Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category

High School Juniors: Narrowing Down Your College List

If you are a junior in high school, chances are you have already begun receiving information from colleges and universities. As you’re reading over this information, you may notice that some of these schools are in-state, while others are out-of-state. You may be hearing from large public schools, small private institutions, or a mix of both. Some colleges may offer outstanding athletics, while others focus on having great student services on campus. No matter what types of post-secondary institutions you are hearing from, one thing is certain: you will need to determine which campus is the best match and fit for YOU.

When I was a junior in high school (which was not too long ago), I remember receiving mail from dozens of colleges and universities from all around the country, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with all of that information. No one was there to tell me how to organize my interests or how to choose the college that would be a good match and fit for me. Thankfully, you have Cappex to assist you with this oftentimes confusing process.

By narrowing down and organizing your college list as a junior in high school, you will benefit in several ways:

1) You’ll have time over the summer to visit the colleges on your list to determine if that campus is a good fit for you. As a former college and career counselor, I heard horror stories every year from former students that chose to attend a campus they had not visited who, after their first semester, decided the college wasn’t how they thought it would be. Don’t be that student!

2) You will begin applying to colleges at the beginning of senior year. To save yourself time, you will want to strategically choose a list of schools for which to apply. If you apply to every school that sends you information, you won’t have time to determine if the school is the right fit or your chances of being accepted. You don’t want to be the student who only applies to schools that are academically out of reach.

3) By applying early during your senior year, you are sure to make important deadlines that could likely increase your chances of being accepted, as well as receive scholarships offered by your various colleges.

So how do you begin narrowing down your college list? When I advise students, I tell them to focus on two factors: College Match and College Fit. College Match refers to your academics and how you compare to the average incoming freshmen class of an institution. College Fit is everything else: size, location, tuition cost, private vs. public, programs, activities, etc.

College Fit

Choosing the right college for you is a very personal experience and you may not be looking for the same things as, say, your best friend or significant other. I often compare choosing the right college to picking out the right car. Imagine that you are buying a car and are able to pick from any car in the entire world. What features are you looking for? Some may want a car with good gas mileage, while others care more about how it looks. What about cost? Special features? Chances are, because we are all unique individuals, we each look for something different in our dream car. The same goes for when it comes to choosing your college.

College Match

Once you’ve determined which “fit” components you are looking for from you schools, make sure you include a variety of schools for which you can be accepted. As I mentioned before, College Match is when you are comparing your GPA and Placement Test (ACT or SAT) scores to the average incoming freshmen class of a college or university. There are three different categories for College Match: Safety, Target, and Reach.

Safety: Your academics fall above that of the average incoming freshmen class (Example: the average incoming freshmen class has a 2.5-2.7 GPA and 19-21 on the ACT and you have a 3.0 and a 22). It is a safe bet that, based on just academics, you will be accepted to this school.

Target: Your academics fall within the average of the incoming freshmen class (Example: the average incoming freshmen class has a 2.5-2.7 GPA and 19-21 on the ACT and you have a 2.6 GPA and a 20 on the ACT). This school would then be a good match for you academically. When making your list, it is advised to have a majority of schools that fall in the Target range.

Reach: Your academics fall below the average of the incoming freshmen class, but you are still “within reach”(Example: the average incoming freshmen class is a 2.5-2.7 GPA and 19-21 on the ACT and you have a 2.4 and an 18). Although you do not fall within the average, you are just below it, meaning you are still within reach.

It is important to remember that because these are averages, there were students who were admitted whose GPA and test scores fell above these averages, as well as below. That is why you should still consider both safety and reach schools when making a college list.

Good news! We can make this process easier for you!

Cappex offers several tools that not only help you find the right college, but we also take it a step further and allow you to connect directly with college admission representatives. Here is a list of some of our tools and how you can use them to help you find the college that is the right match and fit for you:

        Student Profile Edit

Student Profile: By keeping your profile as up-to-date as possible, you allow Cappex to match you with best-match and best-fit colleges from around the country (and even the world if you’re interested). Tell us your academic information, your activities while in high school, as well as what “fit” components are important to you in your future college, and we’ll do the work for you. Not only are we showing you colleges you are interested in, but also colleges that are looking for a student like you (pretty cool, huh?). To access your Cappex profile, log in to your Cappex account and click “Profile” in the top navigation bar.

WAMC edit

What Are My Chances® Calculator: This tool allows you to determine your chances of being admitted into a school. Use this tool to assist you with organizing your college list to include Safety, Target, and Reach schools. For best results, ensure your profile is complete and up-to-date. To access this feature, log in to your Cappex account, click on any of the schools in your College List, and click “Admissions” in the left sidebar.

Scatorgram edit

Visual College Admission Scattergrams: With this tool, find out how you compare to other students who have applied to a college. See which scores were admitted, denied, and waitlisted. To access this feature, log in to your Cappex account, click on any of the schools in your College List, and click “Admissions” in the left sidebar.

Compare Tool edit

College Comparison Tool: Compare the schools on your college list to see how all of their attributes stack up against one another. To access this feature, log in to your Cappex account, click “Colleges” in the top navigation bar, and click the “Compare” tab in the “My College List” section.

