April 2020
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Making a College Decision Amid COVID-19

Colleges and universities have a new resident on campus and nobody wants them as a roommate: the coronavirus. To mitigate the effects of the virus, colleges and universities have closed their doors to both current and prospective students. For the thousands of high school seniors beginning college in the fall, campus closures only increase the stress of an already stressful college admissions process. If 2020 was a typical year, the month of April would bring seniors and their families to accepted students’ days and campus tours- but 2020 is not a typical year. This year – rather than driving to campus – accepted seniors and their families will flock to their couches or kitchen tables to attend webinar-style information sessions, zoom calls with admissions representatives, and virtual campus tours. To accommodate these unprecedented times, colleges and universities have adjusted deadlines and campus programming to help accepted students make an informed decision. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has created an online database listing changes in admissions events and deposit dates for schools in the United States and abroad. Although this tool helps determine admissions changes, financial aid is also a contributing factor to choosing a college or university. This handout from Mapping Your Future provides helpful financial aid reminders for high school students, as does NHHEAF’s Center for College Planning website on Paying for College. If you have not yet filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it is not too late to start today. Remember- to be eligible for scholarships and to receive financial aid, you will need to have filed the FAFSA.

If the coronavirus has you feeling overwhelmed, we hear you! In a start-of-term speech, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore shared a piece of advice to students, who like high school seniors amid coronavirus, were facing unprecedented and scary times, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if we only remember to turn on the light.” The Center for College Planning (CCP) is here to be your guiding light through the final stages of the college admissions process; we are here to help you digest new information from colleges and universities, so you are prepared and empowered to make a decision. To reach a college counselor, call us at 888.747.2382, ext. 119 and schedule a FREE virtual funding options appointment. We look forward to “meeting” you!

College Wait List

You’re on the Waitlist, Now What?

For many high school seniors, the college admission journey will end on the national decision deadline of May 1st (use the NACAC link or contact your admissions representative, as some schools have extended to June 1st because of COVID-19). However, for students on the waitlist, the May 1st deadline is the beginning of the end. A waitlist notification can hurt as much as a rejection, but a spot on the waitlist is not a final decision. Colleges and universities see thousands of applicants annually and there are rarely enough open spots for all qualified students. Your position on the waitlist says that you met the admissions requirements and they would love for you to join the class, but there is not enough space at the moment. Students are accepted from the waitlist after the national decision deadline; this is when colleges will hear from students who do not plan to attend – these are the seats for which waitlisted students compete.

If a college or university placed you on the waitlist, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Decide to stay or go. Your decision to stay on the waitlist will depend upon your interest in the school. If you are on the waitlist for your dream school, you may decide to wait it out. Before you decide to wait, ask your admissions representative a few questions about the conditions of the waitlist: Is college housing guaranteed for students on the waitlist? Are waitlisted students eligible for financial aid? Is there rank among the waitlisted students? The answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision.
  2. Choose a different school... for the time being. If you decide to remain on the waitlist and take your chances, it is still wise to commit to a different school. If you put your hopes on acceptance off of the waitlist and do not have a second option, you may not have a spot in a freshman class come September.
  3. Make your case. When you’re on the waitlist, it’s important to show colleges and universities that you remain interested. The College Board recommends continuing to study and get good grades, remaining involved in extracurricular activities, and requesting an interview with an admissions counselor for personal contact with the office.

College Planning Checklist

Juniors, You’re One Year Away from College Decisions! Here’s What You Can Do Now.

Although cliché, it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. Senior year of high school moves quickly and the college admissions process moves quickly with it. We recommend starting to prepare for your journey to college now, so when the fall comes around, you’ve started your common application, written your essay, and worked with counselors to understand the process. Here are five things you can do while social distancing to prepare for college admissions:

  1. Register for a Summer Boot Camp – The Summer Boot Camp workshops help rising high school seniors begin the college admissions process. Our workshops on the Common Application and the college essay are relaxed and offer you the support of college counselors and your peers. Registration is required.
  2. Register for our May 6th “Applying to College 101” workshop – This live online presentation will give you and your family a comprehensive overview of the college admissions process with helpful information on college essays, timelines, college lists, and more!
  3. Watch College Counselor Angela’s “Applying to College 101” presentation here – Can’t make it to the May 6th event in Concord? Check out Angela’s presentation at Exeter High School, which presents all the information you would learn during our in-house workshop. Many thanks to our colleagues at Exeter High for sharing this resource with us!
  4. Work on your college resume. Also called a brag sheet or an activities list, the college resume is your one-page personal profile. This document will present who you are: your achievements, your interests, and your involvement. Check out this sample college resume to get started!
  5. Go on a virtual college tour! Although COVID-19 prevents prospective students from visiting college campuses, many colleges and universities have virtual tours on their website. Virtual tours are a great way to get a sense of the campus layout and “visit” a few buildings, like the dining hall, the library, and dorms. Use websites like Campus Tours or YouVisit and begin to tour campuses from the comfort of your couch!

