Summer ‘to do’ list can provide a less stressful senior fall

Aah, summer time! But, there are a number of items that should be on your college ‘to do’ list right now.


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Senior Year 101: Reduce the Stress of the College Application Process in a Few Easy Steps!

Solid advice on how to get yourself (or your student) situated for a great start to the new school year and beyond…


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Everyone has a Great Story

When considering what to write about for your college essay–remember this: everyone has a great story to share.  A good essay tells so much about you and can make what was formerly a two-dimensional application come alive. When admissions officers read applications, your transcript and standardized test scores will top the list AT MOST INSTITUTIONS as the most important items.  Once you have jumped through this first quantitative and sometimes fiery hoop, you are now in the running with other students who also have good grades and great scores. Now what do you do?  How do you compete? A great essay makes you come alive, makes you a three-dimensional human being — someone who can add to campus life.  Showcasing yourself and some important qualities about you that are not evident from the other parts of your application is a great way to push your application to the top of the electronic pile.  Spending time finding a great story that truly shares more about you is an investment worth your time. Remember, some of the best essays are written about mundane or everyday events.  Don’t worry if you haven’t got an earth shattering tale to tell.  Most of us don’t.  Even if you haven’t yet scaledMt.Everestor won an Oscar, don’t fret.  Sharing your story in an engaging and interesting manner will do wonders for your overall application. Let me give you fair warning, however, writing a great piece will take time. Don’t leave writing your essay for the last minute.  A good essay must be written, reflected upon, rewritten, and rewritten again.  Many people –even the best writers– have difficulties writing.  Always remember that whatever your skills are as a writer, you can always write a better essay than your first draft.  Even the professionals have editors. In our essay writing house parties we help students limber up their writing muscles through brainstorming, mental gymnastics and other fun games.  We show students that they do have interesting stories to share and help them see how they can write an uncommonly good essay for their Common...
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Invest in your future this summer.

Summer is just around the corner. For many of you that means sand, surf and snoozing.  While we are all for enjoying time off and relaxing in the sun—summer also provides high school students with great opportunities for a few “mind changing” experiences. For those of you old enough to work, finding a great summer job is invaluable.  It not only gives you insight into the world of work, but also helps develop essential skills for success outside of the classroom.  Paid or unpaid work will provide you with a more clear understanding of  the value of responsibility, reliability and a strong work ethic.  Never discount any job–even if the only thing you learn from working at a fast food joint or as a day camp counselor is that you never want to do these jobs again.  That is valuable information.  Store these tidbits away for when you consider possible career fields.  If you didn’t like working with children or at Mickey D’s when you were a teenager, what has changed that may interest you in these career fields now?  A job can give you a glimpse into a particular career, nudge you in a direction or help you steer clear of certain vocations.  Another thing to remember is that college admission officers take your work experiences into consideration regardless of whether it is flipping burgers or filing law reports. Other ways to make the most of your summer vacation is to “test drive” careers you find interesting by working or volunteering in that particular career. A first stop should be your high school guidance office to learn more about available internship opportunities. Remember, college for many is a short four year “gig” but you will be working for decades. So discovering a career that is both interesting and challenging to you will help create a more satisfying, rewarding and happier life. Combining work with academic pursuits may help you discover new and interesting parts of yourself.  Many colleges and universities have programs for high school students in a variety of academic areas such as engineering, writing, science or the fine arts. It is a great way for a student to discover if a school is a good fit by attending a summer program and living on campus.  Living in a dorm inBoston,New YorkCity orWashington,DCcan help you decide whether spending four years at an urban university is the right...
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Juniors: Five Items for your ‘to-do’ list

If you are a Junior in high school you don’t need us to tell you that with the end of spring break and the opening of your final marking period–the college exploration process is in full swing.   Here is a short list of ‘to-do’ items that you should take care of before the end of the year.  1) Teacher Recommendations Teachers with a reputation for writing great recommendations get booked early.  Think about who you would like to write a letter supporting your application (remember some schools ask for two teacher recommendations) and ASK that teacher before the end of the school year.  As you consider the best person for the job, remember that the best teacher to ask is not always the one who gave you the easy ‘A’.  You should select a teacher that knows your best work and who has challenged you intellectually.  If you are applying to a math or science program, you might be required to have a recommendation from a math or science teacher.  Additionally, if you plan to apply to schools that ask for more than one teacher recommendation, ask teachers from different subject areas so that your recommendations represent assessments of different skill sets.  2) Standardized Tests Devise a test taking strategy.  If you have already taken the SAT and are not ‘in love’ with your scores, take the ACT –the same is true if you have already taken the ACT.  You do not have to take an expensive prep class to do your best.  There are some low cost and free options which can help you.  Check out the College Board and ACT websites and www.number2.com  for some free and low cost options.  Becoming more familiar with these tests, will help you perform at your best.  You should plan on taking each of these exams no more than two times each.  If you are considering a test prep company you should be know all the facts.  Take a look at this article for some more information  3) Academic and Professional Goal Setting Spend some time exploring the majors and career paths that you might consider for your own future.  There are many avenues you should follow as you research your interests.  We have listed some ideas below: Speak with adults you know who are in a particular field or studied an academic area in which you are interested. Look...
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College Admissions Myth #2: Admissions is all about the numbers.

College Admissions Myth Busted: Admissions is *NOT* just an exercise in crunching the numbers. Do admissions officers look at more than the “numbers” when making admissions decisions?  That is, do colleges and universities care about anything else besides GPA and standardized test scores?  Absolutely. Yes they do.  We are asked this question all the time by our clients and we strongly believe that there is as much art as there is science to the admissions process.  Remember the game show “The Price is Right”?  In the admissions scenario, the ‘numbers’ you present at the stage door (your test scores and GPA) get you into the audience (i.e., application pool) and poised for serious consideration.  It is the rest of your application –your essay, recommendations, and the many extras that make the application unique and (quite frankly) interesting– that get you admitted or, as Bob Barker might have it, to “come on down” because it’s your turn to join this college community. Of course admissions officers want to accept students who can handle the work at that particular institution.  The numbers –most importantly the rigor and upward trend of the transcript– show them that you likely can and get you in that audience.  Once there, however, you need to show the school that you have more to offer than just the numbers.  You need to show them how you will contribute to the campus.   The Science and Art of College Admissions This is where the science ends and the art begins.  Remember, a college campus is a community complete with artists, musicians, athletes, scientists, politicians and much, much more.  If all admissions officers had to do was look at the numbers and accept the top 6%, 10%, or 20% (depending on selectivity), then their job would be easy, and actually so would the applicant’s.  But this is not the case.  Remember, colleges read all of the material you submit and sometimes it comes down to splitting hairs in admissions.  What does Applicant A offer as compared to Applicant B?  Maybe A is involved in student government but B is an oboe player.  Maybe A came to campus and updated her application to let the admissions office know about an award won.  Maybe, maybe not.  That is what makes each application unique and why the art of admissions is much more subtle and difficult than the science. Test Optional Admissions The ever increasing number of schools...
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