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 Visits 101: 3 Types of Campus Visits

Did you know there are different types of campus visits? Katherine will talk you through each type of visit so you can be sure you will get the most out of visiting a college or university.

Did you know there are different types of campus visits?

First-year and sophomore high school students should be planning “practice” campus visits.

Juniors, you need to be moving towards “intentional” visits.

And Seniors, you are now visiting campuses as an admitted student- which changes everything.

Katherine will talk you through each type of visit so you can be sure you will get the most out of visiting a college or university.

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)

3 Questions to Ask When Making Your Final College Decision

The ProcessThe tables have turned. You have spent years trying to figure out how to impress colleges, and now colleges will spend the next month trying to convince you to enroll. They will send you gifts and fancy pamphlets. They will call you and invite you to special programs.

You have until May 1st to decide, so how do you sort through all of the information you are receiving? How do you know that you are making the best final college choice?

The truth is that making your final college decision is not an exact science, and it is going to be a different process for every student, however below are a few questions every student should ask as they are comparing final college options.

1. Which college is the best fit for you academically?

Academics are the center of your college experience. For some students, academic “fit” is a particular major. For others, it is having adequate support systems (i.e. tutoring or academic advising). It is important to know what type of student you are to determine if a college is a good fit for you academically. Here are some specific questions to ask about the academic aspects of college:

  • What is the core curriculum of each school? Will you be required to take specific courses that you may struggle with (i.e. math or foreign language)?

  • Do you know what you want to major? If so, research that academic department. Read the faculty bios and look at the required courses. Are there opportunities to explore your major outside of the classroom (i.e. conduct research, internships, etc.)

  • If you don’t know what you want to major, determine how each college will help you make that decision. How much access will you have to an academic advisor? Will the career center help you explore different career options? Does the general curriculum allow you to take courses in multiple disciplines so you can nail down what academic subjects interest you?

  • What is the academic environment of each college? Are students competitive with each other or supportive? Are the classes large or mainly discussion based? Do professors meet with students outside of class?

Knowing what type of academic environment you need to be academically successful is an important consideration for your final college choice.

2. How do the colleges compare financially?

It is essential to understand all of your financial aid awards when making your final college choice. So what should you consider when comparing awards?

  • Determine your budget. Every financial aid award should give you an example student budget. The budget should include an amount for tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and travel/transportation. If this information is not in your financial aid award, contact the college and ask for it.

  • Once you determine your suggested budget, figure out if your needs will change aspects of the budget. For example, if are you looking at colleges out of state, your transportation budget might be higher (depending on how often you want to fly home). If you are looking at specific major that requires addition expenses, you need to take that into consideration. If you are thinking of living off-campus, your room and board and personal expenses may change.

  • Check on the details of each aspect of your financial aid award (grants, scholarships, loans, work-study, etc.). When do you have to pay back each loan? What is the interest rate? Is the scholarship just for the first year or for all four years? If the scholarship is renewable, what does the student need to do to keep it (usually it is maintaining a certain GPA)?

  • Make sure you understand the difference between taking out federal and private loans. If you need to take out private loans, do your research. Learn the true cost of student loans by using a loan calculator to determine how much your loan will be once you pay it off.

  • Determine the actual cost of each college. Create a spreadsheet or use an on-line tool to determine the final net price of each school.

Once you have the final cost in front of you, that may be the determining factor in your final decision. For other families, it is more complicated. More often than not, your “dream school” is going to cost more. It means student debt and financial strain for the parents. It is important to have an honest conversation about what debt will mean for the student and the entire family.

3. Which college is the best fit for your everyday life?

Remember you are not just visiting a college anymore, you are going to live there. You will eat, sleep and exist in an entirely new environment. Here are some important questions to ask you look to transition to this next phase of your life.

  • Consider location. How far away from home will you be? Will be it be a different environment than what you are used to (i.e. urban vs. rural)? Will it is important to step outside of your location comfort zone for the “right” college, you need to consider how location will change how you currently live.

  • Where will you feel at “home” at the college? Making sure a college feels comfortable is important. Can you continue habits you have already formed (i.e. exercising, hiking, etc.)? Are there clubs and organizations are offered that match your interest? Is there an opportunity (i.e. a church, non-profit organization, etc.) in the surrounding area that will help feel like a part of the community?

  • Are you too focused on the amenities? So many colleges are trying to emphasize extra services (i.e. room service and valet parking), but are these things going to help you be successful in college? Are they going to help you explore your intellectual interest or develop the skills you need to hold down a job?

  • Does the overall mission of the college a match to your personal goals? Is the school striving to teach “global citizens” or “critical thinkers”? If so, how have they integrated that mission into the curriculum and community? How does the mission of the college correspond with your goals for your future?

Making your final college choice can be stressful, but if you take the time to make sure all to find answers to all of your questions, you will be able to make a well-informed choice.

