Q: What is the Common Application?
A: The Common Application is a website that allows for students to apply to multiple private colleges using the same general information and personal statement. Although not every private college uses the Common Application, the majority do, and it saves a lot of time for the students, as it only needs to be filled out once. Be sure to download the necessary documents and send them to all schools. Many colleges have additional essays as well- especially the more prestigious colleges with supplemental applications and essays.
Q: What is the difference between Early Action and Early Decision?
A: Early Decision allows a student to apply before regular applicants and is a binding decision. This means that if accepted, the student MUST attend that university, and he or she can only apply to one college as Early Decision because of the contractually binding decision, including financially (depending on the school), and often the deposit is due earlier. Early Action also gives the student the advantage of applying early, but is non-binding. Be aware that 40% of all Ivy League school admissions are early action or Early Decision. There is also something called 'Restricted Early Action' where students can apply to only that Early Action as well as (usually) an Early Decision choice. It is almost a way of getting the advantages of Early Decision doubled, with the consequence being the loss of numerous Early Actions.
Q: Do I have a better chance of getting into a college if I apply Early Action or early decision?
A: Many students apply under Early Action or Early Decision because they believe they have a better chance of getting into the school. However, this varies from school to school. It is wise to check the percentage of students who get in by applying early. If you are qualified and really want to attend the school, it is a good idea to choose Early Decision and/or Early Action for your top choice schools. The majority of Ivy League students apply through Early Action or Early Decision. Be SURE you understand the implications and agreement before you consider this process.
Q: How much time in advance should I ask my teacher to write my recommendation letter?
A: You should ask EARLY! I recommend spring of junior year to secure who will write your letter(s) because many teachers have a limit and it is best to get on it early. Also, be sure to give the teacher the opportunity to politely decline. Perhaps he or she does not feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for you, and there is another teacher who would do a better job. Once you have the decision made, it is best to give teachers at least three weeks prior to the deadline to do the actual writing of the letter. Additionally, it is VERY important to provide the teachers with the proper information (your resume, etc.), as well as any supplies needed (SASE 's if they are being traditionally mailed versus loaded online).
Q: My parents do not make a lot of money. Will this affect my chances of getting into a school?
A: Some schools have a "need-blind" admissions policy, while others have a "need-concious" policy. Schools that consider ability to pay usually see it as a small consideration. There are many scholarships and grants for students of different ethnicities, talents, life experiences, etc. You can gain access to scholarships and grants by filing your parents' financial information through FAFSA and applying for Calgrants.
Q: How do I improve my chances of getting into a college when I am on the waiting list?
A: Show the college you are still interested in attending by updating via emails, writing, and phone calls. Do not call, write, or email excessively, but do so in moderation. Give colleges new information, such as scholarships won; or even ask your counselor to make a call on your behalf. Colleges are more likely to accept students whom they believe are enthusiastic about their school and will accept their offer of admission.
Q: Do my grades from senior year really matter?
A: Yes, they do. Numerous colleges do not make final decisions until they receive grades from the first semester of senior year. When a student is accepted to a college, almost always the acceptance is conditional upon the the receipt of final grades. If a student does not do well second semester, the college has the right to rescind admission.
Q: How many times should I take the SAT?
A: More than 80% of students (nationally) take it more than once, but only 40% of students who retake the SAT see an improvement in their score. 100% of our SAT students have improved their score EVERY time they took the SAT, but how often and how much studying is required varies a lot depending on the student and their respective goals. Our average score raise is over 250 points, which is more than 5 times the average of any national SAT prep program. Some students have raised their scores more than 350 points, but that is unusual and required a great deal of time and effort. The bottom line is that everyone is unique. Some students take the SAT once and are satisfied with their score. Others take it twice, and there are students who take the SAT three or more times. Most students take the test during the Spring of their junior year and the Fall of their senior year. It is MUCH better to start early and create the most options for your future. We recommend beginning preparation in the SUMMER following sophomore year of high school.
Q: What is superscoring and do all colleges do it?
A: Superscoring is when the highest sectional scores are taken to create the highest score possible. Scores may come from different test dates to make the highest combination of points. Prestigious universities do not superscore. The purpose of superscoring is to allow a student to look his or her best and therefore increase chances of admission. Superscoring presents the student in the best light possible while increasing the statistical ranges of the admitted class; it is a win-win situation for many universities. It is only for the SAT.
Q: What are "rolling admissions"?
A: Rolling admissions is a policy in which colleges accept students as they receive applications. Admissions officers do not review applications from all students at once. Rather, they review and accept qualified students gradually, as they receive each application; however, there is still a deadline for admissions. It is advantageous to apply well before the deadline of schools with rolling admissions policies because places are limited.