College Counseling & Application Support2024-07-08T11:07:10-05:00

College Counseling and Applications

Our certified college counselors and brilliant tutors provide complete support from start to finish.

The college applications process can be summarized as six primary components:

  1. Defining a college vision and personal sales pitch.
  2. Filling out common applications and supplements.
  3. Painting a picture with essays.
  4. Making an impression with interviews.
  5. Evaluating offers of admission.
  6. Demonstrating ability with good grades and scores.

Our College Admissions and Applications Offerings

Steps in the College Applications and Admissions Process

  1. Formulate a College Vision – What do you want to get out of your college experience?
  2. Formulate a Personal Sales Pitch – Why are a good candidate for your target colleges?
  3. Identify and Rank Colleges – Determine what 6-10 colleges you are going to apply to and why.
  4. Develop Letters of Recommendation Action Plan – What story should they tell, and who should write it?
  5. Build Out Resume and Activities List – Assemble the evidence that you’re a good candidate.
  6. Fill out the Common Application – This is the basic application for most colleges in the US.
  7. Fill out the ApplyTexas Application – This is another application option for many colleges in Texas (some require it).
  8. Write the Common Application Essay – There are a few options; choose the one that highlights you the best.
  9. Write Supplementary Essay/s – Most selective colleges require an extra essay in addition to the Common App.
  10. Prepare for Interviews – You know you’re a good candidate; make sure your interviewer sees it.
  11. Explore Scholarships & Financial Aid – Ensure you’re making a sensible decision and minimizing costs.
  12. Debrief After Early Decisions – Discuss what to do if accepted or rejected at this early phase.
  13. Debrief After Regular Decisions – Discuss what to do after all your decisions have come back.
  14. Improve ACT or SAT Scores – Optionally work to increase your scores.
  15. Improve School Grades – Optionally work to improve your grades.

Read more about the college application timeline.

College Admissions Timeline

While the majority of a student’s K12 academic career revolves around college preparation, the actual nuts and bolts of the application process typically start the summer before or during the fall semester of junior year (11th grade).

  1. Start studying for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT
  2. Attend college fairs
  3. Research scholarship opportunities
  4. Explore potential career pathways
  1. Continue studying for the SAT and ACT
  2. Begin exploring college options
  3. Request letters of recommendation
  1. Visit colleges
  2. Narrow down college options
  3. Get application materials organized
  4. Begin essays and applications
  1. Write supplemental essays
  2. Finalize and submit applications
  3. Complete FAFSA and other scholarship applications
  1. Prepare for college interviews
  2. Keep track of admission decisions
  3. Submit follow-up material if necessary for wait-lists
  4. Decide where to enroll

Andy Peters leads our College Counseling services.

Andy holds a Master’s in Education from the University of Michigan and a Certificate in College Access Counseling from Rice University.

College Admissions FAQs

What do colleges take into account when assessing an application?2023-09-28T13:05:47-05:00

College admissions officers assess applications holistically, meaning they evaluate the “whole” student. No factor (including grades, test scores, or extracurriculars) is considered in a vacuum; rather, these pieces are all assessed in the context of each student’s unique background.

With that being said, a student’s academic record (including their grades and course selections) tend to be the most important part of each application. College vary in terms of which factors they consider and how they weigh them; most colleges provide insight into these factors on their Common Data Set document (try searching the web for “[College Name] + Common Data Set”).

What GPA does my student need to get into the college of their choice?2023-09-28T13:03:30-05:00

Every high school has a different way of calculating grades, which makes it difficult to use GPA as a metric for college admissions. Some colleges provide aggregate GPA data for recently admitted students, but this is nowhere near as widely available as test score data.

Some colleges standardize GPA themselves through a recalculation process, which can provide a clearer point of comparison for students. Others focus on holistic review of student transcripts, with an emphasis of rigor of curriculum – that is, they primarily care about which courses your student took, how challenging those courses are relative to what was available to them, and what grade is next to each course on the transcript.

How important is standardized testing now that many colleges are test-optional?2023-09-28T13:05:30-05:00

Many colleges switched to a test-optional policy with the onset of COVID-19. However, some colleges (including MIT) have switched back to a test-required policy, so we’d recommend checking the requirements of each university on your college list. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a handful of colleges have committed to a test-blind policy (including the University of California system), meaning that they are removing test scores from consideration entirely.

In general, we do recommend preparing for either the SAT or ACT, even if many of your student’s target colleges are test-optional. If a student can achieve a score that falls near or above the median for typical students admitted to any given college, then submitting scores will only serve to benefit them. Your student can also always choose to submit their score to some schools and withhold them from others.

How many colleges should my student apply to?2023-09-28T13:03:38-05:00

For most students, we recommend applying to approximately 10 colleges. This list should strike a balance between reach, target, and safety schools (roughly 3-4 of each). Highly accomplished students might consider applying to a higher proportion of reach schools, but every student should balance out their list with colleges of varied selectivity.

Which extracurriculars should my student enroll in?2023-09-28T13:03:44-05:00

Generally speaking, colleges do not make value judgments about the extracurricular activities a student chooses to pursue. They do, however, value quality over quantity; they look for students who commit to particular activities for the long-term and rise to leadership roles within them.

Ideally, your student’s extracurriculars should reflect their genuine interests and passions. If they sincerely enjoy a particular activity, they’ll have a better time working hard to improve themselves, achieve awards, and maybe earn leadership positions. Extracurriculars are also a great way for students to explore new interests that may grow into passions – or even career paths.

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