National Candidate Reply Date Approaches

Decision day is coming fast.

On May 1st, students must make a final decision regarding the college they would like to attend for the next four years. While this decision is an important one, and undoubtedly stressful for many, it is now in the hands of the student to make the decision to accept or reject a college. Seniors are busy making final visits to colleges in order to weigh the pros and cons and determine the best fit.  The New York Times Choice blog posted some tips to consider when narrowing down your choices:

  • Take rankings with a grain of salt. While it is helpful to investigate the quality of the food, campus safety, and job placement, rankings can be misleading, and won't necessarily lead you to find your best choice college.
  • Once you've done your research, go with your gut. Ultimately, you're the one who has to spend four years at a particular college, so after studying the facts and listening to your friends and family, take your gut feeling into account.
  • Give a college a second chance. Even if you visited on a rainy day or didn't get the best first impression, it may be worth giving a college another visit. The weather or other factors can play a big part of an initial impression, but it may not be representative of the college on a day-to-day basis.
  • Once you make your decision and send in your deposit on May 1, don't look back. After all the hard work that went into getting to that final decision, you deserve to relax with confidence knowing it will all work out for the best!



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More Colleges Are Becoming Test-Optional

Are you thinking of opting out?

While almost all students take the SAT or ACT at some point in their high school careers, their scores are not always reflective of their true abilities in the classroom. According to this entry posted on The NY Times Choice blog, a growing number of colleges continue to recognize this by making standardized testing optional for applicants:

"If you are a student who wants to opt out of the standardized testing game, you now have two alternatives: you can withhold your scores from test-optional institutions, or you can apply exclusively to schools on this growing list, dropping out of the testing process entirely., a standardized testing watchdog, points out that more than a quarter of all American colleges and universities are now test-optional in some form."

This is a positive change for students who struggle with standardized testing or have a strong belief that it shouldn't be used to evaluate applicants. As a result, many colleges are adding more and more essay questions, as personal statements often tell colleges more about students than test scores do.


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Keeping Busy While You Wait For Those College Decisions

Make the time fly by keeping busy.

Though it feels great to have those college applications out of the way, for many the patience required to wait till college decisions are received can be the toughest part of the process. Sush Krishnamoorthy, a college senior from India documenting her application experiences here on The NY Times Choice Blog, discusses her own recommendations for this difficult time: "The only way to avoid this futile anxiety is to be occupied with something else. So I am making plans for the summer. I have more than four months of summer vacation this year and I want to make the most of it."

Keeping busy is definitely the best way to pass the time till April 1, and beginning to think about how you will spend the summer ahead can be a great place to focus some of that restless energy. After all, it's the last summer before college, so finding a way to make it count is important.

And for juniors thinking ahead, take advantage of this summer as a way to wow colleges when you apply next fall. Considering a program that can eventually inspire a stellar essay should also be a priority. Krishnamoorthy discusses her amazing experience at the Summer Science Program: "Students work in teams of three to determine the orbit of an asteroid. It requires more than six weeks of observations and attending college-level lectures in astronomy, physics, math and programming."

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Tips for Early College Applicants to De-stress as They Wait

Which one used College Essay Organizer?

Anxiety is definitely a real part of the college application process, and as applicants know, it becomes increasingly intense as the day of judgment nears. For most early applicants, that day is December 15. Will Walker, one of eight students chosen by the New York Times Choice Blog to document his story, shares his woes in this entry. After fighting his own fear demons, his resulting epiphany is one we can all benefit from:

"And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’d urge you, all of you (but especially college-bound seniors like me) to take a second over the coming week to reflect on the things that you do have: the opportunities you’ve been given, the possibilities you’ve been presented with, and the people around you who care about you. Because yes, this process is bad. But it’d be a lot worse if we had to go at it alone."

Taking advantage of your support network will definitely make this an easier process, as will making sure you're on top of your game and haven't missed anything. Use your College Essay Organizer account to double check that you didn't overlook any essay questions, and begin to get organized for writing the remainder of your essays if your early applications do not turn into acceptances.


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Jump-start the College Essay Process

Start brainstorming for the college essay process

The blistering heat of summer brings lazy, lethargic days. What smarter way to spend these hours than to jump-start the college essay process? The New York Times Choice Blog just posted a college application checklist here, recommending seniors to take advantage of summertime freedom and begin writing required essays before the school year begins.

Although the Common Application does not go live until August 1, 2012, many colleges and universities release supplemental essay questions during the summer, and the Common Application’s long and short essays have been confirmed. To keep track of these early releases, be sure to create your College Essay Organizer account now, as schools are updated as early as possible.

Simply brainstorming ideas when you have free time will pay off in the long run. Ann E. Selvetti of the New York Times advises seniors to “Give yourself the gift of time for the fall by getting as much done as possible this summer. Every year, seniors lament frittering away their summertime instead of using it to get a head start.” So instead of sunbathing on your deck this afternoon, grab a pencil and notepad and start jotting down ideas for your essay questions. When the cold autumn wind blows into town, you will thank yourself for starting early.

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