Mentoring Checklist 2018-2019

Keep track of what you should be doing with your mentee each month with this list

postit scrabble to do todo
Photo by Breakingpic on

September 2018

Important dates

  • September 26: Late registration deadline for October SAT (Register here)

To do:

  1. Prepare for FAFSA
    • Get parents’ tax information
    • Pay attention to deadlines – they may be different for federal, state, and college 
  2. Think about applying to fly-in programs (optional)
  3. Make sure your mentee makes a Common App account if they are going to apply to schools through the Common App
  4. Begin work on the college essay
  5. Begin thinking about who your mentee wants to ask for recommendation letters
    • Should have 3 individuals in mind
    • IDEALLY they will ask them by the end of September so that the recommender has as much time as possible to write the letter
    • at least 1-2 should be a teacher in the subject they wish to major in

October 2018

Important dates

  • October 1: FAFSA is released (submit ASAP for better chance at getting $$)
  • October 5: Deadline to register for November SAT
  • October 6: SAT
  • October 24: Deadline for late registration for November SAT

To do:

  1. Make a college list and start applications
  2. Continue applying to fly-in programs (optional)
  3. Continue working on or finishing college essay for the Common App
  4. By early October, your student should have asked 3 people to write letters for them
    • Check the recommendation requirements for the colleges your student is thinking of applying to
    • At least 1-2 should be a teacher in the subject they wish to major in
    • Usually 1 can be a non-teacher, someone who knows them well and can speak to their abilities and personal qualities

Yleana has tons of resources to help you in your college search. Here are a few to get you started:

list of colleges with programs for historically underrepresented students

colleges for high flyers to look into (if you’re getting 500+ on both Verbal and Math and 3.5+ GPA)

list of HBCUs

list of women’s colleges

You can find even more resources here

Continue reading “Mentoring Checklist 2018-2019”

Application: FAQs

If you have any questions that are not on this list, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Q: If I nominate students, will they get an email?

A: When you nominate students, it goes straight to their email (or phone, if you input their phone number). Nominating students doesn’t affect how we view their applications, but it is a tool to help encourage students to apply – we know that students may be more inclined to take advantage of an opportunity when they’ve been specifically nominated.

How-to: Nominate students to apply [LINK]

Q: My student just input their cell phone number incorrectly and didn’t receive the text. Should they start over?

A: No. After students initially input their information, this message pops up. Students who input the wrong number should click the second link to re-enter their number.

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Q: A lot of my students are getting the registration text, but not verifying their phone numbers immediately. The problem is, once they leave the verification page, their SMS code becomes invalid. How do we solve this problem?

A: Please stress to their applicants that they need to validate their phone number as soon as they get the text, BEFORE they leave the page. Their best bet is to have their phones in their hands, validate their accounts, and then walk away if they are not ready to start the application.

Q: My students are not allowed to have their cell phones at school, so how can I help them register?

A: We have a few suggestions in this case:

  • Have your students register at home. You can help them with their applications once they have finished registration. The registration process is straightforward, quick, and easy to do on a phone
  • Input your cell phone number for each student. Once they have set their password, they can change their phone number from the Profile tab of the application
  • Instruct your students to answer “No” to the question “Do you have a cell phone?” Then enter their phone number correctly. This will trigger an email with a verification code instead of a text. Once they have set their password, they can uncheck the landline box from the Profile tab of the application
  • Contact us and we can work together to figure out a solution

Q: A few of my students don’t have cell phones. Is there a way to verify accounts any other way?

A: Students who do not have a cell phone should answer “No” to the question “Do you have a cell phone?”. In that case, the system will email them a code which they will then use to verify their account. Students must still stay on the verification page (do not close that tab to go to their email) to successfully verify their account.

Q: My students did not enter the verification code and now they are locked out of their accounts. What should they do?

A: Contact us so that we can delete the broken account and then they can re-register

Q: I want to make sure that all my administrators are users in the system. How do I do that?

A: To figure out if a user is already in the system, click on “Administration”, then “List of Users.” You’ll see a list of all the users that have been added to the system.

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To add a user, click “Add Partner Org Users” from the same menu item and fill out the form.

Q: When I go to register, I can’t fill in any of the fields and the page doesn’t have any labels next to the form fields (see screenshot)

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A: You have an old version of Internet Explorer that most of the internet does not support anymore. We suggest you download a new browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox and install it to your computer. These new browsers are much more secure. Or, if you have a smartphone, you can use that to register.

