As the creator of College Path and a college counselor, I believe that every family should have access to information that helps them earn admission to the college that is right for their child. This is why I built College Path. I am always happy to share other resources that families can use to make informed decisions that make this process easier and less stressful.
If you are looking for definitive information about what test scores and GPAs are needed for admission, not just the applicant averages, try College Confidential. College Confidential is a forum for students and parents navigating the college admissions process. For highly selective colleges such as Harvard or Stanford, where applicants outnumber places by ten to one, it’s important to look beyond the SAT/ACT averages since there is so little variance between those admitted and those that are not. It is helpful to assess your odds of admission by looking at who was admitted in the prior year and identify any students with scores and demographics similar to your own.
Members active on College Confidential may also be able to provide you with suggestions for identifying colleges that are a great fit, tips for reducing the cost of college through scholarships, and even peer review of personal statements.
There is no magic formula to earn admission. Remember that test scores and GPA alone are not enough to earn admission to many of the most selective colleges in the United States. Whether it is Boston College or UC Berkeley, admissions officers are looking for the next generation of students that are passionate and can make a difference on campus. To stand out, demonstrate that you are a leader capable of propelling the college forward in a field or area that matters to you. Whether that is a cause, an orchestra, a sports team—the choice is yours. Follow your passion and excel where you can. Admissions officers will notice.
To visit College Confidential click here.
That is a great question, and it really depends on where you are applying.
Does it matter when you submit?
This will hinge on the school’s application policy. It is critical for you to understand how schools review their applications. Do not rush an application just to apply early. If your essay is not as polished as it could be, or you are taking the SAT or ACT at a later date when you will be more prepared, applying early will not make up for a lower test score; so apply when your application is complete and as strong as possible.
Here is some helpful information on the different types of application policies to help you decide when to apply:
Early Decision I/ Early Decision II
Early decision is a binding application program, where an applicant agrees to apply to one college and submit all application materials by November 1st. The application is binding; this means that if an early decision applicant is admitted, she is obligated to attend that university and withdraw any outstanding applications to other colleges.
Colleges notify early decision applicants by mid-December as to whether they have been accepted, rejected, or deferred to regular decision review. If an applicant is deferred, it means that applicant will be considered again as part of the regular decision applicant pool and find out by April if she will be offered a place.
Some colleges offer an Early Decision II application program in addition to an Early Decision I program. Early Decision II is very similar to an early decision program, but has a January deadline. Early Decision II may be a better fit for an applicant that is able to commit to attend one college but needs additional time to complete the college application, take the SAT an additional time, or submit grades from the first semester of senior year to strengthen her application.
The difference between early decision and regular decision admission rates is somewhat misleading. Many of the colleges listed above require recruited athletes to apply early decision. Some colleges also require applicants that have alumni legacies to apply early decision if they want their alumni legacies to be considered in the application process.
Early action is a nonbinding early application program. With an early action application, an applicant submits her application, usually by the beginning or middle of November, and is notified whether she has been accepted, rejected, or deferred to the regular decision applicant pool by the middle of December. If an applicant is accepted under an early action program, she can continue to apply to other colleges and decide by the regular decision deadline whether she will enroll or not.
Regular decision refers to applications that are due as early as the end of November and usually no later than the beginning of January. Regular decision is the normal application process and offers no particular advantages over other application programs a college may offer. If your child plans to apply to a college that offers a priority or preferred application deadline, your child MUST submit her application by the preferred or priority cut-off date. Failing to do so will severely harm your child’s odds of admission, as many of the available slots will be allocated before admissions officers review your child’s application.
Some colleges offer rolling admissions, which means they either admit or deny applicants as the applications are received. The more slots available, the higher your child’s odds of acceptance will be for that college. Furthermore, some colleges have much higher admission rates for early decision or early action application programs, which your child should capitalize on as well.
