Category Archives: College costs

Every Year of H.S. Matters in College Admissions!

Most experts consider junior year to be the most consequential in college admissions, and this may well be true. But senior year is nearly as important since it’s the year that you finalize and submit your applications. In both years, you face many choices that have ramifications beyond college and into your career.

It’s not just your years as an upperclassman that count. All four years of high school contribute to your ultimate success. The more you accomplish in the first two years, the less your burden will be in the last two years. The stress can be intense coming down the stretch, so we advise that you plan for each year of your high school career so that, at its culmination, you’re confident and looking forward to what’s ahead.

1. Start Strong Your Freshman Year

 A study by the Brookings Institute found that 9th grade is the most critical year in the College just aheadformation of a student’s potential. Your academic performance as a freshman sets the tone for the rest of your education.

A. Start Out with a High GPA

 Freshman year counts toward your cumulative GPA and has an impact on your final class rank. It’s great for your GPA to be an rising trajectory in junior year, but it’s even better if your record has been so excellent since 9th grade that a rise isn’t even needed.. A high GPA  that doesn’t need to be raised in junior year avoids much of the stress that can burden you as a junior.

B.  Meet with Your Guidance Counselor

 Guidance counselors play an essential role in your college admissions campaign. They’re busy people, so the responsibility is on you to schedule meetings with them. As a freshman, you can start a discussion about your admissions plan.  At this point, getting to know the counselor and giving them the opportunity to know you is your main objective. You’ll be in contact with them often in the coming years.

C. Make the Honor Roll

Making the honor roll in 8th grade will give you the opportunity to take honors courses in 9th and 10th grades. Success in honors courses is likely to enable you to take AP courses as a sophomore and upperclassman. The more AP classes that you successfully complete with a grade of 4 or 5 on the exam, the more likely that you’ll be accepted by the colleges that you target. You may also earn college credits at a number of schools.

D.  Begin Study in a Foreign Language

 Most selective schools require applicants to have two to four years of a single foreign language. Freshman year is the time to commit to the language that you’ll study through high school.

E. Experiment with Extracurricular Activities

 Immerse yourself in several activities that appeal to your interests. Join clubs, organizations, and intramural teams as you see fit. You’ll need time to identify those activities that truly interest you and for which you may also have an aptitude.

F. Use Summer to Your Advantage

The summer after your freshman year is a great time to find a job. If you’re still too young, you can volunteer for a non-profit that appeals to you.  A productive activity is to prepare for the PSAT exam. You may wish to begin to research into which types of colleges represent “best-fit” schools for you.

2.  Take Tests Your Sophomore Year

In your sophomore year, we recommend that you select honors classes in your strongest subjects. You should also assess your extracurricular activities and drop those in which you’re not too interested. Try new ones if necessary. Refine your admissions plan to focus on real choices that you’ll need to make as an upperclassman.

A.  Take the PSAT

 Taking the PSAT prepares you for the SAT in junior year and helps you identify your weak areas so that you can work to improve in them. If you release your name, address, and email to colleges, you’ll receive marketing communications from them.

B.  Practice for the ACT

 Pursue the PLAN Assessment Program offered by American College Testing if you plan to take the ACT exam instead of the SAT. This program assesses the efficacy  your study habits, your academic progress to date, and the intensity of your interests. It also prepares you for the ACT exam itself.

C.  Learn About College Admissions

 Become familiar with college entrance requirements, especially at schools you may feel are potential best-fits. The sooner you know this the better prepared you’ll be. Your guidance counselor’s office will have information about admission requirements, as will libraries, college websites, magazine rankings, and articles in the mainstream media.

 D.  Proceed on Your Academic Path

 Work with your guidance counselor to make sure that you’re enrolled in the courses that best suit your educational goals. You’ll also want to be sure that you’ll have all of your graduation requirements, except senior English,  completed by the end of junior year.

