Admissions Abridged

I Reported It Myself!

Each year there seems to be more schools relying on self-reported test scores and transcripts on their applications.  While they may, in the long run, streamline the application process I’ve seen them cause a good amount of stress during this already stressful process.  Should an optional test score self-report be filled in?  How do I know whether to mark my class as a semester or quarter?  Why are schools doing this to me?!

 Let’s answer the last question first.  In theory, allowing students to self-report saves colleges and high schools times and students money and hassle.  Instead of having to request score reports from testing services and transcripts from guidance counselors the student can informally report this information on their application.  The student’s responses are then used to render an admissions decision and only once a student enrolls does the college request an official final transcript and score report.  This makes it impossible for a student to profit from submitting false information and also allows them to only have to order one set of scores to their chosen school. 

Likewise, the college gets off the hook for processing all those test scores and transcripts.  Back in my professional admissions days I remember the office hiring a team of “processors” just for application season to make sense of transcripts sent from high schools and to ensure that all the class names and grades imported properly.  When a student fills this data in on a school’s form the college can be sure the data will import exactly as they want it to.  Some schools will also have you submit a picture of your unofficial transcript for them to reference just in case they have a question.

Sign Up for E-News

The only annoying part of this practice at present is that many schools are only in the beta testing phase and therefore they’ll ask you to submit both the unofficial AND official reports.  Sorry guys, but this means you’re the college’s guinea pigs as they assess the functionality of their reporting forms.  Nothing to do but power through it as best you can!

That said, I’ve watched many a family freeze with fear when confronted with this challenge.  The  SAT or ACT score reports are easier; just a few rules on those.  First of all, it’s almost always in your favor to submit all your test scores, even if you have a lower score.  Simply having tested multiple times shows colleges that you tried your best!  Scores are usually reported by test date and you can just login to College Board or ACT to view your scores and copy them accordingly.  Generally I advise not to bother with submitting elective unofficial test scores, which is only extra leg work for you and won’t slow down or complicate your review by leaving blank.  See?  Nothing to stress about!

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about self-reporting transcripts.  The year one of the schools I worked for implemented them there was a significant increase in overall calls to the office consisting of worried families looking for guidance.  As someone now working with students myself I must admit I still make the occasional call to a college asking what the heck they’re looking for.  Many of these forms are confusing and ask you to break down your coursework in ways that don’t jive with the way the high school is recording them.

I wish I could give a step-by-step for you to follow but this is one of those times that an independent counselor (like me!) or your guidance counselor should be present to ensure the document is submitted properly.  No one needs the headache of a chosen college calling a month before orientation questioning your honesty on the self-report.

Two quick tips I can offer: first of all, when it comes to categorizing your classes try to lump them into one of seven categories: English, math, science, social studies, foreign language, physical education, and electives.  Generally speaking you probably have close to one of each every year and you want the self-reported categories to reflect this.

Secondly, if you’re questioning how to break down your school year to report grades think about how many times a year you get a report card.  Four times is quarterly, twice a year means your school uses semesters, etc.  I’m really just scratching the surface here because of how complex it can get so again; don’t hesitate to get the help you need!

Think of it this way, Seniors: even though this might be a tricky part of your college applications chances are colleges will have made drastic improvements by the time your younger siblings are filling out theirs.  And that’s what you’re all about at the end of the day, making your little brother and sisters’ lives better, am I right? 

Admissions Abridged distills news and trends from the college admissions world to provide college-bound students and their families with helpful tools to approach the application process.

Kate Balboni has earned a Master’s in School Counseling and is a certified New Jersey School Counselor.  She has served as an admissions counselor for Drew University and as a regional admissions coordinator at the University of South Carolina.  During her time in Undergraduate Admissions she has reviewed thousands of applications and student essays, conducted hundreds of student interviews, and has visited over 50 college campuses throughout the nation.  Kate is the owner of Balboni College Advising, a concierge college consulting service, providing one-on-one guidance and counseling throughout the college application process.  For more information please visit

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Your Doctor in Sickness and in Health

December 11, 2017

About 3 years ago, around the time healthcare was saying its last goodbyes to solo practitioners, I decided to plunge into the world of private practice and one morning announced to my family, “I am starting a new primary care solo practice.” I am an Internist of Asian Indian origin and I graduated from residency about twenty years ago. To say that my family was bewildered is an ...

Union County College’s Board Member Zimmermann Named to NJCCC Executive Committee

December 12, 2017

CRANFORD, NJ - Union County College is pleased to announce that Mary M. Zimmermann, former Chair of the Union County College Foundation Board and member of the College’s Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, was elected to the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges on Nov. 20, 2017.

