Student at Penn Claims That Racism is Rampant

Are you considering diversity when selecting a college?

When making a decision to attend a particular college, students generally weigh factors such as academics, location, and cost. We usually don’t think of racism as a deciding factor. However, that might all change after a student at Penn was published last week in The Daily Pennsylvanian discouraging minority students from attending Penn because of his encounters with racism on campus.

In this article, Christopher Abreu recounts his humiliating experience in which he was taunted by other students based on the color of his skin. While the story is appalling, many disagree with Abreu’s solution. Discouraging other minority students from attending the university can only exacerbate a problem. Further, students have stepped forward to say that they have not felt racism to be as extensive as Abreu has indicated.

According to an article in The Daily Pennsylvanian, not everyone’s decision will be affected by Abreu’s advice. Black student Daniel McCord stated, “I’ve never gotten any negative feelings about [the University] in that way…If racism was a prevalent enough problem at Penn, I think I would’ve heard about it.” While your comfort level on campus is incredibly important in your decision-making process, make sure to get feedback from a variety of students, faculty and alumni before forming your opinion.

Are You Thinking About Your College List?

What does your college list look like?

As seniors continue to mull over their acceptances and remain hopeful that their wait listed schools will come through, juniors, still full of hope and optimism, are starting to create their college lists. In many cases, these lists will contain some of the country's top colleges, whose application rates continue to soar.

Whether you are just beginning your application process or at the tail end, it is important to realize that upper-tier schools make up only a fraction of what's available to you. America has several thousand schools to choose from, many of which accept the majority of their applications and provide excellent long-term value in terms of cost and future earning potential.

Much of our fascination with elite schools is due to the schools' own marketing campaigns. As The New York Times Choice writer Jacques Steinberg points out here, “Some schools spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on slick marketing campaigns begging kids to apply for the privilege of being rejected, and yet the colleges will tell you there are so many kids who get this material, apply, get in and go who would have never known to do so had they not received it.”

Getting past this indoctrination is key for having a more positive college application process. There are plenty of opportunities beyond top tier schools that can give you a strong education and a bright future.

Finding the Silver Lining in the College Admissions Process

Whichever direction you take, move forward with head held high

Kayla Webley of Time magazine offers excellent advice in this article for students still fraught with anxiety over their recently opened round of life-changing college admissions letters. While experiencing either a profound sense of relief or grief depending on the outcomes is natural, it is important to evaluate how much of our emotional reactions are based in reality.

Laurence Steinberg, author and professor of psychology at Temple University, describes how students take a rejection from a college personally. “When they’re rejected it’s like being rejected by a boyfriend or girlfriend. They internalize it: What’s the matter with me? What could I have done differently? Why did they choose that person and not me?” There is no doubt that a rejection letter can draw deep feelings of inadequacy quickly to the surface, but all is far from lost.

It is clear that your future potential has much less to do with where you go to college and much more with how you perform while you’re there. Webley sites one study in which students rejected from their top choices go on to earn on average the same wages as their Ivy League peers. Further, a highly motivated student standing out at a less competitive college can be far more impressive than an Ivy grad who has failed to distinguish herself during her four years. In summary, your success is far from determined. A safety school can provide infinite opportunities for future success. So the best thing to do, if you want to find the silver lining in an arduous admissions process, is to stop looking back, and move forward with head held high knowing that you will give your all to whatever school you decide to attend.

University of Pennsylvania Sends Out More ‘Likely’ Letters This Year

Colleges wanna know.

As students wait to hear from colleges, many of which notify students in early April, a lucky few will receive ‘likely’ letters. A ‘likely’ letter issued by Ivy League schools toward the end of February/early March lets students know that they have been admitted. A practice that began as a way to curry favor with coveted applicants, it is now becoming increasingly more common.

According to this article in the New York Times, University of Pennsylvania sent out many more ‘likely’ letters than in previous years. Other colleges are also following the trend, creating their own versions of these letters, often with an invitation to a campus event geared toward accepted students.

Whether you receive an early indication of admission or not, don’t be alarmed. It can be a random decision, based on the timing that your application is read, and it in no way indicates that you have not been admitted. Pretty soon all the decisions will be in, and we will all breathe a sigh of relief just to know that it’s over and the next phases of student life have begun.

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Where Does the Tiger Mother Fit into the College Application Process?

