College Advice for Students Struggling With ADD, ADHD and Other Learning Disabilities

Macalester CollegeStarting college courses brings with it a collection of new challenges for every student. Students with ADD or ADHD have a unique set of challenges as they settle into life at college.

Fortunately, there are steps these students can take to achieve success and earn a degree. Learn some helpful tips for college students who deal with ADD or ADHD:

Take Advantage of Academic Support Services
The best colleges for students with learning disabilities are the ones that provide plenty of academic support. Some students need assistance with tackling the work in all of their courses, while others need limited academic support for a learning disability. A student with ADD or ADHD must take it upon themselves to inquire about these services and use them whenever needed.

Academic support comes in many forms depending on the resources of a college. Some schools offer students one-on-one tutoring services, while others offer group tutoring sessions. Supplemental instruction is another example of support offered in colleges for students with ADHD. The tutor offering supplemental instruction reviews material taught in a class to make sure that the student has absorbed all of the important points in a lecture. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of adjusting the way course material is delivered.

Some colleges also offer courses in study skills for ADHD students. Students with learning disabilities get to practice study strategies and learn how to take notes in an effective way. The best colleges for students with learning disabilities have the tools to test students who suspect that they have ADD or ADHD. If a student does have ADD or ADHD, the college takes steps to provide the person with the academic support they need to be successful.

Record Lectures
College students with ADD or ADHD sometimes find it helpful to record lectures. This allows them to go over confusing points and review various parts of the lecture at their leisure. They don’t feel as much pressure to take constant notes because they know they can go back and revisit the material. Some colleges, for students with ADHD, automatically allow students to record lectures, while others require students to seek the permission from each instructor. It’s a good idea for students with learning disabilities to let their instructors know the situation so they can contribute to the student’s success.

Use Technological Devices to Stay on Schedule
Today, students with or without a learning disability can use the alarm on their phone to keep them on schedule. For instance, a student with ADD or ADHD may set the alarm on their phone to let them know when it’s time to walk to the library to meet for a study group. Another student may use their phone to let them know they should start off to their first class of the day.

Some students with learning disabilities keep a calendar in their phone that they can refer to at any time to find dates for exams, projects, and meetings. Students may even find it helpful to send themselves reminder texts or emails regarding quizzes or tests.

Use Non-Technological Devices to Stay on Schedule
The individuals who offer academic support at colleges for ADHD students may suggest that students use a large desk calendar to keep them on schedule. For example, a student could highlight upcoming test days for various classes or start a countdown of the days before a big project is due. A desk calendar is something that a student would look at every day. Plus, students can make notes on the calendar to remind them of their progress on various assignments.

They can also purchase a cabinet with a system of drawers so they can separate the notes and other materials for each course. Often, a simple organizational system can assist students with learning disabilities in staying on schedule with all of their coursework.

Our professional tutors at Veritas Prep instruct students who have varying levels of ability. We prep students for standardized tests including the SAT. Our online SAT tutors scored in the 99th percentile on the exam, so students benefit from working with instructors who have hands-on knowledge of the SAT. We also assist students with college admissions by helping them with college essays, filling out applications, evaluating extracurricular activities, and more! Contact Veritas Prep today and let us know how we can help.

Do you need more help applying to college? 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 to Choose a College Major

GMATOur college admissions consultants at Veritas Prep are experts at helping students navigate their way through the admissions process. We help students with everything from filling out college applications to crafting a convincing college essay. Of course, once a student is accepted into a college, they must choose a major.

We’ve found that there are many students who wonder how to choose a college major. One student may have so many interests that they don’t know where to focus their studies. Another student may not know how to translate their interest in one subject into a future career. Fortunately, there are many helpful tips for students wondering how to pick a college major.

Identify Interests
Is it a passing interest or an enduring one? Generally, most high school students can put each of their interests into one of those two categories. Some students can recognize an enduring interest right away. For instance, one student might remember being interested in science ever since the first grade – they always enjoyed collecting data, performing lab experiments, and making observations in science classes. This student knows that they’d like to translate their love of science into a career.

Alternatively, there are other students who need to examine several of their interests in order to find an enduring one. One student may love caring for animals but also relishes spending time working at an uncle’s law firm as an office assistant. This student needs to compare their level of interest in each of these activities to figure out which one appeals to them the most. Once a student pinpoints their enduring interests, it’s time to do some online research.

Research Occupations
There are many websites that provide students with examples of occupations within a particular field. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is one of the most valuable resources available to high school students. Also, online research makes it possible for a student to learn the details of specific occupations. Salary, opportunities for promotion, and average hours worked are all facts included in a job’s profile.

