Frequently Asked Questions
How does CollegeUnlocked develop the college list?
Our goal is for your student to have choices. We know no one likes to apply just to be rejected, so developing a well balanced list is important.
Your student works with us to convey their interests, academic fit, cultural fit, and financial fit. We do a series of interviews using using guided questions to identify over 80 different criteria and their importance to your student. We use the criteria to recommend a bell curved, balanced list including statistically highly likely, likely, possible, reach, high reach and unlikely schools. We put an emphasis on presenting schools where the odds are in your students favor, but respect your student’s desire to reach.
Additionally, if desired, we identify at least one financial safety school, where your student is highly likely to be admitted and can afford without financial aid.
What about the essays?
Most applications have a personal statement, which is your student’s written interview. College admissions officers can recognize when:
We work with your student to identify the personal characteristics and story your student wants to share with the admissions counselors. This is your student’s story and will be written by your student in your student’s voice. We provide recommendations on content and readability to ensure your student’s best is communicated.
Beyond the personal statement, many universities have supplements requesting additional written information. We employ an essay organizing tool which identifies all of the writing required and where pieces can be reused across more than one college. Together with your student, we make sure each written piece uncovers another facet of their personality, talent, and/or background; providing the most complete insight into your student to the college admissions office.
the writing style in the personal statement differs greatly from the rest of the essays and supplements
the writing style more closely resembles that of a 40 year old (parent or counselor) than that of a 17 year old student
the topic is contrived or isn’t true to the student.
How does CollegeUnlocked work with high school counselors?
High school counselors have a tough job, they are often working with more than 300 students at a time and are dealing with social, emotional and crisis issues which make stringent demands on their daily schedules.
Typically, they do not have the time to do the intensive work of understanding the student and matching their fit to a comprehensive college list, assisting in the essay development, or managing the application process.
However, your high school counselor does play a critical role in the college admissions process; acting as the liaison between the high school and the candidate colleges. They provide the school secondary report, a counselor recommendation and help to ensure all documents are sent on a timely basis to the colleges.
Therefore, CollegeUnlocked works in partnership with your student’s high school. We anticipate the high school’s requirements and work with your student to prepare deliverables, such as a resume, school list, personality profiles, etc., which will support your counselor and make their job easier. We plan this work to be done prior to the counselor meeting, reducing both your student’s and the counselor’s stress level and allowing the counselor to focus on your student rather than on the checklist of things they need done.
What if we don’t live locally or my student doesn’t drive yet?
No worries, we’ve got this one covered. We use video conferencing to work live and Google Docs to interactively work with students on their assignments, personal statements, essays, and supplements. We’ve worked with students across multiple time zones and even multiple countries!
Is it important to visit colleges and when should we start?
College visits are an extremely important part of the college admissions process. The earlier you start, the more real college will become to your student.
CollegeUnlocked recommends beginning visits as early as your student’s first year in high school. We can help you integrate visits into vacations, recommend targeted college tour trips, and advise your student on how to get the most out of the visit and evaluate the college afterwards.
We can even assist your student in integrating what they’ve learned on the visit into their college application.
What if my student has a B average or below?
Don’t worry, with over 3400 4 year public and private universities, there is a place for your student! We have worked with students whose GPA’s are as low as 2.5 and as high as 4.8 (weighted).
Although it seems that every college is “super selective”; less than 200 of all US universities and colleges have acceptance rates of less than 38% and around 300 (less than 10%) accept less than 50%.
So the good news is….there are over 3,000 4 year colleges for your student to choose from!
So as long as you are open to considering options outside the hype, there are great choices for your student.
We work with your student to identify schools that are just right for them. We look for schools who appreciate the student they are in high school and will admit them, as well as schools that may provide merit money to have your student select their school.
Should my student continue participating in athletics in college?
Whether your student plays varsity, club, intramural or casual pick-up sports in college the answer is a resounding YES!
Firstly, students who are used to playing in high school often use their sports as a physical outlet for relieving stress, balancing mind and body, and creating deep and lasting friendships.
There is a significant difference, by sport and by competitive division, in the time commitment, scholarship award, and admissions impact. Only about 2% of all high school students receive athletic scholarships.
We can work with your student whether they choose to recruit or walk on at the varsity level, or incorporate casual play into their college life.
For those students wishing to recruit, we can advise on understanding the NCAA recruiting rules for the following:
We can provide direction throughout the recruiting process from initial contact through commitment, covering activities such as: preparing an athletic resume, whether to prepare and present performance video, coaches interviews, and more.
high school curriculum
official and unofficial overnights
headcount vs. equivalency scholarships based on sport
ways to stand out on and off the field
What if my student would like to blend academics and performance?
Many of our students are talented in many facets of their life beyond academics. We often work with students who wish to continue vocal or musical performance beyond high school. We’ve developed college lists and advised on portfolio preparation for aspiring actors, dancers, musicians, vocal performers, screenwriters, and filmmakers.
Some of our students have chosen to major in their passion/talent, and countless others have double majored – blending a performance major with a more traditional academic major. Even those who have decided to major in a traditional academic subject are often involved in theater and performance as college extracurriculars.
Often while compiling the balanced college list non-performance majors, we look for criteria such as: marching band, dance team, theater for non-majors, and singing performance groups.
What if my student has learning differences?
We have worked with many students who have active 504 and IEP plans during their college search.
We can advise on appropriate curriculum, suggestions for filing for accommodations on the SAT or ACT (if appropriate) and discuss the pros and cons of including the diagnosis and its impact on college applications.
There are hundreds of colleges with good learning disability support.
One significant difference between high school and college is in how they work with students with learning disabilities. In college, the student must take the responsibility to go to the office of accommodations and request support.
What if my student is still undecided about their major?
“Undecided” is the most popular major in the United States today. In addition, amongst students who declare a major upon entering college, almost 50% of them change their major at least once during their time in school.
We work with your student to identify potential careers and majors as well as schools that will encourage your student to explore and try out majors they might not even be thinking of today – all while providing advising and keeping them on track to major in 4 years (in many cases).
What if my student is considering engineering?
Great! There are a lot of terrific opportunities during and after college for potential engineers. Equally, engineering admissions, especially within California schools are more competitive than any other major.
If your student already knows engineering is in their future, there are things during high school and in their personal statements and supplements which can increase their chances of acceptance.
We will work to identify which type of engineering program might be best for your student.
Ideas to weigh include:
theory oriented vs. based in practicality
programs which combine strong liberal arts with engineering vs. schools which focus mainly on engineering,
schools which start co-ops, internships, or projects as soon as the first year
a combination program 3+2 which would afford 2 bachelors’ degrees
4+1 program leading to a masters’
many other options.
What if my student is considering pre-med, nursing or other health care sciences?
Health care sciences are amongst the fastest growing career opportunities today. There are many, many post-graduate paths beyond medical school, including but not limited to:
These students have choices to make about accelerated programs, guaranteed admissions, and more. In addition there are special considerations regarding AP/IB classes, undergraduate majors, and college extra-curricular activities.
We review these special programs and considerations with our students to make sure they optimize their college list and options.