Getting Started for Students

    College Kickstart is a web application designed to help you craft a winning college plan. Given a list of schools you have in mind and your academic profile, College Kickstart makes it easy to ensure your list is balanced, you’re capitalizing on early admission, and minimizing wasted motion along the way. It will also allow you to consider affordability constraints and merit scholarship opportunities.

    College Kickstart uses your academic profile and list of colleges to make recommendations. You can use these insights to fine-tune your list and spark conversations with your family and counselor. Ultimately, you will be empowered to take more charge of your college planning.

    If you need any help using College Kickstart:

    • email
    • look for the Help search on every page

    In this Getting Started, instructions related to:

    • Your account
    • Your profile
    • List check
    • Early admission strategy
    • Action plan
    • Admissions and affordability details
    • College plan summaries

    Your account

    1. Look for the College Kickstart email. You will receive an email from your College Kickstart with everything you need to get started. It will have the link to log in and your password. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam folder.


    2. After you register, bookmark the College Kickstart page.

    3. Your counselor's access. Your college counselor will have read access to your account if they have set you up with access to College Kickstart. 

    Your profile

    1. Complete your list of six or more schoolsStart typing in the search box to find the colleges and universities that you are considering. Put the colleges in order of your preference and use the heart icon if you really love your top choices.

    Please let your counselor know if a school that you're interested in is not in the program.

    2. Complete your academic details. Add your academic credentials.  At a minimum, you need to enter either an SAT or ACT score.  We use the new/redesigned SAT scoring format (1600 scale), so if you plan to use an old SAT score you’ll need to convert your old 2400 scale score to its new 1600 scale equivalent.  Old to new SAT score conversion

    Regarding GPA, we recommend that you enter both weighted and unweighted GPA if both are available.

    3. Run Kickstart. Click RUN KICKSTART to start the analysis.

    List check

    1. Review your list gradeSee how College Kickstart used your academic profile and the admissions selectivity of your schools to assess the quality of your list.  Each school is categorized as an unlikely, reach, target or likely school and the resulting mix is graded for balance. For details, you can read categorize, admissions selectivity and academic performance hyperlinks.


    2. Balance your list. Use the MixFixer to balance your list. To launch MixFixer, click either Find Likelies, Find Targets or Find Reaches at the bottom of the page. A list of all schools that would be Likelies (or Targets or Reaches) for you is presented in the Available Schools list. You can add schools to your list and use Run Kickstart to re-categorize your new list of schools.

    The goal for a balanced list is to have at least 6 schools anchored by a core of 1 likely and 3-5 targets and supplemented by 2 or more reaches. Use the filters to fine-tune your searches. For example, search for likelies with great merit aid, or a target with no extra essay.

    Early admissions

    Review your Early Strategy. See how College Kickstart recommends capitalizing on early admission opportunities to help skew odds more in your favor.

    The concept of early admission is simple: you apply early, you hear back early. Not all schools offer early admission, but those that do will typically offer some combination of the following three options: Early Decision, Early Action, and Restrictive Early Action.

    Action plan

    Review your Action PlanSee how College Kickstart recommends how to prioritize your applications to minimize wasted effort.  In most cases, we’re able to come up with ways to help minimize application effort over the holidays and some credit card swipes for Mom and Dad if you’re admitted to one of your early admission schools.  

    School detail

    1. Review admission dataCollege Kickstart uses the most current admissions data and you can drill down to see the details for each of your schools. Use the Details tab to get more context about how College Kickstart made your recommendations.  

    2. Review the affordability data. When the school reports it, you can also see need-based and merit-based financial aid information.


    College plan highlights

    1. Review the Details of your college plan. To see different summaries of your college plan use My Plan at the top right near Log Out.

    2. The next time you log into College Kickstart, you will be on the Summary view.

    3. If you want to change your college list or update your academic profile, use Run Kickstart.

    4. You can change the Summary views from overall to Requirements, Need-based Aid, and Merit-based Aid. 

    Was this article helpful?
    0 out of 1 found this helpful