Student Services: The Common Application and Creating a Competitive College Portfolio


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This workshop covered the benefits of using the Common Application as a tool for understanding what many colleges value in the admission process.

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Student Services: The Common Application and Creating a Competitive College Portfolio

  1. 1. THE COMMON APPLICATION AND CREATING A COMPETITIVE COLLEGE APPLICATION PORTFOLIO N ATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR EDUCATIONAL ACCESS CONFERENCE 2010 Rob Killion Executive Director, The Common Application [email_address] Sophia L. Rudisill, M.A. Associate Director, Middle Grades Partnership [email_address] Rod Skinner Director of College Counseling, Milton Academy Board of Directors, The Common Application [email_address]
  2. 2. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVE <ul><li>Participants will … </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the playing field of the college application process for underrepresented students and receive tools for helping them navigate this process. </li></ul>
  3. 3. AGENDA <ul><li>The Presenters </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the Data and the Players (Students, College/University and College Counselors) </li></ul><ul><li>The Playing Field </li></ul><ul><li>Gain tools needed to navigate on the playing field and help position our students for the right fit and funding options </li></ul><ul><li>Q & A </li></ul>
  5. 5. MIDDLE GRADES PARTNERSHIP <ul><ul><li>Gives 540 motivated, academically promising students from our city’s middle schools rigorous preparation to excel in Baltimore’s most challenging college prep public high schools. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brings 130 dedicated professionals from Baltimore’s public-school, independent-school, and university communities to serve these middle schoolers with genuine understanding and true collaboration. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. THE COMMON APPLICATION <ul><li>Not-for-profit membership association </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Board of Directors: 13 members, including 4 school counselors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mission: to promote holistic admission as a path to college access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Untimed writing sample </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic recommendation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-discrimination statement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Free services for applicants and secondary schools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Common App Online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online School Forms System </li></ul></ul><ul><li>School and CBO counselor outreach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Director of Outreach staff position (July 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monthly email update: 60,000 subscribers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outreach Advisory Group includes school and CBO counselors </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 2010-11 COMMON APP MEMBERSHIP <ul><li>414 colleges and universities </li></ul><ul><li>47 public institutions, including 10 flagships </li></ul><ul><li>4 HBCUs </li></ul><ul><li>1 international university </li></ul>
  9. 9. THE STUDENTS <ul><li>Number of HS Grads reached a Peak at 3.33 Million for 2008–09 </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wide Variations By State and Region </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Racial/Ethnic Composition Changing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Total College Enrollment is expected to continue Increasing until at least 2017 </li></ul><ul><li>Racial/Ethnic Imbalance in College Enrollment </li></ul>Clinedinst, M. E., & Hawkins, D. A. (2009). 2009 State of College Admission. National Association For College Admission Counseling.
  10. 10. THE STUDENTS – Cont’d Enrollment in Postsecondary Education In Comparison with age 18 through 24: 2007
  11. 11. THE STUDENTS – Cont’d Projected percentage change in public high school graduates, by state: 2004-05 to 2017-18
  12. 12. THE STUDENTS – Cont’d <ul><li>Who is using The Common Application? </li></ul><ul><li>For 2008-09 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>413,675 unique applicants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1.6 million applications submitted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Average of approx. 4 applications per students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For 2009-10 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anticipating 1.9 million applications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  13. 13. THE STUDENTS – Cont’d <ul><li>Who is using The Common Application? </li></ul><ul><li>For 2008-09 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24% first-generation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>49% Anglo-American </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20% No response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>31% Students of Color </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>36.9% Asian </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>23.2% Mixed race </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>17.6% Hispanic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>17% African-American </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4.6% Other </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>0.7% Native American </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. THE STUDENTS – Cont’d <ul><li>Students are facing many challenges, such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Financial </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Academic </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of informed & engaged family support </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. THE COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY <ul><li>Application Volume Continues to Increase </li></ul><ul><li>Racial/Ethnic Minorities and low-income Students Underrepresented in College </li></ul><ul><li>Online Applications Increase </li></ul><ul><li>Highly selective colleges have become more selective </li></ul><ul><li>Overall Acceptance Rate Unchanged (Four year colleges accept 67% of applicants and 45% enroll) </li></ul>
  19. 19. ADMISSION STRATEGIES <ul><li>Slightly higher acceptance rate with early decision (binding agreement) and early action applicants </li></ul><ul><li>35 % of the institutions used wait list for their applicants </li></ul>SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 1996 through 2007.
  20. 20. SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2008.
  21. 21. 21% of Colleges Revoked Admission Offers in 2008 Percentage of Colleges that Revoked Admission Offers for Various Reasons (Among Those That Revoked Any Offers) SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2008
  22. 22. FACTORS IN THE ADMISSION DECISION <ul><li>Top Factors Unchanged </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grades in College Prep Courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strength of Curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Test Scores </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall GPA </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. College Ratings of the Importance of Various Factors in the Admission Decision: Fall 2008 SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2008.
  24. 24. Factors showing the most change in percentage of college rating as “considerably important”: 1993 to 2008 SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2008.
