college admissions

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Get Into College

The College Process is Similar to Starting a Business

Much like starting a business, getting into the school of your choice requires a plan which extends beyond good grades. A successful college strategy includes how well you utilize resources. Resources include people, tools, information, Technology, and much more.

Entrepreneurs know that it can be a struggle to compete with larger companies with more resources. This situation requires that the entrepreneur think and operate creatively, which is beneficial. The ability to leverage existing resources more effectively (and in new and imaginative ways) can provide an advantage.

Technology: the Resource that you need to be using 

What is an accessible resource that students can be leveraging Right Now? If you guessed Technology, then you are correct.

Students can proactively use Artificial Intelligence (AI). As described by Techopedia, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.[i]

AI enables machine learning; machines are taught from experience and can adapt to new information and complete jobs. The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute points out that “[m]ost AI examples that you hear about today – from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars – rely heavily on deep learning and natural language processing. Using these technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.[ii]

How can AI be leveraged during the college admission process? 

Well, the ability to process large amounts of data and recognize patterns means that computers can do much more than predict a chess move or drive a car. AI can make valuable predictions and suggestions relating to the college admission process.

For instance, Technology has introduced virtual platforms and mobile applications that play the role of a personalized guidance counselor. A personal college counselor is of particular interest for the majority of high school students who do not have readily available access to college advisors. College advisors are a crucial part of the college admissions process, providing students with the insight and information needed to make critical decisions.

Common questions include:

  • “How do I choose a college?”
  • “What are my chances of getting into my dream school?”
  • “What can I do to increase my chances of getting into college?”
  • “Once I get in, how will I be able to afford college tuition?”

Tools that combine AI and data science can answer these essential student questions, and the best part is that AI-based college counseling platforms and websites provide personalized consulting at any time. The suggestions provided by these tools are based on extensive data sets, including personalized information provided by the users. Platforms combine the experience of multiple guidance counselors into a cohesive individualized plan.

5 Examples of How You can use a Virtual Counselor Right Now

AI-based virtual counseling platforms can instantaneously help you to:

  1. Find colleges that are a strong fit for you and meet your needs.
  2. Develop a list of safety schools.
  3. Receive guidance on how to get into the schools of your choice.
  4. Learn about available college financing solutions and how to use them.
  5. Plan and execute the activities necessary to complete the college application process.

What’s Next?

Whether you’re a parent or a student, it’s a smart strategy to learn more about AI-based virtual counseling platforms and similar solutions. These can be a helpful supplemental resource to assist with making more informed decisions and start students on a path to success!

[i] “What is Artificial Intelligence.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.techopedia.com/definition/190/artificial-intelligence-ai

[ii] “Artificial Intelligence – What It Is And Why It Matters | Sas.” N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Jul. 2019 https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/analytics/what-is-artificial-intelligence.htm.

Is Early Action or Early Decision A Good Idea?

My daughter didn’t know about Early Action (EA) when she applied to college. I first learned about it as her friends started receiving acceptances before she’d even finished applying to schools. I thought the only early application option was Early Decision (ED).

The biggest difference between Early Decision and Early Action is that Early Decision applications are binding meaning the student is obligated financially to accept the tuition package offered. Early Action plans are non-binding and the student can put off their decision to accept their package until they hear from other schools. ED works like this; a student applies early to one school and receives their decision early (before May 1). If accepted, the student must accept the offer of admissions and withdraw all of their other applications. This can be quite a gamble because a family is deciding without being able to weigh other options. Other schools may offer the student more financial or merit aid, but the student will never know if they apply ED.  A student should apply to other schools as well in case ED does not work out. However, this is a costly proposal, knowing they must give up those other applications if admitted to their ED school. The only way to get out of a binding contract would be if the family can prove that they don’t have the financial means to pay the tuition. It is so important for students to have backup schools that they love. It’s not wise to rely on one favorite.

Early Action is a non-binding contract. In EA, a student applies to one school early and receives their decision early. However, they do not have to commit to that one school until they hear from the other schools they applied to. This allows the student to weigh all their options.

Students will apply EA or ED if they are very passionate about one school. It is important to remember that your child should only apply ED if they are certain they want to attend that school. Students will also use EA or ED to get into a difficult school that they might otherwise get into during regular admission. The acceptance rates for EA and ED are usually higher than regular admission acceptance rates. A loophole is that some schools do not offer EA or ED (like the UC’s) and others will either offer only ED or EA, not both.

In my experience, Early Decision is a gamble and Early Action is a safer and better bet. EA allows your student to weigh their options (particularly financial ones) while knowing early if they got into their dream school. Knowing what I know now, I would have advised my child to apply EA when possible and only do ED if there are no doubts in their mind that this is the perfect school for them.

[Press Release] World Leader in Virtual College Counseling, myKlovr, and Ground Breaking Social Media Training Provider, Social Assurity, Sign Strategic Alliance to Bolster College Admissions Success

AI-powered college counseling platform will now provide social media training to its users to help them get into college

(New York City, May 29, 2019) – With big data algorithms and predictive analytics now driving college admission and merit aid decisions, myKlovr announced today that they have partnered with Social Assurity to incorporate social media training into the myKlovr college counseling platform. Acknowledging that 75% of colleges routinely monitor an applicant’s social media presence, online social media training will now be available to myKlovr users as an additional membership benefit.

Social Assurity provides students with online social media training, teaching students how to utilize popular social media platforms to curate a digital self-portrait that showcases their interests and achievements, all while building a lifelong network.

MyKlovr’s CEO and Founder, Gustavo Dolfino said: “Social media is a valuable mechanism to convey information about an applicant. College admission offices, scholarship committees, alumni interviewers, and financial aid offices routinely evaluate a student’s social media interactions and online presence as a way to make better decisions about qualified applicants. MyKlovr is committed to positioning students for college success and social media plays a critical role in college admissions.”

Social Assurity’s founder, Alan Katzman added: “We are thrilled to be working with the myKlovr network of parents, students, and companies, and look forward to showing students how to use social media to distinguish themselves and to leverage enrollment management algorithms for the college admissions process.”

The strategic alliance between both leaders was put together over many months; it is a logical progression of a shifting paradigm in the college admissions world, where a one-stop shop solution was badly needed. By agreeing to cooperate and leverage each other’s platforms for the benefit of students and parents, myKlovr and Social Assurity have filled the void which had never been successfully addressed before.

About myKlovr
MyKlovr is a media division of Student Global, LLC, established in New York in 2016. MyKlovr is the first-of-its-kind virtual college counseling platform that utilizes predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence to increase every high school student’s chances of college admission. For more information, please visit https://myklovr.com.

About Social Assurity
Social Assurity is the leading online social media training provider for students, parents, and schools. Social Assurity empowers high school and college students to harness and leverage the power of social media to create informative and persuasive social media profiles that reflect their interests, unique qualities, and character traits. For more information, please visit https://socialassurity.com.

