Rethinking The Campus Visit

In my opinion, 16 year old Nina Vir has it right. Ditch the large group following an undergrad walking backwards and explore the campus and surrounding area on your own terms! Yes, there are benefits to the traditional guided tour (the more formal Q&A afterward – and having your questions answered by other tour-goers along the way) but, there is also something to be said for blazing your own trail around campus. Most schools can provide you a walking tour map, so if you want to go the more traditional route you can. In addition to hitting the spots they feel are important, exploring the campus on your own is the best way to get a sneak peek at the things YOU find most important. For some this may be athletic fields and fitness resources, others the library and labs – and for others, it may be all about the dining facilities and how far away the nearest Whole Foods is. Whatever is top on your list, you can be sure to give it the proper review when you’re not bound by the schedule of the traditional guided tour. Check out Ms. Vir’s blog post here.


The College Board Redesigns the AP® Chemistry and AP Spanish Language and Culture Courses

Changes to both the Spanish Language & Culture and Chemistry AP exam will take effect in the 2013-14 academic year. You can read more about the changes in detail here and view the Press Release here.

Bridging The Gap!

Bridging the gap between what’s available at high schools and what’s truly required to match the level of competitiveness for admission to top-tier and elite universities – this is what independent  consultants do!

Jason Ma, who is now a contributor at, wrote a great piece that reflects the essence of what independent consultant do and I suggest that everyone gives it a read here.

Here’s a snapshot:

“I believe in guiding students holistically — including the enhancement of their belief system and leadership skills, as well as their essay writing by helping them reflect on their experiences…and find their own voice.

Parents can and do provide some or much of the adult influences, but it is also important to have perspectives from outside the family that come from their teachers (if they have the time) or from other advisors who truly care about developing the whole person.

I also find that longer-term planning during the middle school and earlier phases of the high school years can help successfully prepare for college and a lifetime of leadership.”

A Few Essay Writing Tips – Students & Parents

Most of these tips are common sense in my book, but the main take away here is to make it personal – and make it unique! Truth be told – your application looks very much like the 5,000+ other applications that come through any given office of admission. You have great grades, an array of extracurriculars, volunteer and internship experiences, and strong test scores. Newsflash – so do most other applicants, so you need to ask yourself,  how am I different? What makes me standout from the crowd? You can ask yourself these type of questions in response to virtually any essay topic. These questions are not always easy to answer and I would suggest asking your family and friends to help you begin to brainstorm. It may not have seemed significant to you at the time, but those three months you spent learning Spanish independently after school in order to better communicate with the individuals the organization you volunteer for serves – well that sets you apart.  That time you won the Youth World Friendship Bracelet Making Contest – let’s hear about it! Additionally, talking about yourself and experiences in broad terms will not make your essay pop. And, unlike in a more formal essay for a class, you have the opportunity to get creative here. There is no set or preferred format or template for the essay; as long as the font is eligible and the content is appropriate you are free to personalize it however you see fit!

New (Somewhat) College Recruitment Techniques

How did the schools on your list get your attention? Was it their superior academic reputation, hallmark sports team, focus on the arts? Or was it something else – perhaps the schools Facebook page, compelling YouTube videos, or helpful Tweets?

If you haven’t already, read this US News article on the top five “new” (ok….we know most of these aren’t THAT new) ways colleges are reaching out to prospective students.

More Things No One Told You…

Minus the “Gilmore Girls” references this list of  the 10 things no one told you about applying to college, as compiled by the folks at Her Campus, is a welcomed change of pace when compared to most “what you know and don’t know about applying to college” lists. Somewhat atypical, and most likely questionable according to some , much of what they say (though, once again, unfortunately flanked by pop culture references) is actually to an extent true! Check it out here via HuffPost.

More (Basic) Admissions Questions Answered

Robin Mamlet, former admissions director at Stanford University and Swarthmore College has a new book out (she is a co-author) titled, College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. The book  is written for students and parents from different backgrounds: those applying to the most highly selective schools, and those looking to stay near their homes; families with financial need and those without; kids who are the first in their family to attend college.

Read through her Q&A with Valerie Strauss via The Answer Sheet.