  25. 25. FACTORS BY INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS <ul><li>Public vs. Private </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Private: essay, interview, counselor and teacher recommendations, work, extracurricular activities, demonstrated interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public: class rank </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ALL Common App members use holistic admission </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enrollment Size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Smaller: interview, counselor and teacher recommendations, demonstrated interest </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Selectivity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More Selective: strength of curriculum, essay, counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, work, subject test scores, SAT II scores </li></ul></ul>SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2007.
  26. 26. WHO IS ADVISING THE STUDENTS (at the high school) ?
  27. 27. College Counselor
  28. 28. Student-to-Counselor Ratios
  29. 29. Percentage of Time Spent on College Counseling <ul><li>Independent Schools </li></ul><ul><li>Public Schools </li></ul>SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2007.
  32. 32. Application-to-Admission Officer Ratios
  33. 33. THE RESULT <ul><li>There are more than </li></ul><ul><li>ENOUGH OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP </li></ul><ul><li>students position themselves to be competitive in their college application process and find the best fit and funding for college. </li></ul>
  34. 34. USING THE COMMON APPLICATION AS A TOOL <ul><li>Print a copy at </li></ul><ul><li>Show students what colleges value </li></ul>
  35. 35. THE APPLICATION <ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>School/community engagement and leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Work </li></ul><ul><li>Academic initiative </li></ul>
  36. 36. THE SCHOOL FORMS Teachers and counselors evaluate students
  37. 37. FINDING the Right FIT: Knowledge About College
  38. 38. COLLEGE PORTFOLIO <ul><li>Compiling a college application portfolio can simplify the application process for our students. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Benefits of Developing College Application Portfolio- HOW CAN WE HELP? <ul><li>Increase students’ chances of getting admitted to the school of their choice </li></ul><ul><li>Increase students’ chances of qualifying for scholarships & grants </li></ul><ul><li>Cost of applying should not be a barrier </li></ul><ul><li>All Common App members accept NACAC and College Board Fee Waivers </li></ul>
  40. 40. FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING TOOLS: <ul><ul><li>College Application Checklist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cover Letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Application Template </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Essay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Letter of Recommendation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronic Competitiveness </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. COLLEGE APPLICATION STUDENT CHECKLIST Name:__________________________________________________________ Home Address:___________________________________________________ Phone#__________________GPA:_______ Social Security #______________ Male: ______ Female:______ Race:__________ Date of Birth:____________ Parent/ Guardian(s):________________________ Relationship:____________ High School:______________________Grade:________ Homeroom#:_______ Counselors Name:________________________________________________ School Lunch Status: Free_______Reduced:_______Not Eligible:________
  43. 43. Test Dates and Scores PSAT:______ CR:______ Math:_____ Writing:______Composite:_______ ACT/SAT: CR:________Math:______ Writing:______Composite:_________ ACT/SAT: CR:________Math:______ Writing:______Composite:_________ ACT/SAT: CR:________Math:______ Writing:______Composite:_________ Post – High School Plans: College______ Job:______ Military:_____ other:____ Intended Major(s) 1 st ____________________ 2 nd ________________________ Financial Aid Information Date FAFSA sent: _________ Competitive Scholarship Package Sent:_______ College Name Date Application Sent Date Transcript Sent Accepted (Y/N) ?
  44. 44. COVER LETTER
  45. 45. Admissions Office Smalltown University Anytown, USA 12345 Month, Day & Year Dear Admissions Office: I am a high school senior at Smalltown High School an d I am considering attending Smalltown University next fall. Please send a college catalog and application kit. Please also add me to your mailing list so that I will know about open houses or events that I might want to attend. Please send the information to: Heather Diamond 81 Meadow Street Smalltown, OH 45601 E-mail: Sincerely yours, Heather Diamond Sandler, C. & Keefe, J.A. 2003. 1001 Letters For All Occasions: The Best Models for Every Business and Personal Need. Avon, MA : Adams Media Corporation.
  47. 49. ESSAY
  48. 50. Essay Development
  49. 51. STUDENTS NAME HIGH SCHOOL NAME DATE Does It Really Matter? Pen to paper. Black ink makes it mark on its white contender. It continues to slash and defile its pale complexion. There is no need to stop now so why does it come to a complete halt? It has encountered an obstacle; 5 boxes. It has to choose which box to jump into; knowing that it cannot choose another if it chooses this one. Leap of fate into the Black one. Was that the right choice? Too late to think about it now. The pen drops to the floor of the brown course. “Thank you, Ms. Henderson”, I hear the woman say with a soft voice. I got up from the table fixing the crease in my black skirt, thinking if I had made the right choice. Did I give them the right layout of me? Or did my guilty conscience force my pen to jump down that box, that which was full of oppressed history, as opposed to the others?
