My son worked in a restaurant and my daughter mucked stalls at a stable. There are counseling positions at different camps. All of these feed into how students figure out who they are and what their strengths are.
There are tons of community-service opportunities: A lot of people feel that they have to go to Fiji to do something, or to some undeveloped country for a week. Work for your town and keep it local. We understand that there are certain pressures.
What is demonstrated interest? Demonstrated interest is a hot-button issue. Some colleges will track the number of times you open the emails they send you and turn it into how interested you are in attending their school. My question for the dean is: How much does demonstrated interest really matter?
Penn has 25 admission officers going worldwide. Otherwise, why would they even apply? But you should think about demonstrated knowledge. One of the supplemental questions on your application will be: What are some of the outcomes I may expect? A great question to ask on every college tour is: Do you track demonstrated interest?
Is it possible to meet with them? Some of the smaller schools love that. Is it a campus that you want to spend four years on? The only way you can answer that is to do the due diligence and go on the tour. I also urge students to think about what signals a college is sending during that tour and college-selection process.
Typically counselors will suggest an applicant apply to a mix of the different types of schools, usually having at least one safety school, but the numbers of the others are up to students and families. The admissions system of the so-called best schools is rigged against you. If you are a middle-class youth or minority from poor circumstances, you have little chance of getting in to one of those schools.
Indeed, the system exists not to provide social mobility but to prevent it and to perpetuate the prevailing social order. Former US Education Secretary William Bennett suggested college should be seen as a long-term purchase with the return on investment ROI being the future earnings potential of a graduate. Prestige of colleges correlates with age, such that the oldest east-coast schools tend to have accumulated the most prestige by virtue of their longevity.
There is widespread consensus that the fit between a student and a school is an important factor. They help students to explore their values and needs, and provide counseling to help both students and parents find a college or university program that helps students meet long-term goals.
Questions include thinking about life goals, which activities a person likes best, and what style of learning works best for the student. The college that fits you best is one that will: A school has to fit — academically, socially, and economically Ask whether a college feels right One admissions dean likens "fit" to a friendship:.
I draw the analogy of friends to explain why fit is so important in considering a college. You like your good friends for some reason. It may not be an objective reason. In addition, counselors can help less academically astute students find good colleges to help them pursue careers, and can point out colleges that are "gems" but relatively unknown.
The general pattern is that most colleges and universities, particularly private ones, have an artificially high  and unreliable  sticker price while charging most students, by awarding grant and scholarship money, a "discounted price" that varies considerably. Sticker price is the full price colleges list in their brochures and on their websites.
Net price is the price students actually pay. Net price accounts for the fact that many students receive grants or scholarships. So it can be considerably lower than sticker price. Discounting began in the s and was dramatically expanded in the s, according to one report. Estimates vary, but show a consistent pattern of sticker prices being much greater than real costs, sometimes more than double, sometimes only one and a half times as high.
Colleges use high sticker prices because it allows them wide latitude in how to use funds to attract the best students, as well as entice students with special skills or increase its overall racial or ethnic diversity. In the fall of , colleges were required by federal law to post a net price calculator on their websites to give prospective students and families a rough estimate of likely college costs for their particular institution,   and to "demystify pricing.
The first online calculators were started by Williams College. There are numerous potential problems with the calculators. One view is that most colleges award aid using a mix of both.
There are many reports that many applicants fail to apply for financial aid when they are qualified for it; one estimate was that 1. According to several reports, some colleges may deny admission or reduce aid based on their interpretation of the order of colleges on the FAFSA;    accordingly, several sources recommend that colleges be listed alphabetically on the FAFSA to obscure any preferences.
According to one source, the best time to begin searching for scholarships is before the twelfth grade, to guarantee meeting deadlines. In addition to cost factors, increasingly colleges are being compared on the basis of the average student debt of their graduates, and US News has developed rankings based on average student indebtedness. US News and others suggest another factor overlooked in terms of financing college, which is the length of time it takes to earn a degree.
