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.
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.
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?
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!"
College Essay Organizer founder and president Daniel Stern was recently quoted by independent consultant and journalist Nancy Griesemer for this article in the examiner.com discussing the increase in frequency of the option to submit a graded paper: "Graded papers allow applicants to showcase their writing and reasoning skills on their own terms—the SAT and ACT essays are a bit of a joke and aren’t taken that seriously by colleges because of how they are scored." As colleges explore ways to make the application process more holistic and predictive of future academic success, more schools are adding test-optional policies which require students to submit a graded paper in lieu of test scores.
Griesemer provides the following tips on how to make the best impression when submitting a writing sample:
- Though over 20 Common App schools accept writing samples, there is rarely a mention of this included on the supplement. Make sure to thoroughly check each school's website or use College Essay Organizer to instantly see all the essay requirements for your list of colleges regardless of whether requirements are found on the Common App or on outside websites.
- Don't worry too much about the grade. A lower grade on a high-quality paper can show that the school sets a high standard for its students, while a high grade on a poorly written paper will not only represent you poorly, but your school as well.
- Make sure to hold on to graded copies so that you have a wide range of samples to choose from when the time is right.
Over 40 colleges recently extended their early deadlines to account for Common App glitches that continue to complicate the admissions process. In response, the Common App released a statement of commitment apologizing for its lack of responsiveness and promising to resolve all outstanding issues as quickly as possible. November 8, a popular extended deadline is fast approaching. As an aside, the deadline is at 11:59pm your local time. It does not matter what time zone the school you're applying to is in. Here's an update on some recent concerns:
- The Common App recently added several more staff to decrease response times, so you can expect quick assistance if you submit a help ticket.
- If you see a payment error on the dashboard with a zero dollar amount, please make sure that you answered the Citizenship question with the Profile section of the Common Application.
- PDF previews can now be generated.
- If you see an error page upon submission, log out of your account, and then log back in and it should display confirmation that the application was submitted.
- Follow up with colleges to make sure that all parts of you're application has been received as there are still outstanding issues.
Check out the Common App's facebook page for daily updates on the status of widespread issues you may be facing.