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College Counseling Handbook

If you want to be great, there are two things you have to worry about: hard work (commitment, discipline and mental toughness) and enthusiasm (energy).John Wooden

Introduction

The goal of this guide is to help you identify and maximize your chances of being considered for admission into a number of “good fit” universities. Your counselor wants to work with you to help you develop your best self, and assist you in communicating that version of yourself through your college applications. By knowing who you are as a student, and matching that to what colleges look for in applicants, you will more effectively present yourself in each application.

Each year we strive to help students find the right matches for their abilities, interests and ambitions. We are here to support you in all situations. We look forward to the partnership that will blossom, as we work together. There are three full-time counselors at Concordia. If you are not sure who your counselor is, you can quickly find that information in Aspen. Counselors are responsible for the students they are assigned to for the four years they are in high school. This is done with the aim that counselors, students and their families will develop a significant relationship over that time. We wish you success in this endeavor.

Contact Your Counselor

Ben Compton - ben.compton@concordiashanghai.org

Lamonda Lewis - lamonda.lewis@concordiashanghai.org

Patrick Love - patrick.love@concordiashanghai.org

College Counseling Timeline

9th, 10th and First Semester of 11th Grade

Academic Curriculum

Diversity

For many Concordia students who have grown accustomed to learning in a diverse academic environment with peers from countries around the world, diversity is an important aspect of the college research and decision making process. Data regarding the diversity composed in a university’s student body is readily available at the vast majority of colleges and universities around the world and varies greatly by individual institution. Students are encouraged to inquire about the emphasis and value individual universities place on diversity during their campus visits. From the admissions perspective, many universities in the United States actively seek to create a diverse student body that is comprised of students with different talents from a wide range of socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. The degree to which these factors play a role in the admissions process at each university is determined independently by each respective institution, and is a factor over which an applicant has no control. However, it can be valuable for students to provide context around the unique nature of their individual backgrounds, experiences and perspectives as a means of communicating the value that they may add to a student body at a university.

Undersubscribed Majors

Universities sometimes have majors with low enrollment or that do not attract as much student interest as the more popular majors offered at their institutions. Students sometimes think that applying for these ‘undersubscribed’ majors may aid in admission to some highly selective universities. While universities are seeking students interested in these programs, they are still selectively reviewing applications to determine whether or not the applicant is a good ‘fit’. Applying for an undersubscribed major does not guarantee admission.

Sometimes students are successful in the application process and plan to enroll with the intent of changing majors. Changing majors is not always possible due to space within the program or other factors. When considering this option it is best to inquire about the university’s policy on changing majors prior to applying for admission.

Keeping Alumni Happy

Most applications ask if you have relatives who have attended the same school. Applicants who have parents who also attended the undergraduate school are known as legacies. At many schools legacy applications have a slightly higher rate of admission. Some schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, only consider legacy status in ED applications. Ask your counselor or an admissions officer, if a school you are interested in gives an advantage to legacy applicants.

Donors

Famous, successful and wealthy graduates or donors are important to universities. Most universities employ major gifts officers who work with alumni or interested donors to better understand what they appreciate about the college and how they might contribute to improve those aspects of the college even further. When someone has donated for multiple years and multiple millions, they may be able to have some real sway in the admissions process. Parents who want to use this strategy should understand several things. First, all donations are considered, “no strings attached.” Secondly, a one-time donation, no matter the size, probably will not make a difference. For example, Harvard has a 36+ billion (with a b) dollar endowment (2016 data). A gift of even 10 million dollars would only equal about 1/3600 of the money they already have. To add to that, a major gifts officer at an Ivy league school recently told me (Patrick Love) of a publicized case of a father who donated 5 million dollars, and was disappointed that his son or daughter was not admitted. The major gifts officer’s advice was for parents was to start no later than 8th grade, establish a substantial pattern of giving, and encourage your son or daughter to excel in learning and personal development.

Full Paying Students

Some colleges and universities consider not only a student’s ability to pay, but also the overall revenue generated by the amount of tuition a student is expected to pay. Students who are able to pay full tuition are often valued for the revenue they generate for colleges and universities that do not have substantial endowments and are forced to consider finances as a part of the overall composition of their student body. Recently, several cash-strapped public universities have been perceived as being somewhat more lenient in the admissions process towards students who are paying full tuition.

Demonstrated Interest

Demonstrated interest helps universities to determine whether or not an applicant is more likely to enroll if admitted as opposed to other applicants. For some universities this has an unspecified amount of influence in the admissions decisions. Students can demonstrate their interest in a variety of ways. Participating in university visits organized through the admissions office is a common way for students to gain a student perspective of the school, have questions answered by the admissions department, and establish personal contact. However, if a campus tour is not an option due to distance, Concordia students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate interest by attending the university fair and university information sessions when admissions officers make individual visits to our school. On average Concordia receives almost 400 university visits each year.

Other ways students can demonstrate interest is by applying early action, early decision or priority, participating in optional interviews, completing optional application questions/essays, and emailing the admissions representative a thank you note after having met. Some schools, like Yale, do not track demonstrated interest, while the majority of schools do. Ask college reps if they track demonstrated interest, and if so, how they track it. That way, you can be sure to communicate interest in ways the school is open to hearing.

Demonstrated interest is especially important for students who have been waitlisted. Often times, once students have taken a spot on the waitlist, they desperately want to communicate how interested they are, but frankly, college don’t want to be bombarded with “interest” at this point in the application cycle. It’s much better to leave a good impression on an admissions officer starting in 11th grade, so that if you find yourself in a waitlist situation, you know the admissions committee has already seen your best and most genuine self.

Demographics

There are a number of things you have no control over in the application process. Name and race are two of these things. With the exception of University of California schools, colleges consider demographic details to better understand the environment you came from and how it has influenced or shaped you. They look at things like your name, race, where your parents attended school, information about your high school, geographic location, and so on.

Though nobody thinks it’s a perfect system, high quality colleges want to create well-rounded communities. This can slightly disadvantage over-represented minorities (ORM), and give an advantage to under-represented minorities (URM). ORMs need to be extra careful about choosing a safety school that is truly a safety school for them. They can also consider applying to excellent schools that receive less applications from ORMs (think anywhere outside the Northeast, and California). URMs should consider a higher number of reach schools, and understand that demonstrated interest may be a much bigger factor in their application decisions. Fun fact: the last two students who were accepted to all eight Ivy League schools (one in 2015, one in 2016), were African Americans with refugee status. They attended the same medium-performing public high school in suburban New York City.

Decision Making Process

Each university has their own individual admissions decision making process that is relevant to the specific mission, and institutional priorities of that particular university. Understanding the nuances of the respective individual processes can help students better understand how to proceed in completing their applications. Many US. schools make decisions through the use of a small group of professionally trained admissions officers that work collaboratively in a committee format. A number of universities also use a process whereby applications are read by two readers, with one of the readers assigned as a “primary reader” for applications from specifically assigned regions of the world. Some universities assign an overall numerical rating to a candidate’s application after an evaluative review of various aspects of the application like the high school transcript, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, essays, counselor letters of recommendation, and teachers letter of recommendation.

Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

Summer is a time when students can follow passions and focus on things they are deeply interested in learning about or experiencing. To flourish during summer vacation, almost every student needs some type of goal, structure, and responsibility. Beyond summer programs, students who are motivated to develop ability, knowledge and passion can volunteer, find a job, self-study a topic, work with a mentor, find an internship, or take a relatively inexpensive coursera.org course for college credit from a reputable university. Counselors meet one-on-one with students each year of high school. Among other things, we discuss students’ plans for the upcoming summer.

Each year, our counselors update a carefully curated list of quality summer programs. The Concordia Summer Program Guide is broken into three main sections: “high quality programs” that almost any Concordia student would qualify for, “competitive programs,” generally geared towards rising 10th or 11th graders, and “college tours.”

Students who are gearing up for competitive college admissions may want to develop a loosely structured three-year plan. Freshmen typically target quality programs such as Duke Tips, or college-level courses offered on university campuses. At the same time they should research the admissions requirements for more competitive programs. Sophomores and Juniors can start to focus on more competitive entry programs. These programs can set a student apart in highly selective college admissions. Admissions officers are often familiar with these programs, and their competitive nature helps quality students become prepared to be highly successful in selective admissions processes later on.

A sample of the most competitive programs and corresponding student interests are listed here:

  • Internationally or culturally focused majors such as Intl’ Business, International Relations, Poly-Sci, language majors - National Security Language Initiative for Youth
  • Math - USA/Canada Math Camp
  • Research Sciences - Research Science Inst. (Chinese passport holders, also look at the Chinese version held here in Shanghai)
  • Humanities/Soc. Sciences - Telluride Association Summer Program (10-11th grade)
  • Medicine - Summer Student Program at The Jackson Lab (also for writers who like science!)
  • Writing - U of Iowa Writers Workshop

Go to Concordia Summer Program Guide for more info

Family Support, Communication and Expectations

Some students may experience anxiety around the college admissions process, and there are a number of factors in the admissions process that are out of a student’s control. Parents can play a pivotal role in helping to alleviate student anxiety around the admissions process. It is important that parents serve as good listeners for their student, especially if anxiety around the admissions process begins to build. It is also important to be honest and aware of the expectations placed on a student, and how those expectations, real or imagined, are impacting the student’s overall emotional health. Adolescents are often more adept at picking up both verbal and nonverbal cues than parents recognize. In consistently modeling a calm, positive, and reassuring attitude, parents can play an active role in helping students navigate the admissions process in an enjoyable, and healthy manner. Counselors are always available to meet with parents seeking advice on how to best support their student through the admissions process.

Preparing for College Applications

Introduction

As students work through the first two years of high school, it may be helpful to start with the end in mind. The following section is a collection of categories colleges consider when evaluating applicants. Students who understand this context can work towards developing the best applications possible. At the same time, students should feel free to develop into who they want to be, regardless of what they think colleges are looking for in a candidate. Too many times, counselors hear students talk about doing things just because it would look good on an application (e.g. more service hours). True intellectual vitality should give students the confidence to pursue areas of interest, without feeling obligated to make imaginary admissions officers happy.

Grades

Grades remain the single most important factor in determining a student’s university admission, for the majority of university systems around the world. Other important aspects in universities consideration of transcripts include the student’s overall academic rigor, as well as the relevance of the student’s high school coursework to the individual program to which they are applying.

