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.

image credit: pbs.org

Original Post Date: May 19th, 2015

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5 Ways to Plan for the Perfect Dorm Room Atmosphere

Categories: College Life

dorm room decorationWhen you think about venturing off to college, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it was starting a life on my own – my own place, my own plans, my own rules (well, for the most part). I was ready to find myself, and discover who I wanted to be professionally.

It was an incredibly exciting time, but just like any new adventure, there were tinges of fear. Of all of the things that helped me transition into this new life, I found the most satisfaction in the creation of a stress-free environment in the one place on campus I had some control over: my dorm room.

Faced with a shared space that was barely large enough to fit two beds and felt like a concrete dungeon, my roommate and I tasked ourselves with creating an atmosphere in which we could thrive. It wasn’t perfect from the start, but it became a place of our own and a place we were proud of.

Here are five takeaways from our adventure to help you make the most of your new place.

1. Plan Ahead
Find out what the facility furnishes for you and what you’ll need to bring. You can also ask ahead whether or not you can remove any of the furniture they provide. Perhaps you have a great dresser at home that will work better in the space than the one available. Also, get in touch with your roommate to coordinate who will bring what shared items and if either of you have a theme in mind for your space.

2. Think Functional
While out shopping or perusing your home for items to take, look for things that are just as functional as they are visually appealing. The best pieces allow you to make storage space below, can easily be stacked upon or serve multiple purposes. The perfect desk accessories are a must, because they keep you organized yet stylish.

3. Set Spaces
You’re about to move from a full home to a single room, but you have to accomplish many of the same tasks with much less space. The best way to do this and not get overwhelmed is to designate a space for everything. A place to study, lounge, sleep, get ready, and hang out with friends. Think about what spaces can pull double-duty for you. By assigning spaces, you’re not only making sure you make the most of the items you bring into your room, but you’re also setting yourself up for success. (Planned study space is key!)

4. Less is More
When you first move into your dorm room, take only the basics along with a few key decorations. You can always add to your room, but parting with an item once it has already made a home is easier said than done.

5. Bring Home With You, But Make the Space Yours
Whether it’s furniture, knick-knacks or pictures, bringing in items that remind you of home will help alleviate some of that homesickness. Find the right balance of old and new by carrying over pieces from home with new items just for you. A great way to do this is to create new, more functional items from old ones. Whether that’s getting a new frame or print of an old photo or repurposing a piece of furniture, bring items into your new space that make you feel at home.

Moving into your dorm room is just the first milestone of your college career. Take this first step of your new adventure by letting your space be the best representation of yourself—past, present and future.

Catherine is a young communications professional who loves empowering the next generation of graduates. In her spare time, Catherine is a career development and home décor writer for Tiny Prints, her recommended site for personalized dorm room décor (here). Follow Catherine on her blog (here).

Original Post Date: May 14th, 2015

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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!

 image credit: hercampus.com

Original Post Date: May 13th, 2015

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