Do you have a tiger mother?

Controversy has been intense over Amy Chua’s memoir entitled Tiger Mother. Chua depicts herself as a highly demanding if not overbearing mother who pressures her children to fulfill her own image of success, many have argued, to the point of endangering her daughters’ mental and social development. While her children do achieve outstanding external results including maintaining high grades and excelling musically, it must be asked, at what cost?

As children mature and demand back control of their own lives from their overly-invested parents, a power struggle undoubtedly ensues. The college process can be seen as the last great clash in which children entering the new epoch of adulthood, expect to exercise their own right to choose, while parents remain reluctant to relinquish their parental clout. Parents, still at the financial helm, are often able to wield some influence in the area of college decisions, and often don’t refrain from trying.

Valerie Strauss recounts a humorous anecdote shared by Teege Mettille, assistant admissions director at Lawrence University, of what she calls an “ultimate helicopter mom” in her article in The Washington Post. Accustomed to parents calling to schedule admissions interviews, even Mettille was surprised when a parent who had just scheduled an interview for her son and began expressing her interest in the school suddenly stopped and said, “Wait….he [my son] doesn’t need to be here for this, does he?”

As seniors and their parents begin hearing back from colleges and making important decisions on where to attend, experts suggest that they open up honest lines of communication. Parents should remember that students are the ones who ultimately have to spend their four years on the chosen campus, and students have to consider their parents' decade-long effort to pay for college. It is hard for parents to let go, but it is equally important that they recognize that this is perhaps the biggest step their children will take on their way to an independent adulthood.

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Your College Essay Just Might Get You Accepted to Harvard

The Ivy Gates are not open to all...

The word is out. Applications to Harvard rose 15% totaling almost 35,000 applications for Fall 2011, and Columbia was not far behind receiving 34,587 applications, a 32 percent increase from just a year earlier. (Here's the article.) So what does it take to be one of the elite applicants who will walk through one of the top school’s leafy gates? With so many over-qualified applicants, what is the key to getting a second look?

A recent New York Times article by Trip Gabriel entitled The Almighty Essay suggests that the essay may be the best way to maximize your chances for entry into the school of your dreams and make you shine the brightest among thousands of other stars. Gabriel writes, “The personal essay, [admissions officers] all said, growing soft and fuzzy, is the one element where a student’s own voice can be heard through the fog of quantitative data.” But Gabriel also alludes to an important question. What is to happen to all the 17-year-olds who cannot translate their oh-so-lofty thoughts into polished prose that encapsulates their unique essences in 500 words? Are they left to attend a school that - gasp - may not be in the top 100?

Here at College Essay Organizer, we take these questions seriously. For one, we think everyone should be able to attend the college that he or she really loves, but with less than 10% of applicants getting into top schools, it's not so easy. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Students must apply to more schools than in the past. You can’t assume that your strong test scores and GPA are enough to get into a top school.
  • Applying to more colleges means writing many more essays - and organizing them all is crucial.
  • How can you ensure a personalized approach to each school’s application without writing 15 totally different essays? CEO users have told us that they were, on average, able to apply to 10 to 12 schools with just 3 original essays.

So don’t let the high number of applications drive you away. Arm yourself with the tools you need, prepare early, and take a chance.

Check out for FREE how many essays the colleges you're considering have, and how CEO would simplify your writing experience and save you hours.

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St. John's University (NY) Admission Essay Prompt Confusion

While researching the essay requirements of the over 600 colleges and universities currently in our database, we have come upon many inconsistencies and contradictions, but few as noticeably different as the one between St. John's University's online application and the PDF version. Here's a taste of what we're talking about - St. John's online application asks this of all who apply:

Although this is optional, we'd like to learn just a little bit more about you. Please submit a short personal statement on one of the topics listed below.

  1. What motivates you? We'd like to know what activities you really enjoy. Do they tie in with any career goals? Have you won any awards or honors?
  2. Don't reinvent the wheel. You have the option to submit a graded essay from your senior year.

Nothing too out of the ordinary there. It's an optional but recommended essay with a straightforward prompt and another option to submit a writing sample. But here's what they ask if you're using the paper application:

A 250-word, typewritten personal statement or essay on a topic of your choice. If you choose to submit a personal statement, please offer some explanation of your current career goals, information about honors and awards you have received and/or other activities in which you have engaged in order to provide us with a clear, personal profile of your pursuits and interests beyond the classroom.

