Lesser-Known Facts That May Contribute to College Acceptance

GMATMost college-bound high school students know the basics when it comes to college acceptance criteria. They understand that college admissions officials look at a student’s grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. But there are some lesser-known factors that can affect a student’s college acceptance chances. Consider just a few examples:

Studying Overseas
College admissions officials take notice of high school students who have studied overseas. A student who has spent time overseas has experience with other cultures. Plus, it’s very likely that the student is fluent in one or more foreign languages. This type of experience and knowledge appeals to colleges looking to fill their freshman class with students who have a unique perspective on the world. In addition, a student who has studied overseas may be able to get credit that counts toward fulfilling a college’s foreign language requirement.

Knowledge of a School
A student’s knowledge of a school can affect their college acceptance chances. College officials appreciate when a student takes the time and effort to learn about the history of their school. In order to get this type of knowledge, a student can ask questions during a campus tour as well as read about the traditions of the school. In short, a student who knows more than what is displayed on a school’s website is going to get the attention of college officials during an interview.

A Record of Taking on Challenging High School Courses
College officials look at whether applicants challenge themselves in high school. In some cases, a student who takes increasingly difficult courses each year is more likely to get a college acceptance letter than a student who excels in classes that are relatively easy. Students who take challenging courses are showing an enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to expand their skills. Colleges want students who are excited about growing academically.

A Strong Admissions Essay
High school students know that writing an admissions essay is a step on the road toward a university acceptance letter. But some students neglect to give this essay the attention it deserves. The admissions essay gives college officials the opportunity to get to know a student in a personal way. For instance, sometimes, students are called upon to write about the biggest influence in their lives. A student’s description of this person can reveal a lot about their level of maturity and goals for the future. A sincere, well-written essay can play an important role in a student’s college acceptance.

A History of Community Service
Students are aware that college admissions officials take a close look at an applicant’s extracurricular activities. Officials like to see students who participate in activities that give them the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. They also appreciate students who serve their community. This may mean volunteering at a local homeless shelter or helping to collect food and clothing items for a local organization that provides hurricane relief. The length of participation in community service is something that college admissions officials look at as well.

Positive Items on Social Media
Today, many high school students have a lot of experience with social media. Chances are good that they have more than one account where they post photographs and communicate with friends. It’s not out of the question for admissions officials at a college to go online to look at an applicant’s communications via social media. Students who have questionable items on their social media pages may leave college admissions officials with the wrong impression. When it comes to college acceptance, information on the Internet can work either for or against an applicant. Students who are applying to college should make sure that all of the items they put on social media are appropriate.

At Veritas Prep, we provide students with a variety of services as they make their way toward college. We offer SAT and ACT prep courses taught by professional instructors who’ve mastered these tests. Also, we provide advice and tips to students regarding their college application. Our consultants worked in the admissions offices of some of the country’s best colleges. In short, we know what college admissions officials are looking for! Contact our offices today and let us know how we can help you on your journey toward higher education.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Medical Activities for High School Students Interested in Medical School

stethescopeHigh school students who want to go to medical school can start working toward that goal by participating in extracurricular activities within the medical field. These types of extracurricular activities can give high school students a closer look at various specialties within the medical profession. Plus, students can use these extracurricular activities to help them gain acceptance into a preferred college.

Consider a few examples of medical activities for high school students who are interested in going to med school:

Volunteer at a Hospital
Becoming a volunteer at a hospital is one of the most interesting medical activities for high school students to pursue. There are many different departments in a hospital that need volunteers. For example, a high school student can work at the information desk in the main lobby of a hospital, directing people to the rooms of family members and answering questions of visitors. This is a great way to observe the day-to-day operations of a hospital.

Or a high school student could perform clerical work. This may include putting medical files away, entering patient information into a computer, or answering telephones. A high school student doing clerical work would get to see the behind-the-scenes activities necessary to keep a hospital running.

Hospital volunteers also help deliver meals to patients, transport patients to different departments, and distribute magazines as well as other reading material. All of these tasks would give a high school student valuable experience working in a hospital setting. Students must be ready to dedicate several hours a week to this volunteer activity in order to learn as much as possible.

