8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Pick a College Major

student reseachAll college students hope to major in subjects they love, but unfortunately, choosing a major is rarely that simple. Majors can shape everything, from job prospects to college workloads to future salaries, not to mention ways of thinking and even ways of life.

It’s no surprise, then, that so many college students feel pressure to find the “Perfect Major” for their interests, skills, and plans for the future — and it’s also no surprise that with so many factors to take into consideration, finding that “Perfect Major” can be so difficult. Here are eight questions to help guide your decision:

1) Do you like the subject enough to drown yourself in it? Keep in mind that choosing a major — say, psychology — means spending years taking classes on psychology, writing reports on psychology, completing assignments on psychology, reading textbooks and articles about psychology, attending lectures on psychology, taking tests on psychology… you get the picture. Signing up for a major you aren’t interested in could mean setting yourself up for years of boredom and burnout.

2) Do you like the classes you’ll have to complete for your major? Read descriptions and reviews for the classes required in your major. Do you think you’d like to take those classes? Did past students in those classes enjoy their experiences? Doing a bit of research before you make your decision could help you avoid a semester of pain in the wrong classes.

3) How difficult are those classes? Ask former students or read reviews to gauge how many hours of work you’ll need to put into your classes each week. If you anticipate filling up your schedule with extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, internships or other commitments during the school year (as most students do), consider your priorities carefully before signing up for a work-intensive major.

4) Will your major allow you to fulfill its requirements using courses taken outside of your university? If you plan to study abroad, can you transfer classes from the program at your destination university back to your major at your home university? If you’re a transfer student, or you plan to graduate early, can you apply credits completed at other universities to your major requirements?

5) How many classes will you need to take each semester? Create a tentative four-year class plan, and list out the courses you’ll need to take each semester in order to finish your major. Do you have enough space left to take classes outside your major? If your major includes any highly demanding classes: if you end up needing to retake a class to improve your grade, will you have the extra space in your schedule to do so? Could you free up a semester to spend abroad?

6) How long will it take you to complete your major? If graduating in fewer than four years is important to you for financial or other reasons, it may serve you well to choose a major that doesn’t require a high number of classes, a full final year of thesis supervision, etc.

7) Will your major increase your access to jobs you’d like to have after you graduate? Ask your university’s career counselors about the jobs that past graduates of your intended major went on to take. Could you see yourself working those jobs in the future? Do you think you’d enjoy your work?

8) Will your major increase your access to jobs that pay well? What are the average starting salaries of people who complete your major? What are the average starting salaries of people who complete your major at your particular university? Your university’s career counselors can offer you useful information on this front, too.

By asking yourself these eight questions, you’ll be able to easily evaluate which major is right for you and your future.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

An Introvert’s Guide to Getting Settled in Big Colleges

walking studentMainstream movies, TV shows, and music would have us believe that large colleges are full of loud parties, heavy drinking, and Greek drama. To some of my fellow bright-eyed high school graduates, the scene was an exciting and alluring one. To others—bookish, quiet introverts like me—the idea was terrifying.

I was relieved to eventually discover that college isn’t just four straight years of toga parties and sorority rushes. For most of my first semester, however, I really thought it was: it seemed like everyone around me was partying every night, and all that ever seemed to appear on my Facebook feed were pictures of proud new pledges waving freshly earned Greek letters. Even at UC Berkeley – 34,000 students strong but hardly considered a party school – I felt plenty of pressure to act more like the toga-wearing, letter-waving characters I’d grown up hearing so much about. The 700-person lecture halls, packed study cafes, and loud dorm buildings only scared me more.

I found my place eventually, but it took me a while to realize that I didn’t have to betray my introvert self to do it. Here’s what I learned:

Not everybody is partying.
Actually, pretty few American college students socialize every night (for more, see this research project). It’s just that people tend to Instagram more often about upcoming parties and their nights out than, say, the nights in their rooms with a book and a bowl of instant mac and cheese. It’s worth going to at least a party or two just to see what it’s like, but you’re not considered weird for preferring work time or lazy time over crowded rooms and sweaty dance floors.

Know how you connect best with people, and then do that.
Do you prefer small groups? Join a campus club or attend events that interest you. Do you connect best through one-on-one interactions? Say hello to the student next to you in lecture, or invite your dorm floormate out for a coffee.

Unlike high school, college won’t often create small-group social interactions for you – you’ll have to take the initiative to plan them yourself – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people happy to interact with you in that way. Parties and giant welcome events aren’t the only way to find friends.

Find your hideaways.
Look for quieter areas of campus and less-frequented cafes. Head to higher or lower floors of campus libraries instead of parking near the main entrance. Peaceful surroundings will help you settle back into yourself and store up enough energy to re-enter the fray when you’re ready.

Recognize that your bedroom might not be your refuge anymore.
If you live in a dorm and/or have one or more roommates, you may not be able to come home at the end of a long school day to a quiet space. Instead, try using your time away from home as your break from socializing so you can save up enough social energy for the evenings. Take walks between classes, sit on your own during lectures instead of next to classmates you know, or find a quiet place on or near campus to eat your lunch alone.

Remember that smaller classes are often more socially intense than large lectures.
People tend to keep to themselves in large lectures, so it’s easy to avoid draining small talk just by blending into the crowd. In smaller classes, however, you’re more visible and more likely to be approached. Smaller classes offer great academic benefits, like closer relationships with professors and more personalized learning, so the answer isn’t to avoid small classes. Instead, consider setting up your schedule in a way that avoids stacking too many small classes into the same day, or in time slots too close together, to save yourself enough time to take a social break if you need to.

Be proactive in finding your circle of friends.
Introverts tend to prefer having a few meaningful friends over meeting a slew of acquaintances. The nice part about big colleges is that they’re big enough that you can be sure there are people around who share your interests. The frustrating part is that you have to sift through thousands of other people in order to find them. The only answers here are persistence and luck – choose classes, extracurriculars, and social events that you’re interested in, and be open enough to socializing with strangers that you can give yourself a chance to form close connections.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Prepare for College-Level Writing

writing essayI’ve written previously on how to make the transition to college writing once you’re already in college, and that’s important. What’s also important is using your time in high school to prepare yourself early for the rigors of college writing.

I know that when you’re in high school, college can seem light-years away. It’s hard to see how your high school assignments will really help you be a better student in college, but trust me, they can. If you use your time in high school right, especially in regards to writing, you can get a strong head start towards producing college-quality work.

Here are 3 tips that you can start using right away to prepare for your future college writing:

1) Create your own topics on assignments.
Or at the very least, alter the prompts given to you. Often times, papers in college will either have no prompt or will have very generic prompts – you have to be creative enough to come up with your own question and then have enough evidence to answer it.

In high school, paper topics are often clearly delineated, and students just go along with what their teacher says. While this might be easy to do, it won’t help you down the road. By practicing going out of your way to confect unique topics that you can explore in depth, you won’t be intimidated when the only instruction your college professor gives you is, “Go write a paper on the book we just read!” (Just be sure to clear this creative topic change with your teacher before submitting your paper!)

2) Ask your high school teachers for feedback, even if you did well on an assignment.
Many high school students just look at the grade on their essays and then move on with their lives. However, knowing that you got an A or a B doesn’t let you know how you can continue to improve your writing. By looking at your teacher’s feedback, you’ll start to see your strengths and weaknesses in writing and be able to raise the quality of your work. What’s more, you can go above and beyond by meeting with your teacher to ask for ways that your writing could better fit college-level writing. After all, your teachers have gone through college already and it’s their job to get your ready for the rigors of the next phase of your academic journey.

3) Focus on argument, not exposition.
In high school, you can sometimes get by with writing a paper focused on who did what, what an idea means, or what techniques someone used. This is exposition (or description) and it is only one part of writing. Good college papers make arguments – they don’t just explain what a character did or what an author’s idea is. So, even if a high school assignment asks you only a simple question, it’s good practice to go above and beyond to make a more complex argument. This mode of thinking will prepare you for the rigorous analysis you must do in college.

I know it can be tempting to just skate by on high school assignments. However, there are certain ways you can use your time in high school to solidly prepare yourself for college writing, and doing this will be well worth your time. Even if this requires more ingenuity and diligence from you now, it will set you up for abundant future success in college and beyond.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Successfully Use Your College Weekends

roomateWeekends in college – stereotypically the time for football games, Frisbee on the green, and massive parties – are not always so glamorous. While it is true that these things do happen with regularity on the weekends, they don’t tell the whole story. In fact, with how much work college students have, a significant part of many students’ weekends is often spent in the library.

This presents itself as a bit of a dilemma – you want to go do fun things with your friends, but you also don’t want to be behind on schoolwork for the upcoming week. There is both a pressure to do work and a pressure to be social. Luckily, balancing college life is not too hard, and learning to do so can reap great benefits. All you have to keep in mind are the concepts of moderation and planning, and your weekends will end up being both productive and fun.

So what do I mean by moderation? Moderation is two-fold. One part is doing things in small chunks, rather than reserving huge blocks of time for doing just one thing. Breaking up your work into manageable chunks to do on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is a good step towards making sure you don’t get overwhelmed. Doing this reminds you that the amount of work you have is rarely as bad as you think it is, especially when you consider that all 24 hours of the weekend are available for productivity since there obviously aren’t any classes.

Lots of people have fun on Friday and Saturday and leave all their work for Sunday, but this can result in a difficult end to your weekend, where your marginal productivity greatly decreases as the day goes on. The best path forward is to split up your time and try to ensure that you do things in manageable bursts, not long grind sessions.

The other aspect of moderation is thinking about the weekend as a time where you can both have some fun and do some work, instead of thinking of it in the extreme as only one or the other.  Many college students either say that they’re going to have the most crazy party weekend ever or they will have to be holed up in their rooms all weekend to study for their 3 midterms the following week.

In reality, most weekends can fall somewhere in between. All it takes is shift in mindset to one that thinks in moderate and not extreme terms. If I say that I’m going to have a pretty good weekend because the last week of work was challenging, that still leaves open the possibility that I’ll be able to do a little bit of work this weekend without feeling like I’m sacrificing all my fun. Self-talk is important in how we shape our perceptions, and the same is true with thinking about how we should spend our weekends.

Planning, the other important concept in balancing one’s weekend, is exactly what it sounds like, and while some students enjoy the weekend because it is less structured than their school week, planning out your time is actually quite useful. If you make a plan that includes all you have to do and all you want to do, you’ll be able to physically see that you can balance having fun and doing work. When you have a general idea of what you are doing and when you will be doing it, you are more likely to actually get yourself to do it.

It’s true that random plans with friends always come up on the weekend, but when you have a plan of how you want to spend your time you will be able to make a smart choice as to whether it would be responsible of you to follow through with this spontaneous plan (often times it is). I definitely believe that having fun during the weekend (and the week) is important, but I also mean to convey that having a plan, albeit a flexible one, puts you in a position to succeed.

Weekends are great respite from the daily grind of the school week. In order to make the weekend fun and keep up with work, it’s important to learn how to wisely balance work and play.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Choose the Right College Curriculum for You

student reseachIn many high school students’ college search processes, the most important factors they look for in schools are things like housing, location, size and student body. While all these factors may be important, students often miss one huge aspect of college – school itself! Sounds obvious, right? But sometimes it can be easy to forge that college is still school, and that school will actually take up the majority of your college time.

So, to make sure you make the best college choice for you, it’s important to also look at academic aspects of a school, like their curriculum requirements – by this, I mean general education requirements, distribution requirements, major requirements, language requirements, study abroad programs, and a host of other things. Since school is going to take up so much of your time, it’s important that you spend this time in a curricular environment that you like and that challenges you to grow academically.

There are three general forms that a college’s curriculum can take: let’s call them moderate, strict, and open.

Most colleges around the country have moderately structured curriculums. At these schools, students are required to take a few courses in a variety of different fields (often referred to as “General Education” or “GE” courses) while also completing a major. Usually, you will have freedom in which course you choose to take in these required fields – for example, students might have to take 2 humanities classes, 2 science classes, 2 social sciences classes and 2 math classes in order to graduate, but the specific classes the students take within these fields is up to them.

Many students will choose to fulfill these requirements early on in their first couple of years at school, and then use their remaining time as upperclassmen to take electives and complete their major.

Schools with strict curriculums have a set of classes that all students must take – these colleges believe that there are certain classes that are valuable to everyone and feel that creating a common “core” of classes is valuable to the student body as a whole. Unlike moderate curriculums, strict curriculums will usually be very specific with which individual classes you are required to take. Schools like Columbia University and University of Chicago have well-known core curriculums that are a hallmark of the academic experience at these schools. This type of curriculum is helpful for students who like structure and want to know exactly what they are getting in to.