How to Make the Most of Summer to Prep for College Admissions

It’s late May, which means summer vacation is right around the corner for millions of high school students like you. As both a former student and teacher, I remember those days fondly. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel. Just hang on a little longer and I’d be rewarded with nine glorious weeks off.

Yes, I expect you to use this upcoming summer break to get a little R&R. However, if you’re a rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, I encourage you to spend a little time over the following weeks to prepare for college admissions.

That said, let’s dive into what you can do to make the most of this summer while still leaving you plenty of time to relax.   

If You’re a Rising Sophomore

Now that you’ve completed freshman year, you should have a decent understanding of your academic strengths and weaknesses. You also (hopefully) found at least one extracurricular activity that you enjoy. Let’s turn this new knowledge into an action plan.

What You Should Do

  • If struggled with English or math your freshman year, spend 2-3 hours a week reviewing lessons on Khan Academy. Using Khan Academy or a similar service will both improve your English/math skills and prevent you from forgetting what you learned.
    • If your parents can afford a tutor, that works, too. 🙂
  • Spend about 7-10 hours over the summer researching colleges online. Here are some potential Google searches:
    • Colleges that have strong [Insert the name of your favorite subject here] programs.
    • Community colleges in [your state].
    • Best public colleges in [your state].
    • Colleges that award scholarship for [your extracurricular activity/high GPAs/good test scores].
  • As you research potential schools, you’ll notice that a lot of them come with big price tags. Talk to your families about what the can/will contribute to your college education.

What You Could Do 

  • As you’ll take either the PLAN or PSAT test during your sophomore year, you need to decide whether you are going to prepare for either test. Many students take these tests ‘cold’ so they can understand their natural strengths and weaknesses. This is fine, but if you are aiming for a National Merit Scholarship, you’ll need to put in some PSAT prep.

If You’re a Rising Junior

Becoming a junior is a big deal. You’re an upperclassman now, and college is just two years away. This summer you’ll need to take a more active role in preparing for your future. 

What You Should Do

  • Go on at least two college tours.
    • By researching colleges online, you should know already have a few that interest you. It’s time to hit the road with the family and see these colleges up close.
  • Decide whether to prepare for the ACT or SAT.
    • You’ll likely take both of these tests during your college admissions journey. However, as many students discover that perform slightly better on one test over the other.
  • Curate scholarship opportunities.
    • Continue your research from last summer and select 5-10 scholarships that you can apply to now or when you become a senior.
          • Although application deadlines might not be for another year, researching now means that you still have time to improve your grades/increase your volunteer hours/etc.
  • Sign up for challenging classes.
    • No, I don’t mean ‘take all AP courses.’ Yes, for some students, that’s challenging. For others, it’s a recipe for burnout/failure/etc. You need to choose a curriculum that’s challenging for you.
    • In other words, if you made an A in a non-honors course, consider taking the honors course in that same subject area as a junior.
      • The same advice applies if you did well in honors courses as a sophomore. Maybe it’s time to take 1-2 APs your junior year. 

What You Could Do

  • Take an ACT or SAT prep course.
    • Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are a milestone for high school juniors. By preparing for these tests now, you might earn a good enough score that you do not have to retake them later.
  • Intern or volunteer.
    • There are plenty of internship or volunteer opportunities in your local community. Find one that represents a cause or issue you believe in and spend 5-10 hours each week interning or volunteering. 

If You’re a Rising Senior

College admissions season is coming up fast, which means that this summer you’ll decide which colleges you’ll apply to in the fall. The following advice should help you make up your mind and put the final touches on your application packets.

What You Should Do

  • Take additional college tours.
  • Prepare to retake the ACT or SAT.
    • You took one or both of these tests during the spring. Now that you have the results, you can create a study plan that involves tutors or free Khan Academy resources.
    • I’d recommend spending 1-2 hours a week on test prep. This way, you can retake the ACT or SAT in late August or early September. These test windows are excellent as you’ll have your results in hand before college applications are due. 

What You Could Do 

  • Start application essays.
    • It’s never too early to start your application essays. See my article on the topic for more information.
  • Keep interning or volunteering.
    • If you interned of volunteered last summer, keep up the good work by trying a new experience this summer.

Final Thoughts

Summer is a great time to relax. By all means, stay up late, sleep in, and have a good time with your friends. But remember that time is a resource like any other. This summer, invest some time in your future by preparing for life after high school. Future you will thank present you.

 

How to Obtain the Best College Recommendation Letters

Throughout four years of high school, you put in a tremendous amount of work to create an excellent college application portfolio. You take – and retake – standardized tests. You write – and rewrite – college admission essays. In other words, dedicated students like you fine tune their applications to match their dream colleges’ expectations. However, there is one part of your application portfolio that’s mostly, but not entirely out of your control:

Your teachers’ recommendation letters.

Yes, these sealed envelopes or confidential online forms contain information that can go a long way in convincing college admissions counselors that you’re a perfect fit. And although you’ll never have the chance to edit, review, or even see what these letters contain, there’s a lot you can do to ensure that your teachers write glowing endorsements of your academic potential and all-around goodness as a human being.

Having been on both sides of the teacher’s desk, let me share my recommendation letter expertise with you.

Why Recommendation Letters Matter

As you know, a lot goes into a college application portfolio. The essential pieces are your grades and standardized test scores. After that, your essays and extracurricular activities allow admissions counselors to see you as a person rather than a set of scores and letter grades.

Last, but certainly not least, come the recommendation letters. They provide a different, fresh, and just as relevant, personal perspective. And since they come from adults who are trained educators, they carry a lot of weight.

And that’s why recommendation letters matter…a lot.

Step #1: Choose Your Teachers Wisely

If you’re an academically gifted student, it’s likely you excelled in the majority of your classes. First of all, good for you. However, having a lot of options raises an issue: which teachers do you pick?

Here’s some all-around good advice:

  • At least one letter should come from a teacher you had during your junior year.
    • Junior year’s the toughest one of all – at least for most students – and a letter from a teacher who had you then can say a lot about how you work under pressure.
  • If you’ve taken AP/IB courses, try to get a letter from one of those teachers, too.
    • Let’s say you excelled in your first AP course and earned a high score on the AP exam, too. Discussing this accomplishment in your personal essay and including a recommendation letter from that teacher would be the perfect combination.

If you struggled in some courses, still consider whether those teachers could write you a good letter. Did you come in for extra help and improve your grades along the way? College admissions counselors love applicants with grit, those who buckled down and invested the time and effort to raise their grades. A turnaround story is just as compelling as a ‘he/she was an academically gifted student’ story.

Step #2: Include an Information Packet

Even if a teacher just had you last year, they may be a bit fuzzy on your personal and academic details. That tends to happen when teachers see 150+ students a day. That’s why when they agree to write you a letter, give them a small info packet detailing your academic and extracurricular accomplishments along with any other information they may need (e.g., a sample of your work from their class) to jog their memories.