It’s a good idea for students to keep a list of pertinent questions handy so they can take a good look at the viability of a particular career. All of this research enables a student to choose a major with coursework that prepares them for a desirable occupation.

Talk to Professionals in Various Fields
Talking with a professional who works in a particular occupation can be very useful to a student who is looking for a major. For instance, the student with a passion for science may want to talk with a science teacher at a local elementary school. They can find out what the instructor likes and dislikes about the work. Plus, they can ask the teacher about daily responsibilities and how to get students interested in a lesson. The science teacher can offer a personal perspective on the occupation that can’t be found via online research.

Participate in Volunteer Work
Students wondering how to choose a college major based on an interest may want to engage in some volunteer work. For example, a student who thinks they want to major in veterinary medicine may want to ask a local vet if they can volunteer at their office. This gives the student a chance to talk with the vet and observe the daily activities of a veterinary practice. The time spent volunteering can either strengthen a student’s interest in a certain activity or persuade them to examine other interests.

Meet With a College Counselor
Meeting with a college counselor is helpful even if a student is still undecided on a major. This professional has experience with students who are wondering how to pick a college major out of all of the options available. They will be able to offer simple strategies for how to evaluate various interests. Once a student decides on a major, the counselor can direct them toward the next step of officially declaring the major and beginning on a specific path of study.

Contact Veritas Prep today and we can assist you with the college admissions process, SAT and ACT preparation, and much more. Give us the opportunity to prep you for a successful four years in college!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? 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!

Tips on How to Start College on the Right Foot

roomateExcitement, nervousness, and curiosity are just three of the emotions felt by a college freshman in late summer. Most students who are preparing to start college want to do everything they can to set a positive tone for the school year. Fortunately, there are several steps that students can take to accomplish this goal. Take a look at some practical tips for how to start college on the right foot:

Walk the Campus
It’s important for new students to arrive early to each class on the first day. This gives them the opportunity to choose a seat and relax a little bit before class begins. So a few days before school starts, it’s a good idea for students to get a campus map and walk to the buildings where their classes will be held. It may also be helpful to make notes on the map regarding the route. Knowing exactly where to go can reduce a student’s stress level on the first day of class.

Create a Study Schedule
Creating a study schedule is one of the most effective tips for starting college on a positive note. Once a student receives their course schedule, it’s time to create a study plan. Ideally, a student should dedicate the same amount of study time to every course. But once school starts, students may have to adjust their study schedule to focus more time on challenging courses.

It’s important for students to make efficient use of the free time they have during weekdays. For instance, say a student has just two classes on Monday and Wednesday that both take place in the morning. This gives them the opportunity to schedule study time on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Not surprisingly, a student’s study schedule may experience frequent adjustments throughout the semester.

Record Important Dates
Lots of students who are starting college have a full schedule of courses, sports activities, club meetings, and social events. As a result, they can sometimes lose track of important dates related to various assignments, tests, etc.

One of the most helpful tips for starting college on a good note is to compile all critical dates in one place. Students can use their smartphone, a wall calendar, or even a desk calendar to help them in this process. After getting a syllabus from each professor on the first day of class, students can transfer the important due dates onto their virtual or paper calendar. With a quick check of the calendar, students can see quiz and test dates as well as due dates for papers. Those who get organized at the beginning of the school year are setting themselves up for academic success!

Get to Know Professors
Students wondering how to start college on the right foot can make a point of introducing themselves to their professors. Whether a class is held in an auditorium with 100-plus students or takes place in a small classroom with 12 individuals, it’s a good idea for students to get to know their professors. A student may go up to their professor after the first class, give their name, and ask a question about a chapter in the textbook. As a result, the professor knows who the student is and will likely recognize them again if they want to discuss a quiz grade or ask for clarification on an assignment.

Professors appreciate students who are diligent about their work and ask questions that can help them get more out of the course material. Students who start college with enthusiasm are putting themselves in the right state of mind.

Our staff at Veritas Prep understands the importance of starting college on the right foot. We prep high school students for college by teaching them effective strategies they can apply on any section of the SAT or ACT. We also review practice tests with them to pinpoint skills that need improvement. This enables them to submit their best performance on the SAT or on the ACT, which can expand their options when it comes time to apply to college.

Our admissions consultants have firsthand experience with what college officials across the country are looking for when they evaluate student applications. We use our expert resources to help students as they prepare to send applications to the top colleges in the United States. We are proud to offer students knowledgeable online instruction, expert guidance, and much more as they pursue their goal of higher education.

