Sent on the last Thursday of each month, the Counseling Newsletter provides extra guidance and information to assist you during the university application process. Please read each issue carefully. The newsletter is also shared with your parents and teachers, and it can be used to help create more dialogue about your future.
We know that this is a stressful time for you, both academically and in terms of post-secondary planning. Hang in there! You are almost done.
Most of you have completed and sent all your university applications. Congratulations! Some of you are working on Asian, Australian and European university applications, and some of you will apply using your final IB grades when you have graduated from SFS.
In this issue, we have a look at the early application responses and what you need to do to communicate these to your counselor. We highlight Senioritis and possible consequences. We also review the US college admission process as most of you are awaiting responses from US colleges. There is a special focus on the UCAS application as many students have had offers from UK universities.
Kind regards, The High School Counselors
Beware of Senioritis
The email below is an actual email sent to a senior by a US university (not to a SFS student and not this year). Please remember that universities want to see that you keep up with the academic requirements in your senior year. If your grades drop significantly then your universities might get back to you with this kind of message. In very severe cases they might even rescind their offer.
Dear Student X,
We received your official exam results and have compared them to the predicted results that were included as part of your application for admission. As you know, our offer of admission was “contingent upon satisfactory completion of any educational coursework now in progress.” Unfortunately, we found that the outcome of your official exam results did not meet the standard of your predicted results, and we are concerned about the discrepancy. While your marks did not fall far enough to cause us to rescind your offer of admission, I feel it is important to contact you and express our concern with your most recent academic performance.
If there are extenuating circumstances that explains the decline in your performance, you are welcome to share this with the Director of Admissions of Your Top Choice University, so that your response can be included in your file. Even if you choose not to explain your recent grades, we trust that you have been able to put whatever circumstances led to your academic problems behind you with the conclusion of the school year.
We sincerely hope that in the weeks to come, you will reflect on your goals and renew your commitment to academic excellence. You certainly have the ability to excel at our university, and we hope that you will rededicate yourself toward that end.
Sincerely, XXX Assistant Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Admissions
When you have received an admissions decision from any of your universities..
You need to go back to your short-list on Maia (Colleges Applying) and update the status for each of your universities as soon as you get a response.
How do I do that? Go to “Colleges Applying” and click “Select” under "Application Status" as illustrated below. Choose the response you received from your university.
Have you already been accepted somewhere? If yes, then please forward the acceptance letter to your counselor, so that he or she can make sure that you haven’t missed any important information and that there are no misunderstandings. Please also forward any potential scholarship offer to your counselor.
Were you accepted by your ED university? If yes then congratulations!! Remember to withdraw all your other applications ASAP as you agreed to when you signed the ED agreement. Your non-ED universities can then give your potential space to someone else, maybe even to a SFS student.
Have you been deferred? Being deferred is neither good nor bad news. It just means that the university thinks that you are a good fit for their university, but that they need a more information to be able to make a decision. They might want to compare your application with the applications they receive in the regular pool. You might be on the fence and improved first semester grades could tip you over, so they want to see these too. Your first semester grades as well as updated predicted grades will be sent to your universities before 31 January.
If there has been a significant change to your application (non-numerical) then you should communicate that to the college, and it could have an effect on your chances of getting admitted. Significant change is anything that we don’t communicate in numbers (like your grades and test scores). It could be a new leadership position, a drama or music performance, athletic achievement, an amazing poem you wrote which was published, a song you composed, a recognition you received etc. If this sounds like your situation then please communicate with your counselor as soon as possible. Also let us know if you are unsure if you should communicate any change to your college.
Have you been rejected? Many students feel like it’s the end of the world when they find out they have not been admitted to a college, especially when the denial letter comes from their “dream school.” Students experience this every year. Many famous people that were denied from their dream school have gone on to achieve tremendous success. Here are a few examples: Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema Arts. He ultimately attended California State University Long Beach and went on to win over 100 awards, including three Oscars. He now has a building named after him on the USC campus :-) Katie Couric was rejected from Smith College, a college her two sisters had attended. She decided to attend the University of Virginia and is now one of the most well-known female journalists in the United States. They worked past their disappointment, went to a different school, and still did great things in their lives. It’s okay to be sad about rejections though. It’s normal for most of us. It’s no fun getting turned down by anyone, including a college at which you have been picturing yourself. Take time to be sad, but remember:
1. You are not alone Many students will be denied admission to at least one of the colleges to which they applied. This is especially true for students who applied to highly selective colleges (universities that accept less than 20% of the applicants). To be honest, very few get accepted to highly selective schools, and the vast majority go elsewhere and turn out just fine.
