Tag Education

Virtual Visits

The coronavirus has drastically altered life around the world, and while college admissions isn’t life and death, it’s safe to say that the admissions process has been upended.  Colleges around the country have canceled in person classes and most have adopted an online format for the remainder of the semester.  With that, it’s certain that spring college visits will be occurring in non-traditional ways.  So how can you get a feel for a college when the campus is closed?   

If your spring break plans included college visits, what should you do now?  It boils down to using your virtual resources.  

  • Virtual Tour – Many schools already have a virtual tour available.  In GuidedPath, you can find nearly 500 virtual tours through YouVisit on the college profile pages.  Other collections of online campus tours include YoUniversityTV or CampusTours.com.   
  • Extended Virtual Visit – Admissions offices around the country are scrambling to enhance their virtual visit options and reformat spring visit days.  Stay in touch with the schools you were planning to visit to find out what they will offer.  Zoom meetings with admission officers, chats with student tour guides, and many other creative options will give you a first look at the campus.   
  • Crowdsource a Connection – Chances are you may know someone who knows someone who is a current student.  And now that those current students have largely returned home, they may be available and excited to chat.  Reach out to your friend network or your college advisor to make a connection.   
  • Stay Positive – Although it is certainly an unprecedented time for colleges and the country, college campuses aren’t going anywhere.  Students will return to school and you will have a chance to visit.   

Take Action 

For now, it’s all about staying informed on changes.  From new test dates for SAT or ACT, to possible changes to the admission timeline, stay in touch with your advisor for the most accurate information.  Check your email daily and check college websites often for updated deadlines and procedures.  Expect a lot of communication from colleges in the coming months.  Be sure to have a method for organizing this information.   

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Virtual Visits

The coronavirus has drastically altered life around the world, and while college admissions isn’t life and death, it’s safe to say that the admissions process has been upended.  Colleges around the country have canceled in person classes and most have adopted an online format for the remainder of the semester.  With that, it’s certain that spring college visits will be occurring in non-traditional ways.  So how can you get a feel for a college when the campus is closed?   

In the coming weeks, it’s possible that we will see many colleges postpone the May 1 enrollment confirmation date.  For now, it’s best to assume that you may need to make some choices without doing an in-person visit.  The NY Times had some great suggestions for “Making Decisions When Colleges are Closed”.  It boils down to using your virtual resources.  

  • Virtual Tour – Many schools already have a virtual tour available.  In GuidedPath, you can find nearly 500 virtual tours through YouVisit on the college profile pages.  Other collections of online campus tours include YoUniversityTV or CampusTours.com.   
  • Extended Virtual Visit – Admissions offices around the country are scrambling to enhance their virtual visit options for seniors.  Stay in touch with the schools that have accepted you to find out what they will offer.  Zoom meetings with admission officers, chats with student tour guides, FaceTime appointments with financial aid counselors, or phone calls with faculty or advisors.  Universities are excited to welcome you to campus as an admitted student even if that means welcoming you remotely.   
  • Crowdsource a Connection – Chances are you may know someone who knows someone who is a current student.  And now that those current students have largely returned home, they may be available and excited to chat.  Reach out to your friend network or your college advisor to make a connection.   
  • Stay Positive – Although it is certainly an unprecedented time for colleges and the country, college campuses aren’t going anywhere.  Students will return to school and you will have a place in a freshman class.  For now, it’s all about making the most informed choice possible.   

Take Action 

The best course of action is to stay informed and stay in touch with the colleges to which you have been admitted.  Check your email daily and check college websites for updated deadlines and procedures – including financial aid, enrollment forms, housing contracts, orientation and registration.  Expect a lot of communication from colleges in the coming weeks.  Be sure to have a method for organizing this information.  And keep in touch with your advisor to stay on track.    

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How to Become a College Athlete

Do you have what it takes to play sports in college?  Many students do – either at the varsity level, or in clubs and intramural sports.  Each athletic division has their own athletic and academic eligibility requirements. More competitive divisions may want to see videos of your events.  It’s a good idea to keep a record of all your stats, awards and accomplishments.  Fill out the athletic questionnaire on each college website and call or email the athletic director/coach.  Game on!

