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Category: Admission

Advice for Parents During the College Admissions Process

The Vow for Parents: I will remember that my child’s college experience begins with this process of applying, and will be supportive but will also let them take charge.

College admissions are stressful for everyone involved. The applicant of course but also, teachers, counselors and especially parents. So since its holiday time (and deadline time is approaching) we feel there is an immediate need to talk about the role of parents in college admissions.

1) Don’t take charge:

In many cases, college admissions will be the first time that your child is taking the lead on planning their own future by making mature, responsible decisions that will have an impact on their whole lives. They may be 18 years old, and talking about their future, but we recognize its difficult to think of them older than 18 months sometimes.

Recognize that this process is difficult but is also a learning experience for your child. They learn to plan, to make mistakes and to grow from them, all skills that are essential to their success in college.

Parents accompanied their children at their kindergarten interview but parents should not be attending their college admissions interview. Your child is going to college thousands of miles away, maybe in another country, you can let them go to an interview in the same city alone without accompanying therm. And it’s not just the interview, don’t write emails to admissions officers on their behalf and certainly don’t write essays.

Failing now, when they have a support system of family and mentors, is safer than failing later, so let them stumble, don’t take over the process. A good role may be stepping up as their assistant, helping them track dates on a calendar, organize their papers and reminding them about the big milestones coming up.

2) Talk to them, but also listen:

One of the best ways you can support your child is by communicating! So, set up a time to chat about college but don’t plague them about it every day. Don’t let college take over every conversation because you may overwhelm them and end up sabotaging them in the process.

You can help. In fact, you SHOULD help, you know your child best. You can get excited for them but when you drop them off at the college or at the airport, they will be the one making friends, taking classes, and growing up. Right now, this may be the best chance to listen.

Remember that your child is as stressed, if not more, as you are about college admissions. Choose a day and time every week to check in with them but spend the rest of week listening to what stresses them. Beyond those weekly discussions, you should listen to their concerns. But your own questions and concerns should be saved for your weekly check-in (and around deadlines). Remember, too much advice can be overwhelming.

3) Don’t compare

Every parent knows how amazing and gifted their child is. And as a parent, you want every person to know that. For that reason, we see parents fall prey to the comparing their children to others.

Don’t compare your child to Mrs. Sharma’s son Rahul who went to Harvard and get caught up in an arm’s race. Each college is unique and just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good for your child. You brought up your children with different values than Mrs. Sharma, each decision you made is slightly different, so why not let the college also be different instead of copying someone else? Help them find the place where they can make the most of their opportunities.

Which also means, don’t try to push your way into getting your child preferential treatment during the college admissions process. More times than not, this tends to backfire. Admissions committees do not appreciate anyone who tries to take advantage of the system, and they also frown upon parents who come across as “helicopter parents” because that often means the child isn’t ready for college. Instead, let your child, be a child while they are going through this difficult time. Help them relax so that they can focus when they need to. But more than anything, remember, it’s their college decision. Be your supportive self but let them take charge.

Stay organized during College Admissions: What we can learn from Steve Jobs’ uniform

Black turtleneck, blue jeans, New Balance sneakers. Also known as the Steve Jobs uniform or that costume you make for yourself when you don’t plan ahead of the Halloween party you are attending.

People have written about Steve Jobs’s uniform and how experts say that it brought productivity and efficiency to his life. But we know that most students in India wear uniforms to school so this isn’t an article about how to dress but rather about why consistency is good and how that is important to this vital time in your college admissions process.

Everyone wants to be productive but no one more than a student applying to colleges in December, torn between studying for school and exams and completing applications for the next step of his life. One way to increase productivity? Simplify your decision making process!

It’s said the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. That in itself is exhausting so why not simplify your life the way successful people like Steve Jobs simplified theirs. Jobs said “The most precious thing that we all have with us is time.” While Jobs wore the same thing every day, we believe in being organized and schedules is how we do it.

Why stay organized?

1. You’ll waste less time.

As you prepare to apply to colleges, you might feel a bit like a professional juggler, holding up a dozen balls in the air with one hand as you sign up for the AP tests with the other. There is a  lot to do and it seems like it all hits at once.

When every hour gets you closer to the deadline, the urge to procrastinate and not think about work feels just so appealing. Stop yourself from playing that extra hour of Fortnite by taking away the decision. Instead of spending 5 or 10 minutes figuring out what to do, look at the calendar and stick to the plan.

2. You’ll save brainpower.

Routines are essential for focusing your decision-making energy. You can’t keep getting distracted. The plan gets you one step closer to avoiding the distraction. You can channel all that decision-making power directly into planning for your future.