Volunteer on an Ambulance
Working as a volunteer on an ambulance is another example of an extracurricular for medical school. Volunteers assist the emergency medical service workers on runs to homes and businesses. This type of volunteer work gives students experience dealing with emergency situations and teaches them how to treat various injuries. Also, it gives a high school student the chance to see the treatment of a patient before they reach the hospital. This would be an appealing option for a high school student interested in becoming a medical professional working in an emergency room.

Shadow a Doctor
When it comes to extracurricular activities for medical school, shadowing a doctor is an excellent choice for a mature high school student. Of course, a student must get the permission of a doctor and set up a suitable schedule. Shadowing a doctor gives a student the opportunity to witness interactions between the doctor and their patients. Also, the doctor can fill the student in on what is written on an examination sheet, how to diagnose certain ailments, and how to go about answering a patient’s questions.

Shadowing a doctor for a long period of time serves as an impressive extracurricular for medical school. In addition, the student may want to ask the doctor for a letter of recommendation to submit with a college application. A glowing letter from a doctor can carry a lot of weight with college admissions officials.

Work in a Doctor’s Office
One of the most useful extracurricular activities for medical school is working in a doctor’s office as a volunteer assistant. A high school student in this position may help with a number of different tasks. For instance, the student may assist with clerical work, direct patients to examination rooms, or take basic information from patients under the guidance of a nurse. A student gets to see the teamwork it takes to keep a doctor’s office operating in an efficient way. This is one of those medical school extracurriculars that conveys a student’s interest in learning about all aspects of a doctor’s office.

At Veritas Prep, our experienced consultants advise students on every part of their college application – this includes evaluating a student’s medical school extracurriculars to determine which ones to highlight for admissions officials.

We also guide students as they study for the SAT and for the ACT. Our instructors review practice test results with students to create an efficient study plan, as we know that these test scores play a critical role in a student’s path toward medical school. Our SAT and ACT prep courses are available both in person and online so students can get all of the study time they need to ace the test. Contact Veritas Prep today!

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How Do Language Studies Affect Your College Acceptance?

Europeean MBA ProgramsWhy study a foreign language? This is a question high school students often have about the courses they need to take to get into college. Other students wonder about the number of years they should dedicate to studying a foreign language. The fact is that many college admissions officials give special attention to students who participate in second-language studies. Discover a few specific reasons why college officials like to see foreign-language studies included on a student’s application:

Dedication to Learning
Why study a foreign language? It takes a dedicated student to become fluent in a second language. College admissions officials are looking for students who are constantly challenging and strengthening their skills. They are especially impressed when a student takes four years of a foreign language in high school. Students who take just two years of second-language studies have achieved the minimum requirement for most colleges. But a high school student who studies a foreign language for four years has shown dedication to getting a more thorough understanding of the language.

At Veritas Prep, we offer a free profile evaluation to students, and we look at their foreign language courses, extracurricular activities, and other qualifications to help them craft standout applications. We know how to highlight a student’s best assets, including their persistence in learning a new language.

Interest in Other Cultures
Colleges like high school students who are studying a foreign language because it shows an interest in other cultures. Part of studying the language of a foreign country involves learning about the customs and traditions of the people who live there. Interest in other cultures can help a student decide what to study in college or even what type of career to pursue. A class of college freshmen is all the more diverse if it’s filled with students who have knowledge of different people and places throughout the world.

Persistence in Mastering a Difficult Skill
College admissions officials know that it takes persistence to learn a foreign language. A student has to add to their vocabulary while working on pronunciation and constructing meaningful sentences. Also, the student must learn about the history of a country and its people. The persistence a student uses in learning a foreign language is likely to carry over into other classes. Colleges are looking for hard-working students who are eager to excel in all of their subjects. Several years of foreign-language study is an indication of a diligent student.

Earning High Scores on Standardized Tests
One of the other benefits of studying a foreign language is that this type of coursework can help students perform well on standardized tests. The logical thinking and memorization skills used to learn a foreign language in high school can assist students as they tackle questions on the SAT or the ACT. So why study foreign language? Because it can help students boost their standardized test scores and bring them a step closer to an acceptance letter from a preferred college.