Pro Tip: In this packet, include a personal note that discusses what you got out of their class. It never hurts to butter up – compliment – your teacher, too. Just don’t go too overboard.

Step #2.5: Give Them Plenty of Time

Teachers are extremely, significantly, tremendously busy people. They put in a ton of effort, most of which you don’t see. That’s said, please give teachers at least two weeks – preferably three – to write you a recommendation letter.

Step #3: Be Grateful

So, the letters are done and in the physical or electronic mail. As you take that sigh of relief that your college applications are finished, don’t forget about your teachers. It’s time to get them a thank you gift.

Why a gift? Well, besides being the right thing to do, your teachers just did you a HUGE favor. It’s time to show a little gratitude with a gift card or something small that’s in the $10-$20 range. If you’re a bit shy, give it to them just before winter break – that’s when good students like you give gifts to their teachers anyway — and include a personal note thanking them for helping you out.

And when the day comes you get into your dream college or university, please let the teachers who wrote you letters know. It’ll make their day. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Good test scores and excellent grades are a dime a dozen in the college admissions world. Genuine recommendation letters are much rarer and can nudge an application from the ‘waitlist’ to ‘accepted’ pile. Will the letters teachers write for you do this? You’ll never know, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the time and effort to obtain the best letters possible.

So, if you’re a high school freshman, sophomore, or junior, make sure to let your best teachers know they did an excellent job before the school year wraps up. Your teachers will likely remember your kind words…and be more inclined to write you a recommendation letter when you need it. 😉

Everything You Wanted to Know About the PSAT

Considering all the standardized tests that you take in high school, it’s easy to overlook the PSAT. After all, it’s a practice test. On the one hand, the pressure’s off. On the other hand, you may feel that you don’t need to try your best on test day.

But you should try your best. A great score can help you tremendously when it comes to getting into your dream college.

In this article, we’ll examine the test’s format, difficulty, and relationship to the National Merit Scholarship Program. Let’s jump in!

What’s the Format?

 Let’s compare the PSAT and SAT’s format and time requirements.

PSATSAT
Evidence-Based Reading & Writing:

Reading: 60 Min., 47 Questions

Writing: 35 Min., 44 Questions

Evidence-Based Reading & Writing:

Reading: 65 Min., 52 Questions

Writing: 35 Min., 44 Questions

Mathematics

No Calculator: 25 Min., 17 Questions

Calculator: 45 Min., 31 Questions

Mathematics

No Calculator: 25 Min, 17 Questions

Calculator: 55 Min., 45 Questions

Total Time: 2 Hours, 45 MinTotal Time: 3 Hours

Quick Notes:

  • The SAT also includes a 50-minute optional essay. More on that in another article. 😉
  • You do get short breaks between sections on the PSAT.

In the smallest of nutshells, the PSAT closely mirrors the SAT in format and time. Think about it: it would have to as the results are meant to predict how you’ll perform on the SAT. Now that we know a little bit about the test, let’s cover a few key facts about each section.

Reading

  • Five passages
    • Literature (1)
    • Social science (1)
    • Science (2)
    • U.S. founding document or an international text inspired by U.S. founding documents (1)

Big Takeaway: The reading test is 80% non-fiction, meaning that to improve your reading comprehension skills (and score), it’s better to read the newspaper than your favorite novel.

Writing and Language

I have three words for you: grammar and usage. On this test, you’ll face passages with underlined portions and the dreaded NO CHANGE option. Believe it or not, NO CHANGE can trip up a lot of test takers by making them second-guess themselves.

Big Takeaway: As there are a TON of grammar and usage rules out there, I’ll keep it simple. Buy a used copy of Strunk & White and learn to love it.

Mathematics

The first thing you need to know about the mathematics section on the PSAT is that the first 17 questions (the no calculator ones) are grid-in questions, meaning that you provide the answer rather than selecting from a handful of options. That’s part of the reason why you have 25 minutes – you need to write in the grid and bubble in the answer so that a machine can score it.

Here’s what the mathematics portion covers:

  • Everything you learned through middle school
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry

There’s a lot of math in those four bullet points, but I bet it’s the last one that has you the most worried.

Big Takeaway: Jump down to the next section to learn more about the most significant difference between the PSAT and SAT.

Is it Easier Than the SAT?

Short Answer: Yes, but only a little.

Long Answer: The good folks at the College Board designed the PSAT for a slightly younger crowd, meaning that on the PSAT, you won’t find more than two questions that deal with an introduction to trigonometry. Expect a lot of algebra and geometry questions, though. The Reading/Writing and Language questions are about as difficult as their SAT equivalents. 

What’s the NMSQT?

Short Answer: PSAT = National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and the test takers who earn the highest scores receive a scholarship and/or recognition for their accomplishment.

Long Answer: Test takers with excellent PSAT scores can receive one of four distinctions:

  • Commended Student
    • Test takers who score above the College Board’s super-secret selection index score
  • Semifinalists
    • The top 0.5% of test takers in each state
  • Finalist
  • Scholarship
    • Typically 1% of all finalists receive a scholarship
    • $2,500

In other words, it’s more challenging to earn a National Merit Scholarship than it is to get into Harvard.

Even if You Don’t Receive a Scholarship

Were you a finalist, semi-finalist, or a commended student? If so, you may not have an extra $2,500 to spend on college, but you have something else just as valuable: bragging rights. Although I don’t recommend that you actually brag on your college applications, definitely bring up your finalist/semi-finalist/commended student status in your personal statement or application. As these distinctions are rare, they’re going to earn you a TON of points with college admission counselors.

Should I Prepare for the PSAT?

A lot of high school students take the PSAT ‘cold,’ meaning they’re using the test to determine their baseline score. Going in cold can be a valuable strategy, as having authentic PSAT results can act as the foundation for an SAT study plan. However, many students want to shoot for the stars and become National Merit Scholars. If this describes you, let’s talk prep work.

Creating a Study Plan

Here’s a valuable ‘plan of attack’ to use when preparing for the PSAT.

Note: For maximum impact, start this plan about five weeks before the real PSAT

  • Take a practice test under timed conditions.
    • Saturday morning would probably be the best time to do it.
  • Score it.
  • Analyze the results to determine your weakest areas.
  • Start with the ‘easy fixes’: topics that take you the least amount of time to improve.
  • Slowly work your way up to harder subjects.
    • An excellent study plan means commitment. Try to spend 30 minutes to one hour a day preparing for the PSAT.
  • A few days before the real PSAT, take a second practice test.
    • Not only will this test better acclimate you to the test’s format, but you’ll also see how far your score has come.
      • If you earn a higher score on the PSAT, that’s great! If you earn a lower score, you may need to research and practice test anxiety remedies.

What Happens After I Take the PSAT?

