Creating a College List Part 1: Discovering “You”

Creating a College List Part 1: Discovering “You”

By: Paratum Scholars and Let’s Go Team

Discovering “You” & Determining Your Core Values

Discovering who “you” are doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. High school students change their minds often; don’t worry–college students do too. In the context of the college search and application process, discovering “you” means diving into one’s self and asking what social, academic, and financial components are important to you at this time and how these factors correlate to the different colleges that you may be considering.  Ask yourself: 

  • Do you see yourself in small places with your peers and professors, or are you looking forward to constantly seeing new faces at a large campus?
  • Are you seeking an environment where your peers challenge you academically, or do you prefer a more collaborative, laid-back culture?  
  • Are you the type of student who wants to make your mark by playing an integral role in many different areas on campus, or are you more comfortable being a participant and not committing fully to any one particular area?  

There is no right or wrong answer here, however, these are the values you need to focus first as you begin researching where you will be applying to for college.  

The “Perfect College” does not exist

  • You will soon discover that there is no such thing as the “perfect college”, and as you continue to research, you will learn that one school may check off many items on your “must-have” list, but not everything that is important to you.
  • As you identify these important things and what colleges can offer, it is important to narrow down your values to a set of three-to-four core-values. These core-values are aspects important to you in your college search that you will never waiver on when determining your final college list. Ultimately, you will know if your list is right for you if every single school on your list should share most, if not all, of your core-values.

The College Essay Podcast: “Episode: 109: How to Figure Out Which School is Right for You with Dr. Steven Antonoff”

Being in the college search and application process requires so much self-introspection, it is important for you, the high school student, to take significant time during your junior and senior years’ reflection on your high school experience and what you have taken away from it up until this point. 

Certain questions you may ask yourself:

  • What have you liked/disliked about high school
  • What areas do you excel in or are you passionate about 
  • Who challenges you or what problems do you want to fix in this world

Colleges want to know what makes you unique, know about your experiences and how it has shaped you moving towards this new and exciting chapter in your life. What you discover about yourself will most certainly help you when it is time to research colleges and curate your final draft. 

This episode on the College Essay Podcast by Steven Antonoff can be found here

Where Do I Start?

Corsava is a free platform for high school students that allows you to build a clear path and take ownership of your college journey.  

  • You will discover what’s important to you by first performing a virtual card sort, which is a fun, interactive way to discover your deeper college preferences.  
  • After the card sort, you will be given your own personalized Corsava report. This provides a great visual representation of specific values that are important to you.
  • Your Corsava list can be modified at any time and it is encouraged you do to readdress values important to you as you continue to grow and develop in high school. Corsava can also assist you in generating a list of colleges based on your Corsava report that aligns with your values.  
  • In short, Corsava is a recommended tool to begin this self-exploration process because it allows you to make a more informed decision about your college based on what is important to you.  

Personality Tests

These can help you learn more about strengths and weaknesses, plus preferences in your personal and professional lives which can definitely be interesting and intriguing. 

  • Remember, these tests are never 100% accurate, however, they are a snapshot of what your personality may look like at the time you take it. Personalities continue to grow and evolve until the age of 25-27 so approach it as a fun exercise.  Rest assured, the results will not predict or determine your destiny.
  • It is not recommended that you pay money for a personality test considering all of the free resources on the Internet. A free resource recommended is “16 Personalities”.  

Remember, self-awareness requires taking the time to dive into yourself and identify what is important to you and why. By doing this, not only will you be able to make more thoughtful decisions on why a particular institution may be a good fit for you, but also why it is important for you to invest your time and energy into that particular application process. 

About Paratum Scholars 

Chuck Liddiard is the Founder and Executive Director of The Paratum Scholars, a 501c(3) non-profit whose vision is to empower students to discover their college, their passion and their path.  Learn more about The Paratum Scholars and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Applying to Cal State Universities: Everything You Need to Know

Applying to Cal State Universities: Everything You Need to Know

Application season is here again! Below are several Cal State Apply updates as well as some helpful reminders to assist students.

The priority application period for the Fall 2021 semester opens October 1, 2022, and closes November 30, 2022. We encourage you to apply early.

