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College Counseling. This guide has everything you need to know

College Counseling. This guide has everything you need to know

Table of Contents

What is college counseling?

College counseling is where college counselors help and work with students to identify what their preferred schools are and help them get accepted. They help prospective students compile college applications that showcase their strengths in the best way possible. Each student generally has a counselor that oversees their application right from the beginning till the time they apply to the college. Counselors generally give advice for both the students and the parents with respect to university options, possible career paths, applications, etc. 

Why do you need college counseling?

College counseling usually helps ease the process quite a bit. Counselors help students attain their goals as they know what universities look for and will help mold the students’ application accordingly. Counseling also consists of figuring out where the problem lies with the college application. Later on, both the student and the counselor sit together to sort it out. Counseling’s objectives include reducing distress, enhancing coping skills, increasing awareness and understanding of oneself and others, and fostering a greater sense of wellbeing.

How will a college counselor help?

A college counselor’s job is to assist students with their test and application preparation. Additionally, they offer students employment-related resources or career guidance according to their skills. The first and most crucial step toward a suitable entryway into finding a career path is college counseling. College advisors generally keep themselves up to date on the admission standards, acceptance rates, expectations of the admissions committee, and merit scale of nearly all prestigious schools, colleges, and universities. Apart from helping you discover the right schools for you, they also maximize your scholarship and grant opportunities. If you were interested in applying, this would be very helpful. Here are some other things college counselors can help you with:

  • While they find you the best-fit school for you, they give you a few options based on a number of factors and qualities. Depending on the kind of professors and academics you like, the kind of experiential learning you might want to be exposed to, the size and location of the campus, the campus culture, the quality life and the financial aid options the college provides. For me personally, I look at the academics, campus culture and the location. Researching hundreds of global universities there are, it can be a very exhausting process. This is where college counselors help as they already have prior knowledge about what’s good and what’s not. 
  • There are some of you that might already have a narrowed down list. You could be dreaming about getting into 1 of the 10 universities you have in your mind. A counselor in college counseling, in this situation, would help you refine your list and pick which ones you could focus on the most after reviewing your application. For instance, your list of 10 colleges could come down to 5, meaning you could focus on these 5 schools majorly. Sometimes, students just tend to make a list of the top 10 schools that they know of regardless of whether it best suits them. College counselors again will help you evaluate the options and narrow down what’s best for you or suggest other options.
  • Each university or college has a different admission process, they require different essays, etc. Therefore, a college counselor will craft a personalized strategy tailored to the admission needs of each of the schools. 
  • Another major role a college counseling plays is providing assistance with your college essays. They will help you present yourself well in the application so you stand out from the crowd. After all, that is what it boils down to if you want to be a shortlisted applicant that has a fair chance of getting into the college. They review first drafts, second drafts and essentially help you refine it to the maximum. 
  • Applying to college usually happens during Grade 12. This means that there is added college stress on the student’s shoulders. Hence, a college counselor is there to help you lift that weight. They keep the college admission stress at bay by coaching not only the student, but also guiding the student’s family throughout the entire process. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who knows what they’re doing by your side so you eliminate the possibilities of missing a deadline or doing something wrong under all that pressure and stress?
  • While college counselors help you get through the admissions process, their assistance doesn’t stop there. They also help you decide which admission offer letter is the best of the lot and which kind of financial aid package to accept. They help you evaluate all your options and present the best choice of college for you. However, they can only suggest, at the end of the day, it is solely up to you to decide. 
  • Extracurriculars and co curriculars play an integral part in any college application. Sometimes, colleges and universities expect to see that whatever you’ve done, is relevant to your choice of degree. Hence, a college counselor will also pitch in as to what kind of extracurriculars you can pursue, to strengthen your application. 

An advantage of having an individual college counselor is that their first priority is you and all of their attention would be on you. They spend all their time on college counseling and they also happen to work with a fewer lot of students. This again means more time focused on you. 

What do you need for college applications (other than academics)?

The importance of extracurricular activities for college admission is immense. When you engage in these activities, they may appear to be hobbies, but they offer much more in terms of increasing your chances of getting into the college of your choice. Through extracurricular activities, you can demonstrate to colleges a variety of positive traits and aspects about yourself, such as your willingness to pick up new skills (leadership, time management) and collaborate with others. 

