Students Squeeze this Summer for All It’s Worth

Students Squeeze this Summer for All It’s Worth

Holy cow, it’s the middle of June already! With COVID-related impacts, this summer isn’t quite what most high-school students and parents planned. Most of the students and families we know have been handed more than a few lemons. Sports, camps, summer jobs and travel are restricted or put on hold. But lemons make for tasty lemonade when it comes to summertime college planning progress. Summer college planning isn’t cancelled! Now’s the time to squeeze in college planning and ACT Test Prep before summer slips away! Get ahead of the game with ACT Test Prep, College Search, College Applications & Essays, and Guidance for Prospective Student Athletes.

Keep reading for ideas for every grade and stage to squeeze all you can out of this summer! During summer, you don’t have AP classes, sports, after-school activities and homework keeping you busy. Check ACT Test Prep and college planning, even college applications and essays off your list! You’ll thank yourself when fall comes and your schedule’s back in full swing.

Seniors Slam Dunk College Applications & Essays this Summer

Class of 2021 College PlanningIf you’re graduating in 2021, you’re a legit high-school senior now! While you can’t hit submit until fall for most schools, you can do everything else right now! Set up your Common App account, get organized, collect all your college applications materials, even write that killer essay this summer. Save yourself stress this fall. We can help with our College Applications & Essays Bootcamp and other College Applications Guidance services.

Rising seniors thinking about retaking the ACT exam have time to prep and boost scores for the July 18 or September 12 ACT exam and still get your score back in time for Early Action college application deadlines.

If you need help finalizing your college shopping cart for fall applications, summer’s the time to do it! While COVID put the brakes on in-person college campus visits, schools have responded with a wider array of virtual visit options than ever before. If you need College Search guidance, now’s the time to get help before college applications peak season this fall.

Schedule a free consult now to make senior year smooth sailing!

Juniors Knock Out ACT Test Prep This Summer

Class of 2022, knock out ACT Test Prep this summer! Many rising juniors and their parents don’t realize that you don’t HAVE to wait until the state-mandated ACT exam the spring of your junior year. For many soon-to-be juniors, summer’s a much easier time to devote energy to ACT Test Prep than fall or winter. We work with a ton of rising juniors, as well as rising seniors each summer who want to make productive use of summer free time to check a killer ACT score off their list of things to do.

Rising juniors should also focus on defining and finding the University of You™, that dream school that sets the standard for what you want, need, don’t want and don’t need in your ideal college experience. Once you’ve defined the University of You™, you’ll know exactly what you’re shopping for. Summer’s the ideal time for College Search, so you can get clear about what you’re shopping for and line up amazing options, including hidden gems and high-value colleges that will reward you for your academic and other achievements with merit aid that makes college more affordable. All year, but especially during the summer, our college GPS, Tom Kleese, is on the hunt for great options for our students. Nothing pleases Tom more than unearthing a school that you’ve never heard of that fits the bill just right.

Prospective student athletes entering junior year this fall are getting serious about finding the right team and right school for you. It can help to have some guidance about how and when to reach out to coaches, how to tackle plans for camps and clinics, especially in light of COVID-related restrictions and impacts. You can contact our Coach for Prospective Student Athletes, Stephanie Barth, to learn exactly what you should be doing, when and how to get noticed by your schools and teams of interest. Schedule a free consult to fast-forward your college recruiting path.

For DIY-ers who just need the right co-pilot, online college coaching can be just the ticket. Join College-Bound Confidence for college planning training & tools month after month on every topic and skill you’ll need to navigate every step of the journey from freshman year to making a confident college choice as a senior.

Sophomores Start Strong Now

Class of 2023 College PlanningRising sophomores (those who’ll be sophomores this year) are smart to schedule a FREE ACT Practice Exam to satisfy your curiosity about what this big old test is all about. An ACT Practice Exam helps you understand what it’s like to sit for a three and a half-hour exam, and shows you exactly how you’ll do, and where you might need help once you’re ready to prepare next year. Our practice exams include a free consult where we’ll review your exam results with you and your parents.