Finishing a year early in three years lops off a substantial portion of the overall bill,  while taking five years compounds the expense and delays entry into the workforce. Most educational institutions in the U. Many combine some or all of the above. Two-year colleges are often county- or community-oriented schools funded by state or local governments, and typically offer the Associates degree A. They are generally inexpensive,  particularly for in-state residents, and are focused on teaching, and accept most applicants meeting minimum grade and SAT score levels.
Students commute to school and rarely live in dorms on campus. These schools often have articulation arrangements with four-year state public schools to permit students to transfer. Consultants suggest that community colleges are reasonably priced, and after two years with solid grades and academic performance, many colleges are willing to accept transfers. Four-year colleges offer Bachelor of Arts B. These are primarily undergraduate institutions, although some might have limited programs at the graduate level.
Graduates of the tuition-free United States service academies receive both a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission. Universities have both undergraduate and graduate students.
The highest academic degree is the Doctor of Philosophy or Ph. Medical schools award either the M. Public and private universities are generally research -oriented institutions that teach both an undergraduate and graduate students.
Liberal arts colleges are four-year institutions that emphasize interactive instruction, although research is still a component of these institutions.
They are usually residential colleges with most students living on campus in dorms. They tend to have smaller enrollments, class sizes, and lower student-teacher ratios than universities, and encourage teacher-student interaction with classes taught by full-time faculty members rather than graduate students known as teaching assistants.
There are further distinctions within the category of liberal arts colleges: There are historically black colleges ; in addition, while most schools are secular , some stress a particular religious orientation.
Most are private colleges but there are some public ones. State colleges and universities. Since they are usually subsidized with state funds, tuitions tend to be lower than private schools. They tend to be large, sometimes with student bodies numbering in the tens of thousands, and offer a variety of programs. They are generally less selective in terms of admissions than elite competitive private schools, and are usually less expensive, sometimes half or a third as much as a private institution for in-state residents; the affordability may be leading more students in recent years to choose public or state-subsidized or community colleges.
Engineering or technical schools specialize in technical and scientific subjects. Some programs can be more competitive and applicants are often evaluated on the basis of grades in subjects such as mathematics particularly calculus , physics, chemistry, mathematics, and science courses. The consensus view among guidance advisors is that it is a good idea to visit colleges,  preferably when college is in session and not during a summer break,  with a chance to meet an actual student in the form of a tour guide,  and taking notes for reference later when applying.
Barnard recommends going beyond the usual tour to ask random strangers about life on campus and reading the student newspaper.
Counselor Michael Szarek commented on the importance of campus visits in dispelling false impressions:. Half of all college classes are not outdoors. Half of all college classes are not gathered around an electron microscope. Sometimes the leaves are brown, or even fall to the ground. So, use the viewbook to get a sense of the institution and what the college thinks are its strengths. But always rely on the campus visit. However, one account suggested colleges structured the campus visit with the same boring format, which rarely includes a faculty member:.
First there is an "informational session," conducted by an admissions officer. This is followed by an hour-long campus tour, which is led by a student with a talent for walking backwards On the campus tour, we are always shown a dorm room and a dining hall.
We are always taken to a library and told how many volumes it contains. We are informed how many students study abroad a lot , how many student clubs there are ditto , and how small the classes are very small.
There are conflicting views about student participation in extracurricular activities. There are differing views on how many schools a student should apply to. Several reports suggest that applying to too many schools caused unnecessary stress and expense,  and hampers a student from targeting applications to a few select schools.
Mamlet and VanDeVelde suggest applying to eight to ten schools is best, and that applying to too many schools is counterproductive. Many schools have implemented a system through which students can apply at a time other than the most common usual deadline of January first of the twelfth grade, to lighten the load on students and admissions officers. Several reports suggest an increase in early admissions. Many open slots for students at many private universities begin to fill up early in the last year of school.
