Two upcoming free webinars

Students, parents, and counselors, we’ve got two excellent free webinars coming up featuring four of our Collegewise counselors who’ve collectively read tens of thousands of applications during their time as admissions officers at Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, University of Chicago, and Colorado College. Click into the links below to register. We hope to see you there. And if you can’t attend but want the information, please register anyway—we’ll share the recording for up to two weeks after the event, but only with those people who register.

How to Make Your Common App a Lot Less Common
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PDT)

The Art of the Short Answer
How to write effective responses to those short-answer prompts on applications
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PDT)

Update on our Common App Guide

Common App Guide CoverSince its release just one week ago, over 1300 students, parents, and counselors have downloaded our Collegewise Guide to the Common Application. It’s the most comprehensive instruction you can find, written by a team of our counselors and former admissions officers who’ve collectively evaluated thousands of Common Apps, as well as helped hundreds of their own Collegewise students complete their own.

Students, parents, and counselors–you can get your own free copy here. And here’s a past post with suggestions for how each of those groups can best use it.

Our new Common App Guide is here!

CollegewiseCommonAppGuideOur Collegewise Guide to the 2017-18 Common Application is here, revised and updated to reflect the most recent version of the app. And for the third year in a row, it’s free to anyone who wants it. You can get your copy here.

Here are a few suggestions for how you might use our guide:

 

Students

  • If you haven’t started your Common App, complete each section with our help. We think your app will be stronger, and you’ll actually spend less time on the application by just getting it right the first time.
  • If you’ve already finished your Common App, use our guide to do a line-by-line review before you submit.
  • Struggling with just a particular section or two? Our guide can probably help.

Parents

If you are the official college application reviewer in the house, use our guide to review your student’s Common Application (kids should always complete their own college applications even if a parent will review them).

High school counselors

  • Looking to brush up on your Common App knowledge? Spend an hour with our guide and you’ll be a virtual expert.
  • Do your students come to you with questions about the Common App? Keep a copy of our guide on your desk (or bookmark the link to save a tree) and use it whenever you need a second opinion.
  • Share it with colleagues, teachers, and students.
  • Post the link on your website or in your student newsletters.

Private counselors

  • Our guide will teach you exactly what to look for when reviewing your students’ Common Applications.
  • Share the link with your students for them to use at home while they complete their applications.
  • Do you have partners, employees, or interns who work with students? Our guide makes a great training tool.

What we ask of you

If you know a family, counselor, PTA president, community-based organization, etc. who could use this guide or who could put it in the hands of those it might help, please share our download link: http://bit.ly/CollegewiseCommonAppGuide.

I hope you enjoy—and share—it.

Collegewise advice: there’s a video for that

If you’re applying to college and would like some trusted advice from experts, our filmmaker has been capturing some of our counselors sharing their favorite tips. Here are four new videos, all of which are hosted on our YouTube channel.

Five College Essay Clichés to Avoid

Questions to Kickstart your Essay Brainstorm

Debunking College Essay Myths

Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Join us at an upcoming webinar

Collegewise is offering a series of webinars for students, parents, and counselors. The schedule and the links to register are below (I’ll be presenting the August 22 college essay session).

I hope you can join us.

Tuesday, August 22: How to Write a Great College Essay
Wednesday, September 20: How to Make Your Common App a Lot Less Common
Tuesday, October 17: The Art of the Short Answer
Wednesday, November 8It’s Not Too Late: How to Complete Stellar College Applications when Deadlines are Looming

Coming soon—our 2017-2018 Common App Guide

Since 2010, we’ve annually released our Collegewise Common App Guide. It takes applicants through every section of the Common App, line by line, sharing all of our admissions expertise to make sure users present themselves in a compelling way. And for the last two years, we’ve given it away for free.

I’m thrilled to report that we’ll again be releasing this guide free to anyone who wants it, including our competition. Collegewisers Arun and Meredith are busy updating this year’s guide to reflect the most recent changes to the Common Application itself, and they expect to have it polished and ready for release the week of August 17.

If you’d like to be notified when the new guide is available, you can check back here regularly, or just subscribe for updates from the blog. The box to do so is on the left.