Incorporating a Foreign Language in a Future Career
There are some high school students with plans to pursue careers that require knowledge of a foreign language. For instance, one high school student may dream of becoming an executive for a corporation that has offices in Japan, so the student would begin serious study of the Japanese language as a freshman in high school. After four years of Japanese study, the student would want to continue to perfect their skills in college. College admissions officials would certainly take note of a high school student with long-term goals to make use of a second language.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep can give students the tips and guidance they need to put together an impressive college application. Our consultants have worked in the admissions offices of the country’s most notable colleges. Consequently, students benefit from the inside experience of our staff.

For students who are wondering what their chances are of getting into a particular college, we have the College Chanculator. After typing in a few items of information, students can see how they compare to others who have already been accepted into a particular school. From online test prep to college application advice, we help high school students toward the school of their dreams!

Live Chat Event Helps You Find the Right College Match

collegeweeklive-1Deciding which college to attend can seem like an overwhelming decision. How do you know what type of school is best for you? Which are the best degree programs? And once you decide on a school, what will it take to get in?

There’s now a website – CollegeWeekLive.com – where these questions can be answered in live chats with colleges and education experts. Nearly one million high school students a year visit CollegeWeekLive.com to text and video chat with admissions counselors at colleges and universities around the country.

Throughout the year, you can watch live presentations or join a one-on-one or group chat to ask anything you’d like about topics like classes, professors, degree programs, campus life, dorm rooms, and more. Many of the participating colleges also have live chats hosted by some of their current students who can give you plenty of insider advice about what it’s really like to live on campus.

Get Free Advice at Back to School Day
The next big event is their Back to School Day on Thursday, August 25, 2016. You and your parents can sign-up for free and login between 2:00-10:00PM EDT to:

  • Chat with representatives from 100+ colleges and universities around the country
  • Attend live presentations and Q&As with education experts
  • Enter to win a $1,000 scholarship when you research colleges during the event

Top Questions to Help You Find the Right College
Don’t be shy about asking questions during a virtual college fair. This is your chance to really get to know each school! Here are some great questions to get you started:

  • What do students seem to like best about your school?
  • What do you feel makes your school stand out?
  • What’s your favorite part of campus?
  • What fun things are there to do off campus?
  • What types of students tend to do best at your school?
  • What percentage of students get a job in their field right after graduation?
  • What test scores do I need to get admitted?
  • What advice do you have for making my application stand out?
  • What are some of your most popular degree programs?
  • Which are some of your strongest programs and why?
  • How accessible are your professors?
  • What types of scholarships are available?
  • What kind of work/study opportunities do you offer?
  • What is student housing like?

Get Advice from Admissions Experts
Education experts such as Ted Fiske of The Fiske Guide to Colleges participate in many of CollegeWeekLive’s online presentations. You can watch live presentations and ask questions during the live events, or even view the presentations on-demand.

Common presentation topics include:

  • How to write a great college essay
  • Tips on researching colleges
  • The ins and outs of college admissions
  • Finding the best scholarships
  • Preparing for the ACTs and SATs

Check out the schedule of virtual college fairs and live chats and signup for CollegeWeekLive for free.


How Are College Applications Actually Evaluated?

GMATThe Common Application is live! Most (if not all) college applications are now available for you to access, meaning that application season is officially here! We here at Veritas Prep get very excited about this time of year – we connect with students all around the world who are ready to tackle applications to their dream schools. We are inspired to come to work every day because we get to work with the most ambitious students and help them reach their most ambitious goals.

We’re a team of college admissions nerds experts who have a unique insider’s perspective to how college applications are actually read and evaluated by admissions committees. As the 2016/17 application season officially begins, we wanted to provide you this insider look into our 4 Dimensions of a College Applicant. When admissions committees read their hundreds of applications a year, they are looking to evaluate candidates through these 4 dimensions:

Dimension 1: Academic Achievements
Your academic achievements demonstrate that you’ve mastered high school academics, but most importantly, they indicate to admissions committees how you’ll be able to handle the academic rigors at their school if you are admitted. To evaluate your academic achievements, admissions committees will review your:

  • GPA: This is a predictor of your academic performance in college; how well you did in high school may be directly related to how well you’ll do in college courses.
  • Class Rank (if your school provides rankings): Class rank gives admissions officers a bit more context for your grades in comparison to how your classmates performed.
  • AP/IB/Honors Coursework: Admissions committees will want to know which courses are offered at your high school and if you took advantage of all that your school had to offer.
  • High School Profile: Your high school profile allows admissions committees to see where your high school stands compared to other high schools in the nation/world.
  • Standardized test scores: The SAT & ACT provide colleges with a standard scale to compare you to all other applicants. While your GPA may have less room for change, your SAT or ACT score is more in your control. A higher standardized test score can help mitigate the effects of a low GPA.
  • Recommendations: You may not suspect that recommendations play into your academic achievements, but admissions committees read these letters and look for your teacher’s perspective on your abilities and achievements in the classroom.
  • Final grades: Although it may seem impossible to stave off senioritis, do your best to keep your grades up! Your final grades do count – in our years of experience, we unfortunately have seen students have their offers of admission revoked because their grades dropped second semester of senior year.

Dimension 2: Match & Fit Factors
The most selective schools in the nation often report that 75% of their applicants are qualified for admission. Since they, unfortunately, do not admit all of the students who may be academically qualified to attend, admissions committees look carefully for match and fit factors. Essentially, they’re looking for the right group of students who accurately and creatively represent themselves in their applications in a way that demonstrates their perfect fit for the campus culture, academics and community. When admissions evaluates your match and fit factors, they’ll be looking closely at your:

  • Personal Statement: This is where you can really let your personality and passions shine!
  • Vision for the Future: The personal statement should shed light on what you are thinking about pursuing in college and beyond. Don’t worry too much about completing the goals that you write about as we know that this might change over time, but demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have ambitions (and make them believe in these, too).
  • Potential for Success: Colleges love to brag about their alumni and celebrate their students’ accomplishments. When they read your personal statement and supplemental essays, they’re going to be looking for successful students who will bring that same level of success to their campus.
  • Interest In and Knowledge of the College: With students applying to an average of 10+ schools these days, colleges really want to know that students actually want to attend their school. There are several places in the application where you can show your interest in and passion for a school. Admissions committees want to know that if they offer you a place in their freshman class, you will likely attend.

The other two Dimensions of a College Applicant will be integral in the success of your applications. Want to know what they are and how to make sure you’re submitting the strongest applications? Attend one of our upcoming online free college workshops led by one of our college admissions experts. Sign up for free here!

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.

The 2016-2017 Common Application: How to Get Started

GMATThe Common Application is going to be offline from July 21 until August 1, 2016 while all of the dates and details are updated for this upcoming application season. For the first time in the Common App history, students who created an account before August 1st will be able to roll over all of their saved information to the application when it is officially released on August 1st.

So, for those of you who have gotten a head start, your information will be ready to access again on August 1st. For those of you who may not have had a chance to create an account just yet, don’t you worry! There are things you can work on now while the application is down to get you started on the right foot when it is officially open again on August 1st.

Strategize your essays:
The Common App announced in January that they are not changing their essay topics this year. Take a look at the prompts and brainstorm your strategy for your personal statement. Need a little guidance? Check out our tips for making your personal statement stand out!

Finalize your college list:
When the application opens again on August 1st, it will be time to hit the ground running. The best way to prepare yourself for filling out college applications is to know exactly where you plan to apply. Check out commonapp.org to learn about the 700 colleges who use the common app. You can also use collegeconfidential.com to identify best-fit schools for you.

Select your recommenders:
Most schools you apply to will request that you submit letters of recommendation from a teacher, coach, counselor, etc. Once the school year officially begins, all of the seniors will be asking their favorite mentors to write these letters, so start to think now about who you want to write yours! We generally like to suggest that you provide your recommender with a resume or list of accomplishments that they can reference when writing this letter of recommendation, so start putting together those resources, too.

Enjoy yourself:
Yes, that’s right, we’re telling you to take a break and enjoy the rest of your summer! The best way to kick-off application season is to be relaxed and have a clear mind. Make sure to take some time for yourself before you dive into these college applications so that you are able to give it your best effort from start to finish!

Are you interested in learning more about the Common App and how admissions committees at top universities actually evaluate college applications? Register for our free workshop here. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

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.