Numerous reports suggest that more students are applying using early decision or early action approaches. Generally early action is similar to early decision except the decision is not binding,  so a student could apply to multiple colleges.
It allows a student to compare competing offers. Early action can be the best choice for students who know they prefer one particular school and have done everything possible to secure admission since a student will know the result of the application sooner,  and to varying extents allows a student to compare aid offers from different schools.
Regular admission is a good choice for students who are unsure where they would like to go. The fairly dominant view is that regular admission is more likely to result in higher offers of financial aid, particularly if students are admitted to several institutions that present different aid offers. Accordingly, one offer can be used as leverage to try to get a better offer at another institution,  particularly if there are competing multiple acceptances.
If you want to go to Cornell However, a dissenting view in The New York Times suggested that only one to two percent of colleges adjust aid packages based on offers from competing colleges, and that most colleges do not get into bidding wars over specific students. Some colleges offer this type of admission, typically used by schools with large numbers of applicants, which means that colleges are continually receiving applications and making decisions, typically within four to six weeks after application.
One benefit is that if a student is accepted early in the school year, there is less anxiety about acceptance for the rest of the year. Guidance counselors suggest that rolling admissions should not be used late in twelfth grade since financial aid money may have already been distributed, and few slots may be left for September. There are conflicting reports about the usefulness of test preparation courses. In , according to one estimate, 1. The photos would be stored in a password-protected database, but would not be shared with college admissions departments.
Regarding whether to choose the SAT or ACT, the consensus view is that both tests are roughly equivalent and tend to bring similar results, and that each test is equally accepted by colleges. One report suggested that the SAT favors "white male students" from upper income backgrounds. Several sources suggested that the SAT subject tests were becoming more important in evaluating applicants. One described them as "true equalizers" in admissions, suggesting how strong a high school is, and elaborated that some admissions officers considered them to be a better indicator of academic ability than high school grades.
There was a report that scores on Advanced Placement exams could be helpful in the evaluations process. The advantage of the Common Application is that it is the same for numerous colleges, and can save time and trouble for a student.
There are differing recommendations about the importance of interviews, with the consensus view that interviews were overall less important than college admissions essays, but should be done if they were offered. Our advice is that if offered an interview, a student should take it And they should dress as if they are going to dinner with their grandparents. The biggest faux pax comes in inappropriate dress for both sexes. Spaghetti straps, buttons that pop open. For boys a rumpled T-shirt If you look in the mirror and you think you look good, change your clothes.
This is not a date. One suggested that a goal of interview preparation should be to present oneself as "comfortable with spontaneous conversation" and be able to talk about interests without sounding like the answers were prepared in advance, and suggested it was important to show intellectual passion and a love of learning with a deep excitement, and show "social maturity" with sensitivity, empathy for others unlike oneself, and concern for issues larger than personal career ambitions.
There are differing opinions about the importance of the college essay. The consensus view is that the essay is less important than grades and test scores, but that an essay can make a difference in some instances,  often at highly selective colleges where they can "make or break your application.
Generally counselors recommend that the essay should not be too long, such as over words. The Common Application suggests to words in length. Writing is easy; rewriting is hard.
And essays deserve to be rewritten several times. Lots of kids think the objective is to write about something that will impress the admission office. In part that is true, but what impresses an admission officer is an essay that conveys something positive about the applicant; that allows the committee to get to know the kid just a bit from those few pieces of paper.
The essay is an opportunity to provide a different perspective about the applicant, a reason to accept a kid. It is an opportunity not to be wasted. Advisors suggest that the essay should be concise, honest with no embellishments , coherent, not boring,  accurate, evoking vivid images, revealing a likeable  and smart individual, with cautious use of humor, and possibly touching on controversial topics but in a balanced way.