My personal favorite is the open curriculum, which allows students a great degree of freedom in choosing their classes. There are no “GE’s” or distribution requirements, and there are rarely any specific class requirements at all. Admittedly, very few schools have this type of curriculum, but if you’re the type of student who likes taking on the responsibility of designing their own education, an open curriculum might be right for you. Colleges like Brown, Grinnell and Amherst are well known for their curricular freedom. At times, the freedom in an open curriculum can be daunting, but when it is used well, this type of curriculum can be incredibly freeing for students who like to explore all their passions.

Now that you’re familiar with the general types of curriculum options, it’s time to start researching! Figure out what academics style best suits you as a student, and then go out and find colleges that match that. Each type of curriculum has its advantages and disadvantages, so make sure the one at your school will work for your needs and help you grow into a stronger student.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your College Office Hours

ProfessorEvery college orientation I ever attended strongly emphasized the importance of attending office hours in building relationships with professors, allowing students to explore subject material in greater depth, and laying groundwork for strong letters of recommendation in the future. Even so, most college students I know either glean very little from office hours or do not attend them at all.

Office hours were by far the best and most useful parts of my college classes, but it took me most of my undergraduate career to start making the most of them. Here’s what I learned:

1) Just go. Individual attention from professors is rare and valuable, especially in large classes (like the ones I take at UC Berkeley, which sometimes hold hundreds of students.) Often, office hours is the only one-on-one time you’ll ever get.

2) Be sure you’ve done the reading and are caught up on the class. It is both embarrassing for you and impolite towards your professor to use his or her extra time to make up for work you should have already done. Make a good impression by showing that you take his or her class seriously.

3) Don’t be scared. Professors are often more relaxed and approachable in office hours than they are during classtime. Many enjoy working with undergraduates, or prefer more individual interaction with students over the more impersonal environment of the classroom. (Also, if you haven’t had much experience with it before, it is useful and important to learn to be comfortable interacting with superiors and authority figures. Office hours are a great way to do that.)

4) Have some questions prepared in advance. Don’t feel limited to only talking about the class; professors are often a great source of career planning advice, information about your field of interest, and tips about what other classes you might find interesting.

5) Be interested in the answers you get. Office hours allow you to learn about a field from the experts themselves. Take advantage of your access to them – and strike a better rapport with your professor – by taking a real interest in the insights your professor offers (or at least making a sincere effort to).

6) Be honest about how well you’re doing in the class. If you’re struggling to understand a concept in your class and have made an honest effort to do so, it’s perfectly fine to admit it. Your professor can help, and will appreciate your honest; he or she wants you to learn their material just as much as you want to pass the class.

7) Stay open-minded. Office hours aren’t just a networking opportunity. Networking for networking’s sake has its advantages sometimes, but your experience in office hours will be more productive and meaningful (and your letter of recommendation, if you get one, will be better) if you really get to know the person you’re talking to.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Get Your College Questions Answered in Our Free Online College Admissions Workshop

FAQIt is no secret applying to college is difficult – choosing schools to apply to and completing your applications is challenging enough, but you also have to ensure you stand out against the thousands of other students applying to these same schools. No matter what stage you’re at in your college application process, you undoubtedly have questions about how to maximize your chances of acceptance.

If you’re looking for a leg-up on the competition when applying to college, register for one of Veritas Prep’s upcoming free live-online College Admissions Workshops, led by Ivy League college admissions expert, Dakotah Eddy. In this hour-long session, you’ll learn the ways in which admissions officers will evaluate you, what they are looking for in applicants, and how you stack up against other college candidates. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate feedback as to how you can best prepare for the college admissions process and increase your odds of acceptance.

So what are you waiting for? Register to attend the next Veritas Prep College Admissions Workshop now and put yourself on the road to college success!

Tuesday, March 22
Thursday, April 14
Tuesday, April 26
7:00 – 8:00pm (Eastern)

Reserve your spot now!

Want a more focused, personalized approach to tackle the college application process? Check out our various College Admissions Consulting servicesAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Take Advantage Your Time as a “Partial” Adult

ReflectingI like to call the time that you’re in college “fake adulthood.” You have some responsibilities, you’re more on your own, and life starts to get a little harder. That means life is becoming more like the “real world,” but you’re not quite there yet – the real real world is still years (and a diploma) away.

In college, you have access to “free” resources, built-in support systems, and a room to sleep in; many of you will still be financially supported by your parents, and perhaps most liberating, you will not be completely screwed by messing up or failing a class. The real world (the work world) isn’t affected by some wrong answers you gave on a multiple-choice test in your History of Ancient Greece class (unless, perhaps, you’re planning to become a History of Ancient Greece professor after college).

I don’t mean to say this like it’s a bad thing – college can be a wonderful time in your life, regardless of whether it is the “real world.” What I do mean to say, is you should take advantage of the freedom and the relative lack of consequences that college entails!

There are lots of ways to do this, but two big ones are to take risks and to branch out – go explore the world and explore your own mind. You’re not bogged down by a set 9-5 schedule with rigid responsibilities, so take this opportunity to let your creativity roam free. A day in college can be spent perusing the Iliad, picnicking at a public park, attending a scientific demonstration, or going to a collegiate sporting event (for free!). It’s hard to imagine a teacher or a banker having the schedule flexibility to do all that, especially on a weekday.

In college, you can also take advantage of the fact that you aren’t working full-time to donate some of your energy to causes that you might not have as much time to later in life. There are often built-in networks on college campuses for you to get involved in volunteer work right away. Community organizations also usually love energetic, youthful volunteers, so there is bound to be a plethora of places near your campus eager to take on some extra help.

Perhaps most importantly, you can use your time in college to work hard and develop skills for responsible adulthood so you aren’t thrust into the ring with no experience. Practice cashing checks, doing laundry, buying groceries, etc. – that way, when you actually have to do live on your own, you’ll be more prepared and less nervous about making that jump into reality. It is too easy to pretend that these daily tasks of adulthood are too far in the future to be worried about, and by overcoming that self-deception and gradually preparing yourself for the routine of adult living, you will build habits that will serve you well for a lifetime to come.

College is a unique time for many reasons – during your time there, you are on the cusp of adulthood but still have ways to exercise youthful freedom. Take advantage of this by exploring yourself and the world, all while preparing yourself to soon take a step into that oh-so-scary place – the real world.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

7 Resources You Need to Utilize While in College

Macalester CollegeOne great and often overlooked part of being in college is the wealth of resources you have access to. Some of these resources are exactly what you think of when you think about colleges – big libraries, distinguished professors, expansive dining halls. – but there is also a variety of lesser-known, but equally important services and centers that many colleges have to support their students and contribute to the overall college experience.

It’s a good idea to check these places out, since it is your tuition money that funds them, after all! College is one of the rare times where many of the services available to you will be free (technically nothing in life or college is really free, but that’s besides the point), so take advantage of this while you can. Here is just a sampling of resources found at many universities that I recommend utilizing during your time in college:

Career Counseling
College is about learning, but it’s still not a bad idea to prepare for the job search early. Lots of colleges have career service centers that can connect you with alumni networks, guide you in crafting your résumés, and help you figure out what future career path will be right for you.

Fitness Center
This is a big one for me – gym memberships are really expensive, but colleges give you access to their fitness centers for free. When someone gives you an opportunity to get in shape and stay healthy for free, that’s not something you should turn down. Plus, taking a break from your studies to exercise is a great way to de-stress and have some fun – the pick-up basketball games I’ve played at my school’s gym has been some of the best of my life!

Student Health Center
Again, healthcare is something that will cost a lot more once you get outside of college. Getting sick when you’re separated from your parents can be a jarring experience, so know that you can feel comfortable reaching out to campus health professionals to help you.

Mental Health Counseling
As much fun as college can be, it can also be a very stressful time. Like student health centers, mental health counseling is often offered by colleges as a safe place for students to go to speak to a mental health professional about any difficulties they may be experiencing while at school. Your school will want you to be healthy, mentally as well as physically, so don’t be afraid to seek this service out.

Writing Center
There are more people to turn to than just your professors or TAs when you’re having trouble with a writing assignment. Lots of schools have writing centers, where students and staff will go over your papers with you and give you detailed feedback on how to improve. You’ll probably have to be proactive in making an appointment, though – from my experience, spots at these centers fill up fast!

Library Staff
In high school you may not have talked to your librarians much (mine were awesome, but that’s a different story), but in college, the library staff can be incredibly helpful with research or just with navigating around the facility. The Dewey Decimal System can be a little difficult to use, especially when the library has 4 floors and thousands of books, so utilize your library staff to assist you.

Academic Support
Some colleges offer subject tutoring for students in certain classes, while others hold workshops on subjects such as how to manage homework time in college, steps to succeed on problem sets, and a variety of other topics. All colleges want their students to succeed academically; it’s incumbent on the student to seek out what academic support programs and resources their college has at their disposal, but there will always be options available to you, no matter what school you go to. Trust me, if you search for academic help, you’ll find it!

College is more than just going to school (even though school is very important). Universities have lots of resources to help you in all aspects of your life – use them while you still can, and while they’re still free!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Making College Friends Before Freshman Year Begins

transition into collegeA lot of people get nervous about showing up to college and not knowing anyone, but that fear is not necessarily relevant anymore. With social media and college networking events, it’s possible to meet people in your class between when you get accepted and when you actually arrive on campus.

Facebook pages for admitted or enrolled students are common for lots of schools. Many of these school pages are very popular, and students are always super excited to get involved posting on them. I spent way too much time on Brown’s Class of 2019 Facebook page for weeks after I got in – everyone seemed so friendly, interesting, and excited to be part of our new community.

When someone ends a post with, “Looking to make friends, message me if we have anything in common!” go ahead and reach out if it seems like you two could get along. The best-case scenario is you make a new friend. The worst-case scenario is you have a semi-awkward conversation with no real repercussions. That seems like a situation where it is impossible to lose, so it’s worth your time to give it a chance. I met some cool people from my Brown Facebook group that I still see around campus. I may not be BFFs with all of them, but the more friendly faces you know around campus, the more comfortable you will feel.

There will also be meet-ups and congratulatory events to attend in your area that will be sponsored by schools or even just informally by new students. Going to these might be nerve-wracking, but it is a nice way to hear from enthusiastic alumni and learn some of the faces of your new classmates. I still see large groups of students who met each other this way (and through massive group chats) walking around campus together all the time!

So, I’ve talked a lot about how you could make friends before school starts, but the real question is, “What’s the point?” Doing this could allow you to make a friend, have people to hang with outside your dorm during orientation, find a roommate, or get over some of the awkwardness of meeting new people. Moving in to college can be stressful for a lot of reasons, and the fear of struggling socially is a big one. By knowing people beforehand, you can alleviate some of this fear and focus your efforts on acclimating to college in other ways.

Don’t worry, though, it is by no means necessary to figure out your friend group before you get to school. People find friends on their own at school, so it’s totally not a “must” that you go searching around for a best friend before you even get to school. Everyone at college is looking to meet new people, which makes it really easy to find friends among people you don’t know.

Making friends before freshman year even begins is one of those things that would probably benefit you if you did it, however if you don’t, you’ll still be in a perfectly good position to have a great social life on campus.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Your 4-Year Guide to the College Search Process

Magnifying GlassLooking for colleges can seem like just a senior year activity, but it’s actually helpful to start early and be consistent. Spreading out the search for colleges over all 4 years of high school decreases stress and increases the likelihood of finding schools you really love. So, it’s a good idea develop a general plan for how your process is going to work, and go do it! (And of course, a little preparedness always helps to get the parents off your back, and that’s never a bad thing.)

There are lots of ways to approach looking for colleges, but here is a guide to some helpful strategies for each year of high school to put you in command of your college future:

Freshman Year
– Think about purchasing a college guide (such as the Fiske Guide to Colleges) and flip it open once in a while – it’s a no stress way to introduce yourself to the college landscape.

– Talk to older friends and siblings about where they are going or considering going to school. This will introduce you to different schools, and might even land you some free tidbits of college application wisdom.

– Don’t get too anxious! Getting acclimated to high school and doing well academically are more important than freaking out over which college you’ll go to.

Sophomore Year
– Stay focused on doing well in school, and don’t get nervous if you hear peers talking about college; you still have plenty of time to figure things out.

– Take the PSAT (or ACT Aspire) this year to help you figure out an appropriate range of schools to start looking at.

– Tour a local college, or any school you happen to be passing by.

– Keep flipping open those college books! Start asking yourself some questions about what you want from a school, and start building a basic list of schools that sound good. You can easily use websites like Naviance, Niche or countless others to help refine your search.

Junior Year
– Start to compile a real list! The list doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s okay if it’s really big or really small. Try to get a group of friends together to talk about schools you’re considering – often your friends’ choices can help inspire you to consider new possibilities.

– Be sure to take advantage of the college resources your high school provides. If there are college seminars or information days, don’t be afraid to check them out. If you can’t seem to find anything, talk to your counselors; they’ll be happy to work with you to help you find great colleges and alleviate your stress.