Varsity Sports 

NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association 

The NCAA includes schools in Div I, Div II, and Div III.  They follow academic eligibility and recruiting rules.  Div I and Div II schools can provide athletic scholarships, but full ride scholarships are rare.  Div III schools do not provide any athletic scholarships.  But don’t rule them out.  These colleges may offer merit scholarships to make up for the lack of athletic scholarship money. 

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, if you are interested in a Div I or Div II school 

NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 

Made up of smaller 4year colleges across the US and Canada.  The competitive level is described as being equivalent to the NCAA Div II.  The NAIA offers athletic scholarships. 

Register with the NAIA Eligibility Center 

NJCAA – National Junior College Athletic Association 

The NJCAA’s mission is to promote and foster two-year college athletics in an affordable and competitive environment.  Many scholarship opportunities are available. 

Club and Intramural Sports 

Colleges also offer club and intramural sport leagues.  These are typically less competitive than varsity sports.  Club teams usually play against other colleges while intramural teams play other teams within the college (“intra” meaning within, “mural” (or muralis) meaning the walls).  Students take part in these teams to compete, have fun, and stay fit.  

Take Action
GuidedPath includes information in college profiles about sports offered at the varsity, collegiate club, and intramural level.  Evaluate the difference between the different athletic divisions.    

  1. Take the “Athletic Worksheet” survey in GuidedPath.   
  2. Use GuidedPath to determine if a college you like offers your potential sport.   

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Where will I be living next year?

One of the big questions for you as a student (and for your parents as well) is ‘Where will I be living next year?”  Be sure to explore the housing choices on campus and learn which choices are available to you. 

Housing Styles 

  • Traditional residence halls typically have double occupancy rooms off of a hallway, with shared bathrooms for several rooms.  This is usually the most common option for incoming freshman. 
  • Suite-style residence halls have more of an apartment feel.  Several students share a common living and kitchen area, with bedrooms sharing bathrooms.  Although often available to upperclassmen, some colleges offer these for freshmen. 
  • Apartment-style residence halls are as they say – student apartments.  These are most often for upperclassmen, graduate students, or married/family housing. 

Themed Communities 

  • Living/learning communities – Many colleges offer themed living communities.  Those themes may be honors, specific academic programs, language or culture based, or communities based on lifestyle commitments like green living or substance free. 
  • First Year Experience – Often in addition to housing together, classes are offered for first year students to take together.  Living in first year experience housing gives students opportunity to learn and grow together.

Other considerations 

  1. Meal Plans: How is the meal plan handled – all you can eat meals, or a la carte?  Are there options for extra dollars to use in the coffeeshop or student market?  What happens on the weekend for meals?  Think about your lifestyle (do you eat on the run or sit down for each meal) and choose a meal plan that fits.     
  2. Gender housing: Are there single-sex dorms?  Single sex floors?  Transgender friendly housing?  Single sex rooms (with both genders in rooms next to each other?)  How are the bathrooms set up?  What will make you comfortable?  
  3. Alcohol and Drug policies: Be sure to ask about party rules, for you and guests.  Is it a dry campus?  Are some dorms designated drug and alcohol free?  Obviously, all campuses follow the law when it comes to drinking and drug use, however some schools may have more strict policies for the campus or for certain residence halls. 
  4. Security: How secure is the housing?  Do you have to have ID to get inside the building?  What other security measure are in place?  Can you have guests?  What are the restrictions for guests? 

Take Action
Check online for each college’s housing options.  Make a list of criteria that are most important to you and ask about housing during your admitted student visits.  Make a choice and mark your choice in your discussion notes in GuidedPath. 

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College Size Matters

As you explore which colleges are the right match for you, consider the size of the student body.  How many undergraduates attend the college?  This can make a big difference in your experience on a college campus.  Think of college sizes in these four categories (based on undergraduate student attendance only).

