Hello Admissions Family,

It may not feel like fall here in Texas, but to me, Labor Day is the real beginning of the season. I hope you are all staying healthy and as relaxed as possible in our special 2023 version of senior year craziness. As we enter the early fall, the mid-admissions-season stretch here in the admissions journey, I wanted to check in with a few reminders.

Warning: these updates and reminders are loooooong… and there’s a lot of information, but I just wanted you (and your parents) to see it all written out, so if there’s anywhere you need to catch up, you can know. 

BIG TO DO LIST (OR YOUR NEW PART-TIME JOB): You can find a link to the document here. Be sure to look through that, check off or highlight any tasks you’ve completed. 

THINK ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE LIST:  Plan to have at least 3 colleges where your likelihood of acceptance is high — or guaranteed — and you can afford it (parents, it’s your job to do the Net Price Calculators for this) and you like it and can happily see yourself there. There’s nothing worse than being shut out from all your highly selective/rejective colleges and being left without choices. I want you to have at least three likely, welcoming, sure-bet schools on your list. 

ORGANIZE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS: You might want to make a folder for each college you’re applying to in a Supplemental Essay Resources Folder. Inside that, make a document where you copy and paste each Supplemental Essay topic and Word Count.


  • SUBMIT TEST SCORES IF NEEDED: You don’t have to wait to apply to send official scores if they are needed. If you have test scores you want to submit, be sure to send your test scores from the College Board or ACT site if you haven’t already. Check on the schools’ websites to see if you can self-report tests — and if not make sure you submit them (if you are submitting this year). If you have already applied to schools or will be applying to ED or EA, I’d like you to get those scores sent if they need to be submitted. I suggest making a column on a spreadsheet to indicate whether you need to send scores or you can self-report, and then to check when you’ve submitted.
  • TEST OPTIONAL OR NOT?: If you have test scores, then be sure to check the school’s Common Data Set to see where your scores lie in their percentiles. You can “google common data set and college name.” If your scores fall in the 50% or above, I suggest you send them. If on the SAT, you have over 700s for both tests, I suggest you send them even if your score isn’t over the 50%. If on the ACT, all your scores are over the 30 mark, I suggest you send them even if your composite isn’t above the 50%. If your score is between 25% and 50% but is one of the top scores at your school, I suggest you send it. I also suggest making a column on your spreadsheet to indicate whether a school is test-optional or not and whether you should send it or not based on your research.

YOUR SCHOOL COUNSELOR: Check in with your high school counselor and make sure they have everything they need on their end from you. Make an appointment to have an official sit-down meeting. Keep on top of their deadlines and in-school requirements.

NAVIANCE, MAIA LEARNING, SCOIR, CIALFO (etc): If your school uses Naviance, Maia Learning, SCOIR, Cialfo, or another platform, make sure that all the schools you’re applying to are on your platform’s list that you are applying to — not just the “thinking about” list.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Confirm that your letters of recommendation are ready to go. Check-in with your teachers and make sure they’ve sent them or send them a gentle reminder if they haven’t. Send them a “brag sheet” or “cheat sheet” if you haven’t already. If your school doesn’t have a form for you to fill out, I have a sample for you to find here. Be sure to write a thank you note after.

SPAM EMAIL FOLDER: If you’ve already started applying to colleges —  or even if you haven’t, get in the habit of checking your spam folders regularly. Students often miss important messages from colleges in those folders. Parents, try to help out with this. If you’re not on your child’s email that they’re using for admissions, be sure to remind them to check regularly. Often, they’ll send info about specific dates and deadlines that aren’t published on Common APP.

INTERVIEWS: Be sure to check on the websites about interview deadlines. For some schools, if they offer interviews, you will need to apply by a certain deadline. Rice and Duke have been examples in the past. Tulane needs you to sign up for interviews by a deadline. And then, be sure to check spam folders. Also, make sure you have your voicemail set up. Often your interviewer will try to leave a message. If you’d like to do interview prep, I have a list of questions you can practice with here! TIP: Make sure you write a thank you note that afternoon or evening and mention something specific the interviewer discussed.


  • EMAIL YOUR ADMISSIONS OFFICERS: If you haven’t yet reached out to the admissions officer for your area from your school, I suggest you do so. Don’t be afraid of introducing yourself and asking any questions you might have. 
  • VIRTUAL TOURS: Go on a college tour and info session hosted by the college for every college you’re applying to. Be sure to sign up with your college email. Mention something specific from the tour in your supplemental essays. See below for more info on virtual visits and live tours. 
  • REQUEST INFO: If you haven’t yet, request info from every college you’re applying to — also request info from honors programs and specific majors. Use your college email.
  • FOLLOW COLLEGES ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Use an acceptable account, preferably with your name if possible (no red cups, no alcohol, no smoking, no racist or misogynistic posts — be smart) and follow your college’s admissions offices on Instagram and Twitter. They put out important information that can be helpful with your application.
  • CHECK OUT EPIC: You can go here and connect with your admissions officers by leaving them a short message and you can hear what they have to say.