Sophomores and their parents are also super smart to come in for a free consult to get the answers you need to make the path smooth and stress-free between now and when you’re ready to get serious about college planning. Our clients tell us that the free consult was super helpful in addressing everything from AP classes to how to do college campus visits well, and that starting the conversation early really helped reduce stress and lend focus and direction to their college planning efforts.

For prospective student athletes, sophomore year is key for outreach to college coaches, as well as taking it to the next level in competitions, practice and in thinking about what comes after high school. Athletes often benefit from guidance on next steps for College Athletic Recruiting before or once they hit sophomore year. You can schedule a free consult with Stephanie Barth if you’d like to learn more.

Freshmen Fast-Track Your Progress With Focus on Academics

Class of 2024 College PlanningParents of students who’ll be freshmen this fall LOVE free consults with us, where you can count on us to echo some of the key messages you’ve been sharing at home, like “turn in your homework because it all counts day one!” Come in for a free consult to get the answers you need.

For student athletes, the summer before your freshman year of high school is also a great time to consider whether you might want to pursue college athletics. While you certainly don’t need to make any decisions or commitments any time soon, starting early means you can set yourself up for great options later. Our Coaching for College-Bound Athletes helps outline the steps you can take at every grade and stage now throughout your high school career.

Parents of new high school students also benefit greatly from easing into the college conversation with College-Bound Confidence. There’s no better way to keep the pulse on all things college planning than with fresh training, tools and insights, month after month!

For every grade and stage, you can squeeze this summer for all it’s worth and make it your best summer yet!

Game Plan for Prospective Student Athletes Stuck at Home

Game Plan for Prospective Student Athletes Stuck at Home

On April 1, 2020, the NCAA announced it will extend the current recruiting dead period through May 31, a move that was also taken in Division I. Institutional staff members are permitted to communicate with prospective student-athletes by phone or email during this time but cannot engage in in-person recruiting on or off campus. You can read the media release here.

This has significant implications for prospective student athletes still in high school during a time when spring athletic seasons would usually be in full swing, and colleges would be conducting in-person recruiting. It’s frustrating. It’s terribly disappointing, and it may leave prospective student athletes feeling helpless and pretty panicked right now. So what CAN you do? What actions CAN prospective student athletes take to move your college recruiting process forward while you’re standing still?

As high schools and colleges pursue online learning for the balance of this spring semester due to COVID-19, the recruiting landscape is also evolving. Remember, coaches who would usually be out on the road right now are also stuck in their offices or at home, which means they have more time to spend online. They won’t stop recruiting. They’ll just be doing it differently. Here’s how you can make progress in light of our current situation.

Prospective Student Athletes Can Take a Proactive versus Reactive Approach

There are many opportunities for current high-school prospective student athletes to be proactive. Cancelled tournaments, showcases and the dead period now extended through May 31 have changed the landscape of what the recruiting process looks like this spring.

College coaches usually use this time to travel to evaluate players at tournaments and showcases around the country and host student athletes and their families on their campuses. Athletes want to get noticed at these tournaments to set themselves up for the best recruiting opportunities. Students and their families also want to get out to college campuses to explore their options. The pandemic is making recruiting and coaching more challenging, but there are many opportunities for you as a student athlete.

Make These Actions Part of Your College Recruiting Game Plan

  1. Update all of the social media sites you are on. Since college coaches cannot see you in person, they will likely be spending more time online. Update all of the recruiting sites you are on and be sure they are complete.
  2. Update all of your video footage from past games and matches.
  3. Reach out to college coaches per NCAA, NAIA, and junior college rules. This could include emails and phone calls and add links to fresh game film and highlight videos.
  4. Target specific schools you are interested in and reach out. Think about what you want out of your college athletics experience both athletically and academically. What is a good fit for you? Do you want to start right away or are you ok being a reserve player for a few years? Does a smaller school appeal to you or a larger school. Get online and research colleges and universities and take a virtual tour. Most schools have enhanced their virtual tour and video capabilities in light of what’s happening right now.
  5. Look into the classes you should be taking the next several years in order to be eligible to compete in college athletics. If you are a sophomore or junior, think about studying and taking the ACT sooner rather than later and look into the requirements the NCAA has around high school grades and ACT scores. Begin to research academic scholarship opportunities at your target schools.

