As of tomorrow, January 7th, students should be able to access their PSAT results online. These results can provide insight into the new SAT, provide a platform for preparation, and be used to help begin the search for colleges. Understanding your scores can be tricky, especially if you are taking the test for the first time. College consultants can help you with this process, or if you are pretty good online, check out the resources here. This link will take you to the College Board, where you can gain additional information on the PSAT and link to Khan Academy's free SAT preparation resources.
The UC system has released their new testing recommendations for the 2015 applicant pool. These recommendations are for SAT subject tests. While the UC does not require these tests, they are recommended (see: Take Them!) for particular majors.
Remember, these are recommendations, not mandates. You will not be penalized for failing to take the SAT Subject Tests. On the other hand, submission of these test scores (just like submission of AP and/or IB scores) may add positively to the review of your application.
College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.
Not recommended for any area.
Henry Samueli School of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Biology M, Chemistry, and/or Math Level 2 .
School of Physical Sciences: Chemistry and Math Level 2 for chemistry, earth system science, mathematics, and physics majors.
Program in Public Health: Biology E, Biology M, and/or Chemistry for public health science majors; Biology E, Biology M, and/or World History for public health policy majors.
Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant's intended major.
No recommendation at this time.
College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Bourns College of Engineering: Math 2 and Chemistry or Physics, for all majors
Jacobs School of Engineering and biological or physical sciences majors: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.
College of Engineering: Math Level 2
College of Creative Studies:
Not recommended for any area
At this point, the college admissions process is pretty much coming to a close. If you haven't heard back yet, you should within the next week or so, with the last few coming in just before the end of March. Many schools who are competing for your interest may have contacted you early, along with a merit award, but for the more competitive institutions, you can still rest assured that mail should be on the way. Keep in mind that if for some reason, your plan didn't work out as intended, each Spring, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors or NACAC will issue a list of schools that still have spots remaining. For those of you that are Juniors and below, now is a great time to get a head start on the process.
Sometimes the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can appear intimidating. However, watch this 3 minute video and you will feel the tension fly away.
1. Waiting Too Long
While many families will look to "deadlines" to schedule their financial application submissions, please note that it is important to file as early as possible. For example, while the FAFSA is available to submit after January 1st of each new year, many families wait, as their taxes are not yet complete. Many federal loans and grants are given on a first-come/first-served basis, so it is important to file as soon as you can. You can use last year's data to generate estimates, just make sure you make amendments to your application once your filing is complete. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to help.
2. Putting Money in Your Child's Name
Yes, save for college, but do so strategically. Keep in mind that assets in your child's name are expected to be contributed to their education at a much higher rate than those in your name (approx 20% vs. 7%). In other words, while setting aside money is important, make sure you keep it in an account that will not be used punitively towards your family's EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Items like 529 Plans and Coverdell ESAs are treated the same as a parental asset.
3. Cashing Out for College
Remember that your aid will be determined based on your most recent tax returns. While you may be tempted to maximize income prior to your child's enrollment, a large income or a sale of assets for a net gain will all raise your income. If at all possible, hold off for now and see if you can defer any bonuses for other another time.
4. Thinking You Won't Qualify
Filing a FAFSA is free. If you don't apply, you will not be eligible for any number of awards and you never know what will happen. For many colleges the FAFSA is a requirement for any aid, including potential merit scholarships.
The other day, I was fortunate enough to meet with an admissions representative from Cornell College. Cornell College, is a small liberal arts college located in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and is one of just five colleges across the US to offer a "one course at a time" format. Essentially, students at Cornell College take one course over a 3.5 week period before transitioning to another course. Students will take a total of 8 courses per year and meet all of their graduation requirements over a 4 year sequence. In the end, students are able to hone in on one subject and fully immerse themselves within the content of that course. To learn more about this unique program, click here.
Application season is in full swing and students are beginning to review transcripts only to find they are missing required coursework. To avoid any pitfalls along the way, please review the attached document which reviews the requirements of the UC and CSU systems in regards to A-G coursework.
I've written about test optional practices before, but grade optional is something that is pretty out of the ordinary when it comes to college admissions. However, if you have some blemishes on your record and are looking for more options, consider Goucher College. Goucher has a GVA- Goucher Video Application that allows applicants to submit a two minute video, two pieces of high school work and a brief application in lieu of test scores and grades. This option creates a great way for students to reflect themselves in a different light than is available through the traditional admissions process. To learn more about Goucher and the GVA, click here.
By now, students should be sifting through acceptance letters and aid packages as they make their final choice by May 1st. The May 1st deadline is one that is commonly accepted through an agreement between schools and supported by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC). In order to make that final choice, students should consider the following (in no particular order):
1. Why is this school on your list in the first place?
As you created your list, there was a reason that schools ended up on the list of schools to which you would apply. Think back and remember all the reasons you put it on there. Did your parents put it on there? Did you like something in particular about that campus?
Now that you are closer to leaving home, are you ready? Realize that there is a difference between getting on a plane for five hours and driving five hours. Financially, can you afford the annual plane tickets for winter, spring and other breaks, or are you comfortable staying with friends or in extended options at the school (if they have them).
Comparing program to program, what offerings are available to you? Look closely at the websites for the major or department of your choice. See if there is a program for undergraduate research; access to professors; specific classes that align to your interests. After all, this is why you are going to college...right?
Take a close look at your financial aid awards and compare them. Will you get more out of one school than the other in terms of value?
5. Do you fit?
Hopefully you have visited each campus on your short list by now and if so, imagine yourself in the dining halls, library and quad. Is the school one you can call home for the next four years?
In the end, take some time in the next two weeks to weigh these questions and talk to alumni, admissions officers, and those who know you to take in all the evidence. The final decision is yours, but remember that if you went about the process in the right way, all of the schools on your list were there for a reason, so feel confident in your final choice.
Now that we are in April, students should be well aware as to their admission status as acceptance/denial letters and emails should have been received by now. Unfortunately, for some, this means spending time on the dreaded waitlist. For the purposes of this post, I would like to focus on the UC waitlist, which could be the case for those who applied to any of the UCs with the exception of UC Merced. All of the other UC undergraduate campuses (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz) will be offering students a place on the waitlist this year. According to the UC, students should follow the guidelines listed below:
They might receive waitlist offers from more than one campus. Students can be on more than one waitlist, but they will only be allowed to accept one offer of admission.
Once offered a spot on a waitlist, students must opt in by the stated deadline. Instructions for doing so will be included with the waitlist notification.
Even if they accept a waitlist offer at a UC campus, students should submit a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to ensure they have a place to attend in the fall. If they later accept an offer of admission from a UC campus where they have been waitlisted, they will forfeit their deposit at the first campus and must submit an additional SIR and enrollment deposit to the “new” campus.
Most campuses will not have financial aid award packages available when a waitlist offer is made. However, financial aid awards will be made available in accordance with campus policies and procedures provided that the applicant has submitted the FASFA or California Dream Act application by the deadline.
SIRs of waitlisted students will be considered on time for purposes of housing and orientation, provided they are submitted by the deadline stated in the offer of admission.
California resident applicants who are guaranteed admission through ELC or the statewide admission index, and don’t receive an admission offer from any campus to which they applied, will be in the referral pool even if they are on the waitlist at another campus.
In short, make sure you submit your intention to the UC you desire to remain on the waitlist. In the end, make sure you still submit a deposit to a University you like, as you never know if the waitlist will come through. However, you must realize that you will lose you deposit if you are accepted off the waitlist and decide to enroll. Good luck and if you are still trying to make your final decision, feel free to get in touch.