• Chasing Perfect

    Posted by Shannon Freeborn on 9/2/2021 12:35:00 PM

    For some students, the pursuit of “perfect” permeates many aspects of their lives, from academics to athletics to curating the ideal Instagram post. Not only is this mindset hard to sustain, it often keeps students from being fully present or feeling completely satisfied. Chasing perfection can be particularly frustrating in the context of college admissions.

    Students often believe there are “perfect” activities or “perfect” GPAs and classes needed to get into a specific college. As a result, they mistakenly think they can gain admission if they do all the “right” things. Yet, the very mindset of “if I do all these things, I should get in” is not what the college application process is about. 

    In the world of college admissions, just like in life, perfect doesn’t exist. There are no “perfect” activities. There is no “perfect” combination of rigor, GPA, and test scores that will guarantee you admission to your dream school.  

    According to Christina Lopez, Dean of Enrollment Management at Barnard, “There are incredible applicants, but there are no perfect applicants, just like there are no perfect people. Within every applicant, some aspects are great fits for the institution and others are not.”

    The reason for this? What each college is looking for is nuanced. While all schools look for great fits based on their admissions needs, institutional priorities, and mission statement, each school has admission priorities that vary year to year. For instance, in any given year, a college may be looking for a cellist, a classics major, or a game designer—there is no way to know.  

    As a result, trying to craft yourself into a “perfect” college applicant will not work (and will likely be counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish). According to Mike Devlin, Director of Admissions at Stanford, “For many, perfection means checking off all the boxes they think colleges want and striving to be perfect at these pieces. And that is just not a healthy way to be. Sadly, it can also hinder your chances at admission because you should explore what you are passionate about and what you want to do and engage in those things. That is what will make you a better applicant.”

    Also, just as there are no perfect applicants, there are also no perfect colleges. Simply because a college is highly selective or has a prestigious reputation does not mean it is the right school for you. 

    If perfection is not the goal in life or in the college you go to, then what is? Your high school years and the college application process are about learning skills and developing your interests with the goal of figuring out who you are and what the next phase of your life might look like. So, instead of chasing perfect, chase yourself. Listen to yourself. What are you passionate about? What excites you?  If you do what you love, research schools, build a balanced college list, and apply to institutions where your personality aligns with their guiding mission— THAT is your best chance for admission and will also end up being where you are happiest.

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  • A Guide to Determining Fit for Students with Learning Differences

