I know what you all are thinking-- summer is finally here! You are completely done with junior year, a.k.a the most stressful year of your short life (so far). So relish in this moment! Take a break and relax; enjoy spending time with your family and friends. Enjoy not having to worry about any upcoming papers or tests. You all made it this far and accomplished so much to be able to call yourself a senior and, frankly, you deserve a break!
However, is it crucial to not get too carried away by the long vacations and lazy days. The summer before senior year is an important time to get a head-start. And by this, I am referring to the much anticipated college application process. College defines where you will be, and what you will do for the next four years; it is not a concept to be merely shrugged off, or put off until the last minute. As a veteran high school student, I remember the stress I experienced with applying to multiple colleges during my senior year. And the best way to minimize this anxiety is utilize these next couple of months to your advantage. Make this summer fun and relaxing but also productive!
Here is a list of what I would consider “Fundamentals Before Senior Year”. Not everything may apply to you, but I hope this helps you plan for the future and makes your college application and admissions process at least a little easier.
1. Where would you like to go to college? Seriously. Some of you may have never thought this through yet or having been putting it off (like I did) until senior year. And now, believe it or not, is the time to realistically answer this question. WRITE down a list of where you plan on applying to. And actually write it down, and don’t lose it. It will most likely change, grow, or shrink but by the end of the summer, you should have one clear-cut list of every college you plan on applying to.
2. Research. Browse colleges’ websites, attend any informational sessions in your area and, if feasible, travel to visit colleges you are considering.
3. Talk to your parents. You may be really close to your parents and have already discussed college or you may have never broached the subject. Don’t worry if you’re in the latter pool; no matter where this topic stands in your family, find time to sit down and discuss REALISTIC expectations regarding college. How much do your parents plan on contributing to your educational expenses? How comfortable are they with you moving far away? Do you have any alumni in your family? This will ultimately guide your college choices.
4. Consider financial aid. If you know you will require any type of financial aid for your college expenses, research potential schools’ financial aid policies. Net price calculators will be your best friend. By determining how much certain colleges will cost based on your family’s income and the schools’ respective financial aid polices will effect whether or not you should even consider applying there. If financial aid is a high concern for you, check for schools that meet 100% demonstrated financial need (many Questbridge partner schools provide generous aid and can be found at http://www.questbridge.org/partner-colleges/overview-listing).
5. Standardized Testing. Did you not perform as well as you would have liked on the SAT or ACT? There is an opportunity to retake these tests the beginning of your senior year. So if when researching colleges you notice that your test scores fall below average or if you just want to boost your scores, spend time reviewing for these tests. Don’t forget to check each school’s testing policies to make sure you have taken each required exam. I know some schools require SAT Subject Tests (for example, Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton), and you don’t want to be denied admission simply because you didn’t have the required test scores.
6. Essays. Many colleges that require specific essays release their prompts over the summer. The Common App also officially opens on August 1. Therefore, I recommend spending time drafting your essays. See which schools are on Common App and only require the one common app essay then determine which ones require additional supplements. After this make note of any colleges that have similar essay prompts whereas you can write one essay that answers both. If you can kill two birds with one stone, do it. For many of you, this may be possible but if it is, go for it. This is especially important is you are applying to multiple colleges and if essay writing is not your strong point. Always seek constructive criticism and remember to answer the prompt and never loose your voice.
7. College Courses. If you are able to “dual-enroll” or take community college classes, do so! Not only may you receive credit but it helps boost your HPA and shows colleges you were productive with your time. And yes, it is completely understandable if your school does not allow you to do this, or if you cannot fit summer classes into your schedule.
8. Get a part-time job or volunteer. Especially if you are looking to boost your resume, find something meaningful to do, or are spending your summer at home-- look for a summer job or volunteer activity. There are many local organizations, such as libraries, camps, and schools that could use some extra help over the summer.
