Category Archives: Recent News

Ivy League Admission Tips: Completing the Common Application

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, will be your best friend during the college application process. This online tool offers a standardized application, including one set of essay questions, that is accepted by more than 700 colleges and universities. If you are applying to multiple colleges, the Common App will save you time and effort.

The Common App goes live on August 1 of each year for applications for the following school year. Although your application deadlines may be in the fall or early winter, it’s best to get started on the process early. Here are some Ivy League admission tips that will ensure that the process goes smoothly.

Preparing to Complete the Common Application

  • Get started as soon as possible. You’ll need time to gather what you need and start thinking about and drafting your answers to the questions and essay prompts. Our successful students spend 20 to 30 hours on their applications and write five or more drafts of their essays.
  • Request a copy of your most recent high school transcript and your SAT/ACT scores. You want to make sure the information you enter is accurate. Did you take AP or honors courses that offer additional grade points? If so, report your weighted GPA.
  • Make a list of extracurricular activities, awards, community service/volunteer work, and jobs.
  • Ask your high school guidance counselor to write you a letter of recommendation. It is best to send your request formally by email or letter and allow your counselor plenty of time.
  • Sign up for a Common App account and create a secure password. Familiarize yourself with the website, and make sure to browse the questions and answers on the Student Solutions Center page section.
  • Make sure that the colleges you want to apply to accept the Common App. Many colleges participate, but some private schools and state colleges and universities do not. Check the list on the Common App website.
  • Check the requirements for the schools on your list. Make sure that you can satisfy them and that you have gathered the necessary materials. Some schools require supplemental essays in addition to the standard essays in the App.

Filling in the Blanks

  • Read and follow all the directions. If you skip a mandatory question or do not include all the required supplements, your application may be rejected. Also, pay attention to limits on the word count or the number of extracurricular activities.
  • Report your best individual test scores. If you are not satisfied with your scores, see if there is time to retake the tests.
  • List the courses you are planning to take in your senior year. If you make significant changes to your academic course schedule, be sure to notify the colleges you applied to.
  • In the “Writing” section, you will be asked to write about one of your extracurricular activities. If you’ve already mentioned an activity in your main essay, select a different activity to discuss here.
  • The “Additional Information” section lets colleges know if you have any special circumstances such as health needs, special education needs, or accommodations. Don’t use this space to squeeze in a work sample, for instance.
  • If you have disciplinary action on your record, don’t try to hide it. If another source informs the college that you were disciplined, they could reverse their decision to accept you. You could ask a supportive teacher or counselor to help you write an honest explanation of how you learned from the experience.
  • A college application is an opportunity to show your target schools who you are. Work on presenting a different aspect of yourself in each question (while staying on topic). Also, consider answering the optional questions.
  • Remember that each school is unique. Be sure to tailor your responses to show why you are applying to that particular school.

Last Steps

By now, you’ve invested much time and hard work in this process, so you want to make sure a simple mistake doesn’t trip you up.

  • Make sure that the application is complete and that you have followed all directions. Admissions committees may not consider incomplete applications.
  • Reread your application a few days after completing it and check for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and typos. Then, ask someone else to proofread your application.
    Filling out the Common App is not easy. It takes hard work. If you’d like some assistance, our team is here to help.

Ivy League Admission Tips: How to Write a Brilliant “Why This College” Essay

When the time comes to apply to your dream college, there’s a lot to prepare. You’ve ordered your transcript to showcase your academic prowess, collected reference letters, and penned a convincing personal statement. You’re done now, right?

Not quite. You’re overlooking a crucial part of the Ivy League admission process: the “why this college” essay. If your target college is highly competitive, the “why this college” essay can be your ticket either to your dream school or the rejection pile.

So, no pressure, but you can’t afford to mess this up. But where should you start?

Step 1: Reflect.

The first thing you should do is consider why you want to attend this college. Think about it. Take notes.

What did you come up with? Ideally, you came up with specific, academically based reasons that can only apply to your school in question. Your motivations to attend this college should persuade the admissions team that you will grace the school with your presence if you are admitted.