Boutique Size (<2000) 

Over 500 colleges in the U.S. enroll fewer than 2000 students.  These schools are ideal for students with a strong participant learner approach to college.  You get to know your teachers and fellow students very well.  This provides opportunities to maximize your involvement in activities and construct your own learning experience.  Most boutique size schools are private, examples include Juilliard, Amherst, Pomona, California Institute of Technology, Davidson, and Haverford.

Liberal Arts Size (2000-5000) 

Over 300 colleges in the US fall in the Liberal Arts size category.  Some of the most well-known and prestigious colleges fall into this category including Dartmouth, Rice, Middlebury, Carleton, and Vassar.  Small class sizes with a focus on undergraduates, opportunities to engage with faculty and peers, and close-knit campus communities are all reasons to consider colleges of this size. 

Just Right Size (5,000-10,000) 

“Just Right” refers to the college that is not too big, not too small, as Goldilocks stated, it is “Just Right”.  The college is bigger than most high schools, yet small enough to still retain a personal feel.  This is the smallest group of colleges in the US, with just over 200 campuses.  Both public and private schools fall into this category.  Examples include: Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Duke, the College of William and Mary, many California State Universities, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and many more.  This is a campus size where many students feel comfortable.

City University 

There are some universities that are comparable to the size of a large town or small city.  Students benefit from many choices however the trade-off is you must be your own advocate and reach out.  You have the freedom to create your own path on a campus of this size.  Of the 58 colleges in this category, most are public schools including Arizona State, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Michigan, Florida State, UT Austin, University of Alabama and many other flagship state universities.  There are a few private schools in this category as well, including New York University, Brigham Young University and University of Southern California.

Take Action
Use the Guided Search to find colleges within each of these size categories.  Explore the college profiles. Comment on what you find in the Discussions tab. 

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What if I’m waitlisted?…

By now, application decisions should be rolling in to your inbox/mailbox.  If you haven’t already heard back from all your schools, the wait is almost over.  Most colleges aim to have final decisions to everyone who applied before April 1.  But what if your “final” decision isn’t so final?…  What does it mean to be on the waitlist? 

Why do colleges have waitlists?  Can’t they just say yes or no?  
With students applying to more and more schools, it’s become more difficult for colleges to predict how many of their admitted students will actually enroll.  Students are being accepted to many colleges – but you can only enroll at one.  That means many students who have been admitted to the college are not going to attend.   

Enrollment targets are a serious issue for colleges – too many students result in overcrowded dorms and classroom, but not enough can mean funding shortages.  If a college realizes they may fall short of their enrollment target, they can accept students from their waitlist to fill the gap.   

So – I’m on the waitlist.  What should I do? 
Essentially, you can reply to the waitlist offer one of two ways: 

  1. “No, thanks!”  Although the college offered you a spot on their waitlist, you are not obligated to accept that offer.  Maybe the school that waitlisted you is not your first choice – if so, no big deal.  You can let the college know that you do not plan to remain on their waitlist.   
  2. “Yes, I’m willing to wait.”  If you think this school might really be the one, let them know that you are interested in waiting.  Follow the reply directions in your decision to confirm you intend to remain on the waitlist.  It’s also a great idea to follow up with a personal email to tell the school – if they accept you from the waitlist you intend to enroll (only do this if it’s true).  You can also reiterate why you think this college is such a good fit and ask if any additional information like new SAT/ACT scores, senior year final grades, etc. could help to improve your chances of admission from the waitlist.       

You should seriously consider all of the admission offers you receive.  Schedule visits, compare financial aid packages, talk with your parents and your counselor, make a pro/con list, etc.  You have to confirm your enrollment with a college by May 1 (that’s the National Candidates Reply Date).  Most schools won’t make decisions about their waitlist until after May 1.   

In addition, there are typically only a small number of students admitted from the waitlist (sometimes not any).  You should confirm your enrollment with one of the colleges that has admitted you (even if you stay on the waitlist at another college).  It’s hard to hear that you are on the waitlist (especially if it was your first choice), but maybe it’s an opportunity to get excited about a school that really wants you (and hopefully they offered you great financial aid to prove it).  Many colleges can be a good fit if you have the right mindset.   

Take Action
Record your decisions and financial aid awards in GuidedPath so that you can make comparison before deciding where to enroll.  

 

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