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Monthly Goals Archive

ScholarMatch Virtual College Coaching 2018-2019

Jan & Feb Goal #1

Further Research Your Schools!

You conducted research when you built your college lists. You identified what you liked about each school’s academics, student life, campus and more. Now it’s time to figure out which of those colleges are really the best fit for you, and what you need to stay on top of with each school.

  • Create your Portal for all the schools you applied to, and check it regularly. Each school will send you pertinent information through their own portal. Do you remember when U.C. Irvine had to rescind 499 acceptance offers? Some offers were rescinded because students failed to provide further documents and information Irvine requested through their portal.
  • Enrollment fees (housing deposit, student orientation fees, etc) can be upwards of $600 or more. Often financial aid won’t cover these costs, so begin to plan how you can cover them!
  • Follow your school’s various social media pages – what they post will help you further understand the culture and life of a university. For example, the University of Chicago’s tumblr is a goldmine.
  • Schools will often hold admitted student fly-in days, where students can visit the campus. Sometimes schools are even able to cover the cost of travel for students! Vanderbilt, for example, reserves visits in April for admitted students. See which of your schools have similar programs!

Jan & Feb Goal #2

Finding Local Scholarships & Getting Organized!

The month of February is a great time to find local scholarships and getting organized with your applications and essays! Please see below for strategies and tips.

  • Tip 1: Stop by your high school college counseling center to find local scholarships or ask your teachers for a list. Many local organizations will drop off paper applications to high schools and not advertise them anywhere else. Make sure to also check the website of your high school and the websites of other high school districts. You may find a really great list of local scholarships in your area! Finally, check in with organizations you are involved in such as volunteer groups, religious institutions you attend, or the local library.
  • Tip 2: Utilize an online organizer! Use this tracker to organize your scholarship application deadlines to keep all your information in one place and help your to-dos feel more manageable.
  • Tip 3: Learn about the scholarship organization, their mission, and their values! Visit the scholarship organization’s website and learn more about who they are, their programs, and their mission. Being able to show that you’ve done your research goes a long way!

Jan & Feb Goal #3

Work Study?! Federal Subsidized Loan? Unmet Need?!

As you start receiving financial aid award letters, you will come across financial aid terminology that may be unfamiliar at first. Please take a look at this Financial Aid Glossary document to help you out, and go over any terms or concepts you’re not sure about with your coach.

Have you been selected for verification?
If your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) from your SAR (Student Aid Report) which you received after submitting your FAFSA has an asterisk (*) next to it, this means you have been flagged for verification. The process can be a bit overwhelming and confusing, and failure to submit all documentation required can derail your ability to receive federal or institutional aid. But don’t fear! We recommend the following:
  • Gather important financial aid documents such as tax returns or W-2s from your parents.
  • If your parents did not file taxes, fill out the non-tax filing form or notify your school.
  • If your parents are nervous about providing this information, please let them know that the information provided for the FAFSA or for schools is not shared with anyone else due to privacy reasons.
  • Refer to these guides, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your coach or contact ScholarMatch directly for help at

Nov & Dec Goal #1

Finish FAFSA & complete CSS!

Our FAFSA & CSS Profile 101 document outlines all the documents & information you need in order to submit FAFSA. Since we’ve shared resources previously, and their Chat Support is the best place for real-time assistance, we focus here on the CSS Profile (short for the College Scholarship Service Profile).

Remember, though: submit your FAFSA as soon as possible if you haven’t already!

Nov & Dec Goal #2

Own your application deadlines and essays!

Use our College Application Tracker to help you organize everything, if you haven’t already.

For your supplemental essays, you shouldn’t copy and paste the same piece into each school’s application, but don’t worry about going overboard with research. The two things you need to demonstrate are:

  1. Knowledge of the school &
  2. A convincing demonstration of personal interest

If you don’t yet have a list of 9-11 colleges, including at least 4 CollegePoint Schools, there’s still time for regular decision applications. Check your list for financial fit using this guide, and use College Scorecard and/or College Navigator to compare across schools.


Nov & Dec Goal #3

Consider Creating an Initial View Account!

What if you had 90 seconds to talk about yourself beyond what’s in the rest of your application?

ScholarMatch has arranged free access for you to the InitialView platform, for you to do just that!

Consider creating a FREE account with InitialView to tell your story while demonstrating your interest to as many schools as you want.

Check here to see which schools on your list might be on this platform.

Have any questions? See if they might be answered on InitialView’s FAQ page.

This InitialView opportunity is not required by any schools, but it’s a great way to show your top choices that you’re serious about them, if they’re on the platform.

October Goal #1

File your FAFSA as soon as you can!

Our FAFSA & CSS Profile 101 document outlines all the documents & information you need in order to submit FAFSA, and you can also download the FAFSA Cheat Sheet! It links to every possible resource you could need. If you’re smartphone-inclined, you can submit FAFSA through a mobile app.

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to submit it as soon as possible!

If you’re having trouble with FAFSA, the best way for an answer is to contact FAFSA directly. Their Chat Support offers great, real-time support!

These materials will also set you up to complete the The CSS Profile (short for the College Scholarship Service Profile), an application for financial aid applications at private colleges and some large public universities. Here’s a full list of schools!

