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Getting rejected from an early decision school can be gut-wrenching…for parents. Your kid has worked so hard, missed out on social activities in the name of extra-curricular ones, visited scores of colleges, and finally aligned their hopes on that perfect school only to be told that, well, this year isn’t their year, after all. Rejection is bad enough. What makes this time of year worse for kids who get the dreaded thin envelope is parents who are shaken, as well, and not doing a great job of hiding it.
We have been conditioned to believe that there is a very specific checklist of requirements to get into a great college. First comes the mandatory minimums of excellent grades and scores, followed by knockout essays. On the second tier lie the extra-curriculars, the recommendations and of course, the impressive hours of community service you’re supposed to somehow cram in instead of sleeping. But one thing on the list is not like the others; colleges require you to submit test scores, grades, essays, recommendations and a resume, but what a lot of kids don’t realize is that contrary to popular belief, community service can really be extra.
The odds of you getting into a school where you don’t fall into the range for GPA or scores is slim. But if you’re on the cusp, having great essays can tip the odds in your favor. They are an absolutely crucial part of the application and something we are very rigorous with in helping our own students. In this post, we discuss strategies for writing killer supplements.
The goal of the essay is to tell a story that illuminates something new about you to the admissions committee. Many students take this as an opportunity to try and get deep. Students frequently write about tragedy or major, life-altering obstacles they’ve faced. Some students choose to write about how they’ve grappled with something like addiction or disease. While those experiences are valid, there is a whole separate section just for them. This essay is not the appropriate platform. The trouble with writing about, well, trouble, is that one often falls short of connecting with the anonymous readers, and the whole point if the exercise is to connect with those very people.
We want to start this post by drawing an important distinction that is often overlooked: going to a community college or state school for two years and then transferring to a top tier school doesn’t work. That system can work if you’re transferring from a satellite campus to a main campus, but won’t get you from Temple to Penn. Here’s why:
By this time of year, many kids are anxiously awaiting to hear back from their top Early Decision school. Inevitably, there’s another group of students who either waited, or had some doubts, and decide that they wished they had applied Early Decision. Enter, ED II.
When it comes to Ivy League applications, the hardest part is figuring out exactly what to write about. We’re written about Ivy League common app essay topics, but this blog post is exclusively about supplements. Here you can read our advice on how to write the supplements for all of the Ivy’s: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. But this post will provide general tips that apply to every Ivy.
Colleges are getting more sensitive to mental health because they need to be. Amidst the stress and social pressure, suicide rates and incidences of mental health issues are not low. Incoming freshmen at any institution should, first and foremost, be aware of that. Even if you haven’t dealt with mental health issues in the past, college, leaving home, a new social circumstance, and all of the other exciting changes associated with university can also spur new feelings. We recommend students come up with a plan. Wherever you go to school, plan to learn about the mental health services available to you, and if needed, take advantage of them.
Some background information on SAT II’s: it’s true that many colleges are weeding these out of the application process, but not ALL colleges are weeding them out. TKG students take at least two SAT2s. Generally speaking, throughout the course of your high school career you should take 1-2 in the STEM field and 1-2 in the humanities. We always say that it’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them.
When it comes to Harvard admissions, everyone is looking for shortcuts. But the unfortunate truth is there just aren’t any. The only way in is by working extremely hard and building an impressive portfolio. Dedication and perseverance are what get you to home plate. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re likely pedaling snake oil.