Archive for the 'Admissions' Category

The Falsified Data Crisis & the Application Process

Feb. 25th 2013


Lets face it, the application process is daunting anywhere – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii. As competition to draw in the best students has grown increasingly aggressive, many colleges and universities have turned to less than scrupulous ways to bolster their admissions and to become more attractive to students. A small but growing number have begun twisting or outright lying about data regarding SAT scores, job success after graduation, the selectivity of programs, and even the debt students may graduate from college carrying. It’s a disturbing trend, and one that rightly may have prospective college students nervous about the selection process.

The Culprits

While only a handful of colleges in the U.S. have admitted to or have been found to be falsifying data about their schools, that doesn’t make the trend any less troubling, especially as many of these schools turn out to be highly regarded, top-tier universities. You may even be surprised by the schools that have fessed up about dishonesty, the majority of which we’ve listed here.

Bucknell University: One of the most recent cases involving false data is related to Bucknell University. The school admitted in early 2013 than it had inflated average SAT and ACT scores when reporting data to rankings magazines, but, surprisingly, that revelation did not lead to the school losing its number 32 spot on the “Top Liberal Arts Colleges” list.

Claremont McKenna College: Small but prestigious Claremont McKenna admitted to sending false SAT scores to college rankings publications in an attempt to boost its rankings. Even with the correct data figured in, however, the school was able to maintain its ranking among the top liberal arts colleges.

Dickinson State University: An auditor found that enrollment numbers for the fall of 2010 had been inflated by then-president Richard McCallum, counting participants in a not-for-credit symposium as enrolled in the university.

Emory University: In 2012, officials at Emory admitted to sending intentionally misleading data on SAT and ACT scores and admitted students’ class rank to rankings magazines for more than a decade.

George Washington University: George Washington University is a prestigious top-tier school, but that didn’t stop officials from tampering with data. In 2012, the school announced that it had been misreporting data about freshmen class rank for more than a decade. In response, the school was removed from the U.S. News & World Report college rankings.

Iona College: It was revealed in 2011 that Iona College officials had been misrepresenting data from the school for more than a decade. More surprising was that data wasn’t just going to rankings magazines but to its accreditor, the U.S. Department of Education, and state agencies. False data inflated the SAT scores and GPAs of admitted students, higher graduation and retention rates, the number of alumni donors, as well as reporting smaller than actual faculty-to-student ratios.

Scripps College: In mid-2012, Scripps College found itself in hot water for providing inaccurate reports about its graduates’ average student loan debt. In reality, students from the school were graduating with far higher levels of debt than the school would admit.

While the bulk of data falsification that has been exposed has been at the undergraduate level, graduate and professional programs certainly haven’t gone unscathed by the trend. Tulane University’s business school was found to be providing false data to boost its rankings among MBA programs, Villanova University’s law school was put on probation in 2011 for submitting falsified admissions data on median GPAs and LSAT scores to the American Bar Association, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s law school was censured and fined for intentionally publishing false acceptance rate data for more than six years.

What makes this more troubling, however, is that many education experts believe that the data falsification issue encompasses many more schools than just those which are willing to come forward about their deception. In fact, an Inside Higher Ed survey of admissions officers found that 91% believed some institutions besides those that had been identified at the time had reported false scores or other data.

Why Schools Lie

With all of the bad publicity and reputation damage that comes along with submitting false data, it may make students wonder why schools are willing to do it. There are a variety of reasons, though the motivations of each individual school may be quite different.

One of the major reasons schools lie is to get ahead in national rankings and, in turn, become more attractive to students. Rankings have become a huge deal for colleges of all sizes, and many shell out millions in order to raise their scores. This makes the temptation to lie or misrepresent information almost irresistible, especially if schools feel little risk in getting caught.

Some deception may occur as a result of internal pressures, as well. Colleges often set admissions and performance goals for their administrators. If these goals are unrealistic, sometimes officials feel it’s easier to lie than to admit that there is little way to meet them.