E.  Use Summer to Add to Your Admissions Credentials

 The summer after sophomore year is a good time to find a job. Stead employment every summer appeals to colleges. Use your spare time to prepare for the SAT or ACT exam. You may want to take an elective summer course at your high school or at a local college in the field that you’re considering as a major. Admissions officials will look positively on this as an indication of your desire to learn and work hard.

3.  Steps to Take in Junior Year

Your junior year is the most important in your admissions campaign because it’s the last full year of high school that colleges will see complete data when you apply. It represents you as a more mature student. Colleges use it as source data in their predictive models to project how well you’ll perform as a college student.

A.  Start on Your College List

College Made SimpleEstablish a set of criteria to guide you in building the list of schools to which you’ll apply. Your criteria can include factors such as the size of the student body, faculty-to-student ratio, total annual expenses, core curriculum, majors, degrees granted, geographic location, the nature of the local community, campus setting, campus amenities, work-study programs, and any other factors that you may consider important. By the end of junior year, you’ll narrow the list down to a predetermined number of schools. You should  plan to visit as many of them as possible over the next year.

B.  Plan for Exams

 You’ll be taking the SAT or the ACT and you’ll probably be taking AP exams. Register and mark the dates. Juniors should take the SAT or ACT the in spring so you can take them again in the fall of their senior year if you need to improve your scores. Don’t take them too early to “get it over with.”

C. Hone Your Abilities in Extracurricular Activities

 By now, you should know which activities you’ll list on your applications. Colleges look for commitment and depth, so just one activity is all you need if it fits that description. If you can attain a leadership role or garner an award in your activity, so much the better. Your talent or skill can serve you well, especially if it’s in a niche that colleges seek to fill.

D.  Learn Your Options for Financial Aid

Review the financial resources that will be available to you with your family.  Learn about saving on college costsfinancial aid from public sources, individual colleges, and corporations. High-school sponsored financial aid nights, independent financial aid counselors, and the media will be helpful in your research.

E.  Register for the Optimal Curriculum for Senior Year

 Meet with your guidance counselor to select classes for your senior year. Make sure that you’ll graduate with all the courses that you’ll need for admission to specific schools on your list. Colleges consider the rigor of the curriculum of seniors as well as their grades when they’re available.

F.  Reach Out to Letter of Recommendation Writers

Most requests for letters of recommendation are directed to guidance counselors and a small subset of teachers. These individuals receive an enormous number of requests. If you wish to obtain a letter from one of them, ask them as a junior so that they’ll have notice before the fall semester crush. Be sure that they’ll have only positive comments and that you won’t be “Damned by faint praise.”  You can also elicit a letter from a coach, the leader of one of your organizations, or an employer, as long as they know you well.

G. Visit Colleges

Campus visits require planning, especially if you wish to arrange for an admissions interview. Contact the admissions office to set up an interview, a guided tour, and a meeting with a faculty college visitsmember and a student in the department of your planned major. There will be opportunities later to visit campuses, but it’s a good idea to start as a junior, especially with schools where you may want to apply through an Early Admissions program.

H. Make the Best of your Junior Summer

 Admissions officials are impressed by applicants who have worked within their planned field of study as interns or employees. If you have an opportunity to secure such a position, then by all means do so. It’s also time to start working on your essays and personal statements.

If possible, take a summer college course in your planned major to demonstrate your commitment to your planned field of study and to prove that you’re capable of college work.

4.  How to Master Your Senior Year!

Seniors who plan to attend college are very busy people! What has seemed far in the future is now upon you — crunch time to prepare applications that will secure your admission to your best-fit schools.

A.  Finalize Your College List

 For most students, the final list should be pared down to a predetermined number of schools. With too few schools on the list, you won’t be spreading your risk sufficiently. With too many schools, you’ll dissipate your focus and effort. A good number to reach for is 8 to 10 colleges that are a good Fit and Match for you.

