- 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!).
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!
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!
With summer well and truly underway, we hope that you are using these warm and lazy days productively! Pokemon Go might be getting everyone off their couches and into the streets, but a little more effort productivity-wise goes a long way!
NPR Ed recently posted a piece on how high school students need more than just college-prep. Employers are increasingly expecting college graduates to possess some measure of competency at jobs, be it punctuality, customer-service or professionalism. It was suggested that any summer job, including ones that may seem 'pointless' or 'dead-end', might actually make students a lot more competitive out of college.
So there. We think it's definitely time to don those aprons and learn a few new skills - be it latte art or flipping burgers! Even better, go experience the work environment of a career you've never thought of being in. If jobs are hard to come by, volunteer to offer your time. There are few employers who would say no to bubbly enthusiasm and an extra pair of hands!
If there are any industries that you might be interested in and are looking for an introduction, do drop us and e-mail!
My younger sister, there's a large age gap, just graduated from Oberlin. It was her absolute first choice school - turning down other exceptional institutions to be there. She was considering pursuing music - and Oberlin Conservatory is one of the top in the nation, if not the world. During graduation weekend, this stood out. The spirit of the school is very performance oriented - from the O!Circus to steel drums to taiko - there was a performance every afternoon during graduation/alumni weekend, somewhere on campus. I really enjoyed hearing the senior recitals at Finney Chapel - the musicians are quite talented!
Oberlin's known for being quite liberal - and that showed. From man buns to an all-sex system for bathroom usage in dormitories, the school definitely inspires a tree hugger type feeling that you get when walking across the better known UC Berkeley (Cal). But, there's a more casual feel to the culture as compared to schools like BU, Tufts, Middlebury, Amherst. It's similar to how ballet dancers, perfect and tidy during performances, wearing gritty, ripped clothing during practice. Perhaps in the perfection of performance, Obies (as they call themselves) turn to a grittier, more laid back version of themselves as they walk through campus.
The school is composed of 2 schools - liberal arts & conservatory. I do believe that the conservatory's culture spills over into the rest of the school's culture. The tour guide even said that although she was a violinist, her goals weren't to pursue music in college, but wanted to be around performance (and she will be minoring in dance). However, from conversations with students and actions of the students at graduation - there is a clear differentiation of the two programs. As there were only about 700 graduates total, each name was announced. The conservatory was first - and not too long after the completion of the dual degree students, the conservatory students began to leave their seats. Ok - 3 hour long graduation, I'd be tempted, too! But, if one of my best friends was in the liberal arts college - I'd stay put and get ready to cheer for him/her. This was telling for me. Not in a negative way, but to share with prospective students that the two are separate entities and with as much muddling there is between them, there is still a clear divide between conservatory and liberal arts students. It all makes sense - you'd be spending a lot more time in classes with those in the same school.
Overall, Oberlin has an excellent academic reputation. Some of the newer buildings are LEED certified, the spaces are beautiful, the campus inviting. For the right student, what an awesome undergraduate experience! I would heavily consider the liberal arts school if you fit into the following categories:
Your life is filled with lots of accomplishments, events, and memories. So, there's a huge urge to want to share all of that in your college application essay. With between 500 and 750 words to work with, it's impossible to get all the wonderful things you've accomplished and want to share with the admissions officer into this one essay, at least not in any sort of meaningful way. So, resist that urge to list a bunch of events! There are multiple parts to your application - the resume, your grades, short essays, standardized testing, and recommendations. All of these components will contribute to giving the admissions offer a rich picture of who you are.
Let the resume tell your chronological accomplishments from work, volunteer, and extra curricular activities. Let recommendations brag about the more qualitative pieces of who you are - personality, drive, etc. And, let the essay tell the reader how you think, your aspirations, and where those aspirations come from. In most cases, this stems from a story or series of events that are pivotal in your life. Here are some questions that might help you pinpoint these types of events:
Once you settle on the topic, don't forget to expand on the story and why it's significant, how it's changed who you are/your goals, and how it ties to your aspirations for the future or your more immediate next steps.
After reading thousands of college application essays from students at all different levels of writing, I've learned that the most powerful essays are ones that are genuine. For whatever reason, the right words flow, the thoughts are better conveyed, and the essay never feels forced or over-edited. It's a win-win for the prospective student: it's easier to write the essay & it's a more memorable essay for the reader, too.
We can tell when a portion of the essay feels forced - when a student starts writing what they think should be written instead of their own thoughts and perspective on their life and future. Or a parent interferes and suggests what they believe an admissions officer would like to read. Big ideas and strategy for the essay can come from many different places (parents, peers, other mentor figures), but we find that something wonderful always emerges when the student finally gets to writing their own thoughts down. It's always a transformative process, guiding students through this new type of writing - about themselves, their thoughts and desires for the future. Regardless of writing skill level - a genuine essay is one of the ingredients that is most powerful.
Most families know that every component of the college admissions process is important. Families know the importance of grades, challenging coursework completed, and the cumulative GPA. Many students also take test prep courses or get private tutoring for SATs and ACTs. But what about the admissions essay? Is it just another essay – similar to the assignments at school?
The essay is the one component of the application that can really set a student apart from the pack. With selective schools, for every enrollment slot, there are 5 students with the same scores, GPA, and extracurricular leadership stats. The essay is the only real opportunity to set yourself apart from the others once you hit your senior year – the grades, coursework, and typically test taking is already completed. Your words paint a picture of your past, how you think about your future, and what you’ve learned from your experiences thus far. It paints a picture for the admissions officer – who you are, where you can contribute to the school, and what you can bring to the campus that isn’t already there. Often time, it’s what gets a student into a reach school – when all else equal, the essay is what tips the scales in an invitation to enroll at a school.
Okay, so we know it’s really important.
It’s important, and also a skill that hasn’t been honed by most 16-18 year olds that are looking to attend college. The admissions essay isn’t a book report, analysis of a concept, or summary of a historical period. It’s partially a marketing essay and partially a personal thought essay – both of which aren’t studied much in high school. If a student regularly writes their personal thoughts about life and daily ongoings into a diary – that is likely the best practice they are getting for this type of essay. However, these journal entries aren’t likely getting proofed for structure and effectiveness in getting a point across to the reader. So… a few tips on the essay writing process:
Of course, Lucent Education helps students through this process – it’s our specialty. We take the mystery out of it, helping students hone in on the skills to write these types of essays through one on one support; "on the job" type support with revisions, questions, and conversation. We never compromise the authenticity of the writer's words and our goal is to help students find their voice in the essays so that they come across genuine, individual, and thoughtful. Just as it takes many hours to learn how to put together a great book report, we structure an effective plan to help applicants learn while completing their admissions essays.
I often get the question from parents: What should we do to make sure my child can get into the best possible college? Well, when that question is asked when the student is in 10th grade, it’s a bit too late! A good time to think a bit more in depth about your child’s college prospects is in middle school. Think about how you’d plan for a new project at work – you don’t just dive into a project without completing a bit of brainstorming and perhaps more thorough strategic planning. It is no different in the college applications process. Here are a few things to consider:
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