Plus applying to college is different from other activities. This is about your future (as your parents and teachers remind you at every minute) so the stakes are high. And you have to apply while doing well at school, your extracurriculars and bonding with your friends in your last year of school.

So what do you organize?

There are dozens of articles out there talking about how you can stay organized and each person has their own way. Whether its a diary with all your notes or a color coded google calendar we aren’t here to prescribe”how,” but we definitely recommend the “what” you need to organize.

1. Schoolwork

We say it over and over again, the most important thing for college admissions are academics. You are going to college to study, so colleges, whether in India or abroad, care about your grades since they are an indicator of academic success. So first of all, organize how you study.

Make a daily calendar for subjects you need to review, marking note of assignments and exams, adding time for reviews of subjects for end-of-school exams (CBSE, ISC or IB).

2. College Applications

You would think this would be first on our list, but really, academics are important. Then is getting the application in on time. Make sure you work toward clear deadlines. Give yourself buffer time because life always inserts itself when you least expect it. Do NOT submit your application nine minutes and fourteen seconds before the deadline. Do not do it. Do not put yourself in a position where that is what you will have to do, because it is nerve wracking and horrible and you will feel very unpleasant for hours afterwards and get yelled at by your parents. Just don’t do it.

3. Letters of Recommendations and Financial Papers

College Applications are more complicated than forms and essays you need to complete yourself. Even if you can complete something in the nick of time, people around you might not. Your teachers need to submit recommendations, your parents need to complete financial papers. Make sure to organize those.

4. Family and friends

It’s the last year of school. You’ll be leaving home to spend the majority of your year focusing on college soon. Time spent with family and friends is vital. Steve Jobs spent his last weeks talking about time spent with family. “That was one of the things that came out most clearly from this whole experience [with cancer]. I realized that I love my life. I really do. I’ve got the greatest family in the world, and I’ve got my work.” You have the greatest family and friends. Be organized in making time for them. By organizing your time you won’t experience guilt when you spend time with them and at the same time, you won’t lose out either.

So as we move into 2019, figure out your version of the Steve Jobs uniform and get ready to take on the world around you.

Insider’s Guide to Admissions: Standardized Tests

SAT, ACT, IELTS, TOEFL, APs, AHH! No that last one wasn’t an acronym but it was an attempt at capturing the frustration and confusion students experience as they go through the complicated and sometimes overwhelming process of applying abroad.

This Insider’s Guide to Admissions is here to give you guidance and direction. This particular article is covering Standardized Tests – what are they, how are they different and who needs them.

SAT: For applicants to the US, the SAT has become a bit of a household name. However, the SAT recently changed evolving into the New SAT. This New SAT has a few cosmetic changes (e.g. scored out of 1600 now instead of 2400, doesn’t have negative marking any more) and some content changes (e.g. no more Writing section). It basically consists of two sections – English and Mathematics. Internationally, the test is offered six times a year – January, May, June, October, November and December.

Pro Tip: While the essay is Optional, don’t skip it. A number of colleges require them including the University of California colleges (UCLA, UC Berkeley etc.)

ACT: An alternative to the SAT, the ACT has been gaining popularity in India of late. While SAT is out of 1600, ACT is graded out of 36. Unlike the SAT, the ACT covers three basic areas – English, Mathematics and Science. The science section in ACT is easy to master, unless you completely hate science. In that case, the New SAT is your savior! Anecdotally, English is easier on the ACT while Math is not really harder but faster. The test is offered six times a year – February, April, June, September, October and December.

Pro Tip: Whether it’s the ACT or SAT, plan to give your first attempt in Grade 11. Most people take 2 attempts to get their idealized score.

Choosing between the ACT and SAT: Let me make one thing very clear, SAT and ACT are equally accepted in universities abroad. If you want a competitive college application, you need high test scores. And if you want high test scores, you need to take the right test. Most importantly, you should focus all your efforts on taking one test. So, you really need to choose between SAT and ACT, and that too well in time because time is precious. Ideally, you should take a Diagnostic or Practice Exam in each one of the two exams. Compare the scores and then decide. Check out our blog post on this for more tips www.collegecore.in/blog

Pro Tip: SAT and ACT not for you? You’re not the only one. In fact, there are a number of universities that are going SAT-independent, eliminating the requirement to do the tests. Check out the list on FairTestPrep.org

TOEFL / IELTS: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) as the names suggest, are tests to gauge your command over the English Language. These tests are Visa Requirements for the most part. TOEFL is more popular with U.S. and Canada while IELTS is what the U.K. colleges prefer. Requirements differ by colleges – some colleges specify that if you have over 650 in the SAT English section the requirement is waived, others waive it for U.S. Citizens living abroad while still others will require it no matter what. The test is offered fairly regularly. You should check the official websites for the dates.