– Tighten up your search criteria – figure out the things you really want in a college (such as size, majors, academic structure, social scene, etc.) and find colleges that have them. Once you find some schools that match your criteria, make the time to go on some tours. Pick some schools you are really interested in and see if your family has time to check them out.

– Take the SAT or ACT to open up opportunities for yourself! Doing well on these tests in junior year will make your senior year much more stress-free.

– Over the summer, start to work on your application and essays. You don’t want to be that person scrambling to send in applications right at the schools’ deadlines. I know it sounds awful to start the Common App during your summer vacation, but trust me when I say that you’ll be glad to not have it hanging over your head as senior year rolls around.

Senior Year
– Congratulations! You’re almost at the finish line! It’s time to finally narrow down that list of schools you made last year. Most students typically apply to anywhere from 1-25 schools, but a healthy number is around 6-12. This may seem like obvious advice, but be sure you only apply to schools you actually want to go to. There is no point in wasting an application fee on a school there’s no chance you’ll attend.

– If you have the time, re-visit the schools you’re applying to. Often, you can get a more in-depth feel for a school when you’re there for the second time. If a college still has that “it” factor even though you’ve already seen it, that’s a very good sign.

– Once you’ve sent in all your applications, take a well-deserved break, and bond with your classmates who just went through the same process. Senior year will be a fun time – it’s important to take in the excitement of your last months in high school without getting caught up in the worries of where you’ll go to college.

Remember that each person goes at his or her own pace, and there is no one right way to approach searching for a college. Keep in mind, the key to finding the school that is right for you is fit. Personal fit, academic fit, and social fit are the three broad criteria you should make sure a college fulfills for you.

Above all, the best way you can complete your college search process is to get excited and get into it. Finding schools can be fun! There is a world of possibilities out there that will reveal themselves to you when you open your mind and dive in.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Why You Should Have a Mix of Classes in College

In ClassWhen you get to college, the vast array of courses available to you can be incredibly exciting. If you’re like many students whose high schools had limited course offerings, you might be tempted to take a bunch of classes in college in a subject you love that your high school didn’t offer.

This makes sense. You’ve been stuck taking the same math, science, and history classes the last 12 years – maybe now you really want to spend your tuition money studying what you actually enjoy, like architecture or astronomy. Or maybe you really liked history but disliked math and science, so only plan to take social studies courses.

In both of those cases, I’d urge you to reconsider. While I know from personal experience that it’s really easy to just take subjects you know you already like, it’s really important to branch out and be balanced. I think there are 2 primary reasons why taking a broad mix of classes is good for your academic and personal development.

The first reason is that taking different subjects forces you to think in different ways and develop different skills. Each discipline pushes you in different directions intellectually: math will hone your numerical analysis; history will hone your critical thinking; philosophy will hone your argument analysis; science will hone your command of data; architecture will hone your spatial reasoning… I think you get the point by now.

What I’m really trying to say, is that working with a variety of subjects broadens your horizons as a thinker. The more you’re challenged to develop a mental capacity outside your comfort zone, the more able you’ll be to think on your feet and synthesize diverse information successfully.

The second reason is that branching out allows you to find other things that interest you aside from what you already thought you liked. The academic world is filled with fascinating subjects. You won’t discover most of them if you stick to what you know. We’re teenage college students (or soon-to-be college students) – our desires are fickle and change all the time. To really maximize our intellectual enjoyment, it’s crucial to explore the unknown.

Of course, the hardest part of this will be actually finding courses to branch out with. How are you supposed to know what you will like among the things you don’t think you’ll like? It seems like a tough predicament, but the solutions are pretty simple. One good way is to search for courses in a department you’ve never even heard of, like, say, Egyptology. Then just pick the class that sounds the most random and go for it. Think of all the cocktail party trivia you will learn! The other way is to look around for great professors. The best professors will get you to fall in love with subjects you never thought you enjoyed, making any class you choose a good one.

College is a time where you’ll be exposed to the most new information you’ll have ever seen in your life. Take full advantage of that opportunity by learning about as many different subjects as you can. Trust me – your future self will thank you for making yourself smarter and more interested.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

3 Reasons You Need to Take a Day Off in College

In college, you can get busy. Like really busy. Like how-did-I-ever-think-I-was-busy-in-high-school-I-don’t-think-I-even-know-what-busy-even-meant busy. Don’t worry, college is still really fun and exciting, but the workload and responsibilities can get overwhelming at times.

It’s easy to fall into the mindset of thinking you should be doing something all the time. Reading now, essay later, dinner with friends at night, club meeting afterward, problem set before bed… With so much on your plate and a seemingly endless supply of homework, taking a break from working can seem like a dangerous idea.

I’m here to say that breaks are good. Breaks are great! I think breaks have so much value that I’d go so far as to advocate taking a full day off from schoolwork once per week, every week. That’s right, I said it: take an entire day off! Don’t worry about finishing your project or getting ahead on your textbook reading. Spending a day without doing any homework is a great idea, and here are a few reasons why:

1) A day off allows you to relax and recharge.
The demands of college life can really add up, so a whole day on the schedule devoid of school responsibilities is just what a student needs to stay relaxed and mentally healthy. It’s wonderful to wake up knowing that you could spend all day in bed and still not feel behind in school.  Burnout is a real problem among college students – what better way to make sure that you aren’t working too hard than to make one day entirely work-free.

2) A day off gives you time to do things you enjoy.
The things you do in college will often be fun, but it’s common to not have time in your schedule to do things you used to like. (For me, it was reading for pleasure and playing the piano). When you have a whole day in front of you with no schoolwork responsibilities, you won’t feel to make time for those things. Instead of being so sick of reading textbooks and articles for school that you can’t bear the thought of reading any more, you will feel rejuvenated and free enough to cozy up with your favorite novel!

3) A day off makes you extra organized the other 6 days of the week.
When you know you only have 6 days to get all your work done, you will really learn to make those 6 days count. Setting aside a day for free time will challenge you to be organized and responsible the other days of the week so that you can reap the benefits of your day off.

College is a time where you get to set your own schedule. Take full advantage of that by making one day on your schedule a relaxation day. If you really can’t afford to give yourself a full day off every work, remember that the value of taking breaks still exists even if the time period is shorter than a whole day. Working all the time is unhealthy and counterproductive; be sure to remember to step back, relax, and a take a break. You’ll have earned it!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.

Back to the Grind: 3 Tips on Handling Your Final Months as a Senior in High School

Run OnIf you’re a senior heading back from winter break, you probably feel a strange combination of excitement and weariness. You’re done with college applications and ACT and SAT prep; you’re probably already looking forward to your senior trip or the other activities for seniors that your school has planned; you are so close to finally enjoying the fruits of your hard work. That being said, you also have to muster the energy to get through either AP or IB testing, spring sports, and final projects.

If you don’t have senioritis already, trust me, it’s going to hit hard during these final months of high school. You’ll find yourself tempted to slack off a bit in the grades department, not to mention showing up to class on time. While some relaxation and celebration is healthy, it’s important that you don’t stop pushing yourself. The better you do on your AP and IB exams, the more likely you’ll earn credits at your college, meaning that you get to pass out of general courses, and move onto the more advanced, detailed courses that distinguish a college education from a high school education. Also, you’ve worked so hard to get where you are – if you keep straight A’s, or run your fastest mile in high school track this spring, it’s something you’ll remember with pride when you’re much older. So, without further ado, here are a few tips from a former senior on how you can jump back into your final months of high school:

1. Get to Bed
You’ve probably been staying up late this winter break – and maybe you’ve been eating more sweets than you should, too. One of the simplest and most effective things you can do this January is getting back to a lifestyle that fits with your school schedule. It doesn’t matter how great a student you are – if you can’t get yourself to bed by a reasonable time, senioritis is going to hit you early this semester. So, although your diet and sleep might not seem significant, I’d recommend getting those on lock down as early as possible this semester.

2. Take Care of the Details Now, Not in April
In addition to sleeping at a reasonable time, look for other small habits you can adjust to improve your studying and your overall health. Were you on Facebook 24/7 this winter break? Did you spend the last few weeks plugged into your Netflix account? Now that you have to meet deadlines and prepare for your AP and IB exams, it’s time for you to unplug and find a quiet place to study. If you do waste time on the internet, consider downloading Self-control, an app that you can program to block distracting websites.

3. Work on Developing College-Ready Study Habits
Speaking of studying, not only should you get off Facebook, but you should also use these months to begin forming college-ready study habits. From kindergarten all the way through high school, your teachers have been structuring your classes – assigning homework that they regularly grade, giving frequent quizzes and in-class exercises – so as to make practice and learning easy. In college, it’s a different ball-game. For the most part, professors will assign less homework and less quizzes. So, it will be up to you to figure out how to digest new material you’ve learned in class. In college, you will have to teach yourself how to learn.

Because college is so much less structured than high school, one of the study habits I had to learn in college was pacing. In high school, I used to do “marathon” study sessions. For example, if I had been busy all week preparing for a Varsity track meet and for my IB exams, I might not have had the time I needed to study for an in-class physics test. So, the night before, I’d sit down with my notes, and study them for 3 straight hours until I’d learned everything. While this method can work in high school, I found that in college the material was so much more demanding that I couldn’t learn it in a couple hours, especially because I wasn’t regularly practicing it by doing homework. To get A’s, I needed to study on a daily basis (or every few days). Also, because the material in college is so complicated, I would find that my brain would simply tire out after two hours if I tried to learn it all in one go.

I know you’re going to be dragging your feet a little when you have to start waking up at 7 AM again for school. However, if you can see this as an opportunity to practice good study habits, you’ll be laying a great foundation for your academic life in college. For example, why not jump into your final semester by making a resolution to be more organized. Rather than cram for four straight hours the night before a test, start studying two days before. And when you do study, rather than do a marathon session, study for an hour, and then take a 15 minute break – whether that’s going for a walk around the block, listening to a few songs, or having a healthy snack. Repeat this hour of studying followed by 15 minutes of relaxing two to three times, and then do something entirely different, such as going on a jog.

Enjoy the last few months of senior year and best of luck preparing for your freshman year of College!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Rita Pearson

3 Easy Ways to Stay Sharp During the Holidays

sleepAs the holidays ramp up and the focus of many students shifts from tests to turkey (or a delicious vegetarian alternative), it is easy to put any sort of educational pursuits away for a long winter’s nap. It is true that taking a little bit of time to not think about your new college workload is beneficial, but that does not mean that the next two months should be devoid of any work.

With any workout plan, the two most important things are consistency and attitude. This is true for being a college student as well, and as a student, you can continue to flex your brain muscles while still leaving lots of time to hang out with your great aunt as she tells you how much you are the spitting image of some uncle you’ve never met.

1) Do A Little Everyday (or at least every other day)

Generally over the holidays, there are no specific assignments to focus on as it usually marks the semester break (a much needed and much deserved break), but this does not mean there are not things that can be done. If you are taking a two-part class, such as Organic Chemistry or Physics,  the holidays offer an opportunity to get ahead – simply going over a few days of notes for ten minutes from the previous semester can keep you sharp for the upcoming semester.

Do a practice problem or two so you stay in the mindset of the class. If you are really feeling ambitious, go ahead and get the book you’ll need for next semester and read a few pages a day or skim for 15 minutes. Just doing a little bit each day can ensure you stay sharp from the semester before, and also give you a leg up for the semester to come.

2) Pick a book to read for FUN!

As insane as this may sound, pleasure can actually be derived from reading. It may seem to be a task invented by educators to bore and stupefy students, but there are a lot of books out there that you (yes YOU) may find interesting. The whole point of this exercise is to pick something that you may like. It may not be Faulkner or Joyce – though if it is, kudos to you – it could just as easily be Harry Potter or The Da Vinci Code, anything that you will enjoy. Reading something you like is a way to build the habit of pursuing knowledge for pleasure. Bodies like routines, and building a routine that includes reading will prove to be useful in college and for the future ahead.

3) Learn Some Vocabulary!

Developing a system for vocabulary with regular learning and reviewing is not only helpful for understanding dense college-level reading, but it also makes you sound smart! This kind of concerted vocabulary training does not need to take more than five minutes but can still produce fantastic results. In just the six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, students can add 120 vocab words to their repertoire and have thoroughly reviewed the words they already know.

Repeat each word seven times and then test your memory for the definition. Remember to eliminate words you already know to maximize your efforts (though it’s a good idea to review all of the words, just in case). This method will actually prove extremely effective in creating long term memory because gradual repetition is one of the best methods for retaining information. Challenge yourself to use all the words you learn in a conversation the day you learn them – show your great aunt you are brainy as well as tall.

