Today I attended the CSU counselor conference to get the latest updates for the 23 California State University Campuses. There is good news within the CSU, 4-year graduation rates are on the rise and programs such as SB-1450, The California Promise, offer enhanced advising and other support to help students graduate in four years. http://ticas.org/keeping-californias-promise. Campus impaction continues at many schools which can make getting in more difficult. Impaction means there are more applicants than seats, this can be campus wide, or program specific. The campuses with all programs impacted include: San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State Long Beach. The California State University system was created to serve the top third of California students and that bar keeps getting higher. A sneak preview into the future promises an updated application with a new name, Cal State Apply, coming Fall of 2018. The current application, CSU Mentor, https://secure.csumentor.edu/logon.asp will open on October 1st and close November 30th.
Now that graduating seniors have committed to their colleges, the spotlight is on juniors, or rising seniors, as they are soon to be known. Students think they’ve got all the time in the world until college application season, that’s in the fall—right? Unfortunately, no—college application starts in the summer. Before you can start your essays and applications, you need to have a list. To make a list you need to do research and have good information. You need to know what characteristics you are looking for, what programs of study interest you, how much you can afford, or how to make college more affordable. Juniors, you need to cast a wide net so you can investigate which schools and programs make it to your “short list” by the time you are ready to submit. In addition to online research, you need to visit. Getting your feet on campus is the only way to know if a college will be a good fit. Glossy view books always make the school look great—and it is—for the right student—but is that you? All of this takes time. Juniors, have you started exploring? Do you know how much college costs and how much your parents can afford? Do you know what kind of college you want to attend and what you want to study?
If you are feeling a bit behind, you still have time, if you start now! Waiting until fall will only increase your stress. Remember, you still have classes and activities in the fall in addition to college applications. Applying to college is like homework in another class, and applying to highly selective colleges or more than nine schools is like homework in an AP class. Every fall I get calls from “late breaking seniors.” Many college advisors are full by then. Students and families are in full panic mode and careful planning is hard to do in the heat of the moment. You may be able to find help, but it is more work for everybody when you are trying to do everything in a few weeks. I’ve often heard from families that they wish they had started sooner. It’s only May, but Senior Year starts in summer!
Test planning is essential for you. The class of 2017 is in the unique position of choosing from the old SAT, the redesigned SAT, or the ACT—depending on your testing plan. Have you thought about it? Is your course work rigorous enough to be challenging, but well balanced so you have time to study, do well, and have a life? Have you started thinking about your interests and strengths and how they fit with different types of colleges and programs? Ideally you will want to start visiting colleges this summer and begin to craft a list during your junior year. Do you know how to research to find your best fit?
If you think about it, all of high school is really a long-term plan for college admission: your courses, your grades, your test scores, your extra-curricular activities. Many families find that they have not put much thought into college applications until very late in the game. Working with an advisor can help you focus and keep you pointed on a path to a best fit college. When is the best time to start? I’d say now--there is no downside to planning early.
Dates & Deadlines
Early, Regular, Rolling
As October 1st approaches the college application process takes on a new urgency. If students did not take advantage of their summer to start their college apps, they need to do so now. With the advent of online applications, students are able to apply to numerous schools, each with different application platforms. Here are some tips, mistakes to avoid, and common questions that arise this time of year:
Schools have different application deadlines:
The application deadline also depends which decision time frame you apply under. You should have a plan for whether or not you are applying early, (not all schools offer the early option.) Here is what you need to know:
Know What Schools Want
It is important to send only what the schools are asking for, when they ask for it. Some schools want transcripts sent right away. Other schools will ask for transcripts later. Some want letters of recommendation, some do not. You must have your test scores sent after you self-report on your application. Admissions offices want and need students to send the appropriate documents at the appropriate times. You don’t want to annoy the admissions officers at your dream school do you?
It might be tempting to enhance your application or leave something off that you’d rather forget. Colleges have been known to rescind acceptances when transcripts or other information do not line up with what you have reported. If you make an honest mistake, or change a planned course, call the admissions office ASAP so they can note it in your file. Colleges do not like surprises!
Check Your Status
After you submit your application, you should receive a confirmation with instructions to set up a portal for each school. These need to be checked frequently as the schools will ask for documents or further information from you. If you do not hear back from a college you think you applied to, call and make sure they received your application. (Yet another reason not to wait until the deadline!)
More tips in my next blog: if you have a question you’d like me to cover, please submit it through the contact form on this website. Click Here.
Notes from Beth
Helpful insights to finding your perfect college match.