- Get organized: there are lots of deadlines, essays, and various requirements. Get organized, start a spreadsheet or check list, anything that'll help you track what you need to get done.
- Essays: typically the most feared part of the essay, but they don't have to be. Have the right expectations going into them - similar to a major final paper for a class (or even more important!), you'll want to revise it over and over again with help from peers and other trusted adults. Get the essays organized so that nothing falls through the cracks (be sure to check all the tabs for supplemental short answers and writing prompts). We have a lot of tips on how to put together the essays on our blog as well; they're stylistically very different from most of the writing completed in high school.
- Activities: there's a section where you can list 10 of your activities. But, the section allows 50 characters for a title and 150 for a description...characters, not words! It's hard to cram all that you did in so few words, so you'll want to set aside special time to take a look at this section. You can use this section in tandem with the Honors/Awards section in the Education section to maximize usage of space on the application.
- Word Real Estate: as mentioned in the prior bullet point, don't repeat yourself! There are only so many words, characters for each section allowed, so use them wisely. Think of the application holistically.
Thoughts on application success - career & school.
There are lots of components of the Common Application and some look at it as simple and straightforward, others feel daunted by the amount of work ahead of them. Here are some basic things to keep in mind as you start to put together the application.
You can definitely utilize technology to help you through the standardized test prep process - it’ll literally be at your fingertips during any down time that you may have. The first question we usually get is whether a student should take the ACT or the SAT. The best way to check this is to go through several questions of each section of both exams so that the student can get a feel for which they prefer. Most people can easily come to a conclusion on which exam "speaks to them" more. Then, I'd go all in! After all, study for 2 exams?? In some cases we may suggest a swap to the other exam if the practice scores aren't quite matching the academic rigor achieved at school.
Generally, my first recommendation is go to to Khan Academy, they work directly with the college board on SAT test prep. However, there are tons of apps out there as well that are interactive and give you lots of opportunities to practice test questions. We've done a bit of sleuthing for you to weed out the apps that don't have much usage or are poorly put together. I'm an android, so these are all through the Google Play Store. Hopefully a few of these will work out for your needs.
Note of caution - apps are a great way to get breadth. However, once you spot a weakness, you'll need to drill down to really understand how to solve the problems that you're most commonly getting wrong. These apps sometimes do not allow for you to do that in the most productive way.
Utilizing the internet has made all parts of our lives easier - finding long lost friends, making reservations for date night, and finding x or y product with the best reviews. Similar to our daily lives, admissions officers have also started using the internet in higher numbers to aid their admissions process. From a Kaplan Test Prep research study, 35% are searching out applicants and 68% consider it fair game to do so, but not all of them actually put it into practice. From the same study, they found that admissions officers were finding positive supporting information for applicants as often as they were finding information that would negatively impact a student’s application.
Generally, admissions officers are hoping to find a more holistic version of some students through online searches and social media accounts - looking for additional, positive information about applicants. However, it’s possible to turn off an admissions officer with remarks, posts, and images that violate (or do not align with) the expectation of how students are in a school's student community. Here are some tips and cautionary words about social media for those applying to college/university.
Keep these tips in mind for before, during and after college acceptances. Poor form after the fact can mean that a college rescinds their offer of admissions (this includes poor grades as well, don’t let senioritis get to you!):
Things not to do...
Last thought: don’t get too wrapped up in tailoring your presence as the research statistics don’t necessarily merit a lot of effort on this front (for now!).
As students transition from high school classes to the more challenging complexity and higher volume in AP and college coursework, many need to adjust their study habits to the needs of these more demanding courses. Here are a few tips that we’ve aggregated from several educational articles and studies that we think students can experiment with.
This isn’t a secret - but there are studies that show that when you distribute your studies throughout a period of time, the retention is higher. This is similar to the studies regarding summer learning loss, a phenomena many are familiar with.
Create a schedule.
This is taking the prior note a step further. Take the time to plan and strategize for when you’ll do homework, study, take additional notes, and review other materials. Since we know that cramming doesn’t work, plan for spurts throughout the week to study. Many studies show that finding the same space and similar times during the day to study have shown better results. In this section, I’d also include finding a space in which you’re able to consistently focus for long periods of time (such as quiet room at a library or noise cancelling headphones).
Once you do sit down to study, it needs to be productive and likely more thorough than in the past with courses that may have come more easily to you. There are several ideas to experiment with around this.
Try reading summaries of text before reading the entire section
Practice the same questions that will show up on exams.
Although it seems obvious, most students actually don’t do this. Creating flashcards and practice tests for a study buddy are a good way to practice this method. In many challenge courses in college will include exam questions in which students have never seen before, having a study buddy to stretch your understanding of the material through inventive practice questions will be helpful in exploring material that you may not have yet spent much time or depth in.
Known when you need help.
Learn to get a good feeling of when you’re falling behind or not grasping the material as thoroughly as you hope (or an exam shows). When a course moves quicker and with more depth, it can be easy to fall behind. And since material can oftentimes be cumulative, it’s best to stay ahead of the game! There are several options for high school or college courses to start off with such as joining a study group, finding a peer tutor (many high schools and colleges have this set up already), attending office hours, scheduling time with the teacher for additional support, and of course, tutoring.
Get enough sleep.
We've put together an easy to follow, high level overview of the college admissions process including the four major components that admissions officers evaluate: academics, extracurricular activities, standardized testing, and the application (and essays). This is actually a very truncated version of a presentation that we hold (for free!) in the spring time frame in both NYC and SF. We're hoping to add more YouTube videos in shorter chunks of time on the most asked frequently asked questions from our clients.