    Posted by Shannon Freeborn on 3/2/2021
    The idea of college, and all that word connotes, is often overwhelming for students and parents. From applications to transitioning to a new life on a college campus, the college process comes with a myriad of academic, social, and emotional challenges and triumphs. The idea of college, and all that word connotes, takes on a unique set of circumstances and concerns for the families of, and students with, learning differences. 
    Because learning differences are lifelong and can affect all areas of an individual’s life— academic, social, emotional—it is essential to find a collegiate environment that can provide the appropriate level of services and accommodations that are not only required by law but necessary to ensure student success. 
    Determining Fit
    The level of services and types of accommodations necessary for a student with learning differences to be successful in an educational environment varies significantly from person to person, depending on the type and severity of their disability. For this reason, there is not a “one size fits all” approach. 
    For all students, there must be a marriage of fit and match. How is a school a fit for a student’s unique set of likes and dislikes? How does their academic history match with the school’s statistics and acceptance data? In addition to traditional fit criteria, a significant consideration for students with learning differences is the level of services provided by an institution and how those services align with a student’s individualized learning needs. 
    The level of intended services should be commensurate with the support a student received in high school. For example, students receiving the highest level of high school support through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) should consider an equally high or higher level of academic college support. During high school, most students have built-in support systems in family, friends, and community. While transitioning to college, students not only have to manage their own learning needs but, for many, also balance all of their executive functioning demands for the first time. Combining these two factors in a new learning environment can be challenging. High school students with a lower level of support, called a 504 Plan mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, may be academically successful at a college providing basic accommodations.
    Consequently, it is essential to assess students’ level of accommodations in high school and target the appropriate tier of services necessary for college success.
    Tiers of Services
    Support provided by an institution falls into three general categories: Tier One (basic accommodations required under the American’s with Disabilities Act), Tier Two (Coordinated Services beyond basic 504 accommodations mandated under the ADA), and Tier Three (Structured Comprehensive Programs). 
    Tier One | Accommodations
    At this level of support, colleges are required to provide under federal ADA mandates for students who have physical or learning disabilities. This is the level of support available at most colleges and universities around the country. For instance, services offered may include but are not limited to extended testing time for students with processing disorders, preferred seating, lecture notes, and books on tape. In general, these are basic accommodations similar to the types of accommodations students with a 504 Plan have received in high school. Tier One support works well for students with strong self-advocacy skills.
    Tier Two | Coordinated Services level support
    This is a step up from basic accommodations. Students must meet the same admission requirements as all other students and then apply for services. Coordinated services may include but are not limited to coaching and or tutoring in specific subjects (typically writing and math), assistance with planning, academic skills, syllabi, calendar coordinating, time management, and other executive functioning strategies. This support level could be appropriate for both students who had IEP’s in high school and students with high school 504 Plans. As a general rule, institutions with Coordinated Services are a good fit for strong self-advocates, especially if students have an accurate sense of when they are starting to get overwhelmed by the academic workload and seek help before tests and exams. This tier of service works for students who understand their learning challenges and have found successful workarounds while in high school. Services may or may not be an extra fee outside of regular tuition.
    Tier Three | Structured Comprehensive Programs
    This is the highest support available at the collegiate level. These programs are limited in number and typically require extra tuition and or fees. Students share their disability upfront and apply both for admission to the college and admission to the program. Typically, students enrolled in comprehensive programs meet individually with a trained professional, such as a learning specialist, a minimum of once or twice a week. Instruction provides students strategies to supplement learning and create a detailed plan for success. Typically, comprehensive programs serve students with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, processing issues, and ADD/ADHD. In general, comprehensive programs are ideal for students who understand their challenges and know they need significant support and regular, mandatory prearranged opportunities to check in with a professional to be successful. This support level is appropriate for students with an IEP in high school and/or part of the school’s Learning Skills program. 
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  • HBCUs

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 2/2/2021
    Kamala Harris is the first female, the first Black, the first-person of South-Asian descent to serve as Vice President of the United States. But did you know she is also the first Vice President to have graduated from an HBCU?
    A proud graduate of Howard University, Harris attributes Howard, a world-renowned Historically Black College (HBCU), for helping nurture her into the powerful woman she is today and setting the seeds for many of the positions and policies that define her career. According to Harris, “There’s something special about the investment that an HBCU places in its students,” the staunch HBCU advocate says. “It’s about the nurturing. It’s about refining. It’s about all that goes into making someone transition from being a child into an adult.”
    HBCUs, like Harris’s alma mater, encompass over 100 public and private institutions established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the primary purpose of educating Black Americans. Most of these institutions were founded after the American Civil War and are concentrated in the Southern United States. For a century after the end of slavery, most colleges and universities in the South prohibited Blacks from attending. At the same time, institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit Black student admissions. HBCUs were established to meet the educational needs of Black students who previously had negligible opportunities to attend college. Still equally rich in history and tradition, today HBCUs are more diverse than when founded initially. Contrary to popular belief, HBCUs educate students of all races and ethnicities.
    With that said, HBCUs are considered Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). MSIs are colleges and universities whose mission is to serve students from minority backgrounds. HBCUs comprise 3% of America's higher education institutions, yet enroll 16% of all Black students in higher education and award 24% of all baccalaureate degrees earned by Black students nationwide. Additionally, Miramonte students have submitted 40 applications to HBCUs over the last four years. See a full list of HBCUs and links to school websites here.  
    The multi-layered HBCUs provide an exceptional educational experience that fosters an understanding of and appreciation for the Black experience in America. When considering college fit, HBCUs provide unique perspectives and experiences:
    • Diversity: HBCUs offer a deep dive into diversity within the Black diaspora. While most of the students are Black, many are not. Students come from a wide range of socioeconomic, religious, and family backgrounds from all over the U.S. and world. 
    • Social Justice: As centers of academic excellence and community-building, HBCUs advocate for racial equity and social justice. HBCUs programs focus on creating civic-minded leaders for the next generation.
    • Values: HBCUs are rooted in faith, community, and service. The history and life of Black colleges intertwine with social justice, religion, values, and service to others.
    • Community: With HBCUs’ particular focus, HBCUs provide a college experience surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and beliefs. HBCUs foster support and understanding among faculty and fellow students. 
    • Affordability: HBCU tuition rates are on average almost 30 percent less than comparable institutions — that’s why they’re considered the best buy in education. At a time when parents and students are more concerned than ever about the cost of attending college, HBCUs deliver higher returns at a lower price.
    • Location: The majority of the HBCUs are located in the Southeastern states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. 
    • Common Black College Application: Students can apply to 60 of the HBCUs by completing just one application: the Common Black College Application (CBCA). The Common Black College Application allows students to submit a single application to all participating member institutions for $20, interact with school counselors, and learn more about HBCUs.
    HBCUs have cultivated leaders and visionaries like W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr. As we celebrate Black History month, take a moment and explore the HBCU experience—listen to President Barack Obama’s 2020 HBCUs commencement speech. His words provide valuable insight into HBCUs, their institutional priorities, and their missions!
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  • UCs and CSUs 2020