Email and Phone Outreach to College Coaches

Student athletes stuck at home can still reach out to college coaches using email or phone calls. Here are three great questions to ask college coaches when you call. Email Stephanie Barth for other suggestions on outreach to college coaches.

  1. What are you looking for in a player for my position?
  2. Can you describe your practice environment?
  3. How would you describe your team and school culture on and off the court/field etc.?

We are here at OnCampus College Planning to help you through this changing landscape.

Our College-Bound Confidence Community is an online monthly coaching group to help college-bound students and parents get to college with less stress, less mess and way more confidence. College-Bound Confidence includes training and tools specific to prospective student athletes.

We also offer a one-on-one coaching package for prospective student athletes. Email Stephanie Barth for more information or just to ask questions and get expert answers.

Email Stephanie for a free overview of how the college recruiting process works. We can help you come up with a comprehensive plan for recruiting, applications, and ACT testing to help you prepare for the college recruiting process.

10 Movies to Watch Now with Quaranteens

10 Movies to Watch Now with Quaranteens

Looking for at-home activities with quaranteens? Here are 10 movies to watch now that we’re all spending more time at home together.

Hilary here. My husband Tom predicted it, and here it is. I am sharing a quote from the movie we watched last night.  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” This quote is from Darkest Hour, a movie about Winston Churchill when he served as Prime Minister during WWII. History helps me “right-size” myself and remember that people in situations more dire than those we face right now have faced those situations with courage, grace, selflessness and integrity.

At times like this, when the moments of today feel daunting and desperate, I find history inspiring and helpful for shifting my perspective and strengthening my resolve.

In case you are, as we are, looking for ways to spend time together while finding hope and inspiration, here are 10 movies (in no particular order) which you might want to put in your family’s Netflix queue these days. I’d love to hear your recommendations for other movies that are good for the soul and our strength right now. We’ll add them to the Kleese watchlist!

  1. Darkest Hour as described above, featuring Gary Oldman and Kristen Scott Thomas.
  2. Lincoln (2012) is an historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln.
  3. Rudy (1993) may not make the cut as legitimate “historical fiction,” but Rudy is always a good answer, no matter what the question is. This biographical sports film recounts the life of Daniel Ruettiger who dreamed of playing football at the University of Notre Dame, despite significant obstacles.
  4. Glory (1989) is an American war film directed by Edward Zwick about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army’s second African-American regiment in the American Civil War. It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment’s commanding officer, and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman as fictional members of the 54th.
  5. The Help (2011) is a period drama based on the book by the same name by author Kathryn Stockett. I both read the book and watched the movie, and I learned a lot from this story of young white woman and aspiring journalist Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan and her relationship with two black maids during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi.
  6. Invictus (2009) Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman), in his first term as President of South Africa, initiates a unique venture to unite the Apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Bonus, Matt Damon’s in this one.
  7. Patch Adams (1998) is worth the sadness you’ll feel while watching a movie featuring the late, great Robin Williams. This movie is about living for something greater than yourself. It’s actually based on the true story of Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams (born May 28, 1945), an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown, and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year, Adams organizes volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns to bring humor to orphans, patients and others.
  8. Schindler’s List (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg is based on the real life story of Oskar Schindler. A businessman during the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, he sold off his last possessions to buy the freedom of 600-odd Jew prisoners.
  9. My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989) is not the feel-good movie you might be looking for right now, but it is incredibly inspiring. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Brown grew up in a poor working-class family and became a writer and artist.
  10. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) because of course this movie needs to be on this list. Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a homeless salesman. This movie is based on the memoir of the same name written by Gardner with Quincy Troupe about Gardner’s nearly one-year struggle being homeless.

May you enjoy happy, healthy and inspiring quarantine viewing. Share your recommendations. We’d love to hear them.

Visit Colleges in Your Bathrobe

Visit Colleges in Your Bathrobe

What do dogs in their pajamas have to do with college search? Not much probably. But we could all use a little levity, and we’re pretty sure you’d rather see dogs in their pajamas as opposed to seeing US in pajamas. So enjoy these cute pictures, and check out these tips for continuing your college search virtually with the free time you have on your hands right now.