The high cost of college is a well-publicized fact: private schools now approach $300,000 for four years including room and board, and public schools can cost as much as $120,000 for tuition, room, and board. This can seem like an insurmountable price tag without scholarships or financial aid.
Many families are caught off guard with the high preparatory costs even to get into college, so in this blog I’ll give some pointers on what you can expect and how these preparatory costs can be offset. Today, a college application can cost $50 to $75 dollars. Each application also requires you to submit test scores and official transcripts, which can cost another $25 per school. With each application costing up to $100, applying to ten colleges will set your family back $1,000 or more.
For families where these costs present an undue financial hardship, discuss with your high school counselor about fee waiver programs. These are typically available for applicants that received fee waivers for the ACT or SAT.
Many colleges across the country offer free college applications to entice applicants to apply to their establishment. Many of these same schools offer generous merit and need based financial aid as well. If concerned with the high cost of college and the application process, consider a partial sampling of schools that offer fee-free college applications. Many of these schools are both regionally and nationally recognized colleges that offer students incredible job prospects.
In an era where crushing student loan debt prevents college grads from living on their own, and their parents from retiring, it is critical to keep an open mind and reduce the cost of a college education. Seek programs that empower you to be healthy, happy, and financially independent after graduation. That is the true measure of success. Adopting a low cost application strategy is a great start. As part of that strategy, enjoy investigating what the following schools have to offer:
A sound strategy to make college more affordable includes making the application process less expensive as well. Be mindful of all costs associated with this journey.
The only thing scarier than getting into college is figuring out how to pay for it. With public universities now costing more than $120,000 for tuition, room, and board for four years, and private colleges costing upwards of $300,000 all in, most families need a plan, and many need all the help they can get.
Consider the following to help defray the cost of college:
Do not write off earning admission to a fantastic college simply because your grades are not where you would like them to be. Yes, it is true that 47% of college-bound high school seniors have an “A-” grade point average or higher. And, yes, if you have less than stellar grades, getting into college is harder – but it is definitely still doable.
Here are the things you must do to stand out and earn admission:
1. Study for the SAT or ACT. A strong showing on the ACT or SAT can make up for lackluster grades and demonstrate aptitude even if your transcript does not. If you didn’t achieve your anticipated grades and are, nonetheless, in the process of making your applications right now, you can still position yourself as a competitive applicant: do this by choosing colleges where your scores will be at the top end of the applicant pools. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but it doesn’t mean all is lost. It can become a question of repositioning yourself and choosing the best strategy for the revised situation. Admission to a college that is a revised option doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things in the outer world later on. Learning to see the long-view and the wider perspective is good training in itself for a healthy and successful approach to life!
2. Address your grade issues head on. Many applications allow for students to address any issues in their applications. If there is a reason for the low grades, tell the admissions officers. They are not mind readers and do not know if there was a valid reason for the lower-than-expected grades. Even if your grades resulted from not doing homework or something completely in your control, spin your transcript into a positive by discussing what you have learned from not getting the best results you know you are capable of.
3. Show an upward grade trend. If your high school grades started off rockier than expected, that is OK. Do your best to earn better grades later in high school. Admissions officers will give students with upward grade trends the benefit of the doubt and chalk up the improved academic performance to maturity and developing better study habits (both good things in the eyes of admissions officers).
4. Prove you are more than just a number. No one wants to be defined just by their GPA or test scores. Demonstrate excellence in a field beyond academia. For those whose forte is not in the classroom but shine in their chosen field in other ways, this is your opportunity to make up – and even supersede – the lost ground. Whether it is starting your own business, running your own club, or receiving accolades for an instrument, admissions officers value applicants who bring unique skills and leadership to their campuses in areas outside of the classroom. Make these parts of the applications as strong as possible.
5. Adopt a healthy mindset when looking for colleges. Stanford may be out of the question, but that is OK. There are still plenty of colleges that will provide you the foundation for long-term success. Keep an open mind and focus on how college can prepare you for the future and not just on the brand names.