9. Search for scholarships. This is something I regret not doing over my summer last year. I wholeheartedly stress to search for scholarships over the summer using free search engines (fastweb, scholarshipexperts, Peterson’s, etc.). Also look locally as many community-based organizations offer scholarships (i.e. rotary clubs, county/city foundations).
10. Do some research. Actually spend time researching colleges, even ones you wouldn’t normally consider. Attend any informational events in your area and, if feasible, visit college campuses. If it helps, make a list of what you are looking for in a college (jn regards to majors, student life, location) and explore colleges that fit that criteria. Then label your colleges as “safety”, “reach” and “middle”. Make sure you have at least two safety schools, or schools you are sure you will be admitted into. Reach schools can be those that have low acceptance rates and set high admissions standards, such as the Ivy leagues. I cannot stress QUALITY OVER QUANTITY enough! It is better to submit quality applications that you put much time and effort into for fewer than to submit poorer applications to a significant number of colleges.
Make sure to enjoy your summer, but to also be productive and prepare for the year ahead!
Written by: Bethany Malzman
Published: 2 June 2015
Updated: 2 June 2015
More information can be provided by firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope the title of this article got your attention. I mean, studying abroad for free? Who wouldn’t like that opportunity? Studying abroad is more than just a chance to sightsee in a foreign country. It allows students to experience and study foreign culture firsthand, instead of solely learning through textbooks. Many students may be familiar with international trips through their schools, but those usually come with a hefty price tag. Three thousand dollars for one week in China? No thank you! For some, affording those trips is no problem, but for a large percentage of high schoolers, it is much harder. With additional passport and spending money expenses, it makes the cost even higher! I, like many other students, thought studying abroad seemed too far from my reach, but I soon discovered the number of free opportunities available to high school students!
By the start of my senior year, I had traveled abroad three separate times; once to Costa Rica, and twice to South Korea. Collectively, I spent $315 to attend all three programs. $165 for my passport and $150 for a program deposit. A plane ticket alone to Seoul, South Korea during the summer costs around $1800 so I gladly decided to stomach that small sum of money. These programs all involve an application process, but it is worth it! Six weeks to a year in a foreign country for a few essays? I would take that trade any day.
The first program I would recommend would be NSLI-Y, which stands for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. This U.S. State Department program sends hundreds of students abroad for summer and year programs! Aimed to promote the study of critical languages ( Korean, Mandarin, Turkish, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, and Persian), this program is perfect for any high school student who wishes to study foreign languages. Students have an option of applying for summer or year long programs, besides Persian, which only has summer, in any of these target languages. I went to South Korea in 2014 to study Korean in Seoul, and I had an amazing time! Living in a city for a change was so exciting!
The process begins in September with an application. There are usually a few required essays, the longest being a host family letter ( the family you will live with during your trip). If you make it to the next round, then you will have either a phone or in person interview to help NSLI-Y better understand your motivation for studying your chosen language. Semifinalists find out in March or April if they were chosen for a scholarship. Summer programs leave mid to late June, and year programs leave late August to early September. Summer students typically study at a university, while year students attend local high schools and have additional language lessons. Almost every single program places students in host families. Summer scholarship recipients are eligible to apply for a year program, if they fit all of the requirements.
Similar to the NSLI-Y Scholarship, this program is run by the U.S. State Department. The application process is almost the same as well. Rather than language study, which is still a component, this program aims to create U.S. youth ambassadors in the Yes Abroad countries. Students typically live with host families and receive stipends similar to those of NSLI-Y. Yes Abroad programs are year long, and require the applicant to be 15-18.5 by their start. Current country offerings include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey.
Students will usually attend local high schools and become totally immersed in the local culture and language. No prior language study is required for participation in this program, besides Morocco which requires prior French knowledge.
I have many friends who have done YES Abroad during high school, and they can’t speak highly enough about their program and their experience abroad. These countries are not “traditional” study abroad locations, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rich in history, culture, and hospitality!