In light of what’s going on in our world, we wanted to share ways to maintain and even ramp up your college search. While college campuses around the country are closed, college-bound high school students and parents have more available time right now. Just because campuses are closed doesn’t mean your college search has to be put on hold.

We recently recorded a video to help you Visit Colleges in Your Bathrobe. Check it out.

Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors! We have ideas and resources to help you maintain momentum and make great use of your time at home right now. Stay tuned for more online resources coming daily in the coming days and weeks!

Ways to Connect with Colleges and Universities From Home

  1. Check out their virtual tour often found on the Office of Admissions page of the school’s website.
  2. Reach out and subscribe to receive more information about each of the colleges and universities you are interested in online.
  3. Research your major to learn more about the opportunities at each school on each schools official websites.
  4. Contact an admissions counselor with questions about enrolling. Many of these folks are working remotely right now, and would love to take your call or respond to your email!
  5. Get first-hand accounts from local college students that are now home. Ask them questions about their experiences at their college and universities.

Connect With College Campus Personnel

This may not be possible for all college campuses, but MANY college campuses are still staffed remotely. Colleges are working to find remote ways to keep operating and being available for prospective students. They want to keep hearing from you! This means that you CAN STILL REACH OUT to your admissions rep via email or phone to ask questions. To find and connect with your admissions rep, look for the Office of Admissions page of your prospective school’s website and zero in on “find an admissions rep in my area” or “find my area admissions rep”. Colleges and universities have designated admissions reps based on where you’re located.

Preparing for a Conversation with Your Admissions Rep

BEFORE you get on the phone or write an email to your admissions rep, check out the school’s website thoroughly. Avoid asking questions you could easily find yourself on the website. If you’re calling them on the phone, jot some notes to work from during your call and be ready with a pen and paper to take notes about helpful tips they provide. If you’re writing an email, be sure to check your spelling and grammar. Email language should be more polished and crafted than texting.

Start by introducing yourself. This sounds like this: “Hello, my name’s Justin Jones. I’m a sophomore at Northwest High School in Coolsville, Wisconsin. I’m interested in pursuing a major in business beginning fall of 2022. I’m interested in what State University has to offer for business majors interested in pursuing a career in entrepreneurship.

Let them know you’ve done some homework. This sounds like this: “I’ve spent some time on your website, and I’ve talked to a couple of my friends who are currently students there. I noticed that you offer a wide range of majors and programs in my field of study. I’m specifically interested in your focus in international entrepreneurship.”

Here are good questions to ask your admissions rep via email or phone:

  1. What I should expect as a first-year student studying business with a focus on entrepreneurship at State University?
  2. What makes State University’s program unique? When students choose State University over other options, what are their top reasons for doing so?
  3. Could you share your most common overlap schools for students pursuing a major like the one I’m interested in? (Overlap schools are other schools that students commonly consider in addition to the one you’re in contact with. Think of “overlaps schools” as
  4. What I can be doing now as a high-school student to fully prepare me for succeeding as a State University student in my chosen major?
  5. Do you offer career camps or other programs for high school students during the summer or school year that would be helpful for a student with my interests and goals?

Virtual College Tours Online

Several schools including University of Iowa, Vanderbilt University, and Minnesota State Mankato are offering online information sessions and virtual tours at set times and dates that you sign up for remotely. No doubt this will become standard practice over the next several days and weeks.

The following schools have online virtual tours. This is just a starting point, as most schools have video campus tours available on YouTube, as well.

  • University of Iowa online information sessions including a virtual tour
  • Iowa State
  • Nebraska
  • Creighton
  • Marquette University
  • University Chicago Loyola
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Bemidgi State University
  • Vanderbilt (and online information sessions)
  • Valparaiso University
  • Indiana University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of St Thomas
  • Minnesota State University Mankato (and sign up for virtual tour on a specific date)
  • University of Wisconsin Whitewater
  • St Norbert’s College
  • Auburn University
  • University of Kentucky

We hope you’ve enjoyed this pajama-wearing-dog-guided tour of how to visit colleges in your bathrobe.

