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What is Rolling Admissions?

Posted by: Website Administrator on 8/28/2015

There are several types of college application deadlines, and one that you may be less familiar with is Rolling Admissions. If you find that you’re interested in a school that uses Rolling Admissions, it’s important to know what that really means so you can apply properly.

What is Rolling Admissions? Schools with Rolling Admissions generally accept and review applications on an ongoing basis until their class fills up. Instead of releasing all admissions decisions at once, they make and release admissions decisions throughout the application season. It’s important to note that your application must be complete (meaning the college needs to receive all required application materials) before it can be reviewed.

What types of schools use Rolling Admissions? Most commonly, Rolling Admissions is used by public universities, but there are plenty of private colleges that use it, as well.

Can I apply Early Action or Early Decision at a Rolling Admissions School? There are some colleges that use Early Action or Early Decision, and then review the rest of their applications using Rolling Admissions; others will not have any specific Early program at all. Always contact individual colleges to check their application deadlines and policies.

Okay, so when should I apply – really? If you’re applying under a Rolling Admissions deadline, it’s best to submit your application as early as possible. This is because Rolling Admissions schools continue to admit students as long as they have space. If you wait too long to apply, there may no longer be space available – so even if you’re highly qualified, they won’t be able to admit you. If a college uses multiple deadlines (e.g., Early Action and Rolling Admissions) you should speak to your counselor for advice on when to apply.

Application deadlines vary from school to school – but no matter the deadline, a little bit of knowledge beforehand will help you organize your to do list, and know which applications to work on first. 

What You Need To Know About Test Optional Policies

Posted by: Website Administrator on 8/26/2015

Test-Optional and Test-Flexible Schools

As your college list begins to take shape, you may find that some of your schools are test-optional or test-flexible. With an increasing number of schools adopting alternative testing policies, it’s important to know what that means, and how it could affect you as you prepare to apply to college this fall.

To be Test-Optional or Test-Flexible means that a college does not have traditional SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Test requirements to be considered for admission. These schools deemphasize the use of SAT and ACT scores in making admissions decisions, by either not requiring standardized tests at all, or by giving students a choice about which test scores to submit.

Test-Optional schools do not require applicants to submit any SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Test scores. Generally, even if a school is Test-Optional, applicants can choose to submit SAT or ACT scores if they prefer to. Although a small number are “test-blind,” meaning they won’t consider scores at all, even when they are submitted. At some Test-Optional schools, students may be asked to submit alternative credentials such as additional recommendation letters, supplemental essays, or graded class assignments in lieu of standardized test scores.

Test-Flexible schools want applicants to submit standardized testing, but it does not have to be the SAT or ACT. Instead, Test-Flexible colleges allow students to choose the standardized testing that represents them best. There is a wide range of these policies, from allowing students to submit 2 or 3 SAT Subject Tests, to results from just about any standardized tests (including IB or AP scores, or even the PSAT), in lieu of the SAT or ACT. In addition, some schools will allow students to submit scores in combination. For example, students could choose an SAT Subject Test in Math, the SAT Writing section, and an IB score in Biology.

Looking ahead to the college application process this fall, you can use your understanding of Test-Optional and Test-Flexible policies to present yourself in the best light to these colleges.

At a Test-Optional school, the decision to submit SAT or ACT scores is up to you. Remember, if you submit your scores, the college will consider them, so you need to consider the decision carefully. In general, if your test scores are at the high end of a college’s middle 50% range, or above that range, then submitting test scores would strengthen your application. If your test scores are below a college’s middle 50% range, or toward the lower end, then submitting scores may not be to your advantage. Submitting weak test scores to a Test-Optional college could hurt your application, but you won’t be penalized if you don’t submit your scores. No matter what, make sure that any scores you send represent you well, relative to the college’s overall applicant pool.

At a Test-Flexible school, you have the flexibility to choose the scores that represent you the best – so choose carefully. Since each Test-Flexible policy is unique, you need to review each school’s options, and compare them to the tests you’ve taken (or are planning to take). Are you taking any AP or IB exams this year, or have you taken the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, or ACT? By looking at all of the tests you’ve taken (or are planning to take), you can choose your strongest scores within the parameters set by each school.

