SAT Study Tips

While seniors wait to hear back from colleges, juniors should be in full study mode for their standardized tests. For those students who are focusing on the SAT, check out this article posted in The New York Times Choice blog for some great study tips. Here are some highlights:

  • Practice in a way that mirrors real test conditions, using College Board-produced SAT questions.
  • Take steps to increase your vocabulary. It will help you with the reading comprehension as well as the essay section.
  • Pace yourself so you're not waiting till the last minute to start studying. Give yourself a minimum of 8 weeks prior to the test, more if possible.
  • Keep yourself healthy by eating and sleeping well so you avoid falling ill the day of the test. Be sure to monitor your stress levels.


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Stay Organized When Applying for Scholarships

The more organized you are, the less chance you'll have of looking like this later.

As seniors decide where to focus their time in these stressful weeks leading up to college decisions, some are seeking out scholarships, and finding plenty of them. According to Leobardo Espinoza Jr., a senior blogging for the The New York Times Choice about his college application experience, there are too many scholarships available to successfully apply to them all:

"When there are more scholarships due either the same day or within the same time frame, it gets harder and harder to personalize each scholarship packet. The time constraints are too demanding."

He also found that different scholarships had different requirements, and he realized that he needed to play to his strengths as he narrowed down his list:

"Some scholarships ask applicants to write an essay, create a movie or develop some sort of visual representation. While it is important to understand the requirements of each scholarship, it is even more important to understand how good I am at doing each of those tasks."

His main piece of advice when tackling scholarship essays is to organize yourself before you start:

"I created a spreadsheet and wrote down the required essay topics of each scholarship. After identifying the topics I felt catered to my writing strengths, I chose to apply to those scholarships and not the rest."

As we know well here at College Essay Organizer, organizing your essays before you start writing will save you lots of time in the long-run, and help you write winning essays. 

To see the complete article, click here.


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Keeping Busy While You Wait For Those College Decisions

Make the time fly by keeping busy.

Though it feels great to have those college applications out of the way, for many the patience required to wait till college decisions are received can be the toughest part of the process. Sush Krishnamoorthy, a college senior from India documenting her application experiences here on The NY Times Choice Blog, discusses her own recommendations for this difficult time: "The only way to avoid this futile anxiety is to be occupied with something else. So I am making plans for the summer. I have more than four months of summer vacation this year and I want to make the most of it."

Keeping busy is definitely the best way to pass the time till April 1, and beginning to think about how you will spend the summer ahead can be a great place to focus some of that restless energy. After all, it's the last summer before college, so finding a way to make it count is important.

And for juniors thinking ahead, take advantage of this summer as a way to wow colleges when you apply next fall. Considering a program that can eventually inspire a stellar essay should also be a priority. Krishnamoorthy discusses her amazing experience at the Summer Science Program: "Students work in teams of three to determine the orbit of an asteroid. It requires more than six weeks of observations and attending college-level lectures in astronomy, physics, math and programming."

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Get Your Financial Aid Questions Answered

Fill it out, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

For those families who are still wondering how they will be paying for college, The New York Times' Choice Blog has posted Part 1 of a series answering your questions about the Fafsa here.  For those of you still not familiar, Fafsa stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is what all applicants need to submit in order to qualify for financial aid.

One common question is whether there is a particular cutoff of eligibility above which families will not receive aid. According to financial aid expert Mark Krantowitz, there is no cutoff. Rather it depends on various factors including the number of people in your household and how many unusual expenses you may have. In fact, many applicants decide not to apply, mistakenly believing that they would not qualify: "More than 1.7 million students failed to file the Fafsa in 2007-8 because they incorrectly believed themselves ineligible for financial aid. More than a third would have qualified for the federal Pell Grant, and about half of these students would have qualified for a full Pell Grant."

To see more answers to common financial aid questions, click here.

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TImeline for Juniors

Starting early is the best way to not run out of time.

While seniors may be experiencing some downtime right now, juniors should be looking ahead, and starting to think more seriously about the college admissions process looming ahead. This article posted on the The New York Times' The Choice blog offers a nice checklist for where juniors should be now in order to be on track come fall. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Prioritize your Studies. Your junior year is the most important time to shine academically. Make sure to take a good selection of core classes, and work hard so you can successfully meet your goals.
  • Make sure to participate in class and show that you are engaged. Most likely you will be asking one of your teachers from this year for a recommendation next year, so demonstrate that you are an active and important part of the class.
  • Put aside your strongest papers and projects as colleges often want to see a sample of your best work.
  • Start to think about what you like and want to study, as well as the type of college you want to spend four years of your life studying at.
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Get Free Money for College With Scholarships

This guy knew how to make the most of his College Essay Organizer account.

For those of you sitting back and enjoying the calm after the frantic pre-deadline frenzy, you may want to re-consider how you are spending your time. Now is primetime for applying for scholarships, and here is one posted by the New York Times which you should definitely take a look at. If you have any interest in finances, and it is relevant to us all, especially those about to enter into a significant financial investment, a.k.a college, this is a great opportunity to take a deeper look at your own views:

"We also seek a unique point of view. Not so much 'Why it’s good to give' or 'What I learned from my job' but 'How I gave in an entirely new way' or 'How I made money doing something no one else around me had ever thought to do.'"

If money matters don't appeal, log into your College Essay Organizer premium account, and reference the hundreds of scholarship essays that our members have access to, none of which are mentioned on the Common App and all of which are nearly impossible to find unless you know exactly what you're looking for.


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How to Make the Most of Your Time While Waiting to Hear From Colleges

This is probably not the best attitude to take.

Now that you've finally gotten in all your applications, you may be thinking that the hardest part is over, but many students actually end up struggling most with the last stage of the college admissions process: waiting. It can be difficult to relax knowing that admissions officers are reviewing your applications, and gearing up to make a decision that will affect the direction your life will take. Here's an article with some practical suggestions on how to make the most of your next few months.

  • Keep busy. The more active you become, the less focused you'll be on the future. Dive into an activity that you love or discover a new passion. One applicant threw herself into acting: “After I applied to all my colleges, at the strong encouragement of my friends, I auditioned for the school musical! I had auditioned in my freshman year but focused on other activities for the rest of high school to put on my resume. I got in and it was one of the best experiences of my high school career!"
  • Get to know your colleges better. Since you don't have a lot of time to make a decision once you receive your notification letters from colleges, now is the time to do more research on the colleges you applied to, and even plan a trip to any you haven't yet visited.
  • Apply to scholarships. While most college deadlines have past, scholarship application deadlines are often later in January or February. Now is the time to turn your focus to writing those scholarship essays, and be sure to check your College Essay Organizer accounts to easily find them.
  • Finish the year off strong. You've come this far, and while it may be tempting to turn your attention away from your schoolwork, stay focused. You never know which colleges will be monitoring your academic performance, and it just feels good to end on a high note. According to one applicant, "“Although you may be out soon, you owe it to yourself after all those great college applications to end high school with a bang."
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