college applications Archives - Write Track Admissions
How to Stay Motivated as a Student: Checking in on Your Well-Being
Are you having trouble feeling motivated enough to finish out the school year? If so, you may need to examine your overall well-being. Here’s how to do a mid-semester wellness check-in:  

Wellness for Students

Wellness is not taught to students, so many times we feel like we are only surviving from semester to semester. Society’s constant need to work is causing ‘getting by’ day after day to become a dangerous norm. According to the BBC, overworking is actually killing people. It has become the largest occupational killer. Overworking causes a fight or flight response in the human nervous system.  We must stop these bad habits as students, to prevent ourselves from becoming victims to this socially acceptable way to die. Therefore, thriving must be our goal because surviving is no longer enough. As students, we must look at ourselves as whole beings and not just as work machines. A focus on wellness is the way to do this.  Understanding wellness also gets us away from the toxic side of self-love culture. It is a holistic approach that allows us to look inwardly and outwardly at ourselves. To get started on a wellness check-in there are four questions that I like to ask myself:
  1. How am I doing physically? 
  2. How am I doing socially?
  3. How am I doing emotionally? 
The answer to these questions will add up to give us an answer for how we are doing with our overall well-being. This may help in decerning what is the root of the motivation struggle.   


Physical wellness is ensuring that the best decisions are being made when it comes to taking care of our bodies. Most people choose one or two parts of their physical well-being to focus on and overlook the rest. Neglecting one of them will most likely harm the effects of another. Physical Wellness includes (but is not limited to): 
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity 
  • Sleep
  • Skincare 
  • Haircare
  • Water intake 
  • Blue light screen time


UC Davis has a helpful guide to social wellness. Social wellness is cultivating meaningful relationships with proper boundaries and trust. As well as,  showing respect to everyone in your life. Social wellness includes (but is not limited to):
  • Proper Boundaries
  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Participating regularly in social interactions
  • Trying new activities
  • Meeting new people
  • Knowing and using your support system


How well we are able to handle feelings and emotions while adapting to changes and stresses in life is the core of emotional wellness according to the National Institutes of Health. College is a time of transitions and unknowns, so stress, anxiety, and depression are issues for college students. This is especially true after the pandemic. PBS News reported that 1 in 4 college students have considered suicide. Taking care of our emotional health is what we must do to continue living. Emotional Wellness includes (but is not limited to): 
  • Stress levels 
  • Happiness 
  • Coping with change
  • Acceptance of emotions
  • How you treat others 
  • The perspective you have of yourself
  • Managing difficult emotions
  • Having a purpose in life
  • Positive/negative self-talk
  • Gratitude 
  • Having a safe space to process
  • Getting professional help for mental illnesses
  In school, we will not be successful when these areas are off. If physical wellbeing is neglected then our brain has less capacity to process information. Our self-esteem plummets when our social lives are not healthily maintained. In addition, we will not have the necessary social skills to succeed in our professional life. Our emotional health can often be the foundation of our well-being, as unaddressed mental struggles can affect our functioning in life. So, as students, we need to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are wholistically doing well. If we are not, there are steps that we can take to get better. Stay on the lookout for more blogs discussing how to improve in each of these areas.     ~ Victorie Norman | WTA Communications Director
The Ultimate Guide to the UC Application
Charlie Nguyen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 Read time: ~ 6 minutes   Navigating the University of California (UC) system can seem daunting to those who have not grown up in the Golden State with the presence of the 9 behemoth schools serving as a hallmark of educational culture. However, these schools are largely recognized as the go-to public universities for college hopefuls looking for some sunshine and a quality education. The campuses span the state, and branch off into Medical Centers, Research Labs, and Educational Outreach Programs, among other things. There are 9 UC campuses (all of which have undergraduate and graduate programs): Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz; there is also UC San Francisco, which is solely a graduate school with professional courses.    The UC campuses are ranked among the nation’s top universities – in both the public and private sector: 
UC Application requirements
The UC application is its own entity – completely separate from the Common App. It has its own list of requirements and its own personal statement section with prompts that are just unique enough that you will likely need to write new material from your Common App. The UC App also requires the following elements to be submitted: 
  • Official Transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (ACT or SAT)
  • Any advanced class exam scores (AP, IB, TOEFL, IETLS)
  • Annual income
  • This is contingent upon your dependency status – you will need to provide your income if you’re an independent, or your parent’s income if you’re a dependent
  • Social security number
  • Citizenship status
Personal Statements: 
Much like the Common Application, the UC application has a section for a personal statement. The UC Application Personal Insight Section comprises of 2 essays – one standardized and one that varies depending on whether or not you are a transfer student or an incoming freshman. Each essay must be less than 1,000 words total, and are to be guided by predetermined prompts. Though the prompts can seem very abstract, and thus a bit daunting, here are some tips to help with the writing process:   
    1. Know your audience: Compose your stories using language and verbal skills that are appropriate for a college admissions committee. Use elevated language when appropriate and avoid casual sentences.