That was us then, this is us now

Earlier this month, I shared my plans to rewrite the Careers page of our Collegewise website. What felt fresh in 2006 felt dated today, and it reminded me how powerful it can be to take a new, critical look at things you’ve long since stopped evaluating.

Here’s a screenshot of the old page. That was who we were then. All those words are still true. But Collegewise has grown and evolved since then. We needed to give potential Collegewise applicants the most complete, honest portrayal of the place they’d be joining if they came to work here. We’re not just deciding if they’re right for us; they’re also trying to decide if we’re right for them. And the old page just wasn’t giving them enough information to make that call.

So here’s the new page. It talks a lot more about who we are and what type of person is most likely to be happy and successful at Collegewise. It explains our culture and what it’s actually like to work here. And most importantly, it features the part of Collegewise we’re most proud of—the people, the way we work together, and the comradery that not only makes us happier employees, but also helps us be even better counselors.

All of these principles take a page out of how we’d tell students to present themselves in college applications. Be honest. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Clearly present the most important information. And focus on who you are today, not on who you were many yesterdays ago.

Our new Careers page won’t resonate with everyone who comes across it. And that’s fine. Like colleges, we’re not the right fit for everybody. But now we can be sure again that those who our page resonates with will be responding to the Collegewise we are today.

That was us then. This is us now.

If you know someone who might enjoy working at Collegewise today, please send them the link to our Careers page. If we end up hiring them, we’ll pay you $700 after the person completes three months of successful work.

Life at Collegewise

In March, I announced that we’d hired a full-time filmmaker at Collegewise, Frank Martinez. Yesterday, Frank released his first official finished product with us—a recruiting video entitled Life at Collegewise. Our offices were buzzing with pride and praise for how well he captured just who we are and how much we love the company we’ve built together.

We’re currently hiring in six locations nationwide, and we have one online position for a person who could live virtually anywhere. If you or someone you know is looking for an opportunity to learn and grow as a college counselor, to make a difference for kids and parents, and to do it all with smart, passionate, supportive co-workers who bring their hearts to work every day, I hope you’ll consider joining us. Let’s make a dent in the college admissions universe together. You can find all the information about us and our open positions here.

Advise your hive

Once a month, a dedicated group of Collegewisers publishes an internal newsletter, Inside the Hive (“The Hive” is our term for our collective of Collegewise counselors). Each issue focuses on answering four questions for every Collegewise counselor:

1. What should you be doing for each grade level of your Collegewise families this month?
2. What should you be doing to improve your office and your counseling this month?
3. Do we have any helpful materials or guides to help you accomplish these things?
4. Any relevant timely tips from Collegewise veterans?

For example, here’s a screenshot of page two from this month’s edition.

Inside the Hive has become one of the most vital tools we use in our work. College counseling can be a complex business. It’s not always obvious where to focus our time, how to adopt the techniques of the greats, or what resources are already available so we don’t create a new version unnecessarily. And our counselors don’t sit in the same building. Collegewisers in Los Angeles, Austin, Columbus, New York, etc. don’t always know what their far-flung colleagues are up to like we would if we all worked in the same building together. But once a month, we put all the most vital and useful information in one place. Do what Inside the Hive recommends, and no counselor has to wonder if they’re focusing on the wrong things or somehow missing something.

What would a company, school, club, or organization’s version of Inside the Hive look like? What if you committed to sharing the most important to-dos, advice, resources, etc.? In the ensuing years, you can revise and update it. But you’ll probably only need to write each issue from scratch once.

And if you’re having trouble getting started, or if you work as a solo independent counselor and don’t necessarily have a hive to share it with, here’s a tip—write retroactively. Look back at the last 2-4 months and ask yourself:

  • What were the most important things I did each month?
  • What specific monthly advice would I give someone (or myself) next year, knowing what I know now?
  • What resources or other helpful information did I use, and what else would have been helpful to have on hand?

Repeat that a few times throughout the year and you’ll have retroactive issues for every month. Then next year, just unearth the appropriate issues at the appropriate times.

Big or small, everyone in the group gets better when you carve out time to advise your hive.