Since the College Board announced that it's revamping the SAT in 2016, there have been questions about what the most important factors are in the college admissions process. Scott Farber, co-founder of College Essay Organizer, recently addressed this stating that colleges place equal weight on standardized test scores and grades, with essays following closely behind.
Don't miss this Fox News interview where Farber also mentions College Essay Organizer, created to give students the edge on their essays and enhance students' ability to tell their story in their own unique way. The stories that students write continue to increase in importance and are most often the deciding factor between two students with similar grades and test scores.
We all love feel-good stories, and this is not one to miss! Kwasi Enin, a first-generation American from Ghana attending a large public school in Long Island, applied to all eight ivy league schools and got eight acceptance letters back. For those parents who want to rethink their parenting style, he credits his "helicopter parents" for encouraging him to strive to be the best he can be. His hard work evidently paid off, and he is now deciding which school to attend in the fall, giving the most consideration to the financial aid offers he receives. While for many of this year's applicants this story may be ill-timed, it can also be an opportunity to forget about ourselves and celebrate someone else's accomplishments. Go Kwasi!
To read more about Kwasi, and to read the stand-out essay that got him in, click here.
Maybe you were accepted to a couple colleges that you'd be happy with, but you were wait listed to your top choice. How can you distinguish yourself from all the other wait listed students, sometimes numbering into the thousands? Colleges want to know that if they extend an offer it will be accepted. Commitment letters are a constructive and effective way to share your passion with a college and send an update on your accomplishments from the last few months. Make sure to discuss this with your counselor as well so that he or she is willing to reach out to the college and support your efforts. Please see below for the first paragraph of a commitment letter used by one successful applicant, and this link will give you a few more guidelines on what to include:
"Thank you so much for continuing to consider me via your wait list as a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Class of 2015. Penn is absolutely my top choice, and if I am accepted, I will absolutely attend. My yearning to be a part of, and contribute to, Penn’s extraordinary student experience has grown exponentially in the past few months, and I hope that this letter will demonstrate my sincere commitment."
The student then goes on to discuss the qualities that he liked most about the school and to update the school on his recent most impressive academic and extracurricular accomplishments.
While there may be one applicant that you know who was accepted to all of her colleges, this is by far the exception. For most, there will be a mix of acceptances and rejections to process. How can parents help? Of course, it depends on the student. For some, simply stepping back and giving some breathing room is all that's needed. For others, a more hands on approach is required to help soothe those open wounds. Here are a few tips for parents laid out by writing coach Julie Fingersh.
- Don't try to explain it away, but meet your child where he or she is. Rejection is tough for anyone, but getting rejected from a dream college might feel like a student's whole future hopes have been crushed. The first step is to simply acknowledge how bad it feels.
- Tell your own related stories of rejection. Sharing that you aren't perfect and have also struggled and lived to tell about it can help your child to find the silver lining in the situation.
- Try to tease apart "reality vs. appearance." While this may look and feel bad to your child, the reality is that college does not define a person, nor does it determine one's future. A few well-chosen facts may come in handy when your child is ready to listen. Here's one to keep in your toolbox: "A 2014 Gallup poll found that when it comes to hiring, a mere 9 percent of U.S. business leaders ranked where a candidate went to college as 'very important.'"
- Once the sting has lessened, share this article on what makes people stronger. If it's well-timed, it will help to put things back in perspective and enable your child to start to make the most of the options that are available.
While seniors wait to receive decisions from colleges and struggle to stay engaged in their classes so as to finish the year off strong, juniors are gearing up for the long haul in front of them. First on the agenda is most likely college visits. These trips are the best way to begin to understand what you are looking for in a college, and for that reason it's best to tour a wide range of colleges including public and private schools of different sizes and specialties. You may already feel strongly about one type of college, but what you experience firsthand could surprise you, so be open-minded. If you're just getting started, here are some basics that you need to know:
- Be sure to research the admission pages of a college's website before you go, and try to connect with the college representative for your high school while on campus. You can also request an appointment with a professor, financial aid officer, or be connected with a current student during your visit.
- Scheduling a visit can usually be done online through a college's website, but be sure to reserve several weeks in advance to make sure that you have a spot when you arrive.
- The best times to visit are during your spring or fall break, but it's best if college classes are in session when you arrive as you want to get a realistic feel of day-to-day student life.
- Visits are best with a parent or caretaker who is supporting you through the process. Attending with friends may take away from your personal reaction to a campus.
- Begin visiting local colleges, followed by a few of your top choice schools that may be farther afield as you narrow your list
- Expect the visit to begin with an introduction by an admission representative which includes a question-and-answer session. You will then take a group walking tour of the campus which may end with lunch in the student cafeteria.
- After returning home, be sure to send a note or email thanking your representative, and stay in touch with colleges that remain on your list. Keep a file for each college containing notes and photos that will help you remember your experiences as you compare colleges.
Forming your college list can be a great time to explore your personal interests and likes and dislikes. Avoid choosing a college simply because of who else did attend/will be attending it, and try to form your own opinion so that your college years can be as rewarding as possible.
For more information on taking advantage of your college visits, check out this article.
We've been hearing about the new SAT for a while now, and yesterday additional details were revealed by College Board president David Coleman who criticized both the SAT and ACT as straying away from learning. Many were quick to point out that the ACT has always steered in that direction more than the SAT, and as president of ACT's education division expressed, "It seems like they’re mostly following what we’ve always done.”
Here are a few of the central changes as summed up in this article:
- The SAT will return to a 1,600-point scale with a maximum of 800 in math and reading taken in three hours, and an optional 50 minute essay scored separately.
- There will no longer be a guessing penalty where points are deducted for wrong answers.