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 10/11/2020
    There is no question much has changed and continues to change in the world of college admissions for Fall 2021. My advice...control what you can and trust that admissions representatives understand there has been a great deal of community disruption, and will not hold what you can not control against you. One aspect you can control is staying informed and checking school websites regularly for updates.


    What Stayed the Same
    Comprehensive Review (Holistic)
    • As always, UC campuses look for strong grades, course preparation, and a comprehensive educational experience. The UCs have and will continue to assess students through a system of comprehensive review. See link
    • Students are evaluated holistically within the context of their environment. For Fall 2021, the comprehensive review process includes academic accomplishments, personal achievements, and personal insight questions (PIQ’s). 
    • The importance placed on each category can vary by the UC campus. See link
    You control what information you provide. There are no letters of recommendation or counselor reports for the UCs. Think of your application as your resume and your PIQs as your interview on paper. Provide detail, insight, and depth, so admissions representatives get a 360-degree view of who you are and how you meet their comprehensive review factors.
    What is Different
    Grades for Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020
    *Although a student will not receive an extra point in the GPA calculation, the UC-approved honors courses (including AP) are still considered in the comprehensive review as taking a challenging curriculum. 
    SAT and ACT Test Scores
    • Test scores are NOT required for Fall 2021 admission
    • If you choose to send scores, they may be considered “value-added,” but UCs will not penalize students for not sending scores. 
    • Currently, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis will NOT look at standardized testing in their admissions process. For other campuses, it is important to monitor their websites closely as the situation evolves.
    • Test scores may be used for post-enrollment course placement.
    *On September 1, 2020, a California State Court judge issued a preliminary injunction stating that the UC system may not use standardized scores in admissions. The legal case is still pending, but at a minimum, UCs are test-optional (scores are not required, but strong scores can help) and may become test-blind.


    What Stayed the Same
    Index Review
    • Acceptance to CSU campuses is based on GPA and “A-G” coursework (students self-report grades).
    • No essays or activities lists are required (some campuses ask students to report the number of hours spent on extracurricular activities and/or work experience).
    What is Different
    New Deadline
    • The priority application period for the Fall 2021 semester opens on Thursday, October 1, 2020, and closes on Friday, December 4, 2020.
    NO SAT and ACT Test Scores
    • The CSUs have temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission purposes. 
    • If SAT and ACT test scores are submitted, the CSU will use scores for placement in English and mathematics courses. Please visit the CSU Student Success site for additional information on placement. 
    • If you have not taken a test, you can opt-out of the Standardized Tests section of Cal State Apply.
    New Admissions policy
    • The CSU will consider course grades of “credit" or “pass" as fulfilling “a-g" requirements for those courses completed during winter, spring, or summer 2020 terms.
    • Grades of credit/pass or no credit/no pass will not be included in the calculation of high school GPA.
    • First-time freshmen for the term of fall 2021 must earn a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
    • Students earning a GPA between 2.00 and 2.49 may be evaluated for admission based upon supplemental factors. Check individual campuses.
    • To find more information on the admission requirements for Fall 2021, please visit the First-time Freshman Guidance
    • Impaction means that there are more qualified applicants for a program or campus than can be accommodated. For the most current information, visit the CSU Impaction center.
    • Campuses and programs designated as impacted may utilize higher “a-g” GPA thresholds for applicants, as well as identify supplemental criteria and their relative weights in making admission decisions (students will be prompted to answer supplemental questions on the application, but will not have to submit any additional materials).
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  • Finding Your Fit in a Virtual World