Analyze (and Learn From) Your Scores

Whether or not you prepared for the PSAT, you can learn much from your score. If you went into the test cold, consider the experience as steps #1 and #2 in the previous section’s study plan. Also, think back to how you felt on test day. If you had any test anxiety symptoms, it might be time to consult some resources to make sure when you take the SAT, you don’t have to worry about high heart rate, sweating, and feelings of hopelessness.

Expect a Lot of Mail

Even if you did ‘just okay’ on the PSAT, expect a lot of physical and digital mail to show up soon after you receive your results. The College Board – along with the ACT – make a lot of money selling your info to colleges and universities across the country. The benefit for you is that when a college sees that you’re an okay to strong test taker, they’ll reach out to you with a letter or packet that describes their schools and what they can offer you as a potential college student.

Reading through the material will teach you much about colleges and how they operate. Like advertisements, they’re trying to catch your attention. Not all schools will interest you; that’s fine. For the ones that seem promising, contact them to learn more and start discussing college tours with your family. 

Final Thoughts

The PSAT can be scary, especially if it’s your first standardized test. For that reason, even if you don’t create a study plan, I’d still recommend that you take one timed practice test. That way, at least you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.

My other final thought is that no matter how much you study, please remember the PSAT is just the start of a standardized test journey that lasts until you take – and likely retake – the SAT. So, if your results aren’t what you expect, cut yourself some slack. As a 21st-century high school student trying to do his or her best, you deserve it.

The Common App: What You Need to Know

Here’s an interesting, but not ironic fact: getting into college is harder than ever, but applying is easier than ever. And no, the latter has nothing to do with the former. Societal expectations and good marketing are to blame for admission rates plummeting across the board.

But applying to college sure is a lot easier than it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Thanks to the trusty internet, high school students and their families can learn about colleges, take virtual tours, and apply online.

Another critical component of college application readiness is The Common Application (Common App). For over 40 years, the Common App and the organization behind it have encouraged member colleges and universities to simplify the application process. After all, it can be daunting keeping up with different application requirements and materials. Why not make it easier for applicants?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Common App and examine what you should know before submitting it.

What Is the Common App?

To answer this question, we have to go back to 1975, when a non-profit called, you guessed it, The Common Application released the first version of what we call The Common App. You see, as the Baby Boomer generation flooded into America’s colleges, some people realized that there had to be a better way to apply. Today, more than 800 colleges around the world accept the Common App. 

What Do I Need to Know?

Doing research for this article, I learned just how much the Common App has changed since I used it to apply to colleges 15 years ago. Back then, the Common App was just a form. You filled it out once and sent copies – along with other application materials – to colleges. It made applying somewhat easier, but it wasn’t groundbreaking.

The Common App in 2019 is so much more than a piece of paper. On The Common Application website, you can create an account, research potential colleges and universities, review application requirements, and most importantly, and apply to schools. The Common Application even features a mobile app wherein high school students on the go can access and update their accounts at any time.

This system’s most significant advantage for you is organization. By using the website or app, it becomes nearly impossible for you to forget about a test score, recommendation letter, or essay requirement. Speaking of essays, be sure to write yours in a .doc before copy/pasting it into the application. The program tends to delete the essays of applicants who type their essay in the provided text box.

At the colleges and universities that you apply to, admissions counselors use a similar interface to access and review your materials. And before you ask, no, an admissions counselor CANNOT see the other schools where you sent applications.

One thing the Common App DOESN’T do is lower the cost of applying to college. For each application you submit, you still need to pay that school’s application fee.

Other ‘Common Apps’

In your college search, you may come across competitors to the Common App. These alternative ‘common apps’ – Universal College Application, Coalition for College, and the Common Black College Application – offer many of the same services as the Common App, but fewer colleges accept them. Although these organizations offer legitimate services, I would caution against them as you’d be juggling these apps, the Common App, and likely other applications for schools that use neither.

In other words, when it comes to the Common App, accept no substitutions.

Final Thoughts

I wish I had the 2019 Common App to help me navigate college admissions in the fall of 2003. What was once just a form has become a valuable college application resource that can help you research colleges, stay organized, and submit applications. These tools, combined with those in myKlovr, can help you dramatically increase your chances of college admission success.

So, if you haven’t already, get on the Common App website and create an account.

[Press Release] Early Stage Company Tackles the College Admissions Scandal

MyKlovr’s AI-based virtual college counselor outperforms human coaches; costs a tiny fraction thereof. And it is legal!

(New York City, April 2, 2019) – With the recent college admissions scandal continuing to unfold, new evidence sheds light on the grueling college admissions process, and to what extent parents are willing to go, to get their children admitted to the “right school.” College admissions leader, myKlovr, recognized the problem three years ago, and put together cutting-edge AI technology thereby, leveling the playing field.

Offered as a human resources sponsored corporate benefit, myKlovr has solved two issues at once – first, it has allowed companies to attract and retain best of breed employee talent, and second – it has made it possible for corporate employees to provide the luxury of college coaching to their families, either as a company sponsored or a voluntary benefit. Major benefit marketplaces such as Benefitfocus, and some of the largest benefit brokers in the industry, including USI and Lockton, have chomped at the bit to distribute the myKlovr’s revolutionary solution.

“As we saw last week, some parents will go to any length, to get their children into a top school, even if it means breaking the law. We do not do it on behalf of the kids; rather, we help them maximize the chances of doing it for themselves.” said Gustavo G. Dolfino, founder and CEO of myKlovr. “We believe, every student who aspires to attend college, should have that opportunity, regardless of background and race. We are proud our platform is affordable to families of all walks of life. That is our promise to them. And we provide a money back guarantee.”

In addition to using artificial intelligence to provide every college-bound student with personalized guidance, the enhanced college planning platform includes:

  • A college planning tool, which makes it easier for users to discover, build and refine a college list, and provides college recommendations based on each student’s individual profile;
  • An enhanced parent portal, designed for parent/student interaction, allowing families to navigate the college planning journey together;
  • A powerful goal recommendation engine delivering individual insightful recommendations, while tracking ongoing milestones;

MyKlovr’s extensive client pipeline, has made college counseling available and affordable to more than three million households, and their children. In addition, the company recently introduced its College Acceptance Promise – a refund of all myKlovr subscription fees, should the student not be admitted to a college from a recommended tier. This revolutionary guarantee is made available by a contractual liability insurance policy issued to myKlovr, by insurance giant AXA.

About myKlovr
MyKlovr is a media division of Student Global, LLC, established in New York in 2016. MyKlovr is the first-of-its-kind virtual college counseling platform that utilizes predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence to increase every high school student’s chances of college admission. For more information, please visit https://myklovr.com/

On Academic Honesty

When news of the college admissions scandal broke the other day, I was both surprised and not. For decades, wealthy parents have paid huge sums to buy their children’s way into elite universities. But instead of the normal quid pro quo (e.g., “You buy us a building, and we’ll let your kid into our school.”), this latest scandal was pure fraud that involved bribes and dishonesty among hundreds of people. From parents to test proctors to psychiatrists to coaches, it seems that no one’s hands are clean.