So you've made it through a few years of high school and you're feeling pretty solid about your classes, grades, and extracurricular activities. There are a few more things to now focus on if you're college bound. The most obvious - which schools should I be applying to? Fit is incredibly important and it's something that we stress when working with high school/transfer students. It's about a great match so that you get a lot out of the school, but the school and its community also get a lot out of you as a person. Outside of the usual check on your numbers (SAT/ACT, GPA, etc.), here are a few pointers to consider in the process:
Best of luck in exploring the different schools out there!
You're at the tail end of the undergraduate application process - the testing, the interviews, the essays are all behind you now. Whew - congrats on completing an intense process. And, if you're reading this article, my guess is that you also have choices ahead of you. Wonderful.
So, which college/university?
I've compiled a few tactics to thoughtfully review the choices at hand.
Best of luck on your decisions!
What does it mean?
Well, congratulations! It might feel like another rejection, but what the wait list means is that you're one of the applicants that the university finds qualified to be part of the community - just that there wasn't enough space for everyone. Due to the competitiveness of many colleges and universities, it means that there were several students just as qualified as you, and perhaps there was something else that someone else had that the admissions officers found would contribute to the mix of this particular class. Typically the difference between accepted students and those that are wait listed are arbitrary and minor. Pat yourself on the back for this accomplishment.
What to do next?
If you'd like to be on the wait list, you must actively notify the university. Follow the instructions included in the notice/letter and be sure to respond. There are several things to do and not do to better your chances of getting off the wait list. However, many competitive universities only accept small percentages of students off their wait lists, so be sure to put down a deposit at a school in which you'd be happy to go to otherwise. Most schools accept students off the wait list after the May 1 decisions requirements of those that were accepted before pulling from the wait list.
Things to keep in mind:
Best of luck on school decisions!
Nervousness and anxiety when it comes to standardized testing is pretty common - so, you're not alone. The anxiety or fear is actually a sign that your body is ready to focus on the task ahead, all that remains is how your harness that energy. Here are some tactics to keep cool and calm so that you perform your best on test day.
Months/weeks leading to the test:
I can't believe how much university/college tuition has risen over the last few decades! If you're a senior that has decided (back on May 1) which college you'll be attending, you might be overwhelmed about how to fill the gaps that you likely have in your financial aid package.
After all those essays from the admissions process, you're likely to want to take a break from anymore writing or submission of applications - but don't! Applying to scholarships is actually worth your while as there are many students that do sit back and relax and don't even bother to apply. This ups your odds of getting some aid. And, many of the times, you won't need to submit a personal statement. And very likely, you'll find that you can recycle a lot of the work that was completed back in the fall!
We highly advocate for prioritizing application to local scholarships. There are many of them, while at a lower gift, you're more likely to actually receive the award. There are a few places in which you can search for all types of scholarships, specifically for local scholarships...
You can find both national, regional, and local scholarships online. Our favorite websites for the search are:
Again, if you don't apply, you won't get anything! And lots of smaller scholarships can make a significant dent in tuition costs. So, while we aren't telling you to avoid the big, prestigious scholarships, we do encourage you to apply to many of the opportunities that may have smaller awards that have less competition and better your odds of securing funds.
Best of luck on the scholarship search and application process!
Last week, a first-generation student from Walnut, CA gained admissions to ALL eight Ivy League schools! I was especially proud as she was born in Malaysia, where Tilia and I are originally from! Cassandra Hsiao's admissions essay hit tugged on a few heartstrings - do have a read here.
Cassandra captures the experience of the first-generation student so well - we have all been conscious about not just what we say, but HOW we say it, always in fear that a slip in pronunciation might just betray our immigrant roots. However, delve a little deeper and we can start to appreciate the many stories that come from the mispronounced words - the struggles to learn a new language, to adopt a new culture while at the same time trying your best to just fit in. Cassandra shows us how to rise above this fear of standing out by mastering the very same language her mom struggled with - to be an amazing student writer and journalist!
At Lucent, we have helped countless of immigrant families gain admissions into their dream school. We have always advocated for telling personal stories and this plucky Malaysian-born Californian high schooler has definitely shown what a unique and amazing experience being a first-generation student can be!
Here at Lucent Education, we must take it for granted that there are some pretty straightforward principles around resume formatting. It's a fairly easy and fun design task for us to work off of your current formatting (usually) and keep your stylistic flavor while modernizing - there are rare cases when we totally revamp the resume formatting. Here are some tips that go a bit beyond the general template of a resume:
Don't forget, read your resume as if you're a recruiter. It only needs the information on there to get you that interview (and sometimes for a hiring manager to see your experience further back). So, it sometimes hurts to cut out pieces of your work history because you lived it (and it was important!), but the resume isn't where you dictate your entire life's work; it's a personal marketing tool to help you get an interview.
With the new year, many are thinking about what they'd like to accomplish for the year. Eating and living healthier. Strengthening relationships with friends. Spending more time with family. And of course, what to do about a job that you're ready to move on from.
So, here are a few resume refreshing tips to get you started...
It's the end of summer, the weather's getting cooler and it's also college application time. We recently came across this very brief article on how Jessica Yeager, a graduate of Harvard and MIT, managed to get offers from 7 Ivies! Read more here.
Our take on this : Start early, dream big and do your research. The last point is we at Lucent Education feel that we can make the biggest difference. It's good and well to be able to get information off websites and YouTube videos, but nothing beats getting advise from people who have actually been there and have experience helping others get there too! Have a look at what our clients say about us!
As always, drop us a message or visit our Facebook page for more info!
About Lucent Education:
College, Graduate School, and Career Coaching.