Pro Tip: ETS, the TOEFL organizers have begun offering a free online course to study for the test. While on the other hand, the British Council, the IELTS organizers often hold in person workshops to train you for them.

While we’ve covered the major ones, a few other tests you to keep in mind:

PSAT & Pre-ACT: Say you’re in the Ninth or Tenth grade, and you have your sights set on the United States of America as your intended college destination. You have all the plans to get yourself ready for the mad rush of Grade 12 but why not start earlier? The PSAT or Preliminary SAT offers the opportunity to get a head start on the preparation for the standardized tests. Moreover, the most competitive summer schools often request the PSAT or the SAT as a part of the evaluation. The test is only offered in October each year.

The Pre-ACT is new, in fact it only was announced in 2016. Its function is similar to the PSAT and like the ACT is an alternative to the SAT, the Pre-ACT is an alternative to the PSAT. It’s yet to come to India though. Read more about it on the ACT website.

SAT Subject Tests: While the SAT and ACT focus primarily on English and Math, the SAT Subject Tests are subject specific. SAT Subject Tests are available in 20 subjects (12 are in various languages), and allow a student to be able to show their academic strength in specific subjects. Some universities require Subject Tests, others recommend them, while still others don’t want them at all. Sometimes, universities will require specific tests depending on the major you’re applying for. For example, Engineering majors are often required to give the Physics and Math Level II SAT Subject Test.

APs: APs or Advanced Placements are the ‘New Kid on the Block’ at least in the Indian Standardized Tests landscape. The exam takes place in May each year and is offered in a number of different subjects – 37 subjects as of 2016 – so you can show your interest in Psychology or Economics which is not offered as a Subject Test. It’s graded from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. The results of these exams are widely accepted and since they are considered “college-level” are used by colleges for college credit AFTER a student has been admitted. However, for Indian students applying from a curriculum that doesn’t offer APs in school, the results are not considered for admissions. Check out more on specific pros and cons and whether you should take APs on our blog www.collegecore.in/blog

April is for Admissions not just April Fools Day

March was nerve wracking enough – late nights scanning forums waiting for decisions to come through, early mornings discussing results with your parents. Plus you had exams and everything else. Butnow it’s April and all your admissions decisions have finally arrived! After months of waiting, they are here! So what is next. Well, there are a few different scenarios to think through:

You’ve Been Accepted to your Top Choice!

Congratulations! We couldn’t be happier for you! Admissions is rigorous and difficult. It’s a long haul and you worked hard for it. I know you can’t wait to sign the dotted line (figuratively) but pause, breathe, plan. Remember to send thank you notes to everyone who helped you in the process. But also remember to sit down with your parents and talk about anything they might be concerned about whether concerns about paying for college, or the safety concerns your parents may have about the country of your destination. Scholarships can be negotiated, loans must be understood, and just saying “God mom / dad” won’t alleviate their concerns in a heartbeat. Make sure you’ve thought it through and talked to people.

Multiple Acceptances
The number of applications each student submits is increasing each year (we’ve seen it!). Not to mention students are diversifying applications across multiple countries! If you applied to a balanced list of schools, chances are good that you have been accepted to more than one school. Whether or not you have your top choice, we highly recommend sitting down with your parents or with a counselor to write out a list of pros and cons for each school once you’ve got all the admissions. Wait till you have all your acceptances before you begin the exercise and write down your thoughts. Its overwhelming so you need to take your time. This list should consider how strong your university is for your major, geographical location and weather, size of the university and financial aid or total cost of attendance may. If you can try to visit the colleges and see them in person though realize that you have a short timeline since schools need a decision by May 1st and you can only put a deposit to one school.

You’ve Been Waitlisted
There is a special feeling of overwhelming frustration that descends upon the students that are stuck in admissions purgatory (waitlisted). After months of waiting, you’re being asked to wait longer. First, figure out if you want to pursue the waitlist. Waitlists are difficult and we see fewer and fewer conversions off the waitlist each year. Colleges use waitlists to make sure they have a full class and use it to fill in spots. But with admissions getting more competitive, this isn’t easy. If you do decide to continue pursuing the waitlist, refer to our earlier article titled a Different Kind of Love Letter on pursuing the waitlist for Early Admissions. The rules are still the same. However warning, pun approaching. ACCEPT your situation and ACCEPT one school that you want to go to! Wait for the waitlist to move but realize, you got into college and that is pretty great.