Q: I registered correctly but I’m getting a notification that my email is invalid when I try to log in. What happened?

A: Check that there are no white spaces before or after the email address. If that does not work, take a screenshot of the error and send it to us

Q: I didn’t click the link to register my partner org admin user and my link expired. How can I get another one?

A: Anyone in your partner org can help you: When you log into your account, click on “Administration,” then “List of Users.” You’ll see the users from your organization. In the column titled PW Set?, you’ll see either a green checkmark or a red X. Green checkmarks mean that user has set their password; red X’s mean they have not.

Next to the red X, there is an envelope icon. Click the envelope icon to resend the partner org registration link.

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Q: How many partner org users can I have?

A: As many as you want! It is up to your organization how to complete the recommendations – several people can work on the same recommendation (just be careful not to overwrite what each other has done), or you can each do several recommendations.

Add users from Administration > Add Partner Org Users

Q: What does the red star mean on the list of All Applicants? Does it mean that a partner org recommendation is required?

A: The red star under the column “POR” is to show how much of the partner org recommendation is complete.

Recommendations are required for every student. The stars are an indicator of how much of the partner org recommendation has been completed for each student.

  • No star: the applicant’s partner org rec has not been started yet (a partner org user has never clicked the “Partner Org Recommendation” tab)
  • Hollow star: a partner org user has started the rec but has not filled anything in (when a partner org user clicks the recommendation tab for that applicant, the system creates a blank rec)
  • Semi-filled-in star: a partner org user has started the recommendation but not finished it
  • Filled-in star: a partner org user has submitted the recommendation

This same logic applies to the gold stars in the P2 column – these show the status of your students’ applications.

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College Application and Decision FAQs

Applying to College

How do I know what schools to apply to?

  • This post has some resources to get you started
  • Talk to your counselor, teachers, friends
  • Ask us – we have Yleana alums at schools around the country who would be willing to answer any questions you have

Do all schools have shadowing/fly-in programs?

  • Not every school does; call the admissions office or look online (google “schools name fly in program)
  • List of fly-in programs

What’s a good SAT score?

  • It depends on a lot of factors, especially the schools you are planning to apply to
  • A good rule of thumb is that a 3.5+ GPA and 500+ verbal/500+ math SAT score will make you a competitive applicant at most selective universities

How do you pick what to write about in your Common App essay?

  • Write about something that’s not on your application already
  • Colleges want to know why you’re interested in the things you’re interested in, why you want to study what you’re studying, why you want to attend their college
  • Yleana’s guide to writing college application essays

Did you feel that your essay gave you a push in your applications?

  • Don’t think of any aspect of the application as more important than the others – they look at you holistically; grades/SAT are obviously important but entire background is looked at: put as much about yourself in the application/essay as you can
  • For example – if you had a terrible GPA because of personal issues the first 2 years of high school but got it together senior year, mention that in your essay. Colleges like to know how you’ve overcome your issues
  • Being able to explain things so that they know your full story will help you “speak” up for yourself through your application

I transferred high schools a lot. Will that hurt me in my applications?

  • That should not hurt you
  • There is a section on the Common App that asks for any special circumstances in your high school. This is a great opportunity to use it!

How did you handle rejection during the college application process?

  • Apply to a good amount of schools
  • Apply to multiple safety schools
  • Have specifically defined safety, target, reach, financially safe schools
  • Focus on friends getting in and be happy for them
  • Look at what opportunities you have – you can always work for a year and reapply
  • There are always other schools

What about taking a gap year between high school and college?

  • If you have no clue what you want to do, it could be very helpful
  • You will forget some academics – make sure that what you will be doing instead is worth it
  • Make sure you know what you want to do
  • A good compromise is deferring acceptance – many schools let you defer acceptance – you apply as usual, are accepted as usual, then say that you want to defer acceptance for a year. You take your gap year and your spot is still there when you get back.
    • You might have to write a letter to your school to request a deferral in which you explain your plans for your gap year, so be sure you have a good explanation for it

Should I go to a community college and then transfer?