B. Paying for It

 When finalizing your college list, ask a very important question — can you handle it Paying for collegefinancially? October 1 is the first day that a student applying for financial aid can access, complete, and submit the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE forms. These forms require a great deal of effort by you and your parents. The deadlines vary by college, but a head start is helpful.

C. Write Your Essays

 Allow plenty of time to brainstorm topics, outline, draft, and polish your essays and personal statements. This is crucial, especially if you are applying to schools that require supplemental essays. Essay questions are broad, which can make it difficult to know how to relate the topic to your life. Obtain input from others on your topics and approach. Be wary of having too many adult editors.

 D. Complete and Submit your Application 

 Work hard on your applications. If you’re applying for Early Admission to any schools, the usual  deadline is November 1. For Regular Decision, the deadline is usually January 2.

You may be able to choose which application platform to use. If possible, use only one. The Common App is accepted by nearly 900 colleges and many schools that accept other apps also accept the Common App.

E. Submit Senior Fall Semester Grades

 As soon they’re available, send your fall semester grades to the schools to which you’ve applied. This will be after you’ve submitted the application, but admissions officers want to be able to incorporate the data into their decision.

F.  The Decisions of Your Colleges

 Acceptance, rejection and waitlist letters arrive between late February and  early April. You college decisionsusually have until April 30 to accept an offer of admission. Don’t put too much faith in waitlists. Among the colleges that use them, only a small percentage of waitlisted students ever receive an acceptance letter.

G.  Make Your Decision

 If you’re accepted to more than one school, weigh all options. Talk with parents, other family members, teachers, mentors, and friends. Examine available financial aid and the total expenses at each school. If possible, visit the campuses of your two finalists to compare them closely.

H.  Final Steps

Colleges have a deposit deadline of May 1st. Once senior year is over, send your final high school transcript to the college you’ll be attending. These grades may help you secure a scholarship or qualify for a competitive academic program. If you took AP classes during senior year and have passed the national exams with a score of 4 or 5, you may be able to earn college credits and skip a required course.

Conclusion

Seeing the number of steps above, you, as a student or parent, might think that this is more than enough to do to prepare for admission to college. In fact, this is a partial list consisting of major tasks. Lesser tasks requiring little time have been omitted. But, just because they’re minor doesn’t mean these small tasks can be omitted.

The best way to accomplish all tasks that will lead to acceptance at your best-fit colleges is to hire Klaar College Consulting. Dr. Charlotte Klaar takes a no-nonsense, no-excuses approach as she works with students to make the entire college admissions process, including college search, application completion, and essay-writing, a delightful adventure of self-discovery and personal growth. Along the way, she helps students learn to make more informed decisions and to own the results.

Benefits of Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant

Navigating the high seas of college admissions can be intimidating and stressful for busy families. Because it can overwhelm, many students don’t fully explore their options, an approach that often culminates in attending a college that isn’t right for them. Finding and College admissionsbeing  accepted by a college that is right can be the difference between success and failure in  achieving a student’s educational goals.

Without expert guidance, students tend not to plan and prepare adequately for college admissions, which increases the chances of a negative outcome. That’s why it’s beneficial to retain a private college admissions consultant such as Dr. Charlotte Klaar of Klaar College Consulting. In this post, we’ll examine the value an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) brings to students and families.

High schools employ guidance counselors, but few of these professionals can provide significant time in one-on-one college counseling with each student. With an average ratio of 800 students to each counselor, public high schools simply can’t be expected to provide the level of service that a private IEC offers. Nor does the 40-1 ratio of private high schools allow for adequate individualized attention.

IEC’s provide one-on-one expertise

In contrast, your IEC is able to devote the time necessary for a one-on-one cooperative effort. This gives you greater insight into the variety and complexity of the available choices. Your IEC’s advice is based on he or she learning about your GPA, test scores, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, talents, skills, experiences, available finances, and educational goals.  The IEC then creates a profile of you for use going forward.  Among other things, this enables the IEC to offer valuable advice on your selection of a set of target schools that best fit your profile where you’ll focus your admissions campaign.

