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Advice for Transfer Applicants

Posted by: Website Administrator on 7/26/2013

Ideally, students are happy and settled at the college they’ve chosen to attend. However, there are many reasons students choose to transfer. Sometimes, the school they chose just isn’t what they expected, or maybe they’ve discovered a passion for a subject not offered at their current school. No matter the reasons, if you’re planning to transfer, it’s important to be prepared.

Timing is Crucial. Most colleges prefer, and some require, that students spend at least two years at the school they transfer to. With that in mind, the best time to transfer is at the end of your freshman or sophomore year. Once you get to junior year, it may be harder to transfer because colleges will want you to enroll for at least two years, even if you’ll technically be able to graduate after one year. It’s also important to consider how long you’ve been out of high school, since the more college work you have under your belt, the more the admissions review will focus on your college performance. This means that your high school record, while still important, may have less importance than it did when you applied right out of high school.

Know your Reasons. When you apply to transfer, colleges want to know why you’re leaving your current school, and why you want to go to their school. In order to be successful in the transfer process, it’s important to do some self-reflection so you can clearly articulate your reasons for wanting to transfer. You also need to thoroughly research the college(s) you’re applying to so you can explain why you want to go to there with specificity and enthusiasm.

Get to Know your Professors. Most colleges require at least one, sometimes two, recommendation letters from a college professor or instructor. Whether you go to a small school or a large school, you should be able to get to know a couple of your instructors. If possible, participate in class discussions and go to office hours and study sessions. At large research universities, you may have graduate students and/or adjunct professors teaching you. Know that colleges will accept recommendation letters from any instructor, as long as they’ve taught you in a college course and can speak to your academic ability and performance.

Dates and Deadlines. Transfer deadlines are usually in March or April for fall admission, and November for spring admission. Whether you’re planning to transfer for the spring or fall, or even thinking ahead to the following year, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Remember – each school has its own timeline, so it’s important to confirm all deadlines with the college(s) you’re applying to. 

And finally – just as you did in high school, you need to keep your grades up so you can show that you can be a successful college student.

Introduction to Honor Code Colleges

Posted by: Website Administrator on 7/23/2013

All colleges have rules regarding academic honesty that students are expected to abide by. After all, academic integrity is a presumed part of college life, regardless of where you go to school. But some schools take things a step further and have something called an Honor Code that’s central not only to academic life, but also to campus life, more generally.

For example, at an Honor Code college, exams might be unproctored or offered in a take-home format, and it would be normal to see laptops left unattended as you walk through a study area in the library. Students sign the Honor Code when they arrive on campus (often a ceremony steeped in tradition), and they may also be expected to report to an honor committee or judicial board when they observe dishonest activity. Honor codes are in place at a wide range of schools – from small liberal arts colleges to the Ivy League to flagship state universities. As you conduct your college search, here some representative examples to consider.

Haverford College – At Haverford, the honor code is entirely student-run, and affects the academic and social life of the college. Not only do students take tests without proctors and schedule their own final exams, but the dorms have no RAs. At Haverford, when you accept your offer of admission, you don’t need to submit an enrollment deposit to secure your spot; this is because it’s assumed that you’ll honor your commitment. In addition, the Haverford honor code is dynamic: the entire student body meets every year to debate and revise the code as a group, ensuring it remains current and up-to-date.

Davidson College – Davidson actually has two honor codes: the Honor Code and the Code of Responsibility, both of which are adhered to by students, faculty, and staff. The Honor Code applies to academic integrity, and the Code of Responsibility applies to general social expectations in 13 areas to create an environment of trust and respect. Tests are unproctored, and professors often assign take-home exams. Final exams are self-scheduled, as well.

University of Virginia – UVA’s Honor System is the nation’s oldest student-run honor system. Students are bound by the honor code not to lie, cheat, or steal. While expected to uphold the honor code at all times, they’re officially obligated to follow it only when they are in Charlottesville or Abemarle County (where UVA is located), and when they identify themselves as University of Virginia students (for example, when studying abroad). Offenses are presented to a judiciary body made up entirely of students. Board members investigate allegations and assist students through every step of the Honor System process.

Princeton University – Princeton is the only school in the Ivy League with an honor code. The honor code focuses specifically on academic honesty, and is entirely student-run. Students are responsible for following the code themselves, signing a pledge when they matriculate, and on every exam they take. Students are also expected to report violations to the Honor Committee, a board of students that reviews all honor violations.

