Posts Tagged ‘college process’

Juniors, Here Is A List of What To Expect When You Are Expecting to Go To College

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Most college admission officers will tell you, from the spring semester of a student’s junior year through the fall semester of that student’s senior year, they should be heading full tilt towards college.  What does that mean?  It means this is the time for students to get serious about the college selection process.  Here is a timeline, to help you know what to expect when you are expecting to go to college.


If possible, start visiting colleges.  In order to do that, you need to speak with your guidance counselor or college adviser and craft an initial list of schools.  Possibly take the ACT for the first time, if you haven’t yet.  Register for the March SAT.  Prepare for both tests.


Most high schools begin their course selection for senior year.  Remember to take a challenging curriculum.  Register for the April ACT.  Continue studying for both tests.  College Visits!  If you want to play sports in college, start contacting coaches.


Register for the May SAT or SAT II’s.  You will need to take the SAT II Subject Tests if you are applying to some colleges.  If you are taking an AP test that correlates with an SAT II test, then I recommend you take the SAT II in May, as the May test date is right in the middle of AP Exams, and all the content will be fresh in your head.  If you have registered for it, take the ACT test.  Continue your college visits and start to narrow down your list of schools.


Take the SAT or SAT II’s, if you have registered for the test.  Register for the June SAT or SAT II, or ACT.  Study for the tests!  Get your results back from the April ACT or the May SAT.  Decide if you need to take the test again, and what you need to study.  Start studying for your final exams.  Junior year is the last full year of classes that the colleges will see.  Your grades are always the primary factor in the decision whether to admit you to college or deny you.  Start planning what you are going to do over the summer.  If you think might want to have one of your current teachers write you a letter of recommendation, ask now, so he or she can write the letter over the Summer.


Take your high school exams, if you haven’t yet.  Take the SAT or SAT II, or the ACT.  Most colleges are out of session now, so visits might not be as effective as when classes are in session.  But, it is better to visit in the Summer than to never visit at all.  Review your test results and plan which tests you need to retake in the Fall and how you are going to prepare.  Contact college coaches again to let them know which camps, tournaments, etcetera you will be attending over the Summer.


Have a little fun!  OK, now back to work.  Review your of schools and start narrowing it down to the final schools to which you are going to apply.  Start writing your personal statement or college essay.  Work a summer job, go to a summer program, or perform some community service.  Make certain to stay active.


The Common Application becomes available.  Start an account online, and start filling out your application.  Work on your college essay!  The best writing takes abundant rewriting, so be sure to give yourself enough time to write a good essay.  Get a list together of all school requirements for the schools to which you are applying (how many teacher recommendations, extra essays, interviews, et cetera).  Touch base with any teachers you have asked to write a letter of recommendation for you.  You can now provide them with the Common Application’s Teacher Evaluation form.  Visit colleges.  Interview for college.  Decide if and where you will apply Early Decision and or Early Action.  Study for standardized tests.  Register for September ACT.


Keep up your grades.  Put finishing touches on applications.  Continue college interviews.  Request teacher recommendations.  Finalize your college list.  Review the list to make sure you have at least one admission “safe” school and one financial “safe” school.  If you do not have a financial “safety”, use to find one.  Take ACT again if necessary. Register for October SAT, if necessary.  Study for standardized tests.


Take SAT and ACT if necessary.  Request transcripts from your guidance office.  Finalize and submit applications for your Early Action and Early Decision schools.  Continue visits and interviews.  Send thank you notes to anyone you had interviewed with previously.  Make certain you have requested your letters of recommendation.  Send thank you letters to teachers who have written you recommendations.  Check on financial aid deadlines to the schools to which you are applying.  Register for November SAT, if necessary.

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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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What to do when you get deferred from your Early Action/Early Decision application

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Nichols College in Dudley Massachusetts.  Click the image for your chance to win a $1,000 Spotlight Scholarship to Nichols!Is it a disappointment?  Of course it is, but it is not a time for despair.  It is a time for action.  It is time to regroup and continue to put your best foot forward.  You’ve done your research, and made your Early Action/Early Decision commitment to your college, but unfortunately they have not reciprocated.  The first course of action is to continue your demonstrated interest that you’ve established over the past several months.  Write a letter to the college expressing your continued interest.  This letter is also an opportunity to update them as to any new developments since you submitted your application.  Have you won any awards?  Are you involved in any new activities?  Inform and update the admissions commitment of your new activities or interests since you submitted your application.   An example of an introduction to such letter is as follows: "While I am disappointed that I wasn't accepted at this time, I am excited that I still have an opportunity to be a part of the class of 2015 at First Choice University.  You are my first choice for college, and remain so...” Don’t hesitate to call the admissions office and ask them if there is anything additional you can do to enhance your application.  Perhaps, they may suggest retaking the SAT.   If you haven't had an alumni or an on campus interview, ask if it is possible for you to schedule one.  Consider asking if they would accept an additional letter of recommendation or an additional writing sample. Understand that every situation is unique, and doing all of these things might not make a difference, so make sure that you have a solid back up plan in place.


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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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Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Typically, colleges are looking for letters of recommendation from your junior or senior year.  Since many people will be applying early decision or early action, they are required to send their applications out in October.  Most senior year teachers will not know you well enough by then to write you a good letter of recommendation.  Thus, the end of junior year is a perfect time to start asking for a letter of recommendation.  We have included this article to help you in your quest for “good” letters of recommendation.  

Many students don’t give much thought to asking their teachers for recommendations, they just think about who they might ask. And even that decision doesn’t always mean that much to students. Recommendations can really work to your advantage in the college admissions process if you choose carefully, and offer teachers the same courtesy you would hope for if someone was asking a favor of you. Keep in mind the following tips when asking a teacher, peer, or family friend for a college recommendation:


  • It is better to ask the teacher whose class you worked extra hard in but received a “B” rather than the teacher of a a class where you received an “A” but she knows you put in little to no work.
  • You should ask a teacher you had in your junior year, or a teacher you had more than once.
  • You should ask a teacher who you feels knows you, and you have participated in his class. If you received an A but didnt offer any information or answer any questions, you may want to choose a teacher you know feels you participate.
  • Give them time. Just like you wouldnt want someone to ask you a favor at the last minute, dont do the same to them. Some teachers will have quotas for how many recommendations they will write in a given semester, so even if your teacher likes you and you have done well in her class, if she is already writing a dozen others then she may tell you no.
  • Make it easy. Remember, your teacher, coach or community leader is doing YOU a favor. Give each person packets for each school they need to mail your recs to. Label and put stamps and addresses on each envelope and paper clip the forms they need to fill out. Do not make them guess or organize your information.
  • More recs is not necessaily better. Send as many as your school asks for. If you have one more shining recommendation from someone else, ask the school if they accept extra information. Make sure admissions will read it before that person puts in the effort.
  • If the school “suggests” recommendations but doesnt require them, send them anyway. It will only help you if you have a letter decribing your strengths.
  • If you are not sure if you should ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation or not, start by telling the teacher, “I am beginning to think about whom I am going to ask to write me a letter of recommendation, would you be willing to write one for me?”  If they teacher hesitates, don’t ask that teacher.  If he or she sounds very excited, then this is probably a good person to ask.

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