The Holiday Season should certainly be a time of rest and relaxation, and I firmly believe that it is good for the brain to have periods where it is not asked to complete arduous tasks. With that said, the slightly lower work load from school provides an opportunity to utilize your time for other efforts. Remember, consistency and attitude are the two keys to success, so carve out twenty minutes, turn off all distractions, and use the Holidays to bolster your studying so you come out of them rested and ready to attack the new semester! In all honesty, we are extremely thankful all of you have chosen to trust us to help you in your academic pursuits and we believe that you will achieve at the highest level. Have a very happy holidays!

Are you applying to college? We can help! Sign up to attend one of our FREE online College Workshops for advice on applying to your dream schools. And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.

The Importance of Tutoring for the Ivy League

tutoringHigh school students who aspire to attend an Ivy League school must work hard to achieve their goal. For example, they need to earn excellent scores on either the ACT or SAT, in addition to garner glowing letters of recommendation, write a compelling admissions essay, and maintain a sterling academic record throughout high school. Let’s take a closer look at what a student needs to do to get into an Ivy League school, and learn how Veritas Prep can help:

Preparing for the SAT

It stands to reason that a student who prepares for the SAT with a qualified tutor is likely to have great success on the test. At Veritas Prep, our professional instructors know how to thoroughly prep students to tackle the new SAT. Getting an excellent SAT score can be a student’s first step toward getting into the Ivy League.

Tutors at Veritas Prep understand that students need to achieve extremely high test scores to be considered by these exclusive schools. Interestingly, many of our tutors are actually graduates of Ivy League schools themselves, so students who dream of earning a degree from an Ivy League school can study for the SAT with a tutor who knows what it takes to be accepted! In addition to giving students tips regarding the SAT, our tutors are also experts at offering much-needed support and encouragement – we give our students the tools they need to showcase their skills and abilities on test day.

Preparing for the ACT

For students choosing to take the ACT rather than the SAT, an impressive ACT score is another requirement for students applying to schools belonging to the Ivy League. The ACT has several sections, including English, Math, Reading, and Science, in addition to an optional Writing section. Students who take our online or in-person courses learn strategies that can simplify questions on the ACT. Each of our ACT tutors achieved a 99th percentile score on the official ACT test, so students who study with Veritas Prep are learning from individuals who aced the ACT!

AP Tutoring

Many students sign up for AP courses to help them toward acceptance into the Ivy League. Veritas Prep AP tutors have mastered the subject they are teaching, which is especially important for students who want to get into the Ivy League. Taking AP courses and properly studying for them will help students prepare for college-level work, and they are a notable addition to any high school transcript.

Admissions Consulting

What better way to learn what Ivy League schools are looking for in applicants than to speak to experts on the schools? Veritas Prep admissions consultants have experience working in the admissions offices of Ivy League schools, and thus have inside knowledge of what admissions officials are looking for. Our admissions consultants provide a wide range of services, including organizing applications, evaluating transcripts, offering guidance on admissions essays, and giving students advice regarding their extracurricular activities, helping students every step of the way as they pursue their goal of studying at an Ivy League college.

Whether students want an Ivy League tutor to help them prepare for the SAT or they need a professional to guide them through the admissions process, we can provide valuable assistance. We are proud to help ambitious students turn the dream of attending an Ivy League college into a reality. Contact Veritas Prep today and let us know how we can help.

Are you planning to apply to an Ivy League college? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

For more college admissions tips, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Applying to Ivy League Schools: What All Students Need to Know

Princeton UniversityIf you’re a high school students planning on applying to Ivy League schools, you probably have a lot of questions. For instance, you may want to know what the academic requirements are to get into an Ivy League school and how you can increase your chances of acceptance. Check out several tips that can help high school students like you on their way toward a spot in the freshman class at an Ivy League college:

Take Challenging Courses Throughout High School

Admissions officers at Ivy League schools consider all of the courses a student takes in high school. They like to see students who challenge themselves with increasingly difficult courses as they progress toward graduation, as this demonstrates a student’s dedication to thoroughly learning a subject. Admissions officers at Ivy League schools look for students who are intellectually curious and who are excited to test their skills with difficult subjects.

Pay Close Attention to the Admissions Essay

Some students try to play it safe with their essay by writing what they think the admissions officers want to hear, however, this is the wrong approach to take. Admissions officers at Ivy League schools look instead for thoughtful, well-crafted essays. College admissions officials appreciate a sincere essay that allows them a more personal look at a student and their experiences.

Dedicated Participation in a Few Extracurricular Activities

Students interested in going to an Ivy League school should also know that admissions officials pay close attention to an applicant’s extracurricular activities. They especially like it when a student makes a long-term commitment to a few activities – for example, a student may hold an office in student government as well as belong to the debate team all four years of school, and volunteer at the same senior citizen center every summer throughout high school. In short, college officials at Ivy League schools prefer to see long-term dedication to a handful of activities as opposed to short-term participation in dozens of them.

Excel on the SAT or ACT

When applying to Ivy League schools, students should know that their SAT and ACT scores carry a lot of weight with admissions officials. A high SAT or ACT score paired with excellent grades gives officials an idea of whether a student can succeed academically at an Ivy League school and handle the rigors of the school’s classwork.

Students who work with our SAT tutors at Veritas Prep are studying with individuals who excelled on the test. In fact, each of our tutors scored in the 99th percentile on the test. We go over practice test results with students to find the specific areas that need work. As a student’s practice test scores improve, they gain more confidence regarding the SAT. With our help, students are able to present their best SAT scores to the admissions officials at any Ivy League school.

Demonstrate Interest in Attending an Ivy League School

Students who want to apply to an Ivy League school must never underestimate the value of demonstrating their interest in an institution. The most effective way to show interest in a school is to apply early, especially for schools you absolutely know you want to attend.

Students should also try to visit their college of interest to tour its campus. Visiting the college allows the student to ask questions about the school that aren’t answered on the school’s website. In addition, a visit can offer the student an opportunity to discuss their visit during a future interview with admissions officials. Once a student submits an application, it’s a good idea for the person to stay in contact with school officials – this helps to emphasize their interest in attending the school. Naturally, officials at an Ivy League school want students who are passionate about learning and have specific reasons why they want to earn a degree at that school, and following these steps will help show them that you’re committed.

Our experienced instructors at Veritas Prep are proud to assist students who are applying to Ivy League schools. Whether they need SAT prep online, guidance regarding the admissions process, or a free application evaluation, we are here to help ambitious high school students achieve their goal. Contact our team at Veritas Prep today!

Are you planning to apply to an Ivy League college? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

For more college admissions tips, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

4 Ways to Handle the Pressures of College Homework

Summer BooksWhen you first get to college, you’ll probably be overwhelmed with more homework than you’ve ever had before. The readings, papers, projects, problem sets, and exams sometimes feel like they never end.

Given this, it’s not hard to fall behind. Keeping up with all of the work, getting enough sleep, and finding time to make friends and relax is a tall task. I’ll be honest: it took me a while to figure out how to best complete all my homework. The first couple weeks of the semester I was incredibly inefficient. Finishing my assignments and readings took way longer than I wanted it to. Eventually I got fed up with all the time I was wasting and decided to do a little critical reflection on how I could change my homework habits to optimize my productivity. Here are some bits of advice I discovered that have really helped me manage my homework load better:

1. Mix up the types of assignments you do. If you take a balanced mix of classes, you’re bound to end up with different types of homework assignments. Make good use of this by varying the types of homework you do each day. It can get monotonous to try to all of your readings in one short period of time, but if you stagger, say, readings with problem sets, you’ll keep your energy up for longer.

2. Know where you work best. For me at least, different types of homework are conducive to different locations for working. Instead of wandering around and just doing homework wherever you happen to be, it’s helpful to understood which assignments correspond well with certain study spots. For me, I do textbook reading in the quiet library section, essay writing in a library cubicle, readings in bed or on the main green, and problem sets in study lounges. Know where you work best, because putting yourself in an environment that’s conducive to the task at hand is crucial in doing efficient work.

3. Give yourself breaks. What? But doesn’t college give too much homework to take breaks? My answer to that question is a resounding NO. It is super important that you don’t work so much that you burn out. Not only is overworking bad for your health, it’s also bad for your productivity. Humans can only focus on the same task for a limited amount of time. If you try to push past this limit and do homework for obscene amounts of time, you’ll end up working really slowly and retaining little of what you were trying to learn. My advice is to break up your homework into manageable chunks and give yourself breaks in between. You’ll accomplish more by working in segments of 35 minutes “on” and 10 minutes “off” than you will by trying to focus nonstop for hours at a time.

4. Take classes you enjoy. This might seem obvious, but it is still of critical importance. By taking classes you’re enthused about the large piles of homework you have won’t be so daunting. Sure, doing homework is rarely at the top of anyone’s preference list; however, if the homework you’re doing is interesting to you’re more likely to feel excited about doing it than anxious about getting it done.

It’s true that keeping up with homework well in college will be a difficult thing to accomplish. However, with the right mindset and good habits, you’ll conquer the pressure of college-level homework and discover an incredible perseverance within yourself in no time.

Planning to work on your college applications during Winter Break? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Aidan Calvelli.

Admissions Tips and Ivy League College Consulting

AdmissionsHigh school students who plan to apply to Ivy League colleges already know the importance of having a high GPA and impressive SAT scores. But what other qualifications are Ivy League admissions officials looking for? Let’s look at some valuable admissions tips for gaining acceptance into one of these exclusive schools.


Garner Compelling Recommendation Letters

One of the most valuable Ivy League admissions tips a student can follow is to get compelling recommendation letters from teachers, employers, or organization leaders. The most persuasive letters are written by teachers and other adults who know the student very well. For example, a student who has volunteered for four years in an after-school reading program for elementary school children could ask the director of the program to write a recommendation letter – the director has known the student for years and would be able to write a glowing letter about the person’s character and dedication to the children in the program. A teacher or an employer a student has worked with for a long time would also be an excellent person to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Write a Memorable Admissions Essay

Admissions officials at Ivy League schools place a great deal of weight on an applicant’s essay. A well-written essay can give officials even more insight into a student’s character. A student should write a sincere essay in their own voice. Some students make the mistake of setting out to write an essay that they think will please admissions officials, however, experienced admissions officials can easily see through a contrived essay.

At Veritas Prep, we offer Ivy League consulting services to students who want to stand out to admissions officials, and one of our services is to offer guidance on admissions essays. We hire professional consultants who have worked in the admissions offices of Ivy League schools. In short, Veritas Prep students benefit from working with an Ivy League college counselor with inside knowledge of the process.

Participate in a Few Significant Extracurricular Activities

Some students think they need to participate in a dozen or more extracurricular activities in order to impress the officials at an Ivy League school. Unfortunately, if a student participates in this many activities, they will likely not be able to dedicate much time to any of those activities.

Instead, many admissions officials are looking for students who dedicate themselves to a few significant extracurricular activities. For example, one student may hold an office in student government all four years of high school while also working throughout middle school and high school as a volunteer at a summer camp for special-needs kids. Such involvement demonstrate the student’s dedication and desire to stick with something long-term – a trait that admissions officials look for.

Show Enthusiasm for a School and its Resources

Any experienced Ivy League college counselor knows the importance of expressing enthusiasm for a school. Not surprisingly, admissions officials want students who are excited about their school. One way a student can display this enthusiasm is to visit the school and tour its campus. This gives a student the chance to ask questions and sample the atmosphere of an Ivy League campus.

Staying in contact with admissions officers during the selection process is another way for a student to show their interest in the school. Admissions officials appreciate students who have specific reasons why they want to attend the school. For instance, a student who plans to major in biology may be enthusiastic about the high-tech equipment available to students in the school’s science labs. Show that this particular school will play an important part in your future plans.

The Benefits of Working With Ivy League College Consultants

At Veritas Prep, we offer many Ivy League consulting services, including advice on extracurricular activities, transcript evaluation, guidance regarding scholarships, and more. We help students to organize the process so they can apply to Ivy League colleges without missing a step. Our supportive consultants partner with students as they move toward their goal of attending a preferred school.

Along with our admissions consultants, we have a team of tutors who help students prepare for the SAT or the ACT. We use practice test results to individualize the test prep process. Then, students can take our courses and learn valuable test-taking strategies, either online or in person, to earn scores that will impress admissions officers. Contact Veritas Prep today to start on the path toward a degree from an Ivy League school!

Are you planning to apply to an Ivy League college? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

For more college admissions tips, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

ACT Scores to Get Into an Ivy League School

Harvard Business School GuideIt’s likely that any high school student who wants to apply to several Ivy League colleges knows that these exclusive schools have especially high standards. For instance, an applicant must have impressive SAT scores and a well-written admissions essay along with glowing letters of recommendation. Students who are applying to these schools must be able to achieve high ACT scores for Ivy Leagues. These eight schools see an excellent ACT score as one indication that a student will be able to excel in challenging courses. Consider the typical ACT scores for Ivy League college students and learn what you can do to perform well on this difficult exam.

