• Mr. Jeff Neill

Who Does What?


Q: Throughout the college application process, who is responsible for what?


A: There can often be confusion throughout the process about who is responsible for what. The college search and application process is so vast and simultaneously so individualized for each student, it is difficult to outline the roles and responsibilities for each student’s particular case, but this document intends to cover most of the major duties. Additionally, this listing is germane to students applying to any country across the globe.


While part of the intention of this piece is to outline what needs to be done and by whom, another piece is to articulate the significance of the student. It is a fundamental principle of the ISD College Counseling process that the student is at the center of the process. To be clear, while parent input is absolutely essential, the college process is an opportunity for growth and development -- particularly in terms of communication, accountability, decision-making, organization, and self-advocacy -- and so we expect the student to be the central actor and for the student to be representing parents’ interests. We will discuss more of this philosophy in a different venue, but suffice it to say for our purposes here that the items we have listed under the student heading below are indeed items that must be done by the student.


Finally, while this is a general listing, and the items in each heading are generally meant to followed in order, this does not represent a comprehensive timeline. Given the nuances and differences of each year, we will provide a more detailed timeline under separate heading.


Student Responsibilities

Communication & Logistics

  • Meet regularly with Counselor

  • Attend College Counseling classes

  • Actively update Cialfo profile, tasks, and college lists

  • Update Parents/Family throughout the process

  • Attend visiting college representative presentations (if possible)\

  • Arrange for college campus visits (if possible)

  • Schedule junior spring Family Meeting

  • Do well in academic classes

List Construction & School Research

  • Identify significant search criteria

  • Produce an initial college list of 20-30 universities in Cialfo’s Longlist

  • Research each college on initial list thoroughly

  • Solicit input on schools, list, appropriateness, and likelihood of admissibility

  • Produce a refined and balanced college list of 10-15 universities in Cialfo’s Shortlist

  • Research all application requirements and deadlines

  • Engage in thoughtful demonstration of interest (DI) for all schools on final list

  • Solicit parental approval of final college list

  • Solicit a final list of schools be moved from Cialfo’s shortlist to applying

  • Construct an application strategy and plan

  • Schedule an Early Decision (ED or ED2) family meeting (if necessary)

Essay & Supplement Writing (if necessary)

  • Identify all writing to be completed

  • Articulate a plan and schedule for finishing written workConstruct strategy for essays

  • Engage thoughtfully with the writing prompts

  • Produce thorough, original drafts for review

  • Solicit feedback from counselor on all written work through GoogleDocs

Standardized Testing

  • Take PSAT in fall of sophomore year

  • Register for and take SAT and ACT in fall of junior year

  • Register for and take PSAT in fall of junior year (if necessary)

  • Construct standardized testing strategy and plan

  • Commit to test preparation

  • Ensure university testing requirements are being met

  • Register for and take any other tests (Subject Tests, TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, etc)

Other Application Materials

  • Solicit respectfully two letters of recommendation and add to Cialfo

  • Engage in discussion and completion of material to inform counselor reference

  • Review ISD School Profile

  • Review and understand ISD transcript

  • Provide counseling with previous high school transcript (if necessary)

  • Produce portfolio (if necessary)

  • Solicit from counselor other school documents (as requested, if necessary)

  • Obtain certificate of finances (if necessary)

  • Ensure financial aid materials (FAFSA/CSS Profile) are completed (if necessary)

College & University Applications

  • Produce a thoughtful back-up plan

  • Pay all application fees

  • Ensure all components of applications are completed

  • Submit all applications two weeks ahead of posted university deadlines

  • Submit all required standardized tests through test websites

  • Ensure financial aid applications are submitted (if necessary)

Final Decisions

  • Weigh all opportunities thoroughly

  • Solicit perspectives on final choice

  • Make final decision

  • Deposit at one-and-only-one college or university

  • Decline offers of admission at other institutions

  • Notify counselor of final decision

Counselor Responsibilities

Communication & Logistics

  • Meet regularly with student

  • Host College Counseling classes

  • Provide updates through blog and mailings for students and parents

List Construction & School Research

  • Provide feedback on criteria, as requested

  • Provide feedback on lists, as requested

  • Evaluate likelihood of admissibility

  • Provide feedback on strategy, as requested

  • Consult on Early Decision (if necessary)

Essay & Supplement Writing (if necessary)

  • Provide feedback on all written work, as requested

  • Consult on essay strategy, as requested

Standardized Testing

  • Provide recommended testing plan

  • Advise on individualized standardized testing plan, as requested

Other Application Materials

  • Provide feedback on appropriate and ideal teachers to solicit for recommendations, as requested

  • Work with teachers to complete letters of recommendation

  • Write counselor reference

  • Produce and share ISD School Profile for review

  • Provide and share ISD transcript for review

  • Produce or provide other supporting documents (if necessary)

College & University Applications

  • Provide feedback on back-up plan, as requested

  • Submit all supporting documents (school forms) for all schools on Cialfo applying list ahead of stated deadlines in Cialfo

Final Decisions

  • Provide guidance for final decision, as requested

Parent Responsibilities

Communication & Logistics

  • Attend counseling programming at ISD

  • Encourage your child’s passion or pursuit thereof

  • Attend visiting college representative presentations (if possible)

  • Arrange for college campus visits (if possible)

  • Communicate hopes, dreams, and expectations to student

  • Schedule junior spring Family Meeting with counselor

  • Activate Cialfo account and monitor progress (after Family Meeting)

  • Determine, then communicate to child financial aid/budget expectations

  • Love and support your child

List Construction & School Research

  • Provide input on search criteria

  • Provide feedback on college lists and approval of final college list

  • Schedule an Early Decision (ED or ED2) family meeting (if necessary)

Essay & Supplement Writing (if necessary)

  • Provide feedback, if requested

Standardized Testing

  • Pay for registration fees

Other Application Materials

  • Review ISD transcript

  • Provide previous school transcript to counselor (if necessary)

  • Complete financial aid applications (if necessary)

  • Provide Certificate of Finances (if necessary)

College & University Applications

  • Provide input and approval of back-up plans

  • Pay all application fees

  • Pay standardized testing submission fees

  • Submit financial aid applications (if necessary)

Final Decisions

  • Approve final college choice

  • Pay deposit at one-and-only-one college or university

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