Mastering The College Applications Process
Why does navigating the college applications process seem to be so overwhelming?
With college searches, standardized testing, college essays & supplementals, college tours, interviews, varying deadlines, and so on, there seems to be A LOT going on in a short time frame.
How are families supposed to navigate all of this and still stay sane?
And how do some people make it seem like a breeze?
How do they seem so organized with not just their college searches and applications, but they find opportunities like scholarships, internships, and summer programs to dive into?What do they know that you don’t?
Hi, I’m Priyanka Shingala, founder of Let’s Talk College, LLC and SAT tutor & college applications advisor of 10 years.
In my own college applications process, I got quite a few parts wrong:
- I applied to the WRONG universities… ones that were out of reach based on my ACT scores.
- I didn’t realize that I should work to improve my ACT score instead of my SAT score. The pre-2016 SAT was NOT my test. I’d done significantly better on the ACT. Significantly. But it didn’t occur to me that that was the exam I should be putting more energy towards, so I didn’t.
- My college essay sucked. Back then, I wasn’t the best of writers and ideas did not naturally flow to me, especially when the topic of the writing piece was me.
The college essay had been an in-class assignment and I’d gotten a B+ on it. As a teen with too much other stuff to get done, I hadn’t known how to improve it and hadn’t asked for help or feedback.
It wasn’t until I found the file again in sophomore year of college, re-read the essay, and cringed.
And the frustrating part? I had the grades and the extracurriculars!
Technically, I would’ve been a strong candidate for a lot of good schools. I would’ve also been a good candidate for at least a few scholarships…had I actually known or tried to apply to them.
But I had NO idea what I was doing.
And growing up in Miami, surrounded by a community of immigrants or children of immigrants, NONE of us knew what we were doing.
We didn’t even know WHO to ask for help. We were at one of the best public schools in the country, but with 3,000+ students, there was so much going on, that we had no idea what we were supposed to be working on and who we were supposed to be reaching out to.
Honestly, my entire college apps process was word-of-mouth. I saw what friends were working on and tried it myself.
Advice received from family friends was all over the place, and looking back now, it wasn’t exactly accurate.
So, when I first became a test prep tutor, then later a college counselor, the goal was to figure out how I could fix this.
To figure out how to provide students with the information they needed so that they had a fair chance at their own applications process.
But, before I dive into MASTER the College Applications Process and everything it entails, I want to clear up a few misconceptions that cause both parents and students A LOT of AVOIDABLE stress and anxiety about the process.
“We have to do everything – the sports, extracurriculars, summer jobs, volunteering + grades – to get into a good college.”
I think most students feel this way. That in order to show that they’re well-rounded, they have to do everything and stay constantly busy.
In fact, a lot of my students don’t get enough sleep, in part because they’re on social media at peak work hours that they don’t get their homework done until late night, and in part because they stay so busy with sports, part-time jobs, and student organizations all to “look good” for a college. It’s insanity.
Here’s the shift: Don’t think of it as “Doing everything I can to get into a good college.” instead think of it as “crafting yourself”.
Meaning, who are you?
Are you someone who enjoys trying a lot of different activities until you find 1-2 you enjoy?
Are you someone who prefers peace and quiet and looks for activities that allow for the laid-back approach?
Are you an arts student who throws themselves into their craft, which leaves little room for everything else?
Are you someone who works to supplement your family’s income or takes care of younger siblings while your parents are at work?
Are you an athlete who practices and plays throughout the entire year, sometimes in insanely cold or uncomfortable conditions?
The idea is to explore your options – academic and extracurricular- before finding the 1-2 activities that you’d be willing to dive into.
MISCONCEPTION #2: “We don’t really have to do anything until junior year.”
Unfortunately, this is common advice doled out by well-meaning family friends and college counselors.
Yet, it’s not true.
See, what most families don’t realize is that 75-80% of the college applications process has NO official “start time”. Even SAT and ACT scores are valid for 5 years.
And there’s no “official” time to start your college search. Most students just happen to start in junior year because it feels like crunch time + that’s what everyone else is doing… but you could start your process as early as freshman year.