  50. 52. Many adolescents face an identity crisis with their self image while I struggle to conquer my fear to embrace the many ethnicities that are within me. “ You’re Black in their eyes”. “You’re a Mutt”. “You’re the ‘white girl’ of the group”. These words bang at my eardrums everyday like clockwork. I giggle with a sort of permanent temporary feeling of sadness towards these remarks. I feel somewhat sorry for myself but quickly put it away in the files of my mind because the bell has rang. I can call upon these feelings every time my ears are pierced with the question, “What are you?” To me, race is a false category. Many people lie between categories rather than in a particular one. If I believe race to be a false category, then why do I find so much truth in it? Almond eyes, narrow nose, full lips, dark olive skin, and fine brown locks. What category would that fall under? Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian? Give up? She is neither one. She is a concoction. Her mother is the product of Italy, passed through Africa and nurtured by the Native Americans.
  51. 53. Her father is grown of that same Native American with the help of West Indian magic. She herself carries the burden of them all, catering to the needs of each. But she does not walk alone for her parents created another. She is the second of her parents manufacturing company. Even though she and her sister are the same, they choose to wrap themselves in different packaging. Her sister immediately decides to pick the package labeled Black but she cannot decide. Her sister tires to persuade her to go for the Black one. She feels pressured. “Black has history, Black is strong, Black is beautiful,” her sister whispers. “Black has overcome slavery, conquered empires and cloned queens. It dominates every other color; it stands out”. She is still indecisive.
  52. 54. Is Black the right choice or is it another? She doesn’t know but it is all that she has become accustomed to. She cannot escape what she has known all her life and accept a different title. She is me and as I try to comprehend my genetic make- up, questions arise not from only outsiders but within me. Will I ever accept me ? I know that I will never always be accepted by one of the races in particular but I will grow to accept myself. Even though a box or an abstract package does not make my character, it is the first step for me coping with my diversity. I also know that I will become a great leader and open doors for people of all ethic backgrounds. I will label myself as I am. For I am Everything and Everyone.
  54. 56. MONTH DAY, YEAR To NAME OF PERSON/ORGANIZATION, STUDENT can be described as an energetic, eager, open-minded, bright, and friendly person. While managing the responsibility of helping her grandmother at home with her two younger brothers' homework, projects and her chores, she maintains an academic profile that is exceptional. She commutes 2 hours daily to pursue a rigorous IB diploma at Baltimore City College High School. To put our high school in perspective, Baltimore City College, or “City” as most refer to it, is a leader in the academic, social, and personal education of students from the Mid-Atlantic region.  Founded in 1839, City is the third oldest public high school in the nation and serves as the liberal arts and humanities magnet for the Baltimore City Public School System.  Admission to City is competitive with more than four applications for every admitted student in the freshman class.   99% of last year’s seniors enrolled in college with 92% entering four-year institutions. 
  55. 57. Our student’s demographic profile resembles that found in many inner city schools in terms of socioeconomics, with over half of the students qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program.  Simply put she is an eager learner that is interested in the breadth and depth, across every field of study. With a passion for the environment and humanity she commits her summer months to working in various different areas such as, landscaping, camp counseling in a neighborhood recreational center and working under the supervision of Delegate Ruth Kirk to help maintain a community garden. As a leader in her community, some of the obstacles and family crises she has dealt with in life have driven most teenagers to extremes, such as dropping out or drug abuse. But she is far too optimistic for that, her future and the world. Her determination to do something that actually matters for the world is outdone by her creativity. The career she chooses to pursue- whether it is medical research in genetics or dermatology,
  56. 58. whether it is environmental engineering, whether it is in zoology, or in law - is definitely going to be a window for her to make changes in the world. I have worked with many youth, but none that have quite possessed drive and focus like STUDENT. She manages her time, works well in group situations under strict deadlines, and recognizes the importance of a strong work ethic, persistence, and intellectual integrity. She is a Maryland Distinguished Scholar Semifinalist and a National Achievement Semifinalist, and a National Honors Society member. Ranked 5th in a class of 336 students, with above average SAT and SAT II scores she is a textbook student with a heartbeat and pleasant personality. I believe that COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY will provide her with the experience and training that will enhance and reinforce her global desire to serve humanity and preserve the environment.
  57. 59. You will read of STUDENT’s grades and SAT scores, of her awards and accolades; I wanted to share a piece of her dream and drive, as it characterizes what this remarkable young woman is really all about. As she graduates high school, I and all of HIGH SCHOOL are so sad to see her go, but realize that she is destined to effect great things far beyond the narrow confines of Baltimore city. Yours in Education, Sophia L. Rudisill Associate Director, The Middle Grades Partnership 800 Wyman Park Drive Baltimore, MD 21211 Tel: 410.856.1310 [email_address]
  58. 60. ELECTRONIC COMPETITIVENESS <ul><li>Professional Email </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Activities on Facebook, MySpace etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic Portfolio ( </li></ul><ul><li>Videography ( </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Website </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul>
  59. 61. QUESTIONS? <ul><li>Sophia L. Rudisill, M.A. </li></ul><ul><li>Associate Director, Middle Grades Partnership </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>THE COMMON APPLICATION and CREATING A COMPETITIVE COLLEGE APPLICATION PORTFOLIO THANK YOU! & & Rob Killion Executive Director, The Common Application [email_address]