When applying to competitive colleges, every aspect of your application is carefully scrutinized. We’ve interviewed several admission officers during the pandemic and asked them what they look for in students. All said the same thing: They are looking for students who step up and make a difference (even a small one) in their community.Read More
ACT & SAT Prep and College Admissions Blog
In the first post of our SAT review video series, we approach working through a standard reading comprehension question.
The SAT reading comprehension section can often be a time crunch for many students. This video demonstrates a systematic approach to quickly reading and analyzing a passage in order to answer questions.Read More
Topics: ACT/SAT, High School Test Taking, study skills, college education, college tips, college freshman advice, college questions, college advice, ACT prep, sat reading, sat prep, college student, SAT reading comprehension
No matter how many times your parents have repeated it to you, it never quite sinks in – If you fail to plan you plan to fail. While this feels a bit dramatic, in a test like the SAT or ACT it is important to realize that preparation can have a significant benefit on your score and on opportunities that stem from this such as college admission and scholarships. While many students have performed well in high school, standardized admissions tests can be a limiting factor because students often fall into a few common traps, such as the idea that being a good student translates directly into a high performing standardized test taker. While this may be true for some students, it often is not the case. College admissions exams often require knowledge on how to study for and take a standardized exam. The best way to overcome this hurdle is by creating a study schedule and planning for test day ahead of time.Read More
Students who decide to take the SAT Chemistry subject test generally feel that they are well suited for the test because they are doing well in the high school chemistry course they are taking at their high school. What I have found though is that they may not be aware of the specialized preparation that is needed in order to get a top score on the exam beyond their study for the course they are taking at school. There are several reasons for the need for specialized preparation for the exam. This article explains what those are and what the student can do to be better prepared for the test.Read More
Topics: High School Test Taking, study skills, ap test prep, ap classes, college education, college tips, college freshman advice, college questions, college advice, chemistry, college student, AP tutoring, sat chemistry test, chemistry subject test
Plenty of students take AP courses as a way to prove to colleges that they are capable of handling exactly the sort of work that universities demand of students. However, while taking the courses themselves is often quite important in admissions decisions at American universities, the scores often matter more for the purpose of getting advanced credit. Therefore, for many students, the difference between a 4 and a 5, depending on the university that he or she ultimately ends up attending, is not that vast.Read More
Topics: High School Test Taking, study skills, ap test prep, ap classes, college education, college tips, college freshman advice, college questions, college advice, college student, AP tutoring, study abroad
In our last blog post on this topic, we explored why today’s high school students must be so productive in high school. Getting good grades isn’t quite enough anymore. You need to show a variety of interests and ideally achieve leadership positions outside the classroom to maximize your chances of admission to a top college. We offered a six-step process to being more productive in high school:Read More
Most students know they need to be productive, because getting into an excellent college requires much more than good grades nowadays. It now requires a well written application highlighting many interests and accomplishments, including a high GPA.Read More
When I was a freshman advisor at Duke, most of my advice dealt with issues such as feeling overwhelmed academically, struggling to make friends and figuring out majors and careers. Looking back, however, one issue that I never discussed with my advisees but wished I had was how to make the most of a meeting. I know what you’re thinking: Huh? What do meetings have anything to do with being a college freshman? Allow me to explain.
Are you working and taking college classes at the same time? If so, you probably already know how challenging it can be. But don’t worry. Even with limited time, you can succeed at both school and work. In the next few minutes, you’re going to learn 11 easy steps to follow to help you draw the best out of yourself in both settings. Since you’re a busy student, I’m sure you don’t have any time to waste. So, let’s get started!
What are you selling?
When you are preparing to submit your college applications, keep in mind that what you’re selling is YOU. Figuratively speaking, of course. Think of the college app process in the same way as applying for a job. You want to make a great first impression, don’t you? That means taking the time to carefully read about the application process for each school to which you apply. (No. They are not all the same.) Having the required test scores and GPA are the first hurdles. The next hurdle? Choosing a prompt and writing an essay. Or writing several essays. So, how and where do you begin? And how do you know if you’ve written a fresh, unique essay? You need an editor.
A good editor makes corrections on your draft.
A great editor personally invests in you, understands the college application process and the nuances of it, works with you from concept to conclusion, and can guide you through the writing process, capitalizing on your strengths and transforming your challenges.
I’ve been asked many times as an editor, Does the essay really matter?
The answer is a resounding, Yes! Especially to schools where the admissions selection is highly competitive. You must take writing your essay(s) very seriously. That means preparing to write early. As soon as the College Board releases the prompts. Many schools require supplemental essays tailored specifically to them. Don’t wait until the day submissions are due to start writing. You will not do your best work.
If you are only applying to schools that accept the Common App, you will have a choice of seven prompts from which to choose one. What if none of the prompts resonates with you? Part of what I do as an editor is work with students to guide them in selecting and narrowing a topic and get their creative juices flowing. This process is different for each person. Some of your peers can read the prompts and quickly realize that something speaks to them. Don’t get frustrated if this doesn’t happen for you. You will get there. Sometimes the route from point A to point B is direct and sometimes there are detours with scenery that need to be taken in. The common thread is that no matter your writing skills, you can benefit from a professional editor. Even AP English students and valedictorians need guidance from a professional.
Although I have worked with students at different stages in their writing processes, I encourage you to work with an editor before you have completed a first draft to ensure that you are on the right path.
I know it can be disappointing to finish a draft only to learn that you didn’t address the prompt. If you are considering working with an editor, start the conversation from the planning stage. I offer a 15-minute complimentary consultation, which is a great opportunity to share preliminary thoughts. I can also review a writing sample to assess your writing skills before I even start the clock! Shop around. There are lots of editors out there and, like many services these days, plenty of them can work remotely with you.
Your English teachers should be your best first resource, but you may need to reach out beyond them. Their free time is valuable (I know because I used to be one) and they may not have the luxury of giving your essay the time and attention it needs. Some students hope their guidance or college counselor can provide feedback, but you are probably better served by an editor. You wouldn’t go to a dentist to get an eye exam. Don’t go to a counselor to edit your essay. Same goes with relatives and family pets!
When applying to your dream school, remember that you are presenting the best version of yourself. Why not use the best resources?
About the Author
Maureen Adras is a freelance editor of everything, writer, and owner of The Essay Gal, specializing in assisting high school seniors write and polish their college essays. She lives in Temecula, California where she edits, paints furniture, knits, bakes, cooks, and loves on her family. Maureen has a BA in English Education and an MA in Creative Writing. She published a non-fiction book about her personal experience with endometriosis, infertility, and adoption. Maureen is passionate about teaching writing and feeding songbirds, and she is humbled by people with green thumbs. You can find her at www.TheEssayGal.com.