Live Webcast Tomorrow - 'Boosting Your SAT/ACT Scores'

Owen Tuleja, ArborBridge Associate Director of Instruction, will present an exclusive webcast to help students understand, study for, and master standardized tests for US colleges.

This webcast will help students identify crucial test-taking strategies, and will guide them through the foundational knowledge they need to succeed. Every student will come away with practical knowledge that will translate directly to point gains. Most importantly, students will come away with the understanding that the SAT and ACT are not difficult exams as long as students are familiar with the material and feel confident in their abilities.

If you attend, you could win a FREE diagnostic exam and analysis!

WHEN: Tuesday, July 22 @ 8pm ET

HOW TO ATTEND: Log into your account and upgrade to ExpertAccess. Use the promo code expert2014 and you'll have access all season long to the nation's leading admissions experts.

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Summer Experiences Becoming A Critical Factor in College Admissions

We know you'll find the summer experience that is perfect for you.

We know you'll find the summer experience that is perfect for you.

As juniors work hard to finish the school year off strong, it's important not to lose focus on the summer that is right around the corner. According to this article on, where you go to camp could not only inspire you to write a standout essay, but it could also increase your chances of admission to your dream college. With constantly decreasing admissions odds, choosing a specialized camp which demonstrates your dedication to something can make all the difference. According to Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher at Edvisors Network:

"By being stronger on the extracurricular activities, you can actually make up somewhat for weaknesses academically...If you had a transformative experience at the summer camp or a big impact on others, that tells them more about who you are as an individual, especially if you can write about how it set you in a particular direction. If something is of interest to you, you're more likely to write a passionate essay."



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Deciding to Take the ACT or the SAT

Which test will you take?

At some point in their high school careers, students usually consider which standardized test to take. Depending on which part of the United States you live in, one may be more popular than the other, but since they are both accepted by colleges, it is a good idea to take each test at least once to see if you have more of a natural gift with one or the other.

This recent article gives a good overview of the ACT including reasons to take the test. And if you are looking for additional services, the ACT may be worth investigating: "ACT Assessment provides a comprehensive package of educational assessment and career planning services for college-bound students at a modest fee that is lower than the fee for the competing admission test."

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College Admissions Campus Visits Around the Corner

Have you started planning your college visits?

For those of you who are juniors and are beginning to think about your college lists and which schools to visit, be sure to prepare ahead to make the most of your visits. In addition to researching the school, and your own interests, it’s important to make a list of questions to ask. Check out this article for helpful ideas.

While information sessions can give you lots of useful information, they are usually not tailored to your particular priorities. As college admissions expert Cristiana Quinn puts it, “Most families will sit obediently in information sessions soaking up what is said, but few will raise their hands and ask the tough questions.” To that end, you can note down what is important to you, so that you can pay special attention to how each college addresses those issues.

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Social Networking Reshapes College Admissions

Is your facebook page ready for the college admissions process?

Colleges are looking for ways to better get to know their applicants, and there is no longer any doubt that social networking sites are playing a key role in this process. According to this article, a Kaplan study surveyed 359 college admission officers from 500 universities. Results showed that approximately 24% of college admissions officers search social media and 20% reported performing a search on Google. While this number may seem low, it is definitely on the rise! And 12% of admissions officers’ stated that social media profiles negatively affected their college applications.

For better or for worse, expect that college admissions officers will be checking facebook, twitter, and youtube to see how you represent yourself. While this can be disconcerting, it can also be an opportunity to update your online image so you are sure to impress not only admissions officers but future employers as well!

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5 College Essay Writing Mistakes To Avoid

Now that you've all come out of your turkey-induced comas, let's get back to the matter at hand - finishing off all those college application essays you have hanging over your head. This kind of writing can be hard to kick-start, especially if you’re used to writing more academic essays, but hopefully with the guidance we've been able to give here on CEO blog, you'll be able to write memorable pieces without falling into the common traps. What common traps, you say? Funny you say that. We've got five common mistakes for you to avoid, listed here for your list-loving pleasure.

Dont Go Down This Road People

Don't go down this road, people. Please.

1. Don’t write a traditional 5-paragraph essay with a thesis, body, and conclusion. Take some risks with the structure and show your personality. Use the first person and just start writing. See what happens. You can pose a question or start with a distinctive opinion on a topic. Almost anything goes.

2. Don’t be gimmicky. We’ve all heard about the student who wrote his essay about his childhood years with a crayon and got accepted to every college. The likelihood of this being true is slim. It’s like communism: good in theory, impossible in practice. Let the substance of your writing be the real story.

3. Don’t come off as arrogant. This can be difficult, because part of what you’re trying to do with your personal essay is highlight something positive about yourself. But it’s one thing to call yourself awesome in your own essay and quite another to write about things you’ve done that show how awesome you clearly are. The old rule of writing applies here: show, don’t tell.

4. Don’t be cheesy. You shouldn’t come off like a bad Hallmark card. Let’s be serious. You’re not somebody who is so inspired by the beauty of the world you are brought to tears at the sight of a single flower. Come on. You know over-sentimentality when you see it, so keep it out of your essay.

5. Don’t use overly formal language. Applying to college is serious business, but that doesn’t mean that the tone and style of your essays need to be stuffy. Colleges are looking for personality and character, so relax when you start expressing yourself. Instead of writing something dry like, “I have come to this understanding according to certain factors that have influenced my life…” write something lively like, “During the summer of 2009, I was stalked by my literary hero.”

