Quirkiest College Admissions Essay Questions
It’s that time again! With the Common Application and Universal Application releasing their 2012-2013 editions on August 1st, along with several schools releasing updated supplements, the college application season has officially kicked off. College admissions officers may read hundreds of applications and while a student’s “hard factors” including grades, transcripts, and standardized test scores, don’t leave much room for interpretation, a student’s “soft factors,” such as letters of recommendation, interviews, and resume give each applicant an opportunity to let their personality shine through.
College Admissions Terminology
With the release of the Common Application earlier this week, many rising high school seniors have officially embarked on the college application process. The application process, while exciting, can also be confusing and overwhelming. To help start your application process out on the right foot, the expert counselors at IvyWise have compiled the following guide to common college admissions terminology:
Location, Location, Location!
Recently, Dr. Kat spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the benefits and shortcomings of virtual campus tours. Virtual tours are a great (and free!) way to gain an overview of a campus’ main attractions, but even with technological advancements, nothing beats the impression you gain from stepping onto a college campus. At IvyWise, we advise that whenever possible, students should visit a college in-person to get a sense of the three Cs – campus, classroom, and community.
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things…
With more than 3,000 colleges and universities in the US, students need to conduct extensive research on several schools to find the colleges that will be the best academic and social fits for them. The newest member of our Research Team, RJ, loves helping students identify the schools where they will be happy and successful. This week, we offered him a turn to share what made Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut his best-fit school:
This week one of our new interns, Sara, shares why she chose Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Sara will be a freshman at Skidmore this fall:
College Acceptance Rates, Then and Now
This summer, as many rising seniors create their college list, we remind our students that there are no guarantees when it comes to college admissions. Admission at the nation’s most selective schools has become much more competitive over the past decade. To add some perspective, keep in mind that parents of today’s high school students likely applied to college 20 or more years ago.
Our Best Advice for Students Embarking on the College Admissions Process
IvyWise students often begin working on the college admissions process in the spring of 11th grade, and many of our rising seniors complete the bulk of their college application work before even starting senior year! Once school ends, many students begin intensively researching colleges, creating a college list, and drafting essays. We’ve asked some of our college admissions counselors, advisers, and friends to share their best advice for students embarking on the college admissions process:
Creating and Updating Your Activity List/Resume
When it comes to your college applications, you will likely need to submit a resume or activity list. Colleges are not admitting facts and figures, they want living, breathing human beings with likes and dislikes, passions and aversions. What Dr. Kat calls your “soft factors,” your essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular involvement, will tell an admissions committee what kind of person you are. From the quality and duration of your participation in certain activities, a college admissions officer will gain a more in-depth understanding of your personality and character.
College Applications: How to Address Red Flags
As the academic year winds down, students finishing their junior year may be looking to get a head start on the college application process. Almost every student gets nervous about college applications, but for students who have to explain an infraction, grade dip, or extenuating circumstances, there’s an even higher level of anxiety. Are you afraid that a “red flag” on your file will drop it straight into the ‘denial’ pile? Make an appointment with your guidance counselor or with an independent college counselor to address any red flags on your application in an articulate, comprehensive, and responsible way.
Now that spring is in full swing, many high school students are looking forward to their summer plans (and some time away from school!). While September and the start of another school year may seem far away, most high schools require students to choose their courses for the fall before the end of the school year. Nya Marie, a high school junior from Chicago, recently blogged about choosing her senior year courses for the Huffington Post. Like Nya, many students struggle to balance the courses they want or need to take with what colleges “want” to see. Because there is nothing more important to an admissions committee than your performance in the classroom, the expert counselors at IvyWise offer the following tips for choosing your courses:
Classroom ability doesn’t necessarily correlate into standardized testing success. When it comes to standardized tests, the more you practice, the more comfortable you will be with the test, and the higher score you will achieve. That said, our counselors advise that students take the SAT or ACT no more than three times. Students’ scores tend to plateau after the third time and subsequent attempts may look desperate to an admissions committee. For students who struggle with standardized testing, or whose test scores don’t accurately reflect their academic effort and ability, there are a few options.