A Look at the ACT

What is the ACT? The ACT is a standardized test that gauges a student’s skills in the subjects of math, reading, science, and English. The results of the ACT reveal a student’s understanding of high-school-level material. An impressive ACT score means that a student has grasped high school work and is ready to move on to more challenging material. The ACT is usually taken during a student’s junior year of high school. Taking the ACT during junior year allows a student plenty of time to retake the test if necessary. Also, most high school students want to take the ACT during their junior year so they can tackle the SAT in their senior year.

Ivy League Schools and High ACT Scores

When it comes to ACT scores, Ivy League college applicants should earn a score of at least 32. The highest possible score on the ACT is 36 and a score of less than 31 is not likely to earn a student a place in the Ivy League.

ACT scores are important, but they aren’t the only thing taken into consideration by Ivy League schools. Admissions officials also look at a student’s academic performance during all four years of high school. They take special notice of students who sign up for challenging courses. A student who takes on the challenge of more difficult material is demonstrating an intellectual curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning. These are both important qualities in an incoming freshman.

In addition, Ivy League admissions officials pay attention to a student’s extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, volunteer work, and more. They like to see students who dedicate themselves to worthwhile pursuits. So although a student does need a high ACT score for Ivy League acceptance, it does not override every other qualification.

Tips for Earning Impressive ACT Scores

High school students who want to earn ACT scores for Ivy Leagues should start by taking a practice test. The results of a practice test are invaluable as a student starts to craft a study plan. One student may find that they need to focus a lot of attention on improving their performance in plane geometry, while another student may see the need to improve their punctuation and grammar skills. The results of a practice test give students the opportunity to use their study periods in the most efficient way. Another tip for students who want to earn their best ACT score is to make studying for the ACT a part-time job. Preparing for the ACT in a gradual way over a period of months is the most effective method of absorbing all of the necessary material.

Our diligent instructors at Veritas Prep have navigated the ACT and achieved scores in the top one percent of all who took the test and teach strategies to students that allow them to showcase their strengths on the ACT. We instill in our students the confidence they need to earn high ACT scores. Ivy League admissions officials are sure to take notice!

For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation, be sure to find us on FacebookGoogle+, YouTube, and  Twitter!

3 Ways to Be a Successful Writer in College

EssaysAs you might expect, writing in college is very different from writing in high school. There are different types of assignments, different expectations, different grading, and different time structures. Yes, writing is still writing, but both the process and the end result are quite distinctive.

In high school, writing assignments are usually clearly defined. There are set topics and set ways to format the essay. The expectation in high school is that you will be able to effectively regurgitate other people’s ideas and research, with your own opinion relegated to a background role.

On the other hand, college assignments are often quite open ended. Gone are the days of uniform essay prompts and hand-holding guides to walk you through your paper! Professors will also expect their students to develop their own unique arguments and justifications for those arguments. Oh, and not to mention, college papers can be really long! If this sounds scary to you, don’t worry; it’s not so bad. Writing in college can actually be really fun. Just because college writing is different doesn’t mean you won’t be able to handle it. If you do need some help making the leap, here are some ways to make the transition from high school to college writing as smooth as can be:

1. Be confident in your own opinions. As 18-year olds talking about ideas that the big time academics have debated for years, there is a tendency to defer to the bigwigs’ thoughts and research. Describing instead of evaluating is a hallmark of a young, unconfident writer. In college, this won’t fly; instead, you need to stake out your own positions and defend them with your own crisp reasoning. You can use scholarly research to inform your opinions, but ultimately a good college paper hinges on proposing a unique, critically developed argument.

2. Make concrete plans – with incentives. The lack of structure on college writing assignments can be disconcerting. Sometimes professors will hand out essay topics one day and not mention the paper again until the day you hand it in. In order to avoid waiting around for help (that likely won’t come unless you seek it out…) and stressfully leaving it for the last day (trust me, it’s a bad idea…), it’s crucial that you make a writing plan and stick to it. Plan out when you’ll research. Plan out when you’ll take notes. Plan out when you’ll make an outline. Plan out when you’ll write the final essay. In short, plan! Writing your plan down, in a planner, scheduler, or your online calendar, is a good way to make it more concrete. Finally, take a hard look at yourself and realize what incentive you need to stick to your plan. Some people reward themselves with nice meals for accomplishing their goals. Other people force themselves to give away money if they fall behind. Find what works for you, and hold yourself to it!

3. Take advantage of all the writing resources at your disposal. It can often seem like you’re all on your own for papers in college. This lack of structure and aid is understandably scary. But never fear! There are always people to help you out, if you’re brave enough to seek them out. You can go to your professor’s office hours to bounce ideas off of her. You can meet with TA’s for more specific questions about content, style, and structure. If you’re lucky, your college will have a writing center that works with students on their writing assignments. If you did get this lucky (or were smart and chose a college that provided writing aid to students), definitely take advantage of this. The more smart people you have looking at your essay, the better the final product will be. Once you start searching around, you’ll find plenty of people willing and eager to help you out.

As long as you’re confident, disciplined, and willing to seek out help, success in college writing is right within your grasp!

Are you starting to work on your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation
By Aidan Calvelli

What Will YOU Pay for School, and When?

BailoutFiguring out your financial aid package is often not a thrilling pre-college activity. While actual financial aid award letters may appear to be simple, it’s not always easy to figure out exactly what needs to be paid by you or your family, and when. Here, I’ll break down the typical elements of aid packages, and show how and when the costs impact you and your family.

1. Expected Family Contribution. Often times, a financial aid award letter begins with information about the overall cost to attend that school, and how much that school has determined that your family (or both you and your family) can pay. You’ll be given a total amount expected to be contributed by you and your family. Any money expected to be paid by you and your family is needed by the time of your first tuition payment (around the time when you start school); however, many schools allow you to pay in monthly installments (which involve an extra fee). If your school lists you separately from your family, your contribution will be expected to come from a summer job between your last year of high school and your first semester and/or from any savings or trust fund listed in your application. International students are usually not expected to work in the summer before attending college.

2. Your Financial Aid Award. Next will be information about your actual financial aid award, which will be based on that family contribution mentioned above. So, if your school has determined that your family can’t pay $27,000 of your tuition, room and board, and fees, your aid will cover that amount of need. In this section, a school may list some sources of funds that are not required to be paid back. These include scholarships and grants. Hopefully you’ll have a few of those!

3. Loans & Work Study. The rest of your aid award letter will be self-help. Here, you’ll see loans and possibly work study. You’re required to pay back loans, and the exact amount of repayment is determined by how much money you borrowed, the interest on the loan, and the repayment plan you choose. You’ll be expected to start paying most of them back after you’ve graduated and started working, although if you drop below half-time enrollment or leave school, you’ll be expected to pay them back then. Finally, work study may be offered to you to help cover your personal expenses during the school year. I didn’t understand this initially when I was in college, but you’re not required to pay this money to your school. You’ll simply have to get a part time job (usually one on campus) that participates in a federal work study program, and the government will help pay part of your salary.

There are so many different combinations of financial aid awards, so these aren’t always hard-and-fast rules. But if you keep these general guidelines in mind, you’ll be much better able to plan your finances in college, and beyond!

Dakotah Eddy is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant, and the Assistant Director of Admissions Consulting. She received both her bachelor’s degree and MBA from Cornell University (Go Big Red!), with the aid of several scholarships, grants, fellowships. She enjoys creating: from culinary masterpieces, to wearable art, to tech solutions.



The Cliché Advice is Pretty Good Advice: 5 Ways to Handle Social Anxiety in College

Letter of RecommendationGoing off to college can be scary for a lot of reasons. The difficult academics and the fact that it’s many people’s first time away from home are big challenges, but the fear of not fitting in socially is incredibly common among soon-to-be college freshmen. During orientation, there will be throngs of new people, forced and awkward interactions, and a pervading sense that everyone else has already gotten everything figured out. All these forces – coupled with the transition to an entirely new way of life (college living) – can be quite daunting when a person starts to think about how he or she is going to go about making meaningful friendships.

If this sounds like you, don’t be afraid! Feeling nervous about making friends and fitting in is a perfectly normal part of the transition to college. Being thrown from a position where you’ve known everyone in your school for your whole childhood into a place where every face is unrecognizable is a scary thing for anyone, regardless of what they might tell you. Never fear, though, these worries are easily overcome: here are a few tips and things to keep in mind as you try to navigate the collegiate friend-making process.

1. Remember that everyone is in the same position as you. It’s helpful to keep in mind that you aren’t alone in feeling nervous. Everyone has been thrust into the same new situation that you are in. This does mean that other people are nervous, but it also means that they are actively seeking out new friends; when two people who are looking for friends meet each other, there’s a good chance they will find something to be friendly about! If that doesn’t convince, you, just remember that millions of people have already gone through the same process and came out all right. Think of the stories your uncle has probably told you about the fun, crazy times he had with his freshman roommate!

2. The people who look like they have everything figured out, don’t! It’s too easy to look around at all the smiling faces around you and worry that everyone else has already found their best friends.  Most of the time, those people are just really good actors. As the saying goes, people will “fake it ‘til they make it,” so there’s no need to feel behind if you don’t yet feel like you’re the pinnacle of popularity.

3. Go outside your comfort zone – but stay true to yourself. If you’re anything like me (a pretty hard core introvert), the prospect of going to a random meet-and-greet sounds about as fun as counting blades of grass. However, I dragged myself out to class gatherings on the main green during my orientation, and while I didn’t find any of my best friends there, it is nice to see people around campus that I met during my first few days at school. Be social and say yes to things when you’re on the fence, but once you’re actually at an event, make sure to be yourself. After all, you’ll only find real friends if they get to know the real you.

4. The cliché advice is pretty good advice. I’m sure you’ve heard the same refrains over and over again: Join clubs! Meet people in classes! Talk to your neighbors! These might sound cheesy or overused, but they’re actually not bad pieces of advice. Orientation events can expose you to a wide variety of people, but clubs and classes are places where you’re likely to meet people who have similar interests and hobbies. Additionally, it’s nice for your dorm to be a homey atmosphere, and being friendly with your dorm-mates only contributes to that good feeling!

5. Keep a long-term perspective. Making friends is hard, and it takes time. Manage your expectations so you don’t feel bad about yourself at all if you haven’t found the best friends you’ve ever met within the first two weeks of school. It’s okay if you’re not in love with every new person you meet. If you keep searching around and approach the endeavor with a positive attitude, sooner or later you will find a group of people that you can’t remember ever being in college without.

Take a breath, be yourself, and eschew any nervousness of being awkward. Chances are most people won’t remember you anyway, so go out, have fun, and make some great new pals!

Are you starting to work on your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Aidan Calvelli

Did You Get a B- on Your Last Exam? Here Are 4 New Ways to Think About Your Grades in College.

report cardGrades are, to most people, a big deal. People obsess about grades. Grades stress people out. People think grades are the end goal of school. People give up sleep to boost their grades. Although these ideas are quite common, be careful not to stifle your learning or emotional health.

In both high school and college there seems to exist a mindset that you always need to worry about getting the best grades possible. This pressure can come from all around: parents, teachers, oneself, college applications, friends, and social institutions all can contribute to this in some way. But just because this feeling of pressure is pervasive doesn’t mean that it’s good or right. Here are some ways to re-imagine how to think about grades and change your learning approach in college:

  1. Grades are just one measure of academic performance. Right now you might be thinking, “no duh.” What I mean is that it’s crucial to not get caught up in the flawed concept that “grades are the ultimate measure of a person’s self-worth.” Grades are designed to assess students on their academic progress and give them an understanding of how they are doing in class. Getting an “A” doesn’t mean you’re smart and getting a “C” doesn’t mean you’re dumb; all those letters show you is how your teacher thinks you’re doing in one specific class at one specific point in time. Academic performance is important, but make sure you don’t think the grade you get as the definitive statement on your intelligence and future prospects.
  1. Learning is an end in itself. Many students treat grades as the goal of school, and learning merely as the means of achieving that goal. This makes learning a lot less important than it should be. Much of the magnificent progress in the world has come from people who are dedicated to learning and understanding for its own sake. People like Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin didn’t do their great work so that someone could give them a grade for it; rather, they did it with the understanding that knowledge, in itself, has the power to make the world a better place.
  1. Focus on the thrill of discovery. If you focus on the thrill of discovery and develop a love for learning, school will be a lot less stressful and more enjoyable. You’ll also find yourself free from the stress that comes from worrying about what grade your teachers will assign you, and instead you will have the time and energy to do good work that you like and find meaning in. Incidentally, this works out really well for your grades; the more you enjoy the work you do, the better it will likely be. The better the work is, the higher the grade you’ll receive! It sounds paradoxical, but the less you focus on grades and the more you focus on learning, the better your grades will end up being.
  1. Set your own standards of success. Keep in mind that a grade is an individual measure. Never use a grade to compare yourself to others, whether positively or negatively. Keep your grades to yourself and use them just as one factor in motivating yourself to change your study habits, and you’ll find that you are a lot less worried about the grades you get. A big part of human anxiety comes when we judge ourselves relative to other people; when it comes to grades, it’s healthier and more beneficial to avoid that problem entirely. Although grades do act as a sort of standard, it’s vital that you don’t hold yourself to an unrealistic standard of perfection, especially one that you don’t have direct control over. Pushing yourself to be your best is an important part of life, but it is even more important that how you ultimately see yourself originates from inside of you, not from some letter a teacher decides to put on your report card.

