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Is Your Student College Ready

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Is Your Student College Ready

High School Sophomores, Juniors and Parents here is what happened last week during #CollegeCash. If your student is wondering how to choose high school classes and activities, create a realistic college list, get the most out of a campus visit, or maintain a positive and healthy attitude, Jill shared with us how to make educated decisions throughout the process—and how to do it with a smile.

Madenberg is a former high school counselor with 25+ years of experience helping families navigate the college application process. Jill has visited over 750 college campuses, and believes that finding the right “fit” can be an exciting process. Co-Author of Love The Journey To College, Jill Madenberg will demystify the college process and give us tips on how to reduce stress and enjoy the college process.

Principal at @MadenbergCC, Jill has been interviewed by Washington Post, WSJ and many other publications. She has advised hundreds of families on how to embrace the college admissions process. Jill Madenberg has read thousands of college essays and reviewed thousands of #college applications. Join us as she demystifies the college process and shares tips on how to maximize your admission chances.

Check out what she has to say below…

How can juniors plan successful spring break college tours? 

 Visit colleges that “count” Demonstrated Interest. Preferably colleges that you are likely to get accepted to. If your grades & scores are a notch or 2 above the college’s averages, the school may be a likely option.

And, check their academic calendars to make sure students will be on campus for your visit.

If these are your first college visits, focus on finding characteristics and qualities you do/don’t want in college. For example, you may learn that you definitely want a city campus.

Don’t focus yet on the name on the gate. Finding ‘must-have’ characteristics will help you create a great list of colleges.

What are some things juniors can do this summer? 

Don’t worry about engaging in activities you think colleges want to see. Do something you love. Try to make a meaningful impact and be authentic.

If you’re so inclined, get a substantial jumpstart on your college applications. This will reduce stress during the school year. The application process is NOT hard, but it is time consuming. Plan accordingly.

What three things do you recommend juniors consider when planning their classes for next year?

Take the most rigorous courses you can handle. Be realistic about your time – take into account your other responsibilities. Don’t get a case of Senioritis – colleges will want to see that you’re still taking your studies seriously.

If you are aiming for competitive colleges, be sure to continue with all 5 academic subjects, if appropriate.

If you apply to colleges and then decide to drop a level in a class, you will need to notify the colleges of that change. Be mindful. Challenge yourself but don’t overdo it.

What three things do you recommend sophomores consider when planning their classes for next year? 

A lot of A3 applies here but the huge difference is that 11th grade is still about building your GPA.

In most high schools, junior year is the last chance to improve your GPA. Colleges love to see an upward trend in grades.

Most juniors will do some standardized testing. Properly preparing for a standardized test usually takes a lot work. Think of it like an AP class in addition to your course load.

Do you have test prep suggestions for high school students? 

There are over 1000 colleges that offer test flexible admissions policies. Check out the list here: and make sure you confirm by checking the college websites.

Make a personal standardized testing plan in the spring of 10th grade. Plan to take a free diagnostic ACT and SAT to determine which test makes the most sense for you. You do NOT need to take both tests.

If you are a strong student, you may want to add Subject Tests (also called SAT II’s) at the end of 10th and/or11th grade to strengthen your applications. Not many colleges still require the Subject Tests, but strong scores could help boost your applications.

If juniors want to get a jumpstart on their essays, are they important? 

This can vary from school to school but this is a chance to shine! Try to make your college essays memorable.

There is a main essay and potentially many supplemental essays. Do not underestimate how long it will take to craft each essay. Supplemental questions are written by the colleges – the colleges care A LOT about how you answer these questions.

Stay way ahead of deadlines and be organized. Check out Chapter 16 in “Love the Journey to College” for more tips.

What can seniors do if they got wait-listed? 

 Go online and “accept” a spot on the wait list. Send an email to your regional admissions counselor about your continued interest.

Send 3rd quarter grades if they are strong. Continue to be in touch with admissions, but don’t over do it.

You may also ask your school counselor to be in touch with the college on your behalf.

For more details, you can check out my recent blog post  or Chapter 17 in “Love the Journey to College.”

Is it ok if students change their schedule spring semester of senior year? 

Yes but it is not ideal. Keep in mind that #colleges must be notified of all schedule changes. Your college applications are reviewed based on the information provided by you at the time you submitted your application. Any changes must be reported.

How can seniors make an informed decision when picking a college? 

Hopefully your college list includes only schools you would be happy to attend. If you are accepted to more than one college, then you’ll have some great choices.

Compare all financial and merit offers. After all notifications are in, narrow the focus to your 3 top options based on overall fit.

Spend as much time on each of the 3 campuses as possible. Talk to current upperclassmen and learn as much as you can about the culture of each school.

Trust your gut. When you walk around campus, do you see yourself there? Do you think you could easily make friends? Get excited. It’s a big and wonderful decision!

What are three things you want to leave us with tonight? 

High School is a time of self-exploration and discovery. If you find a passion, follow it It’s more than okay if you don’t know what you want to major in or what career you want to pursue.

There are about 4000 colleges in our country. Find 10 that you LOVE and be confident you can get into 3 or 4 of them and embrace your journey to college.

We have a SPECIAL for CollegeCash participants – schedule your 1st hour w Jill at a REDUCED RATE. Head to our website (, click on “Guest Login” in the menu and enter the code LOVEMYJOURNEY.

If you would like more helpful tips, “Love the Journey to College” is easy to read and contains lots of suggestions from my + years as a college counselor.

Join the conversation every Thursday for the #CollegeCash Twitter chat at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET.

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