College Admissions Officers Look for Red Flags

While you spend this last week preparing and perfecting your remaining college applications, be sure that the content will not raise any red flags with admissions officers. Any glaring inconsistencies in your applications will definitely end you up in the rejections pile no matter how high your test scores or how magnificent your prose. Here are a few situations outlined in this article written by Andrew Belasco that you should definitely avoid:

  • Your resume states that you had the lead role in a play while your drama teacher's recommendation praises your abilities as a stagehand.
  • Your SAT writing score is in the 400s, but your admissions essay is as perfectly written as they come.
  • You mention that you volunteer 20 hours per week at a nursing home, but you play three varsity sports, take 4 AP classes, and edit the school paper.
  • You claim that you are passionate about political science, but you did not take your school's AP Government course. If your interest recently developed, clearly share your story in the essays.

As Belasco writes, "Colleges want to see a real human being capable of communicating their passions and actual life experience. Be genuine. In the world of college admissions, an honest stagehand is always a more marketable applicant than a fraudulent lead player."

Lehigh Regular Admissions Deadline Extended

The Common App's difficulties have been well-publicized this season leading to dozens of schools delaying their early admissions deadlines. While the majority of issues have now been resolved, some schools are still offering students additional time in order to further soothe stressed nerves. Lehigh University recently sent out the below letter to students extending its deadline to January 10:

Greetings from Lehigh!

Given the difficulties students have experienced with the Common Application, Lehigh University has decided to extend the Early Decision II and Regular Decision application deadlines to January 10, 2014. We want to make sure students and school counselors have adequate time to send in application materials.

Despite the deadline extension, we strongly encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. In the event that you encounter problems, you may contact our office at 610-758-3100 or [email protected]

Lehigh University will be closed for the holidays from Monday, December 23rd through Wednesday, December 25th. The University will also be closed on Wednesday, January 1st.

Please visit our website at for more information regarding application requirements. Again, please don’t hesitate to contact us should you need anything.

Best Regards,
Bruce Bunnick
Director of Admissions

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Tougher College Admissions at Florida Schools

According to, Florida colleges and universities are making it tougher for students to get accepted. FAU has already begun to make admission more competitive, while Florida, Florida state, Miami and UCF will follow suit next year. Although admissions officers will be raising the minimum-required standardized test scores and GPAs, those alone will not guarantee admission. This means that extracurriculars and essay questions (many of which are optional) will play a paramount role in acceptance, and should not be ignored. FAU has 5 optional essay questions and 2 program-specific questions, including one of our favorite prompts:

Please tweet a response to ONE of the following essay topics:

A) If you were a sea shell, would you want to be picked up or left in the sand and why?

B) If you were a message in a bottle, what would your message say or where would you want to wash up?

C) What would be in your perfect beach bag?

D) If you built a sand structure, what would it be and why?

E) I would prefer to not respond.

You still have time to apply, so make sure to start brainstorming the perfect tweet, and for those of you who are still working on your essays, feel free to email us at [email protected] to see how we can support you in the writing process.


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Notification for Early Applicants Coming Soon

Thousands of early applicants are still waiting to hear back from schools as to whether they've been accepted, rejected, or deferred, and many are wondering whether decisions will be later this year due to dozens of colleges postponing their early decision and early action deadlines as a result of widespread Common App glitches. William & Mary is one such school that delayed its early deadline till November 8th. According to its admissions department, "We always say early December as a notification, not December 1 because there are so many moving parts to completing a review process and we never know that we're ready to release decisions until the moment we do (last year for example a snow day and internet outage delayed our timeline). We do not yet know if the delayed application deadline will push back our release timeline. We just ask students to be patient. As soon as decisions are released we will let students know in all social media channels."

December is commonly stated as the month when early applicants are notified. Here's what some top colleges are projecting:

  • Amherst College: December 15
  • Boston University: December 15
  • Columbia University: December 12
  • Harvard University: Mid-December
  • New York University: December 15
  • Tufts University: December 18
  • University of Michigan: December 24
  • University of Virginia: January 31
  • Vassar College: Mid-December
  • William & Mary: Mid-December
  • Yale University: Mid-December
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Redesign of SAT Postponed Until 2016

Last February, the College Board announced that the new SAT was getting a redesign beginning in January of 2015. In response to well-publicized difficulties experienced by the Common App's redesign this year as well as fears from colleges and counselors that students would not be prepared for the new test and scores would be difficult to interpret, the College Board has postponed the new SAT until the spring of 2016 with the first PSAT being taken fall of 2015. As David Coleman, president of the College Board, announced earlier, the redesign aims to test students on the "core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career."

Here is the letter that recently went out to members:

Dear Members,

I want to provide you with an important update on our work to revise the College Board’s assessment system so that we can best serve our higher education members and propel students forward into opportunity and success.

