5 Tips To Complete Your College Applications

Are you in a hurry to finish your college applications? Yes, November 1st deadlines are right around the corner but don’t rush to hit the submit button. Here are five tips to help you slow down and give your college applications the attention they deserve:

1. Prioritize: Finish up your main Common Application, including the activities section and your essay. Take your time writing your activity descriptions- this section is often overlooked.

2. Focus: Figure out which applications need your attention now (November 1st deadlines) and which ones can wait until later.

3. Schedule: Block out time in your schedule for your applications. Turn off your phone, put on your headphones, so you focus entirely on your applications.

4. Proofread: Print out the PDF of your Common Application and supplemental forms. Read every essay out loud and review your entire application with a friend or mentor.

5. Breathe: While deadlines won’t wait, you can stop and take a breath. Calming your emotions will put you in the right mindset to complete your college applications.

How to Research Colleges

Want to know all of the details about researching colleges?🤔

Watch College Mindset’s 4 part video series and learn:

Why researching colleges is so important

Where to find accurate data

How to determine your college criteria

How to organize your data when creating your college list

How to look beyond the data and research the “personality” of a college

Why it is essential to demonstrate an interest in a college or university

Get started on creating your college list today! Your parents will be so happy.

 

Learn to Ask Great Questions

Have you ever walked away from a conversation and thought, “I wish I would’ve asked more questions.” You don’t want to bypass an opportunity because you did not ask the right questions. Asking questions is a skill, and it is an important one to master. It shows that you care, can spark the exchange of ideas, and build trust. When you are just starting out, asking clarifying, open-ended questions will help get you closer to your goals.

As with any new skill, it is essential to practice. Before starting any conversation, think about what you want to learn. What is your purpose in the discussion? Then identify the right tone, types of questions, and sequence.

For the tone, most situations benefit from a casual approach.

Open-ended questions can go a long way to helping you learn new information. You can also build further questions into your plan based on the responses you receive.

For the sequence of questions, if you are trying to develop a relationship, you may need to ask less personal questions first to build trust. If you are in a confrontation, consider starting with the tough questions, since you don’t know how long the conversation will last.

Asking questions will open doors and allow you to discover new ideas and concepts. It may introduce you to a part of yourself that you didn’t know what there.

As Albert Einstein said, “Question everything.” I couldn’t agree more.

Hats Off To the Class of 2020

Last week, I finally mailed my senior gifts. I could send the gifts straight from Amazon and cash in on the free shipping, but I am a bit old fashioned.  I think there is something special about receiving a wrapped gift. Something personalized and significant.  More important than the present, I send each student a hand-written note. When they text me to say, “Hey thanks for the gift,” they always say more about the card.

I want them to know how proud of them I am.  I did not focus on the fact that the entire second semester of senior year was canceled.  The Class of 2020 did not need reminders that they didn’t have prom or graduation.  They didn’t need to know that their first semester (or year) of college is not going to be what they envisioned.

No.  My students needed to hear who they are beyond all of the “challenges” and “uncertainty.” I told one how I was proud that she went beyond her comfort zone to explore career options (and it led to some fantastic connections).  Or how one student repeatedly used her voice to fight for social justice (we need more people like her in the world).

I told them how they taught me about light pollution, the importance of creativity in video games, and how an old car can be rebuilt again and again (with lots of determination).

I admired how they overcame challenges, such as dyslexia, being the only girl on a football team, moving to a foreign country, dealing with heart arrhythmia, or conquering ski mountaineering at an international level.

They showed me the importance of caring for others by helping friends through tough times or standing up for people when society categorized them as “different.” One fought for a mentor who was being deported.  Another showed compassion as she taught a student struggling with learning differences how to write sentences.

One showed me the significance of questioning something she always believed so she could learn and grow.  Another had the brightest smile, and I always picture it when I am feeling doubtful. And one showed me the significance of “releasing control and trusting the outcome.”

The College Mindset Class of 2020 received 110 college acceptances after submitted 164 applications.  Collectively, they received 45 scholarship offers totaling over $2.7 million.

They reside in 4 states, and one student worked with me from her home in the Netherlands.

The colleges and universities below are so lucky to have these students for the next four years.

Arizona State University

Colorado College

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Furman University

Miami University, Ohio

Northwestern University

Purdue University

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Diego

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Texas, Austin

University of Vermont

University of Wyoming

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

While they did not throw their graduation caps into the air in the traditional sense, they have proved that they are worth celebrating beyond the usual pomp and circumstance.  I believe that nothing will hold these students back.  They will be the future problem-solvers, negotiators, and peace-makers our world needs.

I am so honored to have played a small role in helping them plan their future. The lessons they taught me will stay with me always.

