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The First Hurdle - College Admissions

One of the most dreaded times for most students come with transition from high school into college. A vast majority do not end up in their preferred colleges due to not being able to reach required standards. It is best to begin your college search well before your senior year at high school so you have ample time to prepare for it accordingly. Here are a few tips to help you through the tedious college admission process.

Deciding On Local or Foreign Colleges

Some students might want to pursue their college years in a foreign country while others wouldn’t. It is essential for you to be clear on this decision before you lodge yourself on a college search. On this note, it is important to remember that the education policies that are applied in your local state might be different from your destination. A thorough research of all such factors that influence your admission to a foreign university should be sorted out during high school so you have minimum lag time between finishing high school and starting college.

Browsing Through Your Options

Whether you are looking for local colleges or foreign ones, it is good to remember that there are a wide range of choices available to you. There is a college for everyone and every discipline – so you will definitely make it to one if you are willing to study. However, you do need to identify those universities that are aligned with your educational goals. Make a list of all universities that offer the courses you are looking for. This will help you in short listing your choices in the next step.

Narrowing Down Your Choices

Some universities may have high selection standards; some would have unfeasible locations while a few others may not have the academic environment you are looking for. This is the time where you go through your list of options and cut down those that are out of reach due to legitimate reasons. Make sure you have a handful of choices in the end to serve as a safety net!

Familiarizing Yourself with Admission Policies and Meeting Requirements

Most colleges have their own set of admission policies and preferences. Make sure you go through these and are well aware of them before applying to the college. For instance, some colleges might require you to provide SAT scores and recommendation letters while applying for admissions. Some might put special emphasis on completing your high school education before applying to college. Some may even require you to take some specific courses during high school before becoming eligible to apply to the institution. Make sure you are aware of all such requirements and have met them before applying to the college.

Bookmarking Important Dates

All colleges have schedules for admissions and semesters. These planning are done well in advance. Make sure you have bookmarked all important dates on your calendar so you do not end up missing out on deadlines. The last thing you need is to settle for something less just because you forgot the deadline to apply to your favorite university!

Applying With Complete Documents

Most universities have a policy that states, “Incomplete applications will not be entertained”. Therefore, it is important to understand and match up with their criteria of a complete application. Double check the documents you have attached with your profile before sending it in. There are no second chances in this phase!

Celebrating College Admissions

If you have applied to a college with complete documents and you have matched with their selection criteria, there is least probability for you to be rejected. Be confident and self-assured as you go through their selection phases; if you think you deserve it, you definitely will get in. Do not forget to celebrate your success with those who made it possible!

College Admission Essays – What Are They Looking For?

The college admission essay proves to be the trickiest aspect of the college admission process. It is the only section where you can truly unleash your creative instincts. However, it is also the part that can get you into the college of your choice or leave you baffled about your rejection. It is therefore an extremely important part of the application process that defines your destiny. So how should you go about penning your essay?

The best approach is to give the selection committee what it is looking for. Here are a few pointers that can help you structure your essay for a sure winner.

What is the College Selection Committee looking for?

To cut the long and painful story short, they are looking for an insight into your personality, character and goals. This is the section where open ended questions are asked with the intention to gauge your maturity and intellect besides academics. This is the part where you talk about those aspects of your life that have not been covered elsewhere in the application form!

The best essays are known to be styled as excerpts – specific incidents from your life that brought about a major change in you or other similar noteworthy instances from your life. The reader of your essay has no personal experience with you and is looking to learn about you only through your essay. Your word choices, content and writing style reflects your true personality and character – more so than you can imagine! A well-documented logical explanation that links a specific incident to your character traits can go a long way in building a promising picture of you in the minds of your readers.

The essay serves as a tool to estimate your depth and broadmindedness as a person. It is the only piece of paper that represents the real you and sets you apart from your competition. In the mountainous piles of applications, there may be people sharing similar or higher qualifications than you. A well-constructed essay can give you the upper edge you deserve. So use it well!

What the College Selection Committee is NOT looking for?

Talking about oneself is not a problem. However, it is easy for you to lose track while doing so. Here are a few pointers you should keep in mind in order to limit the scope of your essay for maximum impact.

  1. They are not looking for information that is irrelevant or have not been asked. For instance, praising the college will not help in building your image as the reader already knows it!
  2. They do not want repeated information. The academics section is sufficient enough to reflect your performance thereof.
  3. They are not looking for longwinded complex answers that often do not seem to make sense. So you need to be simple and straightforward while answering and also keep your thesaurus at bay!
  4. They are not looking for a jumbled up account of your life that has no direction. So stick with one or two incidents and try to avoid overdoing the self-expression.
  5. They are not looking for an essay that seems to have been written by a fifth grader. So read and proofread your essay a couple of times to remove all spelling, typographical and grammatical errors.
  6. They are not looking for an essay that is painful to read. Rather, they are looking for something that touches their hearts and makes an impact that compels them to select you. So let your creativity flow and win you their decision.

Applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships in the US

If you are an American student or permanent resident, understandably you would be applying for Financial Aid and scholarships as a part of your application processes. This can be very complicated and mystifying. Applying for financial aid and scholarships can seem much more complicated than applying for school itself. This is because if you choose to apply for financial aid (rather than just simply paying out of pocket) it is a process that can involve multiple government entities, your school, as well as your parents. To further explain the process we will go through the proper steps of applying for financial aid.

