Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category

6 Ways to Ensure Your Essay Grabs Your Admissions Officer’s Attention

Categories: Admissions Advice

writing-933262_640While the rest of your college application tells admissions officers about your academic accomplishments, your essay tells more about you as a writer, and more importantly, as a student and person. It’s a great way to tell admissions professionals what your test scores and list of extracurriculars can’t convey. Here are six ways to ensure your essay is as attention grabbing as possible:.

1. Write About What Matters to You
When the broadness of a personal statement seems overwhelming, the best direction to follow is writing about what personally matters to you. Brainstorm a list of activities you enjoy, significant life moments, or experiences that made you grow. What’s important to your identity? Do you like to cook, are you into a certain band, have you thought of an interesting solution to a household problem? Reach for as creative of an angle as you can, but don’t worry too much if your topic seems more traditional. What matters most is writing about something you’re passionate about, regardless of the topic, because this will come off as more authentic; you’ll be able to express your commitment to the topic, and your essay will sustain much more momentum throughout.

2. Start With an Anecdote
Begin your essay with an interesting anecdote. This helps anchor your readers into a specific time and place so they feel more grounded in your writing and who you are – and as a plus, your essay will come off as more confident. Think about a moment when you learned something, had an important revelation, struggled with your identity, or succeeded – or even failed – at something. Set the scene with select details – enough so your readers can picture what’s happening, but not too many as to take away from much-needed space later on in your essay. Say more with less!

3. Ensure Your Details are Concrete
Solid details are powerful. You’ve heard the popular adage: show, don’t tell. In terms of your application essay, this is one of the most effective moves you can make. If you’re passionate about helping others, describe exactly how this plays out in your life. Do you tutor a younger student or volunteer in the community garden? Concrete details demonstrate not only that you can write well, but that your essay is authentic.

4. Use Strong Verbs – But in Your Own Voice
Using powerful verbs is a great way to inject energy into your writing. A thesaurus can help you come up with more intriguing words to replace tired ones. Go through your writing to find words that repeat too many times in your essay or that seem dull or too general. However, don’t get too carried away with words that are way out of the your normal orbit of use. This can come off as flowery at best, or inauthentic and forced at worst.

5. Stay Focused
Once you’ve come up with what matters to you and which anecdote to open with, remember to stay focused throughout your essay. You may have many things that matter to you. Don’t be tempted to touch on all of them, though; in an essay, deep is far better than wide. Staying focused shows your commitment to the one activity or issue at hand, as well as a more complex level of insight. It’s also clearer for the admissions officer to read. Of course, you may discuss different angles of the same idea or link some related topics.

6. Connect With Your Audience
Seriously consider your audience and the fact that these are admissions officers of schools you’d like to attend. Take a bit of time to research the school and what draws you to it specifically. Is it a certain department or opportunity that other schools do not offer? Take the time at the end of your essay to talk about this. Here, you can connect your interests and passions that you’ve already conveyed to the specific school. This is also a great place to express your enthusiasm for the school and what you wish to offer as a potential student there.

When you’re first drafting your essay, let your ideas flow and try not to censor too much; this will help you collect lots of ideas that you can later select from and refine. Then, after a draft or two, ask a classmate, tutor, mentor, or relative you trust for feedback. Someone who knows you well can give you excellent feedback on the essay before sending it off.

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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Your Guide to College Acceptance Rates

Categories: Admissions Advice

building-54341_640Once you’ve found your dream school the question becomes: Will I get in? It’s hard to predict accurately, but the college’s acceptance rates can give you an idea of your chances.

Acceptance Rates Basics
Acceptance rates are important in your college search process, but what exactly are they?

Put simply, a school’s acceptance rate is the percentage of applicants who are admitted. It’s pretty easy to find out the number of people getting into the school you’re interested – just check out their profile on Cappex.

What’s a ‘Good’ Acceptance Rate?
There’s not really such a thing as a good or bad acceptance rate. In general, schools with low acceptance rates (lower than 10 percent) like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are more selective or have high standards or have tens of thousands of students applying for relatively few spots.

But that definitely doesn’t mean schools with higher acceptance rates are bad schools! They may just have less strict admission requirements or have larger campuses that can accommodate more students in the freshman class. Look at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ohio State University, or the University of Arizona – they’re all great schools and they all have acceptance rates higher than 60 percent.

Which Ones Should I Apply To?
That’s up to you! If you want to put some highly selective schools with low acceptance rates on your list, go for it!

However, to maximize your chances of getting into a school you love, it’s recommended students put safety, reach, and match schools on their college lists. By adding schools with all types of acceptance rates, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up at a great college and have the best four years of your life!

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Tips for Moving Past the College Waitlist

Categories: Admissions Advice

woman-690216_640Have you been waitlisted? There’s no need to panic! Being put on your dream school’s waitlist is definitely better than an outright rejection – after all, you still have a shot at getting in.

But sitting around and worrying won’t help you. Instead, take a few of these steps in an effort to move past the waitlist.

1. Write to the Admissions Committee
Write an updated letter to the admissions committee reminding them of your interest in the school. If the college is your first choice and you’d definitely attend if accepted, include that in your letter (but don’t promise to attend if you aren’t 100 percent set on the school and have others on your college list). In this letter, include how you see yourself truly fitting in on campus, perhaps by noting specific courses and activities that interest you or professors you’d like to work with.

Don’t just repeat the information you included in your application essay. New information conveyed in a positive and optimistic fashion will get you further than a desperate letter or a copy of your original essay.

2. Send Updated Information
Along with your updated letter or email, prepare a packet of additional information to send to the admissions office. This can include more current grades, awards, honors, and new test scores. Discuss any accomplishments you’ve achieved at school and in your community since you initially applied, and again, don’t forget that to be as effective as possible, the information should be new to the admissions officers. This way, they’ll get a stronger sense of who you are and what you can achieve.

3. Submit a New Recommendation Letter
Consider sending an additional recommendation letter to shed new light on your academic growth this year. Ask a senior year teacher who you’ve come to know and who can speak to your current strengths (especially if the recommendation letters from your original application were from teachers you had junior year). If you’ve completed an important community service project or an internship you feel strongly about, you might ask a non-academic professional who can highlight these achievements.

4. Contact Your Alumni Interviewer
If you interviewed with an alumni during the application process, get in touch with him or her. Thank your interviewer for helping you and share the update on your application status. You can ask for advice on moving past the waitlist and mention how excited you would be to attend the school. Even if this person doesn’t have something tangible for you to do, it is still an excellent way to show your interest to someone connected to the school. Who knows – he or she may have an excellent relationship with the admissions committee!

5. Visit Campus
If you’re able, set aside time to visit the campus again. Consider sending an email to your admissions office, letting them know you’ll be on campus. Do this politely and respectfully – the last thing you want to do is pester a busy admissions professional and hurt your chances of being accepted!

Throughout this process, remain upbeat and intentional but remember not to get overly aggressive. Keep in mind that schools are busy during the admissions season. If and when you’re contacted with an acceptance letter, be prepared to act quickly, as schools often want to efficiently fill these slots. Good luck!

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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