Thoughts on the New SAT From the People Who Matter- Students

On Saturday, March 5th, the new SAT was finally administered to over 300,000 lucky students. PBS NewsHour provided a comprehensive overview of the changes made to the test and the continued debate about the validity of standardized testing as an accurate predictor of student success. While educators (and the media) continue to deliberate about the validity of the tests, students seemed focused on one thing: getting through it.

Jed Applerouth, from Applerouth Tutoring Services, provided insights from the students who utilized the company’s services. In his article, he quotes students who took the old SAT and the new SAT.

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Bubble style test form
Bubble style test form

Overall, students stated that the “wordiness” of the math section was challenging, and the non-calculator math section proved to be difficult.

CNN.com also reported on a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep and an official survey administered by The College Board. Based on the numbers from the two surveys, students seem to be reporting that the new SAT is about what they expected. The College Board survey is reporting “by a 6 to 1” margin that students prefer the new SAT.

Additionally, USA Today reported that an astounding one million high school students have used free online test prep tools to prepare for the new SAT.   This new number shows that Khan Academy is reaching huge numbers of students- more than commercial test prep.   However, the Boston Globe reported on the huge jump in revenue for the commercial test prep industry, which is expected to reach $200 billion worldwide by 2020.

Overall, the new SAT seems to be living up to expectations- good or bad. It is more aligned with what students are learning in the classroom and all students have access to high-quality, free test prep through Khan Academy. Whether or not the new SAT is an accurate predictor of student success, well, we will just have wait and see.

 

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5 Things to Know About the Coalition Application

Coalition Post-2
When the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success was announced in the fall of 2015, questions soon followed. While the main premise of the new platform is to increase access for low-income and first-generation students by providing free tools for the college search and application process, some educators are concerned that the online tools will feed the college admissions frenzy by stipulating additional application requirements for students to obsess over. Meanwhile, the 91 colleges and universities that are backing the new platform claim the tools will “streamline” the college process and encourage disadvantaged students to consider schools they previously may have overlooked.

No matter which side you stand on, the Coalition is becoming a part of the admissions maze. The new “Locker” platform is set to launch in April, and the application is slated to be available in July.

Recently, Nancy Griesemer of the DC College Admissions Examiner posted several updates on the Coalition, based on her conversation with the new interim director, Colin Melinda Johnson. Griesemer provides information on the online tools offered by the platform and updates on the timeline and testing. While aspects of the Coalition tools are still developing, here are the top 5 things students need to know about the new platform and application:

1. Who are the members of the Coalition? The Coalition member list is up to over 90 schools. All of the members must offer an “affordable education.” Public schools must provide low-cost, in-state tuition and private schools must be able to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need (for admitted domestic students). Members must also have a 70% or above graduation rate over 6 years.

2. Who can use the Coalition tools? While the Coalition is geared towards disadvantaged students, any student can apply to a member institution through the Coalition Application. In fact, three Coalition members, University of Florida, University of Maryland College Park and University of Washington, have announced that they will exclusively use the Coalition platform, so all students applying to those schools will need to use the Coalition Application. The reality is that all students may find it helpful to use the Coalition’s virtual Locker to collect materials whether they plan on applying to a Coalition institution or not.

3. Will all member schools be accepting the Coalition Application for the class of 2017? No. While official announcements have not been made, some members will opt to defer using the Coalition Application for current juniors. These schools may be choosing not to participate in the first year of the Coalition Application in order to have more time to develop their individual application requirements (e.g., essay prompts, video submission questions, etc.).

4. What will the application look like? The application requirements and structure of the Coalition Application remains one of the unknowns about the Coalition. As Griesemer notes in her article, member institutions will have the opportunity to customize their application requirements – for example; some may require students to submit a graded assignment in instead of a college essay. Others may opt for additional supplemental essays to obtain more personal insights into who the applicant is and how he or she will contribute to the college community. Students may also be allowed to submit videos or a detailed resume of accomplishments. It is still unknown if there will be a shared personal statement element (like what is offered by the Common Application), but Griesemer noted that some application requirements will be “similar.” Will this create more work for students? Possibly. But it could also provide students with additional opportunities to present themselves to colleges in a more personalized way.

5. Should students use the Coalition Application or the Common Application? Students should first take a look at their list and determine their application options. While the Coalition site explicitly states that member institutions will not “prefer one application system over the other,” students may want to contact colleges offering multiple platforms to ask how materials from each option will be reviewed. Students also need to look at the requirements for both platforms and decide which one will give them the best opportunity to tell colleges what they want them to know. Students should not look at the platforms and decide which one will be “less work.” Instead, they need to examine how they want to present themselves to colleges and which application platform will give them the best method to meet their goals.