Course Rigor

Rigor is a broad term often used to refer to courses that hold students to a higher standard of performance in regards to content, assessment and teaching methods. Concordia students participate in a rigorous college prep curriculum that includes a range of Advanced Placement, Honors and Applied Learning courses. This proves beneficial in the admissions process considering universities evaluate applicants within the context of the school from which they are applying along with other factors. In order to ensure that students are selecting courses in line with their academic goals, counselors conduct group and individual meetings in the spring of each year to evaluate both the rigor and relevancy of their course work.

Senior Grades

Students generally begin applying to colleges at the beginning of senior year, but before first semester grades are released in mid-January. Most colleges will require a mid-year transcript and an update on a student’s school-discipline record, legal record (has the student been arrested or broken a law), and course adds/drops.

As always, you don’t have to be perfect, but there should be an overall upward trajectory in the grades and/or difficulty of your courses. If there is a dip in your grades, or you drop your more rigorous courses, you may hurt your admissions chances at more competitive colleges. Colleges really care about senior grades and require a final transcript before matriculation. To date, there has never been a Concordia student who has had an admissions decision reversed, so don’t be overly worried, but at the same time, please don’t be the first.

How Good Is Your High School?

One of the factors that is often considered in the college application process is the perceived academic quality of a candidate’s high school. The Concordia counseling department actively works with college admissions officers to familiarize them with the strength and breadth of Concordia’s academically rigorous college preparatory curriculum and the caliber of Concordia graduates. Concordia provides each institution to which a candidate applies a copy of Concordia’s high school profile. The high school profile summarizes important and relevant information about Concordia and the context in which students learn and achieve. This includes a complete list of AP course offerings, AP score data, ACT, SAT I and SAT II data, GPA distribution, and university matriculation history for recent Concordia graduates.

There are a number of colleges that automatically give Concordia’s students an extra bump in the admissions process. They realize that Concordia’s students receive a quality education that is among the best in the world. College admissions officers have been consistently impressed with the ability, achievement, and varied life experiences of Concordia’s graduates.

Were Previous Concordia Graduates successful applicants?

Many schools track how graduates from a particular high school have performed in college. Some even compare high school GPAs to freshmen GPAs, as a way to gauge a high school’s rigor or grade inflation. Data we get from colleges indicates that Concordia graduates are well prepared for the challenges of college and very successful.

Test Scores

Most schools require standardized test scores (though a number of high-quality schools do not). At highly-selective schools, all competitive applicants have top grades and scores, or some type of special talent or ability. In fact, the most highly-competitive schools only have room to admit students they find compelling beyond their grades and test scores. That said, admissions officers at colleges with truly holistic admissions practices do not look at test scores in isolation. If your test scores are weaker than average, the admissions officer will ask, “why?” Your application will need to provide a compelling reason for a lower score. For instance, the huge time commitment required to get to a advanced level of mastery in a sport or musical instrument.

Relationship Between Tests and Grades

Due to the variety of high school curriculums around the world, and the different ranges of individual high schools grading scales, colleges and universities use test scores to provide a standardized measure from which to compare students. In addition, standardized test scores are used by admissions officers to detect discrepancies between a student’s ability and a student’s achievement in the day to day environment of the high school classroom. A student who achieved high scores on standardized tests but who has performed poorly academically by comparison raises concerns on the part of admission officers. This discrepancy then needs to be explained in either the college essay or the counselor letter of recommendation.

Test Optional Schools

Some institutions of higher education have opted to become test optional. This means that SAT or ACT scores are not a determining factor in whether or not a student is admitted to the university. However, this does not mean that test scores are not considered for other decisions such as placement into various programs or courses. An updated list of participating universities can be found here. In order to understand how each university listed implements this practice, it is best to directly contact each respective admissions office.

In What Ways Are You Interesting?

College admissions officers know that you are more than just a GPA and test score. Interesting students/learners generally fall somewhere on a spectrum of world changer to deep learner. World changers are students who demonstrate that learning changes their lives and empowers them to change the world around them. These are students who use education to improve themselves and work tirelessly to make the world a better place. Deep learners are students who will go deeper than anyone else into a particular area of learning. These are students who spend countless hours studying every angle of a topic and do original research that adds to what scholars know about a topic.

In highly competitive admissions, grades and test scores only get in you in the conversation. If a school has a 10% admissions rate, you won’t be admitted because your GPA is slightly higher, or you participated in an additional co-curricular. It can be tricky to quantify, interesting, but admissions officers ask themselves, “would I hire this person to work with a team to imagine and create a scientific breakthrough?” “Could this person envision a better way of doing something, and lead a group of people to enact some type of social change?” On a more basic level, “Would I be interested in talking to this person at a party, or would I want to be this person’s room mate?”

Your counselor will want to work with you to help you develop a narrative about who you are as a student and a contributor to Concordia’s community. Students who have developed academic vitality and are active leaders in our community will naturally develop their hook in their junior and senior meetings with their counselors, as well as the teacher letter of recommendation process. When students only work for grades, and are not active in our community, it is exceedingly difficult for them to develop a narrative, and have two teachers and a counselor corroborate their version of who they are. They may have strong grades and test scores, but their applications will feel a little bit flat.

Awards and Honors

Most college applications have a place where students can include awards they have won. Many students who work hard and take pride in what they do, win an award or two. Truth be told, awards in themselves do little to help students get admitted into college. If you have won, or placed highly, for an award on a national or international level, make sure you provide context. Who judged the competition? How many students competed? What was the level of competition? On the other hand, don’t worry if you don’t have awards to add to this section. The majority of students have only a few things to add here.

Recommendations

Most universities request letters of recommendation as a part of the admissions application process. These letters provide evidence of students as learners and members of the school community. The amount of influence a recommendation may have on an admissions decision depends on the university. For some universities they hold more weight than others but for the most part are considered a part of the holistic review.

What Colleges Need

Diversity

For many Concordia students who have grown accustomed to learning in a diverse academic environment with peers from countries around the world, diversity is an important aspect of the college research and decision making process. Data regarding the diversity composed in a university’s student body is readily available at the vast majority of colleges and universities around the world and varies greatly by individual institution. Students are encouraged to inquire about the emphasis and value individual universities place on diversity during their campus visits. From the admissions perspective, many universities in the United States actively seek to create a diverse student body that is comprised of students with different talents from a wide range of socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. The degree to which these factors play a role in the admissions process at each university is determined independently by each respective institution, and is a factor over which an applicant has no control. However, it can be valuable for students to provide context around the unique nature of their individual backgrounds, experiences and perspectives as a means of communicating the value that they may add to a student body at a university.

Undersubscribed Majors

Universities sometimes have majors with low enrollment or that do not attract as much student interest as the more popular majors offered at their institutions. Students sometimes think that applying for these ‘undersubscribed’ majors may aid in admission to some highly selective universities. While universities are seeking students interested in these programs, they are still selectively reviewing applications to determine whether or not the applicant is a good ‘fit’. Applying for an undersubscribed major does not guarantee admission.

Sometimes students are successful in the application process and plan to enroll with the intent of changing majors. Changing majors is not always possible due to space within the program or other factors. When considering this option it is best to inquire about the university’s policy on changing majors prior to applying for admission.

Keeping Alumni Happy

Most applications ask if you have relatives who have attended the same school. Applicants who have parents who also attended the undergraduate school are known as legacies. At many schools legacy applications have a slightly higher rate of admission. Some schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, only consider legacy status in ED applications. Ask your counselor or an admissions officer, if a school you are interested in gives an advantage to legacy applicants.

Donors

Famous, successful and wealthy graduates or donors are important to universities. Most universities employ major gifts officers who work with alumni or interested donors to better understand what they appreciate about the college and how they might contribute to improve those aspects of the college even further. When someone has donated for multiple years and multiple millions, they may be able to have some real sway in the admissions process. Parents who want to use this strategy should understand several things. First, all donations are considered, “no strings attached.” Secondly, a one-time donation, no matter the size, probably will not make a difference. For example, Harvard has a 36+ billion (with a b) dollar endowment (2016 data). A gift of even 10 million dollars would only equal about 1/3600 of the money they already have. To add to that, a major gifts officer at an Ivy league school recently told me (Patrick Love) of a publicized case of a father who donated 5 million dollars, and was disappointed that his son or daughter was not admitted. The major gifts officer’s advice was for parents was to start no later than 8th grade, establish a substantial pattern of giving, and encourage your son or daughter to excel in learning and personal development.

Full Paying Students

Some colleges and universities consider not only a student’s ability to pay, but also the overall revenue generated by the amount of tuition a student is expected to pay. Students who are able to pay full tuition are often valued for the revenue they generate for colleges and universities that do not have substantial endowments and are forced to consider finances as a part of the overall composition of their student body. Recently, several cash-strapped public universities have been perceived as being somewhat more lenient in the admissions process towards students who are paying full tuition.

Demonstrated Interest

Demonstrated interest helps universities to determine whether or not an applicant is more likely to enroll if admitted as opposed to other applicants. For some universities this has an unspecified amount of influence in the admissions decisions. Students can demonstrate their interest in a variety of ways. Participating in university visits organized through the admissions office is a common way for students to gain a student perspective of the school, have questions answered by the admissions department, and establish personal contact. However, if a campus tour is not an option due to distance, Concordia students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate interest by attending the university fair and university information sessions when admissions officers make individual visits to our school. On average Concordia receives almost 400 university visits each year.

Other ways students can demonstrate interest is by applying early action, early decision or priority, participating in optional interviews, completing optional application questions/essays, and emailing the admissions representative a thank you note after having met. Some schools, like Yale, do not track demonstrated interest, while the majority of schools do. Ask college reps if they track demonstrated interest, and if so, how they track it. That way, you can be sure to communicate interest in ways the school is open to hearing.

Demonstrated interest is especially important for students who have been waitlisted. Often times, once students have taken a spot on the waitlist, they desperately want to communicate how interested they are, but frankly, college don’t want to be bombarded with “interest” at this point in the application cycle. It’s much better to leave a good impression on an admissions officer starting in 11th grade, so that if you find yourself in a waitlist situation, you know the admissions committee has already seen your best and most genuine self.

Demographics

There are a number of things you have no control over in the application process. Name and race are two of these things. With the exception of University of California schools, colleges consider demographic details to better understand the environment you came from and how it has influenced or shaped you. They look at things like your name, race, where your parents attended school, information about your high school, geographic location, and so on.

Though nobody thinks it’s a perfect system, high quality colleges want to create well-rounded communities. This can slightly disadvantage over-represented minorities (ORM), and give an advantage to under-represented minorities (URM). ORMs need to be extra careful about choosing a safety school that is truly a safety school for them. They can also consider applying to excellent schools that receive less applications from ORMs (think anywhere outside the Northeast, and California). URMs should consider a higher number of reach schools, and understand that demonstrated interest may be a much bigger factor in their application decisions. Fun fact: the last two students who were accepted to all eight Ivy League schools (one in 2015, one in 2016), were African Americans with refugee status. They attended the same medium-performing public high school in suburban New York City.