Schools H8 2 C texttalk , or artiness e. Former guidance counselor for students at Andover and college admissions authority, Donald Dunbar, suggested that essays must emphasize personal character and demonstrate intellectual curiosity, maturity, social conscience, concern for the community, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Former admissions director Michele Hernandez agreed, and suggested that the best essay topics were a slice-of-life story, with poignant details, in which the writer shows and does not tell.
Some colleges ask for teacher recommendation letters, typically from 11th or 12th grade teachers of core courses, and preferably who know the student well. One report suggested that having more than four recommendations was a mistake, and that a "thick file" indicated a "thick student" to admissions personnel.
You might think they do nothing but brag But parents really nail their kids. Advisors counsel that applicants should meet deadlines,    spend time researching colleges,  be open-minded,  have fun,  communicate what "resonates" to the applicant about a particular school,  not fall in love with one or two colleges,  follow directions precisely  and make sure to click the "submit" button.
One recommends starting early in the twelfth grade;  another suggests that even this is too late, and that the process should begin during the eleventh grade and summer before twelfth grade. Advisors suggest that the application should help a student position themselves to create a unique picture. Foreign non-US citizen students applying from another country form a large and growing percentage of applicants including accepted applicants to American universities.
Most international applicants do not receive a GPA score or transcript from their school. Most American universities are happy to accept international and foreign qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate or IB , or British A Levels ,  although it is often up to the applicant to elaborate on the meaning of these qualifications.
Further, international applicants also have to apply for a student visa, which can be a complex and time-consuming process. Colleges use a variety of methods to evaluate applicants. One source noted that four of every five colleges accept more than half of all applicants, and three-fourths of students who apply to colleges are accepted by their first choice college.
One report suggested that the most important criteria, in order of importance, were. It is a complicated task for admissions staff at selective colleges to analyze and process thousands of applications with a "huge mail deluge" since there are often six pieces of mail for each applicant, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the application itself.
College admissions personnel spend less time on average reading each particular application; in , the average admissions officer was responsible for analyzing applications, and the trend was in the direction of officers having to read more and more applications. Some colleges extract information from the federal FAFSA financial aid form, including names of other schools the applicant is applying to. A key attribute admissions evaluators look for, according to Mamlet and Vandevelde, is authenticity —a real person who comes through the application, not a packaged artificial entity  or distortion crafted to impress an admissions officer.
Colleges are looking for Colleges put together their entering class as a mosaic: Colleges want a kid who is devoted to — and excels at — something. The word they most often use is passion. Colleges want students who have demonstrated through their actions an ability to see and connect with a world that is larger than they are.
There are numerous reports that colleges use proprietary mathematical algorithms as part of their process for evaluating applications. Some colleges hire statistical experts known as "enrollment consultants" to help them predict enrollment by developing computer models to select applicants in such a way as to maximize yield and acceptance rates.
This helps the college come up with a revised GPA number for a student to compare against applicants from other schools.
Furthermore, many colleges track how well other students from the same high school have done—that is, applicants from the same high school who attended or are attending the college—by comparing their high school grades against their college grades, and admissions officers use this data to try to estimate the likely college grade performance of a given applicant. Generally admissions departments do not reveal the particulars of such mathematical analyses.
According to Michele Hernandez, Ivy League admissions departments compile an academic index based on three main factors:. Part of the purpose of algorithms is to expedite the handling of thousands of applications in a short amount of time.
For example, at Dartmouth College , data goes into a master card for each application, which leads to a ready sheet , where readers summarize applications; then, an initial screening is done: The consensus view is that high school grades are probably the single most important factor in winning admission. A consensus view is that taking rigorous high school courses is a plus. To fix this "average score" arrangement in which there had been a temptation to admit an extremely poor student with great athletic ability, many schools went to a banding arrangement.
For example, coaches would consider all wrestling applicants within a specified range or band of academic performance, and coaches could admit more wrestler-applicants who showed greater scholastic promise. We often talk with highly involved athletes who have little time for other activities outside of their sports. In many cases their grades suffer. Most student-athletes are not "recruited" to colleges, but colleges will respect their commitment and drive.