  • It can be a win-win: allows you to show a university what you can do and you save a lot of money.
    • Some community colleges also have pipelines to four-year universities in their area – do your research
  • BUT – if you choose this route, you have to be very self-motivated in order to graduate from a community college with your associate’s in time. There typically aren’t as many resources available for students at community colleges – you have to advocate for yourself and stay on top of what you’re doing and what your goals are


How did you know what you wanted to major in?

  • What are you interested in? What do you like?
  • Some people major in things for the money, some for their interests. Both are valid reasons to major in something. It is best to choose something that will give you options for a career but that is not incredibly boring for you
  • Pick what you want to study; you don’t necessarily have to have a job path in mind
  • You might switch your major once you’re in college (that’s okay; a majority of students do!)
  • Naviance quizzes might help
  • When you apply to school with a specific major, that is not binding – you can switch

What if I want to major in something that doesn’t have viable career opportunities?

  • Think about college as a way to gain skills, not necessarily to set you up for a job
  • College does not have to be pre-professional
  • College advisors will help you figure out what you could do – use all your resources and do your research
  • At the same time, it is important to think ahead to what options you will have after college with that major. If you have a specific career path, how will your major help you get there?

How difficult is it to double major?

  • Depends on the school, depends on the majors
  • Do a lot of research on what you want to study
  • You will have to be very on top of everything and very organized to make sure you get all the classes you need for both majors
  • You will most likely have to take a full course load every semester – are you prepared for that?
  • Can be very rewarding
  • Your college may have combined majors – do your research

Deciding Between Colleges

Is it better to go to a higher-ranked school that has offered little money, or a school that has offered me more money?

  • You can ask for more money if the gap is small. Tell them that you have a competing offer – they might be able to give you more (usually kids have been successful asking for $1000-$1500 – not more)
  • Ask for advice: talk to a parent/guardian, counselor, partner org, Yleana
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all answer: it depends on which schools, how interested you are in each school, how much is the financial burden for each school, how much you and your family can reasonably afford

Should I go to a school that’s far away from home?

  • They can be great options but you have to consider more outside factors
  • How often will you be able to go home? Look up the cost of flights/buses
  • How easy is it to get home from the campus? Some colleges are not easily accessible if you don’t have a car
  • Think about if you’ll have to stay at school for holidays – are you okay with that?

Is your school your dream school? Did you ever want to go anywhere else?

  • You can be happy no matter where you go
  • “Dream school” isn’t necessarily a thing – you might not find it (that’s okay; a lot of people don’t!)
  • ALL schools have downsides/drawbacks – no school is perfect
  • College is more about what you do in college than the name of the school you go to

How to: ask for letters of recommendation

Here are some tips to help you get the best recommendation letters you can!

  1. Choose people you have a good relationship with
    • Tell them that you’d be honored if they could write a letter of recommendation for you
    • Explain why you are asking that person specifically – what about the relationship you share is important to you?
  2. Do it early
    • The more time you give your recommenders, the better — give them at least one month before the deadline (more if there are a lot of holidays)
    • Ask if they would like you to remind them close to the deadline. If so, set a reminder in a place where you will not miss it
  3. Be prepared
    • Give your recommenders everything they need to write a successful letter for you
      • If the letter is submitted online, input their email address to the system so they get a notification, or send them a link to exactly where they need to go, so they don’t waste time
      • If the letter has to be mailed, give them a pre-addressed envelope and stamp
  4. Mention anything specific you would like them to talk about in their letter, like your extracurriculars or volunteering experience
    • A good idea is to give them your personal statement and/or resume, to help them get an understanding of why you’re applying to that school
    • This is especially important if you choose someone that doesn’t know you as well as you’d like
  5. Thank them!
    • Acknowledge that you are grateful and appreciative that they are taking time out of their busy schedules to write a letter on your behalf
  6. Talk to us
    • If you need help asking for a letter, aren’t sure who to ask, or have any other questions, let us know


Resources for Undocumented Students

Financial aid can be tricky for students who are undocumented. If you are undocumented, you cannot apply for the FAFSA but you can apply for the CSS profile. You may refer to the links below for helpful resources on schools to select and guides for applying to college as an undocumented student.

  1. This is a list of schools that will meet 100% of need for undocumented students
  2. This is a comprehensive list of all schools who have some kind of policy on citizenship status.
    • You will notice that many schools will have undocumented students apply as international students. There are a handful of schools who, as their official policy, require you to disclose your citizenship status.
  3. This list contains a list of states that will charge in-state tuition for undocumented students.
  4. This is a comprehensive guide for undocumented students applying for college.

