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Every year, many colleges and universities receive more applications than they can accept. In determining which students to choose, admissions officials consider numerous factors. A quality application is key to catching their attention.
Applying to a college entails more than filling out a form. You also need to submit supporting materials like essays, your high school transcript, and letters of recommendation.
Though the process may seem complicated, it can be simplified by making a plan and getting a jump start well before you graduate from high school. You should take college-admission tests during your junior year, and visit campuses the following summer. Early in your senior year, begin compiling the information you need to submit. Most colleges’ application deadlines are between November and January.
You can save yourself time and effort by taking advantage of a free, online document known as the “common application.” Most postsecondary institutions accept this standardized form. It can be completed online and emailed to colleges.
It is important to check with the colleges on your list, to make sure they don’t want a different application form. Whatever form is required, take your time and answer all questions fully and honestly. Check your spelling and grammar.
One of the best ways to impress admissions officials is to write effective essays to submit as part of the application. Essays are opportunities to demonstrate your talents and strengths. They enable you to set yourself apart from other applicants who may have similar academic records.
It is likely that at least some of the colleges on your list will ask you to write a “personal statement” essay. It involves answering a question in at least 300 words. Begin an essay by making a list of the points you wish to make, then create an outline.
Write the first draft without worrying about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or sentence and paragraph structure. You can correct those details later. Have several people read your final draft to identify errors and make suggestions. Don’t just ask a friend to do this for you. Get a guidance counselor or teacher to provide input.
A college may request an essay on a topic that is familiar to you. Perhaps you have already written something about the subject for a high school class. If so, improve and rewrite your work for the application, crafting it to meet the college’s requirements.
In addition to making sure essays are well written and free of mistakes, use them to tell admissions officials what you want them to know about you. Make your essay stand out from the rest by giving it a personal touch that illuminates your character and qualities.
Your transcript is a document that contains information about the schools you have attended, your scores on the SAT or ACT test, other standardized-test results, a list of your classes, grade-point average and class rank, and attendance record.
Save yourself time and effort by researching colleges’ admission requirements regarding grades and test scores. If you fall short of an institution’s standards, scratch it off your list and move on to other schools. High school guidance counselors generally are responsible for sending students’ transcripts to colleges and universities.
Letters of Recommendation
Ask guidance counselors, teachers, employers, and others to write letters of recommendation for you. They should describe your accomplishments, attributes, personal qualities, abilities, work ethic, integrity, and maturity.
Do not wait until the last minute to solicit these letters. Give people plenty of time to write them. Be sure to ask for recommendations from those whose comments are most likely to support the image you are striving to project to admissions staff.
Your school profile, which likely can be provided by a guidance counselor, is usually expected to be included in application packets. Experts recommend attaching it to your transcript. The profile provides information about a school’s size, enrollment, academics, and other characteristics.
Colleges also want to know about awards or honors you have received as a result of academic, extracurricular, or personal achievements. Do not be bashful about listing your accomplishments. This is no time for modesty. You could be competing with a number of students for the chance to attend a college.
Having interests outside the classroom indicates to admissions officials that you are a well-rounded person with a passion for something. It helps show who you are. Participating in extracurricular activities builds social skills and teaches qualities like teamwork, which you are going to need in college.
If you are still in high school, look into the extracurricular alternatives that are available. They could range from sports teams to student groups devoted to music, art, drama, speech, debate, chess, film, language, and other interests.
Outside of school, you can gain real-world experience by getting a part-time job or working as a community volunteer. There also may be a group or club in the community that matches your interests. Having taken part in any of these endeavors during your high school years will enhance your college application.
Applying for admittance to colleges is a detailed process. You need to make sure you compile all the required information and materials. Essays and other writing must not contain spelling errors or other mistakes.
Do not try to do it all alone. Your high school guidance counselor may be able to help you identify colleges that meet your criteria, keep track of application requirements and deadlines, and obtain letters of recommendation. Admissions counselors, teachers, and older students also may be of assistance in preparing your application.
If you start early and take it a step at a time, you can put together an application that gets results.
