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Freshman files: Making connections

February 11th, 2020

One of the best things about college is the fresh start, surrounded by thousands of potential new friends. This makes for the perfect opportunity to be your authentic self, find your niche, make friends who love you for who you are.

Sounds simple, right? Not always. In the first Freshman Files post of 2020, we share reflections written by several ShropEd advisees about the first half of their first year in college. This post will help you gear up for your incredible journey on a new campus next fall.

  1. They joined organizations they care about

“All in all, I have been enjoying Fordham quite a bit! I met a lot of good people and became friends with them. Joining the club soccer team was probably one of the best decisions I could have made. All the lads on the team are all great kids and its just a big family over there, so I’m glad I joined the team.” (Fordham University in New York)

“I love it here. It took a while, but I have met some wonderful people and am starting to build wonderful friendships. I’ve definitely learned important lessons, like deciding what kind of people I want to be around, but now I feel much more confident and self-assured that I know how to make the right choices for myself. … I auditioned for SIKOS (Smith Improv Comedy Organization of Smith) and got in. So, I have been doing that and loving it since last semester. I also auditioned for Celebrations, the student run dance company, and have been doing that since last semester as well …” (Smith College in Massachusetts)

“I ended up joining a couple of groups upon arriving on campus, which have all been great ways to meet friends and decompress outside of class. I auditioned for and was accepted into both the Stanford Chamber Chorale, Stanford’s small-group singing ensemble, and the Stanford Harmonics, one of Stanford’s acapella groups. Between the two of these, I have around 10 hours of music rehearsal per week, which is certainly an interesting position to be in as a prospective STEM major. I’ve made some of my closest friendships through these groups …” (Stanford University in California)

  1. Sometimes it just isn’t easy but they persisted

“Initially, I was unaware of the extent to which Greek organizations influenced social life. I quickly realized that they dictate a majority of the social events, at least for freshmen and sophomores. … I had an unsatisfactory experience with rush, in which I was not invited back to houses I felt I could have fit in, and ended up without a bid. Since then, the Dean of Student Affairs has helped me with a process called Continuous Open Bidding ” (Tulane University in Louisiana)

Overall the transition has been smooth and now I’d say I feel fully transitioned, but it takes time to find your groove and what you actually care about. My first roommate was a little bit of a nightmare, but I just changed rooms last week and things are much better now. …I got to move into the room of the person I was already planning on being roommates with (next year) and she is a lovely individual. …” (Smith)

  1. They keep an open mind

One thing I was a little concerned about coming into Duke was how easy/difficult it would be to make friends and spend time with people who aren’t on the track team. This has turned out to not be an issue at all, as there are ample opportunities to do so, and some of my close friends are people that aren’t on the team. For this reason, I would say that any advisees that you have who might share this concern should not worry about that being an issue. Duke does a great job of providing an environment for students to connect, and I’m sure most universities do the same. ” (Duke University in North Carolina)

“Overall, though, I’ve had so much fun on campus. I’ve found a wonderful group of friends and I enjoy meeting new, interesting, passionate people every day. I’ve also been lucky enough to have established close relationships with incredible professors and TAs, including those for my writing and global health classes. I’ve found that college has already helped me become more open to new experiences.” – (Harvard University in Massachusetts)

“I am still constantly astounded by the caliber and achievements of the people around me. Just a couple of weeks ago I found out that one of my dormmates was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list last year, and it seems like every other person I meet was either a medalist in some sort of science olympiad or a founding member of a successful tech startup. I’m sure this is a common experience of many other first-year college students, but it seems to be especially true at Stanford. It’s incredibly invigorating to constantly be around such successful and amazing people” – (Stanford)

  1. They take advantage of experiences off-campus

I’m enjoying the campus being so close to the city, and am using it to my advantage.” – (Fordham)

“The school does have many programs in place, however, to get you accustomed to life in New Orleans. I have been paired with a Town Mom, who has shown me around New Orleans. She is in a Mardi Gras Krewe, and even took me to an official Mardi Gras ball, which was an incredible experience!” (Tulane)

We’re grateful to these students for sharing their experiences and wish them much continued growth and success! Stay tuned for more Freshman Files reports on other topics in weeks to come.

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You hit submit, now what?