2. It’s not personal You were not denied from a college because admissions officers didn’t like you!! The majority of students that get rejected from highly selective universities are academically qualified, but the university just doesn’t have enough space to accomodate all of the students that apply.
3. Don’t ask “what ifs” after the fact What if I had a higher GPA? What if I had written my essay on another subject? “What ifs” won’t change the admissions decisions, so why dwell on things you cannot change? Try to accept the situation as it is and look forward to the opportunities ahead.
4. Celebrate the acceptance letters Don’t dwell on the disappointment. Instead, look forward to celebrating the acceptance letters that will come in over the next couple of months.
5. Embrace the schools that accept you All colleges have amazing things to offer students and the colleges that accept you are no exception. Embrace these schools and choose the one that feels the best to you. A denial letter is not the end of the world. Instead, it is a detour on the way to your ultimate goal of a college degree. Detours are not always the route you wanted to take, but sometimes you’ll find them to be a better way to get to your destination. Embrace your options and move on to the destination that feels the best for your situation.
Remember that your counselor is more than happy to meet with you at any time. If you find it hard to move past the rejection then please reach out to your counselor so that we can talk things through and have a look at what lays ahead.
BE SURE TO READ ANY AND ALL EMAILS A UNIVERSITY SENDS YOU! THE EMAIL COULD INCLUDE IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT HOUSING, DEPOSITS, MISSING DOCUMENTS, ETC!! IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHAT THE CONTENT MEANS THEN FORWARD IT TO YOUR COUNSELOR. WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
The UCLA Admission Review Process
Selection is based on a comprehensive review of all information--both academic and personal--presented in the application. All applications are read twice, in their entirety, by professionally trained readers. After independently reading and analyzing a file, the reader determines a comprehensive score that is the basis upon which the student is ultimately admitted or denied. In addition, admissions managers conduct multiple checks for consistency and completeness throughout the reading process.
While this evaluation process is based on human judgments rather than a system that quantifies factors and incorporates them into a numerical formula, the extensive reader training, comprehensive reading of files, as well as other monitoring procedures, ensure that the process is highly reliable. Formal tests of reliability are conducted regularly to assure quality control.
The admission review reflects the readers' thoughtful consideration of the full spectrum of the applicant's qualifications, based on all evidence provided in the application, and viewed in the context of the applicant's academic and personal circumstances and the overall strength of the UCLA applicant pool. Using a broad concept of merit, readers employ the following criteria which carry no pre-assigned weights: The applicant’s full record of achievement in college preparatory work in high school, including the number and rigor of courses taken and grades earned in those courses. Consideration will be given to completion of courses beyond the University’s a-g minimums; strength of the senior year course load; and performance in honors, college level, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBHL) courses to the extent that such courses are available to the applicant.
In assessing achievement levels, consideration will be given to individual grades earned, to the pattern of achievement over time, and to an applicant’s achievement relative to that of others in his or her high school. Personal qualities of the applicant, including leadership ability, character, motivation, tenacity, initiative, originality, creativity, intellectual independence, responsibility, insight, maturity, and demonstrated concern for others and for the community.
These qualities may not be reflected in traditional measures of academic achievement. They may be found elsewhere in the application and judged by the reader as positive indicators of the student's ability to succeed at UCLA and beyond. Likely contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus. In addition to a broad range of intellectual interests and achievements, consideration will be given to evidence of an applicant’s ability and desire to contribute to a campus that values cultural, socioeconomic, and intellectual diversity. This includes the likelihood that the student would make meaningful and unique contributions to intellectual and social interchanges with faculty and fellow students, both inside and outside the classroom. Performance on standardized tests, including the SAT Subject Tests (if required), the ACT plus Writing or SAT Reasoning, TOEFL/IELTS and any Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Higher Level examinations the applicant may have taken. Applicants who have not had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement or IBHL courses or who have chosen not to take the examinations for these courses will not be disadvantaged. Test scores will be evaluated in the context of all other academic information in the application. Under no circumstances does UCLA employ minimum scores or “cut-offs” of any kind.
