It was great to talk to Larry Jacobs this week about the changes to the SAT as it moves to a digital format. You can check out the podcast here:
Ohio has over 60 colleges and universities which can make choosing where to apply an overwhelming decision. In an effort to provide the most up to date and reliable information to our students, members of the BWS team will soon be touring many Ohio colleges. We will be asking questions like, “what kind of student would succeed here?” and “what makes this institution stand out from those around it?” Those questions and more will be answered in our upcoming blog posts. Check back regularly as you create your college list to read about colleges and institutions that you might not have otherwise thought of. As always, if you need help with any part of the process, get in touch: we’re happy to help.
Many students believe that when you apply early to a university, you must limit your application to a single college. When, you look more closely at the application requirements, you will find that you can apply more strategically. Highly selective schools in the United States–like Harvard, MIT, and Yale–have restrictive early action. For example, Harvard describes its Early Action program like this:
“If you apply to Harvard under our Restrictive Early Action program, you may also apply early to non-binding public or foreign colleges/universities (no Early Decision programs), but you may not apply early (in any form) to U.S. private colleges/universities.”
Note that the restriction applies only to U.S. private universities. So, where else could an ambitious student apply?
—International Universities. Schools in Canada, like the University of Toronto or McGill, would be excellent candidates. Schools in the United Kingdom, like Oxford and Cambridge, could also be great possibilities. Given the weight that international schools put on academic qualifications, these schools could be good options for students whose academic qualifications are stellar but whose extracurricular qualifications are not as comparatively strong.
—Elite State Universities in the United States. Schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin would allow early applications that are non-binding.
So, instead of simply applying to one selective private school with an early application, you may want to also apply early to an international university or a couple of state universities. Doing so will likely ensure that you have more options for college admissions come December instead of having all of your eggs in one basket with a single elite private university.
Early decision and early action deadlines are creeping up on students right about now at the beginning of November. While some students may have decided to apply early some time ago, many of their friends may be left in a panic as they watch the deadlines go by thinking “what does this mean?”. “Should I apply early?” Many students experience FOMO (fear of missing out) as they realize a bit belatedly that many of their peers are wrapping up applications just as others are only getting started. What is early action? What is early decision? Who are they right for? Below are the basics that students need to know in order to make informed decisions about early applications.
Early action is a pretty good bet for most students. Applying early action means that students apply sooner (generally early fall of senior year) and then they get their decision early. Students can apply early action at as many of their colleges as have an early action program. Early action applications come with no commitment and are a good way to get the applications out of the way sooner so that students can focus on and enjoy senior year. Early action also allows for students to have more time to make their decision once they get acceptances and it takes the burden off students’ shoulders much sooner.
Early decision applications are a much bigger deal than early action. Not many schools offer early decision; those that do tend to be highly selective institutions. Many students, therefore, may not even have the option of applying early decision. The key thing to remember is that early decision applications are legally binding. Students are required to attend the school and withdraw applications from all other schools if accepted into their early decision school. This means that students who apply early decision are committing to attending before they see what financial aid the school will offer them. Students should not apply early decision unless they are sure that the school is the right fit and they are committed to paying the full price for the school. At most schools, applying early decision does increase your chances of being admitted and, similar to early action, gets the work and the decision out of the way much sooner which is attractive to most students.
If you’re in your senior year and you haven’t yet submitted any applications, it’s okay! You still have time for those regular decision applications, so don’t rush to apply early if it means submitting subpar work. Generally, schools accept regular decision applications until the beginning of January, but make sure you check with your schools to find out their specific deadlines. Try to have your applications in as soon as you can; don’t wait until the last moment. The sooner you get accepted the sooner your school can put together your financial aid package. Most schools have a limited amount of aid to give out, so you don’t want to be last in line. If you need any help with your applications or essays reach out to us and let us assist!
“What should I do this summer?” This is a question that I hear often. Students and parents want to know about the best camps, the best volunteer opportunities, the best jobs for the summer. Really what they’re asking though is, “what is the best way to pad my resume”. My response is generally the same- don’t. I’m not saying that you should sit at home all summer, eat cereal out of the box, and do nothing productive. Instead, I’m saying you should spend your summer pursuing your passion. After all, what colleges really want are people who genuinely care, who will be active on campus, who will achieve great new things. You’re not going to do any of that if you are filling your free time with things you think will look good that you don’t really care about.
A second danger in not following your passion during your free time is that you’ll be showing colleges a false picture of yourself. If you spend every free moment volunteering (but really aren’t that into it) you may get into that college that values community service. Then, you’ll spend four years there, surrounded by people who are really into something that you don’t really care about. Your passions reflect who you are and they’ll help you get into a school where you fit in- but only if you’re honest.
