Holy Game 6 of the World Series Batman, time flies and it’s November already! Time for the College Guy to check in and make sure all you seniors (and parents of seniors) are on task with your College Applications.
Print this bad boy out cause there’s lots of good (and timely) information in it. Fuhgeddabout trying to read it on your phone – take some time with this, or ignore it at your peril!!!
So for those of you who’ve been meeting with me, a lot of this will be “old news” (though you should read it anyway ‘less you’ve got a perfect memory!). For those who haven’t seen me for a while, or at all, pay attention and feel free to give me a holler with questions or concerns (or Game 6 predictions – I alway like talkin’ baseball!).
If you’ve just finished applying to schools as an Early Action or Early Decision candidate, good on ya, and good luck. But there’s more to do, and you don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel here.
Now is the time to be completing your college applications. I recommend everyone apply to their schools by December 1, even though most schools’ deadlines don’t happen till January 1 and after (notable exceptions to this include U. California and Cal State Schools on Nov. 30th, U. Washington on Nov. 15, and U. South Carolina on December 1. Go figure.)
For most of you this means getting the Common Application done . One required essay (650 word max), an optional 250 word piece on how COVID impacted you, and another optional (650 word max) essay. The college guy says do ‘em all.
It also means completing all the other parts of the Common App, notably the “Activities” section, and make sure to write some interesting short descriptions of what you do (admissions readers are falling asleep as they read your stuff – WAKE ‘EM UP!!!!) You also need to decide whether or not to include SAT and/or ACT and/or AP test scores. The answer to this decision can vary college to college – give me a holler if you want to discuss (I don’t charge for a schmooze).
AND, don’t forget that each college on the Common App has their own “Questions” section (find in your Dashboard). You have to answer all of these before you can submit your application. Some schools require additional writing, so review these “Questions” sections carefully and make a list of additional writing you need to do.
For schools which don’t use the common application, get yourself registered for their on-line application and do the deed. You’ll often be able to recycle your common app writing for these schools which don’t use the Common Application.
You should be requesting your letters of recommendation (or already have done so). It’s customary and polite to give your recommenders a month lead time, so if you’re taking my advice and applying by Dec. 1 you should ask now.
I recommend you ask two to three teachers, and two to three “Others” to write for you. An “Other” is a coach, advisor, employer, family friend or peer – someone who knows you outside of the classroom. How and when you get each letter to each college varies, and is dependent on a number of things. Feel free to call and ask me about this because it confuses many folks. For now, don’t worry about those details, just go ahead and request those letters.
If your school uses Naviance or SCOIR you must understand what you need to do to properly request your letters of rec and your transcript and school counselor’s letters to be sent in a timely fashion. I cannot help you with this – go to your guidance counselor and ask how it’s done if you’ve missed the memo (and there WAS a memo explaining this part of the process to you).
I’m a big fan of “over applying”. Give each college one extra essay, two extra letters of recommendation, a special annotated activity resume and some sort of “show and tell” piece. Feel free to contact me for examples and further elaboration of the above.
You’re going to find folks who will argue AGAINST doing what I’ve just recommended. That’s okay – everyone’s entitled to their opinion – and no one (including moi) knows for sure. But then again, they don’t call me “The College Guy” for nuthin’, so that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. 😉
PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS PARENTS – this one’s for you:
If you suspect you’re eligible to receive financial aid (all colleges will offer some amount of it if you qualify), you must complete the FAFSA and, depending on where your offspring is applying, the CSS PROFILE. DO THIS NOW!
Here’s a list of schools which require the CSS PROFILE:
These forms are not hard to do, despite what you may have heard. They’re user-friendly and correctible (ask me about this if you need to make a correction) and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. If you have questions….yes, you know what I’m about it say…give me a call (by the way my contact information is in the signature below).
SAT and ACT December test dates!
Look, I probably hate these tests more than you do, and yes they’re not required by schools this year, but there is an argument to be made for submitting scores if you’re a half way decent test taker. Now there are several variables to determine whether and where to submit your particular score but it’s not complicated – I can explain this to you. My point here is that if you broke 1050 on your PSAT or a previous SAT it may be worth your while to give it (forgive me) the old college try and take ‘em again.
The ACT is just as bad as the SAT, but all colleges will accept either set of scores, and some kids will do better on the ACT than the SAT.
For many of my clients I recommend taking both tests two times (scores tend to go up the second time). All you have to lose is $60 and a Saturday morning. And you could gain an advantage in terms of where you get in and how much merit money you’ll be offered.
There’s a December 4th SAT – the sign up deadline is 11/4 at midnight. That’s Thursday. www.collegeboard.org
There’s a December 11th ACT – the sign up deadline is 11/5 at midnight. that’s Friday. www.act.org
After you’ve applied to your colleges I often suggest that students send a “cover letter” package through the mail to each school – sort of a “users guide to my application”, to add emphasis and to share additional items which didn’t fit in the original application. I’ll be happy to share more about this with you.
CONFIRMATION OF RECEIPT OF APPLICATION
Once you’ve applied to a college you should receive an email or post card or letter from that college within 5 – 10 days confirming receipt. Keep a checklist of this and if you’ve not gotten confirmation within 10 business days call the admissions office with your soc. sec. # and ask them to check that everything has been received.
Yes it’s “old school”. Yes High Schools Guidance Offices and Colleges Admissions Offices sometimes make mistakes and misplace things. I could tell you stories. Err on the safe side and call.
I think I’ve mentioned “you can reach out to me” about half a dozen times above. Let me restate that I don’t charge for phone conversations or email schmoozes. To be sure people pay me for things like essay editing, talking to students (and parents) about the entire process, helping kids get motivated and organized, and appealing for additional financial or merit aid (this happens in the spring). If you do reach out to me I’ll tell you about the services I get paid for. IMHO not enough of this information is made available to you, certainly not in the way I will explain it. I’ve been in business since 1996 (before that I was a guidance counselor) and if I sound cocksure of myself it’s because I am.
And that, my loyal readers, is the end of this encyclical,
From your persistent pedagogue, your garrulous guide, your opinionated orator, your collegiate chaperone,