Posts Tagged ‘college applications’

How Many Colleges are Too Many to Apply to?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Applying to college

Applying to college

107.  That’s the exact answer to that question; 107 colleges are too many to apply to.  Of course though, this exact answer is unhelpful as you already knew it.  A sarcastic blogger who herself applied to more than a dozen but less than a score back in her (hey?)day, didn’t need to tell you that.  You already knew that 107 colleges are too many to apply to, but the other answer–the inexact answer about how it depends on you and your goals and your precise situation–that answer is so inexact!  And that’s what we college aspirants like to avoid: inexactitude.  What a pickle, what a pickle. (more…)

How to Handle a Ubiquitous Question on College Applications

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
College Applications

College Applications

Almost every school has a question like this on their supplement to the common application, or on their own application, if they don’t use the common app. The questions might be worded “Why are you interested in Kenyon?” or “Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application?” or “Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why,” but they all boil down to one thing: why do you want to go here?

It can be hard to know how to approach these questions—do colleges want you to praise them or to talk about yourself? Should you focus only on academics, or should you talk about sports and the social scene on campus? What will make your essay stand out from the thousands of others that the college will be searching through? Should you tell each college that they’re your favorite? (more…)

When to Apply to College

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

What is the right time to apply to college?  Are there advantages and disadvantages to different times?

College application

College application

As students end their junior year of high school and begin to look around the corner to their senior year, the topic foremost on their minds tends to be college. Within that, students and parents are undergoing the process of creating and editing a college list. Over the course of college visits, reading brochures, talking to friends, college counselors, and family, students are forming an idea of the kind of school they want to attend. Then comes the decision of applying to college early or not.

There are two kinds of early decision options open to applicants in the college process.  One is early decision, which requires a student to submit his or her application around November 1st of his or her senior year. The student will then usually be notified by December15th whether the college accepted, rejected or deferred them to regular decision. There are a couple of big advantages to early decision. The first is that the acceptance rate tends to be higher in this round than in the regular decision round.

The second is that if you are accepted your college process is over. Early decision is binding, meaning that if you are accepted you must attend that school. This is also the disadvantage of this option, as you must be absolutely certain about the school to which you are applying.

Another admission option is early action, which operates in the same way as early decision except for the fact that admission is non-binding. You can be accepted to a school via early admission, and still apply to other schools and ultimately attend another college if you choose. The draw back to early admission is that the acceptance rate is not as high as early decision.

Finally, you can apply via regular decision. The application will be due by January 1st and you will find out in the spring.  You can apply to as many schools as you would like and the acceptance rates are what they are depending on the school. There is no right answer to the question of when you should apply to colleges, it really all depends on how certain you are in your choice of school. If you feel like you need time and options, go ahead and wait to apply in the regular decision round.

College Admissions Checklist

Friday, August 26th, 2011

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.

What is the Common Application?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

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.