Tips for Applying to Colleges

College AheadWhen it comes time to apply to college, there are several things that students can do to set themselves apart from other applicants. One way students can do this is go out of their way to show their enthusiasm for a school.

For instance, a student can visit a college’s campus and then write a letter to school officials describing how much they enjoyed the trip. Signing up to receive updates on a college’s social media page is another idea for students who want to express their interest. Also, if a college gives applicants the chance to write an optional essay in their application, then a student may want to take advantage of that extra opportunity to communicate their desire to be admitted to that school.

Let’s take a look at some other tips for students who want to outshine the competition when applying to college:

Consider the Early Action Admissions Option
Some students who are applying to college may not be aware of the various admissions options available to them. Some of these options can potentially increase a student’s chances of being accepted to their preferred school – Early Action is a great example of this. Early Action requires students to apply to a college earlier than students who apply during the regular decision period. Early Action applications are typically submitted in November or early December, whereas regular decision applications are usually due in February.

Submitting an Early Action application means that the student will receive an answer in early February, however, if a student is accepted at this time, they don’t have to make their final decision until May 1. The Early Action admissions option is ideal for students who know exactly where they want to go to school – they have done the research and made a reasonably definite choice. If a student is not accepted via Early Action, they can still apply to other colleges during the regular decision period.

It’s important for students to keep in mind that the Early Action option is different from the Early Decision admissions option. If a student is accepted to a college via Early Decision, they must go to that school (whereas a student who is accepted via Early Action can choose to go to a different school).

Write a Summary for Letters of Recommendation
Students who apply to college must arrange for letters of recommendation to be sent along with their other application materials. These letters are usually written by a student’s teachers, employers, or counselors, and they describe the student’s best qualities. College officials who are evaluating a student’s application appreciate hearing different impressions of the student via these letters.

It’s helpful for a student to write down a summary of their own strengths and accomplishments to give to their potential recommenders upon requesting a letter of recommendation from them. Though this may seem like a student’s effort to guide the tone of a recommendation letter, it’s more of a practical step – for example, a high school teacher who teaches many courses may be writing letters of recommendation for a dozen or more students, so they will be grateful for a quick summary from a student so their letter can include all of the right components.

Follow Up on Submitted Materials
When students apply to colleges, there are several documents that must be sent in from different locations. For instance, SAT results are sent from the College Board to the colleges themselves. Transcripts are also sent to colleges from students’ high schools.

It’s a wise idea for a student to call the admissions officials at the schools they are applying to and make sure they’ve received these, and other documents. If not, a student will have the opportunity to check into the problem. Alternatively, if college officials did receive these documents, calling in gives the student an opportunity to reiterate their genuine interest in attending the school.

Veritas Prep specializes in partnering with students who are applying to college. Our admissions consultants have an inside take on what college officials are looking for in prospective students. We help students with all aspects of the college admissions process. Evaluating transcripts, assisting with college applications, providing guidance on essays, and keeping track of deadlines are just a few of the services we offer.

We also provide test prep for the SAT, the ACT, and other exams. Students utilize our study resources, learn test-taking strategies, and practice with our experienced instructors so they can truly master these exams. Contact Veritas Prep today to learn more about our expert academic services.

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!

The College Transfer Process: How to Transfer Colleges

Columbia UniversityIt’s not unusual for a student to start courses at a college, only to realize that they want to make a change. Perhaps the student wants to attend a school with more resources for art students, or maybe a student wants to switch to a school that allows its students to put their knowledge into practice via internship opportunities.

There are countless reasons why college students want to transfer to other schools, and understandably, students in this situation want to know how this process works – how to complete the prep work necessary to put the transfer into motion. Before taking this big step, examine what a student must do in order to transfer colleges:

Researching the Deadline for Transfer Applications
One of the first steps to transferring schools is for students to visit the website of the college they want to attend. Many colleges have a specific section on their website where students can find information about transferring into the school. It’s important for students to note the various application deadlines so they can submit all of their necessary documents on time.

Sometimes, visiting the college itself to talk with an academic counselor can make the college transfer process easier. For instance, during such a meeting, a student can inquire about the minimum number of credits necessary to transfer into the school (as some colleges won’t consider transfer students unless they’ve earned a certain amount of credits at their current school). The counselor may also be able to help map out strategies that will allow the transfer to graduate on schedule.

