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Winning the Waiting Game – 5 action steps to take now

Tedious college applications, thoughtful essays, glowing recommendations, intense interviews, OH MY! The whole college process can bring about stress and anxiety for students and their families. Some try to speed up the process with early admissions, which has become all the more accessible AND competitive due to the expansion of test optional admissions.

The frenzy of fall senior year is waning for those seniors who applied to early admissions deadlines but the waiting game between November 1st and January 1 can still be daunting. Here’s a few suggestions of action steps to take until those all important decisions get released!

Finish applications to alternate schools

There’s no time to waste with admissions deadlines. If you’re waitlisted, deferred or outright denied, you’ll want another desirable choice. Although many colleges have rolling admissions deadlines, their scholarship money is finite. Applying to alternate choice schools now gives you an opportunity to be accepted in time to compete for their institutional aid.

Locate and complete private scholarships

Scholarship season is in full swing! Many private very winnable scholarships have deadlines spanning from December to April. Getting organized with multiple scholarship essays, recommendations, and a tracker with scholarship details and deadlines could help you fill out the max amount of scholarship applications. You may not qualify for a full ride (less than 1% of students in the US do) but you CAN make your own full ride through a combination of institutional aid, federal aid, and private scholarships. Scholarships can be found in multiple spots including churches, community organizations, schools, park districts, employers and more. Spread the word to everyone you know that you’re looking for them! You can also check out My College Planning Team’s Free Tools section for scholarship sites.

Check emails daily

As a high school counselor for over 10 years, this is one task I can attest is a generational curse. My seniors don’t check their emails enough and often miss amazing opportunities from their colleges of interest like elite scholarship opportunities, internships, honors programs and more. Check your mail too!

Combat senioritis

As much as you deserve to chill after all that hard work, colleges, especially competitive ones, may want to see your semester 1 grades. Admissions decisions can be rescinded if your academic record takes a sharp decline. You can also take this time to improve your academic standing even more or take/retake standardized tests in case you want to appeal an admissions decision.

Discuss your plan with family and get ready to appeal financial aid

One advantage to early application deadlines is you also get a glimpse of your financial aid situation much sooner, giving you and your family more time to discern what your best fit is, holistically. It also gives you a window to appeal your financial aid if your choice college is a good match but a poor financial fit. My College Planning Team offers the free webinar “The Art of the Appeal” as well as free consultations to help you decide on your college and career needs.

Much like a professional athlete or artist, the college admissions process requires you to give your all, not only in one game or performance, but with the end in mind. Focusing your efforts on these 5 tasks can make the most of what can seem like a dead zone after your early applications are submitted. Winning the waiting game is in your reach!

Kate Kaushal has been a professional high school counselor in the Chicago Public School system since 2011 and has played many roles including: senior academic and social emotional counselor, post secondary counselor, head of counseling, ACT test coordinator, CPS selective enrollment test proctor and master counselor for the district.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Saint Xavier University and a Master’s in School Counseling from Roosevelt University. Prior to 2011, she worked in various positions in social service, including a partner organization to DCFS, a group home for young men, and an experiential outdoor education camp for at-risk youth in North Carolina.

At Phillips Academy in Bronzeville, she started as the Junior counselor and then moved into the post-secondary arena where she found her passion. She believes in holistically working with students and prides herself in her ability to match students with resources, especially scholarship opportunities and enrichment programs. In her years as a postsecondary counselor, she drastically increased the amount of scholarships (from 500,000 in 2015 to over 15 million in 2019) earned by the graduating classes and received a Data Impact award from Chicago Public Schools. She was also a final nominee for College and Career Counselor of the year in 2018 and has presented at multiple CPS School Counselor professional development events.

Kate is a lifelong learner and is excited to join the My College Planning Team to help families find the best holistic college fit for their child and the most scholarship money possible to offset their educational costs. Kate also has a knack for matching families to the resources they need, including alternate options like trade or gap year programs. Outside of work, she enjoys running, yoga, event planning and spending time with her 2 young children.

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