Free College Mindset Webinars

College Mindset is offering several free webinars to help students during this difficult time.  Please feel free to share the information with friends, family, and colleagues.

 

3-Ways to Start Your College Process

Best for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)

Offered:

One of the most common questions I receive from students and parents is: Where do we start? There is no doubt that the college application process has changed—and it is still changing every day. No one knows the ins and outs of every aspect of the process, but with a little patience and intentionality, you can navigate the process with ease—but you have to get started first!

In this Webinar, we will cover 3-Ways to get started with your college process.  You will learn:

  1. How to Obtain Knowledge

1st gain knowledge about the college admissions industry. What do you know about the business of college admissions?  Katherine will give you a behind the scenes look at how colleges view the admissions process.

2nd look at who you are and how you learn.  Building self-knowledge is an essential step in the college process.

  1. How to Find Your Resources

Now that you know a little bit more about who you are and how the world of admissions works, you need to determine your resources.  Katherine will review resources (including online research websites).

  1. How to Understand the Timeline

Knowing the timing of the college process is an important step.  Every participant will receive a FREE copy of College Mindset’s Ideal College Planning Timeline, which we will review during the Webinar.

How to Research Colleges

Best for sophomores and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)

Offered:

Researching is an essential part of the college process and other life decisions. For example, you might research companies when you are looking for a job or internship. Katherine will cover how to research colleges (mainly online) to help students determine what questions to ask and where to find the answers.

 

Networking and Informational Interviews

Best for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers) AND any college student

Offered:

Connecting with people can provide you with insights about a college, major, or even a job- and it is something you can still do, even while we are practicing social distancing.  As an adult, this skill will help you advance your career. In this Webinar, Katherine will show students how networking is more than learning how to make small talk. It is about finding your voice and asking great questions that will guide you towards your goals. Students will receive templates for conducting informational interviews, including how to reach out in an email and what questions to ask.

How to Manage the Transition to College

Best for seniors in high school (and their parents/caregivers)

Offered:

Change is hard, and we are all going through massive changes right now. I know some students are struggling to think about the future. However, knowing how to transition from one significant life change to another is a skill you will use forever.  You will transition from high school to college, from college to adulthood. You will change jobs and maybe someday get married or become a parent. Being able to not only anticipate change but face it head-on is perhaps the most essential life skill. In this Webinar, Katherine will cover how to handle one or your first major life transitions: going to college.  We will also discuss how this transition might look different this year, given the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

 

Coronavirus and College Admissions

Hello College Mindset Families,

I am sure your inbox is flooded with companies telling you what they are doing to keep customers safe in light of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic.  I am writing to extend my support to all College Mindset families since school and college closings are more than likely affecting your college process.

Remember that while many colleges are closing, as of now, most are remaining opening.  This article from Inside Higher Ed takes a look at the decision process colleges are going through. Either way, the Coronavirus is disruptive for all of us.

As with any part of the college process (and life), I want to encourage you to focus on what you have control over.  Yes, you may be canceling your spring break college visits, postponing an international trip, or disappointed that you can’t compete in a national competition- but it is going to be OK.

Here are some general tips, resources, and proactive things you can focus on as we face this time of uncertainty.

General Resources For Updates
CNN has a running list of colleges canceling classes.
NACAC has a list of college fair cancellations.
Information on SAT cancellations can be found here and individual site cancellations here.
Updates on colleges that have canceled admissions events and campus visits can be found here and here.

For high school seniors, final admissions decisions will be delivered over the next few weeks, and you are probably already anxious about determining your future.  Read through the College Mindset blog post, 5 Steps To Making Your Final Decision.  Since attending admitted student events may no longer be an option for you, I encourage you to focus on the following:

  • Review your supplemental essay, especially the “why this college” essay.  Remember what your thoughts were when you wrote it.

  • Take virtual tours of campus, through sites such as You Visit or watch videos through Campus Reel.  Make sure you also do online research about the town where the college is located.

  • Join admitted student online groups, so you can get to know future classmates.

  • Trust your gut. You have learned so much about yourself through this process and trust which college feels like it will provide you with a fulfilling and successful college experience.

For high school juniors, spring is a busy time for your college process.  Here are some things you can focus on, as this COVID-19 continues to evolve.

  • If your campus visits are being canceled or postponed, do not plan on stopping by. If a school has canceled an event, they are doing so to protect their community, and you need to respect that. Call the admissions office to figure out your options.

  • Do not worry about demonstrating interest in a college at this point and time.  I will be adding a video to the College Mindset YouTube Channel to share ways you can demonstrate interest in a school without visiting- so make sure you subscribe to learn when that is available.