Decision Making Process

Each university has their own individual admissions decision making process that is relevant to the specific mission, and institutional priorities of that particular university. Understanding the nuances of the respective individual processes can help students better understand how to proceed in completing their applications. Many US. schools make decisions through the use of a small group of professionally trained admissions officers that work collaboratively in a committee format. A number of universities also use a process whereby applications are read by two readers, with one of the readers assigned as a “primary reader” for applications from specifically assigned regions of the world. Some universities assign an overall numerical rating to a candidate’s application after an evaluative review of various aspects of the application like the high school transcript, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, essays, counselor letters of recommendation, and teachers letter of recommendation.

Second Half of 11th Grade

Countries Students Most Commonly Consider

INTRODUCTION

In today’s increasingly global and inter-connected world, more and more students from international schools are considering applying to colleges in multiple countries. Each country has its own application system, as well as strengths and weaknesses in its system of higher ed. The following countries represent the bulk of locations where Concordia students apply.

  • UNITED STATES-Historically, about 80% of Concordia students have applied to schools in the United States. For many, it is because it represents their home country, and for many others, it is because of the great reputations top schools in the US enjoy.Students in US universities often participate in pre-professional programs like architecture, business or engineering, or more interdisciplinary liberal arts degree programs that can cover a number of topics within humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and formal sciences. The key is to understand that pre-professional degrees prepare students to do a specific job, while liberal art colleges/degrees aim to develop students into more complete or well-rounded individuals who will go on to be successful in every situation. Many students who do a pre-professional program do not need to go on to graduate school, while many students who have more of a liberal arts background choose grad school as chance to further specialize their learning. One advantage to applying to schools in the US, is the flexibility they provide students when it comes to selecting a major. For most students, the first two years can be spent taking general education courses and exploring different areas of interest. In the junior year of college a student should select a major, and then work towards finishing the specific credits that are required for that major.
  • UNITED KINGDOM-Students interested in attending university in the United Kingdom apply online through the UCAS system at https://www.ucas.com/. Through the UCAS site students can research which universities offer selected courses, apply to up to five courses as well as access tutorial resources throughout the application process. In order to complete the UCAS application students are required to register using the buzzword that is issued to Concordia International School Shanghai in the beginning of the fall semester each year. This buzzword differs year to year and is emailed in the fall from the HS Counseling Department to seniors who are applying to UCAS schools.

  • CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES-There are a total of 98 Universities in Canadas 13 provinces. There are two primary funding sources for Canadian universities, the Canadian government, and individual student fees. Due to the nature of government financial support of the Canadian university system, the cost of tuition at a university in Canada, for Canadian citizens, is very affordable, with the average annual tuition cost being approximately $5,000 USD. The average cost of tuition for international students is approximately $12,000 USD annually, but differs significantly by institution. Students should look at the website of each university to check the exact cost of tuition, as well as the cost of accommodation, and the cost of living as these factors can vary greatly within Canada from one university to another. Canadian universities are typically fairly large, with the average student population being 18,000 undergraduates. There has been a dramatic rise recently in the number of international students attending Canadian universities. The international student population at Canadian universities has increased by 83% in the period between 2008-2014.
  • EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES-Application timelines and requirements for European universities differ by country, but many European university systems have deadlines after the conclusion of the school year at Concordia in June. It is best to research the individual requirements and timelines of the country system or systems to which you are applying, and then meet with your counselor to create an application timeline. There are also several American universities in Europe for students who are looking to pursue a U.S. based college education in a European setting.A useful comprehensive resource for researching European universities is HERE.
  • HONG KONG UNIVERSITIES-Hong Kong is a place where students can find schools that offer high quality educations at great prices. Some people are surprised to learn that English is the medium of study for all programs. For students who plan on staying in Asia after university, Hong Kong degrees are widely recognized, and schools provide students with a strong network of career resources and employment opportunities.Unemployment in Hong Kong is only 3% (2016 stat) and a college degree nearly guarantees employment. As a former British territory, many of the admissions procedures in Hong Kong are similar to those found in the UK.Hong Kong has eight public and several private institutions. Students applying to HK generally choose up to three possible programs at each school where they apply, and may receive up to three acceptance offers in return. Often times, faculty read applications and choose students, and in our experience, selection is heavily weighted on SAT or other standardized scores (more so than course load rigor and grades). Students can receive a “hard” offer which guarantees admission, or a “conditional” offer which will include some type of score requirement for acceptance. In rare situations final decisions about applications can take until August to come out, which may put applicants in an uncomfortable situation.
  • KOREAN UNIVERSITIES-Concordia has students applying to Korean Universities every year. Applicants generally begin the process by first determining the applicant category in which they will apply. The categories of domestic, 3 year overseas, or 12 year overseas are established by the amount of time a student has spent studying outside of Korea. In order to qualify as a 3 year or 12 year overseas applicant, one full year of studying outside of Korea must have occurred during grades 10, 11, or 12. Eligibility and admissions requirements depend on the category in which a student is applying and vary depending on the university. It is always best to review the individual school’s website for any current updates or changes as well as government sponsored sites online. Any required official documents will only be sent directly from the school. Directions on how to submit this information will be sent via email to families from the High School Counseling Office. Other helpful resources click HERE.
  • SINGAPORE-Singapore offers a number of highly ranked universities for students to consider. International students apply directly to each university, so schools’ websites are the best resource for updated program information and application requirements. Singaporean Universities run on a slightly different admissions schedule than Western counterparts, with students typically applying between Oct 15th and April 1st. Almost half of international students studying in Singapore receive some type of financial assistance. On top of that, education is subsidized with typical tuition costs at about USD10,000 and living expenses almost matching that number. For further info click HERE.

  • MIDDLE EAST PROGRAMS OF INTEREST-The Middle East has a number of different university options. Several U.S. universities have built campuses in the Middle East, which include the Education City complex in Doha, Qatar, and the NYU branch campus in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as well as the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, UAE. The U.S. satellite campuses in Doha include; Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Texas A&M University, and Canada’s College of the North Atlantic.If a student is interested in attending a university in the Middle East, they should come and speak with their counselor, as Concordia currently has two counselors who have experience working in international schools in the Middle East.
  • AUSTRALIA/New Zealand-Australia and New Zealand are attractive destinations that welcome international students. University programs tend to be of high quality, quality of life is excellent, and graduates normally receive a 2 year work visa, in which time they can find a job and receive sponsorship through their employer.Students normally apply to university starting in August post-graduation (but as early as May), and classes start in Feb of the year following graduation, giving students an eight month gap time. Students apply directly to the university, so students should visit school websites for the most updated application info.More info click Australia & NZ.
  • OTHER COUNTRIESIf you are interested in studying in other parts of the world, start by researching the specific requirements for study at each schools website. Your counselor will be available to help you fulfill those requirements and to prepare your application

Researching Colleges

Concordia’s counselors urge students (and parents) to start with an open mind. Students sometimes miss excellent college opportunities because they do not truly consider all of the options in front of them. A number of factors go into building a college application list. Your college list will be influenced by your GPA and test scores, but a number of personal factors also need to be considered. As students wind their way through the process, it is common to see college lists grow and evolve, as students become more and more familiar with the opportunities that colleges offer, and the particular needs or desires they have. Some students try to find the one perfect fit, or fall in love with the one perfect school. But in reality if they keep an open mind, other schools will soon supplant their one and only.

At the end of the day, your college list will be the outcome of your own unique research process (or lack thereof). It is a subjective process and each student determines what he or she really wants out of it. Parents will also be a part of the process (unless students find a way to pay for college themselves), and Concordia’s school counselors are available to offer support and guidance through the selection, application, and decision making process.

  • WHERE TO START-In the early years of high school, many students create a list simply based off of schools they have heard of. They may start by adding a few highly ranked schools everyone can name. Then they add schools where their parents attended, a few schools where other students have applied in the past, and maybe a school in a big city they admire. As they start to sift through schools and really assess their odds, some schools will start to drop off the list (cost-benefit analysis - completing those applications is a lot of work and probably not worth it, if you are not a competitive applicant). Hopefully, students start to build criteria around what they really want, and what would be a good fit for them. As they firm up their criteria, schools that fit into the overall picture will move up their lists.
  • WEB RESOURCES-Students do the majority of their college research online. Now, more than ever before students can quickly and easily find the critical information they need to make decisions about how a college might be a good fit for them. However, students need to use good judgement about where they get their information and how much faith they put in it. The sarcastic saying, “I read it online, so it must be true,” certainly applies to a number of popular college application advice websites. Naviance is a valuable online resource for students and parents who are researching colleges. Along with many other functions, students can research schools using several different search tools, that take into account a broad number of factors. Before senior year, students are encouraged to keep a list of schools in Naviance, under “Colleges I’m Thinking About.” Once there, students can look at scatter grams of past Concordia results, as well as admissions data that are published about each school. See below for other online resources that Concordia counselors recommend:
  1. Individual college websites.

  2. collegedata.com

  3. bigfuture.collegeboard.org

  4. colleges.niche.com

  5. talk.collegeconfidential.com

  • ADMISSIONS OFFICE REPRESENTATIVES-Each year, Concordia hosts approximately 400 college and university representatives. This makes Concordia the most college-rep-visited international high school in the world (that we know of)! Please remember that whenever you interact with an admissions rep, you are representing Concordia, and not just yourself. Always show them you at your best. College reps are your best resource for gathering information about schools, and since they will likely be the people who read your applications and make a decision about your admission, they can also be your best ally in gaining admission into the school of your dreams. Always treat them with the utmost respect, as reps have a way of switching schools every few years. A rep at a school you would never dream of applying to during your sophomore year might be the rep at your first choice school in your senior year. The respect and interest you show college reps will come back to benefit you in the application process. At the same time, not showing up to their visit, or acting disinterested or rude, could come back to haunt you.At the end of the day, college reps visit Concordia to influence qualified students to apply and matriculate to their school. However, savvy students can use college reps for advice on other schools as well. Colleges reps are bound by an ethics code to not speak ill of other schools, so please don’t ask them to give negative feedback on their competitors. With that, most college reps are very experienced, and love giving students advice about where they are applying, and what schools might be a great fit for them.
  • PRINTED RESOURCES-With computers all around us, many students find it belaboring to access the printed materials housed in the counseling office. While this is understandable, counselors do keep an updated library of the most important and highest quality books on the topic of college admissions. Counselors feel that these resources provide unique insight and in depth information that cannot be found online.1. College Board International Student Handbook - Go-to guide when looking for schools that offer high percentages of international students some type of financial aid.2.Ruggs Guide - includes most college majors and the schools that have the highest quality programs for each major. This is a very helpful source if you have selected a major, but you still need to build your application list.3. Fiske Guide to Colleges - Our favorite college guide book. Full of well researched and vivid descriptions.4. College Board Book of Majors - Comprehensive list of majors, with info on each major and lists of high school courses students should take to prepare for college.