    2. Compose with Quality in mind: Since there is a word cap, you need to ensure you are conveying your story efficiently and effectively. Make sure your essays are concise, while also taking the time to paint a colorful picture with your descriptions. This may be a difficult balance to strike so being mindful of it from the beginning can help ensure the quality you are seeking. 
    3. Put your heart on paper: The mark of a truly incredible personal statement is emotion. This is your chance to tell your story – with all the trials and tribulations that go along with it. Don’t be afraid to lay it all out there. Imbue your story with as much emotion as you can. 
  Students often find the essay portion of their applications to be the most daunting. If you find yourself in this position, it is wise to get some professional help, as colleges are increasingly putting more weight on the personal statement portion of applications. 
Important UC Application Deadlines:
  • October 1: Application for fall of the following year becomes available.
  • November 1-30: Submission window for applications for the upcoming fall term.
  • January 1: Filing period for FAFSA and Cal Grant Verification Form begins.
  • March 1: Notification of admission for the fall term begins.
  • March 2: Deadline to submit FAFSA and Cal Grant Verification Form
  • March 30: Notification of admission for the fall term ends.
  • May 1: Deadline to submit Statement of Intent to Register for incoming freshman.
  • June 1: Deadline to submit Statement of Intent to Register for transfer students. 
  • July 1: Last day to submit an official transcript for incoming students for fall term. 
Things to Consider When Applying to a UC:
The great thing about the UC Application is that you can apply to one or ALL the UCs with the click of a button. However, while the schools are grouped together in their own system, the average test scores and GPA, and the competitiveness of entry to the schools vary significantly. For example, for incoming freshman the average SAT composite score at UCLA is 1365 and the average GPA is 4.3. At UC Riverside, the average SAT of an incoming freshman  is 1179, and the average GPA is 3.6. When applying, it is important to keep this variance in mind, as your chances of admission into the UCs will vary by school requirements.    Just as each campus has its own level of academic competitiveness, each campus has its own specialty, research opportunities, and general ambiance. Hamada Zahawi, Founder and CEO of Write Track Admissions, attended UCSB (then transferred to UCLA) and UC Berkeley Law. He advises students to keep in mind that just because you like one campus does not mean you will like them all, as they vary by climate, vibe, specialty field(s), diversity, sports programs, location etc. So it is important to gauge your compatibility with each UC campus separately, and treat them as individual schools (not one big conglomerate). To this end, it’s a great idea to take a trip and visit each school – what better excuse to see the beautiful Golden Coast of California!    Aly Hartman | Write Track Communication Officer Write Track Admissions
How to Leverage the GAP Year to Get Into Your Top Choice College!
Read Time: 7 minutes   A few days ago, a concerned mom called us asking about options for her son since he had a poor GPA, low SAT, no volunteer experience, and NO idea what he wanted to study in College. Basically, the student was lost and needed an option that wasn’t community college. We suggested a Gap year!    The Gap year has always been a confusing concept for U.S. students. But for those of you who are:  
    • Not mentally ready yet to go to a four year university
    • Want time to think about what you want to study in college and pursue after graduation
    • Eager to undertake a unique experience, start a business, take time to resolve family issues before starting higher education etc.
