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The College Savvy Coach

Sia Knight

The College Savvy Coach - Sia Knight

Breaking Down The College Admission Process – 4 Easy Steps

Thinking about #College? Breaking Down The College Admission Process in 4 easy steps: #hschat


The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) is considered the “gold standard” in providing information to students and college counseling professionals.

{Video} 4 Back to School College Planning Must Do’s

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and that it is almost time to head back to school! If you are the parent of a high school junior or senior, I’m sure that college planning is something that is not far from your mind.

I would like to suggest that students as young as middle school  and their parents should take actionable steps that will ease the fast-approaching college admissions process. As a matter of fact, I will more than suggest that that these steps are taken as soon as the school year starts; instead of “should-dos”, they should be considered “must-dos”.

On or before the first day of school, you MUST:

1.  Check your course selection – Check your student’s course selection for the current school year to make sure that it matches a comprehensive college planning strategy. For example, if your number one college choice suggests that students take at least 5 Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, make sure that you are on track to fulfill those recommended minimums . Make sure you check with your school counseling office to see if you are able to make needed adjustments once the school year has begun.

2.  Develop a testing strategy – If your student is in 10th – 12th grade, s/he should decide exactly what college admissions tests they will take and when. For example, a junior could plan to take the PSAT in October, the SAT I in March and the SAT II (Subject Tests) in May. If your student is in middle school or is a high school freshman, familiarize yourself with the schedule of when college admissions standardized tests are given. SAT and ACT test schedules are usually available about a year in advance and if the exact dates are not available for your child, you can get a general idea of when the tests are usually given (For example, the SAT is typically given the first or second Saturday in October).

3.  Line up your letters of recommendation – If your student is entering senior year, s/he should have already identified and asked potential recommenders. If not, it is crucial to put in a request as soon as possible; your child wants to be one of the first students to ask for a recommendation, not the fiftieth. Students in grades 7 – 11 can kick the year off right by developing a detailed list of all meaningful activities that he/she has participated in. This list will eventually serve as a resume that can tremendously assist anyone who is asked to write a letter of recommendation for them.

4.  Assess your extracurricular activities – Within the first few weeks of school, assess how your child spends time outside of class. While I am not a fan of joining clubs or participating in activities just because they look good to colleges, families should know that potential universities do pay attention to how students spend their non-academic time. If your student is in the 11th or 12th grade, he/she should NOT attempt the transparent strategy of loading up on after-school clubs. Colleges are typically more impressed with students who pick an activity and stick with it for several years, with an increasing amount of leadership responsibilities.

So, in addition to school supplies and new shoes, make sure that you add the items above to your back-to-school checklist.

ACT? SAT? Subject Tests? No Tests? Holy Moly! Who Is Requiring What These Days?

ACT? SAT? Subject Tests? No Tests? Holy Moly! Who Is Requiring What These …
Huffington Post
If I have already taken the SAT, do I need to take the ACT? Which colleges require subject tests?


This article gives specific information about the admissions testing that certain colleges require.

College Applications: A Month-by-Month Timeline for High School Seniors

Senior Year College Application Timeline. Senior year is the busiest time of the college application process. This month-by-month list will help you keep track of important dates and deadlines throughout 12th grade.


Here is a great starting point for all college-bound high school seniors.  Pay particular attention to important deadlines!

The 14 Best Public Colleges For Your Money (#8 is Surprising!)

Fiske Guide to Colleges released its annual list of “best buy” schools last week, selecting the 14 public colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom with the most cost-conscious combinations of academics and afford…


Here is yet another “Best” College list.  I found some of the selections to be quite interesting.

Is School Day SAT Testing a Good Move?

School day SAT testing a good move Many local school districts, including Harlandale, Northside, Southside, Somerset and Southwest ISD, have embraced the School Day SAT, a part of the College and Career Readiness Pathway pro-gram…


The College Board has made many efforts to make the SAT more accessible.  Here is one more way that the test can be made available to more students.

Former Penn State Official Offers Her Best Advice for College-Bound Students

Dr. Tara Scales Williams

Dr. Tara Scales Williams

As I encounter people who have worked in the university setting, I ask them for advice for the College Savvy Community.  Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a former college official who was kind enough to share some insight.

Dr. Tara Scales Williams is a former faculty member and administrator at Pennsylvania State University where she spent many years helping college students. When I asked her about her “best advice for college-bound students”, she provided several pearls of wisdom:

  • Students should know that the admissions process is different from the financial aid process.  With this in mind, students should make an informed choice on where to enroll based on all of the factors involved (academic, college culture, financial, etc.), not just based on an offer of admission.
  • Students should know what funding is available for their sophomore, junior and senior years.  Often students enroll at a university based on promised funds for freshman year and are shocked when they are not eligible for many scholarship and grants as they become upperclassmen.
  • Students should look for a mentor on campus. The benefits of finding someone who can help to navigate campus culture are infinite. It is imperative that students seek someone who can help with the numerous unwritten rules of a particular university in an effort to ensure a smooth transition.

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