5 Easy Ways to Prepare and Organize for College Applications in the Fall

Your counselor recommended started to prep and organize for your college apps this summer. As you wake up at 10:30 a.m. on a lovely summer morning, your mom asks, What have you done with your college applications? Okay. You get it. But really…how do you actually prep during the summer? Check out these easy tips below and walk away feeling confident and ready to go!

Schedule a time in your week for “college” 

  • This could be once or twice a week. For example, every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. I will devote to college time. Actually put it in your calendar on your iPhone or on a written calendar.
  • What this does is take the worry in the back of your mind of “I know I’m supposed to be thinking of college and doing something, but I can’t today or I’m not that into it right now.”  
  • Use this time for any of the following

Set attainable, realistic goals for yourself Goal setting and WRITING down your goals is incredibly helpful in managing and organizing applications…and life in general! Here’s how to do it:

  • Set weekly or monthly goals, see these examples:
    • By Friday I will have a rough draft of my Common App essay
    • By Sunday I will have a list of essay topic ideas 
    • By August 1st I will have my list of colleges I’m applying to mostly set* *Understand you might add or remove a few when you come back to school if you attend a presentation or discover one later – Be open to exploring new colleges! 
  • Use reminders on your iPhone to stay on track
  • Write goals down and post them somewhere, in a calendar, on your wall, on your phone

Practice self-care College applications can get hectic, especially when you add going back to class, activities, homework and more on top of your plate. Start adding self-care into your routine to help you manage and stay balanced.

  • Write down what helps you zone out (running, drawing, playing guitar, writing, listening to music, etc.) and schedule breaks to do these activities
  • Use app resources like Headspace or StopBreatheThink

Have college free talk times Ask your family to have times where the conversation of college is not allowed to pop up. This can be during dinner, or in the car. Make it a game, if anyone brings up college that person has to buy dessert or a treat!

Fill in an activities and awards sheet 

Tip: Activities and extracurricular are anything you have a committed responsibility to and impact with this could be a job, taking care of a family member, etc. 

Review financial aid Don’t be surprised of your award letter after applying! Figure out which colleges will give you aid and what opportunities are there. Check out the following blog posts for resources: 3 Tools to Easily Tell College Affordability and Tuition Price and Financial Aid…Intimidating? No. Get a handle on it!

Take a moment to BREATHE and get a handle on your applications. You CAN and WILL accomplish this task!

Source: http://alittlebitoflacquer.blogspot.com/2015/09/applying-to-college.html#.WUQsrFLMwxc

UC Application – Get a head start on your app this summer

Today we offered an UC Application Workshop for students to get a head start on working on their applications and getting organized. Please go ahead and watch the video for a shortened version with quick tips and tricks and also check out the key points below. Before you watch the video, please download and/or print the following guide to follow along and fill out: 2017-2018 Freshman application tips and tools for California students Set aside a specific time (this could be a few hours a week) to work on applications and explore colleges and then make sure to give yourself a break. Really!

Please note the information in the slides was pulled from UC Admissions at: http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/index.html

Key Points

  • The UC Application opens on August 1, 2017. Use this time to explore campuses, write your personal insight questions and work on the Activities and Awards sheet. Do not create an account and work on the application online, you will lose your work.
  • UC Doorways. You can access our school’s UC A-G list on the doorways site and see which courses are listed as A-G and which are denoted as UC Honors. For more information on how UC calculates GPA please click HERE.
    • Please note: I always have students who get upset and say “9th grade didn’t count then?!” Remember…it’s not just about GPA. It is about the classes you chose to take, the higher levels you achieved in a subject area and more.
  • Add context to your application
    • Did you move high schools and have a hard time transitioning? Did you have a  life event that directly affected you and your schooling? College admissions officers only know what you give them. If there is more to the story and you need to provide background contextual information, do it.
  • Explore all campuses and dive into the majors on the website. Really dive in and learn more to see if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Set aside a designated time to work on your applications…and when that time is over…go do something else…REALLY! Not college related. Take the time to organize yourself, give yourself a space to work on apps, and then give yourself a break.

Essay Prompts and Resources for the 2017 – 2018 Application Season

The essays are one portion of the application students have total control over. It’s what can set a student a part from other applicants with similar academic profiles. It’s how a student can show they are a good fit for a university and express more than a GPA and test score. Take the time to brainstorm, draft, re-draft and feel confident in the application you are presenting. See the prompts and resources below for the Common Application and UC Application as you head into the summer.

Common Application 2017-2018 Essay Prompts

Just over 700 colleges and universities utilize the Common Application as a platform for students to complete and submit applications. While you still will have to complete additional information and essays for each college/university, you can complete a large portion of your application that will carry over to each institution and streamline the process. 650 word limit, choose one prompt to respond. Source: Whats Happening: Application Updates 2017-2018 Prompts 

Essay Prompts (650 Word Limit)

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New prompt]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New prompt]

University of California Application

You can apply to all undergraduate UC campuses on one application. Out of the 8 personal insight questions, students choose 4 to answer with a word limit of 350 words. 

