage of career surveys, interest inventories or other questionnaires or resources available to you. The more you understand yourself, the better prepared you are for next steps.  
  3. Research.  Use the Internet and other research tools available to you to explore what majors are needed for careers you are interested in.  Taking classes in subjects required for a major or profession helps you learn more too. 
  4. Try it on. Arrange to do a job shadow or to interview someone in careers you are interested in.  
  5. Make a short list. Once you have done your research and talked to people in professions, narrow your list of majors to pursue. Often there are many majors you can select from to get to a chosen career or area of interest.  

Ode to the Undeclared Major  

One of the most popular majors at universities is the “undeclared” major. Many universities or colleges recognize you may not be ready to declare a major when you start as a freshman. Often you do not have to declare your major until sometime in your sophomore year.  There are a few universities that don’t offer “undeclared” as an option. You will know which colleges require majors from their websites and applications. 

Take Action 

Take the Find My Spark survey in GuidedPath. Use it to learn more about your personality and preferences. Use the list of majors or careers to explore professions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. 

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