School's In: Application Workshop

It’s after Labor Day and school has started! The latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation celebrated with two (yes, two!) segments dedicated to the School’s In! Application Workshop. Guest host Ian Fisher welcomed college admission expert Julia Jones and college finance expert Laurie Peltier to talk about all aspects of creating a college list on short notice and then narrowing it down quickly to arrive at a final list of schools to apply to. He wrapped up the program with a discussion of the Cambridge system with guest Zaragoza Guerra.

School’s In! Application Workshop

Ian began these segments by asking Julia how a senior can do their research in a compressed (and effective) way if they have not yet begun their college list.  Julia reassured our listeners that it is not too late –“Take a breath, and don’t panic. There is still time.” On the bright side, by waiting until senior year to get started, students know themselves better and the features of a college that matter most to them, so, in many ways, starting now means the research is more focused and productive. Julia encouraged visits (virtual or otherwise) and offered some other tips and tools that can be used to speed up the research. Laurie added some pointers about family discussions and making sure that student and parent expectations are aligned in regards to finances, geography, and other important criteria. The discussion wrapped up with advice on narrowing the list down by revisiting priorities and, if finances matter, shaping the list well to make sure there is at least one financial safety school (one you know you can get into and is affordable, even without any aid).

As always, the Application Workshop ended with homework assignments from all three of our educators. Ian encouraged students to set up a schedule for writing and editing all required essays, and Julia instructed students to build a system to track when and how they will apply at each school. Laurie assigned a review of each college’s website to determine need-based aid and merit-based scholarship application deadlines and requirements, as they can vary among schools.

Cambridge System

For the final segment of the program, Ian welcomed college admission expert, Zaragoza Guerra, who gave a summary of the Cambridge system, which is a rigorous high school program similar to the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. It is the program used by pre-university students in the U.K., and while it previously was available only in places like Singapore and Hong Kong, it has recently become more commonplace in the U.S., in states like Florida and Washington. Zaragoza and Ian discussed how the Cambridge system allows students to study a fewer (compared to AP and IB) topics very deeply, and pushes students to develop their deliberation and writing skills. They concluded with a conversation about the exams in the Cambridge system, and how they are reviewed in the admission process.

Don’t forget to join us next week, when Beth Heaton returns as host. Beth will have one School’s In: Application Workshop segment, and then will spend the rest of the show talking with Jessica Elberfeld, a 29-year-old blogger who is successfully paying off $113K in student loans. Jessica will have many tips to share for the new college grad in your life, so you won’t want to miss next week’s episode!


Written by College Coach
College Coach® is the nation’s leading provider of educational advising, offering expert guidance from the best college admissions consultants on the college admissions and finance process. Our goal is to help each student maximize his or her chances of success through services focused on their personal desires, goals, individual strengths, and accomplishments.