VIRTUAL AND LIVE VISITS AND TOURS: Go on a college tour and info session hosted by the college for every college you’re applying to. Be sure to sign up with your college email. If you’re planning to apply to Plan 2 at UT Austin or other honors programs (especially at UT Austin), be sure to go on those tours too. Take notes! You’ll want to mention something specific from the tour in your supplemental essays.

  • UT AUSTIN VIRTUAL VISIT: If you’re planning to apply to UT Austin,  here’s the link to sign up for virtual tours
  • GEORGIA PEACH STATE TOUR: If you’re applying to Georgia Tech, U Georgia, Augusta, or Georgia State, be sure to sign up for one of the sessions — they’re offering both virtual and live tours. Here’s the link.

SENIOR YEAR COURSE LIST: SENIOR YEAR COURSE LIST: Make sure your senior year course list has all the courses you need for the colleges you’re applying to. Most highly selective colleges like to see: 

  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of Science (including Bio, Chem, and Physics)
  • 4 years of History or Social Science
  • 4 years of Math (with Calculus)
  • 4 years of Foreign Language. 
  • If you don’t have these, check the recommended course lists for the colleges you’re applying to. 
  • TIP: If you need a course, you could possibly do a one-semester next spring either at your school or at Community College, but you’ll need to be signed up for it to list it on your application.

COMMON APP, SCOIR COALITION APP, and APPLY TEXAS: Start filling out the basic information if you haven’t yet. For Apply Texas, you only need to fill it out once for your first school, then when you’ve completed that application, you copy it to start your second school.

ACTIVITIES AND RESUMES: I have a BIG Activities spreadsheet to help you get your activities in order for putting on applications if you haven’t done so already. If you’d like to make a copy of it, you can find it here.

COVID-19 ESSAY: Should you write it or not? Read this info to make the decision. Tulane Blog, Georgia Tech Blog, My Summary of “Statement from over 300 College Deans,” Common App Statement

WHY MAJOR, WHY COLLEGE, WHY EC SUPPLEMENTS: For schools that have why college or why major essays, be sure you are doing your research (professors — maybe even reach out to one, programs, classes, clubs, read the school newspaper, etc.)

LOOKING AHEAD — SOME SUGGESTED INTERNAL DEADLINES: This can help you with planning as you think more about the fall semester.

  • TAMU (Business or Engineering – or if you’re not top 10% in-state): before September 20
  • Georgia, UNC, Georgia Tech: before October 4
  • UT Austin, UIUC: Before October 13
  • SCEA/ED/EA/Priority Deadlines in November: before October 20
  • UC Schools/CSU/Priority Deadlines of Dec 1: Before Thanksgiving Break (November 17)
  • RD Schools: Completed and ready to go by December 15. If you don’t need them because you get in ED, then no need to send them, but they need to be ready. 

BOOKS: Time to Research and Read! If you haven’t yet gotten these books, I suggest you start reading them now: The Fiske Guide to College Admissions, Colleges That Change Lives, and Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be.

NET PRICE CALCULATORS: Start exploring net price calculators with your parents on college web pages so you can see what works best for your family in determining costs. Before a school’s finalized on your child’s list, make sure it’s in the range of affordability by using the net price calculator on the college’s website. If it’s not and they don’t offer merit scholarships, I suggest taking it off the list. You really don’t want to saddle your child with debt if it’s unnecessary. I have net price calculators linked to over 500 colleges on my website, www.collegevizzy, or you can just google net price calculator and college name to find it too (usually). We can talk more about this if you like.

MY SOCIAL MEDIA:  I encourage you to follow me on Instagram (@admissionsmom),  — and maybe even Reddit (u/admissionsmom).  You’ll find that I’m doling out lots of daily advice there and most of it will be geared towards seniors this fall.

MY WORKSHOPS: I have recorded LiveStream workshops where I follow exactly what I do with my students! You can find a bit about each of them down below. If you’d like more information about any of the workshops ahead of time, you can email me at admissionsmoma2c@gmail.com.

  • Supplemental Essay Workshop (THIS Sunday, September 18, 11 AM Central): YouTube
  • Editing Workshop (Sunday, October 16, 11 AM Central): YouTube
  • Writing About Your Activities Workshop (Sunday, October 23, 11 AM Central): YouTube
  • UC PIQs Workshop (Sunday, November 6, 2022, 11 AM Central): YouTube

BREATHE: Take time to sit back and take a big deep breath. You’re not running a race here, and for most of the colleges on your list, you have plenty of time. Remember to focus on where you are in the process – not where you think you should be or where your friends or the others are. And YOU’ve got this!

OK! That’s it for now. I think I’ve droned on enough, but I’ll be back in about a month with an October update!

I think that’s enough info for now!

Good luck and stay amazing,

Carolyn (AdmissionsMom)