I have quite a number of friends who participated in The Gap Year, taking a break between high school and college. The results were mixed. As a graduating high school senior, I thought the idea of a gap year was ridiculous (why put off something I had been planning on doing since elementary school?) but now that I’m nearing graduation I see its value a lot more clearly. Here are a few things I wish I had considered three years ago.
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Though my junior year was the most academically challenging of my high school experience, my senior year was easily the most stressful. Even though I only took three serious academic courses, none of which were particularly difficult, I found myself consistently swamped with work, short on sleep, and starved of social interaction. Between August and December, I applied to seventeen universities and twelve scholarships, wrote fifteen unique essays, took two SAT’s and three SAT II’s, spent hours with college counselors exploring financial aid options, and maintained straight A’s and a part-time job. The work was certainly worth it—I got more than 90% of my application fees waived, was accepted or waitlisted at 14 of the 17 colleges, and am now a UC Berkeley student studying on a full scholarship—but there are countless ways I could have spared myself unnecessary stress (and gotten a lot more sleep.) Here are a few of the things I’m glad I did (and a few I wish I had done) four years ago to prepare for application season.
Let’s get back to getting creative on your college essay. First take a look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this blog series. Once you have brainstormed, refined your ideas, and finally gotten them down on the page, the most taxing part of the creative process is arguably behind you. No longer must you stare into the infinite void of a blank page. However, the fun doesn’t end with the first draft.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I have guided you on how to structure your creative college essay and where you could look for stylistic inspiration. However, by its very definition, the college essay is a personal response to the most common interview question, “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?”
In Part 1 of this series we looked at what makes for a good structure for a college essay. More specifically, we discussed that it won’t look like your typical high school expository essay. Even the most well structured college essay is ineffective without an idea to work with when molding your statement.
Unlike the essay prompt that resides at the start of the SAT Reasoning Test, the “personal statement” essay you will write for college admissions require a considerable amount of creativity. The template-based, mechanically structured essay that impresses SAT graders won’t fare so well in the eyes of an admissions committee, particularly at more selective colleges.
Of all of the decisions facing hopeful college applicants, the choice between admissions tests can be one of the most confusing. Should you take the SAT or the ACT? Do you need to take the ACT Writing Test? Will colleges think less of you if you submit scores from one test or the other? This quick guide provides an overview to understand the ACT.
Choosing which university to attend is one of the first big decisions you’ll make as you move into adulthood. Depending on the institution and location, substantial costs could be involved that impact you and your family’s future. Fortunately, you have literally thousands of options across the United States. One of the first choices to consider is whether an in-state or out-of-state university is for you. It’s not an easy decision, since there is so much more to it than simply cost and location… There are many factors to consider!
The ACT is the most popular college admission test taken by students. Doing well on the ACT can get you into the college of your choice, expands your choice of colleges and may also land you more scholarships. Because your performance in the ACT is crucial to your future, you need to be fully prepared before taking the test.
Today the College Board, the organization behind the SAT, announced sweeping changes to the standardized exam that will launch in the spring of 2016. As College Board president David Coleman promised last year when he announced that a new SAT was coming, the changes are meant to make the SAT less “coachable” and to make it more relevant to what is taught in high school classrooms. The changes also make the SAT much more like the ACT (the SAT’s chief competitor), although you won’t see any mention of that in the College Board’s publicity announcements for the new SAT.
Here at Veritas Prep, we have a long list of reasons to be thankful this year! From our students, to our incredible teachers and admissions consultants, it’s truly been an amazing year.
We are excited to announce that starting today through Monday, December 2nd we are making available our biggest discounts of the year on all of our services (discounts on MBA admissions consulting services will be available through Wednesday, December 4)! Whether you are trying to hit Round 2 business school deadlines or are planning on taking the SAT next year, make sure to take a look at our discounts and register before these prices are no longer available.
Do college admissions officers look at your Facebook page and Twitter posts? The short answer is a resounding “Yes.” It may be a surprise to find out who views your social media pages, and how your posted information can change their mind about you, so be careful when posting personal information.
