Posted: Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | Filed under: College acceptance, college life, college prep | author: By Teddy Bergman
Posted: Friday, August 26th, 2011 | Filed under: ACT exam, Admissions Essay, College acceptance, College Admissions, college essay | author: By Teddy Bergman
How can I prepare for my first year in college?
Summer’s already drawing to a close, and you’re on the verge of heading into your freshman year of college. After years of AP classes and college board exams—not to mention writing admissions essays and visiting various campuses—you’re probably relieved to be done with high school, and also a little terrified of what challenges college may have in store.
Here’s the good news. The same skills you’ve developed in preparing for the ACT and SAT, in juggling classes and extracurricular activities, and in putting together college applications are going to serve you well
Make a schedule of your daily college life. Just like with ACT and SAT prep, or writing admissions essays, studying for tests and writing papers in college is a lot easier if you don’t put it off until the last minute. Schedule yourself to get up early, make time to go the gym, budget a lot of the day to be in the library, and keep an early bedtime on weeknights.
While you were preparing to take the SAT or ACT, you probably heard someone (maybe a tutor at CATES Tutoring) advise you how important it is to get enough sleep and to eat something on the morning of the test. Though this suggestion may sound obvious, we’ve found students who don’t get enough sleep or get enough to eat have major problems remaining focused for the entirety of the ultra-long college board exams. Day to day college life provides a lot less structure, and no parental supervision. You’re likely to find yourself skipping meals and pulling all-nighters. Know your limits and take care of yourself. Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself unable to concentrate—or even to function at all.
Your first year in college is going to be incredibly exciting, but also challenging. Keep on top of your work, stay focused and stay healthy, just like you did when preparing for your college board exams. Keeping these guidelines in mind will go a long way towards helping you to make the most of your college experience.
Posted: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 | Filed under: Admissions Essay, College Admissions, college essay | author: By Teddy Bergman
How can I keep track of everything I need to do to navigate the college admissions process?
Applying to college is a lot of work. It can easily seem overwhelming. To stay on top of it the application process, you’re going to want to make a checklist of everything you have to do, and a calendar of when each thing is going to get done. At CATES we also suggest using spreadsheets as a great tool to organize the college admissions process.
First, make a list of everything you have to do. How many colleges are you applying to, and when is each college application due? When are you visiting each campus? Is the college on the common application or not? Does it have a supplement? And when are you taking the SAT and/or the ACT exam? Are there college interviews? Do you need to schedule going to the college? Your parents should be able to help you with some of this. Are you applying early decision?
Now that you’ve made a checklist of everything, complete with the dates when each test, admissions interview and college application is due, think about how much time you’ll need to prepare. Resist the temptation to postpone everything until the last possible moment. If your college applications are due in December, make sure you have drafts of each essay done by mid-September. Schedule time to take at least three or four full practice SAT or ACT exams.
Even if you’re able to submit all your college applications online, don’t put off submitting until the last possible day. Give yourself time to adjust in case you have difficulty with your computer or your printer, or run into trouble with your internet connection.
Making a detailed checklist and calendar for the college admissions process—and sticking to the deadlines you create—will go a long way towards making your application process more manageable and less stressful. Although parents can be invaluable resources in the college application process, sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to work with a neutral third party. CATES Tutors are all equipped to facilitate your college application process in any way you need.
Posted: Monday, August 15th, 2011 | Filed under: College acceptance, College Admissions, college interview | author: By Teddy Bergman
How should I approach the common application?What are my best options?
Years ago, applying to five or six different schools often meant completing five or six different sets of essays. In order to make this process more manageable, admissions officers from several different colleges and universities got together and created the common application, a standardized college application that’s now accepted by over four hundred different schools.
So what’s on the common application (or “common app,” as it’s sometimes called)? You’ll be asked questions about what classes you’ve taken (including AP and honors classes), what jobs you’ve had, and what extracurricular activities you’ve participated in. You’ll also have to fill out several questions about your family background
In addition to these basic questions, you’ll be asked to complete a 500-750 word personal statement essay. Possible personal statement topics include writing about an experience that had a profound impact on you, a historical or fictional character you admire, an individual who’s influenced you, or an issue that matters to you. You can also make up your own personal statement topic. There’s a second, shorter essay as well, of no more than 150 words, in which you’ll be asked to go into depth about one of your extracurricular activities.
