Get the Most Out of College

As thousands of students across the country begin their college careers, it's important to remember that college is what you make of it. Here are some tips by Frank Bruni that will help you make the most out of your college experience and come out happier and ready for life on the other side:

  • Keep the focus on learning how to build a happy life. Beyond academics, college is about finding your passions.
  • Establish deep connections with a mentor. Don't forget to take advantage of the professors who are there to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to create a fulfilling career.
  • Stay social. Isolating yourself can lead to anxiety and depression.
  • Maintain balance. Regulate time on social media, don't abuse drugs and alcohol, and make sure to get enough sleep.

Click here to see the full article.

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Tulane Broadens the Definition of Official Test Scores

Everyone is aware of the ever-rising cost of attending college, but the price tag on applying often gets overlooked. Not only can the applications themselves run over a thousand dollars if you're applying to a dozen schools, but there are also additional fees for sending test scores.

In an attempt to decrease costs and stress for applicants, Tulane is now accepting test score reports not submitted directly by the ACT or the College Board. Here are the steps to send them:

  • Take a screenshot or scan the official score report.
  • Email the score report to [email protected]
  • Ensure that the student’s name, date of birth, test month and year, and scores are legible on the score report.

If you have questions, please call Tulane at (800) 873-9283 or reach out to your school’s admission counselor.

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Harvard's Admissions Secrets

The now well-publicized lawsuit accusing Harvard of 'Racial Rebalancing' has led to aspects of Harvard's much-hidden admissions process to finally come to light. While Metro Academic Prep has been aware of this process for years and regularly shares it with its clients, this article allows the general public to learn more about what happens behind the scenes. Here are some of the highlights:

  • During a final review of tentatively admitted students, the dean and the director of admissions decide how many students need to be "lopped," by changing their status to waitlist or deny.
  • Applicants who are borderline academically can be "Z-ed" off the waitlist if they are on the dean's interest list (usually indicating that the family has made a large donation to the school).
  • "Tips" are given to five groups of applicants: racial and ethnic minorities; legacies, or the children of Harvard or Radcliffe alumni; relatives of a Harvard donor; the children of staff or faculty members; and recruited athletes.
  • Applicants are given a personal rating which considers character and personality, and Asian-Americans are regularly given poor ratings reducing their chances of admission.


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The Big Debate: ACT or SAT

For rising juniors still trying to decide which test they are better suited for, The ACT and the College Board released a new score conversion table in June.

You can find the new tables at the SAT’s site here and ACT’s here.

Once students have taken a diagnostic of each test, they can use these new tables to help decide which test they are better suited for. If students score similarly on both, there are still other reasons to choose one test over the other such as personal preference, timing issues, section scores, test dates, and computer-based vs. paper-based, etc. And if there is still no clear answer, it can be helpful for an expert to weigh in.

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Changes to the Fall 2018 ACT

The ACT recently announced that it is making two major changes to the test that will go into effect in September of this year.

First, students who have been approved for time and a half (Timing Code 6) will no longer have a self-paced block of time in which to complete the test. They will now have a hard stop after each section. Please see here for more information on these changes.

Second, for students with regular time, the ACT will be adding a mandatory experimental section that will be 20 minutes long prior to the essay. This section will not be factored into your score and, perhaps, some students will use the time as an added moment of rest before diving into the essay.

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University of Chicago Goes Test-Optional

While over 1000 schools in the United States are test-optional, there has been a growing trend over the last few years for more competitive colleges to adopt this policy. You can find a complete list of test-optional schools here, but some of these colleges include College of the Holy Cross, Connecticut College, DePaul University, and George Washington University.

The University of Chicago, the first elite college to join this trend, just announced Thursday that it would no longer require undergraduate applicants to submit standardized test scores. According to Jim Nondorf, vice president and dean of admisssions, “Despite the fact that we would say testing is only one piece of the application, that’s the first thing a college asks you. We wanted to really take a look at all our requirements and make sure they were fair to every group, that everybody, anybody could aspire to a place like UChicago.” For more details, see this article.

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Changes for the 2018-2019 Admissions Season

Every year the admissions landscape shifts as colleges react to the past season and the changing practices of top colleges. There are a number of notable changes for this season, a few of which have been recently announced.