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6.  Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Downloadable UC personal insight brainstorming worksheet courtesy of UC Admission: UC Personal Insight Questions Guide Freshman

Source Clip Artsgram

International Business & Hospitality Management – Les Roches & Glion

After spending a week touring Les Roches and Glion Institute of Higher Education in multiple locations I have learned that the industry of hospitality management is not only a lucrative one, but one that is flexible, profitable and can take students on a pathway to success. Read on to find out what hospitality management encompasses and why a student would choose to study at these institutions.

Les Roches and Glion are leading universities in the hospitality industry. They prepare students to be professional, business-minded, entrepreneurial, hard working, resilient, reliable, humble and of course, polite. Students study in a multicultural international enviornment and learn to be leaders within their respected fields. Both institutions require two internships (which most students have so many internship offers they often turn down opportunities) and have an 89-91% employment rate upon graduation. 

What does hospitality management encompass? Finance, entrepreneurship, tourism, start ups, luxury brands, entertainment, sports entertainment/events, event planning, hotels, theme parks The benefit? You learn transferrable soft skills such as team work, communication, working with others in international settings, planning, flexibility and business skills that can be interchangeable throughout your future career. Hospitality is also the 2nd biggest employer and by 2026 it is projected that 1 in 9 jobs will be related to hospitality.

Here’s a few things to know about the colleges I toured, but click the links to dive much deeper and get the most up-to-date information:

Les Roches International School – Locations in Spain, Switzerland, China and Chicago

  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Global Hospitality Management or Bachelor of Business Administration in International Hotel Management completed in 3.5 years Degree recognizes in the United States
  • Two internships (often in different countries, internship office to assist students from creating resumes, mock interviews and connecting to offers)
  • Opportunity to choose which campus to study in between internships
  • Practical and theoretical education
  • Business woven throughout curriculum (business attire dress code)
  • Choose a specialization in your last semester
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Innovation and Sustainability 
    • Health and Wellness 
    • Event Management

Glion Institute of Higher Education – Locations in Switzerland and London

  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management with specialization in one of the following:
    • Luxury Brand Management 
    • Hospitality management
    • Real Estate, Finance Revenue Management
    • Sales & Marketing
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Events, Sports, and Entertainment with specialization in one of the following:
    • Events Sports Entertainment Management 
    • International Entertainment Management
    • International Sport Management
    • Sales & Marketing 
  • Practical and theoretical education
  • Opportunity to choose which campus to study in between internships
  • Business woven throughout curriculum (business attire dress code)
  • Two internships (often in different countries, internship office to assist students from creating resumes, mock interviews and connecting to offers)


4 Year Colleges Still Accepting Students for the Fall

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has an incredibly easy tool to research up-to-date information on colleges still accepting students for the Fall 2017 school year. You can sift through the list of just over 400 colleges by state and if they’re still offering financial aid and housing. If you’re still feeling uncertain about where to attend, check it out! Keep in mind the list may change as spots start getting filled, so check back with the list often and directly on the colleges’ website for more information. Access the link below:

Juniors! You have the time to research colleges and find what fits you best so take advantage! Check out this post and find 7 easy tools to help you narrow and research your college search: 

College Search for Juniors: Finding Your Fit


Why Your Online Image Matters

Last Friday I attended a Digital Citizenship Conference with Safe Smart Social for an important discussion – why your online image matters. More importantly how it can create a new pathway towards success or stop you in your tracks. As a college counselor I am constantly advising students on presenting their narrative to prospective colleges and employers. We discuss the whole picture. Who are you presenting on your application and what do you want that story to say? So when a college admission counselor makes the decision between candidates you feel confident that you’ve presented your best self.

Our digital footprint is no different than a college application. In fact, in many ways it is becoming a part of our college application. Our online image is easily searchable. So searchable that if your portraying one version of yourself on an application and a completely different version of yourself online, it can confuse prospective colleges and employers. Here are a few takeaways from the conference and how you can incorporate simple tactics to enhance your narrative…on and offline.

  1. Grade yourself
    • Safe Smart Social has a free tool called Footprint Friday. An incredibly easy tool that will show you what pops up when people search for you. More information and access here: https://safesmartsocial.com/footprint-friday/
    • Go to your Instagram and Facebook. If your dream college looked at it RIGHT now, without changing anything how would you feel? Proud? Ashamed?
  2. Take control and create your own positive content
    • You’ve done some community service…but have you posted about it? Showing images of you actively participating in positive events is a good thing! Did your club recently host a fundraiser at school? Post it!
    • Create a website, post on your YouTube channel, have a LinkedIn account that showcase your strengths, passions and accomplishments.
  3. Be authentic 
    • You don’t have to shy away from being yourself, however it is helpful to think about this before you post, “If this were on my college application how would I feel?” or “If my future internship saw this, would it help or hurt me?” Take control of your narrative.