Other State Department Programs
The U.S. State Department has a lot of other programs available to high school students and even college students! There are way too many for me to list, but on the State Department page, you can search through them! Most have fall deadlines! CBYX, one program, sends students to Germany for one year! With program locations spanning from South America, to Asia, you will surely find a program that fits your wishes. Some programs have a small program deposit fee to hold your place, but most are refundable when you complete the program.
EF Tours Global Citizen
It does not seem like they require citizenship, but just residence in the United States! EF Tours is a study abroad company that you may be familiar with! A lot of schools run programs with this company, with locations ranging from Europe to Asia to South America! Each fall EF Tours runs a Global Citizen contest which asks students to submit a video, essay or other format presentation on their yearly topic. This year it was Global Education! This year, students will head to Europe to discuss education at a conference in Switzerland! This is an opportunity you should not miss! Information is usually updated over the summer for next year’s program. Locations usually change yearly.
SPI Abroad Costa Rica
I went on this program after sophomore year! I randomly found it when I was searching for study abroad websites! I believe I was the first student to receive the scholarship, and I'm very thankful for the opportunity! The deadline is usually March 1st of every year, and the process usually requires an essay, transcript, a Spanish teacher recommendation, parent recommendation, and statement of financial need. The citizenship requirement isn't clear, but I'm sure it is open to all students residing in the United States. Contact the company for more information.
When I went, we spent two weeks in Playa Flamingo where we stayed with a host family. We would go to classes in the afternoons, and during the morning we would go to beaches or complete community service projects. We also went zip-lining, horseback riding, surfing, and on an optional sunset cruise! The school in Flamingo is right across from the beach and the views are just beautiful. The school is wonderful and you'll learn a lot of Spanish even though the program is only two weeks long ( plus college credit)!
Private Organizations, Like Youth for Understanding or Rotary
Another option available to students are local and national private organizations like Youth for Understanding and Rotary. YFU offers many partial and full scholarships to some of their programs, depending on region and where you would like to study. Typically, you have to pay for the flight. The same applies to Rotary, but depending on your local rotary, the fees that the scholarship covers will vary. Doing your own research on opportunities available in countries you would like to study in and other study abroad organizations can help you find more opportunities. Many times, embassies offer scholarships to study abroad in their country for a few weeks, but they are usually not offered every year.
Here are some photos of my travels!
Contributions made by: Juliana Ivelyz Peña (photos)
Written by: Juliana Ivelyz Peña
Published: 25 April 2015
Updated: 25 April 2015
More information can be provided by Juliana. E-mail us at email@example.com for your questions to be relayed.
Recently, I've noticed that some people could use help figuring out what to pack for admitted student days. People who have never been on a plane may also need tips on how to go about with luggage. Here's some basic stuff to keep in mind for your travels:
STEP 1: The Types of Luggage You Can Have
1. The Personal Item: a purse, tote, laptop bag, BACKPACK (recommended). Make sure it's something you can put under the seat in front of you. The personal item is always free and you keep it on you (includes umbrellas).
2. Carry-on: also usually free; duffel bag, or a small suitcase-- most of which are labeled as carry-on. If yours isn't labeled, consider if it will fit into an overheard compartment without taking up a lot of other space (I was on a plane in February, where I had to squish my duffel in because some people decided to use hiking backpacks for their carry-ons;. Most airlines don't bother to actually measure them so they were able to get away with it). Containers can only be up to 3floz and trust me, unless you're some crazy who uses entire bottles of soap in one night, these bottles will last you a good trip (maybe a week or two). I have some bottles I still haven't replaced after many trips.
3. Checked Baggage: most likely not free; up to 50lb and the TSA has a size limit on them, I believe. Check with airlines about the size limit. You can put basically anything in your baggage as long as it isn't prohibited. You can put full size soaps in here but because they're so roughly handled, it's recommended you don't.