Washington University in St. Louis and the College of William and Mary are adding an Eary Decision II, following a growing number of schools beginning to offer this option. Not only does ED II help increase a school's yield, it also gives students more time to decide on their first choice and make their applications as competitive as possible.

Baylor will be adding Early Decision, and Penn State and Virginia Tech will be adding Early Action in the fall, giving students more options to choose from.

Wash U is adding a supplementary essay this year, making it more difficult for students who want to apply without doing any additional work. Now, they will need to demonstrate their interest by writing a dedicated essay for Wash U. See this article for more details.

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Early Application Decision Notification Dates

Waiting for early application decisions can be nerve-racking. And if you’ve applied to several schools early, you may be having trouble keeping up with all of the early notification dates. Here’s a list of some commonly applied to schools and their expected notification dates to help you get organized!

Barnard College – mid-December
Boston College - by December 25
Case Western Reserve University – December 17
Colorado College – end of December
Cornell University – December 11
CUNY – mid-February
Dartmouth University – mid-December
Fordham University – December 19
George Mason University – December 15
Georgetown University – in December
Indiana University – by January 15
Loyola University Maryland – January 15
Marist College – mid-January
Northeastern University – by December 15
Ohio State University – mid-January
Parsons The New School – end of December
Penn State University – by January 31
Rutgers University – January 31
Smith College – January 15
Stanford University – December 11
SUNY Binghamton – by January 15
Tulane University – December 15
University of Chicago – mid-December (will email applicants the exact date)
University of Colorado Boulder – by February 1
University of Connecticut – March 1
University of Massachusetts Amherst – by mid-January
University of Miami – mid-February
University of Michigan – by December 24
University of North Carolina – end of January
University of Pennsylvania – December 13
University of Richmond – January 20
University of Texas Austin – end of February
University of Virginia – end of January
University of Wisconsin – end of January
Villanova University – by December 15
Wake Forest University – December 22
Washington University – by December 15
Yale University – mid-December

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The College Admissions Process is Unfair

Now that those early application deadlines have passed, you have plenty of time to fret over whether or not you'll be admitted to your dream college. Regardless of how well you're handling the anticipatory stress, this article from the New York Times will help put the application process into perspective. Here are the take-home points to remember:

It's not all about you.
Colleges have their own agenda as to who they'll admit to create the perfect incoming class. Don't blame yourself if you are not a good fit with a particular college. You will find that it will all work out in the long run.

Grades and Test Scores are the number one factor.
Especially with larger schools, the process can be extremely data driven, but once you've made the first cut, individual differences among essays, activities, and recommendations become much more important.

Let the real you shine through.
Colleges can tell when essays are over-polished. They would prefer to see who you really are. More and more applications are including video formats that allow for a more authentic glimpse of applicants.

Diversity has an impact.
If your background sets you apart, make sure to share this in your personal story. Colleges will notice.

Money talks.
Colleges do need students who can pay all or part of the tuition, so it's not unlikely that a student could get rejected due to financial reasons alone.

Geography matters.
Colleges want to say that they have students from across the United States, so applying outside your region can benefit you.

Legacy doesn't always help.
Legacy can make the difference between similar applicants, but it will only take you so far if your qualifications are below what's expected for that school.

Community impact goes a long way.
Colleges are paying more attention to community service over a long period of time. While a fancy service trip won't help you (any may even hurt your application), service activities continued throughout high school will have an impact.

Demonstrate interest.
Colleges want to know that you value them and will attend if accepted, so make sure to show your love by visiting, connecting with admissions counselors, and opening emails.

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Common App Crashes Right Before Early Deadlines

The number of early applications submitted grows each year fueled by a hope of higher chances of admittance in the face of continually lowering acceptance rates. And students want to finish the stressful application process as quickly as possible.

The Common App has made it easier to apply to multiple schools for both domestic and international applicants, and application numbers continue to rise each year. That means millions of students are logging into the Common App a few days before a deadline, and November 1 is the most common early deadline. So it's no surprise that students were experiencing long delays and errors throughout the day yesterday as they scrambled to complete their early applications. In fact, this happens every year, and it came to a head last night when the site crashed leaving students panicking.

Fortunately, it's back again this morning, though users are still posting issues on the Common App's Twitter page. Hopefully, students will be able to successfully submit their apps today without missing their Halloween parties. For hard-working seniors, it would be a well-deserved break!

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