College Applications Support

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Each section provides insightful information to help with your college planning. This section covers the tests required, college application, letters of recommendation, and all other criteria that goes into applying for college.

We understand the college application process can be difficult and hard to understand. That’s why we’re here to help. At anytime if you have questions, please contact us at 858-676-0700, and one of our College Planning Consultants will assist you.

What are the main factors that colleges look at when making admissions decisions?

There are many factors that colleges look at when making admissions decisions, however, the main ones are grade point average (GPA), standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

How many colleges should I apply to?

We recommend that students apply to 12-14 schools. However, if you have a good amount of safety and target schools, your list can be shorter.

What are the differences between applying early action, early decision, and regular decision?

With early action, you can apply early and receive an admission decision early in the admission cycle. You do not have to commit upon receipt and are able to apply to other colleges. With early decision, you can apply early to your first-choice college and receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the usual notification date. You are also able to apply to other colleges under regular admission plans. If you are applying early decision, it is binding and you are agreeing to attend the college if accepted and must withdraw all other applications. Regular decision is the normal process by which you apply by published deadlines, with promise of receiving an admissions decision no later than April 1st of your senior year.

What are the benefits of applying early decision?

Applying early can reduce stress by cutting the time spent waiting for a decision, allow more time, once accepted, to look for housing and prepare for college, and provide the flexibility of applying elsewhere if not accepted.

What are the drawbacks of applying early decision?

Students who apply early decision receive offers of admission and financial aid simultaneously and are supposed to withdraw their applications from all the other universities they’ve applied to.

What are the CSU Application, UC Application, Common Application, and Institutional Applications?

The CSU Application is used for all the Cal State and Cal Poly universities. The UC Application is used for all the UC schools. The Common Application is used mostly by private schools and a few out-of-state schools. Institutional Applications are used by some private schools and some out-of-state schools as well.

If I am applying to multiple CSU or UC schools, do I have to submit an application for each school?

No, for the CSU and UC schools, you only need to complete one application that will be sent to all the schools that you mark in the application.

What are supplements to the Common Application?

In addition to the general Common Application Essay, some colleges may require “supplements.” These are additional questions that colleges ask.

 

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

Which colleges require letters of recommendations?

UC and CSU schools do not require letters of recommendations. However, many of the private schools do. When researching colleges, make sure to see which ones require them and how many they require.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?

The number of letters of recommendations required vary with each school. When researching colleges, make sure to see which ones require them and how many they require.

What teachers should I ask for letters of recommendation?

We recommend asking any academic teachers (English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, etc.) from your sophomore or junior year. Also consider what major you are planning on going into and try to get letters of recommendations that reflect that subject matter. For example, if you are planning on majoring in engineering, we recommend asking your Math and/or Science teachers for letters of recommendations.

When should I ask my teachers for letters of recommendation?

It is best to ask your teachers for letters of recommendation during your junior year before you leave for summer break. If you hold off until the beginning of your senior year, your teachers may already have numerous students that have already asked them before you, which may delay the process.

What is a secondary school report?

A secondary school report allows your counselor to tell colleges about you and your high school. The information from this form also sets your academic experience in context for colleges: how many of your classmates go on to attend a four-year college, what kinds of advanced or accelerated courses (if any) are offered at your school, and the size of your class.

What is a brag packet?

Due to the large number of students that each counselor works with, some schools require students to fill out a “brag packet” that can help their counselor write a recommendation for them to use for college applications. The brag packet contains information regarding the student’s honors and awards, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc.

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

What kinds of essay topics are there for college admissions essays?

Essay topics vary for each college. Some topics may include your background, a person of influence, an accomplishment, a personal quality, an area of interest, etc.

How many essays are required for the CSU application?

The CSU application does not require any essays.

How many essays are required for the UC application?

The UC application requires four essays. All essays must be a maximum of 350 words total.

How many essays are required for the Common Application?

The Common Application requires one main essay on a topic of your choice or on one of the prompts listed. The main essay must be between 250-650 words. Each college that uses the Common Application may require additional supplemental essays varying in length and are subject to change every year.

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

What is the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA? Which one do colleges look at?

Weighted GPA’s include extra points for honors or Advanced Placement courses. Unweighted GPA’s are calculated with the assumption that all courses taken will receive equal weight, with no extra points.

Do colleges take into account freshman year grades when looking at applications?

Yes. A low freshman year GPA can negatively impact a student’s overall GPA.

 

 

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

Can I change my major after being accepted into a college?

Yes at some schools and No at others, you can change your major after being accepted at most universities. Most likely you will have to meet with your counselor or advisor to make sure that you meet all the requirements for the intended major and complete a change of major form. Keep in mind that this process may be more difficult at certain colleges than others. Then some universities require a student to declare a major at the time of admission (i.e. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo).

 

 

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

How do I request transcripts?

Every school has their own way of requesting transcripts, so visit your school’s counseling department and ask them what their preferred method is.

If I took courses at a community college, do I need to send in those transcripts as well?

Every college is different, so you will need to check with each of the admissions offices to determine what their protocol is.

What are mid year reports and final reports?

Mid year reports are given to the students’ counselor halfway through the year, more than likely after the first semester in January/February. This report looks exactly like the secondary school report except it asks for the student’s updated GPA. Final reports are given to the students’ counselor at the end of the year in June. This report looks exactly like the secondary report and mid year report except it requests the student’s end of the year GPA.

 

 

*This information is intended for general use. Every student is different so please check with a college planning counselor and the colleges that you are interested in to see what applies to your situation.

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