Validation is Here! Students are highly encouraged to find their high school, so they do not need to manually enter their high school coursework, complete a-g matching, and ensure validation is properly applied. Students can now search for their high school using the CEEB code.

Cal State Apply Submission Review! The application has been updated with a Submission Review page. The page provides key academic and application information that students may need to review. Please review this information carefully and correct any issues prior to submission.

SAT and ACT Test Scores

  • The CSU has temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission purposes. To find more information on the admission requirements for Fall 2022 please visit the First-time Freshman Guidance.
  • If SAT and ACT test scores are submitted, the CSU will use scores for placement in English and mathematics courses. Please visit the CSU Student Success site for additional information on placement. If a student has not taken a test, they can opt-out of the Standardized Tests section of Cal State Apply.

Cal State Apply Helpful Links

All Cal State Apply resources have been updated and posted to the Counselor Resource site under First-time Freshman Section. Here are some helpful ones, visit this site for more. There are a lot of resources available for counselors, but some are quite helpful for students. 

CSU Video and Campus Virtual Tour Links

For a new CSU overview video and virtual tours of all 23 campuses go here.  

Reminders & Clarifications

College-Dual Enrollment Coursework – If you have taken college classes while in high school on your own or through a formal dual enrollment program, you should specify on the application that you are a graduating high school senior with college credit. Any college courses taken that will appear on a college transcript should be reported on the College Coursework page. For more information please see the College-Dual Enrollment Coursework Guidance.

Help students not miss the deadline to apply for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Some but not all campuses have a deadline of November 30, 2022, for EOP applicants. Even if you have submitted their application to the CSU, you can still go back into Cal State Apply to indicate you are interested in applying for EOP if you haven’t missed the campus’s deadline. To check the deadline for the campus(es), go to EOP Admission by Term (also available as a PDF). Also, at least one of the recommendations must be from someone who knows your academic history, such as a teacher or counselor. The other recommendation can be from an individual who can comment about your potential to succeed in college but cannot be the student or a family member.

DACA, undocumented or AB540 students should enter “None” as their citizenship status. Under “Residency,” they should select “California” as their state of residency if they consider California their home.

There have been changes in impaction on both campuses and degree programs for the 2022-23 academic year. Impaction means that there are more qualified applicants for a program or campus than can be accommodated. For the most current information, visit the Impaction center on Calstate.edu.

This resource was compiled with information from the CSU Office of the Chancellor

Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen + Transfer Student

Applying to California State Universities is an incredible accomplishment! Congrats to you! Sometimes the process can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several resources out there to help you! Including, our website! So you are in the right place. Whether you are applying to a CSU as a first time student or as a transfer student, the process can be overwhelming. Keep on reading to get started! 

* This quick guide is intended to support undocumented first-time freshmen and transfer students applying to the CSUs for Fall 2022* To check which CSU’s are still accepting applications click here. 

Applying to the CSU as a first-time student

Overview of Applying to the CSU (for full details and steps click here: Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen)   

  1. Visit the Cal State Apply page (Cal State Apply | CSU
  2. Completing Your Profile
    • Degree goal: Select “First Bachelor’s Degree” 
    • Current educational goal: As a first year applicant, you will choose “Graduating High School Senior or equivalent” with or without college credit. This is based upon classes completed and your academic transcripts. 
    • Previous attendance: If you have attended a CSU campus before and are returning to complete an earlier program, make that clear. Contact the campus to find out how to apply for re-admission. 
    • U.S. Military status: Indicate your current or anticipated U.S. Military status at the time of application. 
    • Residency: Indicate if you have or will need an F1 student or J1 exchange visa. Undocumented 
  3. My Application Dashboard: Your dashboard gives you access and details to each part of the application you need to complete. The four sections you must submit are:
    • Personal Information 
    • Academic History 
    • Supporting Information 
    • Program Materials

NOTE: In order to be officially coded as an AB540/ SB68 student and pay resident fees at the CSU, you must submit your affidavit and an official copy of your transcripts/attendance records to the Admissions offices at each of the universities where you applied. Check with each campus for their deadline.