Another concern that students have is about working over the summer or during the school year. They’re worried that having a job that takes up most of their time will make their applications look empty. Students should always include any job they’ve had on applications. Schools understand that many students need to work in order to help their families, or to provide spending, saving, and car money for themselves. Being able to have a job while balancing school and family as well as anything else shows colleges that students are responsible, dependable, and hard- working. Putting necessity before passion does not harm your application. Admission reps are humans; they understand.
In short, stop thinking so much about what you should do to get into college. Instead, do what you want to do or what you have to do. In doing so you’ll be able to show colleges the true you and if they don’t accept the true you then maybe you wouldn’t have been that happy at that college anyway.
“Wake Up To Politics is on hiatus while the Editor is at summer camp. The newsletter will return in August!” reads the header on a popular news blog. However, the Editor isn’t a summer camp counselor, nor is he away at one of the ever more popular adult summer getaway camps. The editor of Wake Up to Politics- a blog that has an ever increasing fan base- just finished 8th grade. That’s right, an 8th grader is writing a daily newsletter. The newsletter is sent out every week day morning before Gabe Fleisher, the sole editor, heads out to school. It’s been in publication since 2011 and, if you do the math, that means Gabe has been writing it since he was about eight years old. Granted, his only subscriber at first was his mom but still, it’s quite impressive.
Gabe writes Wake Up to Politics because following the news is something he genuinely enjoys. However, he will definitely be reaping the rewards of his hard work in just a few years when he is applying to colleges. Gabe’s extracurricular passion is something that will shine on his resume. Gone are the days where dabbling in every activity offered guaranteed college acceptance. Colleges no longer want well-rounded students: they want a well-rounded class.
What this means for students like Gabe and you is that focusing deeply on two or three extracurricular events (sports, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities) is better than briefly working on a dozen. In short quality reigns over quantity. After all, who cares if you spent a day or two working on a Habitat for Humanity project if you never did any other volunteer work? That day or two doesn’t really say much about who you are as a person. Maybe your parents dragged you there; maybe you volunteered because you had a crush on someone and wanted to impress them; maybe you really do care but you don’t have the drive to follow up. Those two days don’t reveal a sterling character because it’s impossible to know why you were there. True commitment and character shines when you commit whole heartedly to something. For Gabe, that something is his newsletter. For you it could be anything: just show that you care by diving deep and colleges will be impressed.
If you want to check out Gabe’s newsletter follow the link below!
Determine how you want to craft your high school experience by taking various classes and participating in different extracurriculars. Some may want to attend an Ivy League school, while others may want to attend their parent’s alma mater. For example, if you want to attend college on an athletic scholarship, begin thinking as early as freshman year about how to accomplish that goal. It could mean playing on the varsity athletic team for all four years or participating in both school and traveling state teams. Everyone’s path is different, but be sure to plan out the steps early so that you can reach your goals by the end of your high school experience.
Expand your academic and extracurricular activities to be the best that you can be. Whether that means taking more than one math course during the school year or adding Advance Placement classes into your schedule, take the most rigorous course schedule that YOU can handle and be successful in. Just because your friends are taking AP US History, does not mean that that is the class that you have to excel in as well. Of course, if you have the academic ability or want to stretch yourself by taking higher level courses, intermediate and advanced courses are great, but always be prepared for the work load.
Be excited about what you are learning in your classes. By being excited, studying for tests and preparing class projects becomes so much easier. The simplest way to have enthusiasm is to pick a class schedule with courses that have curriculum topics that excite your personal interests. Two of the biggest mistakes that students make when choosing their course schedule are choosing classes that their friends have picked and choosing classes that they think look impressive to colleges. Instead, pick classes because you are excited to immerse yourself in the curriculum.
This is where students will spend most of their time: studying for tests, completing homework assignments and preparing for standardized tests, like the ACT and SAT. The most important part of being successful in high school, and even other areas of life, is to put in the time and effort to receive results. Of course, students need to remember to spend free time doing other activities, like going to football games or hanging out with friends, rather than studying all of the time, but the primary focus of high school is the educational component and how to make the most of the opportunities offered to you at your high school.
- Making a plan of action
The overall consensus that I’ve gained from students is to plan ahead. As early as eighth grade, map out a high school curriculum that interests you. Take basic courses during your freshman or sophomore years in order to take the rigorous courses that colleges look for when you become an upperclassman. By taking prerequisite courses, you will be prepared to take the step into the Honors, AP or IB world. Also, creating a plan for your “dream college” should be completed early so that when the time comes for applying to schools, you are not stressed out with deciding where you want to spend another four years of your education.
With these five simple steps, you will be on the road to a successful high school experience!
–Olivia Turk is currently a High School Senior at Dublin Jerome High School.