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Replies to: Give Your Input on the College Preparation Process & Win a FREE Amazon Gift Card!

  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 4034 replies24 threads Senior Member
    I'll agree with @cttwenty15 except to say that if it's convenient, a handful of carefully targeted tours of colleges during sophomore and even freshman year can be a good thing—not tours of colleges a student of that age is "interested in" (whatever that means that early in the process), but rather tours of a range of institutional types, so that the student gets a general idea of the differences between, say, LACs, large publics, regionals, and so on.
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  • LeylandLeyland 353 replies6 threads Member
    Honestly, unless the student is a very strong candidate across all categories (grades, scores, ECs, life experiences), you need to do research into the following, and consider these actions:
    1. Know your high school’s application, admission, and enrollment history for each school. Good Naviance data is invaluable; otherwise, use your guidance counselors to give you real numbers.
    2. Use the Common Data Set (CDS) for the schools to see what the scores and GPAs REALLY are for that school. Also, you can find demographics such as what percentage of males vs females apply and are admitted, etc.
    3. CRITICAL: Know what grades and GPA are used for admission. For instance, some will not look at senior year grades; others want your senior year first QUARTER grades. If you are depending on an up-tick in GPA in senior year, you may be disappointed to find it won’t make any difference at some schools.
    4. Consider Canadian universities if your strongest year is junior and/or senior year. Most of them throw out any hs credit marks from ms, throw out freshman, and some even throw out sophomore grades. (However, they also depend more heavily on test scores).
    5. Look at department rankings rather than overall college rankings (such as are in the USNWR). There are certain undergraduate programs such as engineering, business, math where rankings really do matter – especially if looking forward to grad school.
    6. Standardized tests: if applicable, use the College Board’s resources and purchase the online stuff that has autograding of essays online, practice section tests as well as a ton of full-length. They create the tests, so using another resource is not as efficient as using their formats. Practice, practice, practice. No amount of $$$ and classes will substitute for practice.
    7. When you get a practice problem wrong, don’t just get the answer, find out why the correct answer is correct.
    8. If you can afford the time and money, take some subject tests. If there is a subject you are really strong in, take the SAT II. It’s good to have a couple in your back pocket, and you’d be surprised at how high you might score.
    9. Get organized; get a good printer; get lots of printer ink; a whiteboard helps; always keep copies of exact essays that were used for each school.
    10. Apply to at least two match/safety schools in-state, with at least one of those close to home. You never know how circumstances or emotions may change over the course of senior year.
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  • cttwenty15cttwenty15 274 replies16 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2015
    So much changes from what most of us thought we wanted during even the 6-8 months between the summer before senior year and winter of senior year, that touring a range of universities freshman year of high school ^^ seems to me like the information is "going to go in one ear and out the other." Suppose if it is merely to begin having your s or d think about someday going off to college, but then consider it like mini vacations (which few freshmen will find fun, better off having family fun at Disney World) and not really college touring.

    Also, one really can take their SATs one time, their subject SATs one time, and be done. I highly recommend it, I took them junior year! And I'm going to Yale. :)
    edited May 2015
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 4034 replies24 threads Senior Member
    @cttwenty15—right, that's what I meant. It can help your child know that there's a pretty wide range out there. I didn't mean to get them to think about X College or the University of Y or whatever, but rather that there are colleges of lots of sorts in the world.
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  • RdtsmithRdtsmith 814 replies58 threads Member
    Don't advertise to high stats students a free and easy application process saying they'll hear back within 30 days, then don't follow thru. Made us wonder how else the college was being untruthful.

    Perhaps colleges outside Common App could notify you via email when your application was processed.