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? 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 to Study Abroad in College

study aboard girlHigh school seniors who are researching colleges are smart to look at all that a school has to offer. Most students look at the specific study programs offered by a college, as well as its campus activities and various academic resources. Also, many students like to find out if a college offers opportunities to study abroad. College students can learn a lot by spending a semester or more living and studying in another country.

Consider some helpful information for students who want to know how to study abroad in college:

Conduct a Search for Colleges That Offer Students the Chance to Study Abroad
Fortunately, there are many opportunities for today’s college students who want to study abroad. High school seniors who are thinking about studying abroad, but are still unsure, should go ahead and apply to colleges that offer the option. That way, if they do decide to study abroad, they’re at a school that can make that happen.

Often, colleges that offer this study opportunity provide information on their website. Some schools create short videos that give students a quick look at their international programs. Student testimonials can also help prospective students decide whether to participate in the program.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep help students to apply to colleges that offer invaluable opportunities, including the chance to study abroad. We have inside knowledge regarding what college officials are looking for as they evaluate students’ applications, letters of recommendation, essays, and other materials.

Tips for Deciding on a Location
England, Ireland, Australia, China, Africa, and Italy are just a sampling of the places that college students go to study for a semester or more. With all of the possibilities, it can be difficult for a student to decide where they want to go. One tip is to think about whether they want to study in a country with English as its native language. Of course, this is a moot issue if a student is traveling to a country to learn and practice a foreign language. But if a student is not studying a foreign language, they may feel more at ease in an English-speaking country.

Living arrangements are another consideration. Some study programs require students to live with host families, while others require them to live in dormitories. Students should consider whether they would be comfortable with the specified living arrangements during their stay.

Another thing to consider is how far a student wants to travel away from home. Some students want to be able to travel home fairly quickly, while others want to go to more remote locations. Many of the answers to these questions depend on a student’s personal preferences.

Benefits of Studying Abroad in College
Taking courses while living in a foreign country allows students to experience different cultures. Many students sign up for college study abroad programs because they want to learn about the arts, cuisine, and customs of people living in a particular country.

Another benefit of studying abroad is the opportunity to explore various interests that may lead to a future career. For example, a student who spends a semester studying in Kenya may feel inspired by seeing the various forms of wildlife there. As a result, the student might decide to pursue a career as a wildlife conservationist. And on a practical note, one of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is earning credits that count toward graduation.

When to Study Abroad in College
Some students who participate in study abroad travel to a foreign country during the regular school year, while others go during the summertime. The timing depends upon the study programs offered by a college. A student has to consider their own individual situation to determine the best time to study abroad. College students who participate in these programs are often willing to forgo their summer vacation or miss school activities during a semester so they can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

No matter where you choose to study, our team at Veritas Prep can help you get there. We provide students with assistance throughout the process of applying to college. We also have services for students who want to prep for the SAT. Our online SAT tutors teach students using first-rate study resources and test-taking strategies. Contact our Veritas Prep offices today and let us help you achieve your goal of attending college and earning a degree.

Do you need more 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!

What GPA Should You Report in Your MBA Applications?

08fba0fThe question of what GPA an MBA applicant should report is, at first glance, one of the simpler questions one would expect to receive during the business school application process. However, year in and year out, many applicants struggle to sort this question out.

For those who have received only one degree from the one university, this aspect of the application process tends to be pretty straightforward – your GPA is the number listed on your transcript and that is the number that should be used.

For those who tend to have confusion over what GPA to report, the challenge usually stems from having multiple transcripts from multiple schools. This is primarily the result of one or more of the following four situations:

Transfers:
Did you transfer from another college? Having two transcripts from two different schools can be the source off a lot of confusion. Generally, the degree-granting institution takes priority here, but if you transferred from a similarly-structured university, your GPA from your first school can also be factored in. The key here is that only courses that gave you credit toward your first bachelor’s degree count.

Study Abroad:
Did you study abroad? Most study abroad courses tend to be pass or fail and usually do not influence your GPA too much, given there cannot be a grade point associated with this result. Generally, your study abroad transcript is not necessary to include in your application package, but if you plan to discuss your study abroad classes elsewhere in your application, it may make sense to include your study abroad GPA as well.

Non-Degree Coursework:
Have you taken coursework in the past that did not relate to your degree? Many MBA candidates take classes online or at a community college after they graduate from undergrad to bolster their application profile. If you have taken such non-degree classes, you should include the transcripts from them in your application, but don’t worry about incorporating this performance into your reported GPA.

