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. You’ll need a higher score and GPA to be competitive at the most selective schools, and if you’re interested in majoring in STEM.

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/test scores are obviously important but your 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 during your gap year
  • 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 and on budget. 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 in mind, 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 lower-ranked 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. We may be able to connect you to students at both schools
  • 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

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