Remember, if you’re ever unsure about whether or not to send test scores, or which scores to send, you can always ask your college counselor for help.

3 Questions You Never Thought to Ask Your College Tour Guide

Posted by: Website Administrator on 6/17/2015

On a college tour, you’ll learn a great deal about a school, but it can sometimes be difficult to get a more in-depth understanding of its personality. Looking ahead to your college tours this spring, keep these questions in mind to help you develop greater understanding of the schools you visit.

  • Where are the best places to study outside your dorm room?  At some point during college, either by choice or necessity, you’ll need to find a place to study outside your dorm room. You’ll often learn that there are multiple libraries or library spaces with different ambiences (for instance, places that are super quiet and places that are known for being a bit more social). In addition, there may be lounges, cafes, and lobbies that also offer space to buckle down and get some work done. Asking about study spaces will help you gain insight into how students like to get their work done at a college, and possibly help you learn about some cool spaces on campus.
  • What are some lesser known majors at your school?  Knowing which majors are the most popular can give you a sense of the academic interests of the student body – but it’s worth asking about the lesser-known programs, as well. Lesser-known majors may be unique to the college, and you could also learn about some majors you didn’t even know existed. Because your tour guide won’t be familiar with the entire course catalog, be sure to check out the full list of majors at schools to ensure that you can see the range of academic options available to you.
  • What are the quintessential experiences every student should have at your school?  When you visit a college, you’ll probably learn about requirements such as general education credits or a thesis, but you can also learn a lot about a school through the “unofficial” things students say you must experience during your time there as a student. This question is a great way to find out what students like to do for fun, and give you a sense of the range of available activities outside the classroom. Just keep in mind that your tour guide’s experience is not necessarily representative of what the whole student body likes to do, so try to ask more than one person about this.

Asking questions that are a bit off the beaten path will help you gain even greater insight into the life of a college and help you further distinguish between the places you visit.

When to Begin Your College Essay

Posted by: Website Administrator on 6/1/2015

The college essay, or personal statement, is one of the most important elements of the college application process. As a result, rising seniors may be wondering about when they should begin working on their essays.

It’s best to wait until later this summer, or at least until you’ve completed your summer program or experience, to begin the writing process. There are several months between now and when your applications are due, and a lot can change in that time. You want your essay to be an up-to-date reflection of your writing style, who you are, and how you think.

With that in mind, the Common Application has actually already made the application prompts for 2015-2016 available. While it’s still too early to begin writing and brainstorming in earnest, you can take some time now familiarize yourself with the prompts. If any ideas come to you, write them down and refer to them later.

Here are the 2015-2016 Common Application Essay Prompts:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Remember, even though the prompts for this year are available, it doesn’t mean you should be working on your essay now. Rising seniors have plenty of other things to focus on (e.g. standardized testing, maintaining your grades, and asking for recommendation letters) before the end of the school year.

Categories: College Counseling

Spring Advice for Juniors

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/13/2015

As the school year draws to a close, here are a few things juniors should be thinking about. In the next few weeks, make an appointment with your college counselor or adviser to go over the following checklist items.

Confirm your course schedule for next year. If you haven’t already, discuss your course selections with your college adviser. Make sure you have a balanced curriculum that shows you’re challenging yourself, but where you’ll still be able to maintain strong grades.

Revisit your college list. Go over the list with your adviser and see if it needs to be refined based on your academic performance and standardized testing to date. Aim for a range of reach, target, and “safety” schools, and check if you still need to visit any of the schools. Finally, make sure you still like all of the colleges on your list!

Confirm your summer plans. You should have something productive planned for at least a couple of weeks during the summer. This could include, among other possibilities, a pre-college program, internship, focusing on your art or music, summer job, or intensive community service project. If you don’t have any plans, opportunities will be more limited, but there are still options out there.

Review your standardized testing. Determine if you need to take any additional standardized tests, when you plan to take them, and set up a plan for test preparation and/or tutoring.

Begin filling out the Common Application (not including the Writing section). Even though the Common Application clears all of its data over the summer, you should fill out the Common Application now, and store the information in an off-line document. That way, you can refer to it when you begin applying to colleges, and save yourself a great deal of time down the line.

Categories: College Counseling
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