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.
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
Everyone says that starting college is a very exciting part of your life but no one really talks about the stress that comes with preparing for college. There are things you need to figure out such as: will you be living on campus or with family? How will you get to and from school? When thinking of commuting you need to take in consideration a checklist that would make your commuting experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make your commute easier:
Whether you are commuting by public transportation or by your own vehicle, one of the most important things is staying safe. Sometimes you may stay in school very late and by the time you head home it is dark or you may need to leave home very early in the morning. No matter the time, here are some tips on staying safe:
Pepper spray, taser and emergency car kit are all helpful tools that can be used during an emergency. Read the instructions on how to properly use these tools and only use them for emergencies.
Android and Apple have an emergency mode on smartphones to help during difficult situations. Depending on the company, these programs allow you to add emergency contacts, call emergency services and put your phone on ultra power saving mode.
More information for apple users, samsung, and android users.
Sometimes you are running late and forget to make yourself breakfast or maybe you did not pack lunch. One way to avoid this is by meal planning! There are many ways to meal plan, it is done according to your lifestyle. If you have never meal planned before, here is a some tips for beginners:
When meal planning, it is important to save on produce! Here are some guides to CalFresh, SNAP, and food banks that may be available near you.
Have a long commute? One of the discouraging things about having a long commute is knowing how to fill in the time.
Student discounts for Apple Music and Spotify
If you have an exam that day, you can review your notes or study guides on the way to school. This is helpful because you are briefly reviewing your notes before your exam to make sure you don’t forget some last minute details.
Discounted Bus Passes for Students
If you will be taking public transportation to get to and from school, you will need a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass can accumulate but luckily there are programs that offer discounts for students! Additionally, these offers have unlimited rides for your semester/quarter.**
- Orange County and Irvine Students
- Bay Area Students
- Clipper Card
- Will be able to use on Caltrain Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, Muni, SamTrans, etc… Check the FAQ for more information
- Must have an income level below $89,320
*keep in mind some places do not allow pepper spray, tasers or anything sharp inside their perimeters
**rules may vary, visit websites for more information
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
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.
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!
Summer is just around the corner and for some that may mean relaxing and recharging by going on camping trips or just hanging out with family and friends. But for others, summer break is a chance to catch up or get ahead in classes. Taking a summer class at a community college allows students to narrow their focus on a single subject – rather than your typical four, five or even six classes during the longer semesters. Although taking a summer class may not sound like a fun way to spend your summer break, taking these classes offer several major benefits. Here are some benefits if you are considering taking a summer class:
Benefit 1: You save money
Whether you are a high school or college student, taking summer classes at a community college can save you money in the long run. Community college course credits are typically more affordable than those offered at universities. At a CC you may pay only a few hundred dollars or even less than that if you qualify for fee waivers. At a four year university, you may end up paying a few thousand dollars for the same course credit at a CC. Saving money is important even if you are still in high school.
Additionally if you are a high school student and you want to get ahead in your coursework for college, taking summer classes at a CC may put you ahead of the curve when you apply to college. When you first start college, you will be placed at different levels of mathematics or english classes. To be placed in the correct level course, you need to take a placement test. If you took advanced placement or even college courses, these may count towards your college credits and you will be placed in more advanced courses. This is a benefit as you won’t waste time taking placement tests and in classes you already passed.
Benefit 2: You are able to transfer to a four year institution or graduate faster
If you started your higher education at a community college your main goal may be to transfer in two years. For some fields, like STEM fields, transferring in two years may be challenging as there are many courses to complete. But taking summer classes can help you complete your courses faster and in turn, transfer to a four year institution faster.
Since taking summer classes gives you the opportunity to earn more credits, this brings you closer to graduating faster.
Benefit 3: You complete your core courses and/or are able to catch up on credits
Summer semesters are shorter than your fall and spring semesters, this may be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you see this. It may be seen as a bad thing because it means you are learning a semester’s worth of material in five or six weeks. The plus side of this is that you are able to put all of your time and energy into a single subject rather than juggling multiple courses. So if you are dreading to take a challenging course during a long semester, consider taking it during the summer.
Benefit 4: Opportunity to study abroad
If summer vacation is about traveling and experiencing new things, why not do it while getting ahead in your studies? Many study abroad programs take place during the summer, and depending on that the school has to offer, it could be a great opportunity to both learn and travel.