    I'm so shallow, but I loved the tshirts, hats, stickers, doodads and other promotional materials the colleges sent.
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  • RdtsmithRdtsmith 814 replies58 threads Member
    And had to comment about the EC thing since so many commenting. There are PLENTY of volunteer opportunities I don't care where you live! Churches, schools and sites like volunteermatch.org have plenty of things to do. Make your own ECs and outside interests!
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 4034 replies24 threads Senior Member
    Yes, there are plenty of EC opportunities, but one problem with ECs is the uneven (and often undocumentable) quality of them—it's too easy for someone to burnish their application by claiming a leadership role in, say, an "Environment Club" that met twice. Someone "in the know" about the college application process would happily do that, though, while someone with less cultural capital wouldn't know how helpful something so pointless would be.
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  • TruAlphaTruAlpha 67 replies26 threads Junior Member
    Alright alright I'l put my two cents in! I've gotten dozens upon dozens (no exaggeration, quite literally) of emails fromm colleges, many of them being repeats and colleges that don't really offer my major. I really wish that they would improve that so that if you chosen a specific major, your only sent emails from colleges and universities that actually offer your major. The same goes with traditional mail too. Also, do your own research and do use sites such as the College Board if you are looking for colleges and keep your counselor updated on you college search process. After-all they are the ones who send your transcripts. And if you can visit colleges which really helps when trying to decide if that college is a good fit for you.
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  • AleckstremoAleckstremo 17 replies3 threads New Member
    The thing I like the most is definitely application waivers.

    The least will have to be the difference and complexity of EVERY SINGLE APPLICATION
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  • kibbleskibbles 284 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Hi! Agree with most of what is already posted but would like to underscore two points: one, regarding rejection letters, I do wish more colleges considered the tone....one letter my son received after applying early action was harshly worded and actually contained a sentence about how it was final and he shouldn't consider applying again. Really. Two, it is important to keep track of how many times a school has sent a "reminder" to a prospective student. We received a dozen reminders and then a dozen or so "too bad you missed our accepted student open house but there's still time..." messages from one school. . . and we had, in fact, flown across the country and attended the open house. I reminded them of this several times but then just gave up when the messages kept coming. Agree with most everything else already written....need to say that the "personalized" letters are really wonderful when possible.
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 4034 replies24 threads Senior Member
    We received a dozen reminders and then a dozen or so "too bad you missed our accepted student open house but there's still time..." messages from one school. . . and we had, in fact, flown across the country and attended the open house.
    Chime! My oldest got an email from a college that has the majors she's interested in, asking her to fill out an online info card to get on the school's email list. She did so, and one of the things she did was (with my permission) provide my email address. Every other day for the next two and a half weeks I then proceeded to get an identical "Welcome! Your child just signed you up to receive occasional updates from us!" It took three emails to the admissions office to get that fixed—not a good way to impress the person who's potentially paying you.

    Thought: That university uses Hobsons for its email marketing stuff. I've noticed that a lot of (all?) the cases of the unsubscribe-link-doesn't-work problem I've run into so far are from colleges that use Hobsons. Maybe the moral of the story is that the Hobsons system is simply broken?
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  • viphanviphan 1250 replies20 threads Senior Member
    This was my second cycle of college admissions process, since I took a gap-year this year. Perhaps because of my previous experience, I was able to comprehend what the colleges were looking for and better prepare myself to fit their "average accepted student" profile, albeit it differentiates for every college.

    Undoubtedly, the heaviest stress and emphasis are on GPA, SAT/ACT, and ECs. Other things will only matter contingent upon the deemed competitiveness of the aforementioned aspects. Duke, for example, explicitly says that they separate the entire applicant pool into halves of competitive applicants and noncompetitive applicants after their first read.

    I want to point out that as long as you are solid on the aforementioned three aspects, you will end up in a great college. Nobody can predict the outcomes of the Ivies or elite institutions.

    Lastly, this is an advice for future young grasshoppers regarding "dream schools". Yes, some of you will get into your dream school and be happy. However, do NOT narrow down your options unless you have weighed ALL of your options. Also remember that you can be just as happy and thrive at another school, if not more. I wanted to attend Columbia but my dreams shattered when I was rejected ED. Now in retrospect, I am extremely thankful for the great opportunities I were able to weigh and ultimately select my one home for the future years.