  • Continue to research colleges by watching virtual tours through sites such as You Visit or watch videos through Campus Reel. 

  • Don’t worry about canceled competitions or other extracurricular activities.  Remember that every student is having to cancel plans and change directions. I encourage you to make a list of things that are being canceled due to Coronavirus so you can let colleges know how your plans changed in the additional information section of your application.  Remember, you will need to be specific, so you can’t say,  “I was planning on getting a job, but was not able to because of the Coronavirus outbreak.”  Instead, you would need to say, “I was hired to work at Dunkin’ Donuts in March 2020, but due to the Coronavirus, I was unable to start my job until May.”

  • Right now, a few standardized testing centers in some states have canceled testing. Continue to prepare for the SAT or ACT as planned.  There are always more testing dates.

For all high school students…

  • If your school is canceled, make sure you turn your focus to other things (again what you have control over). Get ahead on your homework, do some extra credit, and continue preparing for the SAT or ACT, or Advanced Placement exams (if applicable).

  • Open your Common Application account and familiarize yourself with what a college application looks like.

  • Continue to research schools through websites such as College Xpress and College Data.

  • Take a deep breath.  If you are feeling stressed about the Coronavirus, talk about it with a trusted adult.  The New York Times published the article, 5 Ways to Help Teens Manage the Anxiety About the Coronavirus.  The Center for Disease Control also has some good resources about anxiety the COVID-19.

And to all of my college students who are returning early from studying abroad or having to leave campus, you are in my thoughts.  My heart is breaking for my college seniors who are left in a place of uncertainty about graduation and other end-of-college events.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you need to brainstorm ideas to keep busy, come up with a Plan B for visits, or vent your frustrations.  You can email me directly at katherine@collegemindset.com.

Stay well,
Katherine

College Visits 101: Planning the Perfect Campus Visit

Now that you know which schools you want to visit, do you know how to plan your trip? Katherine has visited over 100 colleges and universities all over the country. In this video, she’ll give you all of her tips and tricks for planning the perfect college visit.

Now that you know which schools you want to visit, do you know how to plan your trip?

Katherine has visited over 100 colleges and universities all over the country. In this video, she’ll give you all of her tips and tricks for planning the perfect college visit.

 

Do you want more tips for the college process? Check out the College Mindset Ideal College Planning Timeline!

College Application Process Tips For Winter & Spring

Do you know what you should be working on? Watch my video for tips for high school seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.

Happy New Year!  The holidays are over and it is time to get back on track with your college process. Do you know what you should be working on?  Watch my video for tips for high school seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.

 

Do you want more tips for the college process? Check out the College Mindset Ideal College Planning Timeline!

Hats Off To The Class of 2018

As the students in the College Mindset Class of 2018 prepare to head off to the next step in the college process (orientation, anyone?) I want to take a moment to celebrate everything they accomplished. As a college counselor, it is a privilege to work with young people as they navigate one of their first major life decisions. Through all the questions, anxiety, uncertainty and ultimately, excitement, I feel so lucky to have a glimpse of who they are and who they will become.

The College Mindset Class of 2018 received 88 Acceptances after submitting 116 applications. Collectively, they received approximately 34 merit scholarship offers, totaling over $2.3 million.

In addition to managing their academics and preparing for standardized testing, they did medical research, interviewed refugees settling in Israel, worked as an archeologist assistant at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and completed an internship at an engineering firm. They took computer programming classes and learned JavaScript. They earned a black belt in Judo and played basketball, baseball, tennis, rugby, football, and soccer- some recovering from injuries and surgeries along the way.  They taught science to elementary school children, created a company to provided tutoring services, and refereed for youth sports. They created service trips to bring athletic equipment to children in Costa Rica. They volunteered in animal shelters and soup kitchens. They provided meals for chronically ill and house-bound patients and worked with the developmentally disabled. They worked summer jobs babysitting, peeling potatoes at a burger joint, lifeguarding at the local pool and providing customer service at a soft-serve ice cream shop. They ran for student government positions, worked on the student newspaper and mentored fellow students through Linked Crew. They taught discipleship as a student chaplain and coordinated activities for religious organizations. They played musical instruments, sung in choirs and performed in plays. They worked on the student judicial court for their local government.

The College Mindset Class of 2018 was made up of an amazing group of students who are just beginning to leave their mark on the world. The colleges and universities below will be lucky to have them!

  • American University
  • Arizona State University
  • Bates College
  • Baylor University
  • Colorado State University
  • Denison University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Seattle University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Kansas
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wheaton College (IL)

5 Steps to Making Your Final College Decision

Why Hire a College ConsultantAs with many other aspects of the college process, making your final decision is an excellent way to learn a significant life skill.  You will make decisions for the rest of your life, including deciding what to major in, which internship to apply for, and ultimately, what job offer to accept.