Some colleges are more likely to admit students with in-demand skills, such as writing, debating, theater management, science competitions, organizational skills, musical skills, and so forth. Admissions personnel look favorably on applications where it is clear that the student, himself or herself, appears to be firmly in control over the whole application process; the appearance of pushy parents or coaching can have a dampening effect.
This can be an important factor in some situations, sometimes a "driving factor",  since a college may be more likely to say yes to a student likely to matriculate. Accordingly, it has been advised to become knowledgeable about schools being applied to, and "tailor each application accordingly. One report suggested that colleges seek students who will be actively involved on campus and not spend every day studying alone.
Admissions tries to screen out difficult people. Dunbar advised that "parental control of any kind, if detected, can be very damaging," and advised that students should not appear to be controlled by parental whims. Michele Hernandez suggested that almost all admissions essays were weak, cliche-ridden, and "not worth reading".
While there is general agreement that chances for admission are higher for students who are prepared to pay the full price, there are indications that this has been even more prevalent in the past few years given economic uncertainty and rising college costs,  particularly at schools without large endowments.
Half of admissions officers at both public universities and a third of officers at four-year colleges were actively seeking students who could "pay full price" and did not need financial aid, according to one survey of admissions directors and managers in What this means is that your financial aid package from a reach college may not be as attractive as the package from one of your target, or well matched, colleges.
If you are looking for generous scholarship aid, you need to look at colleges and universities where your academic profile is strong compared to that of the average admitted student. By contrast, other schools practice need-blind admission , such as Ivy League Universities, but there are exceptions.
One view was that state schools strive to admit students from "all parts of a state,"  which suggests that applicants who live farther away from a given school had a better chance of admission. But a contrary view was that geographic location of the applicant matters perhaps only slightly, if at all; Hernandez looked at acceptance ratios to Dartmouth for different geographic locations, and found that geographic distance was not a factor influencing admittances.
A survey of admissions personnel suggested that two-fifths had said yes to applicants from minorities despite having lower grades and test scores than other applicants, on average. On July 3, , the Education and Justice Departments under US President Donald Trump rescinded affirmative action policies which encouraged college and university diversity by evaluating the race factor during the admission process.
There are differing views about how important it is to have a family member or relative who also attended a college.
It is clear that it is a factor; one report suggested that having a family member who is an alumnus gives "a leg up" for applicants. Legacy admissions have had a history of controversy; economist Peter Sacks criticized the practice of legacy admissions as a "social reproduction process" in which "elite institutions have an implicit bargain with their alumni In certain cases, family wealth of applicants is considered, based on potential to make a substantial donation  to the school above and beyond paying tuition, and separate from considerations such as ability or fame.
Such candidates are known as development cases , and are intended to bolster the finances of the university, especially to its further mission. The practice is not widely discussed by universities that use it, but is reported to be used by a number of top-ranked schools, Ivy League and otherwise, and has been associated with Duke University which acknowledges its use and Brown University which does not comment , especially since the s.
Counselors and admissions directors tend to agree that in a few selected cases, connections were important. A report based on a survey of admissions directors suggested that "whom you know does matter", since higher-level administrators and prominent alumni and trustees can exert pressure on the admissions departments to admit certain applicants.
There was a report that more colleges are resorting to computerized fact-checking software, as well as anti-plagiarism tools such as Turnitin , which checks documents for unoriginal content on the web,  possibly as a response to well-publicized scandals in which a student won admission to Harvard University by fraudulent means. A trend appears to be declining percentages of acceptances to leading schools.
There are two kinds of financial aid: Several reports confirm that accepted students who are dissatisfied with an aid offer should contact the college to see if the offer can be improved. One report suggested that even by May , colleges still had space for first-year or transfer applicants for the fall of
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