Common Criteria in the College Search

  • LOCATIONStudents often have pointed preferences about the specific geographic location of the colleges and universities to which they are applying. Some common considerations include whether a school is in a rural, urban, or suburban environment, the weather, and proximity to family, diversity, and cost of living.It is important for students to visit and explore both the campus and the city or town in which the college is located. It is not uncommon for location to play a significant factor in a students decision making process.

  • TYPES OF COLLEGESIn addition to the various publicly funded universities in each of the 50 states, and larger national universities with a research or pre-professional focus, there are several other types of colleges available to students.

1. Liberal Arts

Liberal arts colleges provide students with transferrable skills that are applicable to a variety of careers and graduate study. Students are introduced to a host of subject areas as a part of any major. These colleges are generally small in size and offer smaller class sizes, which may allow students more time to interact with professors.

2.Women’s Colleges

Women’s colleges focus on the holistic development of women. A comprehensive list of women’s universities in the U.S. can be found at HERE.

3. Specialized Colleges

Specialized colleges generally offer majors in a specialized area. These types of schools often appeal to students who have decided on a very specific field of study.

  • SIZESchools are often categorized by small, medium, large and extra-large (Arizona State University has over 67,000 students!). However the differences in these categories is often exaggerated. Levels of teacher engagement, the number of friends you can make, quality of students, co-curricular opportunities, etc can all vary widely between different schools in the same size bracket. Most students have never attended school at a campus with 15,000 other students (College Board Considers this to be the top end of medium sized), so how well do they really know if this is really the right size for them? The lesson in this is hold size preference loosely. Statements about size are at best generalizations. Most likely, there are good fit schools for you in each size category.

1. SMALL COLLEGES < 2,000 STUDENTS

Small schools are best known for the individualized attention to students and low student to teacher ratios. Everybody knows everybody. Most of your professors will know your name. Teachers at these colleges generally focus on teaching first, and research second (as opposed to the larger public schools which ask for a certain frequency of publication from faculty). With this comes more opportunities and accountability to participate on campus and in classes. Many of the best known liberal arts and science colleges fall into this category, such as Cal Tech, Pomona, Amherst, Reed,Olin (with only 370 degree seeking students) and the New College of Florida. Strong schools in this category provide an excellent education, are nearly as selective as Ivy League universities. Their graduates have the same opportunities at being admitted to selective graduate schools and top career possibilities.

2. MEDIUM 2,000-15,000 STUDENTS

Strong medium sized schools are best known for still offering a personal touch to each student, while offering more social and academic opportunities than smaller schools. While some of the core classes, such as Biology, might be quite large, most classes will usually be under 20 students. For students who have no idea what they want to major in, medium sized colleges should offer enough options and flexibility to ensure each student has suitable options.In medium, large and extra-large schools, there often exists a level of school spirit and camaraderie around sports teams,that cannot be experienced in other settings. For some international students and parents, it’s hard to imagine the role this plays in developing a student’s identity as a member of that school and loyalty to the institution. For them, it can be hard to see the value of attending a basketball game between Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, or a football game between Michigan and Ohio State. However, the energy and community on each campus around game days is palpable. Typical medium-sized universities include Georgia Tech, Williams, Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, Tulane, and all eight Ivies.

3. LARGE 15,000-30,000 STUDENTS

Large schools provide all of the activities, facilities, classes, clubs, faculty, and everything else you can imagine. At a large school you are expected to act independently, self advocate and find your own opportunities and interests - but that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of help available, if you go looking for it. Because of the large number of students, larger schools may also have more bureaucracy to navigate. Classes tend to be held in large lecture halls (UC Berkeley now has a stats class that enrolls over 1,000 students!), but as you move into more major specific courses, class sizes will get smaller. Typical large universities include University of Southern California, University of Virginia, Northeastern, and SUNY University at Stony Brook.

4. EXTRA LARGE > 30,000 STUDENTS

Extra large schools have much in common with large schools. Students could spend several lifetimes at one of these schools and only scratch the surface of the available curricular and co-curricular opportunities. Students thrive at these schools if they are focused, assertive and able to build connections and network with others. Advocates for larger universities point out that you can make a large university into a small university by being a part of the smaller clubs, activities and groups of people that are most interesting to you. However, you cannot make a small university into a large university because at a small school, you will never have access to the infinite academic, co-curricular and social opportunities you can explore at a large university. The ten largest universities are all public, and with that, students may find customer service to lag behind most higher quality private institutions. Typical large universities include Arizona State, Ohio State, University of Texas at Austin, and Michigan State University.

  • HOUSINGThe specific structure and cost of student accommodation varies greatly by institution, and can be a significant factor in the college process. Some universities around the world do not offer university accommodation for students, as they are expected to find their own housing. In the United States, where almost all universities offer student housing, some universities require that students live in campus housing for all four years, and some do not require students to do so at all. Housing options can also vary from individual dorm rooms to suite style living where three or four students share a bathroom and a common area. A growing number of universities also offer living learning communities as an option for interested students where students can choose to live in a dorm with other students who have the same course of study. Concordia students are encouraged to visit a dorm room during their campus visit and inquire about the specifics of the housing process and available housing options.

  • CAMPUS CULTUREIn the beginning of a college search it’s sometimes hard for students to pinpoint what they are looking for in a ‘campus culture’. If this happens it may be helpful to reflect on the culture of your current school and identify which characteristics of the school culture have helped you thrive and any other qualities you feel you will need in an environment to achieve your goals. Concordia is often described as having a culture of academic achievement, service, and spirituality, in addition to other things. Like Concordia, other school campuses have value systems and ways in which the community engages that ethos contributes to the overall feel of their campuses.When you visit universities be sure to observe and inquire about how the community tends to socialize. Does the community connect through sporting events, learning communities, parties, etc.?Is the community diverse in ways that matter to you such as culture, gender or socioeconomics? If you’re not able to visit a campus be sure to speak with the admissions office to have questions answered about student life, read school newspapers, speak with current students, and access resources that discuss campus culture.
  • SAFETYUniversities take the issue of student safety very seriously. On most campuses, campus police are an active presence, not only making sure that crimes are not committed, but also assisting students as they navigate parties and other late night activities. In the US, colleges are required to have information available about campus crime at ope.ed.gov/security. The database is searchable by name or institution, or groups of institutions for comparisons sake. For the most part, crime on campus takes the form of cell phone, computer or bicycle theft. Often times, students are careless with their things, and make easy targets for others. Unfortunately, more serious crimes can also occur on campus, such as assault, sexual violence and murder. Though these things are rare, and cant always be avoided, college-bound students should be taught how to make safe choices, before they enter their new environment.
  • ACADEMIC REPUTATION

    It is important to select an academic institution that is a good fit for a students particular needs and interests, however, many students unfortunately place a disproportionate emphasis on a universitys perceived prestige. Whereas it is true that in certain parts of the world, the name recognition of a students university degree can play a factor in hiring, in the United States, hiring and admission to graduate school are based more on academic performance in university as well as relevant experience. In examining the composition of the student body at the top medical schools and law schools, or in examining the undergraduate education of the top executives at major corporations it is important to note that they come from a vast and varied range of colleges and universities. It is important that students do not allow the perceived academic reputation or prestige of an institution to overshadow the importance of finding the right fit in the college selection process.
  • CLASS SIZE AND QUALITYSome students consider class size a factor when researching colleges. While class size does not necessarily guarantee the quality of instruction, it can indicate some of the qualities the learning environment has to offer. Smaller class sizes generally provide more opportunities for students to interact with professors and receive a little more personalized attention. Larger schools, tend to have bigger classes but sometimes offer more courses for students to choose from.
  • FRESHMAN SATISFACTIONFreshman satisfaction refers to the number of freshmen who return sophomore year. It provides a good indication of how satisfied students are with a college and their freshman year experience. If most freshmen are satisfied enough to return, it's more likely that if you choose this college you will be satisfied too. According to collegedata.com, the average freshman satisfaction number is 76%, meaning that at the average college 76% of students did not drop out or transfer after their freshman year. Keep in mind that some reasons students don't return have nothing to do with how satisfied they are with the college itself - for example, finances, an illness or family problem, a student's lack of readiness to be away from home, or a student's dissatisfaction with a general characteristic of the college, such as size, location or weather. Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT and U of Chicago all enjoy 99% freshman satisfaction rates! At public universities UNC, US Naval and Merchant Marine Academies,Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, and UVA share the top rating of 97%.

  • CAREER SERVICESOne of the most important services provided by the majority of colleges and universities in the United States and throughout the world is the vocational counseling services available at each institution’s career services center. These offices are typically housed on campus and serve as extremely valuable resources throughout a student’s university experience. These career counseling centers (the exact name of the office varies by institution) offer valuable insight in the selection of relevant courses and internships, available careers, alumni networking, and in the hiring process following graduation.Students are recommended to begin the relationship with their college’s career services center in their freshman year of university, and to continue actively consulting with counselors throughout their college years.
  • CO-OP PROGRAMS

    Co-op programs are designed to offer students academic credit and paid, full-time, work experience in their field of study. The income generated from a co-op program does not count as student income for students completing the FAFSA, however a students co-op income can be used to help pay their tuition. International students participating in a co-op program may be required to apply for a work visa. Participating in a co-op program is extremely beneficial to the postgraduate job search.
  • STUDY ABROADIn college, study abroad programs vary widely. They can last for several weeks over a break, a semester, or a year. Some programs require extensive study and work, while other programs grade everything on a pass/fail basis, - ahem, what would you do with your time in a foreign country, if all you had to do was get passing grades in your classes?For international students who have already studied within a number of different cultures, some of the charm of studying abroad may not be there, while for others, it may be an exciting opportunity to apply new skills to a new context, or an essential part of a major, such as Intl’ Relations or British Literature.
  • MAJORS