This prompt is clearly on a topic of the applicant's choice. So the options are wide-open, which for many applicants means the difference between writing an additional essay or not.

This is the kind of work CEO does for you. We check and re-check the thousands of requirements on many applications nationwide, looking for opportunities like these, and making sure that your options are clearly presented to you. CEO sides with the online application in this case, since it's the one the majority of applicants will be using, but we also provide a note in the school's header explaining the difference and allowing you to choose.

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Lake Forest College Scholarship Applications - Essays Aplenty

Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, has a reasonable amount of essay requirements for its basic application - 4 on their own college application, or 2 supplements if you're using the Common Application.

But I'd bet you didn't know they have 23 scholarship application essays. Allow us to repeat: that's 23 additional essays.

Schools like Lake Forest are not uncommon. CEO's database is full of schools that have four or five basic requirements for admission, but more than ten optional, department-specific, and scholarship essays that come along with the regular application work load.

The University of Puget Sound's admission office steps it up with 22 department-specific and scholarship essays.

The University of Kentucky admission office doesn't mess around either - 16 department-specfic and scholarship essays.

But at CEO, we want you to look at this as a benefit rather than a problem. We do the work for you of searching for and organizing your essay requirements. One of the great perks of CEO is that we turn you on to departments and scholarship money you didn't even know existed.

So when you're using your Essay RoadMap and you see a surprisingly big number of total essays (hello, anyone applying to NYU), just know that we've pointed the way toward some great opportunities.

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New York University Sets a Common App Record With 30 Essays

If you had a flag for every essay... That'd be thirty flags.

30? You read that right. The powers that be at New York University have so specifically divided the school that there are now 30 essays for undergrads to consider waiting in our database. 30!

To the school's credit, no undergraduate applicant will have to write thirty individual essays when applying to NYU. The numerous essays mostly belong to specific departments, like the Tisch School of the Arts or the Silver School of Social work - all told, the Violet Bobcats of NYU have essays for programs in Film, Photography, Music Business, you name it. They even have a new satellite school in Abu Dhabi. While no applicant will have to address them all, each applicant will have to write several essays, regardless of which school within the university he or she chooses.

It just goes to show that the breadth and reach of schools like NYU should not be underestimated, and that with tools like CEO you can get a shortcut to those requirements, and in turn, see the opportunities that schools of such great diversity offer.

So keep in mind that the big schools often pose as many challenges in their applications as they do in their classes! It's all benefits in the long run, but managing the task from the get-go can be daunting. Make sure you have the right tools to guide you on your journey.

And while you're at it, make sure you're not just avoiding questions like this guy.

Amherst College Essay: A Little Help From Our Friends

All the leaves are something, something, something...

Fun Fact: This picture was taken in February. Amherst's physics department can change the weather locally.

Amherst College is a Common App-exclusive school, but unlike many of its peers, it has gone ahead and released its 2011 essay requirements to the general public. They're quite lengthy, so we won't reprint them here, but Amherst's decision to put them out ahead of the Common App's August update points out a few great things about top schools like Amherst and what its actions mean for other schools that follow.

1. The more open a school is with you, the more open you can be in return. By putting out such a complex series of questions early in the admissions season, Amherst is showing you that it's worth preparing to write your application essay. Amherst's questions are challenging, and they require quite a bit of thought. Go ahead and put in the time it takes. Write multiple drafts. Get it right.

2. You have more work ahead of you than you think. Amherst recognizes that senior years are busier than they get credit for. So take advantage of the time the school has afforded you by putting this info out ahead of time. With opportunities like this and tools like CEO, your workload can be a lot more manageable than, say, those of your overworked and underprepared friends.

3. The college essay is the most underrated and under-appreciated part of the application. The admissions officers at Amherst know what it's like to read half-baked and ill-conceived essays. Sure, they see writing from a lot of the top students in the country, but they also see it from people that have rushed themselves through a pile of applications, regardless of their grades and resumés. This is your opportunity to speak to the college - your chance to create something of a dialogue and show them who you are. Make the most of it.

If we were hard pressed to add a fourth element to this list, it would be that Amherst appreciates how many movies you have to watch this summer. That vampire flick ain't gonna watch itself. Thank the school for its foresight and watch all the movies. There are so many. Then fire up CEO and get back to work.