Light, Bright and Polite for Parents/Teens: How to Shine Online to Impress Colleges


Attend the Social Media Bootcamp for Parents & Students to Shine Online at Loyola Marymount University this summer and learn how to build a positive online image that you’ll be proud of. To sign up and view details click here: https://safesmartsocial.com/social-media-bootcamp/


Raise.me: Earn scholarship money for your accomplishments throughout high school! Create an online portfolio with Raise.me and earn scholarships from participating colleges and universities for your good deeds like starting a club, community service and earning strong grades. https://www.raise.me/


Zeemee: An online platform that allows you to showcase your narrative to colleges. Upload videos, pictures and written content to present your accomplishments, strengths, interests and passions. https://www.zeemee.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/




3 Tools to Easily Tell College Affordability and Tuition Price

Every student and family can benefit from adding financial aid into their college search. Why? Because not only do you want to go to a college that has the program your interested in, the social scene and the right academic environment, but you also want it to be affordable. Remember, you shouldn’t have your back against the wall second semester Senior year feeling like your only option for your dream school is to take out at ton of loans (you know the type of “financial aid” you HAVE to pay back?). So take these three simple, easy resources and incorporate them into your college search, in a financially responsible way.

  1. Net Price CalculatorASU Net Price Calc
    • Every college is mandated to have one, which means all you need to do is go directly to your college’s website and access it on their financial aid page (or just in the college website’s search bar type Net Price Calculator.
    • Use this as a rough estimate of your financial aid package from that university. This number is not perfect, but it can give you an idea based off your Expected Family Contribution and what the university is able to traditionally offer.
  2. FAFSA4Caster
    • Families will complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning October 1 of their Senior year. Think of the FAFSA4Caster as another tool similar to the Net Price Calculator to roughly estimate a family’s expected cost financial aid. Access it here FAFSA4Caster
  3. National Center for Education Statistics
    • I love this website. LOVE it. Why? Because it gives
      incredibly useful and detailed information on colleges and universities financial aid offerings. So in depth that you can see not only the percentage of students receiving financial aid, but the breakdown of how much of it is loans, vs. scholarships and grants. Remember, loans qualify as “financial aid” so do not overlook these numbers. Be savvy! Access it here NCES College Navigator

One final tip, because I think this is awesome (I know it’s beyond three, but I LOVE resources)…

The Western Undergraduate Exchange is a group of institutions in the western states that offer a hefty reduced tuition rate for out-of-state students making out-of-state an accessible option! A few
things to know:

  • Check the website for qualifications on WUE requirements.
  • In California we hear the “impacted” term a bit (there’s more students than spaces available so programs can be competitive and limiting), a good portion of these colleges have direct-entry programs with a nice low tuition rate…check them out!
  • Be open and explore! It can never hurt to research before you rule out an option.

Western Undergraduate Exchange

What really counts in your application. Words from a Dartmouth admission counselor 

From an admission counselor who has read thousands of applications for a selective institution. What impressed her? What is different? How do you stand out? I’ll post a short excerpt below and the link to read the entire article. 

HANOVER, N.H. — When I give college information sessions at high schools, I’m used to being swarmed by students. Usually, as soon as my lecture ends, they run up to hand me their résumés, fighting for my attention so that they can tell me about their internships or summer science programs.

But last spring, after I spoke at a New Jersey public school, I ran into an entirely different kind of student.

I urge all families to read the entire article here: Check This Box if You’re a Good Person 

Still looking for a college to attend?

Every year the Regional Admission Counselors of California (RACC) publicize a list of colleges within their organization still accepting applications. A few things to consider:

  • Check the grid to see if they are still considering merit-based aid or have financial aid still available. Narrow down your choices.
  • Do not wait to apply! Oftentimes these spaces are available until filled, so complete your application and submit materials as soon as possible.
  • Reach out to the regional admission counselor for any questions or application assistance.

Access the entire list here:

RACC Application Deadline Report – Colleges Still Accepting

There are some amazing universities out there! Do some research and explore directly on the colleges’ website for the programs you might be interested, campus feel and what the university has to offer.

Source: http://fa.oregonstate.edu/cpd
University of Alabama at Birmingham, source: https://www.youniversitytv.com/college/university-of-alabama-at-birmingham/
MSU Sign at the Bogue Street Entrance on a August Summer day
Michigan State University, source: https://msu.edu/


How to Begin Your College Search

Are you a Junior starting to build list of colleges to apply to in the Fall? Where do you even begin? How do you know a university is right for you? There are over 2,000 four-year colleges throughout the United States alone! It can seem a bit overwhelming, especially when we’re getting advice and input from every which way. Keep it simple and most of all…keep it true to your core. Every college on that ends up on your college list should encompass your wants needs and values. It’s about finding a place where you can be challenged yet supported. Finding a place where you see yourself diving in. A place where you can thrive. To do that, you’ll need to do some research. Colorado State University put together a simple post about how to choose a college based on a few key priorities.

So narrow down that list of thousands to a handful of colleges you actually can see yourself being successful at. At the end of the day, your measure of success will be based upon your experiences, your input and your outcomes…not just the name on your diploma. Happy hunting!

6 Things to Consider When Choosing a University