    In considering potential majors to pursue at university, Concordia students are encouraged to meet with their counselors to talk about their interests and goals, and examine and discuss relevant information from the Naviance Do What You Are assessment, VIA Character Strengths, and Morrisby Inventory available to all Concordia students. The selection of a major has an important role in determining college fit, and counselors have resources available to help students select universities that are strong in a particular area or discipline. However, many high school students are simply not ready to commit to a chosen field of study, and may prefer a liberal arts college that allows for a great deal of curricular flexibility, especially during the first two years of college.
  • AVERAGE DEBT UPON GRADUATIONIt is important when reviewing various financial aid packages from universities to carefully review for the amount awarded in loans as opposed to grants and scholarships. Packages that heavily weigh on loans may cause a student to acquire a large amount of debt that has to be paid in the years following graduation. To gain a better understanding of how much a student may have to contribute to tuition, accessing tools such as the Net Price Calculator may be helpful.
  • 4 YEAR GRADUATION RATESThe four year graduation rate refers to the number of full-time undergraduates who are able to earn a bachelor's degree in four years or less. If most students are able to graduate in four years, it's more likely that if you choose this college you will be able to as well. At collegedata.com, the average four-year graduation rate is 40%. If it takes students more than four years to graduate, the overall cost of college is likely to increase because there are additional fees for extra terms. Carleton College and

    Georgetown shares the top spots, with 91% of their students graduating in four years!
  • FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS
    The majority of students – US citizens and international – are eligible for scholarships at the majority of universities. Scholarships are a financial award based on merit, often measured by grades, test scores, athletic or performing arts ability, etc. Most universities automatically consider applicants for scholarship and distribute them upon admission, but check with each university, in case there are separate applications or special deadlines at that school. Scholarships for athletics, music, dance, theatre, etc. may require audition or advanced scouting.Financial aid can also be need-based and come in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for need-based aid by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available starting January 1 of the student’s senior year. Many universities have a priority deadline and ask students to submit by Feb 1 or March 1 if they would like to receive a timely financial aid offer. Some universities also require students to file theCollege Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile), which gives them a more detailed view of a family’s financial situation.Regardless of financial aid eligibility, international students (non-citizens or permanent residents) may be required to submit a certification of finances, which is documentation that shows the family’s ability to pay the university’s tuition. Some schools require this documentation at the time of admission while others only require it only after a student is admitted. Either way, it is required before a student can apply for a student visa.
  • FINANCIAL AID FOR NON-US CITIZENS-A map of U.S. schools that offer international students financial aid can be found here.
  • NEED BLIND AND NEED AWARE ADMISSIONS- The majority of U.S. universities consider admission separately from a student's financial need if the student is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This is what it means to be need blind. Need blind schools will admit students who simply have no way of paying for school. On the other hand, some schools are need aware, in that they consider ability to pay, and may not accept you, if they cannot help you cover expenses beyond demonstrated need. For a breakdown of schools that are need blind and need aware for both US citizens and International Students, visit here.

How Colleges Decide

Grades and transcripts are the single most important aspect of the college application, because they are the most consistent predictor of future academic success in university. As a result, students who demonstrate an ability to be academically successful in taking a challenging curriculum have a greater chance of admission. Finding the proper balance between taking a rigorous curriculum and achieving high marks is a process students should discuss with their counselor, as they are the most important aspects in how universities make decisions. Below is a graph of the weight of various factors in the college admissions decision making process. The data is based on a survey of U.S. college admissions officers by the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.


  • INTERVIEWSInterviews are very rarely required as a means for admission in the United States, and many institutions do not offer them at all. However, some colleges and universities make use of a network of alumni to facilitate interviews of students from around the world, including Shanghai. Once a students application has been received, students who are applying to these particular universities that use alumni interviews as a part of their admissions process will be contacted by the alumni representative in order to schedule a time for an interview.Some of the more selective UK universities, most notably Oxford and Cambridge, and all medical programs in the UK require an interview. Some interview Dos include: Have a working knowledge of the university and how its curricular and co-curricular offerings are a good fit for you Dress in a fashion that is appropriate and communicates a respect for the interviewer and the value you place on the opportunity Be early, or at worst, on time Be respectful of everyone you encounter during the time you are with the interviewer, whether the formal interview process has concluded or not Turn your cell phone off. Ask thoughtful questions. Schedule and participate in a mock interview with your counselor at ConcordiaSome DONTs include: Be negative about your perspective on life, or be disingenuously enthusiastic in an attempt to make a good impression Recite your resume in systematic fashion Miss the opportunity to elaborate on your strengths, interests or unique attributes by answering questions in a very brief fashion Ask questions that could be easily answered on the website Slouch, chew gum, or use slang in your conversation with the interviewer

  • Finding a Range: Reach, Target, Safety

In creating a list of university options, it is important to consider the likelihood of admission in order to ensure that you will have multiple options to consider once decisions are released. Every Concordia student is eligible for admission at hundreds (if not thousands) of universities around the world, so there is no reason to think that you will not get into college. However, a student applying to only Ivy League schools is probably going to come up empty, so creating a balanced list is key.

A safety school is one in which the likelihood of admission is high; a reach school is one in which the likelihood of admission is low; a target school is somewhere in between, where admission is realistic but the decision could go either way. Assigning universities to one of these three categories is not an exact science, but a rough idea can be gained by comparing your grades and test scores to the university’s acceptance data. If your grades and test scores are much higher than the averages, it’s probably a safety school; if lower, it’s probably a reach school; and if it’s right around their averages, it’s probably a target school. You can also use Concordia’s historical application data (in Navianceunder “Scattergrams”) to see how students in our context have fared in the past.

All students must apply to at least one safety school, and please keep in mind that it should still be a school that you have researched and are genuinely interested in attending; don’t just throw in a school to placate your counselor. Beyond this, we encourage a balanced list, such as 1-2 safeties, 3-4 targets, 1-2 reaches. Your counselor will evaluate your list and provide you with feedback.

  • CLUSTERSSome schools are overly popular with Concordia students, while some excellent schools seem to get no interest at all. This creates a cluster effect that may indirectly hurt the students at the bottom of the cluster, who may have been given a closer look by admissions officers under different circumstances. As a general rule, if a student is applying RD to a reach school, and maybe 10 other Concordia students are using that school as a safety, its a little more likely that the student who is applying to the reach school will be denied. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you work with your counselor to boost your demonstrated interest, and talk to your counselor about less popular schools that offer equal or even superior educational opportunities.


Standardized Testing

Most universities will require some kind of testing as part of their application, such as the SAT or ACT for students graduating from an American-curriculum school like Concordia. If you are applying to a North American university, you can choose freely from the SAT or ACT. If you are applying outside North America, the SAT is recommended because it is more internationally recognized. Concordia is a closed test site (i.e. for Concordia students only) that offers both the SAT and ACT on various Saturday mornings throughout the school year. Please refer to the schedule in the counseling office for specific date and registration information.

  • SATThe College Board has recently made significant changes to the SAT and the redesigned SAT I reasoning test is effective beginning with the class of 2017. The redesigned test is the culmination ofa great deal of research that has indicated that success in college is dependent primarily upon critical thinking and analytical skills.The revised SAT launched in March of 2016. Some significant changes include returning to the 1600 point composite score which is based on a combination of the 800 point math section, and the 800 point evidenced based reading and writing section.One important change in the new test is the way the SAT now evaluates the strength of a students vocabulary. Rather than testing a students knowledge of obscure words, the focus is now placed on high utility words that appear across disciplines. In addition, the new SAT will require students to form conclusions through the evaluation of evidence, text, and data. This will include the use of graphs to solve types of math problems commonly seen in college math courses. The redesigned SAT will last three hours with an extra 50 minutes provided for an optional essay section in which students are asked to analyze a passage. Students are encouraged to meet with their counselor if they have questions or to check the College Board website at www.collegeboard.com.

  • ACTThe ACT and SAT are similar standardized tests and both tests are accepted by all colleges and universities in the United States. The ACT is a three hour test that is comprised of four sections:English, Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Science Reasoning. The range for subject test scores is from 1 to 36, and the English, math, and reading tests have subscores that range from 1 to 18. The ACT composite score is is the average of all four test tests. The ACT also has an optional writing test that has a writing score that ranges from 2 to 12.
  • SAT SUBJECT TESTSSAT Subject Tests are 1-hour exams that allow you to demonstrate your ability in one of about 15 different subjects. They are offered on the same dates as the regular SAT and you may sit for 1, 2, or 3 subject tests on the same date, but you cannot take both a subject test and the regular SAT on the same date. The majority of universities do not require SAT Subject Tests, but selective schools and certain programs (e.g. engineering) may require or recommend that you submit 2 subject tests to support your application. Some universities will waive their SAT Subject Test requirement if you take the ACT with Writing.

    Most subject tests are offered on every test date, but some (Language with Listening, World History) are only offered on certain test dates, so check the schedule closely before registering. Please note that there is minimal advantage for a native Mandarin speaker to take the Chinese subject test, but it can help distinguish non-native speakers with strong Chinese skills. If you are taking an AP course in a subject that has a corresponding SAT Subject Test (e.g. World History, US History, any of the lab sciences), it is recommended that you take the subject test in May/June along with the AP exam. The additional preparation will be minimal and its good to already have a score or two available in case you wind up applying to a university that requires/recommends them.
  • TOEFL/IELTSSome universities will require you to prove your English language ability through an exam such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). However, please check with your prospective universities because many North American ones will waive their TOEFL/IELTS requirement if you have attended an English-language high school or achieved a certain score on the reading section of the SAT/ACT. Ultimately, very few Concordia students will need to take one of these exams.
  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT EXAMSAlthough Advanced Placement (AP) courses are looked upon favorably by North American universities in the admission process, they generally are not required for admission. However, admission to universities in the UK, Hong Kong, and other countries may require AP exams because they are similar to IB, A-levels, IGCSE, and other exam-based curricula popular around the world.

    Look into these requirements as early as you can because it may influence your course selection, especially for senior year. Some admission offers will be conditional on you attaining certain scores on your senior year AP exams.
  • TEST PREPARATION RESOURCESThere is a wide range of books and free computer programs available to help students prepare for both the SAT and ACT. Research shows that students can benefit from SAT preparation of up to about 20 hours, but investing additional time beyond that is not likely to improve performance further.
  • SENDING TEST SCORES

Although counselors do receive a copy of student results on the SAT, ACT and AP tests, the student is the one responsible for sending those scores on to universities. College requires students to have their official scores sent directly to their respective admissions offices from the testing agency itself.

Students in US universities often participate in pre-professional programs like architecture, business or engineering, or more interdisciplinary liberal arts degree programs that can cover a number of topics within humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and formal sciences. The key is to understand that pre-professional degrees prepare students to do a specific job, while liberal art colleges/degrees aim to develop students into more complete or well-rounded individuals who will go on to be successful in every situation. Many students who do a pre-professional program do not need to go on to graduate school, while many students who have more of a liberal arts background choose grad school as chance to further specialize their learning.

