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Deepen your impact during high school

November 15th, 2022

High school students often wonder how much extracurricular activities matter in the college application process. While nothing eclipses the importance of academic accomplishments, getting a glimpse of the activities you take part in or lead over the course of your high school career helps colleges get to know you better. Admission committees want to understand who you truly are beyond courses, grades and test scores.

Image via US News (Getty Images)

Being intentional with your time outside the classroom can have a big impact on your own life and the lives of those around you. Try first to identify your interests. What are you passionate about? What are your talents? What have you found especially rewarding to do? Then consider how you can utilize that information to engage in extracurriculars and community service more meaningfully. This reflection is especially beneficial for students in ninth, tenth and eleventh grades, who have time to deepen their footprint in both school and community, yet it’s good advice for students of all ages.

Engaging outside of the classroom leads to better time management, real-world skills like teamwork and leadership, and often new friendships. Is there benefit for college admission? Certainly, especially if you’re bringing positive change to the world around you. But your growth and development are paramount. Make meaningful choices, and good things will follow!

The US News article linked below gives a breakdown on how colleges view extracurricular activities.

Article referenced below from US News, written by Tiffany Sorensen, published on May 2, 2022.

How Colleges Weigh High School Extracurriculars

As every college applicant knows, admissions offices look at extracurricular activities as one of the many factors that go into admissions decisions.

But just how those extracurriculars are considered is much less understood. Is it better to be involved in as many activities as possible to show that you’re a well-rounded applicant, or do schools want to see commitment, focus and leadership? Which activities are more prestigious? Are school-based activities more valuable than those in the community?

Let’s break down how colleges look at extracurricular activities on applications.

Read more at US News>>

Early application deadlines loom

October 26th, 2022

November 1 and 15, the most common Early Action and Early Decision deadlines, are quickly approaching! Many students are on the cusp of hitting submit, and today we want to emphasize that one last mindful review is truly a must.

Image via Niche

Make sure your application tells your story fully and well, giving colleges a compelling picture of who you are. Proofreading is a vital part of the college application process, too, as small typos can detract from the overall quality and convey carelessness. Have someone you trust read each application over before you hit “submit.”

Another tip: aim to submit applications before published deadlines when possible, as computer servers can become overloaded on deadline day.

Once you’ve reviewed and put the final touches on your work, and you feel that your application reflects the highest quality you can muster, there’s no reason to feel uneasy. To quote Nike’s age-old ad campaign, “Just do it.”

For more helpful tips, read this article below from Niche, written by Jason Patel and originally published on November 30, 2018. The advice remains timely.

Good luck!

The Often Overlooked But Completely Essential Last Step to Your College Applications

Before clicking “submit” on your college essays and applications, there’s one essential final step: proofreading.

After spending hours or even days working on college applications, it can be tempting to skip this part. Don’t! You want your applications and essays to represent your absolute best work and make a positive impression on admissions officers.

In this article, we’ll share five methods along with helpful tips for proofreading your college essays and applications. Follow this advice and you’ll be sure to put your best foot forward.

Read more at Niche>>

Demonstrated interest/authentic engagement matters

October 11th, 2022

College applications include many important components: rigor of curriculum, GPA, recommendations and essays are all at the top of the list, but one consideration that can sometimes slip through the cracks is “demonstrated interest.” Demonstrated interest, also referred to as “engagement,” is the degree to which you show you are truly interested in enrolling in a school.

Image via US News

Engagement is the term I prefer as it encourages students to consider this as a two-way street. Colleges want students who are sincere about their interest, not just checking the boxes. Engaging in conversation with admission counselors, alumni or the simple act of following a university’s social media page is helpful for students, too, as they are looking for their right fit. There are many ways to engage genuinely with prospective schools and this article from Bucknell’s admissions blog lists some great ideas.

Many students have heard me say, “It’s only a green (or yellow) light if you demonstrate interest and engage. Take heed!

Article referenced below from Bucknell University published on June 14, 2021, written by Matt Hughes

What is Demonstrated Interest in College Admissions and How Do I Show It?

Every college has requirements in order to apply. You’ll need to submit your grades from high school and probably letters of recommendation, too. You may have to send standardized test scores and write at least one essay.

But there are more things you can do to improve your chance of getting into your top-choice school that aren’t captured on your formal college application. A lot of them fall into a category called “demonstrated interest,” a tool used by many — but not all — schools to try to predict how likely it is that a student they admit will enroll at their college.

Read more at Bucknell admission blog>>

The ins and outs of applying for need-based financial aid

September 28th, 2022

October 1st marks the beginning of a new financial aid cycle as the 2023-2024 FAFSA and CSS Profile go live. The volume of documents to complete during the college application process can be exhausting and now that financial aid forms are added, it might seem like a daunting task. We hope to simplify a few things to make this task more manageable.

FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal aid programs like the Pell Grant and federal student loans. All families applying for need-based financial aid must complete the FAFSA.

The CSS Profile is also required by a small subset of colleges as part of their financial aid process, to determine eligibility for grants and scholarships. The list of schools that require the CSS Profile can be found on the Collegeboard website.

Does the early bird get the worm? Some would argue that submitting these documents early, particularly for public universities, can maximize your potential to be considered for all available aid.

In the article referenced below from Grown and Flown, my IECA colleague Jeff Levy has identified 21 points every family should consider when completing financial aid applications. His advice is highly relevant for families considering applying for need-based aid.

Article linked below from Grown and Flown, published on August 29, 2022 written by Jeff Levy

FAFSA and CSS Profile: Tips, Resources, and Mistakes to Avoid

October 1, 2022, is the first-day families can access, complete, and submit the 2023-2024 FAFSA and CSS Profile. Anyone logging in sooner will find themselves completing forms for the wrong school year. But September is the month to consider the pros and cons of applying for need-based aid.

If you decide to go ahead, here is a useful tip sheet from Big J Educational Consulting. It includes the 21 most important things your family needs to know to manage the financial aid application process successfully.

Read more at Grown and Flown>>