Building your college list

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which colleges you want to apply to.

Here are some characteristics to think about as you make that decision:

  • Size of college
    • How large do you want your classes to be?
    • What resources are important to you to have in a college?
    • Do you mind if TAs teach your classes instead of professors?
  • Location
    • Do you want to stay in-state? Go out of state?
    • How far from home do you want to go?
    • If you do want to go away from home, be sure to take into consideration how much it will cost you to go home. How far is campus from an airport/train station/bus station? How long would it take if you didn’t have a car?
  • Public vs. private
  • 2 year vs. 4 year
  • How much will it cost (total) to attend? What can you/your family realistically afford? How many loans are you/your family comfortable taking out?
  • Majors offered? Possible major? Career options?
    • If you are applying to a school for a certain program, make sure you REALLY want to do that; otherwise, if you switch majors, you’ll be stuck
  • HBCU? Women’s college?
  • Be realistic:
    • For the top, most highly competitive schools, you probably need a 3.5+ GPA and 1000 SAT
      • This is even more important for STEM fields (3.5+ GPA, 1100 SAT)
    • This is not to discourage you! You can still get into a great school — just be realistic!

Other tips:

  • If you can, visit the college!
    • The only real way to see how the campus feels is to visit it – you might be surprised how different it can be to see a campus online vs. actually be there in person
  • Talk to current students/alumni at colleges you’re interested in to get the real scoop on what that college is like
    • Contact us if you’re interested – we have Yleana alums at a wide range of colleges all across the country
  • Make sure you’re applying to a range of colleges – some reaches, some matches, and some safeties.

⇒Start here with Yleana’s curated lists of colleges and programs⇐

Other resources:

  • College Board’s Big Future College Search
    • You can input characteristics and it will output a list of colleges matching those characteristics
    • Can also find the percentage of need met at each school
  • College Scorecard
    • Shows graduation rate, median salary for students 10 years after college graduation – look up schools you’re considering
  • College Simply
    • Search for schools by SAT score or GPA
    • Tells you how likely you are to be accepted
  • College Greenlight
    • Lists of fly-in programs, other features
    • Similar to Big Future
  • College Confidential
    • Get a feel of the school
  • Niche
    • Grades certain aspects of a school (campus safety, location, food)
    • Can search by your SAT score
  • Cappex
    • Will provide a graph showing you where you fit compared to other applicants who were rejected or accepted based on your GPA and SAT scores
    • Can search any existing school in the US
    • Will recommend schools to you

Scholarships, college lists, and other resources

Yleana has lots of resources available to help you think about and apply to scholarships. We know it can be overwhelming to sort through all of the informations and scholarship lists online, so we have put together spreadsheets with scholarships, colleges, and college programs that have a proven track record of helping students like Yleana’s.

Before you start looking for scholarships, know how much money you need

Often, students think they should only apply for the scholarships that give out the most money. But you should always take into account the amount of money you will get from financial aid as you look for scholarships.

For example, if you get enough financial aid to cover tuition, you don’t need to find scholarships that cover tuition. If you have an EFC of $4,000, you don’t need to find scholarships that cover $10,000.

Also, you do not need to find a single scholarship that covers your entire EFC. If you have an EFC of $4,000, you can make that up with four $1,000 scholarships.

How do I know how much money I will need?

Great question! You can use the FAFSA4caster to estimate how much money you will receive from the FAFSA.

For a more specific estimate, you can find net price calculators for most colleges. The easiest way to find a net price calculator for a specific college is to google the name of that school and the phrase “net price calculator.” Like the FAFSA4caster, net price calculators estimate your financial aid award. They are more specific than the FAFSA4caster, though, and estimate the aid you will receive from that specific school.

Keep an eye out for loans

Some schools include loans as part of your financial aid award package. If you don’t read the award letter closely, it can be easy to think that you are getting more free money than you actually are (see the sample financial aid award letter below).

Remember that loans are not free money – you will need to pay them back. If you don’t want to take out loans, you can find additional scholarships that cover that loan amount.

If you get loans as part of a financial aid award, you do not have to accept them.

Types of loans and definitions

Continue reading “Scholarships, college lists, and other resources”