Beyond this, however, some schools lie simply because they can. Most schools who have falsified data have seen few consequences, with penalties resulting in a small drop in ranking or removal for one year but no real hit. Even as major scandals have emerged, new schools still come out all the time and data falsification remains a major problem. While penalties for these actions could include loss of accreditation and reduced federal funding, no schools have yet to face these consequences, giving most little impetus to stop.

What Falsified Data Means for Students

While knowing how and why schools are willing to report false data is useful, it doesn’t help address just what that false data means for students. In most cases, when colleges are falsifying data, they’re doing it to manipulate students into choosing their school, whether or not they’re really as good as they claim to be. This kind of false advertising can have serious consequences for students, especially when it’s related to student debt and the ability of graduates to find jobs.

The potential penalties that falsification of data can carry also pose serious risks for students. When schools are censured, put on probation, or lose sources of funding, students suffer, too. While most schools haven’t seen these kinds of consequences, there’s no guarantee that accrediting bodies and federal policymakers won’t take a harder line in the future, exposing both schools and the students who choose to attend them.

How to Protect Yourself During the Admissions Process

Since you can’t put a stop to colleges falsifying data, you’ll have to learn how to manage it while seeking out a great college to attend. That’s not as hard as you might think. There are a number of ways you can shop around for the best school for you without getting taken in by numbers that aren’t quite true representations of what things are really like at a school. Here are some tips that should guide your college search process.

  • Know what to look out for. There have been some common threads in college data falsification that can help you determine which kinds of stats to be to most suspicious about. Take an extra close look at the SAT scores and GPA of accepted students, post-graduation debt, jobs after graduation and overall acceptance rates. These stats can be close to reality even if not quite true, or seriously far off, like that of Tulane, who reported an admissions rate of 53% that in reality was 93%. You may not be able to puzzle out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying, but you’ll at least have a good idea of what kind of data is commonly falsified.
  • Do your own research. It can be smart to do a little poking around when looking at colleges. Get in contact with schools to see who is in charge of compiling and submitting admissions data. If records are collected and sent through multiple departments, it’s much harder for schools to lie without getting caught.
  • Compare numbers. By comparing the numbers from similar schools, you can get a better sense if something seems a bit strange. Similar schools should have similar rates of acceptance, SAT scores, and other types of data. If they don’t, you might want to look into why that’s the case. That doesn’t mean that every school should be identical, only that discrepancy can be a sign that some schools might not be being completely honest.
  • Put little weight on rankings. While it might feel good to get accepted and to attend a school that numerous people agree ranks among the best in the nation, rankings are actually a pretty poor tool to use when selecting a school to attend. They won’t really tell you whether or not a school is a good fit for you, and, as recent data scandals illuminate, the numbers used to create those rankings are easily subject to manipulation. With rankings being one of the biggest motivators for schools to falsify data, you can avoid some of that by looking at schools, like Reed College, who don’t participate in rankings.
  • Watch for red flags. Something seem fishy about the numbers a school is putting out? There are a lot of gray areas in college data –there’s not always a standard way to report certain information — and most colleges aren’t trying to outright lie. But, there are times when a college’s numbers seem too good to be true. For instance, if a college is stating that most students have a certain amount of debt post-graduation and the numbers just don’t add up with tuition and room and board figured in, you may have found a serious red flag that should make you much more skeptical about the school’s data. That doesn’t mean you can’t go there, but you need to find out more clearly what you’ll be signing up for first.
  • Ask questions. Outright falsifying reports is only one way to manipulate data; other practices can skew things too. Some schools have been caught recruiting students who will not be admitted, counting faculty as teaching resources even when they don’t really teach, excluding athletes from scores, and even asking admitted students to retake the SAT for a cash reward. If you want to know how information is collected and analyzed, don’t be afraid to ask questions about which students are included for certain stats. You might also want to see if your school of choice audits data through an outside service (Texas Christian University is one example). Few schools employ this practice, but you’ll know that the ones who do will have much more trustworthy information.
  • Visit schools and talk to students. Colleges obviously want to make themselves appear as appealing as possible to students, even if that means stretching the truth a bit to get there. One of the easiest ways to see whether a school is really all it claims to be is by meeting with students who already go there and visiting it yourself. It may become immediately clear that class size stats are untrue or that students aren’t really incredibly high achievers. On the flip side, you may find that the stats don’t matter as much as you thought, with schools offering a comfortable and resource-laden experience that’s not quite what you expected based on the data.