- Vocabulary will focus on commonly-used college-level words, rather than words that are out of use.
- Reading passages will contain excerpts from "founding documents" and historical texts, as well as source documents from science, social studies, and other disciplines.
- Math will focus on the type of math required in college courses and beyond including linear and complex equations, ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning. Calculators will only be used on some sections.
- The optional essay will require analysis on how the author has used evidence and reasoning to support his position.
Check here for the unveiling of a sample of the new SAT on April 16.
The Common App was riddled with technological glitches this season causing an explosion of activity on College Essay Organizer. Who else could students turn to when supplements were not being released on time, and key essay questions were often missing? Not only did we email thousands of students weekly lists detailing which colleges' supplements had released, but we also provided the complete list of essay questions even when they were not available on the Common App.
While the Common App has gotten many of its issues under control, it has been unclear how things will be handled in the coming season, and whether or not past promises (such as all college supplements being released at once on August 1) will be kept. No matter what happens post Rob Killion stepping down, we can tell you that College Essay Organizer will continue to step up and provide students with the confidence needed to complete essays as accurately and early as possible.
For more information on the Common App's change in leadership, refer to Nancy Greisemer's article here.
Since it often feels like the student is completely out of control in the application process, it's good to know that you do have rights. As members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Common App member schools have agreed to give admitted first-year students who have applied regular decision or early action till May 1 to accept or decline an offer to attend. This means that if a college requests you to reply before May 1 (and you have not applied early decision), an extension will be provided upon written request. Here is a list of regulations:
- You can wait until May 1 to respond to an offer of admission and/or financial aid, unless you applied Early Decision.
- Colleges that request commitments prior to May 1 must extend you the opportunity to request an extension until May 1 that will not affect your offer for admission and/or financial aid.
- Wait/alternate list notifications need to include the number of students on the waitlist, the number of students offered admission, and the availability of financial aid and housing.
- You are not obligated to give a deposit or written commitment in order to remain on a waitlist.
- You must be notified of your waitlist status by August 1.
Click here to see more of your student rights and responsibilities as published on the NACAC site.
Waiting to hear whether or not you got into a college may just be the toughest part of the college admissions process. Even though all the work is done, if you are a worrier, suddenly having additional time on your hands to think about all your worst-case scenarios can prove to be quite stressful and exhausting. And if you happened to have had a bad interview, you may think that you completely ruined your chances of getting into your dream college. Fortunately, the interview plays only a small role in getting in, and is certainly less important than your college essays, grades, and test scores. Interview gaffes do make great stories though, especially if you do end up getting an acceptance letter. Here is an example from this article of one student who did end up getting into MIT:
“I put my hand down on the table just after he put the tea on the table. What I didn’t realize was that this was the tipsiest table ever, and this enormous kettle of tea spilled onto my interviewer’s lap, so there’s your first impression.”
We'd love to hear your most memorable interview stories. Please send them to us at email@example.com. We'll post the best ones (anonymously of course).
There are loads of scholarship programs out there, so it's always good to try your hand at a few that may be a good fit. After all, there's nothing to lose, especially if you already applied or you got in early. College Essay Organizer includes hundreds of scholarship questions in its database, and we rounded up a few of the most popular ones that students are applying to along with some of their thought-provoking essay questions.
Merit-based scholarships at Emory College of Arts & Sciences, Oxford College and the Goizueta Business School require one of the following:
- A) "The future belongs to the discontented." Robert W. Woodruff -- Just thirty-three years old when he took command of The Coca-Cola Company in 1923, Emory alumnus, Robert W. Woodruff shaped the fledgling soft drink enterprise and its bottler franchise system into a corporate giant with the world's most widely known trademark. During the next six decades, Mr. Woodruff established a remarkable record as a global leader and philanthropist. Describe how this quote resonates with you.
- B) “The cynics will tell you that the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Just do it anyway.” Roberto C. Goizueta -- The Goizueta Business School is honored to take its name from Roberto C. Goizueta, who demonstrated a level of personal and professional courage throughout his lifetime that has ensured his legacy as one of the most respected business leaders of the 20th century. As a future business leader, what is the good you would like to contribute in the world, and why?
The Dean’s Scholarship in Business at Washington University in St. Louis:
- What is the world’s most pressing problem and how should business contribute to the solution?
The Lillis Scholarship at University of Puget Sound:
- A primary objective of the Lillis Scholarship is to encourage intellectual independence. To illustrate your own intellectual independence and ability to integrate it into your life, please provide the selection committee with an original essay in which you respond to the following prompt: Describe an intellectual idea that has transformed your thinking.
The Trustee Scholarship at Boston University requires one of the following:
- A) Recent disclosures have revealed that the US government maintains a database that logs all American telephone calls and actively collects the contents of large numbers of domestic and foreign emails. National security officials have testified that these once-secret programs have disrupted more than 50 “potential terrorist events.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a suit against the Obama administration demanding an end to this surveillance, contending that it “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.” In your opinion, what are the considerations in determining how much domestic surveillance is warranted to prevent possible terrorist attacks? Do you agree with the ACLU’s position or that of the government? Where do you draw the line regarding data collection and when this should be prohibited?
- B) According to Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, scientists will soon be able to perform genetic testing to determine an individual’s likelihood of developing 25 major diseases such as cancer, arterial sclerosis, and diabetes. Similar in-vitro testing will be available as well, permitting parents to know the probability of debilitating—as well as “undesirable”—traits in fertilized eggs before they are implanted in the womb. What are the arguments against making such information widely available? Do you agree or disagree with these arguments?
- C) Responding to the overwhelming amount of facts, information, and opinions that come to us though our electronic devices, the author Pico Iyer has written: “The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen.” Do you agree with this statement? Why?