Ranch & Coast Magazine

September 2023

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KELLY CROTTY: PHOTO BY BOB STEFANKO 41 percent of its first-year students is 4.0 or higher. "Open your mind to what you may not be considering," adds Cimino, whether it's in or out of state, public or private, large or small. Even schools with slightly higher rates of acceptance or where an applicant might exceed the average admission profile are not a slam-dunk. "I no longer call it a 'safety school' because nothing's 'safe' anymore, so that's why I call it a 'likely,'" advises MacLure. Strategize on Applications and Acceptance Timing of applications can be critical. Some schools offer "early action" and "early decision" options that enable students to apply early in the cycle and, in some cases, it can actually open up more opportunities for scholarships. Having achievable early action schools on kids' lists can also be great confidence builders as acceptance letters begin hitting mailboxes. Additionally, some schools have a rolling admission process, giving earlier applicants an advantage. "ey're reviewing those applications as they come in. If you applied later in the winter and spring, they've already maybe filled up their class, so they're becoming more selective later," MacLure says. Note that while kids who've applied with early action do not have to accept immediately, early decision is binding. "ey have to sign an agreement — their parents, the high school counselor, and then the student — committing that they are going to attend that college if admitted," explains MacLure. Even with a balanced list, well qualified applicants can and likely will receive a rejection letter, but when those come, they shouldn't despair. A school's wait list exists for a reason, and spots do open up. For instance, in its Fall 2022 admissions, Gonzaga University in Washington reported that of the 773 students who accepted a place on its waiting list, 495 students, or 64 percent, were ultimately admitted. Avoid the Senior Year Slip-Ups "e biggest senior year no-no is 'senioritis,' because colleges will uninvite you," cautions Morris. "Every single admission is conditional, and you are admitted on the condition that you finish high school in the same manner to which you are accepted." It's a warning echoed by Cimino. "You can't slack," she says. "Colleges want to see students who are interested in learning. So, they can read between the lines on your coursework in your free periods." And it's not just filling the course schedule, but the level of classes kids take that matters. "Kids must maintain their rigor of schedule," explains Crotty. "Show that you took the hardest classes that were available at your school, and you did as well as you could." Morris also advises taking extra care to ensure everything on the application is accurate, especially as grades are self-reported. Any mistakes or worse, misrepresentation, and, to put it bluntly, "you're toast," she adds. Overwhelmed teens seeking ways to expedite their process by using AI should be warned, as well, that while there may not currently be a way to detect it as colleges can with plagiarism-detecting software, it's more obvious than they might think. Same goes for the parents who just want to add some polish to their kids' applications. "ey need to sound like it's written by a 17-year- old girl, not a 45-year-old male," says Cimino. "It's maintaining this student's authentic voice that we really have to be careful of." Lastly — and it's a big one — kids must recognize the significance of their online profile beyond their application. "I tell every client this: Your social media cannot have anything that could be embarrassing to you or a school," says Crotty. "Every school has committees that are looking into social media and making sure that you are not being offensive." And even posts from long ago can be detrimental, meaning kids as far back as middle school age should be judicious about what goes live. Despite the stresses that come with the process, counselors have seen enough to know it does work out, so Morris advises teens to try to focus on the big picture. "Spend as much time as you can with your family, because it's never going to be the same again," she says. "Enjoy your friends, enjoy your last year of high school — not too much! — but take a minute to just appreciate what you have." Focus education I don't sleep at night unless I know my students have three 'safe' schools and three targets that I know would be a good fit for them, where they would be able to thrive -Carey Cimino Kelly Crotty << ranchandcoast.com 64 SEPTEMBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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