Any campaign needs a strategy, and your college admissions campaign is no exception. Colleges seek diversified student populations. To satisfy a college’s desired student profile, you should, with the assistance of your IEC, develop an effective way to position yourself for acceptance. Your unique character and overarching interests will be melded into a positive image that impresses admissions officers.

This image will be reflected in each of the components of your admissions package; essays, interviews, letters of recommendation, and the application itself, so that your core message is strong and consistent. If you have a viable “hook” that will increase your chances of acceptance at your targeted schools, your IEC will help you to develop and use it to your maximum advantage.

Many factors go into acceptance criteria

The acceptance criteria of colleges include much more than your academic record. Your essays, personal statements, interviews, extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts, personal interests, skills, talents, and legacy status are among the non-academic factors taken into account. Your IEC assists you in communicating the core message that drives your case for admission in each component. The message is succinct and thematically coherent.

Two crucial elements of your admissions package are interviews and essays. They’re your best opportunities to communicate your core message, and in so doing to reveal the unique individual you are. Your IEC will coach you on the right responses to the typical questions posed by college interviewers seeking to learn more about you. IEC’s also advise on how to conduct yourself. You’ll enter each interview with confidence, which will help your case immensely.

Since not all colleges weigh feedback from interviews, essays (and personal statements) are the most important part of your application after your academic record. Essays can truly be the difference between whether or not you’re admitted to a college. Your IEC is an expert at helping you select topics and craft excellent essays that will convey your core message and raise your profile above your peers.

Finances are another critical factor

Another critical factor considered by your IEC is the amount that your family can afford to spend on your education. The average cost of a college education is now $29,400 per year for a 4-year public institution and $48, 510 per year for a 4-year private institution. For those families saving on college coststhat don’t qualify for need-based financial assistance, there are three alternatives: win a merit-based scholarship; pay the ongoing costs annually: or go into debt with student loans. Whatever approach or combination of approaches that a family chooses, financing a college education is nearly always stressful.

IEC’s help families understand the financial aid process. Each scholarship, grant, or loan program has its own set of requirements and deadlines. Navigating financing programs and completing the forms required is, in itself, as complex as gaining admission. We’ll consider the contributions that your IEC can make regarding financial aid more closely in a future post.

There is a clear advantage to be gained by getting an early start on your admissions campaign. If your family has wisely retained an IEC for you when you’re still an underclassman, you’ll receive advice in selecting the courses that will best advance your plans. He or she will guide you on the appropriate AP courses to take in light of your educational goals, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t let AP courses result in a decline in your GPA.

As an underclassman, your IEC will advise you in selecting extracurricular activities and summer internships that will further your case for admission to your targeted schools. Your IEC’s recommendations will be designed to provide evidence of the value that you’ll bring to a college’s student body and community. You’ll also be guided on standardized test selection, preparation, and scheduling. Your IEC will advise you on the scores that you should strive to achieve.

Colleges aren’t commodities. Just as you’re unique, each college is unique. The extent of the differentiation between seemingly similar colleges can be subtle but substantial. IEC’s frequently visit college campuses and interact with admissions officials. A major advantage to retaining the services of an IEC is that they can apply their first-hand knowledge of the unique characteristics and priorities of most of the colleges that interest you.

IEC’s stay current on new admissions consulting techniques, methods, and case histories through participation in a variety of professional associations. These include the three largest: National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC),  Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). In addition to events, publications, and member services, the associations provide training and certification in consulting specialties such as AICEP’s Certified Educational Planner and International Specialist Designation.  A number of top-tier universities offer online and classroom courses to IECs and award degrees and certificates in admissions-related fields.

Your admissions campaign requires developing several components that are presented through different media. Careful planning is a necessity. From your positioning strategy to the components of your application, an expert IEC will provide sound solutions tailored to your specific issues. Attaining admission to your chosen colleges is best assured through a committed, cooperative effort by you and your professional IEC.