Student struggling to balance her options

The Fallacy of Reach, Target, and Backup

Families often simplify the college selection process when categorizing campuses as “Reach,” “Target,” and “Backup” based on perceived chances of admission. Appliants and their families overlook the complex matchmaking between what a student needs and the unique opportunities of a particular college: However, separating colleges by admissions chances, students fail to understand that college admissions…

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Anxiety Can Be a Friend during the College Admissions Process

It’s normal for rising seniors and transfer students to be anxious about the college application process. People typically are anxious when facing uncertainty, and when applying to college, students confront many unknowns: from unpredictable admissions results, to doubts about how they’ll transition to living away from family.  When parents, with good intentions, try to alleviate…

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What’s the value of an Ivy League education?

Is an Ivy League education worth the nearly $90,000 per year cost of attendance, which includes tuition, room & board, fees, average estimates for books, personal expenses + transportation?  The following is the current estimated cost of attendance at all eight Ivy League institutions:  As inflation erodes the average middle class standard of living, while…

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Should I take the SAT or ACT more than three times? 

While college admissions officers don’t diminish a student’s evaluation for having taken the SAT or ACT multiple times, students would be prudent to pause and reflect before taking either test more than three times each.  To make a more informed choice, students can:  Also, if students have purchased the score reporting services, like “Requesting a…

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The When, Where and Why of the College Admissions Decision Process

Choosing a college is a culmination of a childhood, marking the gateway to adulthood. Thus, Moms, Dads, and teens (and sometimes also stepparents) enter a complex series of negotiations—varying from dialogue to bickering to bargaining to ultimatums—requiring skilled diplomacy, often objective mediation to broker a consensus.  Many families are also contending with potentially competing interests…

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The Hope Endures – More about College Admissions Waitlists

One parent of a high school senior likened college admissions waitlists to “the extended torture of hope”, wishing to simply to move beyond decisions and let the grieving begin. And, in some ways, the institution gains more from waitlisting than the applicant, having a reserve should their first choice candidates choose to attend another college. …

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The Spring Reality of Early Admissions: Juniors Beware

For high school juniors steadying themselves for The College Application Gauntlet, seeking any seeming advantage in the quest for an acceptance letter thus considering applying early admissions, take heed of the Class of 2023 ahead of you, especially those early applicants who’ve been denied or deferred.  In fall, fueled by hope, many students rush to…

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College Acceptances Are Conditional

In Spring, Seniors can experience “Senioritis”, needing more effort to complete everyday homework, while coping with anxiety of waiting for college responses. In some cases, such a lack of motivation can lead to strategic missteps, from which the consequences can be destructive, especially for college admissions. All college acceptances are conditional or provisional. Often, one…

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Columbia First Ivy League College to Permanently Implement Test Optional Admissions

Updated March 11, 2023 As of March 1, 2023, Columbia University admissions officers declared a permanent test-optional admissions policy for all first year applicants, starting with the Fall 2024 cycle.  We have designed our application to afford the greatest possible opportunity and flexibility for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents, interests…

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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…

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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…

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The Most Essential Interview

To effectively brainstorm topics for college essays, students must be interviewed by an experienced advisor, who not only knows the college admissions process, but applies their experience within the context of an anxious teenager seeking to define their life’s vision.  When teens query themselves in some me-talking-with-me, thinking exercise, they will unwittingly dismiss ideas, not…

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Full Circle: Early Decision is Regular Decision Again and The College Admissions Rat Race Continues Unabated 

Tulane University admitted two-thirds of their Fall 2022 class, through Early Decision, essentially transforming early admissions into Regular Decision. If Tulane is setting a trend (our base case) or will remain an outlier in college admissions (not likely), depends on whether students and parents continue to apply early admissions believing in their worth as candidates…

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