The summer break before freshman year is arguably better than any summer break during high school. You don’t have to study for the SAT or ACT, or write any common app essays, or tour colleges. You can finally relax, spend time with family and friends, and say goodbye to your hometown. (For more on making the most of your last summer, check out this post!) Of course, you’ll have some chores like buying basic amenities for your dorm, choosing classes, etc., but, thinking back to the summer before my freshman year, I know that I found these tasks much less arduous than what it took to get into college.
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During the spring semester of my sophomore year at Georgetown University, when the cherry blossoms were blooming in Washington D.C. and students were ditching the library for the front lawn, I was so nervous about choosing my major that I kept putting off the decision – even though the deadline was just over the horizon. I, like many students, found the decision nerve-wracking because I didn’t want to pick the “wrong” major. What if it took me until my senior year to realize that I wasn’t interested in my coursework – that my true passion lay elsewhere? What if the major I chose didn’t open doors for me in the future?
As a high school student, you may have heard about this thing called the “Common Application.” The Common Application is just that; it’s a single undergraduate college application that you can use to apply to over 550 colleges (if you should so choose, however we don’t recommend that you apply to that many!).
At this point, you’ve probably already been inundated with tasks from the college to complete– signing up for orientation, submitting your housing paperwork, registering for classes, sending your final transcripts, and more! Now that you’re entering summer, you’re probably thinking that this is going to be the best summer of your life. And it will be…BUT there are some things you can do to help prepare for the transition to college.
1. Make a list of colleges you’d like to visit by region. If you’re planning a trip to Boston, for example, make a list of the colleges that you’d like to visit while you’re there. Prioritize the list by “must visit,” “would like to visit,” and “nice to visit, but not necessary” so that you can realistically travel to all the campuses.
According to Urban Dictionary, senioritis is: “noun. A crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as Graduation.”
I’ve come a long way since then. I teach SAT and ACT classes to groups large and small, I thrive in both lecture halls and class discussions, and I’ve become very social. I was helped along in my growing process by the fact that socializing in high school is, in many ways, quite different from socializing in college—the impetus I needed to proactively build social confidence. I wasn’t expecting the difference, so I was surprised at the number of new things I had to adapt to. A few of the most memorable:
With school counselors’ caseloads at an all-time high and student needs going unmet, many students and families are turning to admissions consultants to provide them with the support they need through the college application process.
The first year of college can be daunting. A new school means an entirely new environment: new friends, new living situation, and most of all – new classes. It’s a lot of “new” in a short period of time, and one of the most difficult aspects to get adjusted to is the heightened level of difficulty in class.
Woohoo! You’ve done it! After all the hard work creating beautiful animations on Powerpoint, memorizing the Monarchs involved in the War Of The Roses (the ORIGINAL house of Lancaster before Game Of Thrones co-opted the name by changing three letters), and busting your behinds trying to memorize SAT vocabulary words (only to hear that next year the test won’t have a vocabulary section. Oh the humanity!), you have finally gotten into college! So, now what? Sure you know how to thrive in the bustling world of high school, but how do you succeed when there are no parents to keep you honest about whether you have completed your work, no curfews to keep you home in time to get a good night sleep, and no one there to make sure your laundry gets done and you don’t smell like the inside of a tennis shoe after a marathon? The start of a more independent life is both daunting and exciting. There are a number of paths to success in this new arena, but here are a few ways to make sure that this next step towards adulthood also sets you up for success academically and professionally for years to come.
With the cost of college going up and up, here’s a quick guide to breaking down those costs and some tips on how to save money.
The moment I sent my SIR to UC Berkeley, I was sure I was more than ready to leave high school. College had been the big dream for most of my life–no curfews, no morning classes, no standardized testing (for the most part) and more freedom than I’d ever had before. I knew the city of Berkeley halfway decently already, so I wasn’t worried about the transition. About twenty of my high school classmates, including some of my best friends, were coming with me. I was all set up for an easy, exciting transition to college life.
I absolutely love my major. I’ve been studying international relations since the end of my freshman year; two years in, it’s still my favorite field. I think it’s incredible that seven billion people, despite all their differences and disagreements, are able to coexist through governments and agreements. I love my professors, read the news religiously, and travel around the world to take political science classes from different countries’ perspectives. It’s awesome.
You’re trying to organize your calendar. You have a Spanish Club meeting at 4pm. Happy hour at 6pm. Then you have to come home and pack for your girls trip over the weekend… Your roommate keeps talking about how she bombed her organic chem exam. She keep repeating herself, so head into the kitchen for some peace and quiet. Suddenly you see a mound of dishes…
- Go to office hours.
- Don’t skip class.
- Have a financial plan.
- Make sure you finish your graduation requirements.
- Explore the career center, clubs, and other resources that colleges have to offer outside of classes.
All of this is excellent advice. After all, you probably wouldn’t have heard each one of these fifty times each if it weren’t. I’d go as far as to say these are probably the best five pieces of advice an entering college freshman should hear.