With more cases coming out all the time, it’s unclear whether or not changes in how data is collected and reported will occur. Colleges are reluctant to cede power over these numbers to outside parties and many haven’t expressed great interest in new measurements of achievement that are more difficult to falsify, like the Collegiate Learning Test. Whatever happens over the next decade, students need to be smart about how they use data to make college decisions, as there’s not always a surefire way to know which schools can be trusted and which are acting in their own interests.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Admissions | No Comments »

The Student Achievement Tests that Matter Today

Jan. 24th 2013

Once, the ACT and SAT were big factors in determining whether or not you’d get into the school of your choice, but today schools are moving away from these tests, in large part because research has shown that they aren’t reliable indicators of how successful students will be in college. That doesn’t mean that student achievement tests have totally gone by the wayside, however. There are still a number of tests that matter in a big way at nearly every level of education, as well as innovative new models of assessment that are changing the way we think about standardized tests. Here, we’ve collected a few of both, showcasing the tests that students need to pay attention to today, as well as developments they can expect in the future.

K-12

Students in K-12 classes are taking these tests that may play a role in their own achievement and public education policy.

Common Core State Testing: If you thought standardized tests were a huge part of schooling before Common Core, things are about to expand much further. The new Common Core State Standards call for testing students not only in math and reading but also in subjects like foreign language, economics, the arts, and physical education. That’s a whole lot of testing and it’s predicted that it will span the entire K-12 experience. The results of these tests will play a big role in teacher evaluation, education policy, and even funding, so they’re not to be dismissed lightly.

TerraNova: TerraNova is a series of student achievement tests produced by McGraw-Hill that are designed to be given to students in K-12 to assess their understanding of reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, vocabulary, spelling, and other areas. The tests are used by the Department of Defense, the state of California, and several other states throughout the U.S.

International Baccalaureate Exam: While much more important in Europe and other places around the world, the IB exam can still play a big role for students in IB schools in the U.S. The exam not only marks the culmination of IB education; it can also take the place of the SAT and even give students college credit in languages and other subjects.

Stanford Achievement Test: Often called the SAT 10, this test produced by educational publisher Pearson is used both here and abroad for assessing skills in reading comprehension, mathematics, problem solving, language, spelling, listening comprehension, science, and social science. While incredibly comprehensive, it is becoming less common as states develop their own standardized tests under the mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act. A similar test, designed for use in urban areas, is the Metropolitan Test.

STAR Tests: STAR tests were created by Renaissance Learning for use in K-12 education. The tests are somewhat unique in that they are completed over the computer and use adaptive technology. Educators can use the tests to evaluate students in reading, early literacy, or math. They can often be an important tool in preparing students for state and high-stakes tests, and are often used to monitor student progress rather than to determine state or local education policy.

PARCC and SBAC Tests: PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) are two groups looking to change the face of standardized testing in the U.S. These new tests will be given on the computer and may rely on computer skills to answer questions (students must drag items or highlight phrases). Another change is that some questions require research, writing, and problem solving, though the tests haven’t been able to totally get away from multiple choice questions.

New York Performance Standards Consortium Test: The New York Performance Standards Consortium, an alliance of 28 public high schools, is using a different kind of test to evaluate students. Students at these schools take performance-based assessments instead of standardized tests in all areas except for language arts. This small change, asking students to write essays and research papers, do science experiments, and create applied math problems rather than answer multiple choice questions, is having a big impact. The schools in the program have cut dropout rates in half, and the number of students who head to college after graduation has skyrocketed.

