Last week, on Getting In: a College Coach Conversation, host Sally Ganga and guests Kara Courtois and Kathy Ruby discussed the ins and outs of submitting standardized test scores to colleges, took an in-depth look at the essay questions for two popular institutions—University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin, Madison—and talked about the various deadlines for financial aid.
In the first segment, Sally and Kara talked testing—specifically the SATs and ACTs—discussing the easiest and fastest ways to ensure that scores get to colleges, either in advance of or by the application deadlines. Kara started by stating one of the most important, and often most misunderstood, rules regarding standardized testing: Colleges that require testing won’t read an application without official score reports, sent directly from the testing agencies (either the ACT or College Board). Self-reporting on the college application isn’t enough—colleges need the official reports. Sally and Kara both talked about the timing of when to send scores (as early as possible, as soon as the student knows what schools they are applying to, and once testing is done). They also talked about Score Choice, and strategies to meet deadlines for students who have taken October or later tests.
After the break, Kara and Sally returned for an in-depth essay discussion. First, they tackled the several essay questions required by the University of Michigan. They gave tips, advice and examples on how to approach the two short essays: the first describing an extra-curricular activity, and the second describing a community to which you belong and your place within it. They then went on to look at the longer required essay, which asks students to discuss the unique qualities that attract them to the specific undergraduate college or school at Michigan, and how that curriculum supports their interests. They also took on the specific essays for students applying to the Ross School of Business and the Stamps School of Art and Design. Closing out the segment, Sally and Kara also discussed essays for the University of Wisconsin, Madison, including the always perplexing, “Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it’s important to you” prompt. If you are applying to either of these schools, this segment is a great place to start!
For the last segment, Sally welcomed College Coach finance expert, Kathy Ruby, who helped listeners make sense of those upcoming financial aid deadlines. Kathy made the distinction between deadlines for federal aid (often the latest deadlines of all) and deadlines for state funding, specific college financial aid, and merit scholarships (which typically come up much earlier). The bottom line is that deadlines can vary from state to state and college to college, and there can be (sometimes dire) consequences if students miss them.
Lots of useful information and advice was shared in this very full episode! And tune in next week, when Elizabeth Heaton returns to the hosting chair and will spend the entire episode answering listener questions about admissions and financial aid.