  1. Choosing Your Programs
    • Selecting programs: Click on the plus icon next to add programs/major. Add alternatives if desired.
    • Residency: The state where you claimed residency in the profile section will already be entered. Visit your profile section to change it. Select the state you claim as your permanent home. If you qualify for AB540/SB68, choose “yes” for California residency. Enter the date your present stay began.
    • Race and Ethnicity: Indicate how you identify. You may decline to answer these questions.
    • Parent/Guardian Information 
    • Other Information
  2. Academic History 
    • High Schools Attended
    • High School Coursework 
    • College Coursework 
  3. Submitting Your Application 
    • Be sure to review each section to ensure that your information has been properly entered. Mistakes could complicate or prevent your admission to the CSU. 
    • When you apply through Cal State Apply, you are automatically considered for an application fee waiver based on the information you entered.
    • REMEMBER: Undocumented students who will qualify for AB 540/SB 68 non-resident tuition exemption can be considered for the fee waiver.

For the full guide, go Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a First-time Freshmen 

Applying to the CSU as a transfer student

Overview of Applying to the CSU as a transfer student (for full details and steps click here: Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a Transfer Student   

  1. Visit the Cal State Apply page (Cal State Apply | CSU
  2. Completing Your Profile 
    • Level of degree you’re seeking: Select “First Bachelor’s Degree” 
    • Entry status: As a transfer applicant, you have two options:
      • If you are transferring with an Associate Degree for Transfer, select “Transferring with an Associate Degree for Transfer (AA-T, AS-T) from a California Community College.” Indicate your community college and ADT program. You may enter up to two. 
      • If you are transferring from a CA community college or another college, select “Transferring from a California community college or from another two-year or four-year institution.” 
  3. Choosing Your Programs 
    • Selecting programs: Click on the plus icon next to add programs/major. Add alternatives if desired. 
    • You may be asked to select an alternate choice for certain programs that are impacted. Impacted programs are majors that receive more applicants than available spaces. You will automatically be enrolled in this alternate program should your first choice become unavailable.
  1. My Application Dashboard 
    • Personal Information 
    • Academic History 
    • Supporting Information 
    • Program Materials

NOTE: In order to be officially coded as an AB540/ AB2000/SB68 student and pay resident fees at the CSU, you must submit your affidavit and an official copy of your transcripts/attendance records to the Admissions offices at each of the universities where you applied. Check with each campus for their deadline.

  1. Submitting Your Application 
    • Be sure to review each section to ensure that your information has been properly entered. Mistakes could complicate or prevent your admission to the CSU. 
    • When you apply through Cal State Apply, you are automatically considered for an application fee waiver based on the information you entered.
    • Payment: Cal State Apply charges $70 to apply to each program
    • REMEMBER: Undocumented students who will qualify for AB 540/SB 68 non-resident tuition exemption can be considered for the fee waiver.

For the full guide, go Quick Guide for Undocumented Students Applying to the CSU as a Transfer Student

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Creating a College List Part 2:  How to Research Colleges to Develop a “Balanced College List”

Creating a College List Part 2:  How to Research Colleges to Develop a “Balanced College List”

By: Let’s Go Team

Once you have spent time “Discovering You” and determined your core values important in your college search, the next step is to begin researching schools and solidifying where you will be applying. Before you begin your college research, it is important to understand how many schools you should apply to and how to construct a balanced college list.

How many colleges should I apply to?

Application platforms nowadays simplify the process, it is important for you to know that just because it is easier for you to apply to a lot of schools, it does not mean that you necessarily should apply to an extraordinary amount.

  • Stay focused and develop a list of eight to twelve total schools that you plan to apply to. These schools should not only meet your core values, but should have your academic major, be financially affordable to you and your family, but, perhaps most important, they are institutions you would be excited to attend if accepted.  

What is a “Reach”, “Target” or “Likely” school? 

In general, a college with an acceptance rate between 1-25% is classified as a “Reach”; a college with an acceptance rate between 26-50% will be classified as “Target”; and colleges with an acceptance rate above 51% will be classified as “Likely” school.  