Learning Record and Work Sampling System: Two other kinds of innovative student assessments that are gaining ground are Learning Record and Work Sampling System, both of which draw on a student’s work in class to measure progress, rather than on a specific test. Teachers attach scores to things like writing samples or science experiments, allowing them to get a better sense of a student’s progress over time, rather than in a single instance.

Post-Secondary

Even if your school of choice doesn’t place high value on the SAT or ACT, you may still find these tests critical to your journey into higher education and your career.

AP Exams: There are currently 34 different AP courses that students can enroll in, offering access to college-level study in everything from calculus to art history. Students who opt to take AP courses and the subsequent exams can earn college credit at a much lower price, and potentially even graduate earlier, so the tests can be a big deal to those who take them.

SAT Subject Tests: The SAT may not be necessary to score you a spot at some colleges, but the subject tests offered by the College Board can still play a big role in determining your college career. These tests allow students to showcase their achievement in specific subject areas, like English, history, mathematics, and science. While not required, they can often help students demonstrate their ability to excel in a given topic, even if they struggle in other parts of the general test.

WorkKeys: For students who don’t plan to go on to college, there are still standardized tests that matter. One of these is WorkKeys. This test, created by the ACT people, is used by high schools (and colleges, too) to measure the workplace skills of students. The test can help students find a career that is a good match for them or get help in discerning which skills they can work on to help them get ahead in a field of their choice.

Graduate

Planning to head to graduate or professional school? These tests can play a big role in your admissions.

GRE: The Graduate Record Examination, more commonly called the GRE, is a required examination for admission to most graduate schools in the U.S. The test evaluates a student’s knowledge of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. The test just underwent a major overhaul in 2011, reevaluating the adaptive nature of the problems offered to students. How much of a role the GRE plays in acceptance to grad school varies, but at many it can be an important factor in selection.

LSAT: Students looking to get into any law school in the U.S. will first need to take the LSAT (the Law School Admission Test). The test evaluates students on their reading comprehension as well as their logic and reasoning. The test is a critical part of the law school admissions process, especially here in the U.S., but is also used in Canada and for some schools in Australia.

MCAT: For aspiring doctors, the MCAT is still a very important test when applying to medical school. The computer-based examination helps test the ability of students to think critically and solve problems as well as assessing their scientific knowledge and writing ability. Specialized professions in health care may require other tests like the DAT (Dental Admission Test), the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and the OAT (Optometry Admission Test).

VCAT: If it’s your dream to work with animals, not people, in a medical setting, then you’ll need to take the Veterinary College Admission Test. This assessment uses questions that evaluate a student’s knowledge of biology and chemistry as well as reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and verbal skills.

Professional Tests: In many fields, in order to be certified as professionals, candidates must take tests to prove they have learned everything required to perform their job duties. These tests are taken in the final semesters of school or after students have graduated. They include the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, Bar Examination, NCLEX, PRAXIS, UCPA Exam, and the United States Medical Licensing Examination, among others. These can be some of the most important achievement tests students will even take, as failure to pass them can inhibit progress in a career.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Admissions | No Comments »

10 Coed Colleges With The Biggest Gender Gap

Jul. 5th 2012

Most colleges in the U.S. are coed, but at some schools, students may find themselves questioning whether that’s true. Many college campuses have huge gender gaps, with one gender group making up 60% or more of the student population, sometimes as high as 98%. At the root of these gaps is frequently the nature of study, with engineering and technical schools often attracting more male students, and fashion or liberal arts colleges supporting a largely female population. Another common factor is the history of the institution: schools that were once single-sexed often have a hard time convincing a new gender to attend. Whatever the reason, these 10 schools each have a huge gender gap, and we’ll explore here how that gap came to be.