Get Guidance on Maintaining Momentum in the Midst of Madness

Stay tuned for more free college planning resources coming soon to help you maintain momentum and get guidance on your college planning process while in the midst of our current situation. For answers to your specific questions, schedule a Free Consult (which can take place via Zoom video conference from wherever you are). Or email Tom or email Hilary. Prospective student athletes seeking guidance on keeping the fire lit under your recruiting process, email Stephanie for answers and guidance.

How do I find the right college for me?

How do I find the right college for me?

Finding the best college for you requires asking really good questions. That’s why we offer free consultations for families to get your key questions answered. Schedule your free consultation here.

Student finding the right collegeWhen I hear a high school student ask, “How do I find the best college for me?” I smile. The student is starting from the right perspective: What works for ME, as opposed to what’s the “top-ranking college” and how can I fit into their mold? I believe strongly that your college search should be focused on the University of YOU, not the university of THEM.

We’ve helped thousands of college-bound students find the best college for them, as well as find merit aid to make college more affordable. If you’re wondering if you might benefit from guidance on your college search, check out this blog post. The college search process can and should be informative, fun and fulfilling, as well as productive when done well. Embarking on your college search is an experience that will impact the trajectory of your life. Don’t rush it. Enjoy it. Savor it!

When I sit down with a college-bound student and their parents to begin the college search process during freshman, sophomore or junior year, the first critical question we ask is: Who are you now, and who do you hope to become? It’s a tough question, no matter what your age. Many 40-year-olds couldn’t clearly answer this question! There’s no right or wrong answer, just what’s right for you as an individual. And it’s okay if your answer changes over time. The purpose is to get you to think about you and what you want from your college degree.

Often, students and parents spend too much time looking outward at colleges (What does this one have to offer? How highly is this one ranked?), and spend far too little time looking inward. That needs to change. In my college search counseling with families, I encourage students to build The University of You. Questions like the one above can help get you started.

When it comes to “how do I find the best college for me”, it’s all about fit.

Student Female Finding The Right CollegeWhat you’re after is a “great fit” between what they have to offer and what you want and need. You’re exactly one-half of the fit equation. Good old State University is State University, and you are you. Even if you get in, it might be a lousy fit. Get clear on who you are first, and the job of knowing which colleges fit you best will be much easier.

The first critical question is, “Who am I now and who do I want to become?” This gets at the type of student and type of individual you are, what you hope to gain from your college experience and, ultimately, your degree. Once you’ve spent some time journaling or somehow capturing your answer to the question, “Who am I now and who do I want to become?” there are a few essential follow-up questions.

Here they are, plus a description of why they’re helpful. Once you spend some time with these, you’ll be ready to narrow your scope to a manageable idea of the type of colleges that could be the best fit for you.

Who do I want to be around at college?

Think about the type of learning environment that lights your fire. Do you like feeling like the smartest kid in the room, or are you inspired when you’re surrounded by people who constantly push you and challenge you because they’re wicked smart, and you’re scrambling to keep up? Do you want to be around people who think like you, or people who represent very different perspectives than yours? Do you want to spend most of your time around people interested in the same field or career, or a diverse range of interests? Do you like crowds, or small intimate groups? Your answers to this question can help determine the TYPE of college that might fit you best, whether that’s a large research-oriented institution or a small private liberal arts university or something in between.

How often do I want to go home?

Male student finding the right collegeThis question’s geared toward narrowing your geographical focus. Students are often wary to consider schools more than an hour or two from home, until they consider the fact that three-five hours away is super manageable for visits home twice per semester. If you prematurely limit your focus to schools within an hour or two of you, then you automatically exclude MOST schools, some of which might be great fits for you.

Who do you want to teach you at college?

This question gets at type and size of the college you should consider. There’s a big difference between large state universities and small private schools in terms of who’ll be leading your classroom. Especially your first two years, the likelihood that you’ll have focused face time with a full, tenured professor varies greatly from school to school. If this is important to you, it’s worth considering early on, because it will streamline your college search.

These are just a few critical questions to ask when starting your college search. A college search done well is complex and involves a lot of discussion, research, campus visits and time.If you’d like to chat more, reach out to us anytime.

Schedule a free college search consultation to learn more.