Tips for Early College Applicants to De-stress as They Wait

Which one used College Essay Organizer?

Anxiety is definitely a real part of the college application process, and as applicants know, it becomes increasingly intense as the day of judgment nears. For most early applicants, that day is December 15. Will Walker, one of eight students chosen by the New York Times Choice Blog to document his story, shares his woes in this entry. After fighting his own fear demons, his resulting epiphany is one we can all benefit from:

"And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’d urge you, all of you (but especially college-bound seniors like me) to take a second over the coming week to reflect on the things that you do have: the opportunities you’ve been given, the possibilities you’ve been presented with, and the people around you who care about you. Because yes, this process is bad. But it’d be a lot worse if we had to go at it alone."

Taking advantage of your support network will definitely make this an easier process, as will making sure you're on top of your game and haven't missed anything. Use your College Essay Organizer account to double check that you didn't overlook any essay questions, and begin to get organized for writing the remainder of your essays if your early applications do not turn into acceptances.

 

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Contest for the Best First Line of a College Essay

We'll let you know if your essay is off to a good start.

Take a moment and submit the best first line of a college essay by Friday, November 30, 2012 (must be  your own original creation, and one submission per person) to win a FREE premium account (valued at $49). Even if you applied early, it's sure to come in handy as you work on your other college applications. Here are a few examples of past winners of our exclusive contest:

  • Peanut butter and celery is by far the oddest snack time pairing, but the benefits exceed the oddities.
  • I change my name each time I place an order at Starbucks
  • Three days before my 11th birthday, my mother had brain surgery.
  • Wearing a Dole pineapple shirt to a Del Monte pineapple farm is probably not a good first impression.

 Follow us on twitter to submit your entry or email us at info@collegeessayorganizer.com. Good luck!

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University of Washington's Most Important Factor for Admission

While thousands of early applicants wait to see if they make the cut, this article focusing on Philip Ballinger, University of Washington's Director of Admissions gives insight into what colleges are looking for when selecting candidates for admission. Ballinger has his eyes peeled for tough students who have the ability to go against the grain, describing "the best applicants as salmon, swimming upstream tirelessly against the current to meet their goals."

Unfortunately, there is more to the quality of what Ballinger calls "gumption" that gets an applicant on the accepted list. Financial concerns are playing more of a role, especially in the current economy, a factor out of the control of many families:

"These are tough times for college admissions directors. The cost of tuition has skyrocketed. Popular articles question the value of a four-year degree. The state’s flagship university has made room for more international students, attracting top scholars and millions in extra tuition dollars — but sometimes raising the ire of local families when their children don’t get in."

University of Washington receives approximately 26,000 college applications, the largest portion of which are out-of-state, and on average 6,000 are international applicants.

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Welcome all Sylvan students and parents!

Most college applicants think they know how many essays they have to write for their applications. But in our recent survey, 90% had significantly underestimated the number they were up against, even when using the Common App. With College Essay Organizer you will save hours of time and work smarter.

  • Get all your essay questions instantly in one place
  • Don’t overlook any questions, especially for specific majors, programs, and scholarships that aren't even mentioned on the Common App
  • See how all your questions overlap so you can write fewer essays
  • Access winning sample essays related to your own essay topics
  • Cut your time by 75% so you can minimize stress and stop procrastinating

Don't think you have that many essay questions or think you already found them all? See for yourself. Click here to create your FREE College Essay Organizer account now.

You can also upgrade to a discounted premium account for just $19 courtesy of Sylvan (that's less than the cost of submitting one application). Simply enter promo code sylvan2012 within the next 24 hours.



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The Ins and Outs of Letters of Recommendation

Put some thought into who should write your letter of recommendation.

While often overlooked as a vital part of the college admissions process, letters of recommendation do have the power to make or break your college application, and deserve a bit of introspection. This article in The Buffalo News by Lee Bierer, an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. and a member of College Essay Organizer, discusses what students should consider before soliciting their favorite teacher for a recommendation. Here are a few points to consider:

  • "Be strategic" about choosing a teacher. The teacher whose class you found to be the easiest, may not be your best choice.
  • Think about choosing a teacher who knows you well enough to provide information about you inside and outside of the classroom and can "tell a good story about the applicant."
  • If only one letter of recommendation is necessary, be sure to choose one from a "core subject teacher  (English, math, science, social studies or foreign language)."
  • When you do decide on a teacher, ask in person so you can get a good sense of his or her reaction. If the teacher agrees, be sure to provide a resume so that he or she can know more about you. And follow up with a thank you note after completion.

 

 

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Do Colleges Live Up to Their Own Standards?

U.S. News Hall of Shame...at least until next fall.

Colleges demand a lot from their applicants: integrity and hard work, to name a couple. But do they live up to their own standards? This article in The Atlantic Wire brings up another example of how colleges succumb to many of the same pitfalls as their applicants. Every year, U.S. News collects statistics from colleges in order to publish annual college rankings. The temptation is great for colleges to game the system, moving themselves up in the rankings, and unfortunately this has been quite easy to get away with since there is little fact-checking that occurs.