As educators, mentors, teachers, counselors, parents and guardians, it is important that we provide students with information (as we receive it) so they can determine the best way to move forward with their college process. There are still many unknowns regarding the Coalition, but students need guidance, not opinions, to determine which platform to use to apply to the colleges on their list. Teaching students how to make well-informed decisions and examine what is in their best interest is a life lesson that will serve them well in the college process and beyond.

#1 Tip For Students Beginning the College Process

SALE 1.46.04 PM (1)Whether a student has dreamed of attending a certain college since the age of 5 or has not even thought about what they want from their college experience, I always give students who are beginning the college process the same piece of advice: Do “practice” college visits.

It is difficult to expect students to articulate any thoughts about the college process if they have never been on a college campus. Doing “practice” college visits is a practical way for students to begin formulating an opinion on what they are looking for in their college experience.

To do “practice” college visits, you don’t need to spend a lot of money and travel across the country to see “best” university out there. You should begin with a college that is within driving distance of your home.  The purpose of a “practice” visit is to collect general information, rather than expressing interest in that particular college.  The student can be adamant that they won’t apply to the college or university  you visit (and that is perfectly fine).

When planning a “practice” visit, you need to register for the information session and campus tour through the admissions page of the college’s website. Many schools offer Saturday visit times, so look at your schedule and simply pick a day to attend.

Look for local colleges that can offer varying perspectives. Visit a small, medium and large university to gain perspective on size. Try to visit rural, urban and suburban schools to learn how locations vary.

As you visit campuses, pay attention to:

  1. The size. Whether it is a small liberal arts college or a large research institution, you can usually tell immediately if you are comfortable with the size of the school.
  2. The location. Is the college you are visiting in a city or near farmlands? What is the surrounding community like? Can you see yourself living there for four years?
  3. Academic programs offered. Since you are just beginning your college process, you may not have given a second thought to what you want to major in. During your “practice” visits, pay attention to the academic programs described. Are students doing research? Are they participating in hands-on projects? Are they working in the local community?  What catches your attention?  What majors do you want to learn more about?
  4. Note what you like- and what you don’t like. I always tell my students to document ALL of their impressions of a school. These insights can help you research additional options later on.

If you don’t have different types of colleges and universities near you, try to do a few visits while on a family vacation. Taking a road trip this summer? See what colleges are on the way to your final destination. Again, the point is not to spend a lot of money if you are just beginning to formulate ideas about your college process.

A “practice” visit should be relaxed- designed to ease the student into the idea of college. By doing a “practice” visit (or two) you will be able to shape your college criteria and then create a true list of schools you are interested in exploring.

Need more direction for your college process?  Check out the Ideal College Planning Timeline to get started!

Happy touring!

5 Ways to Handle Waiting for College Application Decisions

Seize the Day-2The applications, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, transcripts and perfect essays are submitted. Your applications are complete and all you can do now is wait.

Easy, right?

Noooo! Waiting for your admissions decisions can be the worst part of the admissions process. You check your email 20 times a day. You are stalking your mailbox and  your stomach drops every time someone asks, “Have you heard anything?”

If the stress of anticipating your college decisions is getting to you, here are 5 ways to keep your sanity:

1. Focus on what you have control over. Right now, application decisions are more than likely done (insert scream here). Admissions offices are just finalizing the details. At this point, you have little control over what your decision will be, so focus on what you do have control over.

  • Concentrate on your schoolwork (remember they will look at your final grades).

  • Thank everyone who wrote your letters of recommendation, edited your essays, or just offered advice (baked goods or chocolate are always appreciated).

  • Continue being involved in your extracurricular activities and start mentoring peers who will take over your leadership roles next year (they will be lost without you).

2. Process the stress- your way. Some people like to talk about how they are feeling and others don’t. If you want to discuss every possible outcome of your college decisions, find a trusted (and patient) individual to talk to. If you would prefer not to discuss the college process any further, tell everyone around you (so they will stop asking questions). If you don’t process out loud, write it down. Journaling is a great way to organize everything that is floating around in your head.

3. Don’t second-guess your list. You could lose a lot of sleep wondering, “What if?” Don’t think about the schools you didn’t apply to. Stop questioning if your “reach” school is too far out of reach. Have confidence in the list of schools you applied to. At this point it can be easy to forget all of the hours you spent researching, asking questions and even visiting colleges.

4. Remain positive. Part of remaining positive is knowing that you have a solid plan- not matter what happens. You may not be admitted to your “first choice” school, but knowing that you will have other options should be your main focus. If it helps, make a list of all the pros and cons of all of the schools you applied to. You may find that you have more positive options than you think.

5. Reflect. Look back on what you have accomplished. A year ago, you did not even know where you were going to apply. You have come a long way from staring at a blank Common Application.

Anticipating the future can be stressful, but in just a few short weeks, you will know. April 1st will be here before you know it and after that, you are back in control of your college process. You will make the final decision of where you will attend college- and all the anticipation will be worth it!