college admissions

Our Reaction to the College Admissions Bribery Scandal

We have received dozens of emails, text, and inquiries about the current scandal. We think it is very sad and emblematic of bigger issues. When the going gets tough, the urge to cut corners can be real. And this scandal underscores just how hard it is to get into college. But we need to make it incredibly clear: our practice is both ethical and legal. We don’t condone or endorse anything that happened in the latest scandal. We would never cheat or encourage cheating. In fact, we have been approached by people who want us to fabricate essays or transcripts and we have always, without exception, turned them away. We operate with an incredibly high moral and ethical code.

“I Was Waitlisted and Rejected from Every School I Applied to. What do I do now?”

College acceptances are out, and, as happens every year, we’ve been flooded with emails from upset parents and freaked out kids. These are NOT emails from our clients. Our kids did amazingly. They killed it, getting into the Ivy League and other highly-competitive schools, receiving impressive scholarship packages, and invites to honors programs. Our only kids who only got one acceptance are those who got in ED and so didn’t submit any other applications. Again, NOT our clients.

Will Taking Harder Classes (honors, AP, advanced, IB) Help me get into Top Schools?

We receive dozens of the same questions during every single application season. They range from questions about testing, grades, time management, and class selection, but we want to make sure that you know we hear you. Every time you email us, we reply to each individualized question. But in order to make this knowledge as accessible as possible, we’ve started to address these questions in the public forum (on the blog) so that you can understand our stance on the hot topics of college applications. Let’s get started with a question that plagues every single student around this time of year as they’re selecting classes for next year: “Should I take the AP class?”

What Is Committee-Based Evaluation?

For the past several admissions cycles, college applications have mostly been on a steady incline. To meet the supply, colleges have streamlined the admissions process departing from a multi-step review to, in some cases, a single, committee-based selection meeting. Whereas in the past, college matriculation was almost exclusively a practice among America’s white, wealthiest class, today, more than half of Americans across racial and socio-economic lines opt to attend at least some college. That means that the rising generation of college-aged students will not only be the largest in American history, but also the most well-educated. Yet, in spite of a massive (30 percent since 2000) increase in applicants, universities have been slow to expand their admissions teams. So, what does this mean for applicants now vying to capture the attention of admissions counselors against millions of others?

How to Get Into College With Bad Grades

We receive a lot of questions from parents and students alike that have to do with GPA, grades, scores, school choice, and likelihood of admission. What everyone really wants to know, though, is this: can my kid get into his dream school if he has less than stellar grades/scores? Let’s not beat around the bush. The answer is: YES. But there are some caveats to that yes, so read on.

What Are the Most Important Criteria in the Admission Process?

The college application process is multi-layered and at times, overwhelming and complex. There are so many factors that matter throughout the admissions process, and while they all matter, some are in fact more important than others in the context of your specific application.

How to get into Pomona: Straight from an Admission Officer's Mouth

A lot of the time, the college admissions process can feel like trying to navigate a maze without a map. Or, when you do have a map, it’s in another language and torn into 100 pieces. There is so much information out there and there are so many who people say they are admissions experts that it can be hard to comb the good information out of the tangles of the internet.

What Is An Arts Supplement and Should I Do One?

While most schools require that you complete a supplement specific to their school, often in the format of an essay or series of essays, some schools offer a slightly different kind of supplement—an arts supplement detailing your interest and contribution to a certain creative field. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose a Major for your College Application

Nearly every college supplement will include some question that basically amounts to “why do you want to go HERE?” Sometimes they will fancy it up to make it seem less harsh or direct, but it’s really just asking one thing: if you are qualified, and if we like the rest of your application, how would you make the most of your time at our school? The if’s are important because if you aren’t qualified and they don’t like your application, it really doesn’t matter how much you adore the work of that one professor in the English Department or how badly you want to walk onto the soccer team. However, if they are considering accepting you, answering this question correctly is crucial.

How to Write the Swarthmore Supplement

While we’d never suggest not applying to a school solely based on their acceptance rate, we have to address the elephant in the room. Swarthmore had a 10% acceptance rate, meaning you will get rejected 9 times out of 10. Swarthmore does a great job of outlining their admissions process here and we offer a more detailed explanation of the overall admissions process here. It’s important that you understand the statistics--not to scare you, but so that you understand why your Swarthmore supplement is so important.

What Tests Do I Need to Take for Undergraduate Admission to a Top School?

Testing is a big part of your high school academic experience the college application process. From figuring out which standardized tests to take to determining AP testing, regional state required exams, as well as your midterms and finals, there’s a lot to balance. It’s not just you; it can be overwhelming for everyone. Let us break it down for you:  

Are Specific Courses Required to get Into an Ivy League School?

So much of high school is about the time that you spend in the classroom. After all, one of the most important parts of your college application is your GPA (or so we’d argue). We’re discussing one of the questions that we get the most frequently from our students on class choice and chances of being accepted to your top choice school:

How Does Taking College Courses (or extra classes) Affect Admissions?

A large number of college courses are available for high school students to take both online and in-person. Some students take them just to challenge themselves further or learn about one topic that isn’t offered at their high school.  

College courses alone won’t get you into college. Taking 20 college courses won’t reverse your mediocre GPA or average ACT scores. That’s just not how it works. It can, however, add depth to a specific part of your application.  

How To Write a Thank You Note After Your Alumni Interview

Once you submit your application, many colleges will pair you with an alumnus or alumna for an “Alumni Interview.” These interviews occur in coffee shops in person, sometimes they happen in college and university clubhouses in your town, or they might even happen over Skype. For help preparing for your Alumni Interview, refer here. This post is all about the follow-up--namely, the thank you note that you will send to your alum interviewer explaining how appreciative you are and how great it was to speak with them. We’ve outlined a general thank you note below, but it will be crucial to insert some specifics.