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 9/30/2020
    Researching colleges takes time and a lot of self-reflection. Trying to discover which colleges fit can be complicated in a world where campuses are closed. The ability to get a good sense of the culture is harder and that gut instinct that drives so many when they step foot on a campus is missing. Thankfully colleges are aware of the challenges and have a growing commitment to provide virtual experiences like never before. The key is to uncover the resources so you know where to turn to create an experience for yourself that will allow you to find the right fit. 
    1. Virtual Tours and Information Sessions Master Spreadsheet- Colleges have a continued commitment to making sure prospective students have access to information. Virtual tours and information sessions are designed to provide insight on various levels ranging from admission requirements and statistics to culture. Many colleges have even added student panels, professor panels and much more. This spreadsheet is a great quick-reference resource that links to schools’ official YouTube channels, plus CampusReel, YOUniversityTV, and YouVisit pages for hundreds of colleges. (Many thanks to Rebecca Chabrow for pulling this together.)
    2. Connect to recent Miramonte Alumni - In the spring we reached out to recent Miramonte alumni to see if they would be willing to speak with our current students about their colleges. I encourage seniors to reach out to their once fellow classmates to get an insider’s perspective. 
    3. CampusReel.org - Lots of college virtual tours are not touching on what the campus is really like. They provide insight into how one particular college’s biology program sits in the rankings or hear about the student to teacher ratio. But CampusReel tours are led by current students, usually on their phone (selfie-style), so you get invited right into their dorm room, classroom, or dining hall.
    4. CollegeXpress.com - If you are still trying to hone your college list, this website offers the ability to do a college search based on specific criteria. Maybe search “Most spirited Schools” or “Private Colleges for B Students.” Get creative, have fun and explore.
    5. Other online resources
    • Youniversity - Students can click on tabs such as “safest campuses,” “most diverse campuses” and “top academic colleges,” as well as “best campus food” and “coolest dorms.”
    • YouVisit - Can put students in the stands or on the playing field to get a simulated experience of being an athlete there.
    Although it might feel as if there has been an enormous shift the reality is that thousands of students every year decide where to apply and even commit to attending colleges before setting foot on campus. Remember, when it comes time to choose the college you want to attend, doing your research is one of the most valuable tools you have. The choice is ultimately yours to make so go for it, feel confident and know you have options.
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  • School Is Out - How Should I Spend My Summer?

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 2/3/2020
    The summer is traditionally a time to unwind and disconnect from the hectic schedule of the school year. It can also be a time to explore a new interest or pursue a passion. Students may be unsure of what they should be doing during the summer months and which activities are of the most value to colleges. The good news is, from a college admission perspective, there is no wrong activity. As long as the student is engaged in something, whether it's staying home to babysit siblings, taking a class (non-academic is fine!), traveling, working a job or an internship, it can all be of value.
    Oftentimes I am asked if the courses offered through pre-college programs will help give a leg-up on the path to admission. The truth is that while those programs can be a valuable learning experience, they are not necessarily a path to admission. Those summer programs have no bearing on whether a student will be admitted to the host college. However, with all the options available it can be difficult to choose. Adding to that is the thought that the time between freshman and sophomore year might look different than the summer between junior and senior year. As you sort through the potential plans here are some things to consider:
    Rising Sophomore Summer: Explore! Try different things, follow your interests to find out what resonates with you. Some ideas: go to camp, do things with your family, attend a summer enrichment program, volunteer or get a job if it sounds interesting.
    Rising Juniors Summer: Delve into what interests you, get curious, dig down a level. Is there a volunteer opportunity, internship, job or class that relates to your interests?
    Rising Senior Summer: Continue to do something meaningful with your interest. Perhaps it's continuing your job or internship from last summer, perhaps it's engaging with another aspect of your interest through research or volunteering. Just remember, leave time this summer to start brainstorming and outlining your admission essays!
    To further help with the process, we have compiled a list of summer opportunities. It is organized by areas of interest and is a great place to start. Some of them have an application process so be sure to look through the information for important deadlines. In the end, the most important factor in determining how to spend the summer is to remember what gets you excited and that this is an opportunity to try something new or continue to do something you love. Both are great!
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  • Advice from the Class of 2019 to the Class of 2020