To sum up – enjoy how much you’re learning, keep happiness one of your central goals, and remember that the better you are as a self-motivated learner, the more fun you’ll have succeeding in school!

Are you starting to work on your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Aidan Calvelli

Do You Know the 4 Ways to Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out?

writing essayYour personal statement is a very large aspect of your college application, and often an element of the application that takes the most time to complete. Your personal statement is your opportunity to show your strengths and qualifications to your target schools while highlighting your accomplishments and differentiating yourself from the thousands of other applications stacked on the table.

While sometimes writing a personal statement can seem overwhelming and stressful, it should also be simple and approachable – you’re just talking about yourself, right? Here are 4 quick tips to successfully write a stand-out personal statement.

  1. Follow Directions. This seems so simple and hard to overlook, but I can’t tell you how many applicants simply miss the easiest instruction. While it is important to create a narrative that accurately reflects who you are, always make sure to answer the actual question or prompt.
  1. Be True to Yourself. Your personal statement is your opportunity to showcase an aspect of yourself that hasn’t been noted or discussed anywhere else on your application. It’s probably true that your personal experiences are not the same experiences as every other applicant to your target schools, so think critically about what sets you apart and own your story. Admissions committees are looking to learn more about you and the unique qualities that you would bring to their universities. Be authentically you, it’s the best version of yourself anyway!
  1. Tailor your Approach. It’s not to your benefit to copy and paste the same personal statement into each of the applications you submit. Not only will the prompts possibly be different, but each school and the type of student they are looking for may be different, too. Take time to do your research about each school and think critically about how you can portray yourself and your story in a way that accurately reflects each campus.
  1. Tell a Story. Well-written and well-told stories are impossible to overlook and very hard to forget. Admissions committees will read hundreds of applications each season, and the best way for yours to stand out is if you tell a memorable story. When selecting which story you’d like to tell, brainstorm a list of every possible topics – these could be personal experiences, obstacles you’ve overcome, a huge accomplishment that has shaped your future goals etc. Once you’ve selected your topic, find the right angle to tell you story and make sure your angle is memorable.

There you have it! 4 quick tips to successfully writing a stand-out personal statement. Now get your pen to paper and good luck!

Need help prepping your early college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

7 Tips That Will Keep You Awake and Focused While Studying

StudentI didn’t have much trouble doing well in high school. Unfortunately, this meant that I never felt much pressure to develop focus skills. I regularly zoned out in class and procrastinated on my homework. In my senior year, I even won the yearbook award for Most Likely to Fall Asleep In Class.

Enter UC Berkeley, known globally for its competitive student body and academic rigor. I was thrilled to be in such an enriching and challenging environment, but I struggled in freshman year to keep up with everyone around me. I simply couldn’t sit down and pay attention, even though I loved what I was studying.

I’ve gotten much better at it, but I still have trouble focusing now and again.  Fortunately, over the years I’ve come up with a set of go-to remedies:

  1. Switch tasks. I often find that a lack of focus is just boredom in disguise. Changing assignments, books, or subjects can sometimes provide enough variety to shake it off.
  1. Move to another table, room, or study space. Sometimes changing tasks just isn’t enough variety to wake me up. Other times, something in my room is distracting me without my even noticing it. Moving to another spot can often solve both problems.
  1. Make a really detailed to-do list. For instance, if I need to write a short paper, I’ll list “come up with a title”, “write introduction”, “first draft”, “edit”, and “conclusion” as separate items. Once I see all my work listed out, I feel less overwhelmed by it—plus, I get the simple but sweet satisfaction of checking off items as I finish them.
  1. Grab a healthy snack, go for a run, or take a nap. Focus problems can come from physical problems. I tend to semi-consciously eat less, sleep less, and exercise less when I’m really swamped in work, so a brief check-in with my body can work wonders.
  1. Turn off the music. I try to work to music sometimes to keep myself awake and energetic, but other times it’s distracting.
  1. Turn on a song. If I just need a brain break, I’ll sometimes choose exactly one fun song, promise myself that I’ll get right back to work the moment it’s over, and spend a few minutes lost in the music.
  1. Turn on SelfControl, if I find myself drifting onto Facebook or surfing the web instead of working. SelfControl is a fantastic study app for both Mac and Windows that lets you set up your own custom website blacklist and then block access to those sites for however long you need to study.

Keep these things in mind and you’re bound to find success while studying. Best of luck with your finals this semester!

Are you starting to plan for your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

Here is How You Navigate and Understand the Endless Mass of College Mailings

brochureDuring junior and senior year of high school you will probably receive literally thousands of letters, emails, and solicitations from colleges trying to convince you to apply and attend them. On top of this, you’ll also tour potentially dozens of colleges, adding even more information to your already stuffed brain. Given the sheer volume of this info and the uniform positivity that colleges like to present themselves with, it is no surprise that many students get overwhelmed and don’t know how to sift through it all. If you do feel overwhelmed, know that you aren’t alone. It’s really difficult to differentiate between colleges when all of their mailings seem to be saying the same thing. To overcome this it’s key to train your eye to look beyond the gloss and see the information for what it really is.

The first step to being productive with college information is understanding the college’s perspective in sending things to you. Colleges always want to paint themselves in a positive light. No matter what the situation is, a college will never portray itself as a bad place to attend. If a school is large it will emphasize its abundance of opportunities; if a school is small it will emphasize its intimate learning environment. Never does a large school say you’ll just be a face in the crowd, nor does a small school say you’ll feel constricted. The perspectives colleges show you are always skewed. Students featured in pamphlets will be the ones who are incredibly involved and filled with school spirit; rarely do they reflect the average attendee. Tour guides are often on script and relay information and opinions they may not entirely agree with.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all the information colleges present you with is wrong; it does mean, however, that students need to look beyond the face value of the words and think critically about whether a school is really a good fit. Admissions officers’ job is to make their colleges seem appealing; your job is to consider whether the college is appealing to you.

Okay, now you know what colleges are trying to accomplish in their solicitations. The next step is figuring out what to do with this now decipherable information. Being an active reader and seeker of specific information is a great way to accomplish this. Colleges fill their letters with positive information, so you have to figure out what positive adjectives really mean the most to you. While “intellectual curiosity,” “diversity,” “collaborative,” and “friendly” are all ostensibly good things, it’s the students’ job to figure out which of those (and other characteristics) are most important to them. Otherwise, every college will seem like the best place on earth and there will be no way to decide where to attend. Pick a few characteristics that are really important to you and seek those out when reading college mail. This filter will make the endless stream of mail a bit easier to sift through.

Once you’ve figured out the sort of vibe you want from your college and have found seem to at least somewhat comply with that, it’s then time to add some more depth to your search. The standard advice is to visit and tour the colleges you are particularly interested in. I wholeheartedly agree with this counsel, but I also think it’s important to go beyond the standard activities that colleges offer to prospective students. Tours are great for seeing campus, getting a general feel for a school, and developing a sense of whether you feel at home at a school; however, real life is not like a college tour. Be sure to look beyond the tour and check out what the students on campus seem like. Do they look busy? Rushed? Engaged in fascinating conversations? Happy to be there? Like people you might be friend with? It’s crucial that the day-to-day vibe of a college campus feels good to you, since you have to make sure you’ll enjoy the everyday grind of your life at the college you decide on. After all, a typical day in college involves going to class and doing homework, not being shepherded around campus learning where the libraries are!

It’s equally important to spend time on campus doing things that aren’t sanctioned by the admissions office. Just like in the letters they send you, admissions office-approved events will be designed to paint the school in an attractive light. These events are valuable, but complementing them with sitting in on classes and talking to random students significantly adds to the value of your visit. If you can, talk to professors and students and ask them the tough questions that mean a lot to you. These people are more likely to be unfiltered and can help you gain a fuller understanding of what life at a college is really like. Adding together this candid feedback and the well-manicured information from prospective student brochures allows you to get a diverse variety of perspectives that you can then apply your own filter to in order to make your college decisions.

Above all else, remember that your college decision is ultimately your decision. You want it to be guided by a genuine understanding of what different colleges are like. To do this most accurately you have to see through schools’ facades and seek out ways to see what life is really like at the colleges you’re interested in attending.  Happy searching!

Trying to figure out the college for you? Have you figured out where you want to apply and need help with your application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Aidan Calvelli

Here Are 5 College Resources You Should Definitely Take Advantage Of

Group MBA Admissions InterviewThere are so many opportunities on a college campus, it’s hard to know where to start! College campuses pride themselves on the unique opportunities they provide to their students – whether it’s bringing a famous singer to perform, offering free academic services or supporting hundreds of extracurricular activities and clubs – colleges and universities are always striving to improve campus life and meet the needs of their students.

So often, though, students don’t recognize the slew of resources and opportunities that are available to them during their undergraduate experience! Many times, these resources may not be properly marketed, and other times, they just simply are overlooked. So, while you think about your weekend plans or start to plan for final examinations, I’d like to remind you to check out your campus resources and take advantage of them, too!

  1. Academic Resources: This is a biggie. Many campuses offer a wide variety of academic resources – from private tutoring, group tutoring and essay reviews. They may also offer test prep courses for the GRE, GMAT or LSAT! Often times, your tuition will cover a few sessions of tutoring or an essay review or two. It is to your benefit to take advantage of these services!
  1. Mental Health Services: College can be an overwhelming time, and many college students would benefit from speaking to licensed psychologists at some point or another. This resource is often overlooked, but is offered as part of your tuition on many campuses.
  1. Extracurricular Activities & Clubs: Do you ever walk through an academic building in the evening and see a group of students in a meeting? Or, do you walk by open fields and see a group of friends playing Frisbee? In many cases, these could be established, organized clubs that receive funding from the school for their activities. Check out your campus organization list – if you don’t see the organization you’re looking for, start a new one!
  1. Career Services: Once you start approaching your senior year, more and more people in your life will start to ask you, “What are you going to do after college?” The question can be daunting if you haven’t really sat down to think about your post-college goals. This is where Career Services kicks in! Their offices aren’t just for seniors, and they can often help you research and secure internships, put together your resume, prep for interviews and assist you in finding opportunities after college.
  1. Spiritual Life Services: Whether you’re looking for more formal spiritual experiences, or just a group of students who have similar beliefs to yours, there are many opportunities to connect spiritually during your undergraduate career. If this is an area you found value in before college, or an area you are curious about, it is absolutely a resource you can pursue on your college campus.

Most campuses offer their students a slew of amazing resources, it is just up to the student to take advantage of them. These types of resources don’t always exist in the “real world,” and when they do, the often come at a cost. Be sure to put those tuition dollars to use and take full advantage of everything that is offered to you while you are a member of the campus community!

Need help prepping your early college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

Reflections of a Graduating Senior: Here Are 4 Things I Wish I’d Done Better in College

walking studentAll in all, I did pretty well in college. I maintained a high GPA, earned and kept scholarships and a job, landed four internships and a yearlong research apprenticeship in my field, studied and traveled abroad, and am all set to graduate on time at the end of the school year. On paper, I did just about everything a good college student is supposed to do.

As the real world looms closer, however, I find myself spending more and more time thinking about ways I could have better prepared myself for job searches and grad school. I’m not just paranoid; it’s old news now that the job market isn’t at its friendliest these days, and it’s an even older joke that political science majors all end up having to move back in with their parents after graduation. Just doing well in school isn’t enough anymore. I don’t know yet how it’ll all turn out for me, but I do know that there are plenty of things I wish I had done more of before my last semester. Here are a few…

  • Paying attention in class. We all zone out once in a while, but we’re all too frequently reassured that it’s fine to do so as long as we keep our grades up and our assignments on time. The problem is that education isn’t measured in points and percentages; it’s measured in the things we actually learn. These days I find myself having to research and reread things I know I’ve already been taught, since I didn’t learn them well enough the first time around.
  • On the same note: recognize that college material is way more relevant to my future than high school material was. In high school, I justified forgetting how to balance a chemical equation by telling myself that I wasn’t going to grow up to be a scientist. In college, though, all my classes had to do with the field I’d chosen for myself—the same field I’m trying to explore now as a graduate.
  • Doing all the readings. I learn so much more in my classes and discussions now that I’ve begun to do all the readings assigned, every time. My classes are easier, more productive, and more fun now that I can follow and contextualize everything my professor and classmates talk about, instead of sweating in my chair hoping not to get called on to talk about the reading I missed.
  • Taking fewer classes. I used to be proud of the fact that I could handle heavy course loads every semester, but I’ve realized now that it doesn’t matter how many classes I take if I’m not getting as much out of each of them. I’m currently taking fewer units than I’ve ever taken before, but I’m learning more than I ever have because I have the time and attention to really engage with and be interested in the work I do.

