University of Southern California’s First Early Action Results

On Friday, January 20, 2023, according to a newsletter sent to counselors, the University of Southern California (USC) admissions officers admitted its first ever class of approximately 2400 Early Action candidates, a 5.9% admit rate.  40,600 first year applicants requested admissions by the November 1, 2022 Early Action deadline, which was also the deadline for any students to be considered…

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The Sentiments of High School Seniors 72 Hours From A College Application Deadline

Thus, possibly for their parents… May students’ fingers be swift, memory banks quick to recall significant life-shaping experiences, and word snipping their quintessential memoirs to just 250 words be effortless. And, may all parents be assured that if servers crash, admissions officers (within hours) extend deadlines, and trust that their children’s efforts (be it last minute or not) are what…

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Advice about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cultural Background Written Response

Often when a written response is “optional” on a college application, especially when the admit rates are 3.96%, like at MIT, students accustomed to following every direction, and seeking every advantage in such a low probability admissions process, usually pause to consider, “How optional is ‘optional’?”  Yet, after talking with admissions officers at MIT, optional really is optional. MIT admissions…

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The Seldom Told Story of Early Admissions

In the next few weeks, students who applied early admissions, both Early Action and Early Decision, will be: Admitted, Denied, or Deferred to the Regular Decision pool. Yet, in Teenager the three admissions responses (respectively) translate to: Validated (or Vindicated), Rejected and In-Between rejected but not a rejection. For students (and sometimes parents), the admissions process is inherently personal, the…

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Should I edit my 650 word Common Application Essay?

The short answer is, “Yes, one can always clarify their sentences to more accurately reflect the meaning intended, all in the quest to be understood by the admissions officer.”  Students can use the definition of “to edit” as a guide when considering any changes:  Yet, to “prepare (an autobiographical college essay) for [re]publication”, students must first consider the original story…

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Advice for Answering Optional COVID related College Application Essay Questions

To borrow the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate…” any student’s choice to share their personal COVID-colored experiences. In an informal query of admissions officers around the United States from highly selective to not-so-selective universities, the consensus is be judicious, if choosing to share a COVID-related experience.  Most admissions officers advise students to consider if the COVID-related…

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Advice for Completing the University of California Activities & Awards Section

For those of you applying to the University of California (UC), completing the Activities & Awards section can require several hours of brainstorming, drafting and editing, over multiple drafts.  Thus, many teens will postpone drafting the detailed descriptions or conversely they may focus on drafting the descriptions, postponing their essay writing.  To balance the work of both drafting the PIQ…

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Do’s & Don’ts of Answering UC Personal Insight Question #7

Serving others, suppressing our innate self-centered human tendency, can be a valuable lesson in generosity, the equanimity of humanity, and even in reverse, a confidence in oneself as a valuable member of society.  In the race for the most elite college admissions, often many students have added (or been compelled by assignment and the chase for grades) volunteer work to…

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GIFF: Spongebob Prepare to Be written

The Patience of a Writer

Teenagers must write their autobiography as a requirement for college applications, which is a complicated task. Writing one’s life story requires reflecting on intricate, existential questions, like “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose in life?” And, most teens quickly recognize they have little self-awareness, just the first in a series of writer’s blocks.  However, as Tim O’Brien in The…

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Twas Days Before The Early Admissions Deadline…

Twas days before the first Early Admissions deadline Students are furiously typing, their parents fretting Online applications half completed Teenagers rationalizing the form “won’t take that long to complete” Yet, their parents hover, murmuring about “crashed servers”, Admonishing not to submit at the “last minute”, literally 11:59 pm On the deadline day Still visions of acceptance letters danced in their…

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Metaphorically Speaking

Teenagers are often inexperienced in self-reflection, thus lacking awareness about the meaning of their young lives, as well as confidence to assert what they do know about themselves. Thus, in college essays, many obscure awareness in metaphor, which not only exposes their lack of confidence, but also forces the admissions evaluator to infer (at best), and guess (at worst) what…

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Comic: I'm more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles

Reason #450,897,354 Why Writing College Essays Is Complicated

Every year, especially in mid-October, college and transfer applicants share some version of the following:  “I can’t get all my thoughts to focus on one idea.”  “I’ve written several different paragraphs, but they don’t connect with each other.”  “I have too much to say, how can I incorporate every idea into one essay?!?” Students often attempt to write their autobiography,…

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Requesting Letters of Recommendation Isn’t Simple

Asking for any help requires confidence. And, when asking for letters of recommendation, students must trust that the teachers and counselor will add dimension to their carefully curated application, including a resume of activities developed over years and autobiographical essays drafted over many hours.  Thus, when students are required to fill out multi-page packets detailing their experience, attaching rough drafts…

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Early Admissions Explained

Applying to college is confusing enough, as a teenager pauses to reflect on their young life to date in order to enter adulthood with an understanding of themselves. Then, in determining when to apply, applicants can only add confusion. So, to dispel urban legend about Early Admissions, I’ll explain Early Action, Early Decision and differences between Early Decision 1 and…

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