If you’re reading this, you’re going to apply to college (or your kid is going to apply, and you’re going to tell them about this at the dinner table, so it’s basically like they’re reading it anyway). Just knowing that you’re going to apply to college, though, isn’t enough to actually kick-start the college process, and figuring out how to start can feel crippling.
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?”
This is a question that we get a lot from students and parents. The answer is pretty straightforward—no—but we have some tips.
If you’re a parent of a rising senior you might feel like the walls are closing in on you and your child. There is no right way to feel at this time, but feelings of helplessness and stress are pretty common as you enter college application season. That’s why many parents decide to get help in addition to what some schools may offer, in the form of a college advisor. We understand that not everyone has access to this kind of help, so we are making some of our wisdom and knowledge available to you here. We may not be parents ourselves, but since all of us at The Koppelman Group have gone through the college admissions process ourselves within the last ten years, we are closer to the process, which gives us added perspective. We have also been helping kids get into college for years now, so we have a better sense of what parents are going through as well. We remember what our junior year in high school was like, with all the stress and pressure, not just from our parents, but from our peers as well. It was awful, and this is why we can empathize so well with our student clients, and help them avoid the pitfalls that we experienced.
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:
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.
Senior year is an incredibly busy time, and there are a lot of considerations to take into account. Namely, classes. Students choose their classes for senior year during junior year and a question we get most often is: “How many AP classes should I take my senior year?” Here we offer one guiding statement about the AP class debacle:
This list is meant for students broadly interested in pursuing acting, the craft of theater, and in some cases, stage-managing/technical theater. While Musical Theater, Dance, and Vocal Arts are included in many of the curricula listed below, this forum is not for students who are interested solely in one of those domains. Additionally, if a student is perhaps less interested in pursuing acting in university, there are many other esteemed acting programs which have impressive, non-academic pedigrees. Unless otherwise noted, tuition costs all include room, board, and on-campus meals.
Attending a summer program in Engineering can help the colleges you’re applying to understand you’re serious about engineering. Many students apply to college with no prior experience, so a summer program can give you a leg up. It’s important to remember that participating in a summer program at a school won’t necessarily increase your chance of getting into that particular school. But succeeding in a program at a top university demonstrates a work ethic and drive, which will certainly set you apart from your competition.
In addition to sending in your applications, some schools will offer the opportunity for you to have an interview. These college interviews usually take place with a student, professor, or an alumni of the school.
We know it feels great to finally have submitted the bulk of your applications, but just in case you don’t get accepted to wherever you applied early, we suggest starting your regular decision applications. We recommend starting the next round of applications sooner rather than later because although applying early will help you in the process, a lot of students will end up getting deferred. This means they must apply elsewhere in case they are eventually rejected during regular decision.
Most colleges offer some kind of interview as part of the application process. These are conducted in a variety of ways; some are on campus with an admissions officer, some are in your local coffee shop with an alumni, some are via Skype. These interviews tend to be relatively informal and offer the admissions office a chance to get to know your personality. An interview will probably not make or break your chances of getting in, but it can add one more dimension to your application, and ensure that you’re not a psychopath.
When Jane first stepped foot on the campus of the school she would ultimately attend, she fell in love. It looked the way she imagined college should look: ivy-covered buildings, students sprawled out on the lawn, historic looking statues. She found the information session with the Dean of Admissions comprehensive, providing a glimpse into the academic and social scenes of the school.
Our class of 2017 has started the college application process. They are writing their essays, finalizing their lists, and visiting schools. Most of them are calm and feel very prepared, but they can’t help but be a little anxious. There are so many unknowns in this process, so we decided to ask our class of 2016 for some advice. As the TKG class of 2016 heads to schools across the United States, including Stanford, UPenn, NYU, USC, University of Michigan, UNC Chapel Hill, Barnard, and more, they’re offering their advice for our upcoming seniors.
As we’ve said, colleges aren’t just admitting your grades and test scores. They really want to know who you are and why you would be a good fit at their school. By your senior year, there isn’t much you can do to change the nature of your application. Unless you are retaking your tests, your grades and scores are basically set. There are only a few aspects of your application that you get to start from scratch at this point: your essays, your supplements, and your recommendation letters. Your teachers work with you everyday and can speak to qualities you possess that aren’t mentioned elsewhere in your application. The quality of your recommendation letter is extremely important, but we’ve found a lot of our students feel awkward when it comes time to ask their teachers. Here’s a guide to help you figure out how and when you ask your teachers for letters.
The Recommendation Letters are a hugely important and often overlooked portion the college application. Your grades and scores don’t tell the whole story. Unlike the essays, recommendation letters give someone else the chance to advocate on your behalf. You have the chance to have a teacher you admire tell a school what makes you stand out from other candidates. Of course, who you ask to write your recommendation is extremely important because it will affect how the admissions committee sees you.
The Common Application (Common App) has been a staple of the college application process for more than forty years. The Common App has done an excellent job of streamlining the application process and made it easy to apply to multiple schools. While not every college uses the Common App, it has become the choice of most top colleges in the recent past. However, in the past few years, there has been criticism of the Common App.
As we mentioned last week, many colleges are moving towards becoming test optional. Liberal arts schools are definitely leading this trend, but some top universities have hopped on board. Here is a list of the top test optional national universities.
Early decision school applications are due in the beginning in November on either November 1st or November 15th. Early decision has increased in popularity over the past few years as many people believe that there is a significant advantage to applying early. While there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to applying ED, we always want to make sure our students know about the different testing deadlines. Can they take a November SAT and have it count? Do they have to send the scores directly?
We hope you get into your dream reach school, and we plan on giving you all the advice to make your dream come true. But the reality is that you need to have a solid backup plan just incase. In the beginning of the college application process, most of our students have the wrong attitude towards safety schools because they assume they will get into at least a few of their target and reach schools. Safety schools are never to be looked down upon. We find that students who do that end up picking their safeties at random. A safety should be a school a little below your target range that you still would love to attend. Although we’ve never had a student who hasn’t gotten into at least one of their reach schools, we want to ensure you’re prepared for that possibility.