Posts Tagged ‘college guides’

Juniors, Don’t Wait Till Senior Year for the College Onslaught

Monday, February 14th, 2011

It is hard to believe, but we are already in the middle of February.  Most college admission officers will tell juniors that from now on they should be completely focused on college.  But, what does that mean?  First, you need to prepare for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, and SAT II if required by target colleges).  Ideally you would have all standardized tests completed by the end of junior year, so you can devote the summer to drafting your essays and completing applications. 

Second, continue to compile a transcript with rigorous courses and participate in meaningful activities.  The most important piece of the college admission puzzle is your transcript.  So, keep getting good grades and make sure to choose your classes wisely for next year.  Colleges do not want to see you taking it easy in your senior year.  In fact, a recent study corroborated what guidance counselors have been telling students for years: taking harder classes improves your chances of getting in more than improving your grades or your SAT/ACT scores. 

Third, visit target colleges to create “demonstrated interest” and learn about schools.  This is invaluable.  You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so you shouldn’t attend a college without thoroughly evaluating it.  In additon to visiting the campus to show demonstrated interest, you can also find local college fairs that the colleges youa re interested in will be attending.  The NACAC college fairs are great, as you get a large number of colleges in one place, and typically they are attended by members of the college’s admission staff and not just local alumni recruiters.

Finally, as we near the end of the year start to approach teachers who know you best to request letters of recommendation. If they seem excited, get contact information so you can send the recommendation forms when they become available in July.

Buckle up, you are in for a wild ride.  But, if you take the time to plan carefully, you will have a number of great options and it will all be worth it in the end.

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Being Good at Everything is Not Enough for College Admissions Officers

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The college admissions officers at some of the top schools in the nation are bored with the typical cookie-cutter, well-rounded student. These days, they are on the prowl for students with more personal flair and individuality. One of the ways that they are searching for these students is through looking at the admissions essay that applicants send in.

The generic “perfect” college applicant is no longer desirable. Instead, admissions officers now actively seek out those who display a genuine passion for something, whether it is break dancing, the saxophone, building computers, or knitting, according to Rachel Toor, a former admissions officer at Duke University and the author of Admissions Confidential: an Insider’s Account of the Elite College Section Process. This is because it is often the interests that we pursue outside of academics that make us unique from one another. Admissions officers want to find that nugget of individuality to get to know the person behind the grades, clubs, and recommendation letters. To do so, try to incorporate a tale of how one of your greatest passions shaped you to be a better person into your college essay. For example, if you have been playing the violin for years and have a great love for it, talk about a time when you prepared for a recital, took part of an orchestra competition, or taught your little brother how to play his first song. If you write about an experience where you showed admirable qualities such as leadership, patience, and commitment, and that experience also involves something you love, your writing will invariably be more enthusiastic, lively, and compelling, which will benefit your overall essay.

Your educational resume can only say so much about you. While your GPA, honors courses, and volunteer activity is certainly important, it also does not tell the admissions officer too much about your work ethic and personality. In addition, many student academic resumes look the same. After generations of students have applied, been rejected, and gotten accepted, applicants have gotten the hang of what it is that college admissions officers seek. As a result, many high school students accomplish exactly what they think admissions officers want, such as joining as many clubs as possible, taking on typical hobbies, and doing the bare minimum of volunteer work in order to boost their academic resumes. To stand out from a sea of homogeny and monotony, write about a time when your passion allowed you to perform at your best and you can be sure that admissions officers will take notice.


This guest post is contributed by Jessica Cortez, who writes on the topics of online degree programs. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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9 Things You Need To Know About College Planning: Lesson #1

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

In this video James Maroney, founder of First Choice College Placement and, talks about college as a valuable lesson in the decision making process.  He covers the factors students should use to help choose a school as well as the sources they should use to evaluate the colleges.

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