If you are starting your college career, or even if you are midway through, keep a few of the above points in mind as you get closer to graduation. Have a great Winter Break!

Have you been putting off your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.


Undecided: 3 Reasons to Go to College Without Choosing a Major

student reseachIf you are anything like me, you change your mind on things all the time. A month ago I liked vanilla ice cream; now I like chocolate. 4 years ago I listened to Eminem; now I listen to Coldplay. I used to believe in Santa Claus; now I’m a bit more skeptical. I could go on, but the point is that I’m 18 years old and my views shift almost constantly. This is totally normal. After all, I would be a pretty boring person if I always stubbornly stuck with the opinions I developed as a little kid. At this point you might be thinking: what relevance does this have to college? Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

Even though many kids believe that it is okay (even good!) to have an open mind, there seems to be one problematic and common exception to that rule: deciding on a college major before getting to college.

It sometimes seems like high school students feel like they have to have a defined major and path for their life before even showing up for the first day of college. How many 18 year olds already know by that point in their life what subject they love the most and want to study for 4 years? The world of academia is so wide and complex that a high school education just doesn’t expose students to all the possible fields of study they can take. In my opinion, going in to college undecided does a lot more good than harm. I understand this might be totally contradictory to what you hear from parents, teachers, friends, etc., so here are three reasons why it’s great to be undecided.

  1. There’s more to school than the typical core subjects. High schools mainly offer course in traditional disciplines like math, history, and English. In college there are a world of possibilities that many students have likely never heard of. The people who want to decide on a major before getting to college likely will choose something they’re familiar with, thereby cutting off their chance to study a less well-known subject. Only an open-minded student will be cognizant of taking advantage of, say, an Egyptology department!
  1. It’s nice to explore without being swamped in requirements. Students who are pre-decided on a major often find their course decisions dictated primarily by requirements. On top of general education requirements, underclassmen who have already decided their major can feel pressure to start knocking off requirements for their major too, limiting their ability to freely explore their ever-changing interests. Undecided students will feel less constrained by onerous requirements and will instead have more liberty to branch out.
  1. There’s no pressure to stick to your original plan. For many people, it’s a fact of human nature that we are hesitant to give up on things once we have started them. While sometimes this is a good thing, when it comes to choosing a college major it can be very pernicious. Ideally your choice in college major is dictated by what subject you feel most passionate about. When students come in fiercely decided on a certain major but then realize they don’t like it as much as they thought they would, stressful conflicts arise as to whether they want to stick to the original plan or change direction entirely. By coming in undecided, students won’t have this conflict, and instead will be able to make their major decision based on their current feelings, not their past promises.

I’m in the midst of my freshman year and am still exploring all my options. When people ask me what I’m majoring in, I give them the same answer I’ve been giving since my college search started: I’m undecided, and I’m proud of it.

Do you need some guidance with your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

By Aidan Calvelli


4 Tips for Taking Advantage of the Upcoming Holiday Break

taylor swiftWinter break is upon us!

The seasons are starting to change and we’re all starting to anticipate the holiday break that is merely weeks away. While the break is certainly a good time for relaxing, drinking some hot cider and spending time with family and friends, there are opportunities to get ahead while catching up on your sleep, too!

Here are four things to keep in mind for the upcoming holiday break.

  1. Network. You’re already going to be chatting with your friends & family, but now you can start these conversations with a purpose. Reach out to people who may have attended a school you’re applying to or someone who is currently a student. Pick their brain about student experiences, tips for the final stages of your application or prominent academic programs. Your best scoop on a college is an insider’s perspective, so take advantage of the people around you this holiday season who may be able to offer some good insight.
  2. Get involved. There are always a dozen ways to be involved in your community over the holiday breaks – whether you coordinate a book drive or cook and serve food to the homeless, the holidays are always a great time to give. If you don’t see the community service opportunity you’re looking for, create something of your own! It will be a satisfying experience, and college admissions committees will be happy to see that you took initiative to support your community.
  1. Fill out the FAFSA/CSS Profile. These applications for financial aid become available on January 1st, and your holiday break is a great time to get ahead on this process. Imagine how good you will feel knowing that this is completely taken care of when the March 1 deadline rolls around!
  1. Relax! High school can be stressful, and these breaks are given to you for a reason. While you shouldn’t sleep your break away, it is certainly recommended to take advantage of your days off and allow yourself to refocus. Give yourself some “me-time” and get yourself mentally prepared to kick off the New Year on a high note!

Be sure to use this time away from school to focus on your next academic adventure – college! Enjoy your winter break!

Need help prepping your early college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.



A Survivor’s Guide to College Apartment Living

apartmentI love college, and I love my apartment—I’ll be sad to leave. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t have my share of rough spots along the way.

Before moving out of my freshman dorm I had never lived apart from my parents before, much less found my own apartment, chosen my own roommates, or paid my own bills. The learning curve was steep.

Three years later, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • While apartment hunting, find a balance between high rent and comfortable living. Stay within your budget because college is expensive, but if at all possible don’t sacrifice your happiness and peace of mind; college can be hard and stressful, and often the thing you’ll want most is a comfortable room to retreat to when the going gets tough. The deciding questions to ask aren’t whether you really like high ceilings or whether you just have to have a gas stove instead of an electric one. Instead, check whether the walls are insulated, whether appliances are clean (or cleanable) and functional, and whether you’re sure you can afford it. If you’re living with roommates: Do you have enough space to avoid living on top of one another? Do you feel safe in the area? If forced to choose, remember that budget and comfort come first, and that you’ll only be there at most for a few years.
  • Consider subletting. It’s more short term, but it’s probably cheaper and it’s a great way to meet new people.
  • Any room or apartment, no matter how small or old or dark, can be made a lot more livable with a little love and care. If you choose a less attractive room or apartment in order to cut costs, bring in lights, rugs, furniture, or other décor to brighten it up. Room décor doesn’t need to be expensive (think Ikea or secondhand stores), and a few well-chosen items can do wonders. It’s worth the fairly small investment to have a nice place to call home.
  • Choose your roommates wisely. Roommates are a great way to keep living costs down and to make great friends. However, roommates you don’t get along with can be worse than not having roommates at all. Before committing to spending a year or more sharing a room with someone, consider whether your personalities mesh well, whether one of you is messier than the other, whether he/she is financially stable enough to pay his/her part of the rent on time, etc.
  • Having less stuff will make both moving and living a lot easier. Clutter occupies the living space as well as mental space, even if you don’t notice it, and will affect your roommates as well. Throw away or donate things you don’t need and keep tidy in order to make a small space feel bigger and more comfortable.

Remember, you’ll want to find a place that is safe and quiet so that you can be successful in your studies and also balance your social life. Happy apartment hunting!

Are you still trying to figure out how to handle your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

You’re Hired! 3 Ways to Handle Your First Job Interview in College

HandshakeBy the time students get to college, most have experienced what an academic interview is like. The interviewer asks about your scholastic interests, the particular reason why the school or program is exciting to you, and other questions relating to academics. However, once you get to college, you will be moving on to more professional interviews for internships and potential job opportunities. Many of the same rules apply to these settings, but there are even more particulars to be on the lookout for in order to succeed in this setting. Here are a few to keep in mind.

1. GET INVESTED. First and foremost, make sure you care about the position you are interviewing for. This should be a prerequisite for any situation, but a lot of times students don’t care that much and it shows in the lack of passion they have for the position. This is a major problem and something you definitely want to avoid in order to be successful.

In relation to this, make sure you know why exactly you want the position and some of the specific characteristics of the job. While a lot of times the interviews will start out with basic questions that help the interviewer get to know you, the ultimate goal of any of these interviews is to see if you a good fit for the position. In order to prove you are the right person for the job, it is crucial to demonstrate both your ability and understanding of the task at hand. Referencing specific responsibilities and job functions will allow you to show the interviewer that you mean business.

2. SHOW YOU FIT THE ROLE. It’s important to present a picture of yourself that shows why you are a good candidate for the job. Every company wants to get to know you, but you don’t have to tell them everything about yourself. This doesn’t mean lie at all, but include pertinent information and experiences that you have had that relate to the job opening. This is your chance to tell a story about yourself, so make sure it is one the interviewer will want to read from start to finish.

3. FIND SOMETHING IN COMMON. Finally, the most important thing you should do in this interview (and any interview in general) is connect with the person asking you questions. Multiple studies show that the more someone likes you, the greater chance you have of getting the job. No two interviews are the same in terms of connecting, so your best bet is to feel the situation out.

Does your interviewer seem like the type of person who would appreciate if you ask deep, insightful questions about the position? Or more direct, specific questions about the tasks you will perform? Sometimes, it is a mix and other times they like talking about their own experiences. Whatever the case may be, it is a good idea to make sure you do your best to truly connect with the interviewer. Ultimately they are either making the decision on whether or not you get hired, or they are offering a recommendation that will play a role in the process.

If you are able to check off most of these boxes as you prepare and experience your first professional interview, than you will be in a great position to succeed and earn the position you covet. Best of luck in your interviews!

Are you uncertain about your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

The Unexpected Perks of a Minimalist Lifestyle in College

StuffMinimalist living—living with fewer items—has become something of a fad. Pinterest infographics, Buzzfeed links, blogs, and even Atlantic articles extol the environmental, personal, and spiritual virtues of tiny houses, small closets, and clutter-free living. I’ve never liked jumping onto fads, but this one resonated with me.

I brought almost everything I owned with me to college, largely because my parents’ house didn’t have much space for me to leave things behind. Through the moving process, I realized I owned a lot more stuff than I realized, and much more stuff than I ever actually used or needed: I found middle school clothes that no longer fit, letters from people I couldn’t remember, Happy Meal toys, Beanie Babies, ninth grade math homework, and more. I thought I had finished purging all the junk by the time I pulled up to the parking lot to my dorm building, but was disappointed to find that even a few trash bags later, all my things still didn’t fit into my tiny new shared room.

I began selling and donating old clothes and extra things in freshman year to save up extra cash, fit more school spirit gear into my wardrobe, and clear space in my cramped dorm room. I also promised myself that I’d only ever buy new things if I didn’t already own something similar. It was hard at first, but I found that the more unnecessary things I got rid of the nicer my life became. It became easier to keep my room clean (ish), which kept my mind clearer and helped me stay focused while studying. It was easier to choose outfits in the morning, since I only kept items I either wore regularly or really liked. Extra pocket money didn’t hurt, either.

I continued getting rid of unnecessary belongings as I moved through my undergraduate career, and was surprised that I kept finding unexpected perks to a more minimalist lifestyle. When increasing rent convinced me to move from a dorm room to an apartment, and then from a double room to a triple room, I had little trouble fitting my things into smaller and smaller spaces, which saved me both money and peace of mind. When I studied and traveled abroad, I left behind fewer things (and therefore didn’t need to spend as much on storage). I stopped thinking of shopping as a pastime, which saved me time and money for more important things like travel and my education. I even began dressing better, since getting rid of things I didn’t need made me think hard about what styles I did and didn’t like.

I don’t know if I’ll keep up with a minimalist lifestyle after college, but it worked wonders for me as an undergraduate, both financially and personally. Hoarding belongings is a hard habit to break, but in my experience there’s no better time to break it than in college!

Need help prepping your college application? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

3 Freshmen Year Blunders that You’ll Want to Avoid

pass classFreshman year can be a trying time for a wide variety of reasons. Students are in a new environment, and experiencing the most independence they have had in their lives. While this can produce a lot of great experiences, it can also lead to many mistakes. Some of these mistakes are natural and even expected, and others are more costly. Whatever the case may be, here are three of the most common mistakes of freshman year and how to best avoid them.

1. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep. In the first few months of freshman year, there is so much to do and see. For many, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and ultimately the thing many students cut is sleep. For a few days, this may work, but over the course of the semester it will catch up to you. A lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to sickness, stress, and doesn’t allow you to perform your best in the classroom. While it may seem like you are missing out if you turn in early some nights, in actuality you are pacing yourself to enjoy the entire semester and not just the next few days. There is nothing worse than falling in a hole because you missed class, or were too sick to perform on a test.

The solution to this is to identify a couple of activities that are musts for you and other ones that you will do if you have extra time. If you approach extracurricular activities from this perspective, sleep won’t seem like an optional task and you won’t suffer many of the pitfalls associated with sleep deprivation. Making sleep a bigger priority than some activities that you only have a passing interest in is a great way to avoid this mistake.