Graduate Degree:
If you have secured a graduate degree prior to applying to business school, your GPA cannot be included in your MBA application as part of your reported GPA. Typically, there will be a separate area in your application to report your graduate GPA, but don’t look to combine this score with your undergraduate GPA. Remember, the only courses that count here are the ones that gave you credit towards your first bachelor’s degree.

All of the elements above can be positively associated with your academic aptitude, so just because they don’t feed directly into your reported GPA does not mean they are irrelevant. MBA programs will take a holistic look at your performance across these various touchpoints, as well as at the type of coursework and trends within your reported GPA.

The key with any of the situations above is to follow the guidelines of the school that you are applying to – many schools caution against calculating your GPA on your own, while others encourage it. You generally want to avoid converting your college’s scale to a different GPA scale, as that can open up even more confusion. Assume that the Admissions Committee is experienced with school-specific grade scales from all over the world, so defer to their expertise in this matter. Make sure you are clear on the GPA reporting protocol for the schools you are applying to, and don’t be afraid to use the optional or additional information section to address any potentially confusing aspects.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

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.

collegeweeklive

College Math Tutoring: Bridging the Gap Between High School and College Math

stressed-studentIt doesn’t take long for a freshman in college to discover that there are many differences between high school and college math classes. For example, most high school students attend math class every day, while college students have math class from one to three times per week. The number of times a math class is held depends on the specific program of a college. Generally, students must study more for college-level math courses than they did for high school courses.

College math classes can sometimes be a challenge for students who are used to high-school-level work. Students who find themselves struggling in class can benefit from college math tutoring services like those we offer at Veritas Prep. Look at how an online college math tutor can help a student move smoothly from high school to college-level work:

Prep for College-Level Courses
When a high school student knows what to expect in a college math class, it can make the transition a lot easier. Students who sign up for college math tutoring are able to get their questions answered by an expert. For instance, they can get an idea of how much homework they will receive in a college math class and how much time a professor will spend on each lesson. A tutor can also let students know what types of materials they’ll need for a math course in college and what to bring with them each day. An experienced online college math tutor has the knowledge required to provide students with answers they can use.

Tips for College Tests and Quizzes
Students can get helpful tips for taking quizzes and tests from a college math tutor. Online tutors may suggest that students skip the puzzling questions they encounter on a math test or quiz, then return to these questions after finishing all of the less-challenging ones. This tip helps students to use their test time in the most efficient way, and it ensures that students won’t run out of test time while they are pondering a single challenging question.

A math tutor may also suggest that students write down each step of an algebra problem, so if the student ends up with a questionable answer, they can go back and check each step for an error. The college-level math tutors at Veritas Prep provide students with practical strategies to use while completing a quiz or test. We understand what it takes for a student to excel in a college math class.

Study Skills for College Classes
Students who enter college need to learn a new set of study habits. A college math tutor can offer suggestions to students on how much time to dedicate to studying as well as how to make the best use of their study time. A knowledgeable math tutor is likely to tell students that they need to spend two to three hours studying for every hour of class they take. This is one of the reasons why college math classes are held fewer times during the week than high school math classes. The extra time is given to students so that they have plenty of opportunity to study.

A tutor can guide a student on how to take effective notes in math class. These notes can be reviewed during study time as well as right before a test or quiz. The talented math tutors at Veritas Prep share study tips with students that can give them an advantage over their college classmates.

At Veritas Prep, we are happy to work with ambitious students in need of a college math tutor. Online tutoring sessions make it easy for students to fit this important instruction into their busy schedules. Our professional math tutors use first-rate study materials and resources so a student gets the most value out of each tutoring session. We practice math skills with students and offer lots of encouragement along the way.

Feel free to read our FAQ section for answers to questions about our services. We also have several college application resources for high school students who are still in the process of deciding on a college or university. Contact Veritas Prep today by email or telephone and let us help you ace your college math courses!

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! 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!

The Most Overlooked Question You Should Be Asking During Your College Search Process

Swarthmore CollegeColleges, like all other organizations, love to market themselves positively. Their brochures are bright and shiny, filled with impressive statistics, pictures of happy students, and never-ending lists of reasons why they are great. Talk to students, too, and they’re likely to gush about how much they love their schools and how happy they are to be there.

For the most part, these things are true – many colleges have lots of great things about them, and many students are really happy where they are going to school. But for someone doing the college search process and trying to determine which school is the best fit for him or her, this uniform positivity can be a bit unhelpful.