One advantage to applying to schools in the US, is the flexibility they provide students when it comes to selecting a major. For most students, the first two years can be spent taking general education courses and exploring different areas of interest. In the junior year of college a student should select a major, and then work towards finishing the specific credits that are required for that major.

This flexibility also allows students to transfer between schools. For many, it is possible to transfer within the first two years, and transfer all of the credits the student has completed. Some students will complete two years, and then transfer to a more desirable location at the end of their sophomore year.

In the US, each school gets to decide on the criteria it will use to admit new students. Schools can also choose their own deadlines and other policies that govern the application process. While this creates a system that can contain as many “types and personalities” of schools as there are students, it also can be a bit confusing to keep track of what each school wants. Therefore, make sure you attend college visits, or participate in a college tour to learn detailed info about what each school is looking for.

US schools tend to use a “holistic” approach to admissions (though be aware that the word “holistic” means radically different things to schools throughout the US). This is done for several reasons. Schools want to understand students in their own context, and consider the advantages or disadvantages that context may have had. Schools also recognize that students bring a lot more to their community than a test score or other easily measurable criteria. Generally speaking, colleges will value application contents in this order: grades in college prep courses, rigor, standardized test scores, essays, student’s demonstrated interest, counselor recommendation, teacher.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important part of university applications because it gives the admissions office an idea of your personality and character. Grades and test scores cannot completely describe any students, so schools want to know what you’re like in the classroom and how you’ve contributed to your community. Not all universities require recommendations, but competitive schools generally require two teacher letters of recommendation and one counselor letter of recommendation.

All Concordia students can request recommendation letters from their counselor and two teachers. Because recommendation writing is time consuming and goes beyond a teacher’s job, Concordia places a cap on the number of recommendations an individual teacher is allowed to write. The request process begins in Gifts, Goals and God class when counselors distribute Teacher Letter of Rec Info forms. These documents provide teachers with some of the information they will use to write letters of rec. In January when the counselors distribute the Recommendation Request Form, which asks students to list three teachers they would like to have write letters for them and include reasons why. The form is due in April, at which time the counselors will review the requests and assign students two of their three requested teachers. Multiple factors are considered, including the date the form was submitted (first come, first serve), the teacher’s willingness to write on behalf of the student, and whether a teacher has reached their cap. Students will follow up with each recommender before the end of the school year to see what additional information they need in order to write their letters. Prior to writing a recommendation letter, some teachers may request students to provide a resume, or to arrange for an interview with the teacher.

Ideally, the teachers you request will have taught you during junior year, so that way their experience with you is more recent and in a more advanced upperclassman class. It is also advisable (sometimes even necessary) to ask people who have taught you in subjects related to your intended major. For example, engineering majors should consider asking their math or physics teachers. You should avoid asking two teachers from the same subject area (i.e. two math teachers), since they are likely to say similar things about you. Teachers will upload their recommendation letters to Naviance and counselors will send them along with your transcripts after you submit your college applications. In the fall of your senior year, it is important to update your recommenders about which universities you are applying to and when. For example, a teacher needs to know if you are applying early action/decision because s/he will need to write your letter earlier than others.

A fourth recommendation from an outside party (pastor, coach, family friend, internship supervisor, etc.) is sometimes possible, but seldom recommended. The fact is that most letters from non-Concordia teachers do not provide specific details of how a student performs as a learner, demonstrates intellectual vitality, and will contribute to the college classroom environment, school community, or are uniquely prepared to flourish within a particular school community or profession.

With that, they also need to make the student come alive with vivid examples as evidence. By adding additional letters to your application you are requiring the app reader to read more material,which will essentially raise the bar your application will need to pass over. Please talk with your counselor before you choose to take this risk.

Additional recommendation writers will need to forward their letter to your counselor so s/he can upload it to Naviance on their behalf.

Upon successful admission, do not forget to thank your recommenders with a handwritten note, and an update including your future plans.


Fall of Senior Year

Application Options

  • EARLY ACTION, EARLY DECISION, AND REGULAR DECISION

Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) are application options offered by some American universities that allow a student to submit their application and receive a decision earlier in the application cycle. Application deadlines vary by school, but are frequently around November 1st and sometimes November 15th. Decisions for both EA and ED are frequently released by mid-December.

ED is a binding program in which the student is committing to attend the university if s/he is accepted, so students should only apply ED if the school is a perfect fit, clear-cut dream school. As a result of this binding agreement, candidates are generally accepted at a higher rate than in a regular decision program. Students with special interests (e.g. children of alumni, athletes) receive even greater consideration under ED than other applicants, so it can be especially helpful if you fall into one of those categories. You can only submit one ED application and, if accepted in December, you must withdraw your other applications.

EA operates on a similar timetable to ED, but it is not binding, so you will be able to wait for your other admissions decisions before making your final selection by May 1st. Because the application is non-binding, you can submit as many EA applications as you would like. Generally, the admissions advantage for EA applicants is usually minimal or similar to that of regular decision applicants.

Restrictive Early Action (REA) is a variation on EA employed by a handful of very selective universities (Stanford, Harvard). They philosophically disagree with ED but don’t want to lose strong applicants to their competitors that have ED program. The REA application is a non-binding application, but you may not apply to any other university under an REA or ED program, or any other private university with an EA program. The majority of Concordia students apply to the majority of their universities using the regular decision option,so do not feel pressure to apply EA/ED. In fact, there are instances in which applying EA/ED can disadvantage an applicant. For example, a student with an upward grade trend or somebody who wants/needs to take the December SAT/ACT should not apply EA/ED because your application will probably be stronger in February than it is in November.

Hong Kong universities offer an EA/ED hybrid called Fast Track in which applications submitted by mid-November could potentially receive an offer as early as late-January. The program is nonbinding, but students will be asked to submit a substantial tuition deposit (~$3,000 USD) within a few weeks of receiving the decision. If the school is one of your top choices, you should plan to apply Fast Track because applicants not accepted during Fast Track are generally reviewed again in MainRound. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to have your application read twice.

Below is a flowchart that will lead you through the steps students need to complete when applying to college in the U.S.


  • UK APPLICATIONS

Some course providers require additional admissions tests to be taken alongside the

UCAS application. Find out more about these tests. - 15 October 18:00 (UK time)

Applicants who would like to be interviewed in China - 20 September 18:00 (UK time)

Students who would like to be interviewed at Cambridge - 15 October 18:00 (UK time)

(deadlines subject to change, always check institutional websites for correct deadlines)

Types of Applications

  • COMMON APP-The Common Application is an application used by a group of over 450 member colleges and universities in the United States. The Common Application allows students to apply to a number of colleges and universities while filling out only one application. While some member institutions do ask students to complete additional supplemental essays, the Common Application definitely helps students save time and energy in the application process. It is important for students to make sure they check each universities individual requirements to make sure that they do not neglect to submit any required supplemental essays.

  • UC-The University of California system has one application for all nine campuses, and has a deadline of November 30th. This single application allows students to save time in the application process. Because the UC Application is a system application and requires nothing additional of the high school, Concordia students are allowed to apply to as many UC schools as they would like while only using one of the allotted ten spaces available in the 10 application maximum limit.
  • APPLY TEXAS-The Apply Texas application is a system application that allows students to apply to any Texas public university, as well as participating private universities and community colleges in Texas in one simplified application. There are 134 member institutions in Texas that accept the Apply Texas application. Concordia students are allowed to apply to as many Apply Texas member schools as they would like while only using one of the allotted ten spaces available in the 10 application maximum limit.
  • ONTARIO UNIVERSITIES APPLICATION CENTRE (OUAC)-The Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) application is a system application that allows students to apply to any of the universities in Ontario, Canada. Because the OUAC Application is a system application, Concordia students are allowed to apply to as many OUAC schools as they would like while only using one of the allotted ten spaces available in the 10 application maximum limit.

Completing Your Application

For most applicants, the completed application is the main way in which admissions officers learn about the student. Therefore, students should strive to ensure that their application represents who they are in an authentic and positive manner. Remember that this is a formal document, but it also leaves room for you to be yourself and convey your own unique personality. On one hand, a student can be too informal by using slang, SMS style wording, an immature email address like partyman007@hotmail.com, or address conversational topics that may be needlessly risque. On the other hand, personalities can get lost, if students are strictly formal or try to sound overly intelligent. After reading through your application (or better yet, having your counselor read through it for you), ask whether the person represented sounds like a teenager (your essay had better sound like your voice, and not your private counselor, teacher or parent), and whether they are in some way intelligent and interesting? If you can answer "yes" to these questions, you have probably created an effective and authentic application.

Remember that once you complete your application, your counselor will want to check to ensure that everything has been filled out correctly. Our goal is to help you use every square inch of your application to communicate your personality and improve your chances of admission. No matter how capable the student, a counselor will always find a way that the application can be improved upon, or a small error to fix. At the end of the day, your counselor will not force you to change anything you do not want to change. The application is your own, and you can send it knowing that you have done your best.

  • APPLICATION FORMS-It is important that students check application requirements carefully and make sure that the personal details and contact information are correctly submitted as errors or incongruencies on submitted materials can delay the processing of admissions decisions. The required forms vary greatly by country and institution and students are encouraged to consult with their counselor regarding any questions before submitting their applications and accompanying forms.

  • ESSAY-For most students, the college essay is the most challenging and time-consuming part of the application process. The essay is an opportunity for colleges and universities to get a chance to know you and understand the person behind the grades and test scores. This important aspect of the application helps colleges to gain valuable insight into your motivation, personality, interests, and values. The essay is used to determine a candidate’s ability to write, as well as the student’s fit for the particular university. It gives admissions officers a chance to understand just what a students would contribute to a college community. It is important that students stay true to their voice and write in a genuine fashion. Writing the college essay is a process, not an event. It is important for students to work with their counselor on the essay process. Procrastination with respect to the college essay can be a real problem, and so Concordia counselors come into the classrooms of all 11th grade students’ “Gifts, Goals and God” classes to do a series of presentations and begin working with students on the essay writing process. Though many students seek to find a memorable topic that grabs a reader’s attention, there are definitely some topics to avoid, and counselors work with students in determining the most appropriate and relevant topic for the essay. The approach and style of the college essay for U.K. universities varies significantly from the approach to writing the college essay for U.S. universities, and counselors work closely with students applying to a variety of different country systems. A guide to writing essays for different country systems is also available to students in Naviance.Many colleges also ask students to answer a supplemental essay question about their motivation for applying to that specific university. This question is often referred to as the “Why Us” question and is an important opportunity for students to communicate how their interests, strengths, and personal Characteristics are an appropriate fit for the college.
  • THE ANYTHING ELSE QUESTION-Most applications give you a chance to add additional information. Sometimes students feel that they need to add something to this section, out of fear that the college will think less of them for leaving it blank. Id like to break in with a message from college reps everywhere, DONT!Students should only use this space if there is something they need to share that could not have been shared in another space.Students may want to use this space to improve the accuracy or clarity around a topic that may have been vague in another section of the application. The student might have an outstanding characteristic or accomplishment that took second place to what was covered in the essay. Or, the student may have undergone a challenge that impacted school performance, and could not have been included in an earlier section. Before writing, reflect with your counselor on how your message might best be delivered.
  • WAIVE YOUR FERPA RIGHTS-In the US, you have the legal right to read files that colleges keep about you. Common app and almost all other applications request that you waive this right. If you don’t waive your FERPA rights, your counselor will not send letters of recommendation to your schools. Colleges only value confidential letters of recommendation. Remember, we are your advocates in the process. Counselors and teachers strive to show you in the best and most accurate light possible.

