Good riddance 2017 and helloooo 2018!
Although I can’t say 2017 was a terrible year (some good stuff did happen), we enter 2018 with the hope that this year, finally, will be our year. And yes, yes, we say that every year, but do not fear, this year will actually be your year.
But around this time, when one week into January you are starting to realize your resolution of going to the gym every other day and reading a new book every week is just not gonna happen, don’t feel hopeless. It’s not you, (it’s me). But no, all jokes aside, do not blame yourself for the chronic inability to keep up with New Year’s Resolutions, it happens to the best of us.
Instead, after a week of inevitably failed resolutions, it’s time to revisit those goals of yours for 2018 and set some SMART goals. And these should have a significantly higher success rate than that goal to stop procrastinating you set for yourself every single year.
For the past three-ish weeks, colleges have just been breaking hearts left and right. I was recently one of those broken hearts (thanks, Princeton). But out of the hundreds of thousands of students that applied early action or early decision (more on the early application process here), only a fraction of each applicant pool was offered a spot in next year’s incoming class, the class of 2022 - that coveted acceptance. The rest (like you and me) were either rejected outright (aww, I'm sorry, that sucks), or got this weird email saying you were not rejected, but not accepted either, and are hanging out in this limbo of “deferred applicants”.
But what exactly does it mean to get deferred in the initial round of applications? What should you do next to optimize your chances of being accepted in the regular decision round? And should you give up on life and move to Slovakia to raise a herd of goats?
(The answer to that last one is no.)
A lot of you know that college is expensive. That’s no secret. With tuitions approaching 70k for some private universities, we’re all struggling to find ways to make that cost a little cheaper - whether it be through loans or scholarships.
But a lot of people forget that the process of applying to college itself, the part where you write essays baring your souls and work on getting the best grades and standardized test scores, costs so much too. The average application fee cost is almost $38, and private and elite schools have even higher fees (Stanford’s is $90!). And the application fee is only the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget about the amount of money it takes to send your test scores (which you can read more about here) or to send your CSS profile for financial aid eligibility (yeah, it costs money to ask for money).
Altogether, each college can cost around $100 to apply, and if you’re applying to 10 colleges, that’s already $1000. Yup, that’s expensive.
Everyone tells us that our summers during high school are important. Especially after sophomore and junior year. You finally have the time to devote to something, whether that be an internship, a job, or a passion project (like this blog!). Now, even I have already told you this (go read this) but it’s worth a reiteration.
Even though whatever you do in those summers is undoubtedly of value and helps your growth as a person and as a college applicant, there are a few summer programs that are almost like a neon sign screaming “Look here! This one’s the real deal!” These are ones that mark you as one of the best in the nation at its respective focus and are opportunities not to be passed up.
In fact, a lot of the applications for these summer programs are opening around this time (I know, it feels like summer just ended, but the next one will be here sooner than you know). So I encourage you to apply, even if you think you don’t have a chance - you never know.
We’ve all been there. (Or at least, most of us will be eventually.) Awkwardly standing there, clutching whatever college information pamphlets they handed out at the beginning of the information session and tour, riding out the awkward silence when your tour guide asks “Do you guys have any questions?” at the end of every stop. And you know you have a question. Everyone does. But you never ask.
Well, grow a pair and ask! This might be the only opportunity you have to interact with current students and take their experiences and perspectives about the university into consideration, both in deciding to apply and to attend.
Everyone knows that after an interview with an admissions counselor, you have to send a thank-you note, email or snail-mail. (And if you didn’t know, well, there you go, now you know.) But what about beyond that? Is it okay to email them with general questions you have about the college admissions process? What about if you just want to say hi and you’re excited about the university? Or if you have any questions regarding visiting or interviewing or the campus layout?
Yes. The answer is yes.
Remember, a college admissions officer is there for the students. They will always answer your questions and if they can’t, they’ll direct you to someone who can. Their entire job is to both attract students to their university and choose who will become the next members of the incoming class.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about communication.
Everyone has had both good and terrible experiences with College Confidential, myself included. Sometimes it had great and valuable information that you’re thankful you stumbled upon, and other times you’re almost crying because you’re reading the Chance Me thread and realizing you’re never getting into Princeton (not speaking from personal experience).
But sometimes you have to reel yourself in and realize that no matter how all-knowing and deity-like College Confidential and its posters may seem, it’s just another college forum on the internet, where you never know whether what people are saying is real or not.
And for that I say, take College Confidential with a grain of salt.
Every math, biology, or US history course is taught differently in each and every school throughout the United States. Which makes it almost impossible to compare the caliber of these subjects and the caliber of these students, especially when trying to make decisions on college admissions.
For that reason, an excellent indicator of mastery in a specific subject is an SAT Subject Test. It allows a standardized measure of achievement across the country and can be a valuable indicator of academic ability, in a way the normal SAT or ACT are not.
So to help navigate the ins and outs of this suite of assessments, here’s a quick and comprehensive guide to all things SAT Subject Test.
When you get lost in the college applications process, it’s so easy to forget about the little things - like sending SAT scores or the CSS profile - while you’re focusing on writing a stellar essay or picking which colleges to apply to.
The absolute worst thing that can happen is you write an absolutely amazing personal statement, craft wonderful descriptions for your activities, work for years for perfect standardized test scores, apply to your dream university… and figure out you didn’t send your SAT scores on time and your application was automatically rejected.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen - here’s a handy-dandy guide on some important timelines and deadlines to keep in mind when applying to college to make sure you avoid apocalyptic scenarios.
A few of you may know (at least the seniors that are reading this), that the early decision (ED) and early action (EA) deadlines just passed, most of them being on November 1st.
And I can speak for all us seniors when I say “Hallelujah!” - at least one thing is over. But for the rest of you who are confused as to what applying early to college might mean, here’s a quick rundown of what it is and what it means in terms of both your application process and admission chances. (And no, applying early is not always a binding decision!)