October Goal #2

Own your supplemental essays!

This comprehensive guide has advice for the writing supplements specifically for schools ranging from Yale to the University of California to USC.

Check out this article in the New York Times for 10 great tips & tricks on essay writing

Watch this 2-minute video to learn why it’s more impressive to sound endearing, than impressive, in your essay.

The most important qualities your writing should demonstrate are in-depth knowledge of the school, and a convincing demonstration of personal interest. In short: do your research, and be authentically you!

Don’t forget: as you complete your personal statements, identify the 2-3 best ones that you can use later for scholarship applications!

October Goal #3

Consider an Early Action and/or Early Decision Application!

Watch this 2-min video about what to consider when considering EA/AD, and review the CollegeBoard’s benefits and drawbacks of early applications.

Choosing to apply Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED) may increase your chance of getting accepted! ED plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. EA plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college

Before you commit to applying anywhere EA or ED, you should complete this CollegeBoard Questionnaire to ensure you have fully thought your decision through. If you do commit to an ED application to a college, it’s critical to check for financial fit at that school!

September Goal #1

Prepare your FAFSA materials!

We’ve provided a checklist with the info and documents you will need to complete the FAFSA, which opened on October 1, many schools and states have a limited amount of aid, and some states have a FAFSA deadline of “as soon as possible after October 1,” (meaning they actually could run out of financial aid) so it’s good to complete it sooner rather than later.

The Federal Student Aid info center will be your friend: you can browse FAQs and email/chat/call with any questions you have.

These materials will also set you up to complete the The CSS Profile (short for the College Scholarship Service Profile), an application for financial aid applications at private colleges and some large public universities. Here’s a full list of schools!

September Goal #2

Balance your college list: think financial fit and selectivity!

You’ve already begun to think about balancing for selectivity (how competitive the schools on your list are) by including academic safety, target, and reach schools.

Here are two next steps we recommend:

1. Aim to narrow your list down to 9-11 colleges, including at least 4 CollegePoint Schools. These are colleges and universities in the US with the highest graduation rates (70% or higher).

2. Make sure to carefully check for financial fit, using this guide! Focus on colleges which meet as close to 100% of need as possible, and use College Scorecard and/or College Navigator to review colleges’ average net price for families whose annual income is similar to yours.

September Goal #3

Map out deadlines and requirements with your coach! 

Here’s a College Application Tracker we made for you to do just that! This template is view-only, but you can click “File” > “Make a copy” to save your own version, edit as you please, and share with your coach. We recommend tracking:

Prompts and deadlines for all your personal statements!

Application fees/fee waivers! Here’s a Fee Waiver Cheat Sheet, to help you figure out if you’re eligible to have these costs reduced or removed.

Scholarships! Read our September Scholarship Spotlight for some current suggestions, with awards ranging from $1,000-$40,000 and sites for further research.

August Goal #1

Identify 2 Teachers and 1 Counselor for Letters of Recommendation

Before the school year starts, you should identify two core subject teachers and one guidance counselor who you will ask to write letters of recommendation.

Make sure to ask them sooner rather than later!

August Goal #2

Build a Balanced Initial College List of 12-15 Schools

Building balanced college list in terms of selectivity and financial fit is a crucial foundation for successful college application process. To that end, we recommend that you assemble an initial list of 12-15 schools by the end of August. As you research, focus key numbers like cost of attendance, % of financial need met, majors, and student:faculty ratio.

August Goal #3

Draft Common App Essay; Add Coach as “Advisor” for Application

Most students will need the Common Application to apply to at least one of the schools on your lists. You should also aim to identify which Common App essay prompt you will respond to, and share at least a first draft with your coach before the end of the month!

July Goal #1

Get to know your Coach; define your college Match and Fit 

Because you’ll be working closely with your College Coach over the course of the year, it will pay off to tell them about yourself now. Sharing your background, academic interests, passions outside of school, and hopes for college will help your coach provide you with the best individualized support.

Where to start? After you’ve downloaded our Road Map to College, check out our College Action Plan plan and get started with step one, finding your fit. Between academics, campus culture, student life, location, public vs. private, liberal arts vs. research, and other factors, there’s much to discuss!

July Goal #2

Identify 2-3 Fly-in Programs to apply for!

Want to visit colleges, and potentially get funding for travel and staying overnight? We highly recommend you do some research! College Greenlight has an amazing List of Fly-In Programs, organized by region.

Some of these programs are designed to encourage high-achieving students who may be lower-income, first-generation, or underrepresented to apply and to learn more about a specific college. There’s no better way to get a deeper sense of a school’s community and atmosphere.

Each has different deadlines and visit dates, so stay on top of your calendar!

July Goal #3

Identify 2 potential scholarships to apply for!

ScholarMatch has highlighted select  opportunities in our National Scholarship Overview. Check them out! They’re lucrative, and you may be a competitive applicant.

If you want to carry out further research, creating a College Greenlight account is a great place to start. And CheggBigFuture, and Fastweb are other good additional places to look for scholarships.

If applicable, Immigrants Rising (formerly E4FC) also maintains valuable resources (scroll down to “Paying for College” > “Scholarships”) for undocumented students.

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