Just as with any admissions essay, you want to make sure to avoid generalities when writing your common application essays. Keep your answers specific to you. The goal is to write something so particular to who you are that an admissions officer can really get to know you. Make sure you stay within the word count. (If you’re submitting online, essays with too many words will only be partially submitted. It’s not a good idea to submit a partial essay to the admissions committee.)
A word of caution: there are still some colleges and universities that don’t accept the common application, and lots of schools that do accept the common app ask students to submit supplemental materials (sometimes including additional essays) as well. Also, because you’ll probably be submitting your college application to several schools at once, avoid mentioning specific colleges and universities in your common application. This isn’t the place to declare your undying allegiance to the University of Virginia. Use supplemental materials and college interviews for that.
Posted: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 | Filed under: Bar exam, NY State Bar | author: By Teddy Bergman
In the midst of studying for your SAT and ACT exams, staying on top of your classes, securing recommendations, writing admissions essays, and setting up visits to colleges, it’s easy to forget about one last element of the college admissions process: the interview.
Unlike college board exams and admissions essays, you may not yet know what to expect from a college interview, and you’re likely to feel a little intimidated. Don’t worry. Like everything else in the college admissions process, there are surefire guidelines for how to prepare for your interview, too.
First, take the time to research the school to which you’re applying. Pick up a couple of college guides, check out the school’s website and college admissions materials, and—if possible—talk to some current or former students.
Is the interview optional or required? Is it a formal interview, conducted by an admissions officer on campus, or is it an informal, off-campus interview, conducted by a graduate of the university?
What appeals to you about this particular school? (The admissions interviewer is likely to ask you this question, and you’d better have an answer ready.) Does it pride itself on its high-profile professors, or on small class sizes? Does it require students to take “Great Books” courses, or does it have few or no general education requirements?
The more specific you can be about your interest of this particular college or university, the better for the college interview. You’ll also probably be asked what you can offer the university community and what activities you’re likely to pursue in college. Resist the temptation to give general answers to the admissions interviewer about how you’re a “great student” or “hard-working”. Keep your answers concrete and specific. Like your personal statement, you’ll want each answer to accurately reflect who you are.
Finally, how you come across in the college interview is going to be just as important as what you say. Have a firm handshake. Stay confident and upbeat. Maintain eye contact with your admissions interviewer. Speak clearly and slowly enough that you can be easily understood. Also, make sure to dress appropriately. Look sharp and professional.
Have a parent or friend, or a CATES tutor, conduct a few mock interviews with you. The more experience you have with the interview process, the more comfortable you’re likely to be in the actual college interview.
What can I do in the last 24 hours before the NYS Bar Exam? What’s the best way to spend the final countdown?
The single more important thing you can do on the day before the NYS Bar Exam is to try and rest up. Check into your hotel, or if you are staying with friends or in your own home, treat it as if it were a hotel. Try to shut out the rest of the world as much as possible.
If bar exam preparation can be seen as a marathon, the sprint you will have to take in this final mile is often the most taxing both mentally and physically. Right before the NY Bar Exam, try not to study. If you did what you were supposed to in the weeks and months leading up to the Bar exam, then your work is done and trying to cram in those last few hours isn’t worth it. You will be in a much better place for the last leg of this race if you take some time to stop and relax.
In the last twenty four hours before the NYS Bar Exam, go for a walk, see a movie or just sit and people watch. Have your favorite meal, as long as it isn’t too spicy — you don’t want anything messing with your delicate pre Bar Exam stomach.
Finally, for those taking the NY State Bar exam at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, try to stop by and scope it out the day before the bar exam. This site can be particularly overwhelming and just knowing where you are going can lessen that to some degree. Remember to reward yourself for making it this far and embrace what is to come. You’ve earned the right to sit for this bar exam and that is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. Well done!!