February 4th, 2020

Regular decision applications have been sent off for review and early action deferrals will soon be reviewed again: the waiting game is in full force. For some high school seniors who sent their applications in the fall, a lot can happen between their submission and the final decision in March. Is there anything applicants can do to increase their chances of admission during this downtime? Sure!

Photo from Northwestern University’s additional material upload page via

When significant progress has been made since the application was sent off, updating your profile can make a difference in the outcome. Many times students are able to use the update link through their portal on the college’s website and I believe this is always the best path if offered. If not, emailing one’s admission contact or the regional admission officer is wise, with clarity in the subject line, such as “Update information for (full name), Fall 2020 applicant.”

If you have been questioning whether or not you should provide an update to your application, the article linked below from Medium will help you make that call.

Article referenced below from published February 15, 2019 written by Theo Wolf

Guide to Sending an Update to Colleges After Applying

So you’ve sent in your applications and now you’re nervously waiting to hear back. You might be wondering if there’s anything more you can do to help sway the decision. The answer is yes! While we don’t recommend inundating the admissions office with updates (there’s a classic story known in college admissions circles about a kid who sent postcards to the admissions office every week), in some cases it can be helpful to send an update to the schools you’ve applied to.

Should I submit an update?

You should submit an update to colleges if you have made significant progress in some aspect of your candidacy story, whether you’ve greatly developed your Spike, won a major award, received serious recognition from a well-known website, etc. If you haven’t done anything noteworthy, an update email is unnecessary, as it will be unlikely to move the needle on your application and may actually annoy admissions officers (they have a massive amount of reading to do this time of year). You don’t need to send an update on grades (unless it’s requested of you), since that will be in your counselor’s midyear report. We particularly recommend an update if the college cares about demonstrated interest.

Read more at Medium>>

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Check your email! A crucial habit for college applicants

January 21st, 2020

In today’s world we are always connected. Cell phones have created a new way to communicate and respond immediately that is much faster and quite frankly more enjoyable than the way things used to be. Long gone are the days of “snail mail” where response time could take almost a week.

For teenagers, email is typically not the first means of communication and understandably so. Sifting through junk mail to find the important pieces of communication can be a turn-off, and replies don’t arrive as quickly as with texting!

Photo by Stacey Westcott via Chicago Tribune

However, email is still a very important way to communicate in the world of school, work, and especially college admissions. In the article linked below, the Chicago Tribune helps you understand the importance of staying on top of all the information being sent your way so that you don’t miss anything.

Article referenced below from Chicago Tribune, published December 19, 2019 written by Dawn Rhodes

Teenagers don’t use email — colleges do. That’s a problem during college admissions season

Amber Fitzgerald never uses email.

When the 18-year-old started applying to colleges this year, the crush of messages flooding her inbox made her stop checking it.

“I get 10 emails a day just from two colleges,” said Fitzgerald, a senior at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. “If I go a week (without checking) we’re talking 100 emails easily from schools I’m not even interested in.”

Email is not the default for most teenagers, but it remains the primary avenue for colleges to communicate with prospective and current students. That can mean aggravation for college-bound teens and their families at the time of year when schools send critical admissions and financial aid information mostly via email.

Read more at Chicago Tribune>>

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Deep dive: show schools and colleges who you really are

January 7th, 2020

When applying to boarding school or college, you work to distill your entire life into a several-page application for someone to read and determine your fate. What do you include? How do you stand out against the other piles of applications?

Photo by Getty via Forbes

Sure, you include test scores, GPA, involvement in clubs and other extracurricular activities. But what really makes you, you? What do you do on a day to day basis that doesn’t necessarily “earn points” with the admission office but shows what you really value as a person? In the article linked below from Forbes contributor Brennan Barnard, you’ll learn how to take a deep dive into your daily tasks and discover exactly how to reveal what’s at your core to admission officers.

Seniors sending updates to admission offices may glean some ideas, and juniors looking ahead to next year’s applications can certainly benefit from Barnard’s article. Boarding school applicants, too, may find this article helpfulful as they put final touches on pending applications.

Article referenced below from Forbes, published November 20, 2019 written by Brennan Barnard

What Matters In College Admission

A look of surprise and encouragement washes over his face and with earnest he exclaims, “You mean that matters?”

I am sitting in my school counseling office reviewing a high school senior’s college application, and I have asked why there is no mention of the hours he spends at home after school caring for his grandfather.

Read more at Forbes>>

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