Tag archive for "High School"

Admissions, Guest Post

Guest Post: Things You Don’t Think Are Important, But Actually Are

No Comments 13 December 2017

You’re a resourceful individual. It’s one of the reasons you’re using us, here at College Greenlight. As any intelligent individual knows, though, getting information from one source, and one source alone, feels unfinished. You want corroboration. So, to add some extra value to what we do here, we’ve reached out to Tufts University and asked Sean Ashburn, an Admissions Counselor, to give some advice — advice worth way more than two cents! If you’re interested in Tufts University, check out the website here, but don’t forget to to read Sean’s tips for applying to college!


Things You Don’t Think Are Important, But Actually Are

If you are a current high school senior, it’s likely that you’re familiar with the basic requirements of the college application process, including your transcript, standardized testing, essays, and letters of recommendation. It might seem like these components are all that matters, but there are other pieces of the application that play an important role in your success at navigating this long and complex process. Here are a handful of elements that you should try not to underestimate, both before and after you submit your applications.

Senior Year Grades

It is tempting to believe that the academic data that comes with your application is basically locked in before your final year of high school even begins, giving you the chance to relax a bit once 12th grade kicks off. However, despite what you’ve heard, college admissions officers pay very close attention to students’ academic performance in their senior year courses. Often senior year is when you are enrolled in the most challenging courses you have had the opportunity to take thus far (AP Calculus, anyone?) and your continued success in these rigorous courses helps provide evidence of your potential to thrive in a college-level curriculum.

In cases when hard-working, compelling applicants have a serious dip in performance once their first quarter/trimester/semester grades land in their application files, this can cast an unfortunate shadow over the admissions committee’s discussion. Furthermore, a noticeably impressive start to senior year can add some useful academic heat to your file, reassuring the admissions committee of your preparation for the rigor of college. This information should not add an extra layer of stress to what we know can be an overwhelming time for so many students, but should remind you that maintaining steady performance in the classroom is worth prioritizing, even when you have a dozen unwritten supplemental essays looming over your head.

Good College Research

Maybe this is obvious, but it is worth emphasizing how important it is for students to have strong reasons for applying to each of the schools on their list. Basically, this means you’ve done your homework well enough to be able to articulate in just 2-3 sentences why each college has caught your attention and is worthy of your application. Why? Because colleges are going to ask you to do this! The admissions or alumni interview and the common “Why X University?” essay question are two opportunities where your interest in and knowledge of a particular college should shine through…and you need to have done some good research to make this happen.

It’s certainly a cause for concern for an admissions officer when an essay or interview report reveals that an applicant is interested in an academic program or opportunity that is not actually offered on their campus, but it can be equally unsatisfying when a student gives the impression that they just doesn’t know much about the college’s community at all. Push yourself to dive deeper with your online research – beyond schools’ locations and majors – and practice (out loud, even) answering the question, “why are you applying to (blank) University/College?” At some point, someone is going to ask.

Your Application Status Page

Of all the emails or letters you will receive from an admissions office, the most important has to be the one with the login information to activate your application status page, also commonly referred to as your admissions portal. The majority of colleges provide their own online platform and, once you have logged in, you have access to a world of information available to make your life easier!

This page can often include your checklist of application materials to see what a school has and has not received in your file, a list of the standardized test scores you sent, the option to request an interview, and a spot where your admissions decision is eventually posted. Equally important is the checklist of financial aid materials, where new required documents (like copies of your family’s income tax returns) can be added on an ongoing basis as the financial aid office reviews your aid materials. Regularly checking the application status page saves you from needing to contact colleges to verify that they received your application materials and it keeps you from missing important deadlines.

Between class assignments, out-of-school commitments, family responsibilities, and college applications, college admissions offices know you’re balancing a lot. For that reason, it’s worth a reminder that there are likely so many pieces of this process that you think are important, but are not (a typo in a college essay, for example). Recognizing the importance of the three points mentioned above will save you anxiety and frustration in the long run and make you feel more in control of your own admissions process.  

Diversity, First Generation Students, Low Income Students

Spotlight on Chicago Scholars

No Comments 28 March 2017

Chicago Scholars is an organization that supports academically ambitious students who are first-generation college students and/or come from low-income households. This organization provides support to its participants during the three transitional periods that typically are the most difficult for first-generation students: the transition from high school to college, the years spent navigating college and the transition from college to career.

Students come from 88 high schools across the Chicago area and 84 percent of program participants from the class of 2021 are first-generation college students. About 91 percent of participants are students of color, with 96 percent of participants attending Chicago Public School high schools.

The first phase of the Chicago Scholars program, College Access: Launch, takes place the summer before a participant’s senior year of high school. This portion of the program allows students to receive help with the college application process, find a best match-fit college and begin to build leadership skills. Scholars are matched with an experienced college counselor who will mentor them for eight one-on-one sessions and guide them through college access workshops.

