Harvard University Returns To Early Action for 2012

Harvard Shield

November 1 comes quickly, little crimsonites.

In 2007, Harvard eliminated its Early Action program and required that everyone send in applications on the same date, January 1st, but this year, it returns to Early Action, with the first round of applications due on November 1, 2011.

The move in 2007 was seen as a reaction against the increasingly competitive admissions environment in America, and many applauded the effort. But other popular schools took this as a competitive advantage and did not follow suit, so Harvard has done its applicants a favor by sparing them the difficult choice of a binding decision from another school when they'd really like to take a shot at Harvard.

Early Action and Early Decision programs certainly increase the pressure on students and parents alike - decisions are often made with a limited amount of information and on very short timetables, but they have their upsides for schools, allowing them to increase yields and fill large portions of their classes with students that are sure to attend.

This decision - coming from the top, as it were - should be read as a firm statement that Early Action and Early Decsion programs are here to stay. Get your work done as early as you can, do your homework, and learn as much as you can about your top choices before committing to your number one school.

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You Are What You Tweet

Have you googled yourself lately?

If you are gearing up to begin your college application process, you definitely want to read Danny Westneat’s article in the Seattle Times. In this article, he discusses how he discovered an inspiring story of a student with a rough start in life, who defied all odds and made it to college, but that his perspective changed when he discovered the student's Twitter feed.

Without getting into the content of his posts, the point is clear. It’s normal for high school students to share their world with their friends, but with today’s internet culture, the consequences of those discussions and the photographical evidence that may be associated with them, are obviously much more far reaching and long term.

Westneat quotes a Harvard interviewer during a debate on the website Quora, who offers some guidance in this area: “Does a Facebook profile or a website prejudice me before I meet a candidate? Yes. Absolutely. If you care about your college career, one of the best things you can do is Google yourself, then pull anything off you wouldn't voluntarily show your parents' friends." Unfortunately, it can be what is not included in your college application that leaves the biggest impression.

College Admissions: What You Need To Know

Zen College Life

Louise Baker from Zen College Life weighs
in on college admissions

Today's blog post comes from Louise Baker at Zen College Life. Zen College Life is a leading source for college and degree information online. Their writing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on MSN, About.com, The Consumerist, and many other publications and websites.

Going to college can open up a world of opportunities, both personally and professionally. Getting into college, however, has gotten progressively harder in recent years as more and more high school students have realized that attending college can give them the tools for lifelong success that they need. Below are the tips that you need to know, as you navigate the college admissions landscape.

Although you may be tempted to tag along with your high school buddies, as they road trip to the colleges that have the best parties in your area, it is important to do your own research on the schools that you want to attend. Unless you are confident that you want to attend a school, you will not be able to put together an application that convinces a college's admissions offices that you truly want to be at that university. Start by brainstorming the types of degree programs you are interested in and the geographic area you are willing to move to for college. Then begin visiting schools to narrow down factors like the size of the school and type of campus.

Once you have a list of five to seven schools that you would be okay with attending, make sure that among them is at least one or two safety schools. These should be schools that, based upon your SAT I and SAT II scores and your grades you are statistically likely to be admitted to for the fall semester. Hopefully, you will get into several of your choice colleges, but it is important that you have at least one school to attend in the fall. Remember, you can always transfer to another school later on!

Many colleges accept the common application, which means that you only need to write one essay and put together one package of information. Be careful though, as some schools will require supplemental statements. Sending one to the wrong school can mean being disqualified by both schools! Check the schools' requirements for letters of recommendation and make sure that your teachers write yours and send them in well in advance of their due dates so your application is not held up. Call the admissions office after your teachers notify you that they have sent them to confirm the schools' receipt.

Even if you are fairly confident that a school will accept you, you should still go ahead and ask for an interview. This is a time to show off what makes you special, which may be hard for an admissions counselor to see on your paper application. Show up in a suit or other nice outfit and be ready to discuss your favorite books.

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Finding Your Authentic Voice (With Some Help From Your Fan Club)

Avery Educational Resources

Today's post comes courtesy
Erin Avery at Avery Educational Resources

Today's blog post is from Erin Avery, an independent educational consultant based in Fair Haven, New Jersey, who specializes in the college and boarding school search and application process. A graduate of Oxford and Yale, Avery is a Certified Educational Planner and creator of CollegeApp, available on the App Store. You can learn more about her and her services at averyeducation.com.

Ed. Consultant Erin Avery: “So, where geographically are you considering attending college?”
Son: “I don’t know…I was thinking of maybe an island.”
Father: “Yeah, Long Island.”

