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How many schools should I apply to?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on August 17, 2022

 

8, 10,12,15, 15+ ?

I get this question more this year than ever before. Unfortunately, there is no answer that applies to all students. There is a wholesale change happening in college admissions that needs to be considered. There are so many different categories of admissions–Regular, Rolling, Early Action, Priority, Restricted Early Action, Early Decision, Early Decision 2–it is no wonder that parents and students are confused. But, more importantly is the fact that this confusion can impact a student’s admission’s chances. 

College Admissions is in a truly outrageous situation at the present time. The various admission categories have been morphing for years and when combined with the Covid/Test Optional catalyst, application growth has been explosive. This has resulted in what some may view as irrational behavior. 

For example, when parents learn that Mary didn’t get into any of the 12 schools she applied to, one conclusion that has been floated is that Mary didn’t apply to enough colleges. So, the logical next step is to apply to even more schools, maybe up to 15+. We can all understand how that will increase the volume of applications and lower admit rates. 

But what is even more disturbing is the perfect storm that has also developed for some savvy colleges. With more applications floating into the system, schools are looking for better ways to ensure that their yield is reduced–even as applications increase.  It appears that they have succeeded and nearly perfected their ability to gauge a student's true interest. Even while ignoring the increase in applications, and noting that the number of seats remains the same, some top colleges have lowered the absolute number of students that they admit.

So, what is the answer?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, early decision 2, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, regular decision, college planning, admitted students

Summer College Visits

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 24, 2022

Summer is at its peak with the latest heat wave! A time to soak up some sunshine, enjoy dinners from the grill, and…plan college visits? Although untraditional, a summer visit to a college can be a beneficial way to see a school in its quieter off-season. If you or your student are too busy to travel during a school’s academic year, visiting a school during the summer or during a break in that school’s calendar is still a great opportunity.

Who is on campus during the summer?

There will be less students on campus, but that can also be an ideal time to get to know the people that are present: students taking summer courses or living on campus while working at an internship. Be aware that you might also find high school students on campus taking academic or sports programs and this can give you an unusual picture of campus life that may make it appear significantly younger than it will look in September. Schools may also offer summer housing opportunities to international students or those who travel a far distance to attend their chosen school (something to keep in mind in your own college decision journey). Visiting during the summer may also give you a chance to chat with professors or department heads.

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Topics: college preparation, life on campus, college tours, college open house, college visits, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, high school sophomore, holistic college admissions review, college location, college plans, college planning, summer college visits, Drexel University

The Most Common College Misconceptions That Need to Be Busted

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 08, 2021

When it comes to applying for college, students are often primed for a period of intense stress. They know that they’ll have to keep up their 4.0 GPAs, take 15 AP classes, and join the crew team, or maybe start taking harp lessons. The overwhelming questions that come to mind might be, “Am I smart enough?” Or, “Am I interesting enough?” Or, “Am I unique?” The college process demands that students turn inward and evaluate what they do, how successful they’ve been, and where they’re headed. But having clear and mature answers to all of these questions is far from what most teenagers (or college admissions officers) can imagine.

Even more, now that our world has been hit by a pandemic which has wiped out testing opportunities and put more pressure on students to stand out, the existential questions are pouring in faster. What about a gap year or community college? Now in competition with students that had deferred and international students, how are these kids supposed to manage?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, high school sophomore, college application, volunteering, student resume, college myths, college admit rates

Building your College Profile

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 02, 2021

 

 

Building Your College Profile

Tips for Current Sophomores and Juniors

High school students have been enormously impacted by the pandemic this year, and last. With activities interrupted, distance learning and disruptions to the testing industries, the mental, emotional and physical burden that teenagers have been facing is unprecedented. However, while the toll of the pandemic has demotivated many, high school Sophomores and Juniors shouldn’t lose sight of the future. While many students have had their plans completely dismantled, now is the time to refocus and bring new energy to constructing a college profile.

When it comes to building your college profile, the work needs to start early. While adolescence is a time of confusion and experimentation, it is also a time where commitment to a few key goals can really pay off. Starting Sophomore year, students can already begin crafting their resumes and projecting themselves as future college students, even if that future is unclear. Here are some tips to get the process started.

                                                                                                                                 

Think about your core values.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in listing off to colleges everything that you’ve done, but that gets superficial very quickly. Instead, start with this values exercise. By thinking about your top values, you can more easily link them to anecdotes that represent these values, which can end up being excellent fodder for essays. Your core values should also be able to explain the activities and courses you choose to take.

Don’t over-explain.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, values exercise, high school sophomore, college essay guy, college application, volunteering, student resume, Union College

Recognizing Buyers from Sellers in Your College Search

Posted by Neal Schwartz on March 11, 2021


How to build a balanced college list

When students start thinking about their college lists, a few key questions come to mind: Do I want a big campus or a small campus? Do I want a city or rural location? Do I have the test scores and GPA to get in? However, when it comes to students themselves constructing their lists, the financial factor is often overlooked in the “college fit” equation. This leads to good students getting into top schools because of their academics, but not qualifying for financial aid. With a sole focus on academic, social and geographical factors, students might find themselves stuck when admitted to an elite institution that they can’t afford.


 Jeff Selingo, an author and expert on higher education, recently published a book called Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, where he offers valuable insights and research on the selection process from diverse admissions offices. While conducting research for the book, Selingo developed a theory of college “buyers” and “sellers,” which will help students create a more balanced college list, allowing college dreams to be financially attainable. Though the research was done prior to the pandemic, the overall premise still holds.

 While the social and academic aspects of a college might be easier to measure, what appears on that college bill can seem less predictable. That’s why Selingo analyzed which colleges are more likely to make both students and parents happy from all perspectives.

Selingo first coins the term “sellers” to define name-brand, popular and elite colleges. These can include big universities such as New York University or Ivy League schools such as Harvard. These schools benefit from having an extraordinarily high application rate, so in turn, they’re not likely to discount their tuition. Why do it when so many students are willing and able to pay the price of an “elite” education?

 “Buyers,” however, are the institutions that are less recognizable and therefore have a heavy focus on recruitment to fill their seats and dorms. Because these schools are less well-known, they are more likely to offer tuition discounts and merit-based scholarships to students that don’t necessarily need it, as an attempt to lure them in.

 A lot of students (and parents) might seem deterred from “buyers” because of their lack of reputation. In a community where brand name and alumni connections have a lot of power, choosing a college that no one’s ever heard of could seem detrimental. However, there is not necessarily a difference in academic education between buyers and sellers; that is the myth that needs to be debunked. In fact, many lesser-known colleges that give out hefty rewards can provide just as rich an education as the brand-name schools.

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Topics: College Costs, college admissions, SAT/ACT, college selection, Financial Aid, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, Colgate University, RPI, Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Tulane, college search, New York University, Case Western University, Rensselaer, Jeff Selingo

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