After researching the scandal inside and out, I wondered: If this news broke when I was a high school upperclassman, what would I think? How would I react to the fact that an entire scheme had been concocted to undermine a system that already overwhelmingly favors the wealthy and well connected?

To say the least, I wouldn’t have a positive reaction. For that reason, I want to reach out to current high school upperclassmen, the people applying to the schools caught up in this scandal (I have no doubt that more complicit schools and individuals will come to light in the coming days. That’s what happens with scandals – they just get bigger.)

What Honesty Is

Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry, for there are many good [people] in this world today who cannot pass an examination in trigonometry, but there are no good [people] in the world who cannot pass an examination in honesty.

– Madison Sarratt (1891-1978), dean, Vanderbilt University

 

As a Vanderbilt undergraduate, I passed this quote just about every day. It’s posted outside the Sarratt Student Center in the middle of campus. If you walked through the doors next to it, you’d be greeted by four massive framed documents: the signatures of every undergraduate student, a contract to abide by the university’s rules regarding academic honesty.

Honesty is a lesson most of us learn as children, and it’s a shame that some college students do not know it. It’s a greater shame that in this most recent scandal, it was the parents at fault. Did their children, many of whom took spots from more deserving applicants, know what was going on? We might never find out. Should they be asked to leave? That’s not my call, and I’m not sure what my decision would be if I were a dean.

Takeaways 

One thing I don’t want you to take away from this scandal is that since the rich and influential were trying to buy their children’s way into elite schools, you should only pursue elite schools during the college admissions process. To the people who broke the law, these schools are nothing more than status symbols. “Hey, my kid got into USC. Isn’t she so smart? Aren’t I a great parent?”

We at myKlovr believe that every student who aspires to attend college should apply to schools where they can best excel regardless of their parents’ wealth, fame, or political influence. Families from all socioeconomic backgrounds can afford our services, none of which go against Madison Sarratt’s century-old message about honesty. Finally, unlike the scandal’s ringleader, we cannot guarantee that you will attend your top-choice school. We utilize artificial intelligence and data science to provide personalized college counseling and the very best tools and resources to help students maximize their chances of college admissions. However, if you do not attend a college within your projected college tier, we will refund your subscription fee. That’s our guarantee, one we stand by with pride.

Final Thoughts

To the college-bound young men and women reading this, let me reiterate a very important fact: college is still worth it. Others’ lying, bribing, and cheating does not devalue the pride you feel after getting into a top school, earning a good grade on a test, or working your hardest to achieve the life you want.

How to Get the Most Out of College Fairs

This time of year is College Fair season where representatives from colleges and universities around the globe visit high schools. Sometimes college fairs are organized by majors. For example, schools focusing on STEM programs might be in attendance one evening and schools focusing on Arts programs might be in attendance another. The Ivy’s travel together and have one big event usually at a central hotel. The events can be overwhelming. I suggest that you look ahead and mark the upcoming dates on your calendar. Then give yourselves some time study the schools. Learn as much as you can about them beforehand and narrow down the ones your student is most interested in. Time at the fairs will be limited, so it’s best to pick the top four or five. Popular schools may have lines, so familiarize yourself with some schools that are not so popular and visit those. 


At the event you and your student has a chance to talk to the representatives. This is the first impression your student will make. Most likely the rep will ask the student to fill out an info card with their name and address and email. This not only puts the student on the school’s mailing list, but begins a file on the interested student. The representative may make notes on the student’s info card. It’s best for your student to come prepared with specific questions for the rep. The more prepared, the better they will look. The rep will most likely then give the student their business card. If that happens, then make sure your student follows up with a thank you email, perhaps with another question. The rep will add the email to the student’s file and when it comes time to review the application, a relationship with that student has already been established. 


Also make sure your student is open to looking at schools that might not have initially been on their radar. Smaller lesser known schools are represented at college fairs and will try to interest students with strong financial aid packages or majors that may not be offered at bigger schools. At a recent art school fair my son became interested in the Art Institute of Chicago, a place he never would have considered just reading about it. But the rep gave such a good pitch, and the program sounded remarkable, my son is now considering the school even with the recent -22 degree weather reports!


Be prepared, keep an open mind and follow up with the reps and your student will make the most of their upcoming college fairs. 

Infographic: College Admissions 101

Every year millions of high school students begin their journey to college. With over 4,500 colleges in the United States, there are several options for students to choose from. However, are students prepared for the college enrollment process? Several students do not know what steps to take when applying for college, which is why it’s important to speak with a college counselor before and throughout the process. Did you know, that high school students who meet with a counselor to discuss admission and financial aid are 3 times more likely to enroll in college? This statistic shows how important it is to talk with a counselor to figure out what schools would best fit the student, their skills, and how to properly apply to the school of their dreams.

This infographic is aimed to show students how to best prepare for college and what steps to take when applying. It is more important today than ever to attend college; and this guide can be a great asset for students who are beginning their journey.

 

Decisions, Decisions: Early Decision, Early Action, Instant Decision or Regular Decision

When it comes to your journey to college, you have to answer many important questions:

  • Public or private school?
  • Small or big school?
  • How much can I afford?
  • Which scholarships should I apply to?
  • And so on.

Answering each of these questions brings you one step closer to attending college. However, one of the final questions you must answer may have the most significant impact on where you go to school:

  • Should I apply early decision, early action, instant decision, or regular decision?

Yes, there are many choices of how you can apply to college, and each one comes with a unique set of rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll examine each type of application so you can choose those right for you.

Early Decision

 As the name implies, early decision requires you to decide where you want to go to college before most application deadlines. You apply to one school 1-2 months before regular decision, and you can expect a decision in about six weeks. You may already know the catch: if the school accepts you, you have to go there. No, they won’t drag you off to jail if you don’t attend, but when you send in your early decision application, you’re telling the college that, “Yes, I will 100% go here if you accept me.”

Students who apply early decision have a slightly higher chance of receiving an acceptance letter. Don’t be fooled; schools accept a higher percentage of early decision applicants because these applicants represent the cream of the crop. Finally, schools may decide to push some early decision applicants into the regular decision pile to review their applications again between January and April.

Who should apply early decision?

If you 100% know deep down – you feel it in your bones – that you want to attend a specific college, by all means, apply early decision. And if you get in, more power to you. With that significant weight off your shoulders, you can celebrate during winter break and have a less stressful spring semester.

And if you shouldn’t get in – it happened to me, too – take a moment to grieve before refocusing your energy on your remaining applications.  

Early Action

Want to know if a school will accept you early but not 100% sure you want to attend? Then early action is for you!

Schools that use early action typically have the same application deadlines as schools that use early decision. You receive a decision around the same time as if you had applied early decision, too. But unlike early decision, applying early action does not constitute an agreement to attend a school if it accepts you. Also, you have until May 1st to make your final decision.

