Menlo-Atherton High School

Best Advice for the Wait List: Part II

We're back with more advice about the wait list. As one of our counselors put it yesterday, being on a wait list is like flying standby. You haven’t been accepted and you haven’t been denied. You’re in limbo, and that can be stressful. But there are some things you can and should do as you decide whether or not to accept a spot on a waitlist and, at the same time, make plans to move forward.

Here's more guidance from the high school college counselors who answered our Question of the Month: "What is your best advice for students who are waitlisted?" 

Rafael S. Figueroa
Dean of College Guidance
Albuquerque Academy
Albuquerque, New Mexico

You need to look at this situation in two different ways, simultaneously.

1.    Pick a college that admitted you.

Tell them you are attending and send in your deposit. Put the colleges that waitlisted you out of your mind. Move on. Get excited about the college you have chosen, and focus on the great experience you will have there.

2.    Don¹t give up on a waitlist college, if you really want to attend.

Let the college know that you remain very interested. Update them on any new information about you that is relevant to your admission. Be patient. Given the way that waitlist offers trickle down the chain of different schools, offers might not come until July or even August.

What is the best advice for juniors on researching colleges?

In our latest feature, we're asking high school college counselors, independent counselors, deans of admission and other experts, such as financial aid officers and psychologists, to respond to our questions about all things college admission. Then we're bringing you their advice on the subject of the moment -- from essays and scholarships to interviews and extracurriculars -- including words of wisdom, mistakes to avoid, resources such as websites and books and advice on how to handle it all on a day-to-day basis. 

So… "The Question of the Month" for November is:

What is your best advice for juniors on researching colleges?

Alice Kleeman
College Advisor
Menlo-Atherton High School
Atherton, California

My best advice for juniors beginning their college research is not to come to a screeching halt the minute they see the college's posted Cost of Attendance (COA), or “sticker price.” Students might be merrily clicking through a college website, intrigued by engaging course offerings, fun clubs and organizations, and tempting housing options. Suddenly, at the sight of the sticker price, juniors throw up their hands: "Guess I didn't really want to go to that college after all."

Thank you, thank you...

Our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful schools we visited on our swing through the West Coast:

Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon

Woodside High School in Woodside, California

Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California

Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California

Brentwood School in Los Angeles, California

It was a pleasure and honor to speak with your students and parents!

With special thanks to Kathleen Grant, Director of College Counseling at Catlin Gabel School; Principal Diane Burbank of Woodside High School; Charlene Margot, Parent Education Director for Sequoia, Woodside and Menlo-Atherton High Schools; Alice Kleeman, college advisor at Menlo-Atherton High School; and Brentwood School Head of School Michael Riera and Director of College Counseling Dr. Jawaan Wallace and Associate Directors of Counseling Eric Sherman and Sonia Arora.

 

Best Advice from our College Counselors

 

October is the cruelest month for high school college counselors, besieged on all sides with seniors intent on applications and juniors beginning their college search and testing. So we gave the counselors a pass for the month. Instead of our Counselor of the Month feature, we bring you a round-up of best advice from the counselors who have graced our website with their guidance and wisdom. Read on to learn their recommendations for applying and financial aid, mistakes to avoid, guidance for students with learning differences and undocumented students, and do's and don'ts for students -- and parents, as well.  One of our personal favorites?  From Albuquerque Academy's Ralph Figueroa: "Proofread. Spell Czech is knot yore friend and it will betray ewe." See more from Figueroa and others here: 

Alice Kleeman, Menlo-Atherton High School, Atherton, California

What is your best advice for applicants?

Have fun with the process; you have the opportunity to think about who you are and who you want to become. Why shouldn't that be enjoyable?

 

Jayne Caflin Fonash, Academy of Science, Loudoun County, Virginia

What is the biggest mistake you see students make in applying to college?

College Admission Hits the Road

College Admission is hitting the road...

Robin Mamlet will be speaking this week at the College Board Annual Forum in Miami, Florida, with the College Board's Shelley Arakawa, Derrick Kang of the Mid-Pacific Institute, Todd Abbott of RuffaloCODY, and Jarrid Whitney of CalTech.

Christine VanDeVelde is headed to California, where she will speak to students and parents at Menlo-Atherton High School and Mountain View-Los Altos High School.

 

Do Sweat the Small Stuff! Part 2

Today, Alice Kleeman continues her excellent blog post about the "small stuff" that can trip up a college application process. Here are more of the frequently glossed-over college-related tasks that can make a difference:

  • Your name

        Seems like a simple question, right?  But maybe you are Maria Juana Ortiz on your birth certificate, and Maria J. Ortiz at school, MJ to your friends, and Maria Juana Ortiz-Santos to your extended family.  Maybe you think that doesn’t matter.  But when a college is trying to join your SAT or ACT scores to your file; when a financial-aid office is trying to figure out whether the aid application it received belongs to you or someone else; when your diploma and final transcript carry different names -- under those circumstances, the name you provide can cause serious delays in processing important paperwork.  Choose one name for the college process and use it every time. 

        Since the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) requires you to use the name on your Social Security card, you might as well use that one across the board.

        •     Application “extras”

DO Sweat the Small Stuff!

You’ve planned your strategy:  Take challenging classes—check!  Tackle the SAT or ACT and send your scores to colleges—check!  Choose teachers who know you well to write your letters of recommendation—check!  Create a college list and pare it down to a reasonable number—check!  Write that 500-word Common App essay—check!  Create an activities list—check!

Take care of those tasks, and you’ll be at the finish line, right?

Maybe not.  Many students, after tackling the college-related tasks they perceive to be most important, begin to relax and take the “small stuff” less seriously.  But taking the “small stuff” seriously can often make a real difference.

Consider some of the following frequently glossed-over college-related tasks:

•     Written communication

        Do you have a professional e-mail address (or at least one that’s not sketchy) to use when communicating with colleges?  An off-color address can create a questionable impression. 

        Are you prepared to write to college-admission offices in “real English,” not with texting shortcuts or slang?  u better b! 

Who fares best in applying to college?

Earlier this week, a student from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, wrote a column for Patch.com with a refrain familiar to many—a lament for the more carefree days before the pressure and stress of preparing to apply to college seemed to take over her life.

"It seems like everything I do, sign up for, and participate in is because it somehow will look good on my college application. I volunteer for just about as much as I can muster. I am trying to find my ‘angle’…" Dearborn wrote.

Alice Kleeman, who heads the College and Career Center at Menlo-Atherton High School in neighboring Atherton, California, was struck by the column and emailed us her thoughts. We couldn't have said it better, so we wanted to share her response with you:

Essay Lab: Word Counts and Krispy Kremes, Some Advice

We're going to send you off into the Thanksgiving holiday with the following excellent advice about college application essays from Alice Kleeman, a contributor to College Admission and the college advisor at Silicon Valley's Menlo-Atherton High School. Ms. Kleeman knows her way around the personal statement and short answers of the application. She estimates she has read the essays of several hundred students each year for the last eighteen years. The two best?  "There was one about Krispy Kreme donuts and one about a student's job in a hardware store. I like that contrast!" says Kleeman. "Most important thing: The essay is all about you."

Her advice:

•             Respond to the prompt! And if it's a two-part prompt, be sure to respond to both parts.   Example: "Tell us about your world; what impact does your world have on your hopes and dreams?"

•             Don’t hesitate, if you’re working on the Common App 500-word-max essay, to choose “Topic of Your Choice” as your prompt.  That choice may help you respond more naturally and feel less confined to canned topics.