College App Guide: 5 Essential Steps to Starting Your College Applications

writing essaySummer is here, and the excitement of a new application season is palpable… at least it is in the Veritas Prep office! Summer is a time to unwind, participate in a fun summer program, and (you guessed it) start working on your college applications. Sometimes it is hard to know exactly where to begin, so use this guide to help you get started on the right foot.

1) Finalize Your School List

This cannot be overstated. The absolute first thing you should do is finalize your school list, as everything else to come is based off of your finalized school list. Have meaningful conversations with family, friends, and an admissions consultant to finalize a school list that is balanced with Reach, Match & Safety schools that you’re excited to attend!

2) Create Application Accounts

Now that you have finalized your school list, it’s time to create application accounts for the schools on your list. Make sure to add the schools on your list to each application system so you can start to review their application requirements. You’ll want to make special note of application deadlines, written requirements and recommendation requirements.

3) Line Up Your Letters of Recommendation

Since your school list is finalized and you have read through the special requirements for each school on your list, you’ll know exactly which teachers to ask for a Letter of Recommendation. Ask these teachers as early as possible to ensure they have the bandwidth to write a stellar letter on your behalf, and even give them your resume and/or overview of involvement so they have something to reference as they write!

4) Create a Strategy to Overcome Perceived Weaknesses

Do a little self-reflection and evaluate your candidacy. Are there any parts of your candidacy that admissions committees may see as a potential weakness? Create a strategy to address it! For instance, have you made a meaningful impact in your local or global community through community service? Admissions committees want to see measurable impact when learning about your community involvement. If your involvement was sporadic or doesn’t lend itself to measurable impact, perhaps your strategy should be to find an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way! A free consultation with Veritas Prep can help identify these areas and set a strategy as well

5) Plan Your Application Narratives

If you’re applying to a balanced school list, it’s possible you’ll be writing at least 10+ essays. You will likely write a Personal Statement, plus school-specific supplemental essays for each of the schools on your list. Each of those essays need to be perfectly tailored to each school, and your demonstrated fit for the school as well. Take a step back and look at all of the prompts you’ll need to respond to, and strategize what you will explore in each narrative. The goal of multiple essays is for you to unveil new aspects of your candidacy as the admissions reader reads through your complete application, so plan accordingly!

Admissions 101: Your Future is Not Defined by a College Rejection Letter

Oberlin CollegeIt is admissions decision time, and many institutions are reporting an increase in applicants for the Class of 2022, and a decrease in admissions rates. For the first time, Harvard admitted less than 5% of applicants! So, for the 95% of you who applied to Harvard and received a rejection letter, or for any other students who feel like their dreams have been crushed, this post is for you.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel how you want to feel – disappointed, angry, frustrated or even sad. You worked tirelessly in high school to be a stellar student, spent hours outside of schools participating in extracurricular activities, pulled all-nighters to complete homework assignments and stayed up late rewriting your application essays over and over again. You may have even lost some sleep in the last week in anticipation of the decision. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel a sinking disappointment. However, your rejection letter should not take anything away from your herculean efforts over the past four years. You are still an outstanding, accomplished student. Repeat that to yourself a few times.

Your future is not defined by today. We won’t try to get too motivational on you, but it is important to remember that tomorrow is a new day, life will continue on, and your future will not defined by the admissions decisions you received.

If you’re wondering what to do next, here are three suggestions to help you get excited about the next phase of your life:

Ask for an explanation

If you find yourself asking “what happened?” or “what could I have done differently?” you might get some peace of mind by connecting with an admissions officer. Many institutions are willing to give you feedback on why you weren’t admitted. If this is something that would help you feel closure, we suggest reaching out to the admissions office and getting this information!

Get excited about your plan B

Once you are ready to stop mourning what could have been, it’s time to start getting excited about what will be! If you’re able, go on a campus visit to your Plan B school to start envisioning yourself as a student there. If you happen to find yourself with no offers of admission, take this time to research schools who are still accepting applications, or seek a Community College option that might be a good fit for you for the upcoming year. You may even choose to work with a college admissions consultant to help guide you through the process.

Celebrate your successes

We get it, you didn’t crack the selective admissions rates at the top colleges in the country, but if you strategized your school list wisely, it’s likely you were admitted somewhere, and that’s worth celebrating! Go out to dinner, hang that admissions letter on the fridge and remind yourself that you’re awesome and your future is bright.