It would be best to identify these motivations at the beginning of the process, but don’t fret if you can only come up with generic or location-based reasons. You still have time to figure out why you want to attend this university.

Step 2: Research.

University admissions offices can generally tell how much research you’ve put into your application. Insufficient research will make you look lazy and passionless.

So, learn everything you can about the institution.

  • Find out what courses are offered.
  • Do research on the faculty. Try to scout out your future professors and acquaint yourself with them.
  • Explore the extracurricular activities and campus culture.
  • Read up on the school’s history.
  • If possible, visit the campus and talk to faculty and student representatives.

Step 3: Determine what not to write.

Now, it’s time to start writing the essay.

But what should you not do?

  • Don’t tell the admissions team that you think the campus is gorgeous. They know it’s breathtaking—they work there.
  • The admissions team doesn’t need to know that you like the small class sizes.
  • Don’t tell the admissions team that you’re excited about their outstanding ranking.

Basically, don’t teach them about their own institution.

Step 4: Write—about yourself.

Think of it as the academic version of a date. You wouldn’t tell the cute guy you’re out with all about his own accomplishments and reputation, right? You’d tell him about yourself.

It’s the same way with college applications. The admissions office isn’t likely to be impressed by how much you know about the school. You really have to grab their attention.

So, what should you write?

  • Write in a specific, detailed manner (within the word limit). Most importantly, write things that reflect your background, interests, and personality as they relate to the university.
  • Mention your campus visits. Tell them about personal experiences you’ve had with the school, including any meetings with faculty.
  • Be authentic. Let your personality shine through.

Step 5: Thoroughly check your essay.

Proofreading your essay is an essential Ivy League admission strategy. Spelling and grammar mistakes make you look silly and could fundamentally change the meaning of your message. Avoid them at all costs.

  • Use a spellchecker or a proofreading service.
  • Go over your essay once you’re done and correct the typos you didn’t notice while writing it.
  • Have a family member or friend read your essay, too—we’re often blind to our own typos.

Step 6: Repeat as necessary.

If your essay can be recycled for any school in the country, you’re doing it wrong.

Many applicants write one generic “why this college” essay, change the institution and place names, and send the same lackluster paper to every school on their wish list.

Remember, your essay will still be generic even if you manage to avoid all references to other colleges. Make sure to write something that specifically applies to your university of choice.

Step 7: Wait.

Following all these steps does not guarantee that your college of choice will accept you. Ultimately, this essay is just one part of your overall application.

Still, following these steps will make your application stand out.

Do extensive research to learn not only about the institution but also about yourself and your own goals and desires.

Don’t teach them about themselves.

Do tell them about yourself and what you can uniquely bring to the school.

Do proofread.

This process may sound arduous, but it’s definitely worth it.

Admission Rates Lower for Female Applicants

Getting accepted to an elite college has never been more difficult, especially for women.

To all the young women who got admitted last year, Great job! You really earned it.

Why? Because one of academia’s little-known secrets is that private college admissions are exempt from Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination—a shameful loophole that allows some of the most supposedly progressive campuses in the nation to discriminate against female applicants.
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New SAT Changes Coming in Spring 2016

The new SAT to be administered in March for the first time won’t penalize students for wrong answers, will offer them the option of writing an essay and will no longer test for vocabulary words they likely haven’t heard, according to the College Board and a local education official.

The College Board presented changes to the SAT in March 2014, when President David Coleman said the new exam would be “more focused and useful, more clear and open than ever before,” according to a news release.

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Stanford Admits Record Low of 5% for Class of 2019


Stanford University is letting in a record low 5 percent of freshman applicants as it vies to be named the most-selective U.S. school for the second year in a row.

Stanford’s admit rate is slightly below last year’s 5.1 percent. The school, near Palo Alto, California, received 42,487 applications, up from more than 42,000 last year. Stanford beat Harvard by more than 8,000 aspirants last year, when Harvard’s admit rate was 5.9 percent.
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