As any rational person will say, no place is perfect, and hence no college is perfect. Every school has at least a few minor issues, and in my opinion, knowing what the negative aspects of a school are is almost as important as knowing what the positive aspects of a school are. This way, a student can make a decision on which school to attend based on a comprehensive understanding of the school, not just a one-sided view of it.

So, one really important question to ask students and staff when considering a school is, “What are some things you don’t like about this school?” Or, in other words, W”hat would you change about your school if you could?”

This might not be the question that you want to ask, or even one that you feel comfortable asking, but it is of utmost importance. You will spend 4 years at the college of your choice, and that time will be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The best way to make sure you’ll be prepared to handle those “downs” is if you have an idea beforehand of what kinds of “downs” they might be.

For example, a school might seem great to you on its website, yet still have a student body culture you don’t like or a greatly underfunded department you thought you wanted to major in. Maybe the walks between classes are really long, or the food options on campus are boring. Maybe the student body differs too greatly from you politically, or the professors care more about research than teaching.

Information like this is hard to find out on your own; finding it requires talking to people who actually live at the school and are willing to offer their honest perspective. Admitting that a school has flaws doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend the school – it just means that you should choose a school with negative aspects that you are comfortable with and prepared to manage. Whether the issues are big or small, you’ll be a more informed college search-er if you take the time to figure out both the positive and negative parts of a school.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! 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!

By Aidan Calvelli.

How to Survive Studying Abroad (From Someone Who Has Done It Three Times!)

Passport Number 2Studying abroad was one of the best decisions of my undergraduate career. I was fortunate enough to get to spend a summer at the University of Cambridge drinking tea and touring castles; to go “abroad” to Washington, DC, almost 2,500 miles away from my home university, where I attended research seminars and interned at a foreign policy think tank.

I was also able to finish my final undergraduate semester here at the University of Geneva, where I spend my free time touring Europe and watching diplomats at the UN work through the biggest political issues of our time.

I wouldn’t trade my study abroad experiences for anything. I’ve met incredible people, seen incredible places, and gotten to know both the world and myself better.

I’ll also be the first to admit that studying abroad isn’t always wonderful. Spending months in an unfamiliar place can be scary and isolating. Leaving your community behind means spending a lot of time alone, perhaps more than you’re used to.

At the same time, being thrown into a new community means spending more time socializing with strangers as you settle in (a frightening thing for introverts like me.) Separation from friends and loved ones means being cut off from your support system, and makes it harder to deal with tough days or homesickness. New cultures often come with culture shock, new academic systems and teaching philosophies often come with frustration and misunderstandings, and new languages often come with miscommunications and embarrassing moments.

That’s not even to mention the problem of logistics – I’ve gotten lost, nearly missed trains and flights (almost always due to public transportation mishaps), confused currencies, misplaced important documents, been pick-pocketed, and mixed up visa paperwork more times than I’d like to admit. Studying abroad opens up worlds of opportunity, but is rarely easy.

Three study abroad programs in, I’ve figured out the pattern. Students spend the months leading up to their study abroad programs building up beautiful, romantic ideals of the place they’re headed. Midterms and finals at your home university make the idea of a distant, unfamiliar place an appealing one.

The first week of the program feeds this dream (Tourist pictures! Sightseeing!), but as the novelty wears off and the dream fades, the isolation and culture shock start to sink in. For many students, navigating unfamiliar food, buildings, weather, and people becomes exhausting, and these students retreat to their rooms, where they end up squandering their limited time abroad trying to lessen their homesickness by spending weekends and evenings in. I’ve never seen more Netflixing, Skyping, or junk-food snacking than I did in my dorm buildings in Cambridge, DC, and Geneva (I’ve fallen into the same trap a few times myself).

The trick, it turns out, is an easy one: remind yourself how cool and special it is to be able to spend a whole semester in another part of the world, and remind yourself how few people get that opportunity. Remember that you can always return to more familiar environments after your program, and that a few months isn’t a very long time.

Embrace the differences between people and places as part of what makes the world such an interesting and beautiful place, and remind yourself that improving your understanding of communities different from your own makes you a more tolerant, understanding person. Keep in mind that the cultural and travel skills you’re picking up are increasingly valuable life tools in our globalizing world, and know that you’ll never look at your own culture and community quite the same way again – you’ll be more aware of the mannerisms, attitudes, habits, and other attributes that make you and your community who you are, because you’ll understand how few people in the world are like you in those ways.

Whether studying abroad is fun and exciting or whether it’s frustrating and frightening is to a great extent dependent on your attitude while you’re there — but the great thing is that either way, it is enriching, special, and completely worth 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!

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.

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.

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 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.

Moderate
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.

Strict
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.

Open
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.

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.