Universities have their own processes for admissions. While most universities follow a stringent code and deadline for enrolling students, some allow the liberty of conducting rolling admissions. In the former case, the university follows a strict schedule with respect to the date till which the applications will be received, and when the decisions will be made.
However, in case of rolling admissions, you will typically be receiving the judgment within four to eight weeks of applying – whenever you apply. It is a good way to secure your place in your choice of university well before time. Alternatively, you can use it as a last resort in case you are unable to get into your preferred university. Here is what you need to do to utilize this opportunity to the fullest.
Prepare Well and Plan Ahead
In any case, your application stands a chance of being rejected if it is incomplete. This is one thing you need to be prepared for before you begin applying to universities.
Make sure all the required documents are in perfect order. You will need to keep your test scores (like the SAT, ACT, GMAT) handy. Send in a professionally completed application form with your credentials filled in honestly and precisely. Keep in mind that this is the first (and possibly the last) impression you have the chance of making on the admission officer. Take time to build your case so it can stand out from the competition. If you are absolutely positive about making your way into the university you are applying to, you need to make sure this passion is adequately reflected in your application form.
Don’t Procrastinate Unnecessarily
Rolling admissions give you an opportunity to secure your admission status in a university. However, don’t consider it as a chance to procrastinate with the application process. The rolling admissions remain open for as long as the vacancies are available. Once the available seats are all filled up, the admissions will cease. If you are really serious about securing your position in a university, grab the opportunity while it lasts.
Admittedly, in most cases, the admission process is likely to go well into the beginning of the semester. Don’t take this as an excuse to delay unnecessarily.
Avail Second Chances
In some cases, rolling admissions will be conducted either to help students make early decisions or to fill up vacancies once the regular admissions have closed. Research thoroughly about the university you are planning to apply to. If you are offered second chances, make the most of these. Even if you are unable to get in the first time around, you will eventually be able to secure your place in the second session once you get an idea about what is expected of you.
All universities do not offer rolling admissions. If you are planning to make the most of it, you need to know where these are being offered. Keep a track on the application deadlines so you do not end up missing out on these! The rest should be fine!
ACT & SAT: What You Need to Know
If you or your high school child plans to attend college, you probably have already heard about the ACT and SAT tests. Post-secondary institutions require prospective students to complete at least one of these exams, and post an acceptable score. You must determine which test to take, and identify the subjects you need to study in preparation for it.
The Scholastic Assessment Test was called the Scholastic Aptitute Test when it was created in 1926. Either way, it has always been known as the SAT. The Educational Testing Service administers the exam, which was developed by a nonprofit organization called the College Board.
The test is designed to measure whether a student has the literacy and writing skills required to be successful in college. Students have 3 hours and 45 minutes to answer the questions. With breaks, the process takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Students earn a score between 200 and 800 points in critical reading, writing and math. Each subject features 10 sub-categories, with questions ranging from easy to difficult.
The critical-reading section requires students to complete sentences and answer questions about information contained in blocks of text. Skills measured are vocabulary, knowledge of sentence structure, and the ability to comprehend reading passages regarding various subjects.
The math portion of the SAT, also called the “quantitative” or “calculation” section, has three components that take a total of 70 minutes to complete. Most of the questions are in multiple-choice format, with some “grid-in” queries that require students to write answers inside grids on the answer sheet. The subjects covered are numbers, algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and data analysis.
The writing section consists of multiple-choice questions and a short essay. Students identify errors in sentences, and decide the best way to improve sentences and paragraphs. Grammar, word-usage, sentence structure and other skills are measured.
To take the SAT, an online reservation is required at the College Board’s website. Reservations, which must be made three weeks in advance of the test, also are accepted by telephone or mail. The test is administered seven times a year in the United States. There is a fee, though low-income students are granted exemptions. A number of organizations and companies provide books, classes, tutoring and online courses to help students prepare for the SAT.
The American College Testing (ACT) exam has been used since 1959. According to ACT Inc., which administers the test, it measures students’ educational development, as well as their ability to succeed in college English, math, reading and science courses. A score on a scale of 36 points is determined in each category by answers to multiple-choice questions. The test takes 3 hours and 25 minutes to finish.