Yesterday, I sat beside a father and son duo, not unlike many cradled in the inner sanctum of my office’s worn leather armchairs. Often, as depicted above, parent and child come with divergent perspectives: rightfully so based on their respective worldviews and life experiences.

This is why I always welcome parents, guardians or other loving stakeholders to participate in the all-important Essay Brainstorming Session. The results are phenomenal. The invited “guests” act as time capsules, jogging the student’s memory of past notable examples of characteristics demonstrated, or character embodied. They may recall that precise anecdote that illustrates the quintessence of the student. Ultimately, if it is conducted properly, the essay brainstorming session is akin to a love-fest wherein the student hears and has mirrored back to him or her a chorus of voices affirming his or her unique gifts to the world.

In my role as an educational consultant, I have to admit, I am always scanning my conversations with you, my client, for “essay-worthy” content. I simply can’t help it. I have met myriad teens in my near decade of private practice. By employing my strength-based methodology, I passionately echo back to each student how incredible I find him or her. High school students never cease to astound me! While peers and society attempt to smother teens with the gag order of conformity, I bathe you in affirmation for your daily courage to choose to be yourself.

I have seen my share of Eagle Scouts, Congressional Medalists, National Merit Finalists, Point and Figure Charting experts, even oyster gardeners, and the accolades continue. Yet be mindful that the most profound essay topics need not be the most cataclysmic. At a symposium last spring, the New Jersey reader from GW shared, as she welled up with tears, that her favorite essay amid her applicant pool was written by a student portraying the profound impact on him of his parents’ 25-year marriage. (Her second favorite essay topic was on the sneaker-odor of the applicant’s car.) Your story can (and often must) be drawn from the quotidian, everyday seventeen year-old lived experience. Do not grant one instant to counterproductive feelings of inadequacy if you have not yet discovered a cure for cancer (but get on that, would you?). Rather, own who you are and where you are. If you are presently staring at a blank screen, go grab a decaf frappuccino with someone who loves you and if you are too embarrassed to ask them blatantly to sing your praises, ask him or her what s/he would say at your funeral (morbid, yes, but effective!). Still stumped? Google and read “The Desiderata”. Works like a charm.

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College Essay Organizer Featured in the New York Times and Bergen Record

College Essay Organizer in the News: New York Times Education Section

Daniel Stern, President of College Essay Organizer

College Essay Organizer founder Daniel Stern is quoted in this New York Times article on plagiarism. One of the special benefits of College Essay Organizer's service is that it cuts down on plagiarism. And maybe better yet for the more ethical, time-strapped teens we help, it cuts down on that nagging urge to plagiarize.

It’s an ethical issue many applicants wrestle with. But with College Essay Organizer, which saves hours of time by showing how your various essay questions overlap in theme, you will discover how to make the most of your time without cutting corners.This way you can focus not just on getting organized but rather on writing creative stories that reveal your best you. You can even apply to more colleges without unnecessarily taking on additional work.

Our goal has always been to optimize your performance and minimize the confusion and anxiety - and all on your own honest terms.

The Bergen Record Features College Essay Organizer's President Daniel Stern

College Essay Organizer's President, Dan Stern, was featured in the Bergen Record (in New Jersey) talking about the college essay process and the many misconceptions students and counselors have about it.

Dan spoke about the surprising number of essays students face after they’ve completed their required Common App essays – namely the many supplemental, department-specific, and scholarship questions that pop up for any student applying to multiple colleges.

On top of that, he spoke about the importance of understanding the essay questions. When a college asks you why you’re interested, remember that it’s not advisable to just regurgitate the college's own brochure. They know you want to be there – that’s why you’re applying. What they really want to learn about is you and what you’re going to bring to the campus.

Above all, Dan talked about what we’re all about here at College Essay Organizer – simplifying the essay and application process in easy and inexpensive ways so that you can focus your time on your best writing without all the confusion and anxiety.

Make sure that you know ahead of time how many essays your colleges require so you don’t have any rude surprises in the fall. Getting out ahead of things now will make the rest of the way smooth sailing for sure.

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New York Times Reports on 2011 College Admissions Figures

New York Times College AdmissionsOver at the New York Times' The Choice, a great chart of up-to-the-minute admissions figures has been made available, and it makes clear that the trend of applying to many schools is showing no signs of letting up.

There are a number of caveats that they point out in the write-up under the chart, most notably that the budgets for advertising schools' applications have been increasing as well. The schools are in the business of increasing the number of applicants just as much as the students are in the business of hedging their bets by applying to more than ten schools a piece.

But what does that mean to you?