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More Tips For Using the Common Application

Common App LogoWe've been running the gamut of issues that can arise while using the Common App this year. Here's another tidbit directly from the Common App themselves - and we should note that at College Essay Organizer, we've run into this one several times this year while working on college admission applications:

Last school forms tip of the week: When you are completing school forms for a student, make sure that you do not have any other Common App account sessions open in other tabs, windows, or browsers. Running multiple sessions concurrently can confuse the system, resulting in lost work when you try to save. For example, if you are a counselor who has created a test applicant account, make sure that you are not logged into that applicant account as you are working on school forms in your own school official account.

This basically means that you shouldn't keep multiple Common App windows open at the same time. It's very easy to try and fix something in one window, then return to a second window and realize that not only is the info from the first window not saved, but the work you've been doing in the second window isn't going to save either, because the Common App site can't figure out which page your account is currently trying to access. It'll probably end up booting you from the system back to the login page.

The moral of the story is to keep everything simple and to-the-point when you're working on your college apps! Slow and steady wins the race.

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State University of New York Essay Questions 2011

State University of New York - SUNY LogoThe SUNY (State University of New York) schools have many specific differences, including certain essay questions, scholarship requirements, and the like. But they share this question in common:

Please provide additional information that will help us better understand your academic performance. You may also explain any chronological gaps in your academic history (e.g. a period of time after high school graduation before applying to college).

At first glance, this question seems like it could be an optional "tell us anything" prompt, or even a required "disciplinary" question, telling you to explain any suspensions, or run-ins with authorities that have disrupted your time in school. At College Essay Organizer, we recommend that anybody without the kind of disciplinary problems or "gaps" in the academic record use this prompt as an opportunity to discuss his or her intellectual interests.

We have discussed the intellectual interest essay here before on the blog, but most importantly, it is the piece of writing that tells the school why you are interested in what they can offer you, and what you bring to the table as a member of the student body. It is a chance to discuss your interests while also implying what you are good at and how you spend your time most effectively. It can be a chance to distinguish yourself from your peers in a unique way, which is something you should always be looking for opportunities to do.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Application Deadlines

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill LogoOne benefit of using College Essay Organizer is our inclusion of what we call "Bio Data," or the most important information about applying to a given school. Any time you look at your Essay RoadMap or Essay QuickFinder, you'll see a small block of text along with the name of the school that provides the application deadline, academic achievements of the accepted student body, SAT and ACT ranges, and the school's website.

Just like with essay requirements, this information can be surprisingly difficult to find or confirm with school officials, so we do a lot of leg work on our end to check and re-check this information before presenting it to our users.

A good example of why that is came up this week while researching the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. UNC is obviously a large and prestigious public institution, and as a result gets a lot of traffic on College Essay Organizer. The state of North Carolina maintains a site called the College Foundation of North Carolina, dedicated to helping students from that state find the right education for them - but when we looked on that site, we saw that there was a discrepancy in the application deadline. I think we can all agree that's a fairly important piece of data.

After some more research on our end, we found that the deadline for Early Action to UNC-Chapel Hill is indeed 10/15, not 11/1 as the College Foundation site claims. And this is an official site put together by the state!

Add to this the piles of misinformation in books published every year about the admissions process, and on the College Board and Common App, and it quickly becomes clear that it is not always as easy as it might seem to dig up this information. You can do this tedious, time-consuming work on your own - or have College Essay Organizer do it for you instantly.

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More Thoughts on Your Essays

Today's blog post is from Kathryn Miller, an independent educational consultant based in Englewood , CO,  who specializes in the college search and application process. A graduate of Northwestern University, Miller also received  a certificate in Educational Consulting from the University of California. You can learn more about Kathryn and her services at
Kathryn Miller

Kathryn Miller

Colleges want to get to know you as a person, in addition to your grades, test scores and activities. Essay writing, along with the entire college search process, is a time for self-discovery and reflection. It isn’t always easy to think about yourself in this way, but it can help you define what you are looking for in a school and what you will bring to a college community. Your essay is your opportunity to tell YOUR STORY. It lets them understand who you are, what you care about, and what is truly unique about YOU. Here are 10 more essay tips to keep in mind:

1. Write about what you know. Your topic may not be unique, but your approach and understanding of it is all your own.

2. Write about what you love. What motivates you? You are not just your resume. You have chosen to participate in activities or to learn new things for a reason.

3. Begin with the end in mind. Steven Covey coined this phrase in his popular book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”  Why are you telling this story? When someone reads your essay, what will they have learned about you?

4. Get their attention. Admissions people read hundreds, even thousands, of essays every year. They may be reading yours late at night after a long day of traveling. Grab the reader’s attention right away so that they want to know more about you.

5. Be honest. You may feel vulnerable by disclosing a characteristic or situation that was uncomfortable or you may want to embellish the truth. You need to be admitted to a college for who you are, so don’t be tempted to change that.

6. Answer the question. The Common Application’s Personal Essay gives you six choices, including “topic of your choice” to write about. The Short Answer gives you the opportunity to elaborate on your activities or work. The individual college supplements may challenge you with different questions, so read them thoughtfully before you write.

7. Read your essay out loud. Your essay should demonstrate your Own Voice. Does it really sound like you and who you really are? If you are funny, does that come across? If you aren’t funny, are you trying too hard?

8. Write.  Read.  Edit.  Repeat. If you are reading this, you are starting your essay in plenty of time to find the best topic and write about it in a way that really stands out. Don’t rush the process. It will take time, but you will be happier with the results!

9. Get help when you need it. Early in the process, you may want to ask your family and friends for stories about you or observations they may have. After you have worked on writing what you know is a good essay, ask your parent or teacher to read it for feedback only if you are willing to accept constructive criticism.

10. And, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to…. Keep word or character limits under control (more is not better); spell check; grammar check; quote check; fact check; college name check; and don’t use too many semi-colons!