Archive for the ‘Admissions Advice’ Category

How to Use Social in Your College Search

Categories: Admissions Advice

social media college admissionsSocial media is a big part of everyday life. You use it to bond with friends, keep in touch with family, and even learn more about brands or products you like. So why shouldn’t your college search benefit from social media, too?

Checking out a university’s website and visiting campus are critical in helping you make a decision. But what you see there may not be a full representation of what day-to-day life in college is actually like. And what if you’re thinking about going across the country for school but can’t afford to visit in person? Open up your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, because it’s time to connect with the schools you’re considering.

Facebook’s been around for some time now, so it’s pretty likely your top schools all have a page with some useful information on it. A school’s profile will give you all sorts of valuable updates to help you decide if you want to apply:

  • Photos of campus so you can get a feel for the area.
  • Updates about clubs, groups, or other activities, which will help you get an idea of what campus life is like.
  • Information about upcoming events, like application deadlines, to help you stay on top of your application.
  • The opportunity to connect with other relevant pages, like a school’s Greek scene or sports pages, so you can check them out and see if you’d be interested in participating.

Sure, tweets are meant to be short and sweet. But that doesn’t mean following a few college Twitter accounts won’t be useful. Look out for the following showing up in your feed:

  • Updates about scholarships, departments, or majors you’re considering.
  • Links to pages containing information about upcoming deadlines or university changes you’ll need to know about.
  • Live tweets giving updates on ongoing campus events, lectures, or seminars that could help you get a feel of the atmosphere at the school.
  • Updates about current events or newsworthy stories will give you an idea of how faculty and the student body feel about what’s going on in the world.

Snapshots are the perfect way to get an idea of what a campus is like, how active a student body is, and what people do in their spare time. Follow a school’s official Instagram page for some great shots, but don’t forget to search for student posts – see if anyone’s tagged a school in their posts or used a university-specific hashtag.

  • Student posts will give you a real view of the campus, as opposed to university website of brochure photos.
  • Photos from students also gives you a better idea of daily life at a school – are there a lot of study sessions, parties, or off-campus trips? See if what’s being Instagrammed matches your interests.
  • University photos from events like graduations, campus events, or lectures will give you an idea of how active students are on campus and can make you feel like part of the school’s community.

Do you use social in your college search?

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Should I Retake the SAT or ACT?

sat retakeHave you received your ACT or SAT score recently? If so, you’re probably wondering whether or not to retake it, even if you did well the first time around.

The truth is, there’s no magic number of times someone should take the test. But keep in mind that people who test again generally do a little better the second time around. ACT data shows almost 60 percent of students improved their score after retaking it, and more than 55 percent of students who took the SAT as juniors improved their scores by signing up again senior year.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re debating whether or not to retake the SAT or ACT

Do You Suffer From Testing Anxiety?
Plenty of students struggle with nervousness when test day rolls around. If you think nerves got the better of you the first time, it may be worth taking the test once again. Because you’ll have taken it once before already, you may feel more comfortable and at ease the second time. This is especially true if you’re testing in the same room – the familiarity of the situation will help ease your anxiety.

Did Any Inconvenient Circumstances Disrupt Your First Test?
Life has a way of throwing difficult situations at you during the most inconvenient times. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to have something distracting pop up just as testing day arrives. Sickness. A death in the family. A serious fight with your best friend. These things can completely distract you from the task at hand and make it impossible to do your best.

Think back to test day to see if any other situations prevented you from performing as well as you could have. Maybe you felt sick and couldn’t eat breakfast in the morning, then were famished by the time you opened the test. Perhaps you couldn’t sleep because you were anxious and struggled to comprehend the questions because you were too tired. Things happen. If you think these circumstances impacted your score, it’s worth testing again – just make sure you don’t get yourself into the same situation twice.

Did You Feel Unprepared?
Test prep makes a huge difference in performance for many people. If you didn’t get a practice book or review major concepts thoroughly before test day, chances are you may have felt unprepared for some sections. Sign up for another testing date and make a plan to review any concepts you’re unfamiliar with or find particularly challenging. Get started early to make sure you have time to get help if there’s anything you’re really struggling to grasp.

Are You Looking for Scholarships?
The higher your score, the better your chances of getting some free money for college. If you know you’ll need scholarships and know you could have done better, you may want to retest and try to boost your results.

What Scores Do Your Dream Schools Require?
It’s simple: If your scores aren’t on par with what a school requires, your chances of getting in could be a lot lower. Compare your results to the college’s expectations – if they don’t match up and you’re set on this school, you may need to retest. And even if you don’t have a specific school in mind, remember that a higher score opens up more schools and more opportunities once you start sending out applications.

While your test scores are only one part of your application, you do want to do as well as possible on your ACT or SAT. Check out some of our top study tips to make sure you’re well prepared before you retest.

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How to Write a Thank You Note for a Recommendation Letter

Categories: Admissions Advice

collegethankyounoteLetters of recommendation play an important role in higher education, whether you’re applying for college or searching for scholarships. They help tell an admissions board or organization more about you. They describe your abilities and skills. They make you stand out in the crowd.

Ideally, they also get you the scholarship or college placement you’re hoping for.

That’s why it’s so important to know how to write a thank you note to every person who helps you with your recommendation letters or gives you some other sort of assistance during the application process. Remember, the people writing your letters are doing something kind for you – it’s absolutely necessary to express your gratitude.

So how do you go about it?

Step 1: The Thank You
Start off with the most important part – the thank you! Be specific, rather than vague. Something like “Thank you writing a letter of recommendation to support my application to the University of Illinois” is much less general than “Thanks for writing a letter of recommendation for me.”

Step 2: Tell Them Why it Matters
Why does your letter writer’s support mean so much to you? Is this the college you’ve dreamed of attending since you were small? Will the scholarship money you’re applying for make it possible for you to avoid student loans? Personalize your note by letting the person know why their letter was so important.

Step 3: Promise to Follow Up
The people writing your letters are interested in the outcome, so tell them you’ll keep them updated. Something as simple as, “I’m keeping an eye out for any news and I’ll let you know whether or not I was chosen for the scholarship,” should do the trick. But don’t forget to make good on your promise – once you hear of the decision, follow up and let them know how it turned out.

Step 4: Drop it in the Mailbox
Sending thank you notes via snail mail is extra special, but email is also all right if you can’t get someone’s address. Now grab a pen and paper and get started!

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