You will be able to achieve these extra curriculars by fulfilling your CAS hours if you study IBDP. CAS requires 50 hours of Creativity, Action and Service each. Therefore, helping you with your college admission process while you’re in school as it is mandatory.  Here are some that looks good on a college application:

  • Internships – Internships are an excellent way to demonstrate to the colleges that you have experience in the field you want to pursue. Business students might, for instance, complete an internship with a local/small business in the marketing division or another division; this internship should be listed on a college application. These endeavors show your commitment to your field and demonstrate that you have some practical experience as a professional and that you’ve been exposed to the industry. By doing this, you may make sure that when the admissions office is looking for college applications, your application will be at the top of the list. You shouldn’t worry about leaving this off of your college application if you haven’t had any internship experience. This is just one of many significant extracurricular activities that you can participate in. This section includes work experience as well. While this is not a job resume, including any part time work that you have done can definitely add as a bonus. You would’ve also had the opportunity to hone your time management skills and learn how to collaborate with coworkers and superiors. You’ll also get first-hand experience in a work environment, which could give you an advantage over other college applicants who lack this kind of background.
  • Athletic/Literary Participation – There is much more to your college application than just your grades. The groups or teams you were a part of in high school are probably the perfect extracurriculars for college grades. You can deepen your study of a particular subject or follow an interest by joining one of your high school clubs. You can demonstrate that you are passionate about a certain subject or that you are keen to develop certain abilities by listing these academic groups and teams on your application. Be sure not to list every random thing you did, but prioritize. Include any athletic awards, Science and Math Olympiads if you hold a rank or clubs that you are a part of in a leadership position.
  • NGO’s – Your commitment to the community and your volunteer work show that you care about it. Serving meals at Room in the Inn, organizing cans at your neighborhood food bank, or constructing homes with Habitat for Humanity can all help you demonstrate your dedication to service while also improving your community. Volunteering and community service can highlight your potential to contribute to the campus community in ways other than just attending classes, which can help colleges decide whether to accept you.
  • Essays – Essays present a special chance that may influence a decision. Your high school grades and test results will be given the most consideration by admissions committees. However, too many deserving applicants with comparable test scores and GPA submit applications for admission to prestigious universities. They therefore look at your essay, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities to see what makes you stand out from the other qualified applicants.
  • Portfolio – If you are a design student, you will be required to submit a portfolio of a variety of your work. Your portfolio can include art pieces, musical pieces, anything that you wrote or performed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to include work specific to your degree, colleges usually like to see a variety. There’s a minimum number of slides you will be asked to upload in addition to their essay prompts. A sample of your abilities and the kinds of work you are interested in completing are shown in your portfolio. Your student portfolio will also highlight your abilities and progress as a performer or artist. The portfolio shows what you are doing and attests to your dedication to your area of interest better than a transcript, recommendation, test score, college interview, or even an essay.

College application checklist:

This is a general checklist that you can keep by your side when you apply for college:

  1. SAT and ACT scores  – Standardized test scores; although it has become optional in a few universities, do not discard it completely. Check the requirements before you choose not to take the exams as many still do. 
  2. Letters of Recommendation – Many colleges ask for 2 to 3 letters of recommendation from people you can trust. These typically come from current teachers or college counseling faculties, but they can also be recommended by club or team coaches, outside organization advisors, or former teachers or college counseling faculties.
  3. Personal statement and essays – Colleges want to know more about you than just your grades and test results. You will have the chance to present a more complete portrait of who you are in the personal statement and other essays. 
  4. Your academic transcripts – Your transcripts from high school and any other universities you may have attended, such as community college, show prospective employers what classes you have taken and the grades you earned in them. 
  5. Financial aid applications – To determine if you are eligible for scholarships, some institutions will ask for information about your family’s financial position. Although it’s a good idea to double check, the deadline for financial information may be later than the deadline for applications. At the absolute least, you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Let’s talk deadlines

Regular DecisionSince ordinary decision applications can be submitted at any time of the year, most frequently on January 1st, this is actually the most popular option. Waiting for Regular Decision allows applicants extra time to polish their essays, enhance their standardized test scores, and, if possible, raise a few grades. Regular Decision is one of the last days for applications. 

Regular Decision applications are non-binding and allow students to submit as many applications as they like to as many different schools. If a student is accepted to one of the schools they apply to, they are not obligated to attend and are free to select one of the other schools that also accepted them.

Sometimes fewer students apply for Early Decision than for Regular Decision because it requires a firm commitment, and as a result, the acceptance rate for top universities is noticeably higher during Early Decision.

Early ActionEarly Action is a different kind of application. Colleges rarely offer both Early Action and Early Decision because those dates typically coincide at the beginning of November. Applications for Early Action are non-binding, similar to those for Regular Decision, and students are often free to submit as many applications as they wish to the schools that offer Early Action. 

Students can get some applications off their to-do lists by applying Early Action, and if they’re accepted, they won’t have to worry about applications for the majority of their senior year if they do. Students will also have more time to review and contrast any financial aid offers they receive from colleges.

Rolling AdmissionsRolling Admission deadlines are the same as Regular Decision deadlines, which are at the beginning of January, but rather than waiting until that deadline has passed before considering applications, colleges evaluate applications as they are submitted, and acceptance letters can be sent out even before the deadline. 

It is crucial to apply as soon as possible for Rolling Admission because the school will start filling up slots and will only accept students based on academic competence and not due to space limitations. If a student applies early, their chances of acceptance can be higher than usual. Make sure to give any schools on your list that offer rolling admission top priority and submit applications as soon as possible.