The English section, which lasts 45 minutes, consists of 75 questions that test a student’s word-usage, punctuation and other literacy skills. The math section features 60 questions that must be answered within an hour. The subjects include algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
The ACT reading test, which must be completed in 35 minutes, covers prose, the humanities, social science and natural science. The science-reasoning section contains 40 questions with a 35-minute deadline. Students read passages regarding scientific principles, then answer questions about them. Concepts include interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving.
An optional writing section is sometimes included in the ACT. Students have 30 minutes to write an essay on a given topic. The results are included in the English-section score.
The composite of the test scores on the various sections is computed on a scale of 36 points. Depending upon the university, a composite score between 17 and 31 is required for admission. The average student receives a score of about 21. The ACT is administered three to six times per year, with states differing in their schedules.
Choosing a Test
In the past, universities on the East and West coasts of the United States tended to require prospective students to take the SAT. In the South and Midwest, the ACT was preferred. Today, most colleges accept both tests. However, it is crucial that students ask the institutions they may wish to attend about their policies.
The ACT and SAT measure slightly different academic skills, with some some variations in subject matter. Students are advised to figure out which exam is best suited to their knowledge and test-taking skills.
In general, the ACT is considered a content-based exam, while the SAT entails more problem-solving and critical thinking. Put another way, the ACT is an achievement test and the SAT is an aptitude test.
The ACT, unlike the SAT, measures science reasoning, trigonometry and grammar. The SAT is more concerned with vocabulary, and is not solely comprised of multiple-choice questions. It also imposes a penalty for wrong answers, which is not the case with the ACT.
Universities consider numerous factors in deciding whether to admit a student. The ACT or SAT score is a major consideration. It is important for a student to determine which test to take, learn about the subjects it covers, and then take the time to study in advance of the exam date. Earning an acceptable score can make the difference between being accepted or denied at a college.
6 Tips on Managing Admission Deadlines
While it’s exciting to begin a new chapter in your life, applying for college can quickly become overwhelming. Deadlines typically fall within the same week and there are different fees and requirements for each university. The best thing you can do when it’s time to apply for college is get organized. Sit down with your parents and plan out how you will work together to make the application process run smoothly.
Create a spreadsheet
Create a basic spreadsheet that includes columns for university name, essays, SAT or ACT scores, fee and deadline. Add columns as you need based on the requirements of the universities you decide to apply to. You may also add columns with a link to the online or paper application.
Create a contact list
You will likely have to contact each admissions office at least once in the application process. Create another spreadsheet tab for contacts at each university. Add a column for the university name, contact name, phone number, email, date of conversation and notes about your discussion. This information will help you keep on track and eliminate confusion about which representative said what.
Your application is your time to shine, so don’t be shy about accomplishments. Start by making a list of all the extracurricular activities you participated in throughout high school. Note any sports, clubs, musical groups and student government. Don’t forget any special accomplishments such as leadership -groups or honor societies you were invited to join. If you completed volunteer work, make note of that as well. Advanced placement classes and awards based on grades, attendance and overall performance should also be noted, as should volunteer work. You can also note activities outside of school, such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, other advanced sports leagues.
Creating this list will provide you with a clear picture of your accomplishments. You will gain confidence in looking back at what you’ve done and you may find that these experiences help you in writing any personal essays that are required.
You may need to request copies of certain documents from your high school. Some colleges may want references from teachers, while others require essays. Review your spreadsheet and plan accordingly. It may take a while to receive copies of all the paperwork you need, so find out approximately how long it will take to get those items and make sure you request them far enough in advance. Be respectful of others. Don’t ask a teacher to serve as a reference at the very last minute. Give them at least to weeks. Complete your essays in advance so you can have 2-3 people review them for mistakes and clarity.
Preparing for college means a lot of paper and emails. Create new email folders, computer folders and file folders to help you organize important paperwork or digital documents. This may include test results, certificates or awards, or letters of reference. Label them clearly. You can also create a master file for each university that
It’s not uncommon to apply for up to five universities. Rather than applying for all of them on the same day, spread them out. There are often several pages for each application and you don’t want to make any mistakes. Applications require you to focus. Students and parents should sit down and schedule specific times to work on each application to avoid any mistakes that could result from rushing to do everything at the last minute.