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  • crepescrepes 561 replies32 threads Member
    edited May 2015
    We've been flooded with communications from colleges. The ones we didn't like much were phone calls, including one from UCLA in May when my daughter was just a sophomore. They asked her "Do you think you'll apply next fall?" and seemed surprised when she said no, she would just be a junior in Fall.

    We also wish that some colleges would be a more selective about their mailings and emails.There were colleges contacting us repeatedly, almost every week! It was too much.

    A poster mentioned personailzed acceptance letters--yes, those showed that someone in admissions cared enough to treat accepted students as individuals.
    edited May 2015
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  • rhandcorhandco 4240 replies55 threads Senior Member
    Stop doing: Sending paper snail mail catalogs and letters - a postcard is fine, a 150 page catalog from Yale sent to my son who isn't even in the top 10% of his class is not fine.

    Keep doing: Emails targeting my son's interests were appreciated, rather then generic "we are a great college" emails. Emailing acceptance information was appreciated too.

    What will confuse us is that my first son had a similar profile to me - eh grades and great SAT scores, and lots of AP and honors classes (by the skin of his teeth due to eh grades), but my next child has only one honors course, but has a high GPA, 3.9 UW. Should my second child be targeting the same schools as my first? Or is course rigor a deal-breaker?

    What would be useful is for colleges to tell students upfront what they value most - grades, test scores, course rigor, essays, "the whole package", etc. It's confusing that many colleges that I know are excellent say that they are "holistic" but really the students need a bare minimum in certain areas, like 1400 CR + M and 3.7 UW GPA and rigorous courseload, but yeah, THEN we are holistic...
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  • IrisShadowIrisShadow 194 replies81 threads Junior Member
    Goodness, where to start on the process. I myself have not started since I am a freshman; however from what I've seen and read so far it is extremely stressful, and extremely flawed.

    A classmate of mine is known to complain about certain teachers and say her teachers are harder than the other's in the subject area - such as complaining that her History teacher is harder than the other one, despite the other giving DBQ's every other week and a 7 page research paper and the other not assigning an essay at all, and arguing with several friends in the process - and has no personality while being extremely popular for being self-deprecating and showing off her talent in singing and dancing in the process, often whatever pop song is most popular on the radio. She is also extremely nice to her teachers, and has criticized unreasonably criticized them - complaining that the same History teacher as before didn't give her a 100 on an open note quiz despite her getting a question wrong on it, and getting angry for being corrected on a fact she remembered wrong. She also refuses to take any stance on any political issue or even celebrities, claiming she'll let people do what as they wish. I suspect that she will have glowing teacher recs and is an excellent writer, and is doing poorly in one EC, okay in most, and won a National Award in another, in a very, very long list. I feel that colleges should see if they could take any measure to see if teacher recs are good solely because the student is buttering them up for the future or because the student genuinely likes them/ is interested in the subject and a hard worker.

    Another complaint is how people seem less interested in the material, and getting the best grade possible. I am doing poorly in a class right now, which is rigorous and cannot be studied for (Engineering Design - mainly drawing technical drawings), and have a B for the year in that and another 2 - I take interest in one, but have trouble remembering the facts and doing well on tests, and the other is due to being a language and having poor pronunciation. A close friend of mine only cares for getting the highest grade possible, and takes no interest in them; as a result, her grades are all A's, and colleges will have no idea that she doesn't actually like the classes, and is only doing it because she wishes to go to a HYPSM/her parents are very strict. Assuming that we have the same transcript save those B's I have, they would admit her over me, despite her not caring about the subject itself.

    Another classmate is taking an easy class after school to have more credits on her transcript, as well as one during the school day where she has no homework, and gets a grade for showing up and speaking. She is also taking several 'easy' AP's she doesn't have interest in so it'll bring her weighted GPA up. I know colleges look at course rigor, however I think it'll give people a huge unfair advantage if course rigor is not scrutinized carefully.