Remember, all colleges will expect academic honesty and have policies in place to address cheating and plagiarism. However, colleges with honor codes give students more responsibility and autonomy in maintaining an atmosphere of academic integrity, not to mention an open and safe campus environment. 

Quick Guide to Fraternities and Sororities

Posted by: Website Administrator on 7/15/2013

You may be familiar with fraternities and sororities because you have a friend or relative who’s a member. Or maybe you’ve seen movies featuring “frat parties” or read about fraternities or sororities in the news. Between word-of-mouth from your friends and perceptions from the media, it can be difficult to make an informed decision about whether or not you’re interested in Greek life. Whichever way you’re leaning, it’s important to have a balanced perspective and know some of the basics.

What is a fraternity or sorority? At the most basic level, fraternities and sororities are social organizations of students bound by certain traditions and rituals. Fraternities and sororities are usually single sex, close-knit communities that often call themselves brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Greek organizations vary in terms of tradition, character, and focus. For example, many (if not most) focus on social activities and throw frequent parties, while others might focus more on service, academics, or leadership. No matter the emphasis, all fraternities and sororities follow the same four principles: the Four Pillars of Greek Life.

What are the Four Pillars? The Four Pillars of Greek Life are Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Friendship. Fraternities and sororities organize and participate in activities and events to further these principles. For example, members may have to maintain a minimum GPA (at many colleges, the average GPA for fraternities and sororities is actually higher than that of the overall student body). Members participate in community service projects together, and develop friendships through group outings, parties, mentoring programs, and other social events. For leadership, many members are involved in fraternity or sorority governance, and other leadership opportunities are available, as well.

What types of fraternities and sororities are there? The most common Greek organizations are single sex social groups with no particular focus beyond socializing and having fun. However, there are many other types of Greek organizations, as well. Some fraternities are co-ed, meaning that men and women can be members. Others have a religious or cultural emphasis where most, if not all, members are from a particular religious or cultural background. There are also fraternities and sororities organized around themes such as community service, academics, or professions such as business and law.

Do I have to live in a frat house or sorority house? Whether or not it’s a requirement to live in fraternity or sorority housing varies across organizations and campuses. Some campuses don’t allow Greek organizations to have houses at all. Greek housing arrangements can be completely open where students can choose to live wherever they want, and with friends from outside the organization. On the other end of the spectrum, some sororities and fraternities have strict housing requirements where members must live in the Greek house. It’s important to check the housing policies for each organization you’re interested in.

Beyond the benefit of having a close-knit community in college and easy access to social activities, there are other benefits to Greek life, such as a national network of alumni who are usually happy to help younger members find jobs or internships. However, the structure of Greek life, and sometimes the strict traditions and active social life associated with it, don’t appeal to everyone. Whether or not to participate in Greek life is up to you, but it’s important to know the basics so you can make an informed decision.

Categories: College Counseling

Common Application Shut Down on July 12

Posted by: Website Administrator on 7/11/2013

If you’re a rising high school senior, you’ve probably been thinking about the upcoming college application cycle. You may even be thinking about getting a head start on your applications during your summer vacation. Getting started early is a great idea, but it’s important to keep in mind the Common Application shut down and re-launch dates.

The Common Application will be shutting down at 11:59 PM on July 12, and re-launching on August 1. All applicant data will be cleared from the system, and any work done on your application before then will be lost. You can still begin your application early, as long as you take the right steps to save your work.

The simplest option is to wait to create your Common Application account and begin filling it out after August 1. That way, your work won’t be lost, and you’ll still be starting well in advance.

If you really want to get started right away and not wait until August 1, you can – but be sure to download a PDF version of your work by using the Preview function. That’s the only way you’ll be able to keep a record of your work once the Common Application shuts down. Then, when the application re-launches on August 1, you’ll be able to transfer your saved answers into the new form.

And remember – you can always work on your Personal Statement and brainstorm essay ideas without logging in to the Common Application at all. The new essay questions for 2013-2014 are publicly available at CommonApp.org.

So despite the Common Application shut down on July 12, you can still get a head start on your applications. Whichever option you choose – waiting until August 1, saving a PDF version of your work, or simply thinking about essay ideas in the next couple of weeks – starting early can help alleviate much of the stress of the college application process later this fall.