Tag enrollment

Saying Thank You

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This week, May 1 specifically, is traditionally the official end of the college application process – the finish line!  And although this year it may seem like a lot remains up in the air, hopefully you can find some happiness in knowing that at least the applications are behind you.   

As you wind down senior year, now is the time to acknowledge the people who have made a difference in your high school experience.  Teachers, counselors, coaches and others have all helped shaped the person you have become.  Take some time to let them know the impact they have made.  A heartfelt thank you note can make all the difference to a teacher or advisor, especially at a time when many of them are also struggling to adapt to these new circumstances.  Here are the top DO’s for saying “Thank you”. 

DO: 

  1. Say “Thank You” in writing.  Although a card is great, email will work as well.   
  2. Write the note yourself.  Don’t let your parent write these notes.  They should come from you.  
  3. Be specific in your expression of gratitude.  Include a favorite memory of class, or a game, or a moment that stands out to you in your relationship.   
  4. Tell this person how they made a difference in your life. 
  5. Set a deadline and write your notes/emails before graduation. 

Your teachers, counselors and others who have helped you through high school, rarely get a thank you from the students they served.  Especially this year, many will be missing the in-person hugs and high fives on the last day of school.  Make their day by remembering and acknowledging their contributions.  

“None of us got to where we are alone.  Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance saying thank you.”  Harvey Mackay 

Take Action 

Create a task and deadline for yourself to get your thankyou cards completed.  Use your Letters of Recommendation or Course Plan (in Surveys) to review all your teachers, counselors and community people who might need a personalized thank you. 

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Making a decision without making a visit

Although many schools have postponed their enrollment deadlines, some are sticking to May 1 which is right around the corner.  You may still be weighing your enrollment options.  With college visits off the table, the choice may seem more difficult than ever.    How do you make a final decision without making a visit?     

What’s in a visit
College visits let you “see yourself on the campus.”  But what does this mean?   Usually this is code for “how do you feel about the school?”  or “what does your gut tell you?”.  Walking around campus on a sunny day elicits a feeling.  But feelings are more often about people rather than places.  That’s why counselors tell you not to visit on a holiday or a Sunday when there are often less people around.  The campus doesn’t “feel” right without people.   

So – can you still evoke that same feeling without walking around?  Absolutely!  The campus may be closed but you can still connect with the same people.  Contact the admissions office to ask about your options – ask if you can talk with a student ambassador.  If possible, also talk with an advisor or professor in the academic area that interests you.  Check with your college counselor to find out if they know current students or alums from your high school or local community.  Talking with people – hearing their enthusiasm for the campus (or lack of) – will develop your intuition about a school.      

Other things to consider 
Going to college is a family affair.  Involve your parents and take their opinions to heart.  Together as a family, think back to what was most important when making your original list of colleges (things like – academics, location, size, activities).    

Four aspects of “best fit”

  1. Academic: Does the college offer your major or field of study?  Are there a variety of options if you are undecided?  What will your class sizes be?  What academic support systems are in place if you need help?   
  2. Financial: Is it affordable, both for you and your family?  Have you been offered scholarships or grants, or will you need loans to cover the cost?  Do a cost comparison to see which colleges offer you the best financial aid.   
  3. Social: Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate” talks about the importance of identifying PEOPLE and PLACES you will feel comfortable with on campus (see Harlan’s webinar, 7 Big Mistakes HS Seniors Make When Picking a College).  Who will your people and places be?   
  4. Physical: Take an online tour.  Review the campus website for other virtual options – 3D or VR experiences can give you a great perspective of the physical campus.  And don’t forget to ask about the weather and the surrounding area.    

Take Action 
Review your pro and con lists but give credence to your gut feeling as well.  As with any big choice, it should be made with your brain and your heart.  And once you make your enrollment decision, look forward with enthusiasm – don’t second guess yourself.  The college experience is what you make it.  Your attitude and ambition will determine your success as much as the college you select.   


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Decision Time – or is it?

May 1 is traditionally National College Decision Day.  Typically, schools require that students choose where they will enroll by submitting an enrollment deposit on or before May 1.  That makes April – decision time.  Of course, this year things are feeling very different.  A large number of colleges have already extended their enrollment deadlines to June 1.  Making a college choice right now may feel difficult (or easy depending on where you were in the process).  Regardless, you might be asking yourself some of the questions below.     

Can I ask for an extension?  

Of course!  It doesn’t hurt to ask.  Although the college may still have a May 1 deadline, many have said they will make extensions on a case by case basis.  You could be waiting on a financial aid appeal, or for more information from one college that would affect your decision at another.  Make your case requesting an enrollment deadline extension in writing to the admissions office.   

What if I’m on the waitlist?  

Unfortunately for many students, it seems like colleges are sending lots of waitlist offers this year.  Forgive the sports metaphor – colleges want a deep bench in case their freshman enrollment numbers don’t play out the way they typically do.  Waitlist updates could continue throughout the summer.  As with every year, it’s best to send an enrollment deposit to a second-choice college that has admitted you even if you are on the waitlist at your first-choice.  There is no way to know if you will get accepted from the waitlist.   

Maybe I should do a gap year?  

It’s possible – if you truly feel that’s in your best interest and you have a plan.  However, this may not be the best choice if you weren’t already considering this before the pandemic.  Most colleges defer enrollment for only a small number of students and they usually consider those requests on a case by case basis.  You should have solid answers for these three questions:  1) why do you want to take a gap year; 2) how will you spend your time; and 3) what will you learn from your experience?   