  • To determine this information for a particular college, the first thing you should do is to visit the admissions website and find the previous year’s admission profile —see the UCLA example below. 
  • If the acceptance rate for that particular school is not easily detected, simply divide the college’s total number of admitted students by the total number of applications it received last year; this will determine their acceptance rate.  
  • It is important to locate the school’s mid-50th percentile for both the GPA and test scores (if they accept them) for last year’s admitted class. If you cannot locate any of this information on their website, do not hesitate to reach out to the admissions office.  Once you have this information, ask yourself, where does my academic profile fit in with this particular college?  

What is a holistic application review?

Something important to note regarding “Reach” and “Likely” schools is that these are considered selective colleges and even if you meet the college’s academic profile, this does not guarantee you will be admitted. 

  • Grades and academic rigor are usually the top two most important factors that go into determining an admissions decision, but most of these selective schools utilize a “holistic” application review in their admissions process.  
  • In addition to grades and test scores, many other factors are considered in their decision; including an applicant’s activities and resume list, interviews, essays, letters of recommendation and demonstrated interest and much more.  

How do I know if my college list is balanced?

While it is important to make sure the colleges you apply to are an academic, social and financial fit for you–and they represent your core college values–it is equally important to make sure you have many realistic options after the whole process is complete.  To have a balanced college list means you have an equal amount of colleges and universities in your “Reach”, “Target” and “Likely” categories that you are excited about applying to–usually three to four colleges in each category.

 

The National Average Acceptance Rate is 66.1%.  Acceptance Rate does not determine if the school is a fit for you or if you will be successful there. 

Reach:  Your academic profile is slightly below the school’s mid 50th percentile and/or school’s acceptance rate is between 1 to 25%

Target:  Your academic profile is in the range of the school’s mid 50th percentile and/or school’s acceptance rate is between 26-50%

Likely:  Your academic profile is above the school’s mid 50th percentile and/or school’s acceptance rate is 50% or higher.  These schools may likely offer you more merit-based scholarships than the other two categories.

**For UC’s, CSU’s or other large state college systems–even though you may apply to more than one school in this system, it is recommended counting these as just one college on your overall college list** 

Don’t be afraid of rejection!

Rejection is a natural part of the college application process and being rejected from that first college is never easy. It is important to understand that selective colleges and universities may also utilize their own institutional priorities that guide them while shaping their admission class each year. These factors vary institution to institution and not all schools may have them every year.  

In general these priorities are not known to those outside the institution and can always change year after year. All in all, students can do everything right in this process and still be denied from a particular school.  So, now that you know this reality, do not be afraid to put yourself out there and please know, if you create a balanced college list, you will certainly have some fantastic options at the end of this process.  

Be Organized!

Create a spreadsheet, like Google Sheets, to keep all of your college research in one place. In the first column, list all of the schools you are planning to research. In the next column indicate if this is a “Reach”, “Target” or “Likely” school using the information indicated above. Additional columns should include the college’s academic profile and acceptance rate, as well as other indicators that will help differentiate the colleges on your list, such as:

  • Percentage of Need-Based Aid the Institution Meets
  • Testing Policies (Test-Optional, Flexible, etc.)
  • Number of Undergraduates
  • 4 and 6-year Graduation Rate
  • Major(s) That Interest You
  • Clubs/Organizations That Interest You
  • Unique Courses Offered
  • Links to Virtual Visit Resources
  • Potential Questions You Have for the College Admissions Counselor
  • Application Deadlines (Early-Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision)
  • Application Platform (Common Application, Coalition, Institutional Application)
  • Supplemental Essays (if required by the institution)
  • Are Optional Interviews Available
  • What You/Parents Think About the College

Organizing yourself with a document like this will not only help you compare the colleges you are researching, it will help you indicate if your college list is balanced. In addition, once your college decisions begin to come in, you will also be able to use this document to easily view the colleges that have accepted you and compare their financial aid packages. All of this will assist you in making that all important decision: out of the colleges that said yes to you, what college will you choose to call home!

Why Graduation Rate Matters

The graduation rate of the college you are thinking of attending is an important factor. It can tell you a lot about the value of education at the college. 

A low graduation rate can indicate several reasons why the college may not be the best fit for you. Some reasons include a lack of student support services or guidance and a tendency to have students take more remedial courses. Make sure you do a bit of research before you commit! 

 

To learn more about why graduation rate matters, download this guide Why Graduation Rates Matter. Guide provided by DecidED