Instant DecisionNumerous high schools and colleges hold “Instant Decision Days,” where representatives from various schools (typically not the most selective schools) meet with prospective freshmen and present them with the opportunity to enrol right away. 

Even though this option for express lane college admissions can be seen as a marketing gimmick, we say go for it if you’re interested in any of the colleges that offer it! This may also be a good option for students who do not want to wait and worry about admissions. Remember that your student may still be required to respond by a certain deadline.

Which admissions deadline should you consider?

The number one factor in determining which admissions deadline to choose is simply which ones are offered by the schools you are interested in. Analyze your current circumstance next. Applying during the Early Decision window is not a good idea if you want to receive a lot of financial assistance and need time to compare what each school offers you. Instead, give yourself the time to consider everything that is available and the chance to apply to as many institutions as you can. Try submitting an application during Early Decision or Early Action when the acceptance rates are highest if you have your heart set on a particular school and think there is a chance you can get in.

Here’s what you need to know about Common App

About the Common App

The Common Application, or Common App as it is more frequently known, is a user-friendly online application that collects all of your information in one place and allows you to submit one centralized application to many universities. You just need to provide the general information (name, address, extracurriculars, GPA, test results) once when creating an account. 

The Common App is accepted by more than 900 US colleges as well as many others internationally. While more students utilize the Common App than any other system for applying to colleges, several colleges also accept the Coalition Application and the Universal College Application.

How does it work?

You can register for the Common App, follow your progress, keep track of deadlines, and submit financial aid requests. The Common App is simple to use, and creating a profile is completely free. Remember that certain university programmes have additional costs. 

You can select from a variety of schools after creating a profile. The Common App enables you to keep track of and review the specific requirements, due dates, and development of your individual application after you have chosen your universities.

When does it open?

Every year on August 1st, the Common App opens for the upcoming admissions season, barring applicants from submitting the finished application to any participating universities prior to this date. However, by creating an account and completing the general information sections, you can start working on your Common App before it opens! The deadline for Regular Decision applications varies based on the school, but in general, it’s in December or January before the desired enrollment date.

Here’s what you need to know about UCAS

About UCAS

If you are diligent with the UCAS system and have a desire to study in the UK, you may be in a good position. UCAS, which stands for Universities and Schools Admission Services, serves as a sort of conduit between students looking to enroll in a particular programme in the UK and the different colleges and universities that provide it. It is a central agency and an independent charity that manages all aspects of the admissions process for people looking to enroll in a programme at a higher education institution in the UK.

UCAS is solely a system for entering colleges and universities in the United Kingdom, which includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. UCAS applications are only accepted in the UK as a means of admission to colleges and universities.

How does it work?

Any student will fill out the UCAS application form on their website in order to be considered for any college or institution in the UK. If your school or college is already registered with UCAS, you can register with them through them or independently. After registering, you must fill out a complete form with information on your course of study and relevant subjects. Henceforth, to submit an online application through UCAS, there are seven sections for completion:

  1. Personal details
  2. Additional information
  3. Student finance
  4. Choices
  5. Education details
  6. Personal statement
  7. Employment

A student can only apply to a maximum of five courses per year when using the UCAS application system. This could be five different courses at the same university, five different courses at different universities, or any combination of the two.

Common question for your counselor

When do I start with my college prep?

Even while you should be considering your high school transcript when you sign up for classes in the ninth grade, you shouldn’t begin to really prepare for college applications until the tenth grade. You can feel certain that you’re on track to achieve your goals if you regularly check in with your college counselling faculty to assist you stay on course.

How do I find the apt college for me?

You can find colleges that are a good fit for you academically, financially, and culturally by talking with a college counselor about your interests, strengths, and goals. The best way to narrow down your list of potential colleges to the ones you should prioritize is with the assistance of a college counseling faculty.

What do college admissions people look for?

The college application essay is your chance to introduce yourself to the college admission officer. Grammar and style corrections can be made by your English teacher, but college advisors are pros at figuring out whether the essay’s subject matter enables your distinctive qualities to come across clearly. 

Who should I ask for my letters of recommendation?

Your extracurricular activities demonstrate to colleges who you are and the qualities you’ll bring to campus. Your college counselor can assist you in identifying the opportunities that are best for you and in using them to show colleges the real you in addition to your grades and test results.

Which one will help me out more? Submitting an Early Decision or Early Action application?

Many colleges permit applicants to submit their materials for an early deadline that is before the regular deadline (in the fall). As you plan your application strategy, discuss the benefits and drawbacks of applying early with your college counseling faculty.

That is all my friend! This is everything you need to know about college applications. Specific colleges may have certain requirements so be sure to read up on it before you apply! This is your sign to get an admissions counselor.

It makes life easier. Bye!

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