Taking these steps will ensure the application process is less overwhelming. You will appreciate the freedom you have once deadlines aren’t hanging over your head.
Preparing For University Applications
When applying for graduate study, university applications are the first step towards achieving your dream in your desired college/university. Below are some general guidelines to help you prepare for your university application:
Senior high school is ending and there’s a lot of excitement to having completed your basic education and leaving school. Do not get carried away in this excitement and forget about filling out applications. Be sure that you keep track of deadlines in various colleges you plan to apply. Stay organized and thoroughly go through the requirements.
Every college application that you will fill will require you to write a personal statement. These may be specific questions and you have to take this as an opportunity to sell yourself and get ahead of the pack through showcasing your accomplishments and goals.
Be Specific and Unique
Keep your answers specific and try to respond to what is being asked. Many applications will have similar answers but you need to try to respond to them accordingly. Don’t attempt to write the same response in every application. Relate what makes you stand apart from the crowd and portray your uniqueness. All applications mostly have a minimum of 250 word requirement and there is no maximum words specified, don’t beat around the bush and say state your point directly.
Relate Personal Experience
Relate your qualities by backing them with concrete evidence; this will carry more weight in the eyes of examiners. When you write about why you want to become a lawyer or doctor for instance, don’t just write that but relate some experience which motivated you to opt for this field.
Be Clear In Your Statement
Open your statement with a clear idea as it will indicate the direction your statement will take. This is also where you will capture the reader’s attention. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Examiners do not prefer haphazardly written statements which don’t make any sense. Gather your thoughts, form an outline and then start to write about it. Remember, they have dozen applications to scan so the time available to grab attention is a few seconds and only a few minutes will be spent on your application.
If necessary, carry out research for your essay questions. It’s okay to read a bit and then form your opinion to set yourself to write your statement. If possible, you can back yourself up with any evidence which is relevant. For example if there is a question about why you chose a particular college for you field of study, gather positive points about it in contrast to other colleges and then go through with writing it. It will only portray your determination and enthusiasm of filling out your application. The effort you put into writing will show in your words.
Always proof-read what you have written as grammar and spelling mistakes play a significant role in evaluating your statement. They make a bad impression on your part no matter how well-written your statement is. If possible, try to get a second opinion from family or friends.
Be Thorough In Your Approach
It is high time that you organize yourself now if you tend to procrastinate. Universities require effort and a lot of self-study. Before applying, consult your counselor as they can be your best guide in helping you fill out your application. Do not hesitate to clear any doubts that you may have. Believe in yourself. If asked, provide relevant and useful references which will make your case strong. Remember, any efforts that you will make towards filling your application will make you stand apart. It will also serve as a learning process and help you understand yourself better as you will think about your interests and choices to make in order to choose a field of study.
So you are ready for your GRE exams? A little extra preparation never hurts!
The GRE exam is quite basic and does not demand a lot of professional or advanced level preparation. It has three sections – verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Of these three, the analytical writing section proves to be quite a challenge as there is no singularly correct method of solving the problem. It tests your deduction, creative and analytical skills to get the best out of you and on to the paper!
The analytical writing section is divided into two parts – “Analysis of an Issue”, and “Analysis of an Argument”. Here, we will only be talking about the former part “Analysis of an Issue”.
What Is Involved In This Section?
This section involves a situation or topic of general interest. You are required to analyze it critically and express your thoughts about the topic. Since the topics can be attempted in an infinite number of ways, it is important to read the instructions carefully and approach the question with the right direction. More often, you will be required to take a stance in favor or against the topic under deliberation and justify your decision with arguments and logical deductions.
How to Attempt?
This section lasts for about 30 minutes. Needless to say, you do not have a lot of time to toil around the topic or try to reattempt the topic if you realize halfway you are not headed on the right course. It is important to divide your time in the best possible manner.
Devote ample time in reading and understanding the problem. Once you have understood what the examiner is looking for, formulate your strategy of answering and jot down the structure briefly. You are now ready to write your essay.