  1. Vassar:

    Founded in 1861 as a women’s college, it’s not too surprising to find out that Vassar is dominated by the ladies. These days, just 42.6% of the Vassar population is male, and it’s a historically high percentage at that. But it could be even lower: Vassar’s applicant pool is believed to be about 70% female. Reports indicate that Vassar’s historically high percentage of male students is expected to rise further in the coming years, bucking the national trend of larger female populations with undergraduate male enrollment that has been rising slowly but steadily since 1994.

  2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University:

    Embry-Riddle is the largest and oldest aviation school in the world, and with more than 40 aeronautics degree programs available, it is considered to be one of, if not the, best places to learn anything and everything about space flight. But things are a little unusual on this campus, as there are very few women to be found. Of the nearly 4,500 students enrolled, a whopping 85% of them are male. This is not surprising, however, considering that women are not very well-represented in aeronautics: female pilots represent just 6% of the total pilot population. ERAU is working to attract more female students, creating a Women’s Ambassador Program to pair students with “big sisters” for a more female-friendly campus.

  3. Howard University:

    The historically black Howard University tends to attract more women than men, with a 67% female population among its more than 7,000 students. Howard is actually quite famous for its female population, with Howard regularly ranked as a school with the most beautiful and well-dressed women. Experts credit the skewed ratio at Howard to a lack of black men in college overall.

  4. Virginia Military Institute:

    Women were excluded from Virginia Military Institute until 1997. Amazingly, it took a U.S. Department of Justice discrimination lawsuit to overturn this policy, and even then, it took several years of appeals to make it stick. Given this history, it’s not at all surprising to find out that VMI is lacking in female cadets. We can’t imagine that women feel welcomed, and the numbers seem to agree: female students make up just 9.2% of the population, with reports of rampant sexism and even cases of rape on campus likely pushing down the numbers even further.

  5. Milwaukee School of Engineering:

    As one of the country’s top 10 engineering schools, Milwaukee School of Engineering offers its students a prestigious degree. Incredibly, nearly all of those degrees go to male graduates, with a male to female ratio of 80/20. Still, Milwaukee’s numbers beat the overall national average. In recent years, female engineering graduation rates have been hovering around 18%.

  6. Georgia Institute of Technology:

    Like Milwaukee School of Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology struggles to attract women to its engineering-based education. The school has just a 35% female population. But Georgia Tech is working to create more programs to increase its female enrollment, including a Women in Engineering Program and a chapter of The Society of Women Engineers.

  7. Rochester Institute of Technology:

    Rochester Institute of Technology’s male to female ratio is holding steady at about 2:1, with male students outnumbering female ones, especially in engineering. In recent years, RIT has really pushed to attract more women to its campus, creating the RIT Commission for Women to develop new initiatives and transformations to better support women on campus, a resource that supports and works closely with RIT’s Women’s Center that advocates on behalf of the women of RIT.

  8. Texas Woman’s University:

    Texas Woman’s University has barely had any male students in its 100+ year history. In 1903, TWU opened as the Girls Industrial College, and since then, has remained nearly entirely an all-women’s school with just a small 9% population of male students. The university began accepting men to its health sciences graduate school in 1972, and after public pressure, opened all of its programs to qualified men in 1994.

  9. Fashion Institute of Technology:

    Located in the fashion hub of New York City, FIT is considered to be one of the best schools for getting into the fashion and art industry. Very few men make it into this school, with just a 15% male population. But very few students are accepted period, with just a 39.1% acceptance rate.

  10. New York University:

    Another NYC school with low male enrollment is NYU, with just 38.5% of the student population being male. Although NYU reports it is not having trouble recruiting more male applicants, the number of males admitted to the school continues to stay low, and the school does not have plans to “socially engineer” its selection process to favor males.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Admissions, Education | No Comments »

Getting the most out of your letters of recommendation

Oct. 15th 2010

Your letters of recommendation are one of the most important parts of your college application. The assessment of faculty and other professionals carry a lot of weight, and if they vouch for your academic potential, it can help push even an average application towards acceptance.