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Test-Optional Colleges and Universities

Prepping for the SAT is likely at the forefront of your mind as a high school junior. Although the SAT and the ACT are considered pieces of your admissions portfolio, there is a significant rise in colleges and universities becoming test-optional. Many admission offices have argued that the SAT and the ACT are not always an accurate indicator of success and they prefer to see grades received in college preparatory classes. The test-optional craze has gained traction with over 1,000 American colleges and universities adopting this policy, which allows students to choose for themselves if they would like to submit test scores.

Think of your college application as a bucket, with each piece of the application helping to fill that bucket. Test-optional colleges and universities consider the bucket to be full with your transcript, after-school activities, recommendations, and essay. With this information, the admissions team feels they have a good understanding of your academic and personal story and do not need test scores as an added indicator of your potential for success. If you feel that your test scores will strengthen your application, you can certainly submit! Keep in mind that there are still several schools and specific majors that require the SAT or ACT, especially professional programs like nursing. Although a college or university may not use your test scores for admissions purposes, they might ask for score reports once you’ve enrolled for research purposes. For an idea of a test-optional policy, check out UNH's admission requirements. To see other test-optional policies across the country, visit FairTest’s website here.

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Major Spotlight on Nursing

Has the coronavirus pandemic inspired you to pursue a degree in nursing? Does your desire to care for your community match your interest in the life sciences? If you’ve recently found an interest in nursing or its been your dream since Kindergarten, you’re not alone: data from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) suggests that health professions are the second most popular major in the United States. At the Center for College Planning, nursing is one of the most popular majors to which we see students apply. To answer your frequently asked questions, we spoke to two local admissions representatives: Tony Trodella, Associate Director of Admission at Saint Anselm College and academic liaison to the college’s nursing program, and Robert McGann, Director of Undergraduate Admission at the University of New Hampshire at Durham.

Center for College Planning: What do high school students need to know before applying to nursing programs and what questions should prospective students ask their admissions representatives?

  • T. Trodella: “Students should make sure that they ask about requirements and deadlines for applying. Nursing programs can often have earlier deadlines. A student should make sure that they understand what the typical profile of an admitted student looks like for the college’s program. You should also ask about opportunities that you can have as a student overall based on your interests; you want to think about your college experience as a whole. It is not just about nursing. You might be an athlete, or want to study abroad. You should also be interested in the success of their graduates in the first-time pass rate of the NCLEX. Additionally, you should find out how soon you will start actual nursing courses and clinical.”

  • R. McGann: “Having a good conversation with your school counselors about how your high school profile matches with the academic profile of students admitted to nursing programs from that high school is a good place to start. This info can help you calibrate the appropriateness of the schools on your list. You should also be thinking of plans B and C-what if I don’t get into a nursing program but still want to be a nurse (post-baccalaureate options, etc.) or what would I study if I don’t get into nursing? Also ask if the program is direct entry or if the program requires a second application process once enrolled at a college and how the admissions profile of nursing students compares to the general admission profile. Finally, ask if you’re not admitted to the nursing program then are you still admitted to the school and what the licensing exam pass rate is for the institution.”

Center for College Planning: What can students expect from nursing programs?

  • T. Trodella: “You should expect to be challenged no matter what level of educational success you’ve had in the past. Nursing is a rigorous curriculum because the level of proficiency that a nurse needs to have is great. You should also understand that the nursing curriculum is designed with one goal, to prepare you to be a nurse. So you will find a curriculum that is highly structured and often does not leave a lot of room for elective courses. You should expect to be treated like a professional nurse at all times by faculty and they will have an expectation you act accordingly (especially in clinical).

  • R. McGann: “Before applying and enrolling, you should read the online course catalog and department descriptions of the academic program. This will help you understand courses, outcomes, and opportunities.”

Center for College Planning: Do nursing programs have different requirements than other majors?

  • T. Trodella: “Students applying to our nursing program are required to submit the same materials as other applicants, but they must submit SAT/ACT scores. We are test-optional for all other majors. In addition, if a student is admitted and enrolls in the program they will have to complete a required background check.
    Applicants should also know that admission into most nursing programs is highly competitive and because of that becomes very selective. Nursing programs have a capacity that they must adhere to in order to stay in compliance for their accreditation which impacts admission.”

  • R. McGann: “[There are a] few minor differences- [students] must take chemistry in high school and they must have math/science in the senior year. The competition is more intense than for most other programs. Imbalances between the number of students applying to the nursing program and the number of spaces available makes the process much more competitive.

Are you ready to begin your search for nursing programs? Starting May 1, we are ready to meet with you to discuss your college plans! Call us at 888.747.2382, ext. 119 to reserve your FREE college planning appointment today.

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Each year, this is one of our favorite scholarships to promote. The folks at Duck Tape® know prom season may not happen for many high school seniors this year, but they are still holding this fun, creative, socially-distant opportunity for you to earn cash for college! Get crafty at home and share your promwear virtually! The deadline to apply is July 21, 2020. The grand prize winners each with $10,000, with lots of smaller awards of $500. Have fun!