They’re right. Many high schoolers tend to think of college primarily in academic terms–which isn’t wrong, since it’s hard for someone who has never attended college to fully realize how much social, emotional, personal, intellectual, and sometimes even spiritual growth happens there. College students discover that they have more freedom and independence than most of them have ever experienced in their lives, so they quickly begin exploring new ideas, new friend groups, and new ways of thinking. In this fascinating, and sometimes dizzying, rush of new experiences and self-discovery, it’s easy to forget that the whole thing will only last about four years.
The following interview comes from testprepstore.com. Testprepstore.com recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with Jonathan Er, one of Veritas Prep’s expert ACT instructors, to inquire about the ACT and get his take on the questions that many college applicants would like to ask with regards to ACT prep courses and how to be successful at achieving their desired ACT score.
The biggest myth surrounding the college experience is that there is a conventional “way” to do college. The truth is, like anything in life, a college experience is relative to your personality and circumstances. There is no right or wrong way to do college, instead there are a bunch of different ways to ensure that you have a great four years on campus. Some students want to have fun and party. Others want to hone their skills and prepare for graduate school. Some want to make connections in order to ensure job security. Most want a mix of these elements.
The following interview comes from testprepstore.com. Testprepstore.com recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with Eric Fischer, one of Veritas Prep’s expert SAT instructors, to inquire about the SAT and get his take on the questions that many college applicants would like to ask with regards to SAT prep courses and how to be successful at achieving their desired SAT score.
One of the best kept secrets about succeeding in college is that it’s pretty simple: Show up.
Much like the director Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” In college that same rule applies. Show up to class. Show up to office hours. Show up to review sessions. Of course, this alone won’t guarantee you an A in organic chemistry, but it certainly goes a far way in advancing your cause.
Many students create their college list based on the US News & World Report rankings or Associated Press Football Bowl. However, students are much better served by reviewing colleges and considering other important factors that may not be as glamorous as school prestige. Here are three that are often forgotten but play a major role in your day-to-day life on campus:
The great leap is upon you! So far you have been a star pupil in High School and there is no reason to believe that college will be any different, right? Right?! You begin to panic in the way only the young have really mastered, imagining the hundreds of pages of reading you’ve heard about, the “weed out” classed where half the students fail, and distracting the frat parties, how can a person NOT fail in this crazy environment? This is an inevitable, and not wholly unproductive, question.
As a junior, you’re actually really well positioned to get a leg up on the college admissions process. You still have some time to complete your testing requirements and you can start to research colleges before the crunch of application season. Here are some things you can get started on right away:
As you are sitting and surfing through the seemingly infinite educational institutions to which you could send the credentials? It is easy to descend into a full-fledged panic attack. After all it’s only the ONE decision that will determine EVERY PROCEEDING MOMENT OF your LIFE. Take a breath, friend! This decision, like many others that determine your surroundings for a period of time, is important. But before you get so stressed you decide to ditch the whole process and start a new life for yourself in Malaysia (a tempting place to start a new life, take my word for it), ask yourself these questions and know that any experience is very much what you make of it.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 2001-2002 and 2011-2012, the cost of an undergraduate education at a public institution has risen 40% and 28% at a private institution. It’s no secret that the cost of higher education is going up and students and parents may be looking for colleges where you can get the most bang for your buck. Money magazine recently posted their annual rankings for the best colleges for your money. The top 10 colleges on the list are:
Most universities offer the opportunity to explore other countries. You may be hesitant to do so, but here are 9 reasons why you should take advantage of your college’s international student programs:
1. Experience new surroundings. If you’re like the great majority of undergraduates (or incoming undergraduates), you haven’t traveled much before, much less on your own. Far too many students never study abroad simply out of a fear of, or distaste for, intense unfamiliarity. Don’t be scared of the fact that you may not have done anything like this before; the study abroad program will help you adjust to your new surroundings, you can work with the students you travel with to learn new things together, and friends and family back home are just a phone call away. If you’re anything like the overwhelming majority of study abroad students I know, once you actually arrive, you’ll find it a lot more fun than daunting.
It’s no news that college is expensive. College finance considerations, however, go far beyond the simple price on a college’s website. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but every prospective freshman should know that in every case – advance planning is key. Here are some guidelines to consider before taking the plunge into your first year.
I came into college with no idea how to find or get involved in extracurriculars, nor did I have any mentors to help me through the process. This (and a general lack of preparedness for the less academic aspects of college life) meant that I didn’t become active in clubs and groups until my second semester of freshman year. While I’m very happy with the groups I’ve come to know and love–I spent two semesters in a hip-hop dance group, I am currently the president of a law club, and have edited for an undergraduate journal–I know I missed out on a lot of opportunities just because I didn’t have much time to explore college before my academic and career planning workload really kicked into high gear. Here are a few tips I wish I had known earlier in my college career.
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.
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.