There are several things you need to know in order to get the best letter of recommendation that you can:

1. Don’t be shy. Your teachers want to help you, and they will be expecting students to approach them for recommendations when application season begins. Don’t feel like you’re “bothering” your teachers. Many are happy to help you on your path to success — which they view as an extension of the work they have done with you in the classroom.

2. Choose from your core classes. Most colleges will look more favorably on letters from teachers in your core subject areas. For example, a letter from your history teacher will likely carry more weight than a letter from your gym teacher or art teacher. The skills you learn in your core classes are likely to serve you best in your college career, so an assessment of your performance in the context of those classes will say more about your potential in college.

3. Choose according to your intended major. If you know that you want to study art, for example, then asking your art teacher for a recommendation is preferable. If you know that you want to study computer science, a recommendation from your math teacher will carry more weight. If you plan to participate in athletics, a letter from your coach will be the most helpful. These recommendations will also be particularly useful if you are applying to a program-specific school (a cooking school, say) or are applying for a scholarship.

4. Ask a teacher who knows you well. Who can write better about your achievements than someone who has knowledge of them first hand? This may seem obvious, but students often making the mistake of asking just any teacher — a senior-year teacher who has only had a month or so to get to know the student, or a teacher who had little interaction with the student outside of grading his or her papers, for example. It is best to approach a teacher with whom you have had meaningful interaction — either through a significant project or through a series of conversations about your academic work and your goals.

5. Get supplemental support. If your college allows for additional letters of recommendation, or supplemental letters, by all means provide them. These can be from coaches, supervisors, and other members of the community who know you in some capacity outside of school or through extracurricular activities. The more support you offer for your application — and the more information you provide about who you are as a student and outside of school — the better your chances will be of gaining admission to your school of choice.

6. Stay organized. Different colleges will have different deadlines for the required materials. Make sure that you keep track of which letters are due at which times — and communicate that information to your teachers. Also be sure that you give your teachers enough time to write their letters of recommendation. Don’t put in your request a week before it’s due! Not only are teachers working against their own deadlines, but they are also likely to be writing letters of recommendation for multiple students. Show that you are respectful of their time, and make sure that they have enough time to give your letter the attention that it deserves.

7. Find the right time to ask. Asking your teacher for a letter of recommendation isn’t a monumental occasion that requires ceremony and decorum. However, it is important enough for you to have a serious conversation about your goals for college study and beyond, and how this recommendation ties into those goals. This will all help your teacher write you a better recommendation. Therefore, you should approach your teacher when there is time to have this conversation, not in between classes or as you’re passing in the hall.

8. Provide supplemental information. When you make your request, you should provide some information outlining your accomplishments and other pertinent information. Your teachers see hundreds of students each year, and even if you have a personal relationship with a teacher, it may still be difficult for him or her to remember all the things that you have accomplished in that class or in school. Even if the teacher can remember these details about you, providing this additional information may make him or her remember forgotten details that can help strengthen the letter of recommendation.

9. Don’t narrow your focus. If you are applying to several colleges — and you need two or three letters of recommendation for each — it may not be a good idea to ask the same teachers to write letters for all the colleges. A good letter takes time to write, and asking the same person to write several letters could be a bit overwhelming. If you can, limit your requests to only two or three per teacher. Of course, what is most important is choosing a teacher who knows you well and will write you the best recommendation. So if you don’t know enough teachers who meet this criteria, and you have to ask a couple to write several recommendations for you, make sure that you give them ample time to do so.

10. Follow up. As deadlines approach, check in with your teachers to see if the letters have been sent. Some will appreciate the reminder if their busy schedule has made them forget the deadline. You can also take that time to find out if they need any more information from you to write the best recommendation that they can. Finally, be sure to follow up after the letters have been sent to say thank you. That person’s letter of recommendation could well make the difference in your application status.

Posted by maria magher | in Admissions, Education | No Comments »

College admissions tips

Oct. 11th 2010

It’s that time of year again. Colleges across the country will soon begin accepting applications (and some may have already opened up early acceptance). That means that students hoping to start a degree program next fall should be preparing their applications now.