U.S. News has been slowly catching on to this problem, and in a bold move has unranked a university for the first time, temporarily removing George Washington University.  While George Washington is clearly at fault, as are Emory University, Claremont McKenna and others for doing the same, author David Wagner ponders deeper: "...perhaps they should reconsider their policy of publishing unverified figures that come straight from the schools that stand to benefit from inflating them. Or perhaps parents and their college-bound teens should eye these rankings with a healthy dose of skepticism." Definitely something to think about.

 

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Colleges Regularly Google Applicants

Make sure colleges Like what they see on Facebook.

Now that your early admissions applications are in the hands of your top-choice colleges, take a moment to reflect on another important source of information colleges use to evaluate you. While it's not yet a universal policy to check a student's Facebook or Twitter pages, it is becoming more and more routine: "According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of 350 admissions officers, more than 25 percent of school officials said they had looked up applicants on Facebook or Google. Off campus, a similar percentage of private scholarship organizations also acknowledge researching their applicants online, according to a National Scholarship Providers Association survey."

Every year, we always hear a story about a student whose chances were dashed due to an inappropriate posting on Facebook or a picture that gives off the wrong image. Read this article in Time magazine for more reasons to google yourself now and see what comes up. You've taken hours of your time writing the perfect essay describing who you are. Don't overlook making your online image just as clean. Admissions representatives know that you are teenagers, and that you don't always make the best decisions, but flaunting those not-so-good choices could be deadly to your chances of attending your dream college.

 

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Early Admission Rates For College Applicants

Now that you have gotten in your early applications and are likely taking a well-deserved breather, you may be wondering what your chances are of actually getting admitted early. While higher than regular admission rates, acceptance is still far from a guarantee, so make sure you continue to work on your other applications. Now is a great time to use College Essay Organizer to check out how many essays you still need to write and how best to organize them so you're not stuck writing essays over the holidays. Here's a list of 2012 early admission rates for some common schools:

University 2012 Early Acceptance Rate
Babson (Mass.) 53.00%
Barnard (N.Y.) 44.60%
Binghamton University (N.Y.) 56.00%
Brown University 19.05%
Boston U. 47.20%
Bowdoin (Me.) 25.30%
Carleton (Minn.) 40.50%
Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) 26.00%
Claremont McKenna (Calif.) 29.00%
Colby (Me.) 50.28%
Columbia University 23.00%
Colgate (N.Y.) 51.00%
Cooper Union (N.Y.) 9.00%
Cornell University 32.45%
Dartmouth (N.H.) 25.80%
Dickinson (Pa.) 52.70%
Duke (N.C.) 25.00%
Emory (Ga.) 38.00%
Grinnell (Iowa) 58.10%
Harvard University 18.25%
Harvey Mudd (Calif.) 20.00%
Johns Hopkins (Md.) 38.00%
Lafayette (Pa.) 56.00%
Lehigh (Pa.) 63.40%
Middlebury (Vt.) 32.00%
Northwestern (Ill.) 33.00%
Pitzer (Calif.) 38.00%
Pomona (Calif.) 19.70%
Princeton University 20.89%
Rensselaer Polytechnic (N.Y.) 35.30%
Scripps (Calif.) 39.00%
Stanford University 12.80%
U. of Pennsylvania 25.00%
U. of Virginia 29.00%
U.N.C., Chapel Hill 38.00%
Vanderbilt (Tenn.) 24.50%
Vassar (N.Y.) 42.50%
Virginia Tech 52.00%
Wake Forest 43.00%
Washington and Lee (Va.) 40.00%
Washington U. in St. Louis 30.80%
Wesleyan U. (Conn.) 44.54%
William and Mary (Va.) 48.33%
Yale University 15.70%

 

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Colleges Change SAT Subject Test Requirements

Hurricane Sandy's impact on the college admissions process continues to unfold. Colleges first reacted to the storm by extending early application deadlines. However, extending deadlines did not solve the problem for early applicants intending to take the SAT or  an SAT Subject Test on November 3. When the College Board postponed this test till November 17 or December 15 due to test center closings, it made it impossible for schools to receive the results in time. Following a flood of inquiries, colleges are beginning to post their revised policies on this issue on their websites.

Boston College whose early deadline was extended to November 13, has stated that they will review early applications following the receipt of subject test scores from applicants taking the test on November 17. Columbia University is waiving SAT subject test requirements for students registered for the November 17 test. Columbia also notes that students who had planned to take the SAT for the first time on Novemeber 3 should apply regular decision. To view more details, see this article posted by The New York Times Choice Blog.

 

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What's Next for Seniors

You've applied early. Now what?

Now that many seniors have submitted their early applications, what's next? The New York Times Choice Blog has posted a helpful checklist for seniors. While it's good to take a moment and breathe a sigh of relief that this important step is complete, there are other things that need attention:

  • Review your list of colleges one more time. You can always change your mind or make additions to your list.
  • Make sure to work on the applications for the schools that you will be applying to if you don't get in early. Don't wait till you hear back from those schools to get started. Nobody wants to spend their winter break scrambling to finish their essays and complete their applications.
  • Keep your teachers and counselors informed of your plans to apply to more colleges.
  • Keep your school grades up so you can finish your senior year on a high note.




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