STEP 2: What to Bring
For a college visit, you wanna bring clothes and other stuff that fits the weather-- especially if it turns out that the weather isn't what you thought it'd be. I'm visiting 2 colleges and am bringing a dress with leggings, shorts, tank tops, camisoles, jeans, a thermal, and a flannel (along with obvious undergarments like socks, bras, underwear and pajamas (shorts and shirt)) because weather can change in a snap. (I got caught in a blizzard at my last college visit.)
Wear your outerwear and bulkiest clothes on the plane so you can save space in your bag. I wore a hoodie on the plane at Hollins College so I saved tons of space. This time I'm wearing my flannel and heavy shorts plus boots. I'm only bringing one pair of walking shoes and that's my boots. Try to only bring one pair of walking shoes-- unless your destinations have really different geography.
(Oh and pack extra underwear please in case of accidents or emergencies or delays.)
STEP 3: The Toiletries
Like I said, travel size bottles for toiletries should do you just fine unless you're somebody who absolutely needs an entire bottle of shampoo in your hair or whatever. Most travel-sized toiletries are made to supply you well with a few drops as companies know the hassle of traveling via plane.
BRING FLIP FLOPS FOR SHOWER SHOES, PLEASE! Last trip I forgot and was blessed to be at a small all-women's college where my host's roommate let me borrow her shoes.
Also bring a towel. You can save space with a lot of these things by rolling them up and stuffing (especially stuffing your bras if you're packing any or just corners.)
STEP 4: Bedding/Sleep
Since most colleges and universities ask you to bring a pillow/blanket/sheets/sleeping bag/etc, you can carry your pillow on the plane. Nobody will really judge you. Though I'd suggest stuffing it in a bag while in the airport so you don't lose it. The same goes for a sleeping bag. A lot of people in the airport honestly sleep. so they just carry those items around. But once again, I recommend stuffing them in a bag so you can travel with ease.
STEP 5: Food
Bring an empty water bottle to fill up at water fountains past Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You can go to small convenience stores and buy snacks or get food at restaurants.
Hope this helps! Have a good time visiting your possible new homes!
Written by Jennifer Gagné
More information about this topic can be provided by Jennifer Gagné
Published: 5 April 2015
Updated: 5 April 2015
MAJOR OPPORTUNITY ALERT!
If you’ve skimmed the About page, you may have found a linking factor between the founders: we’re Questbridge- affiliated students. Now, what does that mean? Questbridge is an organization that focuses on providing opportunities for high-achieving, low-income students, which we all are. We participated in both the College Prep Scholarship and the National College Match, but the focus of this post is the College Prep Scholarship available only your JUNIOR YEAR. Pay close attention Juniors!
Here are the basic requirements for eligibility:
Why should you apply? I’ll tell you why! Questbridge opens up so many doors, and reveals many opportunities for low-income students, while also giving you an edge on the college application process. According to Questbridge’s website, here are some of the benefits of beng a College Prep Scholar:
Please, please, please, take your tests now. But make sure you are ready. Do whatever you can to study. Also, don't be frightened by their stats. They are by no means set in stone. They are very holistic about how they select Scholars. But you should still try to score as high as you can on SAT/ACT. If you are taking the March SAT test, don’t worry about when your scores will arrive. The application allows for you to state that you intend to take the test in March. The people at Questbridge will not mark you off for something you can’t control.
Here’s a video from Questbridge that gives some more information:
Is that not enough to compel you to apply? Worried about whether it’s worth it? Here is an interview with past Questbridge College Prep Scholars, in which they talk about their experiences.
How did you find out about the College Prep Scholar Award?
Ana: My Trigonometry teacher was aware of my situation as a low income student, and he’d overheard some seniors at the time talking about Questbridge. I remember him telling me that he didn’t know anything about Questbridge, but that I should research it. I did. After spending hours reading through the whole website, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I actually thought it was some sort of scam, I could not believe how great Questbridge was. But even with that small voice telling me in my head that it was a scam, I decided to apply.
