Yleana’s 2019 application is NOW OPEN!

Yleana’s application is now open for 2019

**Reminder: The deadline for APPLICANTS has been extended to April 3, 2019. The deadline for PARTNER ORG RECOMMENDATIONS has been extended to April 5, 2019**

Partner orgs: accessing the application/recommendation

  • Find the application at apply.yleana.org
    • If you recommended students to Yleana in the past, your login email/password is the same
    • There is a link to reset your password on the site if you forgot
  • As a courtesy, we create accounts for anyone who filled out the partner org Google form but is not already in the system
    • You’ll receive an email from Yleana Leadership Academy with a link to set your password and log in
    • These links expire after 24 hours (we can re-send if you need)
  • You can add other users to your partner org!
    • After you log in, click Administration > Add Partner Org Users
  • Students that you nominated will get a reminder email/text when the application opens
  • Yleana application FAQs for partner orgs

How does the application work?


  • Go to apply.yleana.org and click Register
    • If your partner org does not show up on the dropdown menu, we are probably missing either the MOU or partner org survey from you. Please contact us with any questions
  • Fill out the form to register. Students will need access to their cell phone (if they have one) to complete the registration process
    • Students with a cell phone will receive a text with a code. Enter the code to complete the registration
    • Students who do not have a cell phone will receive an email with a code. Enter the code to complete registration
  • Verifying emergency contact numbers
    • If emergency contact has a cell phone, they will receive a text with a numerical code. They need to respond to the text with that code to confirm their number
    • If emergency contact does NOT have a cell phone, they will receive an automated phone call to the landline. They will have to press 1 to confirm their number


We highly recommend that students fill out the application on a computer, not a phone, whenever possible! 

  • Our application is modeled on the Common App
  • We CANNOT accept hard copy applications of any kind


  • You can begin filling out the partner org recommendation for your students as soon as they register. You do NOT have to wait until their application is complete to fill out the recommendation
  • You can check your students’ progress on your homepage after you log into apply.yleana.org
  • We will send an update email to partner orgs each week before the deadline with a list of your applicants and their progress. This will allow you to monitor who is applying, so you can complete recommendations on time. 

Requirements for a complete application

Student application

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Basic application questions

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Personal statement (650 words)

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Short answer questions

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Transcript upload with cumulative GPA (unofficial is fine)

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg FERPA waiver upload (signed by family member)

Partner org recommendation

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Basic questions

verified-checkbox-symbol_318-64495.jpg Short answer questions

Best Practices

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We recommend that partner organizations:

  • Set an internal deadline for student applications
    • Many partner orgs require their students to finish their applications by, for example, March 21 so that they have a week to write recommendations
    • Remember that applications and recommendations are due on the same day (April 1)
    • If we extend the recommendation deadline, we will notify you
  • Use the nomination form so that students have all the Yleana information on their phones and in their email
    • You can nominate students at any time
  • Check your students’ progress on apply.yleana.org
  • Write bulleted recommendations for Yleana
    • From NACAC comes a new style of recommendation letter: Informed by survey research and feedback from admission representatives, NACAC presenter Michelle Rasich now encourages writing personal and detailed letters of recommendation using a hybrid of headers, bullet points, and narratives without sacrificing the quality of content
      • Of 20 highly selective colleges contacted, 19 thought the new format was either as good or better than the standard prose format
      • More info here

How to: Check your students’ application progress

Use the Phase 2 Progress page to check how many students from your organization have signed up, and how close they are to being done with their applications.

Tip: When your applicants are close to being done with their applications, we recommend you do their partner org recommendations!

We will send out update emails each week that the application is open with a list of your students and their progress. However, you can access this page any time to check on students’ progress – you don’t need to wait for the update emails!

How to:

  1. Log in to apply.yleana.org
  2. Go to 2019 Applicants > Phase 2 Progress
  3. You’ll see a list of all your applicants
    • Applicants with complete applications/recommendations are on the bottom of the list, with green checkmarks next to their names
    • Applicants whose applications and/or recommendations are in progress are at the top of the list
  4. To see exactly what an applicant needs to finish, click the + next to their name. This will expand to show exactly which questions still need to be answered on the application/recommendation.
  5. To go directly to the recommendation for that student, click “Partner Org recommendation (click to edit)

How to – in pictures

How to: Nominate students to apply

Use Yleana’s nomination form to help remind students to apply – anyone can nominate students!

  1. Go to apply.yleana.org and click Nominate
  2. Fill out the form
    • Either the student’s email OR phone number is required so we can notify them
  3. You will receive a confirmation email immediately
  4. Students will receive an email and/or text immediately to let them know that they have been nominated
  5. Students will receive an email and/or text the day the application opens to remind them to sign up and give them all the information they need to apply



  • Go to apply.yleana.org and click NOMINATE AN APPLICANT

Financial webinar: College Money 101 with Alex Erath – big takeaways

Recording of webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d2rRTnML1Q&feature=youtu.be

Notes/big takeaways from our session:

  • there are tools and resources – we can help!!
  • amortization calculator: https://www.creditkarma.com/calculators/amortization
  • subsidized vs unsubsidized loan: does the loan start accruing interest before you graduate?  Or can you wait to make payments till you’ve graduated?
    • subsidized:  NO interest until after you’ve graduated; usually between 6-10 months “deferred”; means you don’t have to pay
    • unsubsidized:  starts accruing interest as soon as you take out the loan
  • credit card repayment calculator:  https://www.creditkarma.com/calculators/debtrepayment
  • what I can’t calculate on an amortization calculator – what happens if I make a payment that doesn’t cover the interest every month
  • compounding: if you don’t make your full payment, your base amount grows
    • how interest works!
  • ParentPLUS loans – your parents take the loans out, rather than you
  • make sure that you get a life insurance policy to take care of your loans if you die – so that your parents don’t have to pay for them:  https://thecollegeinvestor.com/9675/student-loans-die/
    • when ParentPLUS loans are discharged/dismissed, the IRS treats it as income
    • get a 50K policy – term life – it’s a few dollars per month.  Will cover income tax, funeral expenses, etc
  • When do you buy insurance? For the risks you can’t afford to take
  • If you have a subsidized loan, and pay it off as soon as you’re done with school, the amount of loan still stays the same right? YES

Repaying loans:

  • 10-year pay-off term
  • 20-year pay-off term
  • income-based repayment <- avoid this!  almost never covers the principal – so the amount you owe isn’t getting smaller

inside 10- and 20-year options – either plan – you owe the same amount of money

  • fixed/level payment – never changes over the entire period of time you’re paying off the loan
  • graduated payment amount – predicated on the belief that your salary/income will increase

read through every single one of your loan contracts!!!

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