    I also agree the leadership thing, as well as community service, is a bit of a crapshoot. I currently hold a leadership position and intend to hold it for my entire high school career and intend to invest in a lot of time and effort expanding it, but there are plenty of officers of clubs at my school who do absolutely nothing, and only do it for college; they will likely hold the office all four years, but it might still reflect better on them than me because it's Student Council, and mine is an Honor Society in a subject that is considered 'easy' - Art. Another user said she went above an beyond on EC's, but it wouldn't look like that to colleges because it's a small town. Geography and what you do vs. what you typically CAN do should be factored in as well. And nowadays people are doing community service in order to pad college apps. The point of community service is to benefit the community by doing good, but when you do it for college, it's done in self-interest, creating an extremely self-centered outlook and creating an unfair advantage to those who don't need to work for money or have transportation/connections to do so.

    So that rant is over. Some things I think are good:

    Leadership, so long as it isn't just padding. People who actually try and do good because they care get a plus in my book. Unfortunately, those people are few and far in between.

    Colleges sending out (certain) info on themselves. As a sibling of someone going the process themselves, I think it's nice when they talk about certain programs and anything else prospective students may find interesting.

    I haven't gone through the process yet, but my sister has already decided where she wants to apply next year, so I would suggest looking into colleges as early as possible and trying to figure out where you want to be (at least vaguely) as soon as possible, and looking up which colleges are strong in what you think you may want to go into.
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  • andyisandyis 535 replies21 threads Member
    There's a lot to go through so the most important thing is just to accept the fact that not everything will go as you desire and simply accept whatever happens and move on. There are opportunities later in life, even if you didn't get into you dram college or ivy. College admissions is only one step of a long journey. Success is the culmination of many, not a single, step. It is difficult and stressful, going for GPA tests and most of all, the boundless ocean of EC. No matter who you are, others will top you. Some are basically at the Olympic level and will be a recruited athlete. Nonetheless you are you and distinct and that is enough, regardless of admissions
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  • zeedoqzeedoq 95 replies10 threads Junior Member
    First of all, the flyers/brochures/letters/whatever are extremely annoying. Theres these particular letters that a whole bunch of colleges send that are formatted the EXACT same way... theses letters go into the trash right away. I like it when colleges actually send information out, instead of weird internet offers. More posters= more happiness!
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  • EatwillBAux-KEatwillBAux-K 4777 replies349 threads Senior Member
    so....whos getting amazon card?
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  • dfbdfbdfbdfb 4034 replies24 threads Senior Member
    One big difference between what my daughter's seeing now vs. what I saw nearly 30 years ago is the way universities are using the internet to cast a wide net and pre-filter. Back in the day, one of the few mailings I remember came from the University of Pennsylvania, which was several pages on heavyweight glossy paper with a lot of effort put into it (plus it had a skull candleholder, among other bizarre items, on the cover!), and it had to cost a decent bit as that sort of thing goes. I didn't even apply, though—so that and other stuff I got from them was basically wasted money on trying to get me interested.* Now, though, my daughter can get emails from Penn asking, for a fairly small monetary investment on their part, to provide contact information if she's interested, and then only spend the real money if they know she's at least a possibility.

    * Did go there for grad school, though—but that was because of the recommendations of faculty at my undergrad institution and the research they were doing in my field, and I sincerely doubt the skull candleholder I saw several years earlier influenced me at that point.
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  • CCadmin_SorinCCadmin_Sorin 2724 replies288 threads Community Manager
    edited May 2015
    Thank you all for the great contributions! We appreciate you taking the time to provide input. As announced, we will be offering a free $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly selected, lucky participant.

    So here we are, the winner is @rhandco! Congratulations! I will be reaching out with more details.
    edited May 2015
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