In the end, your future is what you make of it. No matter where you enroll, your future will be fantastic because you make it that way. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and the people in your corner cheering you on. The best is yet to come!

Waitlisted? Here are 3 Things You Should Do Next.

RoadThis time of year is full of so many highs and lows for college applicants. Many students will be jumping for joy when they learn that they’ve been admitted to the school of their dreams. Others may learn that they have been denied admission placed on the waitlist, and can’t help but feel defeated. If you happen to find yourself in the camp of waitlisted students, here are some strategies to help you figure out next steps.

Reach out to the school immediately.

If you’re still dreaming about attending the school that waitlisted you, open communication as soon as possible. Write a letter or send an email detailing that if they were to admit you, you would accept the spot in their incoming freshman class without question. Reiterate the reasons why this school is your dream institution and update them on any new developments in your candidacy.

Get excited about your Plan B.

Obviously your dream school is still your goal, but you’re likely going to head somewhere in the fall, so it’s time to psyche yourself up for Plan B! Since it is uncertain whether or not you will be lifted from the waitlist at your dream school, put down a deposit at a school that admitted you. The last thing you want is to be stuck after May 1st with nowhere to go, so set yourself up for success by paying an enrollment deposit at another school. Buy a t-shirt or hat for that school, too. You might end up being a student there, so it’s time to get into the school spirit!

Keep your eye on the prize.

If you’ve been waitlisted, you might consider just walking away altogether to take a Gap Year. For some students, this might be a good option, because you can spend your Gap Year doing things to boost your candidacy in anticipation of applying again. However, it is important to note that it is easier to try and transfer to your dream institution from another college than taking a stab at the first-time admissions odds again. In most cases, you are better off enrolling in your Plan B, kicking butt in challenging courses and ultimately positioning yourself to be a compelling transfer applicant in a few years. Who knows, you might fall in love with your Plan B and realize that’s where you were meant to be all along!

Being placed on a waitlist definitely isn’t ideal, but there are actions you can take to position yourself well for the future! Veritas Prep college admissions consultants are ready to help you with strategies to get off the waitlist at your top-choice school.

We are happy to review your waitlist school letter or assist you as you decide on which college is right for you. Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Can Amazing Extracurriculars Outweigh Average Academics?

Extracurricular-ActivitiesYear after year, this is one of the questions we receive most from eager high school students gearing up for the college application process. We thought we’d take the time to break down how admissions decisions are made. Don’t want to read all the way to the end? Here’s our #spoileralert: amazing extracurriculars don’t outweigh average academics. Let us tell you why!

When admissions committees at top schools make admissions decisions, they’re evaluating you across a few elements:

Academic Preparedness

Here, admissions committees are looking to evaluate whether or not you are equipped to succeed in their college courses. This comes down to more than your GPA and test scores, though those are factors in this evaluation Other areas of your academic evaluation will include AP test scores, SAT Subject Test Scores, Letters of Recommendation and your academic involvement outside the classroom.

Habit of Leadership/Depth of Commitment

(This is where your amazing extracurriculars will be evaluated!)

It’s not enough to just participate in volunteer work or play a sport. Admissions committees at top universities are looking for students who have thoroughly enveloped themselves in activities that they are truly passionate about! Their job as an admissions committee is to admit a well-rounded, diverse freshman class. They’re looking for “pointy” students – students who have clearly demonstrated interests and passions and have taken the initiative to excel in those areas both inside and outside the classroom.

Fit for Institution

In the end, admissions committees will never admit a student that they don’t believe will actually enroll, so it’s important to clearly articulate your fit and sincere interest for each individual school on your list! This is typically done through school-specific supplemental essays, and will also be an imperative part of your application process.

Essentially, excelling in extracurriculars does not outweigh average or less-than-average performance in academics. Why? Because first, admissions committees need to determine if you will be able to keep up academically with your peers in college level courses. That’s the most important criteria. Unfortunately, your extracurricular activities do not necessarily demonstrate to admissions committees that you are prepared to excel academically on their campus. If you don’t have sufficient evidence on your application that you’ll be able to handle academic rigor, it is unlikely you will be admitted to selective college or university.

Do you have questions about how your unique extracurricular experiences will be evaluated by admissions committees? Take advantage of Veritas Prep’s free college consultation — you’ll receive personalized feedback from one of our college admission experts on your chances of admission to your dream schools, as well as tangible next steps for what you can do to ensure your applications are successful!