While you may not end up creating a solid college list in 9th grade because your interests will evolve over time, you could get really comfortable with your approach. Not to mention, you can start figuring out the types of universities you like: large, medium, or small? In-state or out-of-state? Sports and tailgating or small liberal arts?
And so on.
Starting in junior year means packing in a lot of work in a short time frame. It’s almost impossible not to end up stressed at that point.
MISCONCEPTION #3: “We have to hire someone to help us get through this process.”
Honestly, you don’t. It’s definitely nice to have the information and accountability at hand, but it is still possible to have a great college apps journey without a college counselor.
What you need most is the information.
And that’s exactly what this course is intended to help you with.
So, with all that said…
…WHAT does the Master the College Applications Process course include?
The course will include:
– DETAILED information about the applications process: 10+ hours of video on college searches, tours, college essays, application information, scholarships, and more!… Including tips and strategies on how to get a leg up in the process!
– 10+ templates and checklists to help you stay organized and on track.
– A FB community to help you share your journey – your discoveries, worries, and wins!
– Live Monthly Q&A – ask your questions, get your clarifications, and share any nuances of your journey that have you stuck.
– Automatic updates and access to the entire course for life! So, if you have multiple teens going through the process, no need to buy again! The course will be updated as new trends and practices come out, so you never have to worry about falling behind.
The goal of the course is to help REMOVE the stress, anxiety and overwhelm by helping you navigate YOUR college applications journey in a systematic, organized manner.
By allowing YOU to have ownership of your process. Don’t wait for friends, family members, or guidance counselors to give you the info. Have it at your fingertips.
BECAUSE I WANT TO ENSURE THAT INVESTING IN THIS COURSE IS THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU…
…PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COURSE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE….
This course is NOT for:
1) Students aiming for athletic or arts admissions.
Outside of loose references to the topics, we’re NOT going to be talking about putting together portfolios or athletic admissions.
It is currently not one of my strengths at the moment, I would not be the best person to guide you.
2) Parents and students seeking financial planning advice.
While we have an entire module about financial aid and scholarships, I am NOT a certified financial advisor and cannot help you plan out your specific finances for teen’s college.
In the Financial Aid module, we will be talking about the various types of aid available, the applications to fill out, and scholarship resources, but those are to introduce you to your options & how to locate them.
I cannot guide you to the “proper” way of filling out your financial aid applications or how you can legally show less in taxable income/assets, etc.
A certified financial advisor may be better able to guide you through that.
3) Parents and students looking for test prep.
This is NOT a test prep course. There is a module about standardized testing that covers all the information you need to know about the PSATs, SATs, ACTs, and free resources, and so on.
We’ll talk about:
- Overview of standardized testing
- The Digital SAT vs. ACT: Content, format, which one should you take?
- What is considered a good score?
- Superscoring, Test-flexible, test-blind, and test-optional.
- Sending your scores
- Free Test Prep Resources
However, we will NOT be addressing actual SAT or ACT strategies and techniques in this course. There’s so much involved in test prep that adding it to this course would just be overwhelming. So, no real testing strategies and tactics are covered.
Who is this course BEST for?
1) For parents and teens who just need to be pointed in the right direction.
Most families just need someone to show them what to do and when.
2) Students who are willing to try new ways of approaching what they may already know.
There are certain topics that require specific methods, ones that can initially take longer to solve the problem. You’ll be fighting instinct, but stick it out, and DON’T go back to the old way of doing things.
You WILL speed up after practice, there’s no doubt about it, but you have to stick it out.
3) For students with a healthy level of drive and self-motivation.
You can pace yourself, know what’s due and when, and you rarely have trouble getting your work in on time. You’re also willing to do the work to see the results.
What will the videos look like?
Curious as to what the videos in the course will look like?
Here’s a sample of a video from the Financial Aid module. This one is about Scholarships.
Please note: Because the course is still in development, the video still needs to be edited for graphics.
Sign Up to be notified of when it opens.