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How to be a stand out applicant

November 23rd, 2021

How can I make my application stand out for college or boarding school? This million dollar question is simply answered … students should show their intellectual curiosity, of course, but also their ability to connect with others and make a significant impact on the world around them.

Sometimes it seems as though admissions officers are only looking for students with an impeccable GPA, taking the most advanced courses and having an almost perfect SAT or ACT score. While these academic achievements predict future academic success, character also counts when determining if a student will be a good fit.

Colleges and boarding schools alike seek students who not only have a strong academic record but also show initiative, leadership, a sense of social responsibility and so much more. In the article linked below, MIT reveals the key components their admissions committee uses when evaluating applicants. This is a great read and it may help you think outside the box as you continue working on applications or, for younger students, building your activities list and considering how you can continue to make an impact on others.

Article linked below from MIT Admissions

What we look for

The match between you and MIT

Ask any admissions officer at MIT, and they will tell you that while grades and scores are important, it’s really the match between applicant and the Institute that drives our selection process.

Here are the key components:

Alignment with MIT’s mission

Remember that there are many ways to make the world better—we’re not looking for applicants to have cured all infectious disease in the world by the time they’re 15. Tutoring a single kid in math changes the world. Lobbying a senator to amend bad policy changes the world. There are thousands of examples.

Read more at MIT admissions >>

Standardized Testing Q&A

November 9th, 2021

Covid-19 and community disruption have brought tectonic change to the world of college admission, not least where testing requirements are concerned. We’ve been heartened to see more colleges adopt test-optional admission policies, yet as school life resumes something closer to a natural rhythm and registration for the SAT and ACT becomes less problematic, many wonder whether test-optional admission policies are here to stay. If you have questions surrounding this issue, today’s blog post is for you!

Will colleges return to requiring standardized testing in the 2022-2023 application cycle? Hmmm … some state university systems required tests this year; Florida and Georgia are two examples. On the other hand, the University of California system went in the opposite direction and will not consider scores even if submitted. Many colleges are in the midst of “pilot” test-optional policy periods that extend through this year and have yet to announce whether they’ll extend the policy further. That’s a long-winded way to say that in many cases, we’ll have to wait and see.

Should I plan to take the SAT or ACT? If you’re certain that you’ll only apply to test-optional colleges, then there’s no need to prepare or sit for the SAT or ACT. However, if there’s any wiggle room in your college list composition (and for most there is), then it will likely prove wise to prepare and register for the SAT or ACT.

How are test-optional colleges handling merit scholarships? Most colleges offering a test-optional path to admission take the same approach with merit scholarship awarding … but not all. Students should review websites carefully for this information when looking at colleges of interest.

How many times should I plan to take the SAT or ACT? Plan on three test dates, with the first falling winter/spring and the second at the end of junior year. The third can take place over the summer or early fall of senior year.

Where can I find a list of colleges with test-optional admission policies? Visit FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, for a searchable database of colleges.

The standardized testing dilemma has long been a problem but the pandemic combined with societal upheaval to bring it to the forefront of the college admission world’s consciousness. The article linked below from The Smithsonian informs us of the history in admissions testing and what the future might look like as schools begin to rebalance their approach to admissions.

Article referenced below from The Smithsonian, published July 15, 2021 written by Amber Dance

Has the Pandemic Put an End to the SAT and ACT?

Clara Chaplin had studied. She was ready. A junior at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, New York, she was scheduled to take the SAT on March 14, 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and the test was canceled.

The April SAT was canceled too. All through the spring and summer and into the fall, every test date she signed up for was either full or canceled. As she submitted her college applications on November 1, she still didn’t know how she’d score on the SAT she finally would manage to take on November 7.

Read more at Smithsonian>>

Need a little help understanding financial aid for college?

October 26th, 2021

Financial aid forms can seem like a daunting task on a laundry list of documents to complete before the application process is finally finished. For families applying for need-based aid, here are the main forms parents should be aware of:

  • The FAFSA is the most commonly discussed college financial aid application; it’s used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, including grants, work-study and student loans.
  • The CSS Profile is an application required by many private colleges and a small number of highly competitive public universities in addition to the FAFSA. This form takes a closer look at a family’s entire financial picture.
  • Institutional forms are required in a very few cases; each college’s financial aid website will specify if so.

Financial aid policies vary from college to college, so parents must review each school’s financial aid instructions carefully to be sure they are submitting everything required for consideration. Many great resources are available online to help guide you and this US News article linked below provides the “ultimate guide” to help you through this process.

Article linked below from US News written by Farran Powell and Emma Kerr published on December 7, 2020

A Guide to Understanding Financial Aid for College

Many families are shocked by a college’s sticker price. While the price of tuition can be overwhelming, college financial aid can make higher education affordable.

In fact, income and savings represent only a few of the resources families use to pay students’ college expenses, according to the 2020 Sallie Mae/Ipsos survey How America Pays for College. The survey found that for a typical family, scholarships and grants covered 25% of college costs in 2019-2020. Scholarships and grants are two types of college financial aid that don’t need to be repaid.

With the complexity of paying for college, navigating the financial aid process can seem challenging. Here are a few answers to common financial aid questions.

Read more at US News >>

Is applying Early the right decision for you?

October 12th, 2021

Applying to college early can be a useful strategy, but each student must make thoughtful choices. When it comes to applying early there are typically two options: Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED).

Image via Boston College

Early Decision is binding, so you must be 100% certain you’ve found your best fit. ED students may apply to other schools simultaneously via Early Action (at schools with unrestricted EA policies) and Regular Decision, but only one through Early Decision. If you are accepted ED, you must attend that school and withdraw all other applications.

Early Action, the non-binding option, still provides some advantages for qualifying students. This policy gives students the opportunity to compare financial aid packages and admissions offers before making the final enrollment decision by May 1.

For seniors considering whether to apply early, please pay close attention to your top choice college’s requirements to determine whether this is a good path for you. The article linked below from Nerd Wallet gives a more in-depth look at early application options and is a great resource for students and parents.

Article referenced below from Nerd Wallet, written by Anna Helhoski published on April 30, 2021

Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference?

Students who are accepted into college early have the advantage of peace of mind during their senior year of high school. Applying early decision or early action is a smart move for the confident applicant to stand out from the pack. But applying early is not for the faint of heart—those applicants who are accepted enter into a binding agreement to attend that college.

What does early decision mean?

It is critical for a student to be absolutely certain in the choice of early-decision college before applying. Prospective students can apply for regular admission to other schools, but cannot apply to any other college by early decision. If the student is accepted, any other applications must be withdrawn.

Read more at Nerd Wallet >>