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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