College Admission Rates, Class of 2016
College admission at the nation’s most selective schools has become increasingly competitive. As another admissions cycle comes to an end, many colleges are reporting another rise in applications and another decrease in acceptance rates. According to the Department of Education, there are 3.2 million graduating seniors in the US this year and the number of international students in the US has increased by more than 20% since 2007. Below is a list of colleges including the number of students who applied to each school and the percentage of students who were accepted. We will continue to update this list as more information is released in the coming weeks.
College Admissions? “There’s an app for that”
Lets be honest, the college process can be stressful. Many applications have gotten longer, essay questions more complex, and the competition stronger than ever. While independent counselors for college admission like the ones at IvyWise aim to alleviate this stress, there are also less conventional resources, such as apps, to help you simplify the daunting task of applying to college. Whether reminding you of deadlines, helping you find your perfect college match, keeping all of your documents in one place, or preparing you for standardized tests, the following apps might be worth checking out.
These Are a Few of our Favorite Things…
This week, one of our awesome interns shares what she loves about attending Washington University in St. Louis. Though she (and her parents) were originally considering mostly Ivy League schools, extensive research and campus visits proved that this Missouri university was her best fit school:
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things…
At IvyWise, we love helping students discover the schools that will be a great academic and social fit for them, where they will be happy and successful. That said, when given the chance, we never hesitate to give a shout out to our own alma maters and share what made that school a great match for us. Previously, members of our team told tales of Turkey Trotting at Lehigh, classes in the Commons at Emerson, and following in the footsteps of strong women at Barnard. This week, the newest member of the IvyWise team, our Executive Assistant Ashley, tells us about her experiences at American University in Washington, DC:
5 Ways to Narrow Down Your College List
With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, many students find that creating an expansive list of schools they’d like to go to is easier than winnowing down the list. As juniors embark on the college admissions process (and visit schools over Spring Break), now is a great time to make a preliminary college list. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see students make and some tips from Dr. Kat to help you narrow your focus.
What Makes a School “Ivy League”?
Though there are nearly 3,000 4-year colleges and universities in the US, the eight Ivy League colleges are some of the most well known institutions in the world, causing students from all over the globe to obsess about getting into an Ivy League college. Despite this frenzy (the Ivy League colleges received 245,732 applications for the Class of 2015), few students know what designates a school as a member of the “Ivy League.”
Dr. Kat’s List: Historically Black Colleges and Universities
February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate those who improved the lives of African Americans in the US. There are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the US today. These schools were originally established with the intention of serving the black community, and have evolved into some of the nation’s preeminent educational centers. For students interested in schools with a rich cultural history, Dr. Kat and the expert counselors at IvyWise have identified a list of colleges with strong roots in African American history.
Planning a Productive Summer
When it comes to the college admissions process, it is imperative to show how you have developed your interests throughout your time in high school. College admissions committees want to see how you have made an impact in clubs and activities during the school year, but also during the summer. While it may be tempting to sit around all summer working on your tan, boards of admissions specifically look to see that you have remained productive during your time away from school. Summer presents many opportunities for students to further develop their interests and goals —travel to a foreign country, continue training in your favorite sport, make up a class or gain extra credits in summer school, start a business, get an internship, or join a community service organization.
Though summer may seem far away, the applications for many popular programs are due soon. Some of these applications can be as complex as a college application, requiring essays, letters of recommendation, and even test scores, so you will need to get started soon! Dr. Kat and the team of counselors at IvyWise, have come up with the following
Where IvyWise Students Come From
As we finish up college application work with our seniors in the class of 2012, we thought we’d take a look at where IvyWise students have come from. College admission has become increasingly competitive and complicated, and can be even more so for students navigating the process from abroad. IvyWise counselors have worked extensively with students from around the US and around the world on the admissions process, and almost a third of IvyWise students are international students!
Let’s Hear it For the Boys
The US Department of Education reported that for Fall 2010 admission, women, on average, accounted for 56% of applicants to four-year colleges. That same year, the New York Times stated that for every 100 American women enrolled in college, there were only 77 men. Meanwhile, the National Center for Education Statistics projects that by 2020, men will represent only 41.4% of students enrolled in college. With colleges becoming increasingly concerned about gender balance on campus, has this really led to preferential treatment for men in college admissions?