The best way to structure your essay is to give an introduction paragraph followed by at least three reasons to support your choice and a short conclusion. It is important to proof read your essay for possible errors and spelling mistakes in order to improve your scoring chances. If you think you will not have time in the end to reread your essay, try to proofread your article while writing it.
How to Prepare for “Analysis of an Issue”?
There is a list of possible topics given of GRE’s official website that can give you an idea about what to expect in the examination hall. There is no better way to prepare for the test other than practicing on the given topics.
Take time out of your busy schedule to attempt the questions. Make sure you mark the time you spend on a question so you can improve on it and thereby perform better in the actual examination.
A Handful of Helpful Tips
There are a few things you might want to keep in mind while attempting the questions. For instance,
- Make sure your essay has a proper focus. You need not beat about the bush. Be clear and straightforward in putting forth your points and reasoning out with the examiner to vote in your favor. Also, make sure your response is relevant to the question being asked. It is easy to lose track while writing about reasons. Make sure you do answer the question that was asked rather than the question you liked to answer!
- Keep the organization intact. There should be a continuous flow throughout the essay. Good points put forth in a random order will not be able to create the impact you need to do in order to win the examiner’s heart.
- You want the reader to be engaged in the essay. The last thing you need is to put the examiner to sleep while reading your essay. Keep the sentences short and assertive while also using connectors. Make sure you do emphasize your choice at the end of each reason/paragraph.
“Analysis of an Argument” – A Snapshot
Looking for ideas and advice to get you through one of the most difficult parts of the GRE and GMAT – the analytical writing section? Admittedly, this section poses to be quite challenging due to its artistic nature. The realm of writing cannot be restricted. This is one of the main reasons why people may feel intimidated especially by this section.
For GRE the analytical writing section is divided into two broad categories – “Analysis of an Issue” and “Analysis of an Argument”. Here, we will only be talking about the latter – Analysis of an Argument. GMAT writing section comprises of only the “Analysis of Argument” section.
What Does It Contain?
This section aims to test your contemplation, evaluation and analytical skills regarding a topic. You will be provided with a topic – a passage that deliberates on a general concern and creates an argument pertaining to it. In addition to this, you will be provided with instructions about what is expected of you while answering the problem.
You will be required to read the passage, understand what it says and does not say, evaluate its arguments according to your thoughts and come up with a critical answer that assesses its logic and validity. In other words, you will be required to judge the ideas put forth by another writer and justify whether you were convinced by the theory or not.
You will not be provided with any choices regarding the topic you would like to choose. Thus it is best to be prepared for all kinds of questions in this section.
How to Go About Answering This Question?
This first thing you need to do while trying to attempt this question is to understand what is provided to you. This means breaking down the passage into simple, comprehendible and clear sentences. Make sure you identify what is being explicitly stated, what is implied, what is assumed (if at all) and what evidence is used to support the argument. Once you have identified these specific parts, you will automatically understand the passage better and hence be in a better position to evaluate it critically.
Do keep in mind that you have only 30 minutes to attempt this question. So you cannot waste time on unnecessary tasks. You need to be apt at understanding the topic.
In your response, you may be expected to approach the situation from one of the following dimensions.
- How the evidence supports the argument? Whether it strengthens it or weakens it.
- What are the assumptions in the given passage and how these support or weaken the argument?
- Are the recommendations and/or suggestions viable in the light of the argument? You will be required to justify you answer through logical reasoning.
- Identify the areas where information is missing and that which would greatly help in making better decisions/recommendations. This may comprise of certain statistical data and/or other critical information regarding the subject.
- Predict the outcome of the proposed recommendations and identify whether these will be aligned with the goals or not.
- Propose alternative solutions and justify your propositions. Make sure you counter the proposed solutions intelligently.
- Identify informational deficiencies and justify how such information can alter the situation in favor of the objective or against it.
This will be explicitly mentioned with the instructions of the passage. Make sure you read these carefully and are absolutely sure of what the examiner is trying to ask before answering the question.
There is a list of possible questions given on the GRE & GMAT’s official website. Make sure you go through this list and also try to answer a few of these within the prescribed time limit. This will prepare you for the stress you will be facing while in the examination hall. You stand a better chance of coping with stress if you have been through it previously!