Who should apply early action?

You should apply early action if there is a school you love, but you’re not entirely sure you want to attend. Also, consider early action if you want to see how your regular decision applications turn out.

Instant Decision

Don’t let the name fool you. Instant decision takes a little more time than a cup of instant ramen. It’s more like speed dating. Here’s how the process works for some schools:

  • You gather all application materials.
  • You take them to a college on its decision day, also known as D-Day.
  • The college makes an admission decision that same day.

Like with early action, you still have until May 1stto select a college or university. Compared to early decision, early action, and regular decision, instant decision is rare. None of the schools you apply to may use it.

Who should apply instant decision?

Consider instant decision a good choice you want to know your results as soon as possible. D-Day can feel like a gauntlet, however, especially for schools that use interviews, so be ready for the stress. 

Regular Decision

Regular decision represents the bulk of applications colleges and universities receive throughout December and into early January. Schools spend the spring curating their next year’s freshman class before sending out decisions around April 1st. Accepted students have until May 1stto accept an offer.  Schools put some regular decision applicants on a waitlist: these students may not find out until May or June if a school accepts them.

Who should apply regular decision? 

No matter who you are, you should plan to apply regular decision to at least three schools. It’s your best bet to receive one or more acceptances.

Final Thoughts

Applying to college has never been more competitive, and you may think that applying one way or another may give you an advantage. If I were you, I’d push these thoughts out of my mind. Apply early decision/action to your top choice and apply regular decision for the rest of the schools on your shortlist. After that, all you can do is sit back, wait, and continue doing your best in high school until graduation day.

Top 10 Private Colleges in The United States

Thinking about applying to college?  MyKlovr has provided a list of the top ten private colleges in the United States.

1. Harvard University

Medical School at Harvard University.

Location: Cambridge, MA

Total Enrollment: 20,324

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Harvard University was founded on September 8, 1636, and named after its first benefactor, John Harvard.

The first graduation ceremony for Harvard University was in 1642, honoring nine graduates.

2. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

3. Yale University

Harkness Tower at Yale University.

Location: New Haven, CT

Total Enrollment: 12,458

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Fun Facts

Yale University was established on October 9, 1701.

Yale is home to the oldest collegiate newspaper, the Yale Daily News.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Princeton UniversityUniversity8,181Princeton, NJ7%Suburban
5Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUniversity11,376Boston, MA8%Urban
6University of PennsylvaniaUniversity21,826Philidelphia, PA9%Urban
7Columbia UniversityUniversity25,084New York, NY6%Urban
8Brown UniversityUniversity9,781Providence, RI9%Urban
9California Institute of TechnologyUniversity2,240Pasadena, CA8%Suburban
10Duke UniversityUniversity15,928Durham, NC11%Suburban

 

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

Top 15 Colleges in California

There is an overwhelming number of options for high school students to choose from when applying to college. In California alone, there are 264 4-year colleges.

For this reason, myKlovr has generated a list of the top 15 colleges in California. Take a look to learn more about these featured colleges.

 

1. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

2. California Institute of Technology

Robert A. Millikan Memorial Library at Caltech.

Location: Pasadena, CA

Total Enrollment: 2,240

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Fun Facts

California Institute of Technology was founded in 1891.

The mascot of Caltech is a beaver, to honor natures engineers.

 

3. Pomona College

Mason Hall, an academic building at Pomona College.

Location: Claremont, CA

Total Enrollment: 1,703

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Fun Facts

Pomona College was founded in 1887.

An alumnus of Pomona college is Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top fifteen list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Claremont McKenna CollegeLiberal Arts1,347Claremont, CA9%Suburban
5Harvey Mudd CollegeLiberal Arts829Claremont, CA13%Suburban
6University of California, BerkeleyUniversity40,174Berkeley, CA16%Urban
7University of California, Los AngelesUniversity44,497Los Angeles, CA18%Urban
8University of Southern CaliforniaUniversity43,871Los Angeles, CA17%Urban
9Scripps CollegeLiberal Arts1,057Claremont, CA30%Suburban
10Pitzer CollegeLiberal Arts1,089Claremont, CA14%Suburban
11University of California, DavisUniversity36,441David, CA42%Urban
12University of California, San DiegoUniversity34,979La Jolla, CA36%Urban
13University of California, Santa BarbaraUniversity24,346Santa Barbara, CA36%Suburban
14Santa Clara UniversityUniversity8,422Santa Clara, CA48%Urban
15Occidental CollegeLiberal Arts2,062Los Angeles, CA46%Urban

 

MyKlovr created this top fifteen list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

SPOTLIGHT: Terry Talks about Navigating the College Admissions Process With a Homeschooler

Terry’s daughter Ceylon is a talented dancer who chose to homeschool during high school allowing more time for her dance training.

Hi Terry, I am super curious about the process for homeschoolers when it comes to applying to college, so thanks for sharing Ceylon’s story!

First question, did you hire a college counselor to help out?

Yes, we hired a College Counselor. The mother who mentored me through homeschooling made a recommendation. We met with her three times and she was available through emails and for proof reading.

How did Ceylon get teacher recommendations?

Getting teacher recommendations, was tricky. We homeschooled 11th and 12th grade so Ceylon reached out to her 10th grade English teacher from her old school who was happy to make a recommendation. She also was taking classes at City College and one particular teacher seemed interested in her educational goals. She had some reservations about asking him because college teachers often have limited knowledge of students but he had least seemed like the best candidate due to questions he had asked her about her future plans. Thankfully, he agreed.

Do you feel colleges were more accepting or dismissive of homeschool kids or did it not seem to matter?

I would say the schools that have a lower acceptance rate may have been more dismissive of her as a homeschooler. The current school she is attending gave her a dance department acceptance letter about two weeks after her dance audition. There was understanding that she most likely was accepted into the college but official confirmation was necessary. We were not notified of the final acceptance until the day before she was moving into her dorm. My guess is the review takes longer to conduct for homeschoolers.

Did the homeschooling high school classes she took satisfy the needs of the colleges?

There are two point of views among Homeschoolers as to whether to make sure you take A-G approved classes or not, in order to meet the California college requirements. The college counselor advised me that colleges also look at a student’s ability to be diversified in how and where courses are taken. The majority of Ceyon’s (high school) classes were college classes but she also took an online chartered school (curriculum) for a very small part. And, we hired a private tutor for her Algebra 2 and Statistics because she was not ready for those classes at a college level.

Do you think she had a leg up on other college Freshman this year? I bet being more familiar with college campus and classes really helped her adapt.

Ceylon has said more than once she is so happy to have done City College classes before attending her current school. She enjoyed being at a small campus before going to a much larger campus. What she is most grateful for is to have a year’s worth of credits in her freshman year. Her goal is to do college in 2 or 3 years.

Tell us about the audition process for applying to a dance program.