This week, First in Education will share tips on how to navigate the college admissions process, from interviews to application essays to letters of recommendation. But first, we will share our tips for how to best to approach the overall process:

1. Do your research. Don’t pick a college because it has a good sports team, or because it “seems” like a good school, or because someone you know is going there. Think about what you are interested in studying, and look for colleges that have a good program in that subject area. If you are certain about what you want to study, you can even research the professors who will teach those courses to see if their research interests match up with what you want to do. Decide whether you would like to attend a large college, or one that allows for more individual focus.

2. Create your list of colleges. Rank these according to priority so that you can also prioritize completion of your applications. Having a ranked lists of colleges to which you will apply allows you to create a timeline for the application process, as well as a plan of attack. Make a list of important deadlines, as well as required documentation, so that you can organize your activities and stay on target. Applying to even one college can sometimes be overwhelming when confronted with all the required information and the deadlines; if you are applying to several colleges, it can make the process even more stressful and confusing. Rank and prioritize to get organized and streamline the process.

3. Attend college fairs and open houses. Whether you’re talking to a rep at a fair, or you get a chance to meet with administrators in person at an open house, you’ll get the benefit of learning about the college first hand and having specific questions answered. This can give you a sense of what to expect and help you understand if this is the right school for you.

4. Visit the campus. This is one of the best ways to learn about the college you are considering. Meet with admissions representatives, professors and even fellow students. Ask a lot of questions! You are there to get information, and the more you know, the better informed you will be when making a decision and the more prepared you will be in your application. Take the time to interview, as well. A good interview can help set you apart and give you an edge in the admissions process. Even if the interview is not required, or is not allowed, talking to an admissions rep will show that you have demonstrated interest in the school, setting you apart for your dedication.

5. Send a thank you note. Once you have visited, send a personal note to each of the representatives you spoke with thanking them for their time. This gesture will show that you are sincere in your efforts towards the school and that you appreciate the time these people took to meet with you.

6. Register for and take the SAT or ACT. Some colleges will allow you to take either test, but some have specific requirements about which test you must take and when. Pay attention to deadlines. Some colleges will require that you take the test by a certain date, while others will require that your actual scores are received by a certain date. Plan ahead so that you have enough time to prepare for the test, take it, and have your scores reported on time.

7. Start your application early. There are deadlines for each piece of information that must be received, including your transcript, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Request this information early in case there are delays. Another good reason to start early is that some colleges have early acceptance or rolling acceptance — meaning that you may have better odds of being accepted if you are considered early.

8. Read directions carefully and follow them. Do not allow your application to be rejected or delayed because you did not submit required information, forgot to sign it, or did not meet submission guidelines (such as writing out the application instead of typing it). Make sure that you thoroughly read the directions, and then follow them. Don’t allow technicalities to derail your application. Meet deadlines. Make sure that all materials are submitted at the time they are required. You should also monitor those aspects of your application that must be submitted by other parties, such as your transcripts and letters of recommendation. Make sure you submit your request with enough time to grant it, and then follow up. You are the person who will ultimately be held responsible if the information isn’t received.

9. Admissions essay. We will provide specific tips for writing the best essay that you can later in the week, but as a general rule of thumb, be sure to write a unique essay for each application that you submit. Your essay should reflect how your experiences or goals fit specifically with the college to which you are applying. Don’t send a generic essay to each college.

10. Letters of recommendation. Again, we will provide specific tips later in the week. Some general tips to keep in mind include asking for letters early. Many professors will be asked by multiple students for letters of recommendation, and deadlines will all be around the same time. Make sure the person you ask has enough time to thoughtfully complete your recommendation and to submit it on time. When considering who to ask for a recommendation, talk to professors, counselors, or coaches who you have known for a long time or you have worked with closely. The person should be able to speak of your experiences and abilities with confidence.

Posted by maria magher | in Admissions, Education | No Comments »