If you’re confused about what matters most to college admissions professionals, you’re not alone – and it’s not your fault! In fact, there’s a long-standing, though not so funny, joke in our industry that if you meet with 10 Admissions officers, you’ll get 10 different variations on how to evaluate an applicant.
Case in point: One of my students is wrestling with how many times is too many times to take the ACT. It’s a common concern and a question that we get all the time. The reason for the question: The SAT has 2 key sections; therefore to super-score (the best total score derived from the best score on each section regardless of which test it is taken from), a student need only submit two tests max. Totally reasonable.
The ACT, however, has 4 sections. Therefore, to get a true super-score, you may have to submit four tests. Which makes some (but not all) Admissions Professionals feel as if you’re spending way too much time (and money) on prep to ‘game’ the system – as in deliberately focusing on one section per sitting.
For what it’s worth, our position is that three tests is usually appropriate. We have 12 years of anecdotal evidence that tells us that after three, there is both a point of diminishing returns and an opportunity cost to too much testing and testing prep.
But I know that you’ll find alternative opinions from some Admissions Reps. We’ve met them – and we have been storing that kind of inside info in our college database. In fact, we have visited over 50 Admissions offices in the last decade and we have seen over 50 different ways of ‘evaluating’ an applicant.
If you’re looking for a broad brush then I guess you can take comfort in the fact that 95% of Admissions Professionals surveyed by Kira Talent in 2017 had a grade cut off or a minimum test score threshold (if they require tests) for applicants.
But college admissions cannot be approached with a broad brush! In the same survey, 98% said that they also consider, to varying extents, supplementary application materials – like an essay, a teacher’s recommendation or non-cognitive attributes like interest (or even ability to pay).
There is a lack of clarity in Admissions and Funding that is confusing at best, and disheartening at worst. It may seem to you as if each school has invented its own secret criteria of what makes a good applicant. In some ways they have, but that information is attainable…
With such a broad range of opinions and lack of transparent admissions criteria, the key to admissions (and funding) success is know which schools value which criteria and to what extent. And for this, you need guidance.
For example, let’s look at the test-taking conundrum from above. Nearly every college and vocational program will ‘super-score’ the SAT, but only 120 schools will ‘super-score’ the ACT. (We have this list and it’s a filter in our list builder in YCC360, our mobile app, and on our online guidance portal).
For children to get to the college they want, and find the funding solutions to support those ambitions, they need in depth guidance and support as early as possible.
The competition for places at colleges and other post secondary programs has become so fierce AND nuanced (see above), that students without access to this type of information and support face huge disadvantages.
Unfortunately, the average public school student will receive just 38 minutes of individual college/career assistance from their school. It’s not enough. Especially when evidence from NACAC shows that when students receive guidance they are 3.2 times more likely to attend college, 6.8 times more likely to complete the financial aid process and twice as likely to pursue and conclude a four-year Bachelor’s degree.
While many small public and private high schools do provide their students with in depth support for every stage of the process, large public high schools across the country struggle with staggering ratios of students to counselors (nationally, the ratio is nearly 500 to 1, a proportion experts say has remained virtually unchanged for more than 10 years).
We’re trying to level that playing field. We’ve now got more tools to offer – including our online Guidance Academy, the YCC360 app for schools and the College Application Summer Boot Camp for rising 12th graders. You can now get great and individualized college/post secondary admissions and funding guidance at an affordable price.
If you are going to be a 12th grader (or the parent of one), The College Application Summer Boot Camp is a series of 7 interactive workshops. During the program, we’ll be guiding students on a step-by-step journey through the entire admissions and application process. The once a week Boot Camp runs from June 27 – August 14 and will be staged in conjunction with XCeed Prep and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, DC.
The college application process is difficult and detailed, and competition for places fierce, so it pays dividends to start ahead of time. Leaving your college application to your final year of high school, with all the other pressures students face competing for their attention, and hoping good grades alone will get you through just isn’t a strategy for success anymore.
Our program will teach the students how to write a killer college essay, and then we’ll have that essay reviewed by an actual Admissions Officer. Students will also write an admissions resume and learn how to properly showcase their accomplishments on the college application. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly for many families, we help the child learn about funding and financial aid. They will be guided through the various applications to maximize every scholarship opportunity.
We limit space, and in fact space is filling rapidly in this Summer’s Class… the program has been on a wait list every year. Click here to see the syllabus and to enroll.
Hope to see you there!
– Jill and Peter
p.s. Parents Mindy and Tom J have used the College Application Summer Boot Camp for all their children. Mindy said, “…Your College Concierge helped make the application process for our daughter easy and efficient. She worked on everything over the summer in their online College Application Program. She was done with all the basics by Sep so she met all the deadlines for early action. Our daughter was accepted to most of the schools she applied to and was offered great scholarships from 6 of her top choices. She will be attending Notre Dame in the fall with a $23 scholarship per year. I know a lot has to do with grades and accomplishments but the essay advice and being prepared helped her as well. We are grateful for all that they have done and have one more child who will definitely be using their YCC program.”
Enroll in our Summer Camp + Get the YCC Online Academy
Sign up for our 7 week College Application Summer Camp and also get YCC Online Academy
+ the YCC360 app!