Once upon a time, high school junior Michelle, in preparation to apply to competitive colleges, enrolled in AP Biology. In her AP Bio course, Michelle studied concepts involving evolution, cellular processes, genetics and how biological systems interact – all at a college level. She also developed better reasoning skills in order to analyze data and think more like a scientist. The following Spring, Michelle took the 3-hour AP Bio Exam and scored a 5, the highest score possible. She mastered the content, received college credit and was able to skip Introductory Bio once she was admitted into her top-choice college.
College admissions season is in full swing now that we’re in the fall. This can be one of the most stressful times for a high school student as well as for hopeful parents who want to see their kids go to great colleges and universities. To make matters worse, the admissions process and landscape can be very tough to navigate and students and parents are not always fully-informed of all the options and strategies available to them to give students an edge in the admissions process. One especially confusing aspect is early admissions programs.
If you’re using a credit card to pay for your college application fees, and will have to borrow a significant amount of money during your undergrad years, it’s important to start developing good money management skills now so you can avoid the “credit card crunch” that plagues many students when they first leave home.
Can’t get away from your Facebook or Twitter accounts? Using social media in your SAT prep is a great way to meet other students and take advantage of resources beyond the Official Guide. Follow these Twitter users to supplement your SAT practice!
To keep all of your SAT and college related tweets in one place, you can create a specific list for these handles so you aren’t distracted by your friend’s updates while you’re solving the free question of the day.
Finding financial aid for college is one of the most important, but also most difficult tasks for parents and students as they go through the process of applying for higher education. To learn where to obtain college funding, it’s very important to look at each of the programs offered by the various players in the financial aid arena. Each player has advantages and disadvantages, and most people will want to consider more than one source of funding.
Extracurricular activities are a crucial part of the college application process that students need to think about well before their senior year of high school. Unfortunately, most students don’t realize how important extracurricular activities are until they start filling out their college applications. Don’t let that be you! Here are 5 tips to approaching extracurricular activities:
U.S. News has just released its ranking of top American colleges an universities for 2014. (It’s like model years on cars… Next year, in 2014, they will release the 2015 rankings.) There has been some movement, though not a lot of it, among the top 25 schools. Although this happens every year, we got a chuckle from each of these “top 25″ lists, neither of which is actually 25 schools long. We guess it’s just hard to choose sometimes.
So it’s time to apply to college – no, it’s time to apply to colleges – as in like 7+ schools. The exciting prospects of getting into college, living away from your parents, partying like a rock star and of course maybe one day having a job are currently being overshadowed by the arduous tasks of writing admissions essays, filling out applications, requesting letters of recommendations, taking standardized tests and breaking up with your high school sweetheart. So much to do!
Unless you (or your parents) happen to be Warren Buffet or related to Bill Gates, you’ll probably be spending a good chunk of time your junior and senior years looking for financial aid for college. Here’s a few quick steps to jump-start your plan!
When the new Common Application essay questions were released back in February, we gave students some high-level advice on how to tackle the essays. Now that we have had even more time to think about the essay prompts, we’re back with some more advice on what you can do to ace the essays and maximize your chances of college admissions success.
As part of its annual ranking of colleges, Forbes released its list of the top 25 public colleges in America – a list that holds particular significance here at Veritas Prep headquarters with so many staffers’ alma maters making the list. Why is this list important for you? If you happen to have access to one of these schools with free or government-sponsored tuition rates – as an appointee to a military academy or as an in-state student to another school on the list – you’re eligible to receive an elite education at a massive discount. And even independent of a discount, these schools rank among the best available anywhere. Without further ado, the list:
The worst personal statements are boring to read, filled with clichés, or just downright untruthful. That may sound cynical, but so are many admissions counselors. Imagine reading essay after essay that all sound the same or start with, “Here’s why you should accept me….” It’s not easy to write personal statements OR to read them. Make your essay personal, and more compelling, with these few quick tips!
Continuing our summer series of school profiles, we will look at Yale University today. Brandon Marick, a Veritas Prep SAT 2400 instructor in Los Angeles, tells us what he loved about going to school at Yale, and why it just might be the perfect fit for you too!