The members of the Executive Committee represent the New Jersey Council of ...

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Announces 2018 Musical Theater Company Members

BERKELEY HEIGHTS—Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) announced today that 10 students have been chosen for its advanced Musical Theater Company: Alysa Ali, 13, of Watchung; Kate Bloom, 11, of Westfield; Sara Bolden, 12, of Berkley Heights; Payton Buckley, 11, of Berkley Heights; Mariam Contractor, 13, of Watchung; Paloma Di Falco, 13, of New Providence; Sarah Duong, 10, of ...

Hickory Tree Chorus offers Free A Cappella Singing Series - January 2018

The Hickory Tree Chorus chapter of Sweet Adelines International invites women singers to register for its free “Sing A Cappella Series” of vocal workshops. Women will learn to sing chord-ringing, fun-filled, four-part a cappella music, Wednesdays, January 10, 17, and 24 at 7:15pm at The Shrine of St Joseph, 1050 Long Hill Road, Stirling, NJ.  The series kicks off with a ...

Give the Gift of Health and Happiness this year!

Don't know what to get your loved ones as a holiday gift?

We've got the answer right here! Give the gift of health and happiness this year!

THE MAX Challenge of New Providence can help you to make the change you've always dreamed of in just 10 weeks. We've combined fitness classes, nutritional counseling and ...

Winter Weather Advisory Issued as First Snowfall of the Season Arrives on Saturday

December 8, 2017

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - - The first snowfall of the season will be arriving on Saturday morning according to the National Weather Service(NWS) in New York. 

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect from 6 a.m. Saturday morning until 6 a.m. on Sunday.

According to the NWS advisory, Union County can expect snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches, with the possibility of ...

"Wreaths Across America" Convoy Stops in Manville on Way to Arlington National Cemetery

December 12, 2017

MANVILLE, NJ  - What has become known as the world's largest veterans' parade will pause for a ceremony at Manville High School on Wednesday, Dec. 13 as the Wreaths Across America 18-truck convoy heads to Arlington National Cemetery for the annual wreath-laying on the graves of US veterans.

The convoy is expected to arrive around 9 a.m., driving down Finderne Avenue across the Van ...

ConRail Working on Track Clean Up Following Friday's Derailment in Union; Train Service Still Suspended

December 9, 2017

UNION, NJ – No hazardous material was involved in the freight train derailment Friday afternoon in Union.

“There’s severe damage to the tracks,” said Union Fire Chief Mike Scanio at a press conference Friday evening.  “There’s multiple piles of cars at different locations up and down the span of the tracks from the Roselle Park line all the way through ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, December 12

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, December 13

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, December 13, 6:00 PM

Congregation Ohr Shalom, Summit

Candlelight Vigil Against Gun Violence

Law & Justice Religions And Spirituality

Thu, December 14

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, December 14, 7:30 PM

New Providence Memorial Library, New Providence

Troubleshoot & Fix Your Computer

Arts & Entertainment

Berkeley Heights U10 Boys Soccer Team Captures Championship at 5v5 Winter Tournament

CARLSTADT, NJ - Berkeley Heights Team Azzurri U10 boys soccer team took home the Sofive 5v5 Winter Tournament Series Championship in Carlstadt on Saturday.

The team defeated SABA NYC, 1-1, and Wayne, 2-1, and tied Wykcoff Y, 1-1, to advance to the championship game.The team defeated Fort Lee, 3-1, in the championship game.

Team Azzurri players: Sammy Bartiromo, ...

Dear Susan: Beauty Tips from a Beauty Expert

SUSAN BARBAGLIA, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa in New Providence, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a leader in the beauty industry. With over thirty years experience in skin care, Susan can answer your most challenging beauty questions. Email your ...

Market Forecasts: Helpful or Useless?

The financials industry spends a lot of time and money on preparing stock and bond market forecasts – especially at this time of year --  but are they “helpful” or “useless” when it comes to making investment decisions?  In my opinion, most of these forecasts have little predictive power. In other words, they’re useless in terms of providing ...

The Mommy's Review - Coco

Corre, no camines (that’s “run, don’t walk!”) to see Coco, the newest animated feature film from Pixar Animation Studios/Disney. This beautiful movie is something that families will cherish seeing together. Like Moana last year, I took my family (ages 7 to 70+) to see Coco over Thanksgiving weekend, and everyone was delighted by the splendor of this wonderful cinematic ...