College Application

‘I will not help you hide your money when you apply for financial aid’ — and more straight talk from college admissions officers to parents

One of the hardest parts of a college admissions officer’s job — if not the hardest part — is dealing with some of the entitled or unrealistic parents of students who are trying to figure out where to apply to college. Here is a piece on things that college admissions officers say they would like to tell some of the parents with whom they deal — if they could be as blunt as they want — or things they actually say but that fall on deaf ears.

Writing Without the Shackles of Judgement

She stands in the doorway, college banners serving as a backdrop in this agonizing drama. The look on her face suggests that someone just ran over her dog or perhaps she just learned that Taylor Swift had her vocal cords removed. Growing concerned about her emotional state, I inquire about the fear in her eyes. “I have nothing to write about,” she confesses sullenly, as though the end is near. She goes on to lament about the lack of tragedy or fanfare in her seventeen years on this earth. “Nothing bad has happened to me, my grandparents are all still alive, and I have not lead a sports team to a state championship.” Finding it hard to be remorseful, I reply, “write what you know, not what you think the admission office wants to hear.”

Behind the Scenes: How Admissions Offices Evaluate Applications

The early decision and early action applications are being sent off. Suddenly students who were working very hard may find themselves with no college-related work to do, for a time. Some might rejoice, while others find it very hard to wait for an answer, and are anxious to know the status of their applications. So what actually happens in an admissions office once those Common Applications are uploaded? The file review process varies from school to school and depends on the size and type of institution, its selectivity, and the school's own culture. Many admissions officers would acknowledge that it's an imperfect process that is part artistry, part science. In general, students are assessed relative to the applicant pool and to the school's enrollment objectives. Each student is considered on his or her own merits, but also as a member of a class that reflects the demographics of society as a whole. Your student, then, is valued for how they contribute to that mix.

While larger universities typically use a formula based on standardized test scores, GPA, and other pertinent information to calculate a student's admissibility, most schools review each and every application personally and thoroughly. Students can be assured that their application will be reviewed by a committee comprised of admissions counselors, faculty members, current students, part-time/seasonal staff, or any combination of the above. The fact that several different people representing a variety of perspectives and interests review each file reflects their effort to make the process as fair as possible.

After they review the file, admission committee members assign students a ranking, either numeric or alphabetical. Applicants with the highest scores are typically admitted and those with the lowest ranking are usually denied. It is the applications that fall in the middle that receive the greatest attention. At this point the colleges are looking to fine-tune the composition of the incoming class and each applicant is evaluated for the ways in which they might uniquely contribute to the school based on their particular strengths and talents.

Admissions offices are always interested in increasing their "yield", or the number of admitted students who actually matriculate at their school. A student's "demonstrated interest" can be a good indicator of their likelihood of attending, so many admissions committees note if the applicant visited their campus, met with them at a college fair, interviewed, joined the group when the college visited the student's high school, or utilize social media to learn more about a college. Quality of the interaction counts.

Admissions officers also read letters of recommendation carefully and look specifically to see if what others have to say about the applicant supports the information the student has provided in his application. Is the student the passionate scholar he claims to be? Is she really a leader in a meaningful way or are her positions merely titular?

Finally, some students may be "on the bubble" because of their academic standing. If their grades are close, but not quite, what the admissions office would like to see, they may wait until the third quarter grades are released to make their decision. At this point no applicant really knows where they stand in the admission pool, so it is important that seniors continue to strive to get the best grades possible.

For many, this period of waiting can be stressful. Know that admissions counselors are doing their best to weigh every piece of an application to make the best and fairest decision possible. In the meantime, keep working hard, and keep your fingers crossed.

The New SAT

By now parents of current sophomores will have heard about the redesigned SAT that will launch in March of 2016. What's changing, and why should it matter to you and your child?

What's Changing

The College Board has overhauled the SAT to better reflect student achievement and Common Core standards, as well as to better compete against the ACT and increase its share of the testing market.

