Advice on Applying to College

Returning next week: Our Weekly Advice for Seniors... and Juniors, too!

Look for the return next week of our most popular feature on the blog -- our weekly advice for juniors and seniors. Each week, there will again be two posts --one for seniors, one for juniors with timely tips on what students should be doing now in the college application process, all year long. See you soon!

Laura Stewart, Ensworth School

Laura Stewart, our March Counselor of the Month, had both a unique opportunity and challenge when she joined the college counseling program at Ensworth School, an independent college preparatory high school in Nashville, Tennessee. For 46 years -- since 1958 -- the school had served only elementary and middle school students. Then, in August, 2004, Ensworth added grades 9 through 12, opening the new 127-acre Devon Farm campus one month after Stewart joined the school as Assistant Director of College Counseling.

Over the next five years, Stewart rose to become Director of College Counseling -- in 2009, one year after Ensworth School graduated its first senior class. As a result, she has had the opportunity to participate in building a counseling program where there were no preconceived ideas. As Director, she has been able to establish policies and procedures that reflect a philosophy with her own creative stamp and then watch the program grow. "It's hard for me to imagine being anywhere else because I've been so fortunate to get to do what I want," says Stewart.

Juniors, One more piece of advice on testing

To do well, follow the advice your parents have been giving you since your first standardized test in elementary school:

• Get a good night’s sleep.

• Eat a good breakfast.

What’s a good breakfast? Your morning meal should have three components: protein, a complex carbohydrate, and fat. Some good choices? Bacon, eggs, and whole- grain toast; peanut butter and jelly or tuna on whole-grain bread; even beef barley soup. No doughnuts, Pop-tarts, or coffee— you might crash from a sugar or caffeine high in the middle of reading comprehension.


Seniors: Forging ahead on Finalizing Your List


Seniors, your ongoing task over the new few weeks should be finalizing the list of the eight to ten schools to which you will apply. You will see and hear a lot in the media and in the hallways of your schools about the low admit rates at many schools. But while many colleges have low admit rates, don't be daunted. There are great colleges out there that are right for you. The average selectivity rate in fall 2010 at four-year colleges and universities was 65.5 percent (Clinedinst, Hurley & Hawkins, 2011).  Keep forging ahead; just make sure your list includes enough schools where you are likely to be admitted. 


You can find more information on admit rates (defined on page 248) and on narrowing your list to the eight to ten schools to which you will apply  (Chapter 10, page 155) in our book, College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.

Monthly Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

Paying for college is a concern for most families. This post marks the first of a monthly series for seniors on what you should be doing with regard to financial aid, written by college advisor Alice Kleeman. Remember, while in most families it is up to the parents to provide the bulk of the money for college costs to the extent of their ability to pay, it is the student who applies for student aid. Read, save and use these monthly reminders!

Winners of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step

Thank you to all those who wished us a Happy Anniversary as we hit the one-year mark of publication of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. We'll be in touch over the next few days to get the mailing information from the ten lucky well-wishers who were among the first to respond! And thank you again to all our readers -- students, parents, counselors and admission officers -- and remember that we love to hear from you at all times! 

Fall 2012 Colleges with Early Action Plans

For seventeen years, high school counselor Cigus Vanni has created and maintained a series of lists that are great tools for students -- and counselors. We're delighted he is allowing us to share these lists with our readers. Because of their length, we are featuring them as separate posts. Last week, we posted 2012-2013 Schools that require or recommend Subject Tests. Today, we are featuring 2012 colleges and universities with Early Action plans. 

Early action plans are typically nonrestrictive. Students apply by a deadline that is earlier than the school's Regular Decision deadline and receive a decision earlier than the regular response date. Applicants are free to apply to other colleges and are not required to commit to a school until May 1, the National Candidates Reply Date.

However, please note, that a handful of schools listed here have Restrictive Early Action plans -- including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Boston College, and several others. These plans note the schools' requirements for admission under these plans in bold. If you are applying under a Restrictive Early Action plan, check the website of that college to understand the specifics of their restrictions and requirements. 

Chat Leonard, Metro Academic and Classical High School

Chat Leonard is Director of College Counseling at Metro Academic & Classical High School, a magnet school in the St. Louis University neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. She joined the administration of the school she calls "one of the gems of the St. Louis public school system" last year, after 13 years as a College Counselor at Clayton High School. Named one of the top 100 public schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine, Metro prides itself on its diverse ethnic and socioeconomic student body, where 50% of the 326 enrolled students are African American who live within the St. Louis city limits. In Ms. Leonard's first year as Director, 100% of her students went on to attend four-year colleges.