  • TEACHER RECOMMENDATIONS-Counselors help broker teacher letters of recommendation requests written by students. Students must turn in a completed Teacher Letter of Rec Info form with their Teacher Letter of Recommendation Request forms. Once assignments have been agreed upon, students should work closely with the teacher to ensure they have any information that might be useful.Students also need to notify teachers at least one month before their earliest application is due. A student who shows up the day before an early application deadline and asks the teacher to upload his/her letter to Naviance, may be disappointed to learn that a teacher is not able to write on their behalf. This can happen, so please make sure it does not happen to you.
  • COUNSELOR RECOMMENDATIONS-With nearly 400 college visits on campus per year, Concordia’s counselors are known by many college admissions officers. In fact, parents and students sometimes return from a college visit in the US, and report that the college rep they talked to knows us by name, and has even eaten dinner at one of our houses (Concordia supports counselors in regularly hosting visiting college reps for home cooked meals, and the like).Application readers take our word seriously, since they know that we can lose credibility if we misrepresent a student at any point in the application process. If a counselor says, “this student is one of the best scholars and hardest workers I have ever seen,” and the student has poor communication skills, and flunks out in the first semester of college, all future recommendations will be suspect.Admissions officers will often say that the counselor’s letter of recommendation is the lens used to understand the context of the application (that’s actually a quote from the director of admissions at Yale). Concordia’s counselors seek to describe in detail and give vivid examples of how students contribute socially, emotionally and academically to the classroom and the community. Counselors will also explain why a student chose to take the course load reflected on the transcript and can explain the specifics around extraordinary achievements or struggles. Students should remember that counselors are not mind readers. Students should be thoughtful about the information they share in junior and senior meetings with the counselor.
  • EXTRA RECOMMENDATIONS-Extra recommendations are generally frowned upon by admissions officers, even if they are sometimes allowed (many schools will not allow them to be electronically sent through Naviance).Essentially, adding something to your application sets the bar for admissions that much higher, and may backfire. You only want to include an extra letter of rec if you are confident it will provide important and relevant information not contained in your other letters of rec, or elsewhere in the application. For instance, a letter from a nurse in a clinic where you’ve accumulated hundreds of service hours in direct contact with patients, would probably be an excellent addition to an application to a nursing school.Normally, students (or parents) will ask counselors to add letters from summer program teachers, friends of the family, or internship supervisors. Ironically, the worst letters I’ve (Mr. Love) read in my career have come from college professors who teach summer pre-college programs at highly-ranked universities. Applications must be full of clear examples and vivid details, rather than empty adjectives painting you as a “smart” and “kind” person. On the other hand, I’ve also heard of a student who was accepted to an Ivy League school in part due to a letter from a janitor who worked closely with her on a school-wide recycling project, over the course of four years. The letter provided a wonderful description of the positive impact she had on him and the other janitorial staff. Sure, this student had the scores and grades, but according to the admissions officer, it was really the letter describing her impact on the janitorial staff that caused her to stand out from the crowd.
  • UK REFERENCE-Students applying to UK universities are required to provide one reference. They can request the reference from their counselor or a teacher when completing the UCAS application. References generally include an explanation of how well suited a student may be for the course to which they are applying, as well as their predicted test scores. Students applying to the UK should consult with their counselor prior to completing the UCAS application and making a reference request.
  • THANKING YOUR TEACHERS-Students applying to college require letters of recommendation from their teachers. Teachers happily agree to write letters of recommendation, not out of obligation but out of a sincere desire to support students in their pursuit of being admitted to universities of their choice. While unintentional, the extent of time and effort teachers dedicate to writing these letters as well as the years they have contributed in the classroom is sometimes overlooked in the subtlest ways. So take care to graciously thank your teacher in the following ways. Provide your teachers with updated information such as resumes, questionnaires, etc. in a timely manner as requested in the period before they write for you. Meet with your teachers to discuss where you are applying. Say thank you when your teachers agree to write your letter.

    Let your teachers know the outcome of your applications because they care about you.
  • INTERNATIONAL OR US APPLICANT?-You attend an international school, so you are an international student right? Not so fast. When applying to college, the term international student is based upon your passport. If you have a US passport, most colleges will consider you a US student. If you have more than one passport, it’s best to list both passports when asked about citizenship. If you need a visa to enter the United States, a certificate of finances will also need to be submitted. School web portals for new applicants have Ability to Pay forms readily available.
  • THE IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRITY-It is important that students maintain integrity throughout the application process, predominantly because it is the right thing to do, but also because any intentionally communicated dishonesty in the course of the application process can result in offers of admission being revoked.
  • KEEP A COPY-Always keep a copy of each application you send and screenshots of online confirmation messages.While technology is nearly foolproof, you never know how the person on the receiving end is going to handle your data. You will also need to store individual login information for each of the schools you apply to. Soon after colleges receive your application, they will send you a applicant portal login. You will need to use this login to check your application progress.
  • APPLICATION FEES-The application fees for colleges vary. Students generally submit payments online using a credit card. When paying an application fee through Common App it is important to remember to submit your application after having paid the application fee. A green check-mark should appear on your Common App dashboard in the application section to verify the payment has been made and the application has been submitted.

Considering Independent University Counselors

Your Concordia counselor will work with you closely on the university application process. In fact, we are confident that we can provide everything you need throughout the college application process. However, you are free to pursue outside assistance if you would like. In order to ensure you’reforming a productive relationship with potential private counselors, the Independent Education Consultants Association suggests that you ask prospective counselors the following questions. (We’ve added comments about Concordia’s counselors in italics below):

12 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING A PRIVATE COUNSELOR

1. Do you guarantee admission to a school, one of my top choices, or a certain minimum dollar value in scholarships? (Do NOT trust any offer of guarantees.)

2. How do you keep up with new trends, academic changes and evolving campus cultures? How often do you get out and visit college, school, and program campuses and meet with admissions representatives? (The ONLY way to know about the best matches for you is to be out visiting schools regularly—we suggest a minimum of 20 campuses per year.) Concordia’s counselors generally tour colleges three times per year. We typically do a summer tour, a fall tour connected to a conference, and a spring tour connected to a school fly in. During visits, we meet with college reps and inform them about our students and school, receive specialized tours, and learn as much as possible about how the admissions process works at each institution. Beyond that, Concordia likely hosts more college reps than any other high school in the world - almost 400 visits in 2015-16! College reps know your counselor well, and meet with him or her often.

3. Do you belong to any professional associations? (NACAC and IECA are the two associations for independent educational consultants with established and rigorous standards for membership.) Concordia Counselors are members of the International Association of College Admissions Counselors

4. Do you attend professional conferences or training workshops on a regular basis to keep up with regional and national trends and changes in the law? Concordia Counselors attend conferences hosted by the International Association of College Admissions Counselors, East Asian Region of Schools, Council of International Schools, National Association of College Admissions Counselors, and a variety of self-selected PD opportunities.

5. Do you ever accept any form of compensation from a school, program, or company in exchange for placement or a referral? (They absolutely should not!)

6. Are all fees involved stated in writing, up front, indicating exactly what services I will receive for those fees?

7. Will you complete the application for admission, re-write my essays, or fill out the financial aid forms on my behalf? (No, they should NOT; it is essential that the student be in charge of the process and all materials should be a product of the student’s own, best work.)

8. How long have you been in business as an independent educational consultant (IEC)?

9. What was your background prior to going into independent educational consulting? What was your training and education? Concordia Counselors have master’s degrees in school counseling, and are US-licensed school counselors.

10. Will you use personal connections to get me into one of my top choices? (The answer should be

NO. An IEC doesn’t get you admitted—they help you to demonstrate why you deserve to be admitted.)

11. What specialized training do you have (LD, gifted, athletics, arts, etc.)?

12. Do you adhere to the ethical guidelines for private counseling established by IECA? If a private counselor does not have a professional code of ethics, you have no recourse for bad advice or unethical business practices. Each year, students tell us stories of incompetent or unethical things their private counselors have done. Concordia Counselors follow the NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice.

The questions above can be found at iecaonline.com. If you are interested, your Concordia counselor can help you get in touch with a highly-qualified independent counselor who is a part of this organization

Winter of Senior Year

By now you have completed your applications, asked your counselor to send your supplemental materials, and sent official test scores to each of your schools. When you visit your application portals, you will also find that there are supplemental materials that you will need to work on.

Though this may seem like a relatively quiet time in the application process, counselors are busy making themselves available to admissions officers through phone calls and campus visits. We encourage you to stay connected to your counselor and give updates on any course grades and semester two activities.

Reporting Grades - Mid Year Transcripts

In mid-January, once semester 1 grades are complete, counselors send mid-year reports to colleges where you have completed applications. Counselors will automatically send mid-year reports to colleges that accept electronic submissions. If you have applied to schools that only accept documents through the mail or email, you will need to provide your counselor with an email or physical address.

Missing Documents

Once students have submitted their applications the wait for decisions begins. During the waiting period students sometimes receive messages from universities stating that a document, test score or other piece of information is still needed. This can sometimes cause concern especially, when the information has been confirmed as submitted by your counselor. It is important to remember that universities are receiving thousands of applications and that processing this information takes time. The notifications regarding missing documents are often automated and will continue until the system has been updated. If you are unsure about a notification that you have received be sure to ask your counselor. There are universities that require students to mail documents as opposed to submitting them online.

When sending time sensitive information, Concordia students should pay to send their documents using carriers such as DHL as opposed to sending them through regular mail. Tracking numbers are provided and packages tend to arrive faster when using independent an carrier.