The College Board offers a summary of what it calls "Eight Key Changes."  These are:

  • Relevant Words in Context
  • Command of Evidence
  • Essay Analyzing a Source
  • Focus on Math that Matters Most
  • Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts
  • Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
  • Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
  • No Penalty for Wrong Answers

We highly recommend that parents of 10th graders read this excellent article by Charlie O'Hearn of Summit Educational Group, which outlines the redesign and also offers recommendations for the class of 2017. Here's his synopsis of the most important differences between the old and new SATs:

"Among the notable thematic changes are:  1) A Math Test that emphasizes a narrower but deeper grasp of algebra, de-emphasizes geometry, and puts more questions in real-world context; 2) Reading, Writing, and Language Tests that require students to cite evidence for their answers, analyze writing, and discern Tier 2 vocabulary definitions from context; and 3) Questions and content that better reflect the work that students undertake in the country's "best high school courses."  More specific changes include a return to the 1600-point scale, an overhaul of the essay section (including making it optional), the addition of a no-calculator math section, and rights-only scoring (i.e., no penalty for wrong answers)."

Why It Matters

To help manage the anxiety and uncertainty that can accompany standardized testing, we encourage our high school clients to have a testing plan for themselves. This might include taking both a diagnostic ACT and an SAT to determine which test to choose, selecting testing dates and registering well in advance, purchasing and studying a guidebook, taking a practice test, and working on-on-one with a test prep tutor.

Unfortunately, there are no practice tests available yet for the new SAT, nor do we have concordance tables that show an ACT score that compares to a new SAT score. Some current 10th graders may benefit by taking the old SAT in the fall of 2015, while most would be well-advised to consider taking the ACTs instead in the spring of 2016. Again, we refer you to the Summit article and its testing guidelines table.

 

A Resume Can Strengthen Your College Application

Resumes are not usually a required piece of the college application. So why do we insist you write one? There are several reasons, including:

A resume is a way to tell colleges, in more detail than the Activities section of the Common Application will allow, about the jobs you have held, the sports you have played, and the volunteer work you have done. In this way, you can create a more complete picture of who you are and what you do.

A resume is a snapshot of how you have chosen to spend your free time, which in turn says a lot about you, what you like to do, and what you do well. If you look closely, common threads often emerge that might inspire a personal essay topic or suggest a potential scholarship niche.

  • If you chose to share your resume with your college interviewer, you can help them to get a quick snapshot of who you are. This will help them to ask questions about things that you have done that are particularly interesting to them.

Many students apply for jobs and internships during their freshman year. Having a resume already prepared when you enter the career services office gives you a jump start. It’s a lot easier to refine an existing document than it is to create that first resume.

Writing Tips: Be Your Best Self

  “Be your best self, clearly, concisely and entertainingly.”

In this one sentence, Harry Bauld (in On Writing The College Application Essay) succinctly captures the goal of a college application’s personal statement.

Who is your best self? That’s your authentic voice, the person who shines through when you’ve cut away all the unessential facts and details (think: Hemingway). You know your best self is evident in your writing when a close friend or family member reads the piece and responds with delight, “Yes! That sounds just like you!”

What is clear? Clarity in a college essay means simply that the reader doesn’t have to struggle to understand the point you're making. Your thoughts and ideas unfold easily, effortlessly, neatly. They flow.

Being concise is critical to the success of the essay not simply because there’s a word limit but because – as you probably already know- it’s much harder to write something short and good, than it is to go on at length. The personal essay is a place to showcase your best writing. So give us “Less, but better.”

Why “entertainingly”? Because the personal statement is NOT an expository essay. You’ve listed your accomplishments elsewhere on the application, and your recommenders have already sung your praises. If you can entertain the reader – that is, draw her in, capture her imagination, and leave her with a sense of who you are- then you have released her temporarily from the effort of slogging through a mountain of less interesting essays, and you WILL be remembered. And that, ultimately, is the goal of the college essay.