My school is not open, I haven’t talked to my counselor, what about my final transcript? 

Colleges understand that these are exceptional circumstances.  No one in education has ever experienced a disruption of quite this level.  Although colleges require your final high school transcript as a proof of graduation (and most also review your final high school grades), allowances will surely be made to get those transcripts submitted.   

We are doing online learning – they say our grades will be pass/fail.   

Again, colleges are going to be making way for a lot of exceptions.  Don’t panic about final grades not looking like they normally would.  High schools across the country are doing their best in this unprecedented situation.  Colleges understand that.  Whether it’s sending unofficial documents via email, or extending the deadline, or waiving final grade requirements – submitting final enrollment paperwork may look differently this year.  The same will likely be true for orientation, housing contracts, and registration.    

Take Action 

The best advice for now is to stay informed.  Visit the admitted student websites (often) for the colleges you are considering, attend any online enrollment events, and read all of the email communication you receive from colleges!  Be in touch with your advisor (and your high school counselor) as they may have updates about changes to deadlines or policies.  And finally, NACAC is providing this online resource to students and families as a centralized place where you can check for updates on all your schools.   

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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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Saying Thank You

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It’s May 1!  Congratulations!!  Today is the deadline for college enrollment decisions and it also marks the end of the application process.  And although senior year is not quite over, at least you can feel relaxed in knowing where you will be in the fall.     

As you wind down in your last few weeks of senior year, take time to acknowledge the people who have made a difference in your life with a card or note.  Often these people are unsung heroes.  Many teachers, counselors, coaches and others have been leading and guiding, and at times, pushing and prodding you to be your best.  Let them know the impact they have made.  Here are the top DO’s for saying “Thank you”. 

DO: 

  1. Say “Thank You” the oldfashioned way.  Use a card or paper. 
  2. Handwrite the note yourself.  Make sure it is neat and easily read.  Don’t let your parent write these notes.  They should come from you. 
  3. Make it personal.  Use Dear …., with first or last name. 
  4. Be specific in your expression of gratitude.  Tell this person how they made a difference in your life. 
  5. Deliver it yourself, the oldfashioned way.  Put a stamp on it and mail it, or put in a teacher’s or counselor’s box.  
  6. Set a deadline and write your notes before graduation. 
  7. Think of all the people you can thank.  Don’t leave someone out.  

Your teachers, counselors and others who have helped you through high school, rarely get a thank you from the students they served.  Make their day by remembering and acknowledging their contributions.  

“None of us got to where we are alone.  Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance saying thank you.”  Harvey Mackay 

Take Action 

Create a task and deadline for yourself to get your thankyou cards completed.  Use your Letters of Recommendation or Course Plan (in Surveys) to review all your teachers, counselors and community people who might need a personalized thank you. 

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Now What? Making the Final Decision

[source: NACAC]

Italmost here!  The National Candidates Reply Date for U.S. colleges is May 1.  As a senior, this is your enrollment decision deadline.  If you did not do an Early Decision application, you may still be weighing your options.  How do you approach this final, important decision?  Cyndy McDonald, college counseling expert, shared some tips in a webinar, “Now What? Making the Final Decision.” 

Preparation
Review your answers to the College Match survey, by Dr. Steven Antonoff, included in GuidedPath Knowing your preferences and traits is important as you prioritize your admission offers If you have not taken the survey yet, you can still do it now!   

  • What are your top 3 categories? 
  • In your own words, describe what your highest score category says about you and your needs for going to college?

Parents Must Contribute
Going to college is a family affair.  You are going to college, but your parents are sending you.  It should be as good a fit for your whole family Involve your parents and take their opinions to heart when making your final college decision. 

As a Family Review Best Fit Categories
Together as a family, think back to what was most important to you when making your original list of colleges (things like – academics, location, size, activities).  Evaluate which college meets your needs best? 

Four aspects of “best fit”. 

  1. Academic: Does it offer your major or field of study?  Internships or cooperative educational options?  What will your class sizes be?  Compare the number of undergraduate students at each college. 
  2. Financial: Is it affordable, both for you and your family?  Will you need student loans to afford the school?  Have you been offered generous scholarships or grants?  Do a cost comparison to see which colleges offer you the best financial aid Details for doing financial award comparisons are in previous emails.  
  3. Social: Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate” talks about the importance of identifying PEOPLE and PLACES you will feel comfortable with on campus (see Harlan’s webinar, 7 Big Mistakes HS Seniors Make When Picking a College).  Who will your people and places be?  One of the best ways to do this is an overnight visit on campus.  
  4. Physical: Based on your college visits, which college offers the physical location that best fits your needs?  Does the physical campus environment excite you What about the climate and the surrounding area?  

Ask for Opinions
Before you make a final decision, talk to others.  Check social media Talk to friends at the schools you are considering.  Find out what the pros and cons are for each campus from students there.  Use Niche or Unigo to view student reviews about the campus. 

Make a list of Pros and Cons  
Using the information in your rankings, create a list of pros and cons for each school and enter them into the Decisions section of GuidedPath Use this information and your review of categories to determine which college you are enrolling as a freshman in the fall. 

Look forward with Enthusiasm
Once you make your enrollment decision, look forward with enthusiasm, and don’t second guess yourself.  You can do well at any of the colleges on your list.  It is all up to you to make it happen.  The college name is less important than the experiences you will have while there! 

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