    Posted by Harper Orr on 9/1/2019

    Dear Miramonte Class of 2020,


    With the talk of college applications in full bloom, I thought it might be a great time to give some advice from what I learned over the last year. Throughout my junior and senior years, my older friends never hesitated to give me advice on the college application process. At the time, I ignored most of it. Now, after a year of watching triumphs and heartbreaks, I have similar advice. I know that the college process can seem daunting, but I hope that with some advice from past seniors, you can avoid some of the stress that the college application process brings. 


    The college process as a whole brings on a lot of different emotions. At times, you can feel hopeless, but by the end, hopefully, you will finish feeling triumphant. When I was applying to college last year, I made the mistake of falling in love with one school. I was so enamored by it that I applied early. When I got deferred, I felt like I would never find the right college for me. I lacked the perspective that I have now. Looking back, it wasn’t a school where I would have thrived. My new perspective has helped reinforce my belief that everyone ends up where they are meant to be. Over the last year, some of my friends faced the worst rejection they had ever felt. Now, they are all at college, and could not be happier with the final result. My biggest advice to seniors is to keep an open mind to different or unexpected possibilities. If you do your best to not get stuck on one college, you will eliminate a lot of stress from the whole process. 


    If you don’t take my advice, hopefully, some advice from other graduates from the Class of 2019 will help make your college process easier!


    ❋ Get applications done by Thanksgiving because I saw many friends stress over it during Winter Break. - Declan Brady


    ❋ Find a college that accommodates what you’re looking for, not one that seems easy to go to or prestigious. And when you do find that place, apply using your interests as the main point. - Malcolm Tom


    ❋ Don’t be stressed, and don’t compare yourself to others! - Ethan Yen


    ❋ Write essay outlines during the summer. Research various college policies on AP credit. Take virtual or real tours of campuses. It’s the simple things; stuff that I was too lazy to do at the time. - Alexander Chen


    ❋ Make a list of dates that you need to have stuff done by and work backwards from there because that would have reduced a lot of stress for me. - Emily Huston


    ❋ If you don't get into your ED school, don't panic and apply to too many safety schools. You have to trust the process; you'll end up where you're meant to end up. - Maya Harrison


    ❋ Be productive and get your essays done quickly. Don't compare where you're applying to the schools that your friends are applying to. - Anna Wong

    ❋ Don't be worried if you don't get into your dream school because there will always be a school that fits you best. - Vanessa Lam
    ❋ Stay organized and make yourself a calendar. - Sara Aoki
    Harper Orr - Class of 2019 
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  • It's Time to Make the Final College Decision... but What About the Waitlist?