Ceylon did 4 auditions for college dance programs. She had narrowed her college applications down to only schools that the tuition was reasonable because she could not justify us paying a lot of tuition for a dance degree. This was completely her decision. Luckily all of the schools had a Los Angeles audition even if they were across the country. She was able to determine a lot about the dance programs based on what the audition was like. All of schools had a lot of perspective students auditioning with some schools needing to hold several auditions to accommodate all the possible students. Ceylon had done summer intensive auditions so she found the college audition to be very much the same as an dance intensive audition.

How involved were you in guiding her through her decisions? Do you feel like you understood how to navigate this world or since you were not in a traditional high school, did you feel like you had to figure everything out yourself?

I imagine parents in both traditional and home schools have their share of having to figure out the whole college process. Even though we hired a college counselor, I was still responsible for her High School transcripts and a Homeschool description of our program. As the School Counselor, I also had to write an objective recommendation letter for my daughter. The college counselor we hired kept Ceylon on track but it was up to me to navigate my part. Again, Ceylon was very practical in her decisions about schools. She wanted a college with a reputable dance department and not an expensive tuition. She realized to balance the academics and dance she did not want a school with too much rigorous academics.

Any final advice for other parents with children who homeschool?

I felt a huge sigh of relief to know she was accepted into colleges having done our own homeschool. The mother who mentored us had a daughter two years ahead of my daughter who got into all the schools she applied to so they modeled how to do it. I suggest you have someone who can guide you through the process. The greatest gift this mom gave me was how to do a transcript and a school description. Both took a lot of work.

Any final advice for parents whose children are applying to dance programs?

Ceylon may not be the best one to give advise on college dance programs. She is ambivalent about college for dancers. There is a lot of work in a dance program that requires you to complete both dance and academic requirements. The only way she was able to commit to a college dance program was to continue her training outside of college. She recently also did a teacher’s certification program for teaching acrobatic-dance. So for Ceylon’s goals there is more she desires than just the college degree.

Sounds like she is off to a great start! Best of luck to both you and Ceylon. 

College Admissions & Demonstrated Interest

Students have a lot of things to get done for college applications. Putting together the perfect application for your dream school isn’t the only thing to do during this time, and the perfect application is not the only thing college admissions officers are looking for.

College admissions officers are starting to look at students’ demonstrated interest (or lack thereof). Demonstrated interest (in regards to college) is simply, going the extra mile to show true interest beyond the standard application.

The remainder of this article will discuss what demonstrated interest is in the traditional way, what it’s starting to look like with the growth of social media, and why this all matters.

 

Demonstrated Interest

Here is a short list of ways to show a college admissions officer your demonstrated interest.

  • Campus Tours
  • Interviews
  • College Fairs
  • Following up/sending thank you letters (when appropriate)

If you want to learn more, click here.

 

Changes in Demonstrated Interest – Social Media

College admissions officers are starting to look at applicants’ social media activity.

Why social media?

Answer: Social media is a great way for college admissions officers to get a glimpse into who you are based on what you follow and ‘like’.

Generally, people follow things on social media that they are interested in. Considering this, if a college admissions officer sees that you are following one or more social media accounts affiliated with the college, they will consider you to be very interested in the college and in turn, more likely to accept an offer.

Below are the results of a survey conducted by myKlovr asking its users if they would feel comfortable if college admissions officers checked their social media.

 

Out of 188 myKlovr users, 11.7% say “I’d love them to do that”, 69% say “I’m an open book, nothing to hide!”, 6.9% say “sure but let me edit first”, and 11.7% say “oh no please don’t”.

 

Why do College Admissions Officers Care About Demonstrated Interest?

Demonstrated interest shows a college admissions officer how likely you are to attend the college if you are accepted. Students who visit the campus, talk to the college representatives at college fairs, follow the college’s social media accounts, have a higher chance of accepting an offer.

College admissions officers are also looking for those students who are not only interested in their college on paper (college applications) but are actively going out of their way to learn more about the college.

Think about it this way, it is standard to send in an application, transcripts, test scores, and an essay. Demonstrated interest is going above and beyond what is required for college admissions which ultimately demonstrates the level of your genuine interest.

Demonstrated Interest: A Primer

Believe it or not, getting into your dream college has a lot in common with getting your future dream job. Yes, both have the word ‘dream’ in the title, but the similarities go deeper than that. You see, the people who get into their dream college/get their dream job show demonstrated interest. In other words, they do more than the bare minimum – applying.

In this article, we’ll take a look at demonstrated interested: what it is and how to use it to your advantage during next year’s college admission season.

So, What Is Demonstrated Interest?

As the name suggests, demonstrated interest is when you go the extra mile to show a college that it’s your first choice. The trick, however, is doing so without becoming annoying and making the college admission counselor think less of you. We’ll discuss how to not be annoying in a bit.

And you don’t want that happening, do you?

Your goal, on the other hand, is to leave a positive impression on the admission department before (or during) the time when they consider your application portfolio. How do you do that? Let’s find out.

What Does Demonstrated Interest Look Like?

Let’s start with an easy one.

Take the Tour 

Taking the tour is one of the easiest things you can do to show demonstrated interest. No, you likely won’t come into contact with any higher-ups in the admission department, but the experience can benefit you in a few ways.

  • Your Personal Essay: The personal essay is a great way to bring up the fact you took the tour and “just fell in love” with the campus and what the student tour guide told you about the academic and social experience.
  • Write a Thank You Note: When you get back home from your tour, consider writing a brief thank you note to the head of the admission department. Talk about “how helpful” the guide was and that “your school is now one of my top picks.” In other words, it never hurts to butter them up.

If you can’t take the tour for whatever reason, it always pays to send a note to one of the admissions counselors. Ask a question or two and tell them a bit about yourself. Like any good cover letter, don’t let it go over 250 words.

Interview 

Not many colleges perform interviews these days, especially for undergraduates. If they do, that is an opportunity you need to jump on (if you can). If the school is hundreds or thousands of miles away, it doesn’t make sense to commit time and money to make the trip, especially if you’re on a budget. But if it’s a day trip in the car, don’t miss this critical opportunity. Here’s some specific advice, much of it applicable to the jobs interviews a few years in your future:

  • Dress for the school you want: When you go to your interview, it pays to dress up. How dressed up? Without going into too much detail, Google ‘business casual.’ That seems to be the sweet spot.
  • Have some questions ready: In all interviews, there always comes a point when the interviewer turns the tables and asks, “do you have any questions for me?” To leave an impression, you need to have a question or two up your sleeve. Fortunately for you, you can think up questions in advance, and if one should come to mind during the interview, that’s even better. Your questions show demonstrated interest and leave an impression in your interviewer’s mind. And who knows, your interviewer may be the person who has the final say over your application.