Notice that certain schools' acceptance rates dropped significantly from 2010 to 2011 without their academic metrics (like accepted student GPA or SAT scores) improving at the same level. These are schools that have found effective ways of boosting the applicant pool and driving down the acceptance rate without necessarily increasing competition for qualified students.

So it's not as much doom and gloom as you might think. If the schools are making an effort to increase the applicant pool without necessarily increasing the pool of applicants that deserve to be at the school, you are going to appear just as competitive as you would have in previous years, despite the increasing number of applicants. More than anything, you'll need to be focused on efficiency and making sure your pile of applications isn't overwhelmed by the typical homework you have to do in the first semester of your senior year. Get organized!

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2011 Admissions Statistics Released for Top Colleges

Are you glad the game is over?

By now you’ve most likely heard from your colleges, and if you’re reading this, it means that you’ve survived. Regardless of the results, congratulations on simply making it through the arduous college admissions process! No matter how you fared, you probably have lots of mixed emotions right now, and understandably so. The application process continues to become more and more competitive with each coming year.

This article by Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times will give you an overall picture of what admissions looked like at many of the top schools this year. Sometimes it helps to see the actual numbers to put everything in perspective, but as Steinberg warns us, this is far from a complete picture. He begs us to remember that “there are an estimated 2,000 four year colleges in this country –and…the vast majority accept nearly all who apply. That a fine education can be had at so many institutions, without some of the agita inherent in the decisions chronicled above, cannot be emphasized enough.”

As you move toward making a decision that will affect the next four years of your life and beyond, it might be comforting to know that the college application process may have been the most stressful part. Most people end up enjoying their college experience much more!

Waiting on a Wait list Can be a Challenge

Has being waitlisted left you even more confused?

After all the waiting you have done, the last thing you want now is to be put on a wait list! But what happens if you are one of the 10% of applicants who find themselves fated to wait a bit longer? This article by Zach Miners offers some helpful tips for seeing the bright side of a possibly taxing situation.

The first step is to decide whether or not you would actually attend the college if you were accepted. If it is definitely your first choice, here are a few steps you can take to increase your chances:

  • Let the college know that you would like to remain on the wait list.
  • If you have new information to share about your accomplishments, write a compelling letter letting the college know.
  • Definitely let the college know that you would attend if you were accepted, but don’t become a squeaky wheel or worse yet, try to bribe officials!
  • Make plans to enroll at another college so that you are sure to have a spot somewhere in the case that you don’t get off the wait list.
  • If you haven’t interviewed yet, call the college to try to set one up. Personal contact along with genuinely expressed enthusiasm for a school can help tip the balance.
  • Don’t take it personally if you don’t get in. Only about 30% of students get off of wait lists, and in some cases, even fewer spots are available.

While it may be challenging to sit tight for another few weeks or months, use the time to do more research on the schools that you have been admitted to. Every school has its advantages and disadvantages, so try to focus on the positives. And if you do find that the school you attend is not a good fit, you can always apply for a transfer after a year, but chances are, you’ll end up loving it!

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With Financial Aid Deadlines Approaching, Take Advantage of these Insider Tips

Is this what's on your mind?

Now that the majority of college deadlines have passed, is it time to sit back with a sense of self-satisfaction on all that you have accomplished? Absolutely. But for many students, financial aid deadlines are still looming, as are concerns as to whether or not college dreams will be dashed by insufficient aid. As schools continue their own struggles to meet rising costs while faced with an increasing demand for financial aid by its applicants, it becomes ever more important to understand how schools are basing their aid decisions.

An article in the NY Times Choice Blog by Martha Merrill and Elaine Solinga, dean of admission and director of financial aid at Connecticut College, respectively, offer some insider tips on how to fill out these all-important forms:

  • Each school’s policies are different. Connecticut College belongs to a handful of colleges that has a no-loan policy for families with incomes less than $50,000, making it an attractive option for students looking to avoid federal loans.
  • Be accurate and on time. While you may be feeling burnt out from getting all those applications in on time, don’t give in to the temptation to take the financial aid form less seriously. The earlier you can file your tax return and put together an accurate reflection of your family’s circumstances, the sooner you can get that needed rest, and breeze through the rest of your senior year.
  • Ask questions. Getting help filling out the financial aid form is not like getting help on your college applications. Ask those supporting you to pitch in, and when in doubt, contact the school. Schools know that these forms can be complicated, and they usually have dedicated staff to field your questions and keep your information correct and up-to-date.

You’ve made it this far. Don’t give up now. Soon enough, you’ll be sitting back wondering what you were so stressed out about.

Did you know that CEO includes hundreds of hard-to-find scholarship questions in its database? It makes it that much less stressful when applying for financial aid.

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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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