Dr. Kat’s List: Colleges for East Asian Studies
Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the Year of the Dragon! While the Year of the Rabbit was characterized by calm and tranquility, the upcoming year is expected to bring excitement and unpredictability. For students seeking an academic and social experience as exhilarating as the dragon’s personality, Dr. Kat and the expert counselors at IvyWise have identified a list of colleges with strong Asian Studies programs.
9 Ways to Work with Your High School College Counselor
People often ask us what we think about high school counselors. Our reply: We love them! Your high school guidance counselor is one of the most useful resources for college information and you should try to cultivate a relationship with your high school college counselor as early as possible in your high school experience.
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things…
We’ve asked the IvyWise team to share some of their favorite things about the college they attended. Not one, but two of our team members are proud graduates of Barnard College in New York, NY. This week, our Executive Assistant, Bethanie tells us about her experiences at Barnard:
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things…
In a recent survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, it was revealed that nearly a quarter of college admissions officers have used Facebook or other social media or networking sites to research a college applicant. In addition, 20 percent of admissions officers admitted to “Googling” applicants. While colleges don’t spend time regularly trolling facebook and checking out your wall, if you think you’re secure because you’ve adjusted your privacy settings, you need to think again!
More Quirky College Admissions Essays
We had a strong response to our post about the unique and quirky college admissions essays that appear on many of this year’s college applications and supplements. As the college admissions landscape becomes more confusing, and more competetive, it is more important than ever for applicants to convey the best and most accurate representation of who they are, both academically and personally, to the admissions committees at their targeted schools. The admissions essay is your chance to stand out as a unique personality, to verbalize who you are in a compelling and effective manner, and to highlight your character and your achievements in your own voice. The trick, as always, is to be yourself. To kick off your brainstorming, we’ve gathered even more of this year’s most creative essay prompts:
Among high school guidance counselors, college-bound teens and their parents, the annual college rankings are often a prevalent consideration in the college admissions process. Newsweek/The Daily Beast, U.S. News & World Report (released this week), the Princeton Review and Forbes are among the “best college” lists that students use to guide them in their college searches. What do these college rankings really mean and how much credence should be given to them when choosing a college?
The Best Test: ACT vs SAT
Today is the registration deadline for the October 1st SAT, and tomorrow’s ACT marks the first standardized test of the 2011-2012 academic year. While the concept can be intimidating, standardized testing doesn’t have to be an ordeal. As of 2007, every four-year college that accepts the SAT also accepts the ACT. Determining which test is best for you (based on format, timing, and content) is an important step in ensuring testing success. At IvyWise, we recommend taking one practice SAT and one practice ACT test under realistic testing conditions, scoring both tests, and comparing initial scores. Once you determine which test is better suited to your individual abilities and begin studying, we recommend taking a practice test weekly for eight to ten weeks leading up to the actual test date.
An IvyWise Student Talks About the Transition to College
I led a relatively sheltered life before leaving for college. As an only child whose parents wanted to ensure that I remained focused, I had been enrolled at an all-girls school for seven years. To their horror, I ultimately chose to attend the farthest school I applied to—Washington University in St. Louis, a shocking 16-hour drive from my home in New Jersey.
One way to feel mentally prepared for your new adventure is to get physically prepared. First, get organized: make piles of things to bring, things to store, things to toss, and things to give away. Most schools have suggestions on their websites of things to bring, as well as those that you should leave behind. This is a great exercise to do with a parent who may be more objective about what you will and won’t need at school.
Shopping for dorm décor will help you picture where you will be living and get you excited about furnishing your own space. Decorating your dorm room according to your own taste and style will help make it feel like home, which may also ward off any home-sickness. Don’t forget the necessities, including extension cords, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. These basic items, which were always just there before, signal the realities of independence. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to ask your parents questions, learn basic housekeeping, bookkeeping and checkbook-balancing skills, and start practicing good living habits (like keeping your room tidy!).