We have made the decision to adjust our schedule for this work and will now release the revised PSAT/NMSQT® in fall 2015, followed by the release of the revised SAT® in spring 2016. We heard clearly from our members — including our Board of Trustees, national and regional councils, the SAT committee, attendees at our national Forum, and particularly those in higher education — that you need more time, and we listened.

Our top priority remains the same. Working in partnership with our members, we will deliver a redesigned assessment system that best serves higher education and propels students toward success in college and work.

This change in the timing of the redesign will serve our members in higher education by providing two years to plan for the redesigned exam, familiarize themselves with changes, and meet system and publication requirements. The insight and input of admission professionals, who interact with our assessments on a daily basis, has been particularly instrumental in helping us to make this decision. We will continue to collaborate with admission professionals to develop useful resources for higher education institutions.

We have also heard the needs of states and districts. The K–12 community has expressed a strong preference for students to be able to take the revised PSAT/NMSQT before the revised SAT. Releasing the revised PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of 2015 will address this need, and we will continue to communicate with state and district leaders regarding this important work.

Our goal is to deliver an assessment system that is focused, useful, and clear. Member input will continue to be integral to this work, and we are committed to providing you with timely communications as we develop exams that best serve higher education and students. We look forward to sharing additional information regarding the redesign of our exams in the spring.

Thank you for your continued support.



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Next ExpertAccess: Your Digital Footprint Matters

The things you post on Facebook and Twitter might get you rejected from the college of your choice. A Kaplan Test Prep study found that 31% of college admissions counselors are checking out potential students' social media pages, trying to learn more about them.

No matter how you connect, you're always making your mark. Your digital footprint is the impression that you leave behind, and its reflection on you can have big consequences, both in the short and long term.

Whether you're getting ready to apply to college, trying to finish your senior year, or even thinking about your first job, your digital footprint may be a critical factor in your future success. Hosted by independent consultant Nick Soper of Creative College Prep, this webinar will open your eyes not only how to avoid making the big mistakes, but also how to cultivate an image that will benefit you for years to come.

When: Tuesday, December 10 at 8:00pm

To join, log into your College Essay Organizer account and click on the ExpertAccess tab.

Topics to Include and Exclude When Writing College Essays

When writing a college essay, it's always necessary to think about which topics are acceptable and which may not be so well received. Since colleges often encourage you to "take a risk," and "show who you really are," choosing the right topic can be a tough call. This New York Times article by Steven Petrow gets to the heart of the matter addressing the charged question, "Should a student conceal her lesbian identity in college application essays?"

Petrow found that student views varied widely with some current students not wanting to mention sexual orientation in case it could affect chances of admission, while others felt that it might even increase changes of admission at schools where diversity was encouraged. A portion of students who had written on the topic during their admissions process felt that it did cause them to be rejected from schools that they should have been admitted to.

Opinions among admissions officers vary widely as well. In the end, it is a personal choice as to what a student considers private vs. a sharable story that is central to a student's identity. According to one comment that was left, what you decide could have an impact at some schools, "I sit on an admissions committee and it's just that - a committee, with all that entails...One or two of our members are not quite with the changing times. We often have to vote, and I can recall several times when the decision was swayed against the candidate on the basis of something they had bravely confided in their personal essay. Touchy issues are certainly not limited to sexual orientation. I don't want people to have too many illusions about the wisdom of admissions committees!"

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The Benefits of Large University

While thousands of students await decisions on their early decision and early action applications, the proactive ones are already working on the applications for their remaining schools as well as considering the types of schools they want to attend. This article has some useful information for students interested in attending a large university, which has the benefit of offering endless options in terms of clubs, sports, and activities. Here's a list of the 10 largest schools and their undergraduate enrollment in 2012:

  • DeVry University 59,484
  • Arizona State University 59,382
  • University of Central Florida 50,968
  • Liberty University 46,133
  • Ohio State University-Columbus 43,058
  • Texas A&M University-College Station 40,103
  • University of Texas-Austin 39,955
  • Pennsylvania State University-University Park 39,192
  • Florida International University 37,468
  • Michigan State University 37,454

Interested in applying? Login to your College Essay Organizer account to see how many essays you will need to write.

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Early Action Deadline for University of Cincinnati is December 1

University of Cincinati's Early Action (non-binding) deadline is December 1. Freshman applicants that wish to be considered for institutional merit-based scholarships and the Honors Program must also apply on December 1, and late applications will not be reviewed.

Additionally, it is recommended that students applying to the following colleges apply via Early Action (applications received after December 1 for these programs will be considered on a space-available basis):
College-Conservatory of Music (CCM)
Musical Theatre applicants, due to capacity limitations, are encouraged to complete their application file by November 1
College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP)
Fashion Design
Graphic Communication Design
Industrial Design
College of Engineering & Applied Sciences
All programs except Fire Science (Distance Learning)
College of Nursing

For complete details, please visit the University of Cincinnati website.

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