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August 2020: Things To Tend To

Hello Seniors,

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the beginning of your final year of high school - well, as best you can anyway. Summer, much as it was, is just about behind you and for those of you distance learning at home it may not feel much different from being at home during your summer break. Nevertheless, I hope that you can create a positive and interesting academic learning environment in your bedroom, at the dining room table, in the kitchen, or wherever it is that you become, once again, a student.

I want to remind you of some important steps that you should be paying attention to as we move into late August.

ACT and SAT testing

1.) If you are still scheduled for one or more tests, please check with your testing sites to make sure that they will still be open on your upcoming test days. Though you may be registered for a test, your testing site may not necessarily be open for testing. The College Board predicts that nearly half of tests scheduled to be taken this weekend will not happen due to site closings. Call the high school or testing facility where you are scheduled for testing in order to check their status. Keep in mind that some people are showing up for tests only to find the testing center is closed. Don't let this happen to you.

2.) Keep a sharp eye for any testing day announcements coming from your high school. Many schools are hoping to be able offer a testing day for their students this September - especially in light of the fact that some seniors may have not yet taken a test.

3.) Be aware that many colleges and universities are now test optional as a result of Covid-19 and its effects on students' ability to take an ACT or SAT test. Many colleges also have a policy that does not require students to submit a test score in order to be eligible for scholarships.

This does not mean, though, that you should not submit a score to some schools.

a.) If your test score falls within an average range for your particular college and area of study, it might be wise to submit your score.

b.) If your score is below the average range, it may not be wise to submit your score.

c.) If your school does not require a test for admissions but does require a test for scholarship, you may have to submit a test score.

Please ask me about this if you have questions on this matter as this determination is made on a case by case basis.

4. Do you really need more testing? Please ask me about this if you have any questions.

Common Application

1.) You should have registered for a free account with The Common Application by this time.

2.) You should have begun to enter all of your pertinent personal information into your Common App profile.

3.) You should have created your list of colleges in My Colleges.

(Need to discuss your college list with me? Give me a shout - that's what I am here for.

4.) You can determine the question and (essay) writing requirements for your schools by clicking on each school name when you are in the My Colleges list and then clicking on Questions or Writing Requirements and, in some cases, simply scrolling down to the bottom of each colleges' information section. This is also known as Supplemental information - including Questions and Supplemental Essays.

5.) Though you may have entered your ACT and SAT test score information into your Common Application, you may not wish to report test scores in some cases. You will be asked within the Questions section of each school's page if you are choosing to submit test scores. For some schools you might choose yes, for others it might be no. It depends upon the school. Please ask me if you need guidance on this section.

6.) Application date deadlines for each school are detailed in each college's information section under Application Deadlines. Be sure to check these dates carefully.

a.) Remember to apply early so that you are considered for maximum scholarship eligibility.

b.) If you are applying Early Decision this means you are establishing a binding decision to attend that school should it accept you. You can apply to only one school Early Decision or to only one school Single Choice Early Action.

c.) You can apply Early Action, Priority, Early Consideration, Rolling Admissions to as many schools as you wish. Just be sure to check their dates.

7.) Please let me know if you have any questions about completing the Common Application.


1.) Some schools do not use the Common Application. University of Illinois is one of these schools. U of I has their own application which can be found on their website. You can determine if your school is a Common Application school by going to the Common Application web site to see the list of schools that are members of the Common App.

2.) If schools offer more than one application platform for applying to their school via:

- their own application

- The Common Application

- The Coalition Application

this means that any of those applications is acceptable. Schools do not prioritize one over another.

Application Deadlines 1.) Do not submit an application to a college the night before it is due. Trust me. This is never a good idea. 2.) Please get your college application deadline dates in order so that you know what you have to do and when.

College Essays

1.) If you have not started your essay(s) by this time, it is now time that you get the party started. Many schools use the Common App prompts. You will need to select one. Schools that do not use the Common App have an essay prompt that is often similar to the prompts used by the Common App. You will likely be able to write one essay using a Common App prompt and then use that same essay for non-Common App schools. Just be sure you are answering the question.

2.) Some schools have a main essay to write and then also supplemental essays that you must write. Be sure that you find out what types of essays your schools require.

3.) Many students have started to work with me on the editing process. Please get in touch with me sooner than later so that you can get the essays put to bed before the school year gets too intense and application deadlines too close.

4.) If an essay is "optional" this can be considered an invitation to submit the essay. So, if you have written a required essay for one school you may as well also submit it to an optional school. Please ask me about this if you are unsure about what you should do.

Letters of Recommendation

Please check in with your letter writers at school to make sure these are all lined up. Remember: core academic teachers from junior year are almost always best - and especially from teachers whose subject area may pertain to your potential area of study in college.

Submitting Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation to Colleges

This will happen via your high school counseling office. Please be sure that you are adhering to your school's specific instructions and deadlines for making sure your transcripts and letters are requested by you in a timely fashion. Oftentimes high schools will have transcript request deadlines that are one to three weeks earlier than the college and university application submission deadlines. Following your high school's procedures are absolutely integral to a successful application process. Information regarding this matter should be forthcoming any day now from your high school counseling office. Any questions? Please speak with your school counselor or your school's college counselor.

Meeting College Representatives

You can schedule virtual meetings with college admissions reps by visiting the college and university web sites. All colleges are now well-versed in meeting over video links with prospective applicants. For schools that require interviews, or which make them an option, the schools will also have a procedure for scheduling these as well. Not sure how to make that happen? Just contact the college admission office via email or phone.

Campus Visits

As you know, visiting colleges has been extremely limited due to Covid-19. If you wish to visit a school, please contact the school prior to traveling so that you can make sure a school is even allowing visitors on their campus.

In the past, I have sent many links to you for how to visit schools virtually.

I hope that they were helpful.

Upcoming Great Stuff:

College Information Sessions via StriveScan and the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling

Keep up the great work everybody. And, again, best of luck in the new school year.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

J. Tracy Mehr

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