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The Basics

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

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What are They Judging?


Essays (so start drafting ideas summer before senior year--tell YOUR story--not for CSUs)

Glowing Letters of Recommendation (so cultivate relationships with teachers--not for UC/CSU)

Extracurriculars (to show what you care about and how you use your time)

Transcript (Can tell a story--I struggled here but overcame // this subject is easy for me // I didn’t use to care but I now I do...etc.)

ACT/SAT (a universal measurement--don’t leave this until senior year)


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WHERE to Apply (important criteria to address when deciding)


Cost and Affordability

Location

Size (of undergrad vs. grad)

Percent accepted

Retention Rate (% of students who stay all 4 years)

Perks (things you like/love)

Drawbacks (things that make you question)


*I would recommend creating a spreadsheet that has schools down the left side and your most important criteria at the top


Affordability

Private schools might actually be LESS EXPENSIVE with financial aid than UCs

Fill out FAFSA in October and you’re more likely to get aid

If you’re undocumented fill out CA Dream Act application and get same level of aid as FAFSA for all CA schools

*NOTE: Apply Early Decision or Early Action to your top school if you know you want to go there. It increases your chances.


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Getting Started on Essays (fill this out to get a better picture of who you are)

Click here for prompts to help you start.


Achievements (What are you proud of?)


Values and Characteristics (What makes you you?)

Interests / Hobbies (What do you enjoy doing? Learning about?)

Essay Topics (Any events that show your character)

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Freshman Year

What did you do? (clubs, sports, theater, volunteer, activities)


Sophomore Year

What did you do? (clubs, sports, theater, volunteer, activities)

Teacher(s) who could write Letters of Rec:


Junior Year

What are you doing? (clubs, sports, theater, volunteer, activities)

Teacher(s) who could write Letters of Rec:


Senior Year

What do you WANT to do? Save time for writing essays.


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Your Great Qualities

ex. creative

How You Prove It

ex. took AP Studio Art / built a website for my Uncle’s business / designed AR glasses for science fair / etc.

(for essay topic ideas)


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Common Essay Mistakes to Avoid

too general

bad grammar

not well-edited


Tell YOUR story--they want to see your voice

Tips for writing essays: just write and find any common themes, edit later


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Scholarship Tips

Type in everything about yourself, add the word ‘scholarship’, and google search

Sometimes small, local scholarships are easier to get

Personal essay resonates more than academic goals

The more you apply, the more you get

You get about 1 scholarship for every 20 you apply to

Click here for list of scholarship search engines


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Keep in mind:

College is 100% what you make out of it. There are SO many amazing colleges out there that can make you happy.

Keep in open mind, you never know…

Right now, do what you love and see where it can go. DON’T just build a resume.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges is highly recommended for easy research! You can get it used for ~$14 on Amazon (or maybe from your school library?)

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