Lin: I found out about Questbridge because of my dad, and honestly I'm extremely grateful for such an amazing organization-- words can't even describe it. Prior to Questbridge, I would spend hours upon hours researching scholarships and schools that'll offer international students money. Since internationals don't qualify for federal aid, most state schools shut us out, and it was incredibly disheartening and discharging for me. While researching, I would always end up on college confidential, where I would see unbelievably rude posts of how internationals should just go back to their country because of the competitiveness in America. I didn't know what to do. Those posts actually made me cry, because i felt so helpless. I was so frightened that I won't go to college.
One day (my sophomore year), my dad was browsing through a Taiwanese online news website and found an article about questbridge. He sent me the link, and I didn't really look much into it at first. However, the following day, I decided to look through the website to see what it's about. I discovered that it's actually opened to non-citizens and my heart raced excitedly. I spent that entire day looking through all the details about CPS and NCM.
Rathin: I learned about the College Prep Scholarship through mail from Questbridge.
How long did it take you to complete the application?
Ana: It took me about four weeks to complete the application. Filling out personal information, academics, etc, was easy, but I was uncertain about how to start my essays, and then I editing it. I just wanted to make sure, I wrote an essay that conveyed who I was, but that also did not had any grammatical/spelling errors. There were of course, times when I procrastinated, but I was able to submit my application with a few days to spare. College Prep Scholar was the first major program I applied to, so it took me a few days, after completing my application, to hit that submit button.
Lin: It actually didn't take too long for me to fill it out.
Rathin: I started my application the week before the deadline, and it took me about a week to finish it completely. The majority of this was spent on my essays; the demographic and financial questions were much less time consuming.
What are some benefits of filling out the application?
Ana: Filling out the application was really beneficial. I got a first taste as to what the whole college application process would be. In fact, the essay I wrote for College Prep has been the foundation for my National College Match and Common App essays. When August rolled around, I wasn’t so lost like the rest of my friends, who had not applied for College Prep.
Lin: As junior year rolled around, I applied for CPS. It was the first scholarship type application I've ever filled out, so it was an amazing opportunity not only to familiarize myself with Questbridge for NCM, but also other applications that awaited me senior year.
Rathin: The CPS gave me an early taste of what college applications are like. I didn’t know anything about the application process before it, and I’m glad I chose to apply for the CPS. Without it, I definitely would not have been as prepared as I was during applications.
What are some benefits of being a College Prep Scholar?
Ana: As a College Prep Scholar, I was invited to attend a conference at Princeton University. I felt like I was a kid opening a present for Christmas. The present was filled with so many things, a network of students across the nation who share the same passion for an education, students with whom I could connect. It included numerous colleges I did not even know existed. I gained so much knowledge that helped me in my college search, information that even my counselor was not aware of, such as fly-in programs. Being a College Prep Scholar opened so many, but so many doors for me.
Lin: Being a CPS, I really started to believe in myself and that, maybe, getting into a top school isn't just merely a dream anymore. I was also invited to the CPS conference at Stanford University; however, due to financial concerns, I was not able to attend.
Rathin: After I learned that I was a College Prep Scholar, I was invited to the College Prep Conference at Stanford. The conference was really eye-opening for me. It showed me that there were good schools beyond the big universities. I had never heard of Liberal Arts Colleges before the conference, but I fell in love with them right after it. The opportunity to speak with admissions counselors was also invaluable. They made going to a selective school seem like an actual possibility and gave me insight about their schools that weighed heavily in my mind as I applied to schools.
How has being affiliated with Questbridge changed your life?
Ana: A few weeks ago I was accepted to Carleton College via Early Decision 2, with an amazing financial aid package. I had previously visited Carleton for the Taste of Carleton Fly-In (which I found out about through Questbridge), and after falling in love with the college, I knew that that was the place I hoped to spend my next four years. I was accepted! This would not had been possible without Questbridge. To this day, I still cannot believe I am the first one in my family to attend college, if this is not life changing, then I don’t know what is.
Lin: Being a CPS undoubtedly boosted up my self confident that helped me apply to 40 colleges senior year.