    • Need time to rework your GPA and SAT (and Community College is not appealing)
    • Can’t afford college and need to make some money before going…
  …then this article is for you!   
  The Gap Year Association defines the Gap Year as:   A semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.”   The concept of a Gap year or Sabbatical year as its also called really grew out England and Australia where students were encouraged to take a year off after their A-level exams to figure out what they want to study in college. In the U.S. one survey said approximately 30,000-40,000 students took a Gap semester or year. This is far lower than the millions that apply each year to colleges in the U.S., but it is still a growing figure.   
  If the Gap year is well structured it can be quite beneficial for the students. In fact, one survey said that 90% of students who do a structured gap year will most likely graduate on time and end up with a higher GPA.    Further, according to the research of Karl Haigler in his seminal book a ‘The Gap Year Advantage’, the year out can help the student overcome two major issues; burnout of the competitive pressure of high school AND the opportunity to know more about themselves. Both of which are key to the early success of college students.    Ultimately, there are numerous advantages to doing the Gap year but WARNING: IT HAS TO BE STRUCTURED! If your Gap year is one filled with empty down time, without life experiences, and just time off, this can SERIOUSLY undermine your college admissions.    Further there are a number of disadvantages you should be aware of including, losing momentum, falling behind, not finding your calling, not getting financial aid for college. So be sure to consider everything before you make the decision.  
Options to Maximize Your Time
  Avis Hinkson, Dean of Barnard College in New York, summarizes it well, in terms of what students choose to do:   “Some will have internships, some will travel, some will fulfill religious responsibilities and some find paid work. All-in-all, they will grow and mature.”   That last part is KEY, “growth and maturity”. The idea is that after the year is done you need to demonstrate how you grew as a person, and how you are still able, based on your experiences, to add value to the college community now that you are a year older and wiser!   So here are some options to consider:  
    • Traveling with purpose not just for fun, but so you learn from the experience i.e. learn a new language, cultural exchange, exploring
    • Volunteering to show compassion, dedication to a cause or program, and leadership/teamwork
    • Working to develop skills, show teamwork and may save for your college tuition (sense of responsibility) and/or to help family
    • Studying to retake the SAT or taking college credits to show you can handle the college level rigor to offset a poor GPA or SAT score
    • Introspecting into who you are and what you stand for so that you can figure out your major of choice, and your future goals   
  Remember being introspective should be done with gaining life experiences. Also you can study but that will only last through September and then you have the rest of the year to show how you have developed as a person and that you learned important life lessons.   
No-Miss Considerations
  As a senior, you will finish high school in June. Yet, you will still need to apply to colleges between September – November. So you HAVE to show the school what you are doing and how you are growing as a person. Basically, you shouldn’t take the summer off and then say in your applications, “hey I’m taking a gap year and I will plan to do X, Y, and Z”. Why would they believe you?!? You need to show that you have a plan, and you have started executing it as early as the summer time and here is what you have learnt so far etc.   Another consideration is that you can always apply to colleges even if you are considering a gap year. The idea is that, if you don’t get in or get in but don’t want to go, then you can do the gap year and then re-apply or defer your acceptance. Bottomline, still make sure you have a plan of action for that gap year as soon as you finish submitting your applications.   
Next Steps
  If the Gap year is for you then you need to have a plan. Here is what you should focus on:   
    • Planning out the year from June to June, 
    • Applying for and lining up volunteer/work experiences etc, 
    • Having a plan of action regarding applications in the fall etc. 
  These are just some of the things you NEED to be thinking about well before June so that you hit the ground running and ensure that the year off will be worth your while and will be an advantage on your college applications.    Note, we have a program called COMPASS which helps our students map out their year ahead, especially for those who are taking the gap year. Email us for a personalized consultation to see how we can help you maximize this important and life-changing year ahead for you!   ~ Hamada | Founder, Write Track Admissions  
FOR PARENTS: 5 guidelines on how to be the BEST advocate for your child during the College Admissions Process!
Reading Time: 7 minutes –  Parents, are you facing these challenge? If so, this is FOR YOU!  