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 4/1/2019
    April marks the end of the college process. The last nine months have been filled with creating college lists, traveling to schools, hundreds of essay edits, applications, and long weeks and months of waiting. Seniors have been asked more times than they can count about where they applied, what their top choice might be and the dreaded " Have you heard from any colleges, yet?" question. All of that has brought them to this moment. It's decision time.
    For some this could be the hardest part of the whole process. Students might worry about disappointing their parents or missing home. Parents may be thinking about the expense of college and saying goodbye to the child they raised over the last 18 years. It's easy to get lost in the idea that there is only ONE choice. The reality is there are likely multiple great options and looking at them through the lens of an accepted student is often different than that of an applicant. When sorting through options there are things to consider before making a final decision and putting down a deposit including:
    • Revisit your notes. Hopefully you kept a notebook of your thoughts after visiting or researching the college. Look through those notes again and see what still resonates.
    • Make a pros and cons list. Looking at the pros and cons through the eyes of an admitted student may be different than that of an applicant. Consider what is important now.
    • Review financial aid packages. Compare the total cost for each school. Detail out scholarships, grants and loans. Remember loans need to paid back upon graduation where scholarships and grants do not.
    • Attend an admitted student day. This is particularly for those schools that are on the top of the list. Typically there will be an opportunity to see aspects of the campus you likely didn't see before including: residence halls, dining facilities, and classes in session. This is also a perfect time to meet fellow Class of 2023 students.
    • Look beyond the name of the school. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the name of the college and overlook what really matters. Will you be happy there?
    Being waitlisted is like the limbo of college admissions. You’re not in, but you’re not out. You are qualified, but they don’t have room in the class for you. But they might... eventually.
    As students deposit on May 1, colleges will begin filling seats, but they may or may not fill their entire freshman class. They will also be looking to shape their class in specific ways (e.g. create a gender balance, enroll more of a specific major, increase geographic diversity, bring in students who don't need financial aid, etc.).That’s when the waitlist comes into play. If you were waitlisted from your top school, here are some tips on what to do next:
    • Get excited about your other options and enroll. Historically, the likelihood of being admitted from the waitlist is small but this estimate changes year to year so it's tough to predict. Hopefully your college list has some other strong options for you, so get pumped about your second choice and be sure to enroll in another school by May 1 to secure a seat. If you get the call that you are off the waitlist some point after that, then you will have a choice to make.
    • Read your waitlist letter carefully! Colleges provide instructions on how to indicate interest in remaining on the waitlist, usually through clicking a link in your student portal, filling out a form or survey online, or returning a postcard. Discuss the options with your parents/guardians.
    • Financial aid becomes a factor. If you need financial aid, be aware that the waitlist college may have given out most of its aid already.
    • Do some research. Your letter may also indicate the historical waitlist data for that college – this will help you understand how likely (or unlikely) it is that you may be taken off the waitlist. Be sure to know about how coming off the waitlist will affect your housing options and financial aid. You may want to call the school to find out.
    • Keep doing well in school! Colleges may request that waitlist applicants send updated 3rd quarter grades and final transcripts. Strong grades could make a difference in helping a school make a decision on you should they need to go to their waitlist.
    • In mid-April, reconsider your waitlist option. Is it still your top choice? Have you fallen in love with another school? If you decide you are no longer interested in the school, please remove yourself from the waitlist and free up that spot for another student.
    • Don’t be passive! If you are still interested in your waitlist school, you should send a thoughtful email to admissions to further express why the school is your top choice and the best fit for you. Be sure to inform them of any updates to your application profile such as improved grades, new awards, and other signs of significant academic or extracurricular progress. If you are not seeking financial aid, you can let them know that too.
    • Be sure to follow directions set forth by the college. Resist the urge to bombard them with phone calls, letters, or unwanted supplemental materials, like another letter of recommendation. They know who you are – they need to see how their class shapes up before they go to the waitlist.
    • Relax and enjoy the rest of senior year. Attend Admitted Student Days for schools you were accepted to and fall in love with them! You have other great options. 


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  • 7 Tips To Get The Most Out Of The College Tour

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 3/1/2019
    For many juniors and sophomores, the spring season means it is a great time to visit colleges. Campus tours are often the best opportunity to research schools and discover what characteristics you like in colleges. Many colleges offer multiple options for visiting their campus. They can range from on-campus tours with information sessions to mini-tours of a department within the college, to becoming a student for a day. One thing they all have in common is campus tours will highlight the best features of the school. However, visiting multiple colleges can be costly as it may mean hopping on a plane or driving long distances. If possible, visit the colleges you are strongly considering and leave the rest to a virtual tour. Should you be accepted to colleges you did not get a chance to visit, that's ok. Many colleges offer accepted student days prior to making a final decision by May 1st. No matter when you visit there are ways to dig deeper and get the most out of the experience. Below are seven tips for making the most out of the college tour experience.
    1. When To Go
    The best time to visit campus is when school is in session. This will give you a front row seat to the students and what life is like at the college. Generally, this means during spring break since colleges usually have a different spring break than Miramonte.
    2. Pay Attention To How You Feel
    Sometimes it’s a gut feeling that arises when walking around the campus. While on the tour ask yourself "Can I see myself here?"
    3. Talk To Your Tour Guide
    They are the best source of information. Ask them questions like:
    • How much time do students spend studying a week?
    • How often do students work together on class projects or assignments?
    • How accessible are faculty members?
    • Where do upperclassmen usually live?
    • Is it hard to make friends? How many people go home on weekends or commute to school?
    • What did you do last weekend?
    • What are some of the more popular extracurricular activities on campus?
    • Could we see a classroom?
    • What percentage of freshman get the courses they want?
    The tour guide is a great resource for all the questions you really want answered but may not want to ask the admissions office.
    4. Pretend You Are Lost
    After the tour is over, venture out on your own. Pretend like you are lost and ask a student for directions. This is a great way to get to know how open and friendly the students are on campus.
    5. Pick Up a School Newspaper
    Reading the school newspaper or checking out the flyers around campus provides an insight into the social life of the students and what is important to them.
    6. Visit the Bookstore
    Many college bookstores employ students. They are a great resource for information and will likely provide a different perspective than the tour guide. Spark conversation and ask questions like, "What is your favorite part of college life?" or "What is it like to study your major?"
    7. Take Notes
    This is likely one of the most important tips. After two years and numerous college tours, it is very difficult to remember the details of your experience. Once you return from the tour take five minutes to write down your thoughts. What stood out to you? What did you like about the college? How did you feel about the students? Could you see yourself as a student there and why? Keeping notes will prove to be an invaluable tool as you make decisions on where to apply and ultimately where to attend college.
    Through it all, it's important to remember that visiting a college is not a requirement for admission. It is merely an opportunity to get a closer glimpse of what life might be like as a student. So, if you are lucky enough to step foot onto campus before applying, make sure you get all you can out of the visit!
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  • Helping with the Rising Costs of College Tuition: An Overview of Scholarships