Completing an Application
Just like high school seniors, a college student who wants to transfer to a different college must fill out an application, which are available online for most schools. This application must be filled out completely and submitted along with the other required materials by midnight on the date of the deadline.

If you need help putting your application materials together, just contact us! At Veritas Prep, we can evaluate a student’s college transfer application – our professional consultants have experience working in the admissions offices of some of the best universities in the country, so we know what schools are looking for when they evaluate a student’s application, recommendation letters, and other materials.

Getting College Transcripts
A transfer student must also submit their latest college transcript. Naturally, college officials want to know about a student’s performance at their current school before admitting them. Some colleges will even want to see a student’s SAT or ACT scores to get a clearer picture of the person’s academic abilities (this is especially true if the student has spent a short time at their current school). But not to worry – at Veritas Prep, we can provide you with guidance on what colleges look at when evaluating transfer students. Our consultants have experience with the college transfer process and can offer students solid tips on how to navigate their way into a different school.

Obtaining Letters of Recommendation from Professors
For some students, one of the steps to transferring colleges is to garner letters of recommendation from professors. These letters help college officials determine whether the transfer student would be a positive addition to the school. Letters of recommendation should come from professors who are familiar with the student and their work ethic – getting a glowing letter of recommendation from one professor is better than getting lukewarm letters from half a dozen instructors who don’t really know much about the student.

Other Tips for Students Who Want to Transfer to Another College
There are other considerations students should keep in mind when considering transferring, too. Students who have scholarships or other types of financial aid at their current school must determine whether these will be affected if they transfer to another college. Also, transferring to a new school can potentially affect a student’s graduation date because the student may need to take additional classes required by the new college. Transfer students should also check into the availability of housing on campus, as some colleges may not have available housing at the time the student transfers into the school.

Students who want to know more about how to transfer colleges should also take into consideration how their standardized test scores may impact their ability to transfer. In some cases, transfer students with plenty of college credit to their names don’t need to worry as much about their previous SAT or ACT scores, however, if you’re one of the many students who feel that they could improve their scores, Veritas Prep is here to help you do that. We are proud to help students continue to pursue their goals and receive the highest testing scores possible through hard work, dedication, and the right resources. Let us help you today!

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!

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!

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.

Parents, Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be … Parents

In two months, my wife will be giving birth to our first child. Becoming a parent has always been a scary proposition, but never more so than now. You see, in the world of admissions, I’ve now become the enemy.

At least, it seems that way if you take your cue from this recent feature from The New Yorker Magazine about the Internet scandals that have rocked the august New York (Riverdale) prep school Horace Mann. I’ve been to Horace Mann and have marveled at the cutting edge facilities wrapped up in an old world campus. I’ve noted the success rates of their students in applying to top universities. Granted, I was only there one day, but it seemed like a pretty great place to learn and prepare for life.

After reading the feature about Facebook scandals and parental bullying of the school’s educators, I’m not so sure. It seems like teaching (and therefore learning) in the face of a tyrannical parent board is next to impossible. And I’m quite sure this sort of thing is happening at other elite prep schools. I received a first-hand look at parental pressure during my time in undergraduate admission and imagine that that the dial has only been cranked in one direction in the interim. How can students be expected to learn when their lives are scripted, when they bear no responsibility, and when there are no consequences for their actions? We laugh at shows like Gossip Girl for being so ridiculous, but reality might be even more ridiculous.

The worst part is that the cycle will only continue as today’s teenagers reap the rewards from their parents’ insidious behavior and then – having sufficiently learned by example – set off on a path to repeat it.

Fortunately, this sort of boorish pay-your-way-out-of-anything approach to parenting and education does not extend to every pocket of affluence in our country. I’ve enjoyed observing those parents who have fourth grade students in my wife’s class at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In nearly unanimous fashion, this group supports the school and its educators, has expectations for their children’s behavior, and maintains proper perspective. Even more promising, I’ve seen many of these parents adopt the same approach with older children – kids who are gearing up for the competitive process of private high school admissions and then, of course, for college. It’s a great relief to find that there are still some families – some parents – who recognize value in true education.

Hopefully I can identify a few more of those to look up to – and fast. After all, I’ve only got two months left.