Rathin: Questbridge gave me ambition. Before Questbridge, I thought I would end up having to go to my state university because it seemed like the cheapest option. Questbridge showed me that this wasn’t the case. Through Questbridge, I learned that many private schools offered large financial aid packages to low income students like myself and didn’t take my low-income status into consideration during the admissions process. This encouraged me to apply to high-end schools regardless of their low acceptance rates with a degree confidence.
How was your application process different due to your citizenship?
Ana: I don’t think the process of applying to College Prep Scholar as an international student is any different. I find this great, because as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student, I’d often found programs I could not apply to because of my undocumented status, and Questbridge felt so welcoming!
Lin: Being an international? It sucks. Other than the 7 need blind schools (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Pomona, Amherst, MIT), internationals applying for financial aid are placed in a different and far more competitive pool. It's separate... And unequal. It gets indescribably frustrating knowing that maybe something out of your control and something so superficial (citizenship status) will affect your college decisions so much. Because of this, I applied to 40 schools (36 reaches. 4 safeties). It was hard. Staying up all night writing essays and perfecting supplements, my winter break composed of applications after applications. It's difficult, yes, but I found myself being more organized and working more diligently. Being a low income international student is without a doubt a challenge in the college application process; however, it's not impossible. I've grown so much as a person due to this circumstance, and now, I'm more grateful than ever before.
Rathin: I’m an undocumented student, so my application process is slightly different easier than the process for international students. However, the process for international and undocumented students alike is still incredibly difficult. Many schools that are need-blind to US citizens and permanent residents are not need-blind for us. This makes the admissions process extremely selective because we need aid to attend these schools. With this in mind, I applied to a large number of schools (25) in the hope that I would be accepted to at least one. This is the major difference when comparing a domestic low-income student and an international low-income student, and I have spent the majority of my senior year worrying about my applications because of the disadvantage of asking for financial aid as an international.
As far as specific differences go, I have had to fill out a multitude of financial aid forms because of my undocumented status. I have also had to contact several schools directly about my status, as many schools don’t list their policies on accepting undocumented students on their websites.
What's some advice you'd like to give the juniors applying for CPS this year?
Ana: Revise! Revise! Revise! You can ask teachers, counselor, or students in the Class of 2016 Questbridge Facebook group to help you edit your essays. It’s always good to get a second pair of eyes to read over your essay for more ideas, grammar corrections, etc. But do not let their suggestions change your voice, or what you’re trying to convey.
Do not procrastinate. Really, you do not want to be rushing last minute to submit your application, give yourself plenty of time to finish.
Ask for your letter of recommendation if you still haven’t, make sure to provide your teacher a resume or a brag sheet so he/she can talk about your accomplishments, and involvement in and out of school. Make sure you choose your teacher well.
If you have extenuating circumstances, there’s space for you to explain, use it! But know how to differentiate an excuse with a reason.
Always save your essays, even your short responses. Technical glitches can happen, so there’s a chance you could lose your info.
If you don’t get chosen, don’t be discouraged. Cry, scream, buy frozen yogurt, but move on. Think of this as a learning experience. The fact that you completed the Questbridge application is an accomplishment in itself, which will help you tons as August nears.
Lin: One piece of advice I would give to juniors now is to ask other Questies to proofread and edit your essay. For CPS, I was deathly afraid of being judged because my essay included some personal stuff, so I only let my English teacher edit it. But for NCM, I actually asked over a dozen Questies to edit it, and it's awfully amazing how much support and help I've received from them. Not only do they see things I don't see in my essays and provide me with awesome ideas, Questies and I can easily form connections since we've all faced similar adversities. After application season, I even posted my essay in the Questbridge support group, and they're not lying when they say it's a support group. I received almost a hundred likes on my essay, dozens of comments, and my inbox was flooded by people who were able to connect with my stories. I loved it, and at that moment, I knew I wasn't alone, and never was I alone.
Rathin: Stay positive. If you put your all into your applications, something good will happen. This is especially important for international applicants.
