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IB or AP?

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/18/2012

Some high schools offer the option of taking AP or IB courses. If your school offers both sets of curricula, how do you decide which to take? Colleges like to see applicants who have been challenging themselves in high school, and pursuing an AP or IB curriculum –  for those who have the option –  is a great way to do that. But what is the real difference between them?

The AP (Advanced Placement) program is a curriculum sponsored by the College Board that offers standardized courses in over 30 subjects. Participating colleges recognize the courses as equivalent to college-level work, and may offer college credit for qualifying scores on AP exams. The exams are offered every May, and scored on a scale of 1-5. The advantage of this curriculum, aside from the possibility of getting college credit, is that students have the flexibility to choose the AP courses that best match their interests, without needing to follow a pre-determined course plan.

The IB (International Baccalaureate) program is more structured. Students have the option to choose Standard or Higher Level IB courses, and they must take courses across a specific range of subject areas. The IB program has 3 required elements, as well: a Theory of Knowledge course, Service Learning, and an Extended Essay. Students can also get college credit for qualifying scores on IB exams, graded on a scale of 1-7. An advantage of the IB option is that it offers a cohesive curriculum that culminates in earning an internationally recognized IB diploma (there is also an option to do a partial program that culminates in a certificate).

Colleges appreciate the rigor and intellectual challenge of both curricula. If you have the opportunity to choose between them, consider the advice of your guidance counselor, and weigh that against how you learn best.  

Categories: College Counseling

Important Application Changes at Ithaca College

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/16/2012

Ithaca College has announced two important changes that will affect applicants for the fall 2013 entering class: Early Action and test-optional admissions.

Until now, applicants to Ithaca have had two application options.  They could apply by November 1 as an Early Decision applicant to receive a binding admissions decision by December 15.  Alternately, they could apply by February 1 as a Regular Decision applicant to receive an admissions decision by April 1.  Starting this fall, Ithaca College will offer a third option: to apply by December 1 under a non-binding Early Action deadline to receive an admissions decision by February 1.

The new application option will allow students who are excited about Ithaca College (but perhaps not ready to commit to attending) to still apply early and show their enthusiasm for the college.  Note that because of the audition and interview process, applicants to the Music or Theatre programs cannot apply Early Action.

Applicants will also have the option of not submitting SAT or ACT scores.  Students with a strong academic record in school, but relatively weaker test scores, can feel less anxious about applying to Ithaca.  However, home-schooled students and students who attend schools with descriptive (as opposed to alphanumeric) report cards must submit an SAT or ACT score; all international students whose first language is not English must also submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score. 

Thoughts on Taking a Gap Year

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/15/2012

Instead of heading to college this fall, some recently graduated seniors will take a gap year.  Why?  Some students simply need more than just a short summer vacation to recharge before heading off to college.  Others choose to take a gap year because they have a strong non-academic interest, or want to delve deeply into a specific academic interest without the distractions of multiple courses, college clubs, and dorm life. 

Either way, taking a gap year is a perfectly acceptable decision, so long as the time is used productively.  The goal is to begin college the following year refreshed and with greater wisdom and maturity.  

There are many paths you could take during a gap year.  You can pursue intensive service work with organizations like AmeriCorps and City Year, or seek out a year-long internship or job in an area of interest.  You may want to talk to your parents about living abroad and teaching English.  Or perhaps you just want to focus on honing your athletic, artistic, musical, or theatrical talents for a year? 

If you have already submitted an enrollment deposit, many colleges will be accommodating and allow you to defer your enrollment, so long as you can show them you have a solid plan.  You can also decline your offers of admission, and reapply next year.  Just make sure to really think it through and talk it over with your parents before making a final decision.

Categories: College Counseling

How to Have a Productive (and Relaxing!) Summer.

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/4/2012

If you’re a high school student, you’re probably gearing up for finals right now.  But before you know it, summer will be here.  Summer is certainly a time for relaxing, socializing, and recharging.  After all, you work hard during the school year and deserve a break!  However, the summer is also a great opportunity to explore your academic or extracurricular interests in depth, catch up on your reading, or gain some work experience.

Summer vacation is no reason to stop doing what you love during the school year.   You can attend an athletics, music, or arts summer camp, get involved with political campaigns, or apply to summer leadership programs.  You can also head over to your local library or youth center to see if they need any summer volunteers.  If you love to act, audition at your community theater this summer.  If journalism is your thing, approach your local newspaper about submitting a few articles. 

If you’re thinking about careers, consider gaining some work experience over the summer.  You can reach out to businesses and ask for an informational interview or a shadowing opportunity; you can also offer to volunteer your services as an unpaid intern.  If you’re interested in earning money, check your local listings for jobs at businesses in the area, or apply for counselor jobs at summer camps.     

For the more academically minded, there are plenty of summer programs to apply to, or head to a community college and sign up for a class (or two).  Summer is also a good time to do some serious reading, if that’s your thing.  You might think you need to work with a professor on an intensive research project for colleges to take notice (which is a perfectly viable option if you have the opportunity), but as long as you’re actively pursuing your interests, colleges will recognize that.

Finally, don’t think you need to pack productive experiences into every moment of your summer.  It’s important to take some time to recharge, take care of yourself, and relax so that when the school year comes around, you’ll be refreshed and ready to go!

Categories: College Applications

Expert Admissions Class of 2012 College Acceptances

Posted by: Website Administrator on 5/2/2012
Congratulations to the Expert Admissions Class of 2012!                    
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