Making the final decision about which college to attend is the first in the long line of “life choices.” However, this particular decision is not the student’s alone. It is a family decision. The student is the one going to college, but the parents are the ones (generally) paying for it. So while it is important for students to follow the steps below, they also need to take into consideration the input of those around them. Student should also consider the 3 Questions to Ask When Making Your Final College Choice, which was covered earlier this week.

When it comes to making a decision, any decision, it is important to approach it in a step-by-step format.  Below are the steps that can be taken in order to make the final college choice, but these steps can apply to any decision you need to make in college and beyond.

Step 1: Review your priorities.

As with any major life decision, you need to go back to the core: your priorities. Why did you apply to college in the first place? What were your priorities when you began the process? How have your priorities changed? Examine all of the aspects you are looking for in your college experience: academics, location, support services, a particular club or organization, cost, etc. and rank them. Which ones are the most important to you? Which ones are the most important to your family? There can be a lot of emotion tied up into making your final college choice, so it is important to keep yourself grounded by establishing your priorities.

Step 2: Determine your questions.

When you began the process, your priorities were general: good financial aid, strong academics, an opportunity to play sports, social campus, etc. Now is the time to get specific and find evidence to determine how each campus supports your priorities. For some families, the cost of a college education is the most important factor. Being able to compare financial aid offers side-by-side and determine the out-of-pocket cost for your family is an important component of your final decision.

If one of your priorities is “strong academics,” figure what that means to you. Do you want a campus where students are well-supported by professors? Or are you looking for more concrete numbers such as the percentage of students admitted to medical school?

If you are looking for “opportunities to play sports,” determine what type of sport. Are you looking at club sports or intramurals? What teams are available? For club sports, figure out if you have to try out for the team. How competitive is the process?

The social aspects of college are often an important priority for some students. However, you need to determine what “social” means for you. Do you need to find more information about a particular club or organization? Are there activities happening on campus that interest you? Do students go home on weekends? Is Greek life popular on campus? Determining what you need to happy socially is an important step in making the final college decision.

Step 3: Collect information.

There are many ways you can collect the answers to the questions you brainstormed above. Ideally, you should plan on visiting the final colleges on your list. Staying in the residence hall, attending an admitted student event or sitting in on a class are all great ways to gain insights.

You may also want to consider requesting meetings with other individuals on campus. Interested in a music group? Email the director. Curious about a particular major? Contact a faculty member in that department. Reaching out to individuals on campus may seem like an intimidating idea, but professors and administrators are often very open to meeting with prospective students. Just make sure if you schedule a meeting, you prepare questions ahead of time.

You should visit a college before you attend, but if you are not able to make it out for a second visit before May 1st, there are plenty of other ways to college information.

  • Call the admissions office and ask to speak with a current student.

  •  Ask your guidance counselor to put you in touch with students from your high school who are attending the school.

  • Join Facebook groups associated with the school (specifically if there is a group for your graduating class).

  • Call specific departments and ask questions. Just like the statements about meeting with individuals if you are going to campus, you can accomplish the same goals by picking up the phone.

  • Review outside sights- but don’t base your final decision on what is posted there. Use the opinions posted to formulate your questions then use the resources above to look into any issues you find further.

The bottom line is that you need to explore EVERY aspect of the final colleges on your list. This not the time to feel like you are being a nuisance or think that you will figure it out later. ASK ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS.

Step 4: Make a pros and cons list.

After you have reviewed your priorities and found answers to your questions, make a pros and cons list. Sometimes seeing all of the information laid out will make the answer clear.

Step 5: Make a decision, and stick to it.

After completing the steps above, you need to make a final decision. If the answer is not immediately clear, consider these techniques:

  • Give yourself a deadline. Stewing about the decision is not going to make it easier. By giving yourself a time limit, you force yourself to move forward.

  • Flip a coin. This may sound like a trivial way to make a decision, but sometimes it will reveal how you honestly feel based on the decision being made for you.

  • Say it out loud. Telling someone you trust your final decision (before you announce it to the rest of world) is a good way to ease into it. Saying it out loud makes it real.

  • Sit on it for a few days. Choose one college and then proceed for a few days as if you are a student of that college. How does it feel?

Once you have made your final decision, don’t look back. Be excited for what lies ahead and turn your focus away from what could’ve been.

Often if you are in the position of choosing between 2 or 3 colleges, there is no wrong choice. If you truly have taken the time to examine what you need to be successful in college, you will more than likely be able to make that happen at any of the colleges that were a part of your final decision process.