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College Talk Blog


Take the Leap!

A pattern I keep seeing among students I know is the tendency to apply to colleges where friends are applying. That's a natural instinct at a kind of scary time in the late teens because it is becoming clear to students that they really are LEAVING HOME!!!! 

It is comforting not to be the only person taking a path. However, there are rewards for those who dare to go in different directions. 

Students should consider that colleges, in their mission to have a diverse student body, often accept a limited number of students from each high school.

Admission Scandal Shows Parent Stake in College Admission Outcomes

Getting into college is hard. Scamming your way into college is harder...and you can pull hard time for doing it. The amount of money and effort put out by parents caught up in the recent admissions scam is staggering. What I have trouble understanding is why they did it. Did an admission decision mean so much to their self esteem they were willing to pay any amount to achieve that end? Were they planning on having someone attend classes and take exams for their kids too? Did they realize they were stealing an admission decision from another more deserving student?

College Application Season

College application season is not what it used to be. Historically, due dates were in January. Now early application and early decision deadlines begin in the fall, as early as October 15. Some of my students were able to apply to colleges in the summer after 11th grade and got acceptance notices before their senior year began. 

Whether a student applies early or not depends on their ability to get applications and essays ready by fall and when they want to know their admission decisions. Early applicants find out early if they are in or not. That gives them more time to apply to other colleges during regular decision, if desired. Early admission applicants also have the luxury of having the time to get the best grades in their senior year and have time to apply for scholarships.

Senior Year Plans vs. College Plans

Students who are planning on taking it easy during their senior year need to compare their college goals to that plan. The higher their ambitions with regard to middle and top tier colleges, the less likely a light senior year is a good idea.

College admission officers at competitive schools are not impressed by senior year schedules that are less than full time...unless there is some other academic activity filling the gap where the missing classes should be. Some students take a less than full time load during senior year to take college classes, for example.

Stupid Admission Hacks

Students ask amazing questions about college admissions. Urban legends about how a student, whose qualifications are lower than average, can get into a very selective school have fueled interesting plots in this year's high school seniors. My favorites are:

  • apply for admission into a less popular program, like poultry science, to get in and then sneak into your preferred major
  • brag about how grandpa gave the college big bucks
  • have really high profile people, like legislators, send a letter of reference