College Application Checklist

Essays + Supplements

Writing the main application essay is the part of the process most students dread. While it is one of the most time-consuming pieces of application preparation, it is one of the most impactful. The main essay, and any supplemental essays required by individual institutions, allow an applicant to become multidimensional. This is a chance to add their voice and personality (and sometimes humor!) to what might otherwise be a bland application.

Activity List

The activity list on a college application gives an admission reviewer the opportunity to learn about an applicant’s life outside the classroom. Because a significant amount of the college experience revolves around the many extracurricular and social activities offered at an institution, admission officers use an applicant’s activity list to assess whether they’ll be active members of the campus community. It’s important to remember that colleges are looking for depth, not just breadth, in activity lists. They want to see students who are dedicated and passionate about their activities, not simply those who start or join clubs in an attempt to pad their application.

Teacher and Counselor Recommendations

Most colleges require students to submit teacher recommendations, a recommendation from their school counselor, and a copy of their most recent transcripts. Unlike in the past, all recommendation forms and records are now sent electronically from the student’s recommenders or school directly to the colleges to which they are applying. Students should ask teachers prior to sending the electronic request and be sure to give them several weeks to complete their recommendations. While the actual submission of recommendations is done by the counselor and teachers, the responsibility of confirming they’ve been received by the colleges is the responsibility of the student.

Test Scores

In addition to having high school transcripts and recommendations sent, students will need to have the results of their ACT or SAT testing sent to each college to which they will apply. While every college in the U.S. will accept results from either one of these tests, most colleges will use just the highest score from one test sitting. It’s important to check score reporting policies for each institution as there are some who are test optional and others that may require students to submit scores from every test sitting on their record. Also, requests should be made at least one month prior to an application deadline as delivery time of test scores to colleges can take several weeks.

Review Needed Materials

Students preparing materials should be sure to check specific application requirements for each institution. Colleges also may require interviews, auditions, portfolios or additional testing depending on the type of student and program they are considering. It’s important for students to pay careful attention to requirements and deadlines for each individual college. By ensuring all materials are submitted in a timely manner, and by providing information that helps the admission committee get to know them well, students will have the best opportunities possible once decision day arrives.

credit: Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine

Meeting LAUSD Eligibility

As the school year is starting off in full swing, I wanted to talk about eligibility and how to get started on receiving services within the student’s school district whether it’d be counseling, speech and language, occupational, physical, advanced PE, RSP, and other therapies. LAUSD is providing eligible Title I students in private schools to receive therapeutic services. This is new for me to start working in the private school sector and I’m sure that this list of private schools will only continue to grow. I realized that many parents do not know who to contact and how to go about getting their child to receive the services they need when he/she is having academic performance issues. The steps below covers most services that the school district offers to Title I students.

The counselor/OT/speech/rsp, etc…provides individual and/or group counseling services only to eligible Title I students on the official eligible student spreadsheet identified as having academic performance issues.
Title I schools/student definition: (credit:
“Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Federal funds are currently allocated through four statutory formulas that are based primarily on census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state.”

How do I get my child to meet eligibility?
First, you must go to your child’s school in person and speak with the principal, child’s teacher, administrator on site and submit a referral & assessment form. These forms will have specific questions on reasons for academic referral, information regarding the primary problem, interventions implemented, and specific academic goals set by the referring individual. Your child will be evaluated with parental consent and will be conducted by professionals (i.e. school psychologist) to determine whether your child has a learning disability. You may also take your child for an independent evaluation if you disagree with the results of the school’s evaluation.

Your child is eligible for services. Now what?
The results of the evaluation will be used to determine which services they receive through an appropriate educational plan. An evaluation plan will be completed at the beginning of each semester and will include student academic performance goals, the specific service goal(s) to improve identified student academic performance, and classroom intervention that are aligned with the service goal(s). The results of the Title I services will be evaluated at the close of each semester to determine if the services contributed improve student academic performance levels.

Service provider’s on-site time at a school will be determined by caseload based on referrals received by LAUSD from individual school principals.

Services to Title I students include:
– Meeting with the principal, school staff, and parents/guardians to provide ongoing information on the progress of each eligible Title I student receiving services toward established counseling goals.
– Conducting classroom observations in order to assess student performance in the classroom.
– Conducting parent/guardian and teacher interviews to gather additional information in determining counseling and support services to identified Title I students.

Service provider’s primary responsibility is to provide service to as many Title 1 eligible students as possible. If the needs of the student exceed the school of Title I services, appropriate referrals will be made. Student services are the priority.

Motivational Ways in Speaking

For this week’s post, I wanted to introduce some motivational techniques I’ve used in speaking with my students. I’ve found that using this way to speak with students who are not motivated, angry often, and living without a strong role model in their life (i.e. divorced/separated parents, parents working late, etc) seem to slowly open up in our sessions and talk about their issues at school and home. If you’re a parent reading this and you’ve been having trouble communicating with your child, try using these steps below. The goal is for him or her to realize their issues independently and realize they need to take steps to change into who they want to become and what they want for their life. This technique is something I’ve practiced during grad school and in my current job as a counselor. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Affirmation: This step is giving a statement in response to what the student tells you. The goal is to recognize the student’s strengths and efforts to change. They help to increase a student’s confidence in their ability to change.
    “You showed a lot of (insert person’s trait, strength, determination) by doing that.”
  2. Open-Ended Question: This allows the student to tell their story and to do most of the talking. This gives the counselor an opportunity to respond with reflections or summary statements that express empathy. Too many back-to-back close ended questions can make the student feel like they’re being interrogated.
    What makes you think it might be time for a change?”
    “What brought you here today?”
    “What happens when you (insert problem behavior)? What is that like for you?”
  3. Giving Advice: Telling students what to do usually does not work well. Most students prefer to be given choices to make their own decisions. Talking to the student in a non-judgemental tone of voice can allow him or her to make informed decisions about changing the problem behavior.
    “What do you know about how your (insert behavior) affecting your (i.e. relationships, health)?”
    [Followed by]
    “Are you interested in learning more about (insert problem behavior) and the benefits of quitting or changing (insert problem behavior)?”
    If the individual doesn’t want to change at this time..(which is common, he or she is not ready to hear more information or trust you yet)
    “I get the feeling that you are not ready to talk more about this at this time. We can discuss this at a later time when you are ready/ change your mind.” Let the student know that you will be around to listen which gives him or her the feeling that they’re not alone.
  4. Approval: Students are more likely to discuss change when respected and asked than when being told to change.
    “I noticed that you have (insert problem behavior). Do you mind if we talk how changing/quitting (insert problem behavior) might affect your life?”
  5. Normalizing: This technique is used to communicate that having difficulties changing is not uncommon for many students. I’ve found that giving personal examples or telling a story about someone I know can help in letting them understand this is a normal process.
    “A lot of students think about changing their (insert problem behavior).”
    “Most students struggle with (insert problem behavior).”
  6. Reflective Listening: This technique allows counselors to listen and paraphrase the student’s comments back. The goal of this technique is to build empathy, encourage the student to state their own reasons for change, and affirm the counselor understands their feeling.
    Example of starter sentences:
    It sounds like… , It seems as if.. , What I hear you saying.. , I get the sense that.. , I get the sense that this has been difficult..”