FAFSA/CSS PROFILE

It is recommended that students fill out their FAFSA and/or CSS PROFILE documents in January (some schools ask international students for them even earlier). Even though school deadlines are not until much later, it’s normally in a student’s best interest to be considered before schools have already allocated most of their financial aid money.

Spring of Senior Year

Weighing Your Options

Weighing Your Options

Regular decision application results start to roll in during the last week of March and the first week of April. Finally, all the work students put forth in the application process starts to pay off. For most students, there is a clear choice, and they are happy to send in a deposit indicating their final decision, but for other students, it’s not quite that simple. Some students may want to visit college campuses over Spring break, for one more look into what life might be like on each campus.

Counselors can also help students connect with currently-enrolled students on each campus and help facilitate conversations between the students. Many colleges also host yield events where admitted students are invited to attend.

Waitlists

Of course college admission season doesn’t only bring good news. Most students have faced denials and may also have been waitlisted. Here are some tips that should give students perspective, and be useful, in approaching the waitlist process.

Understand how each school uses the waitlist Google the name of your school + “common data set.” In last year’s common data set, you should be able to find the number of students offered spots on the waitlist, the number that accepted spots on the waitlist, and the number of offers that were made to waitlisted students. The common data set can also indicate if the waitlist is ordered by rank. These pieces of information can give you a clearer understanding of how each school uses the waitlist.

The current trend is for an increasing number of schools to use waitlists, and for those schools to offer spots on the waitlist to increasing numbers of students (this is a byproduct of students applying to a rising number of schools, and schools having to hedge their admissions, in case a higher than expected amount of student do not accept admission). There are schools that will waitlist severalhundred applicants each year, and accept less than ten of those students off of their wait lists, there are schools that won’t access the waitlist at all, and there are schools that will accept a relatively high percentage of waitlisted students. Psychologically, it helps students to know what the odds most likely are, and if it’s worth the time and energy to move forward.

  • UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CANT CONTROL

In most situations colleges go to the waitlist to balance out incoming classes. They may need more boys or girls, or they may need an editor for the student newspaper, or an upright bass player for the jazz band. There is no way to predict what they may need, or how you might fit into that need. When it comes down to it, if they are not looking for a student with your qualities, there is probably nothing you can do that would sway their decision.

  • UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Waitlisted students are generally asked whether they would like to accept a spot on the waitlist and for an update on any recent co-curricular achievements and academic progress. This is your best chance to fight for yourself. In your letter, strive to be upbeat, positive and optimistic. Do not be disappointed, and don’t plead. It’s alright if you don’t have a “recent significant achievement” to share in your letter. Give them a rundown of your classes and current grades (who said senior grades don’t really matter?), as well as a brief and enthusiastic overview of the activities you are currently involved in, and look forward to continuing in college (this is where the upright bass player mentions a recent concert, and when the school needs an upright bass, his or her name gets called). Finally, demonstrated interest is still important. Be explicit in telling your school that beyond a shadow of a doubt, if given the opportunity, you will matriculate. If you are accepting spots on multiple waitlists, or you are not sure, don’t be misleading. The international admissions community is a small and tight knit group of friends. You do not want your name to be brought up in a bad light within that group.

  • USE YOUR CONTACTS

If you’ve developed a rapport with a college rep or someone else connected to the admissions office, you should update them on the current status of your application, and reiterate your desire to gain a spot in next year’s freshman class. This is where the work you did earlier, attending college visits and building a record of demonstrated interest, might make a difference for you. Don’t ask your parents or counselor to contact the college for you (unless the college says that you can). At this point, colleges only want to hear from you. Though your counselor is willing to lend you an empathetic ear, and help you draft your letter asking for a spot on the waitlist, there really is nothing more we can do at this time. The fact is that no one (not even the admissions committee) knows how the waitlist will be used, until after May 1st. Shortly before or after that date, you may want to reach out to the admissions office, and ask for an update on this year’s waitlist activity, and reiterate your desire to attend their school in the coming year.

Keep your counselor updated on each of your admission decisions, and continue to use your counselor as a resource, if you are going to accept a spot on a waitlist.

Understanding Offers

While universities notify students of admissions decisions on different dates, students will receive most of their decisions by April. Students are generally notified of decisions through university portals that allow them to track the progress of their application, email or regular mail. These decisions are often sent out in bulk and can sometimes end up in junk mail as opposed to your inbox. So be sure to track your notification dates and check your emails accordingly.

  • ACCEPTED

Students accepted to a university are offered a spot in the incoming class. While this is a joyous occasion, please remember it’s not over until you actually graduate. Universities expect students to continue performing at the same academic level for which they were admitted. So celebrate by continuing to do well and finish your senior year strong.

  • JANUARY ADMIT

Some universities have developed programs in which students are admitted for the spring semester of the following academic year as opposed to the fall. The structure of these programs vary depending on the university. Some offer opportunities for students to enroll but spend time studying abroad or doing service learning in designated programs, while others may suggest students wait to enroll that spring. Students admitted for the spring semester are considered admitted to the university.

  • DEFER

Students who apply for early admission to a university are sometimes deferred to the regular admission applicant pool. If a student has been deferred it means that their application will be reconsidered. If the student applied early decision, their application is no longer considered binding should they be accepted at a later date.

  • DENIED

An unfortunate part of the college application process is the possibility of being denied from a university. Some universities offer the option to appeal the decision. However, this option rarely results in the change of a decision. If denied from a university, it is best to accept it and work through the disappointment with your counselor, while focusing on your other options.

  • WAIT LIST

Sometimes students who have not been admitted are placed on the university’s waitlist. Colleges use waitlists for students who are admissible, but due to limited space, cannot be admitted. The likelihood of being admitted from the waitlist is often lower than that of being admitted in the regular decision process. Universities are not required to admit waitlisted students and generally wait to see how many admitted students accept their offers before doing so. If a student wishes to remain on a waitlist they may do so by notifying the university and expressing their continued interest.

  • MAY 1ST

Students who plan to attend a U.S. university must notify the university of their plan by May 1st. When considering a number of options, deciding where to attend can be a difficult choice. However, it is unethical to secure places at more than one university by using a ‘just in case’ approach. Please talk through your options with your counselor if needed.

Senioritis

“Whateva, whateva, I’ll do what I waunt, whenever I waunt.” Eric Cartman

Seniors are most susceptible to Senioritis from mid-January until the end of senior year. It is common for seniors to catch a minor case of senioritis, but if left untreated, it can develop into a full blow bacterial infection attacking the mind and attitude of the careless senior. When left untreated, senioritis can lead the victim to abandon studies and a concurrent drop in grades. Colleges are often understanding of a performance plateau in the second semester of senior year, but a drop in grades can result in a student losing an offer of admission.

Specific Applicants

Student Athletes

Student Athletes

The U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the governing body that oversees athletics at U.S. colleges and universities. Colleges and universities’ athletic teams compete in oneof three distinct divisions. There are 340 Division I schools, 290 Division II schools and 450 Division III schools. Division I and II schools may offer athletic scholarships, but Division III schools do not. The

NCAA has guidelines for recruiting that are updated annually at www.ncaastudent.org and recruited students are encouraged to read the “NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete.” All

Division I and Division II athletes must receive clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center before they can begin participation with their respective athletic teams. The required forms for the NCAA Eligibility Center can be found online at www.eligibilitycenter.org or you can write to

NCAA ELIGIBILITY CENTER

P.O. Box 7136

Indianapolis, IN 46207

USA

(877) 262-1492

Students are encouraged to communicate with both their coaches and counselors with respect to any interest in pursuing future participation in college athletics. Although Concordia has had several student athletes go on to participate in athletics at universities in the United States, competition for spots on U.S. college rosters are extremely competitive. Below is a chart indicating the estimated probability of competing in college athletics at U.S. colleges and universities by sport.


Performing and Visual Arts

Performing and Visual Arts

Students considering an art related career might consider applying to specialized arts schools. The admissions process for arts schools sometimes differs in that it could include a required portfolio or audition to demonstrate a particular talent. Concordia offers a range of arts classes for students. Opportunities for students to interact with arts schools are also available throughout the year through individual visits from college reps, the Concordia World University Fair and the Preview Forum that is hosted at Concordia in the fall. Students who are interested in applying to art schools would benefit from consulting teachers in Concordia’s Fine Arts Department as well as their counselor.

International Students

International Students

It’s important to understand how each of your colleges defines international applicants. Once you know each school’s process for defining which students are international, you will be able to figure out which application requirements are required. US citizens and permanent residents are generally considered to be US applicants. If you are considering becoming a permanent resident, you will need to establish your status before your senior year begins. The advantage of this is that permanent residents also qualify to receive federal dollars and financial aid.

Most schools automatically require international students to take a TOEFL test. However, Concordia students usually meet other requirements that excuse them from needing to take the TOEFL test. In the average year, less than 5% of Concordia students are required to take the TOEFL test for North American admissions.

If you want or need financial aid for college, do not despair. Many universities offer generous merit based aid packages to international students. Your counselor can provide a list of schools that provide financial aid for international students. For example, counselors can provide you with a list of schools where more that half of the attending international students receive over half of the total price in financial aid.

Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

Students with a documented learning disability have the right to choose to not disclose their disability if they would like. However, all colleges and universities in the United States are required by law to provide appropriate accommodations to students with documented disabilities. In providing the university information regarding your disability, it is also important to make the college aware of the strategies you use to manage your learning difference. Counselors work with each individual student and their parents in developing the most effective strategy for communicating appropriate information regarding a students’learning disability to colleges, and there are resources like the The K&W Guide to College Programs & Services for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention

Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder available in the counseling office as well.

Service Academies

Service Academies

Students applying to service academies must meet requirements that are not necessary when applying to other U.S. universities. Service academies generally look for holistically educated students who excel academically, physically, and demonstrate leadership. Graduates are expected to serve on active duty upon graduation. Applicants are required to submit a nomination from a Member of Congress and meet the following eligibility criteria.

• No dependents

• At least 17 years of age but no older than 23

• Demonstrate excellent moral character

• U.S. Citizen

Coast Guard Academy
U.S. Naval Academy
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
U.S. Military Academy
U.S. Air Force Academy

ROTC Scholarships

ROTC Scholarships

If you are interested in receiving an ROTC scholarship, contact the Army, Navy or Airforce ROTC online, or at the following numbers.

Army (800) USA-ROTC

Navy (800) USA-NAVY

Airforce (866) 423-7682

Marines (800) MARINES

Interested students should research the schools and majors that ROTC programs are willing to sponsor. After graduation from college, you will be required to serve for eight years.