This is just an opportunity. You can choose to take it or not. It's up to you. But if you do, know that we’ll be here to answer any questions you have and help you through the process. (Just comment below, or e-mail us). There is also a group dedicated to help out future applicants. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1410288575899977/
Interested now? Go apply: http://www.questbridge.org/for-students/cps-college-prep-scholarship
If you’re applying, I wish you the best of luck!
Contributions made by Lin Huang, Ana Yanes and Rathin Kacham
Written by Elizabeth Aguilar
More information can be provided by Elizabeth Aguilar, Odalis Flores, and Ana Yanes
Published: 12 March 2015
Last Updated: 12 March 2015
The college process can be extremely demanding and expensive, especially if you apply to a lot of colleges. Besides the tears of frustration you will shed (okay, I may be exaggerating… or not) as you try to craft your college essays, you will also have to spend some money to have those essays-- and the rest of your applications read by college admissions. Nothing in this life is free, but fortunately for you, there are ways to avoid those hefty fees.
I applied to 22 colleges, yet I spent $0. I am expert at avoiding fees, if I do say so myself.
Before I let you know on my secrets-- well, they’re not really secrets since other students know about them them-- it is important you know what components of your applications need payment. Drum roll: College Application, SAT/ACT Official Score reports, CSS Profile and Art Supplements. You probably have an idea of what the first one is; a college application is pretty self explanatory. What about the rest of the list? What are SAT/ACT Official Score Reports and CSS Profile? Don’t worry, I got you covered.
College Application Fees
Each school will require an application, that can be completed online through the Common App, Universal College Application or a college-specific application. College application fees can vary from around $0 to $100. The cost of applying can quickly accumulate, but those fees can be reduced through various ways.
Note: Make sure to remind your counselor to sign the fee waivers!
SAT/ACT Score Reports
By now, you probably have taken or are thinking about taking the dreaded SAT or ACT. (May the odds be ever in your favor, really). In addition to the mental pain it will cause you, you will have to pay to send official score reports to the colleges you will be applying to. Official scores are just your scores sent by the company that administer whichever test you're taking to the college you apply. They may include college and career planning, and predictions about your future college performance. In short, it’s just a way for those companies to earn more money.
It costs $12.00 to send ACT scores to one school, and $11.25 to send SAT scores to one school.
How do you avoid those fees?
Dear (school name or admissions officer name)
Hello, my name is (your name). I am a senior at (Name of High School, District, State). I am a Questbridge Finalist (only write if you are a finalist), and I am planning to apply to (Name of College). However, I feel as though sending an official score report places an undue financial burden on me; consequently, I was wondering if there was any kind of alternative where (Name of College) will accept my SAT/ACT scores? (Naviance, screenshots, score report signed by counselor, etc)?
The majority of the schools I emailed allowed me to send unofficial scores, as long as they were on my transcript or were sent by my counselor. It saved me so much money! I do recommend however, to start emailing them ahead of time, don’t leave this for the last minute, because it will give you an idea of how much you will end up having to pay.
Note: Remember to send them small email thanking them, whether they let you sent unofficial scores or not. It shows courtesy!
According to the College Board, the CSS Profile is “an online application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government.” Many private institutions will ask you to submit the CSS Profile to determine your financial award package. It costs $25 to send the first CSS Profile, and $16 for additional reports. Without this, or an alternate method provided by the institution, you will not receive any institutional aid.
To whom it may concern,
My name is (your name). I am a senior at (Name of High School, District, State). I am a Questbridge Finalist (only write if you are a finalist), and I applied to (Name of College College). I have a question. Sending the CSS Profile poses a financial burden to me, so I was wondering if (Name of College) offers CSS Profile fee waiver codes or if there are other ways I could apply for financial aid.
Note: Again, it’s imperative you email your schools with time. Do not wait until a day before the deadline submit the CSS to start asking for codes or other alternatives.