Message edit

College Message Center: You’ll receive messages from colleges that are a good match and fit for you based on your profile information. You’ll have the chance to connect with these schools to receive more information! This also allows you to be proactive and let schools know you are interested in them. Networking with college admission representatives gives you a chance to stand out and be more than just numbers on an application. To access this feature, log in to your Cappex account and click “Colleges” in the top navigation bar.

Trip planner edit

Campus Visit Planner™: Once you’ve narrowed down your college list, make a plan to visit the campuses. You wouldn’t buy a car if you had never seen it in person, right? In my opinion, you also shouldn’t choose your college if you haven’t stepped foot on campus. To access this feature, log in to your Cappex account and click “Visits” in the top navigation bar.

Now that you have an understanding of which types of schools to include on your list, which factors are important to consider in a college, as well as which tools will help you along in the process, hopefully you feel more prepared to handle all of the information you’re receiving on these colleges and universities. Good luck in your college search process, and remember, Cappex is always here to help!

New to Cappex? Create your free student profile here.

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College Decision Day Checklist

Categories: Admissions Advice

National College Decision Day is May 1!


National College Decision Day is the day by which you must inform a college or university that you plan to enroll there*. Usually this involves sending in a deposit to secure your place. Before you make your final decision, review our checklist to ensure you make the best choice for you!

Read your award letter.

Cost is an important factor when making your college decision! By now, you should have received award letters from the colleges you’ve applied and been accepted to. Before you make your final decision, you have to have a good idea of how much you will need to pay for each college. Think about it…would you agree to buy a car without knowing how much it cost? First take the time to make sure you fully understand each award letter and then compare your award letters to help narrow down your choices. Click here to download our “Can you afford your college choices?” worksheet.

Visit the campus.

Another factor in your college decision should be whether you actually like the campus. If you visited a college and didn’t really enjoy the time you spent there, perhaps you should think twice about choosing that school. That campus is where you’ll be spending the majority of the next four years, so you’re going to want to actually enjoy the time you spend there! If you haven’t yet been able to visit the colleges on your final list, make every effort to do so. To use our car analogy again, you wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it in person, would you? If you are absolutely unable to visit a campus in person, at least take a virtual/online tour. Click here to download our “College Visit Checklist” worksheet.

Do it for the right reasons.

Try not to base your final college decision on the wrong reasons. For example, the college your best friend or significant other has decided to attend might be a great fit for them, but that doesn’t automatically make it a great fit for you. Or maybe your parents had their hearts set on you attending their alma mater. Instead of these reasons, try to base your final college decision on factors that are more important for you personally, such as academics, programs of study, athletics and extracurriculars, financial aid, campus size and location, housing and dining, and other things that you want most out of your college experience. Click here to download our “Choosing Your College Priorities” worksheet.

Go ahead, make your choice.

So you’ve considered everything mentioned above, done a lot of thinking, and have finally narrowed your college list down to a single one. Congratulations — you’ve made your final college decision! Take a moment to celebrate this amazing achievement. By making this important decision, you’ve taken a huge step on your journey to achieving your higher education goals. You should be proud!

After you’ve made your decision, join us for our Cappex College Decision Day celebration! We’re proud of you too, and we’d love to know where you decided to go. Be sure to log on to Cappex and update your college list! Then tell us what school you chose by posting on our Facebook timeline or sending us a Tweet with the hashtag #CappexCollegeDecision.


* Note that some colleges and universities might have a different deadline for putting in your deposit; contact your college or university of choice to confirm.
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What does attending a college fair tell a college about you?

Categories: Admissions Advice


The last CappexConnect Online College Fair of the season is almost here! Will you be joining us? If you’re still not sure, another way to think about it is to consider what attending a college fair says about you to a college.

1. You are open-minded.

If you are at a college fair, a college representative can assume that most likely you haven’t decided yet which college you want to attend. Even if you already have a specific college in mind, maybe you want to explore more options to see if there are any you might like better. College representatives love students like you because they get to show off their school and all the amazing things they have to offer their students. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, even ones as direct as, “Why should I go to your school?” Most college representatives will appreciate this question and the opportunity to brag a bit about their college.

2. You are interested. 

Level of interest is a big factor in the college admissions process. Obviously college admissions representatives like to see a high level of interest in their applicants when deciding which ones to accept. When you attend a college fair, engage with college representatives, and ask a lot of questions, it shows them that you are highly interested in their college. Then you can use the information you learned during the college fair in your application essay about why you want to attend that particular college.

3. You are willing to work.

Taking the time to attend a college fair in and of itself means that you are proactive and taking control of your college search. It shows that you are the type of student who is willing to work to achieve what he or she wants. That’s exactly the type of student colleges are looking for. They know that if you are putting forth the effort to decide which college is best for you, then you will work hard in your classes, effectively utilize the resources they can provide you, and ultimately become an alumni that they can be proud to call their own.

Click here to register for the CappexConnect Online College Fair, and don’t forget to apply for the $1,000 CappexConnect Scholarship!

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