1. Complete Your Taxes

By completing your taxes you will ensure that the information you need to apply for financial aid is both accurate and complete. Sure, you can apply to FAFSA without completing your taxes but that severely complicates matters quite a lot as you will then have to go back and provide additional documentation as to what your income actually officially was. Completing your taxes before applying for financial aid makes things much more straightforward.

2. Register for the Selective Service

If you are a male from ages 18-25 in the United States you must register for the Selective Service prior to receiving any financial aid. The Selective Service is a system which drafts men into the military during a crisis. Failure to register can result in significant fines and jail time. Females are not required to register at this time.

3. Apply for your FAFSA PIN

Both students and parents then need to apply for a FAFSA PIN, or Personal Identification Number. Applying for a PIN is a relatively straightforward process. They will ask you simple questions such as your name, social security number, gender, date of birth, address, phone, email, etc.

4. Apply for FAFSA

Once you have applied for your PIN and filed your taxes you can finally sit down and apply for federal aid using the FAFSA. Make sure you have your tax returns for both parents as well as student. Also make sure that you have any necessary information such as social security numbers. If you are a permanent resident or in the process of being granted asylum you will be asked to provide your alien registration number in addition to a social security number. When applying you will also be asked to supply the school code number for any colleges you have applied to. See your advisor if you need that number. Make sure to answer the questions honestly; not answering the questions honestly could have very negative consequences including jail time as well as fines.

5. Complete the Rest of the Financial Aid Package

Often in addition to the FAFSA your college will have their own financial aid paperwork and forms for you to complete. Your school may have additional merit or need-based scholarships for those who may qualify.

6. Search for Outside Sources of Aid

The last and most interesting step of the financial aid process includes applying for outside sources of financial aid. This can be in the form of many different grants and scholarships from businesses or charitable institutions. When you start searching for other sources of financial aid it may be of help to have a list of your accomplishments. Also make sure to mention any academic accomplishments or awards given by community groups.

7. Patiently Await Results

Usually it takes several weeks for FAFSA results to come in. The school will then receive the report and use the rest of the FAFSA information as well as their other forms to complete your financial aid package. The entire financial aid process can take several months from start to finish, including the applications for outside scholarships.

All in all, applying for financial aid is tough but it is worth it! If you have any questions be sure to see your school’s financial aid personnel with any concerns you may have.

Analysis of an Issue - a preparatory guide

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,

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. How the evidence supports the argument? Whether it strengthens it or weakens it.
  2. What are the assumptions in the given passage and how these support or weaken the argument?
  3. Are the recommendations and/or suggestions viable in the light of the argument? You will be required to justify you answer through logical reasoning.
  4. 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.
  5. Predict the outcome of the proposed recommendations and identify whether these will be aligned with the goals or not.
  6. Propose alternative solutions and justify your propositions. Make sure you counter the proposed solutions intelligently.
  7. 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.
Helpful Tips

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!

Transfer Credit Evaluations

Transfer credit evaluations are complex scenarios, each different according the school’s policies. Transfer credit evaluations come into play when a student transfers schools midyear or decides to enter a bachelor’s degree program after completing an associate’s degree. To make sure that your transfer credit evaluation goes as smoothly as possible, consider the following steps:

1.Check to See if There is An Articulation Agreement

Many different colleges have articulation agreements with other schools throughout the country. Community colleges often have articulation agreements or guaranteed acceptance agreements with many different schools throughout the state. If a school has an articulation agreement than that means that it will accept courses from other schools that are comparable to their own courses that they offer.

2. Check the Rules of the Agreement

Often times many schools will only accept courses with a grade of “C” or higher. Make sure to check if your college will accept “Ds” or you could be in dire straits when it comes to actually choosing a major and planning out how the rest of your semester will go. Another thing to consider is whether the institution is religious or secular. Many times religious schools will not accept religion courses that are taken at secular school. At the same time religious schools do require students to take courses in religion. This rule could affect you greatly so pay attention!

3. Check Your Transfer Guide

Check your transfer guide to see what course is equivalent to what. Transfer guides are often published directly on school admissions websites but many times a hard copy can be obtained through an admissions counselor. Transfer guides can be very confusing. Make sure you have a copy of your degree requirements open when going through the transfer guide on your own. This way it will be much less confusing.

4. Mail in Your Transcript

Some schools will accept electronic transcripts or unofficial transcripts but most schools still prefer the traditional official transcript which has to be mailed in an official sealed envelope straight from the school. Some schools will also have you fill out a form that allows them to obtain the transcript directly from your previous school. Make sure to follow all of their instructions by filling out all of the necessary forms in a prompt, professional manner. It is important to be prompt in this because transfer credit evaluations can take a significant amount of time. Most colleges will require the evaluation to be completed before you pay your deposit or register for any classes.

5. Meet With Your Advisor

This is one of the most important steps in the entire process. All of the research that you have been doing all leads up to this point! Make sure you study the manuals backwards and forwards before you reach this point. Much of it is the same whether you are a traditional student attending a brick and mortar university, or a nontraditional student going to school online. When you meet with your advisor do not hesitate to bring up any questions that you may have. Bringing up these valuable questions will save time, money, and effort later. Your advisor is a qualified, experienced professional. No question is ‘too stupid’ for him or her to answer, so ask away!

6. Evaluation Agencies

if you transferring credits to an institute in another country (International students) getting your credentials evaluated form an internationally recognized evaluation agency is the best way to go about it, it might save you a hefty amount in tuition fees in the form of credit waivers.

Lastly, be sure to have fun at your new school. This is a new school filled with new opportunities. Chances are, you are not the only one that is a frightened transfer student about to embark on one of the greatest adventures ever in your lifetime!