Achievement in academic enrichment programs, including, but not limited to, those sponsored by the University of California. This criterion will be measured by time and depth of participation, by the academic progress made by the applicant during that participation, and by the intellectual rigor of the particular program.
Other evidence of achievement. This criterion will recognise exemplary, sustained achievement in any field of intellectual or creative endeavor; accomplishments in the performing arts and athletics; employment; leadership in school or community organizations or activities; and community service.
Opportunities. All achievements, both academic and non-academic, are considered in the context of the opportunities an applicant has had, and the reader's assessment is based on how fully the applicant has taken advantage of those opportunities. In evaluating the context in which academic accomplishments have taken place, readers consider the strength of the high school curriculum, including the availability of honors courses, and the total number of college preparatory courses available, among other indicators of the resources available within the school. When appropriate and feasible, readers look comparatively at the achievements of applicants in the same pool who attended the same high school and therefore might be expected to have similar opportunities to achieve. Challenges. For an applicant who has faced any hardships or unusual circumstances, readers consider the maturity, determination, and insight with which he or she has responded to and/or overcome them. Readers also consider other contextual factors that bear directly on the applicant's achievement, including linguistic background, parental education level, and other indicators of support available in the home. In applying the criteria above, readers carefully consider evidence provided in the personal statement, as well as in the academic record and list of honors and achievements. It is important that the student as an individual comes through in the personal statement.
What you need to know after applying to UK universities through UCAS
The time it takes for universities to make their decisions varies, and even if you have applied very early, universities and colleges have until early May to decide. This section will tell you everything you need to know about the next stages. You will learn about how to track the progress of your application and how UCAS informs you about any changes and available opportunities.
How to track the progress of your application Track is an online system that allows you to follow the progress of your application. You can see what's happening with your application, like whether you've received any offers and the replies you've made. You can use Track once you've received a welcome letter from UCAS. They'll send it to you after they've processed your application. Log in to Track with your Personal ID, which is printed on your welcome letter, and the same username and password you used when completing your application in Apply. Your choices may be displayed in a different order than you expected - this is because UCAS generate a random order when they process your application. The displayed order of your choices does not indicate any preference order - your application will be sent to all your chosen universities and colleges at the same time.
When each university or college makes a decision about your application, the details will be shown on Track. If you supplied a valid email address on your application, they'll email you when a decision has been made. To protect confidential information, the email will not contain the actual decision: you'll still need to go to Track to check the details. You can also use Track to accept or decline offers and change some personal details, such as your postal address, telephone number and email address.
Remember that offers are only official once you have received the letter or email from UCAS, even if you receive an offer direct from a university or college. If you have a question about a decision, you should contact the university or college for advice.
You may get an invitation... Universities and colleges might send you an invitation, which asks you to attend an interview or audition, or to provide a portfolio of work, an essay or other piece of work. Invitations can be sent for any course. If the university or college sends you an invitation, it will show in Track which you can use to accept or decline it, or request an alternative time or date. If you need to change the time or date you will also need to contact the university or college. They can then update the invitation so that the revised details are shown in Track. Please try to attend on the date requested as it may be difficult for an alternative to be offered. Once the invitation request has been completed, e.g. you've attended the interview or sent the piece of work, the university or college will tell UCAS if you've been offered a place or not, and they'll show their decision in Track. Been offered an interview? Take a look at the interviews page for tips and advice.
Decisions sent by universities and colleges
Conditional offer A conditional offer means that the university or college will offer you a place if you meet certain conditions, which are usually based on your exams. You may be asked to achieve specific grades in named subjects (for example, 6 in Higher Chemistry, 5 in Higher Math). Each offer is specific to your qualifications and circumstances.
Unconditional offer An unconditional offer means that you have met all the academic requirements and the university or college is happy to accept you. The university or college will contact you if they need proof of your qualifications. They might have other requirements, like financial or medical conditions, that you need to meet before you can start the course.
Withdrawn application A choice can be withdrawn by you or the university or college. The reason will be displayed in Track. It may be withdrawn because you didn't respond to any letters or emails from the university or college, or because you didn’t attend an interview.
Unsuccessful application This means that the university or college has decided not to offer you a place on the course. Universities and colleges can decline an applicant for many reasons, one of which could be that the course is full, so it may not be based on the quality of your application. The university or college may provide a reason for their decision either when they send the decision through, or at a later date. If no reason is shown in Track, you can contact the university or college to see if they will discuss why you were unsuccessful.
