Select a question below to find its answer.
Questions about the Admissions Process:
The real question is: Is it ever too early to build character? To explore interests? To create opportunities? To be all that you can and want to be? High school is a time to probe new experiences, to seize opportunities, and to grow as the person. It is that person — the one who has probed and seized and grown as a result — that colleges find most attractive as they build their university community.
Two more reasons: First, the choices made as freshmen do affect college opportunities. Do I take an honors class, or is it too hard? Do I join a club because it looks good on my “resume” for college? Do I “enjoy” my summer vacations without a schedule? Keep your options open. Understand colleges’ expectations so that you, as a family, make choices that keep doors open. Second, reduce the stress. Know what’s coming and take it at your own pace.
What does it take to get into an Ivy League school?
Acceptance at selective schools is never guaranteed. But, the short answer to this question is “doing”. It is not what is done; it is the act of doing and the excellence with which it is done that matters. Selective schools are looking for students who have already demonstrated excellence in an area (any area). As with any school there are things that you can control and there are things that you cannot control; focus 100% on things you can control.
How many colleges should I apply to?
The key here is to have a balanced list rather than the number of schools on the list. Applying to eight schools that are all Ivy League doesn’t give you balance and may well end with no college acceptances. Assuming balance, it takes time to develop your best application and to demonstrate your interest to a school. Don’t sell yourself short by applying to too many schools. Most of my clients apply to between 8-12 schools, though many more are on the initial list of colleges.
What is the difference between early decision (ED) and early action (EA) and does it matter?
Both ED and EA require a student submit their application early, typically November 1st. Some schools, however, have more than one round of early applications and dates can vary by school. The distinction is that ED is “binding” whereas EA is not; ED requires a student commit to attending the school if accepted. Yes, it matters, because it demonstrates interest in the school. But how much it matters varies widely from school to school. Acceptance rates at some schools may be the same for early and regular decision. Others may have an acceptance rate twice as high for ED than for regular decision. Find out the facts for your colleges and preferably for your own high school’s history with a college.
What is the role of parents in the application process?
Presenting sons and daughters with opportunities does not suddenly stop when application season arrives! But the nature and degree of involvement varies, of course, based on the family dynamic. Parents know their students better than anyone else, so an open channel of communication with school and independent counselors is hugely beneficial. Also, willingness to put ones own hopes and desires second to their student’s is fundamental for a student to thrive after they arrive on campus. Other than that practical and specific parental roles can include: frank discussion regarding financial parameters; enabling college visits; assisting with organization and deadlines; searching out scholarship opportunities; completing the data portions of applications; identifying colleges and/or college programs that might be a fit for students to investigate further on their own; reading and editing (without changing) essays and applications. The primary role is one of support and encouragement every step of the way.
Do I have to know what I want to be in order to pick a college?
No. A sense of academic preferences definitely helps – humanities versus science or math. But a career need not be defined. Jobs are changing – and at such an incredible pace that your job upon graduation from college may not even exist today. Students are changing –they grow, learn, and experience new ideas each day - do not limit who you think you are by someone you may have once been. And, if taken, view personality tests as an additional piece of information rather than a decree of what you can and cannot do.
Will it hurt my chances of admission if I check the box that I am applying for financial aid?
Some colleges are “need blind”, others are “need aware”. If is college has a need blind policy they are telling you that admissions decisions are made without regard to financial aid. To be able to do this, a school needs not only to have a commitment to their policy, but a significant endowment that allows them to implement it. Colleges with a need aware policy typically take a first cut at admissions that is need blind and hope that there is sufficient aid funding for all of their choices. If not, they go through the painful process of selecting those whom the school can afford to accept. If a college is need blind, indicating that you are applying for financial aid has no impact on admission. If a college is need aware, it could impact admission.
How important is the college application essay?
In my mind, a dull or off-putting essay could hurt an otherwise strong student from getting into his or her top choice college. On the other hand, an engaging and personal essay can give a boost through the door. The essay alone does not determine admit or deny decisions, but they can have a significant influence. Separately, as important as the personal essay is, and as much attention as it receives, the "Why Us?" essay prompt, which nearly all colleges ask in their application supplements, is an equally if not more important essay.
Questions about Working with ThinkYes:
Most of ThinkYes' practice is done with students who do not live where the company is located. We meet using Skype and we email and text. ThinkYes also uses a college planning software tool that students, parents and ThinkYes all have access to.
Connecting with a student and family is a key aspect of finding the right IEC. As Principal of ThinkYes, I currently live in California, am a first-generation American, grew up in the Midwest, and raised our sons on the East Coast for 20+ years. So, I can relate to people regardless where they are from.
In what grade to you begin working with students?
ThinkYes has worked with students beginning as early as their freshman year, and would have no concern working with a mature middle schooler. That said, the meetings with freshmen and sophomores are much less frequent (about once a quarter). Frequency roughly doubles when working with juniors and then doubles again senior year. For selective schools, a student’s sophomore/junior summer is an important one, allowing students time during junior year to build on their summer pursuits and demonstrate excellence.
What kind of students do you work with?
All and any kinds of motivated and curious kids, regardless of their interests or where they are from.
Do you help with the financial aid process?
Though not fluent in financial planning, ThinkYes is amply familiar with the generalities of financial aid / scholarships, and provides parents with a primer as part of the comprehensive packages. The primer is also available independently to any desiring it. It is difficult to overstate the importance that families discuss among themselves their financial parameters, without eliminating schools based on their “sticker price”, at the beginning of the process. Financial fit is one of the factors considered when finalizing a college list, and ThinkYes encourages families to take advantage of the myriad of free available resources. We can point families toward these resources.
How do you help with essay writing?
Before even looking at college application essays, ThinkYes asks students to select three or four fun questions out of a list of thirty and write a paragraph or two for each. This step, allows us the opportunity to discuss essay writing practically rather than theoretically, relaxes students, and builds confidence before jumping into college essays. We then brainstorm specific essay prompts (the student talks; ThinkYes asks questions) after which students draft and we go through an editing / redrafting process careful to retain the student’s voice, convey their accomplishments and perspectives, and answer the prompt. We start the process early allowing ample time for editing and we look for overlaps among various universities’ prompts to minimize the total number of essays necessary to write.
How do you get paid?
ThinkYes typically meets with parents and students for an initial consultation to learn more about how we interact as a unit and how ThinkYes can best serve the student and family. Based on that meeting, parents are provided with a proposal as a basis of discussion. When mutually agreed to, a parent and the student as well as ThinkYes' Principal sign the proposal. Generally speaking parents hire ThinkYes directly and pay the company based on the payment schedule outlined in the proposal. For comprehensive services this is typically half prior to consultation and half upon the last application submission.
Why did you name your company ThinkYes?
ThinkYes is firmly grounded in the concept of unlimited potential. Too frequently potential is not recognized due to fear or simply a lack of awareness of what is possible and being done outside of ones own environment. Enjoyment comes from encouraging students to consider and to think "yes" about opportunities available during high school. By thinking yes and saying yes, students open themselves up to even more opportunities to discover their interests and their abilities. With each experience, fear (of failure, or appearances, or rejection, etc.) drops off, experiences build character, and interests crystalize to be pursued.
More questions? Contact us and pass them along. We'll be happy to answer!