      1. You and your child have conflicting ideas regarding colleges, ideal locations, and majors
      2. Your child cannot make a decision on what college to attend
      3. Your child is considering colleges that are far too expensive
      4. Your child has lost confidence and motivation and doesn’t want to apply to college
Speaking as someone who just went through the college application process, I can assure you it is just as stressful as it is made out to be – on both the student and the parent. I was fortunate enough to have an incredible experience with my parents when I was applying to college. Even though I was the first in my family to apply to college, my parents still managed to strike a perfect balance of guiding me when necessary but also ensuring that the process was entirely my own. I am now writing this for all the parents struggling to find that balance, with the hope that you too can be your child’s greatest cheerleader during this otherwise very stressful process. 
Here are my 5 critical tips on how to help your child:
1. College applications are a strategic process – start planning your strategy early.
As early as a student’s freshman year of high school, they should start visiting college campuses. Frame it as an opportunity to go on little vacations! It is very likely that the student will find at least one campus that speaks to them on these visits. Though it is important to recognize their passions for a particular school(s), as a parent, it will be on you to keep your child grounded and not overly attached to a school that may not become a reality. A parent should be as pragmatic and rational as possible. On the flip side, you should also recognize that there is no sense in forcing a school on a student if they hate it, just because that school has a really good XYZ program or it is ranked #whatever in ABC. There is no success to be found in forcing your child down a particular path!
2. Have an open and candid conversation about your expectations for colleges.
This goes hand in hand with being pragmatic. More often than not students want different college experiences for themselves than their parents have envisioned. Communicate what you are hoping as just that – YOUR desire as a parent – NOT a hard expectation that is a non-negotiable. Be candid about what kinds of colleges you would like to see your child reaching for, where you would be comfortable with your child going to school, what major you might think your child has a passion for, and what you think your child might be able to do in order to beef up their profile. However, at the end of the day, it is your child’s college journey and future, not yours.
3. Be honest about what you can contribute as a parent (to yourself and your child).
The aforementioned openness should always apply to finances as well. Though brutal honesty when it comes to money may be discouraging, knowing full well the financial reality is critical to empowering your child and encouraging them to find funding that exists. For instance, they can apply to a bunch of outside scholarships, using sites like:      It is also important to remember that getting into a dream school that may be too expensive is also not the end of the world. There are always more scholarships, loans, and outside grants that exist and are often not tapped into. Part of adulthood is being financially independent, and it is important to ease your child into this early on by having open conversations about what you can contribute financially to their college education. But do this sooner rather than later, and do not discourage your child from applying to certain schools simply because they are out of your price range. It never hurts to try. After all, I was in that same exact position, and was able to find funding that has not only covered my hefty private university tuition but also provided me with a living stipend!  
4. Ensure them that not getting in to a certain school is NEVER the end of the world.
Just because one door has closed doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of other open doors, leading to even brighter pathways. Be a teammate and support your child when things do not go exactly as planned. Get inventive! Create a new path! Help your child take stock of their skills, passions, and talents, and then use that to formulate a plan of action. Trade schools, community colleges, and gap years are all perfectly reasonable options that may be more beneficial in the long run. Then when they are ready, they can re-apply with a stronger, more confident application, knowing such things like high school GPA or SATs are not as important.   
5. You are NOT alone, reach out for help!
There are so many resources out there. There are a myriad of articles about college to read up on, but I caution you to use that knowledge sparingly. Encourage your student to meet with college counselors (if your child’s school offers them, great! If not, Write Track Admissions can help). During the meetings with the counselor or your child’s Admissions Expert, ask clarifying questions, or comment if your child has glanced over something major. However, allow your child to direct the process. This ensures that the student’s application process is their own, and hopefully will encourage them to apply to schools because they can legitimately see a future for themselves at that institution. Parents have told Write Track Admissions, time and again, that a balanced process brought them closer to their child than ever before. Utilizing the assistance of a college admissions consultant, they were able to defer to the Admissions Expert to work with the student on technicalities, while still functioning as a support structure when the inevitable self-doubt and stress arose in their child.    We hope this helps provide you with some options. But if you’re still feeling lost, please feel free to contact Write Track for help and guidance!   Aly Hartman | Write Track Communications Officer Write Track Admissions