How and when to reply to your offers
If UCAS has received decisions from all of your choices and you have at least one offer, they will email you to let you know there has been a change to your application, and ask you to look at Track. If you haven't provided a valid email address they will send you a letter which will ask you to reply to your offers.
Points to remember when replying to your offers
Try to attend open days or visits before you decide, but remember to reply by the deadline. If you are visiting a university or college after your reply date, please contact the university or college for advice.
Think carefully before you decide which offers to accept because once you accept an offer, including an insurance offer, you are committed to that course (or courses).
You can reply to offers without waiting to hear back from all your choices. You can cancel all outstanding decisions and reply to the offers that you have received using Track. But you must be certain about which offers you wish to accept, as once you have made your replies you will not be able to reverse any withdrawals.
Firm acceptance Your firm acceptance is your first choice - this is your preferred choice out of all the offers you have received. You can only have one firm acceptance. If you accept an unconditional offer, you are agreeing that you will attend the course at that university or college, so you must decline any other offers. UCAS will send you a letter which will explain whether there is anything else you need to do. If you accept a conditional offer, you are agreeing that you will attend the course at that university or college if you meet the conditions of the offer. You can accept another offer as an insurance choice.
Insurance acceptance If your firm choice is a conditional offer, you can accept another offer as an insurance choice. Your insurance choice can be conditional or unconditional and acts as a back-up, so if you don't meet the conditions for your firm choice but meet the conditions for your insurance, you will be committed to the insurance choice. You can only have one insurance choice. The conditions for your insurance choice can be higher than your firm choice, but be aware that if you’re not accepted by your firm choice, it's unlikely that you will be accepted for an insurance choice that requests higher grades. You don't have to accept an insurance choice - if you're not sure about any of your other choices once you have accepted a firm choice, you're not obliged to accept one as an insurance option.
Decline Once you have decided which offer to accept firmly, and which (if any) to accept as an insurance, you must decline all other offers. If you don't want to accept any of the offers, you can decline them all. You will then be eligible to use ExtraorClearing, depending upon your circumstances.
There are four combinations of offers and replies
Unconditional firm only - you've firmly accepted an unconditional offer. You cannot have an insurance choice.
Conditional firm only - you've firmly accepted a conditional offer.
Conditional firm + conditional insurance - you've firmly accepted one conditional offer and accepted another conditional offer as an insurance.
Conditional firm + unconditional insurance - you've firmly accepted a conditional offer and accepted an unconditional offer as an insurance.
What is Extra and Clearing?
If you have applied through UCAS, used all five choices on your application, and aren't holding any offers, you might be able to apply through Extrafor another course. In Extra, you can apply for any course with vacancies. Extra is open between the end of February and early July. In Extra, you apply for one course at a time using Track.
received decisions from all these choices, and either had no offers, or declined all the offers you have received.
If you decline your offers and add an Extra choice, you will not be able to accept any of your original choices later.
How does it work? If you are eligible for Extra, a button will appear on your Track screen which you can use to apply for a course in Extra. Course Search will tell you which courses have vacancies - an 'x' will be displayed next to any available courses. Before you apply, contact the university or college to make sure that they can consider you. Check Course Search to see if there is an Entry Profile for the course because some will tell you what the university or college looks for in their students and might also have case studies from students who have taken the course. Choose a course and enter the details in Track. UCAS will then send your application to the university or college, one choice at a time. When you apply to a university or college in Extra, they can view details of choices you made when you originally applied.
Choosing a course Research the courses before deciding which to apply for. If you applied for high-demand courses originally and were unsuccessful, you could consider related or alternative subjects. You can only apply for one choice through Extra at a time, so please make sure the place is still available before you add it. Once you add an Extra choice it cannot be changed until 21 days have passed.
What happens next? If you are offered a place, you can choose whether or not to accept it. If you accept an offer, you are committed to it, which means that you cannot apply anywhere else. You will need to reply to your offer by the date shown in Track. If you decline an offer, or the university or college turns you down, you can apply for a different choice through Extra (time permitting). Your Extra button in Track will be reactivated. You can also apply for a different choice if you haven't received a decision from your Extra choice within 21 days of applying to them. If you don't get an offer in Extra, don't worry! You can apply through the Clearing process, which gives you another opportunity to apply for vacancies.
The next issue of the newsletter will be posted on Thursday 27 February. Kind regards, The High School Counselors