    Posted by Stephanie Brady on 2/1/2019
    The cost of college tuition has hit record highs over the last few years and is continuing an upward trend. With price tags ranging from $20,000 - 70,000 a year, scholarships are an important part of the financial aid process. While there are tuition savings programs such as WUE to consider, there are also thousands of scholarships available. Scholarships can range from $100 to help pay for textbooks, to full-tuition scholarships given by universities and large organizations. The key is understanding the options and knowing where to find them.
    Categories of scholarships
    Merit: Merit scholarships are awarded on various factors of success such as leadership involvement, community service, athletics, GPA or other skills.
    Need-based: Need-based scholarships are often determined based on a families income. Many universities and organizations use FAFSA or the CSS Profile to determine a students financial need.
    Types of scholarships
    University Scholarships
    Most universities and colleges will offer both merit and financial need scholarships. Depending on the school, a student might automatically be considered for scholarships when applying while some require a separate application. These details can be found on individual university websites.
    Athletic Scholarships
    Only about 0.12% of all high school athletes receive a full ride athletic scholarship to a university. Athletic scholarships are merit in nature, as they solely depend on a students athletic ability. Scholarship money for athletics is allowed within Division I and Division II by the NCAA regulations.
    ROTC is a college program offered at over 1,700 colleges and universities that comes with a military service obligation upon accepting a scholarship. Different branches of the military offer a variety of scholarships ranging from full tuition to smaller partial scholarships.
    Company & Non-profit Organization Scholarships
    Within this category, there are scholarships given by organizations such as Boy and Girl Scouts, Rotary Club, and Coca-Cola. If you are a parent, check to see if your employer offers scholarships. Also check with any organizations or professional memberships you are a part of to see what they might offer. Many companies and organizations will offer scholarships to a specific high school or county, which reduces competition and increases the chances of your student winning.
    When to start the process
    August of senior year is a good time to begin the scholarship search process. With most scholarship application deadlines occurring in March starting early provides ample time to sort through the options. It also allows you to not miss any of the early deadlines for bigger scholarships like Coca-Cola or Boy Scouts of America whose deadlines both fall in October.
    Where to look
    When doing a search for scholarships please note there are some scholarship scams. A good rule of thumb is if the scholarship requires you to pay to apply or asks for your social security number it is a scam. There are also many reputable sites for national scholarships that house many options including:
    Additionally there are some popular local scholarships to consider :
    • Assistance League of Diablo Valley High School Scholarships - Up to $6,000 - Due March 18th
    • Rotary Scholarships - Up to $2,000
    • AAUW - $2,000 - Due March 1st
    With hundreds of scholarship options available, the cost of attending college can be reduced. It may be a smaller award used to pay for books or a larger one to significantly offset tuition. The key is knowing where to look, as well as, having the patience to sort through the information and complete the applications. In the end, any scholarship helps. For a full article on scholarships and where to find them, please see  ‘ How to Get a Full Ride Scholarship 
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