In October, students have the opportunity to participate in the Onsite Admissions Forum. Chicago Scholars’ more than 175 partner colleges come to Chicago to meet with Scholars and other qualified students from Chicago community-based organizations. Program attendees have the chance to interview with up to six of their best fit colleges, with many students receiving admissions decisions and merit aid scholarships that day.

Scholars begin the College Persistence: Lift portion of the program during their transition to college. Students are exposed to experiential learning, supportive relationships and leadership development so they will be empowered to be confident and self-efficient individuals in college. Participants can participate in a retreat and connect with a peer mentor to help them get through their first year of college.

The final portion of this program, College to Careers: Lead, provides Scholars with career planning and leadership development training that allows them to successfully move into the workforce. Students can participate in workshops and one-on-one training that allow them to explore career paths, write strong résumés and build interview and networking skills.

College Greenlight is a vital part of Chicago Scholars’ counseling and scholarship search process. Program participants learn about College Greenlight through workshops and they are encouraged to create profiles to assist them in meeting their scholarship application goals.

Chicago Scholars aims to create a supportive community and provide access to college resources that students might not have otherwise. If you are a college admissions representative and want to connect with this organization, email Rachel Accavitti at raccavitti@chicagoscholars.org.


How To Know If You Need to Retake the ACT

No Comments 08 March 2017

Students can retake the ACT up to 12 times. But the real question is, should you retake the test? Ask yourself the following questions to see if retaking the ACT is the right move for you.

Are You A Sophomore Or Junior?

If the material on the test confuses you, it might not be your fault. The ACT contains material that students might not encounter until the end of their junior year. If you prepare during the summer, you might have a better chance of improving your score if you take the test during the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year.

What Scores Are Necessary For The Colleges On Your List?

Enter one of the colleges on your list into Cappex’s Scattergram. Then, enter your GPA and ACT scores. The Scattergram shows you where you compare to other students admitted to this school. Repeat this with every school on your list. If your ACT score tends to be below average, it might be a good idea to retake the test.

How Many Times Have You Taken The ACT?

It is true that the more times you take the ACT, the more likely you are to raise your score. But it has been proven that generally, after taking the ACT three times, your score will not improve. If this is the case for you, and you still haven’t reached the ideal ACT score for your dream college, you might need to reevaluate what college would be best for you.

Is Your Ideal Score Realistic?

Raising your ACT score by a few points will require hard work, but it is possible. Make sure, however, that you do not set unrealistic goals for yourself. Know yourself and know your academic abilities. If you are disappointed with the score you end up with, remember that colleges look at more than just your ACT scores when they are considering you for admission.

How Did You Prepare for the ACT?

If you prepared for the ACT on your own and are not happy with your scores, you should reevaluate how you study. Look into ACT prep classes or one-on-one tutoring sessions. There also are a variety of free resources that can help you prepare for the test. Find a resource to match your learning style, and you may see a huge difference the next time you take the ACT.

Prepare for College, Resources

Spotlight on Bridges to a Brighter Future

No Comments 16 February 2017


Bridges to a Brighter Future serves high school students of Greenville County, S.C., whose potential for academic excellence is hindered by economic and educational barriers.

Almost all participants are first-generation college students, and 70 percent of participants come from a household with an income of less than $25,000. The program ensures these issues will not stop students from going to college. Bridges to a Brighter Future students are prepared to graduate from high school, navigate the college admissions process and be successful in college.

Students are selected in the spring of their freshman year to participate. There are three components to this program – the Bridges Foundation, Saturday College and Crossing the Bridge.

The Bridges Foundation is a four-week academic program that begins the summer after freshman year. The program takes place on the Furman University campus, which also is located in Greenville. Students receive more than 100 hours of academic enrichment, team-building, cultural exposure and peer support. Students participate in the Bridges Foundation program each summer until college begins.

After students complete their first session of the Bridges Foundation, they participate in Saturday College. This aspect of the Bridges program takes place once a month during the school year. Participants receive tutoring in all academic areas and attend workshops that focus on college admissions, financial aid and SAT/ACT prep.

The last step of the program is Crossing the Bridge. This component takes places after high school. Participants attend a one-week program that gets them ready for their first year of college. Students receive ongoing academic advisement, support and career mentoring throughout college.

College Greenlight is an important element of Bridges’ programming. According to Danielle Staggers, Assistant Director for College Success, “College Greenlight has been a communication and resource hub for our seniors. Since we are not able to see our students daily, our students have used the features of College Greenlight to share their updated college list and any status changes. We advise our students to search for scholarships using the College Greenlight blogs.”

The program gives students self-confidence, resiliency and leadership skills by the time of college graduation. Bridges to a Brighter Future graduates are poised to graduate from college and make a difference in their community and beyond.

If you are a college admissions representative and you want to connect with Bridges, please contact Danielle Staggers, Assistant Director for College Success, Danielle.Staggers@furman.edu.

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