2. You Skip Your Classes. Even if you are in a 200 person general education lecture hall, it still is important to go to class. First, there is a direct correlation between showing up and your academic success. Second, you never know what you will learn in certain classes. Sometimes, connecting the dots between disciplines leads to your biggest academic breakthroughs. After all, you are in college first and foremost to expand your mind.

It’s much easier said than done to get to class every day, so create an incentive for attending class. Either treat yourself to breaks, food, or any other reward or go the other way and owe a friend lunch if you miss class. Whatever system you set up, make sure you do something because it will go a very long way in ensuring your continued presence in class.

3. You Close Yourself Off. College is a time to venture out and explore. There is a tendency for many students to stick to the activities they did in high school, or not really do much at all. It may be nice to have this free time for a couple weeks, but there is a reason clubs and groups are one of students’ favorite parts about college. The bonds you make and experiences you have in these settings are something every student should experience.

To avoid this mistake, just make sure you are saying yes enough to potential opportunities. This doesn’t mean over extend yourself and get involved in everything, but if you have an inkling for something then try it out. Again, it’s important to temper the balance between being involved and being over involved. Make sure you are able to walk this fine line so your studies don’t suffer.

Need help prepping your college application? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.

3 Tips to Nail That College Interview

InterviewOf all the steps in the college application process, interviews might be the most terrifying. There’s no keyboard to hide behind and no time to sleep on a difficult question; it’s live and face-to-face.

These unpredictable elements aside, it’s also one of the easiest ways to demonstrate interest and get to know alumni from a particular college. Just by following these three, simple steps, the college interview can be an enormous benefit (instead of an enormous burden) to chances of admission:

  1. Be On-Time and Professional

This one is fairly obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early and dressed in your best business casual. Showing up late or in casual clothing (unless specifically requested by the interviewer) not only indicates irresponsibility, but a lack of respect and interest for the college itself.

2. Embrace Tough Queries

Every college interview is bound to include a quirky curveball that’s impossible to prepare for: “If you could have lunch with any historical figure, who would it be?”

Here’s the trick: the answer is pretty irrelevant. Especially for the above example, there’s no historical figure more “correct” than another. Instead, the interviewer is hoping to catch a glimpse of the interviewee’s inner passions. Let them be a tangent for digressions about favorite subjects/books/movies/hobbies/etc: “Leo Tolstoy. Have you read ‘Anna Karenina?’”

3. Come Prepared with Questions

Do the research! Interviewers will ask plenty of questions about extracurriculars, academics, etc, but towards the end of the interview (if not sooner), it’ll be the interviewee’s turn to ask questions. One exchange that should *never* occur in a college interview: “Now, do you have any questions for me?” “No…” This a terrible waste of an opportunity to learn more about the college. Moreover, it reflects poorly on an interviewee’s intellect and curiosity.

In a worst case scenario (“I forgot all of my questions!” or “I didn’t have time to research!”), the following are useful to end an interview:

– What is your favorite thing about ________? What is your least favorite thing?

– Is there an opportunity you wish you seized while you were a student/freshman at ________?

– In your opinion, what are the most important attributes that a student at ________ can have?

– Where is the best food on campus?

Most important of all: if a chance to interview presents itself, take it! So long as you don’t arrive 20 minutes late in sweatpants while spouting profanities, a college interview is an excellent way to prove your enthusiasm and get to know the campus culture. Best of luck!

Do you need help crafting your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Madeline Ewbank is an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she produces student films, interns for the US Department of State, and teaches ACT 36 courses. She is excited to help students achieve their college aspirations as a member of the Veritas Prep team.

3 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble Your Freshman Year of College

free-mba-admissions-guidesFreshman year of college is an entirely new experience, one replete with many highs and many lows. One of these lows is a new form of peer pressure that may be a little different than what one experienced in high school. For the first time in many people’s lives, they are on their own. This independence comes with a lot of benefits, but can also be potentially detrimental if not balanced well.

One of the virtues of independence is not having to work on anyone else’s schedule, which for some freshmen can be a tricky thing to balance. With no one checking on your every move, it might be easy to slip into a pattern of skipping classes, staying out late, and not doing the work you should. One reason a lot of these things happen is that friends and other external influences might try to convince you to engage in certain activities that might not be in your best interest. While some of these things might seem fun in the short term, the novelty will soon wear off and your academic well-being will suffer.

To avoid falling into this common situation freshman year, here are some wise moves to make.

1. Pick friends with similar interests

Try to find a group that has commonalities with yourself. Whether that is studying, sports, or anything else if you feel you share a common bond. Feeling like you “belong” is a great way to get acclimated to college. If you feel an urge to change your behavior or alter how you speak to fit in, that setting probably is not conducive to your success or well-being in college.

Additionally, if you find a group that cares about you, they won’t want to see you struggle or fail, which means that they will be completely understanding if you have to turn in early or not go out one night to prep for a big test.

2. Stay in some nights

In college there is something going on every night. While at first it might feel fun to try and experience it all, this can be overwhelming and actually diminish the enjoyment you get from each individual outing. If something that is normally exciting becomes routine, it can very easily lose its appeal. Additionally, if you are out every night it is very hard to excel in school and really succeed in a learning environment.

One way to cope with the constant pressure from friends and the atmosphere to go out is to designate certain nights as stay in nights. No matter what is going on, you have a deal with yourself to stay in and possibly get to bed early or catch up on some work. This enables you to keep a schedule and a good balance between school and fun, making each night you do go out that much better because it feels rewarding.

3. Get involved on campus

If you find something that you are passionate about that will keep you busy, you will most likely stay out of trouble. If it is an activity or sport, often your focus will motivate you to stay away from partying too hard so that your performance doesn’t suffer. Similarly with clubs that are more academic based, you will want to be rested and have a sharp mind to be part of the team or show your leadership. Getting involved on campus is a great way to stay busy and avoid peer pressures of your first year.

College is an incredible amount of fun, it is just about making sure you can temper the balance between all of the different pressures, and making sure that other people don’t run your own college experience.

Are you uncertain about your college application? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.


Get Ahead: Steps to Success for Early College Applications

AdmissionStudents around the country are jumping into the college application process – selecting schools, writing essays and requesting letters of recommendation. There are many steps involved, and the entire process gets condensed into an even shorter timeframe when you plan to submit early applications.

If you plan on applying to any schools for early deadlines, keep reading for some helpful information and tips for success! First, there are two different kinds of early applications:

Early Decision

  • This is a binding application, which means that if you are accepted, you are obligated to enroll there for your freshman year.
  • You can only apply to one school under an Early Decision deadline.
  • You may apply to additional schools, but if you are accepted to a school through Early Decision, you should withdraw your applications to other schools.
  • A great choice for students who have a clear choice for their top school and want to find out sooner than later if they are admitted.

Early Action

  • You can apply to more than one school through Early Action.
  • This is not a binding application, which means that if you are admitted, you can choose to accept or deny the offer.
  • A great choice for students who want to indicate to a few different schools that they are his/her top choice, but don’t want to commit to an Early Decision application at just one school.

Now that we’ve gone over the types of early applications, let’s dive into some steps to success for submitting early applications.

  1. Do your research & finalize your college list. First things, first. You should finalize your list of top choice schools and do some research to find out which schools accept early applications. Then, you need to dig deeper. Go on a college tour if you are able and haven’t already! Learn as much as you can about each of your top schools. If you are submitting early applications, it means you really want to attend that school, so do your due diligence to determine if each of your top schools are places you can truly see yourself next year.
  1. Make a plan. This is a tedious, but necessary step. Take a look at the early applications you are submitting and all of the required elements for each application. Make a plan for tackling these applications so that you aren’t crunched for time a week before the deadline.
  1. Get moving! It’s time to make things happen! Since you are going to be on a tighter timeframe than regular deadlines, you should start moving down your checklist with vigor! Reach out to the people who you’d like to write your recommendations and get them started on that process. Make sure you’ve built a good relationship with the college counseling department at school so you have no trouble obtaining official transcripts. Double-check to make sure that all of your test scores have been submitted to your top schools.

Good luck!

Need help prepping your early college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Laura Smith is Program Manager of Admissions Consulting at Veritas Prep. Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri, followed by a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA.

College Decisions And Neapolitan Ice Cream

Neapolitan Ice CreamIf you’re anything like me, the world is full of too many universities to choose from. I investigated hundreds of colleges in my research, contacted thirty, visited twenty, and eventually applied to ten. I spent months determining the proper formula of schools to apply to: how many was too many? Did I apply to enough options?

With all of these thoughts running through my mind, I developed a formula to assemble the perfect range of colleges on your application list and, borrowing a metaphor from my favorite college admissions guidebook – it’s as simple as Neapolitan ice cream. First though, you need to understand what the “Middle 50%” means.


These are statistics provided by every university that can be found online or on their admissions page. It represents the average range for ACT/SAT scores of accepted students. It’s also an extremely useful tool for determining the likelihood of your admission. For instance, my score on the ACT was a 33. One of my safety schools was the University of Washington (click on the “Achievement” tab to view Middle 50%); I knew it was a safety school, because most accepted students had an ACT score between 25 and 31. My score was higher, so I knew that my chances of admission were higher. Some schools might offer variations on this statistic. I also applied to Reed College, whose average ACT score is 31. This was close to my number, so I knew that it classified as a compromise school for me. Now, let’s have some ice cream!

CHOCOLATE = REACH SCHOOLS. The Middle 50% of admitted students’ test scores are higher than your own OR the admissions rate is at/below 15%. These are the colleges that everyone and their sister want to attend. It’s a highly desirable academic environment with competitive admissions. Scholarships might be difficult to receive given the high volume of applicants.

VANILLA = COMPROMISE SCHOOLS. The Middle 50% of admitted students’ test scores match your own.

These are colleges are still great schools that anyone would be happy to attend, but they’re slightly less competitive and less prestigious than reach schools. Scholarships are handed out to students of merit more frequently.

STRAWBERRY = SAFETY SCHOOLS. The Middle 50% of admitted students’ test scores are lower than your own. These colleges are significantly less competitive in their admissions and most often large public schools or small, local private schools. Depending on your interests, this might also be a community college. Merit-based scholarships are more readily available to students with competitive applications.

Use these classifications to balance your college application list. Aim to perfectly divide your options into thirds between chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry schools. If you apply to three schools, hit one of each. If you apply to nine schools, include three of each.

Strawberry schools are extremely important to pay attention to, and perhaps one of the most important elements of your college search. In April, they’ll give you a variety of options with better financial aid (at least in my experience) than your vanilla and chocolate choices. Too many students apply to strawberry schools that they aren’t really interested in attending; this is a fatal mistake.

The goal is to have a wide array of options when it is time to make the final decision and ample choices to find the closest (and most realistic) fit of financial aid, academic rigor, class sizes, location, and personal interest— so it’s possible to attend the best university for you. Best of luck with your applications!

Do you need help crafting your college applications to your chocolate schools? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Madeline Ewbank now happily attends Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Her favorite things about her college decision are its proximity to improv theater, free student admission to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the opportunity to teach ACT 36 classes just 5 minutes from campus. She is excited to help students achieve their college a

Do You Know the 5 Ways to Avoid the Freshman Fifteen?

junk foodI didn’t exactly pick up the freshman fifteen—the weight gain that so many new students experience in their first semester of college—but I did certainly gain at least a freshman seven or ten, and didn’t shake it off until halfway through my sophomore year.

I was luckier than many of my classmates in that I am naturally thin and I actually like working out, but there are still plenty of things I wish I had done in order to stay fit. Here are 5 different ways to avoid those extra pounds your first year of college:

1. Recognize that just because you’re at a buffet doesn’t mean you have to try every item on the menu. Meal plans mean dining halls, and dining halls mean food set up to feed thousands of students quickly and cheaply. Eating everything you see behind the counter is tempting, but all that will accomplish is 1) expanding your waistline, and 2) getting you more tired of the food earlier in the semester.

2. Sign up for a physical education class, if it’s available. Two out of my three workouts every week are scheduled P.E. courses that I’m getting graded for. If I wasn’t in those classes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten beyond a single workout each week. They’re short, free (usually), worth an easy (if small) GPA boost, and great motivation to actually haul your tail to the gym.

3. Find out if your university gives you a free gym membership. If so, use it—even if only because affordable gym memberships are hard to come by.

4. Put mealtimes into your schedule, and stick to it. College schedules are often less regular than high school schedules, so the shift away from regular mealtimes can be jarring for both your routine and your metabolism. Eating constantly is hard habit to notice, an even harder habit to break, and an easy way to eat far more than you mean to.

5. Buy healthy choices. For any meals you eat outside of the dining halls: Healthy food is both worth paying for and worth walking to the grocery store for. Buying five bags of Cheetos for dinner from your in-dorm stop-n-shop does not count as dinner, and deep down you definitely know that.

Be sure to keep these things in mind, and you’re bound to stay clear of those extra (sneaky) lbs freshman year. Happy snacking!

Are you starting to think about applying to college? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE College profile evaluation

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.