1. What is one thing you should see on campus?
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library – On a campus of beautiful 300 year old Gothic architecture, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, erected in 1963, stands out for its unique architectural qualities. Beinecke is the largest building in the world reserved exclusively for the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. An air-tight, six-story glass chamber of books is enclosed by a windowless outer shell made of thin translucent marble. The marble shell protects the books from direct sunlight, while illuminating the building’s interior with a warm glow. While most students study in Sterling Memorial Library or Bass Library, the inside of the Beinecke can provide an awe-inspiring study break.
Perhaps it started on a January day in Chicago when elementary school students greeted teacher Frankie Beecroft, recently named Veritas Prep’s Worldwide Instructor of the Year, with an enthusiastic “Good Morning, Teacher of the World!” But maybe it started well before that, in classrooms and at dinner tables in Missouri and Michigan, New Jersey and Norway as the students who would become the leaders of Veritas Prep were inspired by teachers. Whatever the genesis, our lifelong appreciation of teachers and our firm belief that they deserve recognition for their yeoman efforts has led us here.
A week ago today, few people outside of greater Fort Myers knew anything about Florida Gulf Coast University. What a difference a week makes. #FGCU has been consistently trending on Twitter for days, now, and the admissions website crashed shortly after the Eagles dispatched Georgetown in Friday’s match-up FGCU is on the map now, joining Gonzaga, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, and several other schools that built a national reputation on the strength of an NCAA Tournament run.
The people behind The Common Application have just released the new essay prompts (PDF link) for college applicants who apply in the 2013-2014 admissions season. As noted in The Common Application Board of Directors’ announcement, these new prompts are the result of two years of discussion about where essays fit in the overall college admissions process. This is the first big change to the essays in years (including to the word counts!), and it’s clear that the Common Application Board didn’t take the task of reworking these essays lightly.
There is no shortage of opinion and points of view here at Veritas Prep. We’re an opinionated lot, and we’re also not afraid to stick out our necks and make a few predictions about how we see the worlds of test prep and admissions evolving in the coming year. The following are four trends and news items we expect to see emerge at some point in 2013:
At least one Top 20 MBA program will introduce an all-online MBA program.
Right now, Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC is still the only game in town when it comes to top-tier business schools offering real, full-blown MBAs available online. The segment certainly still has a ways to go in terms of burnishing online education’s reputation, and UNC has tried to tackle this problem head-on with ads that go as far as to warn that you probably can’t get into its program. With most of the elite American universities making much more aggressive strides into online education (most frequently with MIT & Harvard’s edX or Stanford’s Coursera), it’s not hard to imagine that another top-ranked business school will soon move to offer a full MBA over the Internet in 2013.
When I was in high school, I was received over half a million dollars in scholarship offers. Because some of these scholarship offers were school-specific, I ended up actually receiving approximately $237,000 to go to college. Needless to say, these scholarships still covered the cost of tuition, housing, textbooks, food, and all other college-related expenses during my undergraduate career.
Believe it or not, 2012 is almost over. If you’re reading this, it means that the world hasn’t ended, and that at least some of us still have electricity and Internet access, so we’re ending on a good note! As we at Veritas Prep wind down the year, we thought we’d share some of our biggest news, best posts, and most interesting topics from the past 12 months.
Here at Veritas Prep, we waited years before entering the SAT prep industry. We only wanted to launch our SAT course once we were certain we could give students a far better course than what was already on the market. We’ve felt the same way about college admissions: We had no interest in offering such a service until we knew we could give high school students something far better than what they could find anywhere else.
Last year, we met Dr. Michele Hernández and Mimi Doe, two of the premier college admissions counselors in the country. For years they have been running Boston-based Application Boot Camp®, a four-day workshop known for its effectiveness in helping students get into the country’s most competitive universities. For the decade, the $14,000 program has had a waiting list as only a few dozen students each year have been able to get step-by-step college application advice. Yes, it’s that popular, and it’s that exclusive. Why? Because they get results.