If you’re looking to major in art, or you have an exceptional talent in art, you may want to (or be required) to submit Arts Supplements. Some schools will not charge you to submit them but others will indirectly. The cost for submitting through the Common App’s Slide Room is $10. If your college application is waived, however, it is very likely your college will waive the Slide Room’s fee as well.
If that is not the case, or if the college you’re applying to does not use Slide Room, then you can always email the college asking if the fee can be waived.
To give you an idea of how much you would be required to pay, Olivia Bogan, and Lin Huang, two current high schools seniors who applied to 9 and 40 schools respectively have kindly provided us with the breakdown of how much money they would had spent vs. how money they actually spent using any of the above money-saving methods.
Wow! Talk about expensive!
See the difference! All it takes is some planning and organizing to save you money! While college is worth the investment, you should try to find alternative ways to pay for the components whenever possible.
P.S. If you’re wondering why Lin applied to so many schools, stay tuned to learn why on our following series: How to create your college list!
Contributions made by the following people: Olivia Bogan and Lin Huang
Written by Ana Yanes
More information can be given by Ana Yanes
Published: 8 March 2015
Last Updated: 8 March 2015
I know what you’re thinking: Yes! Junior year is over and I finally have time to myself. Worrying about college can wait for September. But what you don’t realize is that the summer before your senior year is a valuable block of time that, if used wisely, could be the difference between you scrambling to meet deadlines and you receiving admissions decisions long before the rest of your friends. Here are a few tips you should follow to maximize the productivity of your summer:
This is the perfect time to get a job.
As a 17 or 18 year-old, there are only a handful of things you can do on your own. Applying to college is one of them. Regardless of their level of authority--parent, guardian, or guidance counselor-- no one dictates your college choices except you and thus, this whole process requires a certain level of maturity. You might have relied on your parents or guardians for personal expenses until now, but if your circumstances permit, you should look into obtaining a part time job. The college application process is not only confusing, it can also be EXPENSIVE. Think of it as an investment in your future. (Don’t worry, ways to cut down costs can be found HERE.)
Consider doing a paid/ unpaid internship.
Whether your interests lie in the medical field, law, or business, chances are you can intern somewhere and learn more about that specific career. For example, my “major” at my technical high school was Finance, but I applied for all my colleges under Political Science. To make up for this educational gap, I could email several local law firms my resume at the beginning of the summer and ask if they offer paid/unpaid internships. A sample email:
My name is Odalis Flores and I am a high school senior who is currently planning to pursue a career in law. I am interested in gaining experience in an office-setting before attending college through a paid/unpaid internship with your firm.
Attached please find a copy of my cover letter and resume. Although I may be a novice, you can expect nothing less than a professional attitude and a strong personal work ethic from me.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
I’d like to introduce this section with a video from one of my favorite Youtubers, none other than the quirky, cat-loving Anna Akana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFyo3s6DQFw
Moral of the story: don’t bite off more than you can chew. Let’s put it into perspective. If I were to list every topic you are expected to keep track of during the college application process, that list would look something like:
Step 1. Have a bin/ box for college spam. You've probably been getting promotional mail from colleges over the country since junior or even sophomore year. It’s flattering at first, but by December, it will be borderline annoying and you will start to wonder how many trees were sacrificed to make that glossy poster of your dream school that hangs above your bed. Even after you make your final decision on which colleges you’re applying to, you’ll continue to receive those notices so instead of halfheartedly flipping through them, set them aside and destroy them after this whole process is over. You have better things to do.
Step 2. Figure out whether you are more comfortable using Excel spreadsheets or a good old-fashioned binder.
Different schools have different requirements, and there’s no better way to keep track of them than by compiling all the necessary information into one place. I personally like Excel more because you can edit as you go along and hey, you’re saving more trees! Sample spreadsheets with can be found HERE and HERE.
Written by Odalis Flores
More information can be given by Odalis Flores
Published: 28 February 2015 (Previously posted in the Summer Break Tips)
Updated: 1 March 2015