How to Not Be Annoying

This is going to be a relatively short section despite the topic’s importance. Again, let’s take a page out of the “how to get a job” playbook:

  • Be yourself: A truism if there ever was one, but be yourself is still the best advice there is. However, a better way to put it would be ‘be genuine.’ Sounds nicer, doesn’t it? In other words, the effort it takes to try to be someone else is exhausting, and if you mess it up, the person on the other end loses trust in you.
  • Don’t lie: Applying to college isn’t applying for a security clearance; plenty of people have fibbed about their accomplishments, like how long they participated in an extracurricular activity and gotten away with it. HOWEVER, lying is annoying and demonstrates an immaturity that no college admission counselor wants to see.
  • Avoid the Temptation to Pester: First off, there’s a big difference between pestering and asking relevant questions. For example, if a college says they will let you know when all of your application materials arrive and then you hear nothing, by all means, write them emails until you get a reply. But beyond that, avoid contacting admission counselors, especially if you think of something that would ‘enhance’ your application.
    • Your application is your one and only opportunity to shine. Sorry. That’s the way it is.

Final Thoughts

Demonstrated interest shows initiative and if done right, proves to a school that you’re committed. As long as you’re not annoying, whatever you do is sure to have a positive effect.

The Difference Between Semester and Quarter System Schools

My daughter started college classes this Fall on Thursday, September 27. When I tell people that they usually ask, “Why so late? Most colleges began in August.” The reason is that my daughter’s school is on a quarter system, not a semester system. The Fall quarter or “term” begins late September.

The benefits to a quarter system that we have seen so far are that she was able to enjoy a longer summer. She had the whole month of August and most of September at home before heading off to college. In her case, this was a good thing. She was so burned out after high school I couldn’t imagine packing up the car and taking her to college in early August. She was also able to keep her summer job longer and save extra money. But the quarter system had a couple other surprises we needed to understand.

With the quarter system, the freshman are only allowed to take three academic classes. I remembered taking full loads of five to six classes per semester, so when I first heard this I was both concerned and confused.

My daughter explained that the quarter is shorter than a semester, so taking three classes makes sense. The total amount of time students spend in the classroom is the same as if they were taking more classes over more time. In the end, it evens out. My daughter will take fifteen credits three times a year. And if she decides, can add a fourth quarter and take summer classes. In the end of her freshman year, she will have completed nine classes. Her friends in semester schools will be completing eight to ten classes this first year.

Breaks between classes are different as well. The calendars look like this:

Semester System

Fall semester = 15 weeks
Winter break = 5 weeks
Spring semester = 16 weeks (includes 1 week Spring break)
Summer break = 16 weeks

The average student will take four classes with two midterms/per class. In the semester system, students are given an RRR (Reading/Review/Recitation) week – one week to study for finals. Quarter system students are not offered the RRR week

Quarter System

Fall quarter = 10 weeks
Winter break = 2 weeks
Winter quarter = 10 weeks
Spring break = 1 week
Spring quarter = 10 weeks
Summer = 19 weeks

The pros of a semester system appear to be fewer exams, longer winter break, the RRR week, and a break in between exams. The cons for the Semester system seem to be fewer classes per year.

In a quarter system, the student can explore more classes, usually 9-12. They have a real Spring break between quarters, they get a class done with less cumulative finals over ten weeks not fifteen weeks

The cons with the quarter system are that students are always in a go-go-go phase, midterms hit them over a short time, only a two week winter break, no RRR week, and more exams per year.

State schools tend to be quarter systems, but not all are. So keep these differences in mind when applying to colleges.

The Difference Between Early Action, Early Decision and Instant Decision

My daughter Sydney starts college next week and after spending two years helping her get to this point I thought I knew everything about the admissions process, but I don’t. Last week something I had never heard of came to my attention: Instant Decision.

The CollegeBoard doesn’t talk about Instant Decision on it’s website but grownandflown.com writes, “Instant Decision Day (or, as some call it ID Day) is a chance for high school students to reduce the entire admissions process (including, in some cases, financial or merit aid) to one day.” Not all colleges and universities offer this option so look on their individual websites to find out. Bard College does and calls it Immediate Decision.

Bard’s Immediate Decision Plan (IDP) requires an online reservation for a November in-person interview and a completed Common Application. The student is also required to read several assigned texts and participate in a seminar on interview day. That evening faculty discuss the interviews and a decision will be sent out the following business day. So if your student’s Bard interview is November 3, they will know if they are excepted as early as November 5. Now that is instant!

Other options for sooner decisions include Early Action(EA) and Early Decision(ED). According to the CollegeBoard, “early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are non-binding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.”

Binding means that with an early decision, you agree to go to that school school no matter what the financial aid package , if any, has been offered. Non-binding means you agree to go to that school only if the financial aid package works for your family.

Before deciding on early decisions,  make sure the school is the right one for your student and your family before committing. We might have chosen Immediate Decision if Bard was the right school for Sydney.

Here is a breakdown of all the decision options:

Regular Decision
Apply to as many schools as you like
Application due January/February
Acceptance in March
Commitment by May 1
Non-binding
Early Decision I
Allows you to only apply to one school Early Decision
Application due early December
Acceptance in January
Commitment several weeks later
Withdraw offers from other schools
Binding
Early Decision II
Allows you to only apply to one school Early Decision
Application due in January
Acceptance in February
Commitment several weeks later
Withdraw offers from other schools
Binding
Early Action I
Apply to as many schools as students like
Application due December
Rolling acceptance
Commitment by May 1
Non-binding
Instant Decision /Early Action II
Decision based on interview in November
Decision made within 48 hours
Commitment date set by college
Binding/non-binding determined by college

What Looks Good on a College Application?

After attending multiple seminars with admissions directors and meeting with college counselors, it seems to be agreed upon that a well rounded college application is ideal. So what’s that look like for your high school freshman or sophomore?

Colleges expect a schedule full of rigorous classes, but they also expect to see room on the student’s schedule for electives. And consistency is important with electives. For example, a college tends to be more impressed if they see a student take art all four years of high school rather than art one year, drama the next, music the next and then skip an elective the senior year. Colleges look for growth and commitment in electives.

Colleges also want to see that the student has participated in any extracurriculars the school has to offer, whether that be sports, orchestra, musical theater or the school newspaper. These extracurriculars are just as important as the academics and electives. Schools don’t want to see that the student went home at 2pm to play video games on a daily basis.

Student leadership and community service rank high with admissions directors as do participating in clubs. But again, they want to see the student attending these clubs for four years and perhaps growing into leadership positions within the clubs. Starting a club is often an option in high schools, so if you child has a good idea, encourage them to partition the school to begin a club. Make sure they follow through and grow the club over their four years. Usually a club will need a teacher advisor. If the club is successful, perhaps that teacher would write a stellar letter of recommendation for the student. Seeing that a student can balance academics, create something new and navigate through the schools administration will bound to impress a college admissions director.

Obviously grades are an important factor in getting into college, but being well rounded is as well. Just as in life, being well versed in different topics will only help to expand your child’s world.

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