You Were Not Admitted To Most or All of your Colleges
This is a difficult situation to be in, we sympathize. But, even though it feels like it, it’s not the end of the world. Wait for all the results before you fall down a crazy spiral of depression. If for whatever reason you didn’t hear great news from any of your colleges, there are colleges in other countries you aren’t late for, maybe even a gap year is the right thing with a more balanced list this time? You can still pursue waitlists and you can contact the admissions office and ask them about their appeal policy. However, you should not solely rely on these options. Instead, you should focus on learning more about the school or schools you were accepted to. Think about reaching out to a counselor to understand your options and engage a professional who has more knowledge in this journey. Everything will be ok in the end, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

When Your Friends Get In…Or Don’t
You might be incredibly excited or incredibly upset, but remember to be sensitive to others when sharing your results with your friends or on social media. Admissions are getting more competitive and not everyone gets into their top choices. Avoid writing about every school on Facebook or even on SnapChat. Not only does this rub it in, it may also annoy admissions officials who in extreme cases my rescind applications. Think about how it might feel if your dream school denied your application. At the same time try not to compare yourself with friends and classmates who have gotten into a school, where you were denied. From an outside perspective it’s nearly impossible to understand exactly why an admissions committee chooses one qualified candidate over another.Remember, whatever the decision, you worked hard, celebrate it. And things always work out even if sometimes they don’t feel like they do in the short term.

Dealing with Deferrals: A Different kind of Love Letter

It’s February! With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air and students are studying for exams. With Valentine’s Day come love letters (or love emails), but for our applicants applying to colleges abroad, we want to cover a different kind of letter, the Deferral Update Letter.

For Early applicants (Early Action or Early Decision) the deferral can fell heartbreaking. For a lot of high-performing applicants it’s the first time they’ve felt a form of rejection and the instinct is to react, as “whyyyyyy” rather like the love-struck, heartbroken lead of a romantic comedy but, resist the urge.

First of all, a Deferral is NOT a Rejection. There are steps you can take to make your profile stronger and convert the deferral into an acceptance. We will continue with the Love Letter analogy we started with as we examine what to do, and what not to do. And so, treat the letter like a Love Letter, written carefully, with passion, showing your best self to win over the college.

Do Be Yourself: You don’t want the college to fall in love with some phantom version of you. Be the excited, incredible person who applied during the early round. Thank them for the opportunity to still be evaluated. Tell them that you’re excited about the college and if possible, tell them why – “My conversation with Maya, Class of 2021, over the holidays gave me the same sense of excitement about University College as the school website. She showed me pictures of the quad covered in twinkling lights and I could imagine myself there, walking back from Art History class or to the Model UN meeting. Living up to the motto of Veritas by looking for my own truths that motivate me.” That is what moves the admissions team to accept you.

Give Them NEW Reasons to Love You: Early deadline is a ways away and in those few months since they received your application you may have more news for them. There may be a new achievement or recognition – the book you were working on getting published made it to print, you won the championship game and won the MVP award, you have better grades to show them – tell them about it. Remember though, we specified NEW. Don’t repeat what you already told them. They read that already and it wasn’t enough at this stage.

Write a Letter, not a Novel: We said this when it came to the application, the admissions committee has a motto “the thicker the file, the quicker it sinks.” Don’t overdo the letter by sending too many things. Don’t send them a new essay unless they ask you. Don’t attach a massive project, they won’t read it. Honestly, put yourself in their shoes. Would you rather read a short, 1-2 page document or a novel once you’ve spend all day working? Likely the concise document!

Don’t Be a Stalker: Don’t send multiple letters, or god help you, a letter every week. In real life, stalker-ish behavior like sending unwanted letters, calling all the time, showing up when they told you not to, would get you a restraining order. Same rule applies here. Moreover, don’t beg in your letter. You don’t love someone who begs. You may pity them. But colleges don’t give out pity acceptances.

Do Remember There Are other Fish in the Sea: College may not seem like a fish, but the analogy applies. There is more to life than just one college. You (hopefully) sent in more than just a single application. Remember to evaluate all the colleges fairly and don’t just get hung up on one college. It may not seem like it now, but people attend other colleges, sometimes those colleges weren’t their first choice, yet they all graduate as successful people who have let go and moved on.

Deferrals and waitlists are difficult and we all know that. Reach out to us at CollegeCore if you have questions on how to convert the College or University’s maybe into a yes. www.collegecore.com