Summer is prime college essay writing time for rising seniors. We’ll have more tips and reflections on making your personal statement shine in the coming weeks.

Globalization and College Admissions

Parents helping their children through the college admissions process in 2014 might feel like it’s a lot harder to get into elite colleges now than it was when they applied. And they’re right! This New York Times article offers one explanation: globalization. Simple demographics play a major role as well. We encourage our clients to aim high. Some will apply to, and be accepted at Ivy League colleges. Ultimately, what matters most is finding the right fit for your student: discovering the program with the best opportunities, and one that is a great match for your child.

Parenting Through the College Process

Time and time again parents sit in our office and reflect, “I don’t remember it being like this when I applied to college” and, indeed, the process has changed in some important ways.  More colleges are making standardized testing optional, admissions is increasingly competitive, students are completing more applications, and parents are more involved in the process than ever before.  For parents of college bound students, we offer these words of advice to help make the college process more successful and rewarding:

  • Focus on Fit: Help your student remember that college is first and foremost about the academic experience.  Colleges offer some very enticing options including gourmet food options, dorm suites outfitted with full kitchens, athletic centers featuring state-of-the-art equipment, and cyber-cafes at every turn.  All this is can distract from what should be at the center of their college experience – the academic program.  Help your student assess the quality, breadth, and depth of the curriculum and the level of academic rigor and type of academic support.
  • Accommodate your student’s style: If your student has been a procrastinator for 17 years, the college process isn’t going to draw out Type A qualities.  Know your student’s strengths and weaknesses and proceed accordingly.  If he is disorganized, set up organizational systems.  If time management is a struggle, set up timetables.  If visiting a lot of colleges will be overwhelming, limit the search.  Learning and behavioral styles are hard to change, so play to your student’s strengths and support their areas of weakness throughout the process.
  • Keep your student’s needs primary: Remember, you are not the college applicant.  While your college years may have been the best of your life, that doesn’t mean that your alma mater is perfect for your student.  Support your student’s decision about which college is the best place for them to spend their undergraduate years and avoid the temptation to compare it to “your college.”
  • Listen more, listen better: Starting sentences with “Tell me what you think about …” rather than “I think that…” will encourage your student to open up and will also send the message that you trust and value their opinions. While there are certainly times when a parent should share their perspectives, doing so too often is more likely to shut down conversation than to encourage honest dialog.
  • Allow plenty of time: Applying to college is probably the longest, most involved, and most difficult decision your student has ever had to make. There is also a very complex emotional component to this process – your student is leaving the comfort of school, friends, and family to venture into a world filled with unknowns.  Give them plenty of time and space to research and evaluate the tangible and intangible components of their decision.
  • Focus on the process:  The process of applying to college as just that – a process.  It has a beginning, middle, and an end and each student will go through the process in their own way, in their own time, hopefully taking on increasing responsibility and ownership. Ultimately, this is not just about “getting in”, but about developing self-awareness, clarifying values, and becoming self-sufficient.  When parents become too involved, the student loses the opportunity to go through this very maturing, self-actualizing process.
  • Don’t be afraid to be a spectator: First row seats don’t always provide the greatest view. Sometimes the best place to be is cheering from the bleachers.

The college process provides a unique opportunity in your student’s life to look back and be proud of what they’ve accomplished, think about who they are, articulate what they value, and consider where they want to go from here. Don’t rush the process to get to the finish line – this is an opportunity you may not have again to teach your student many important life lessons. And, just as you will come to know your child better, so too will they come to better know you.

 

 

 

Applying Early Isn't Right for Everyone

For seniors who are unwavering in their decision about their first choice school and who are positioned to present their strongest application in November, applying Early Decision or Early Action can be a prudent course of action. However, the pros and cons should be weighed carefully before deciding if applying early is better.

Making the Personal Statement Personal

Writing the Personal Statement can be a torturous exercise for many seniors. Fears of sounding like a braggart - or, worse - having nothing worthwhile to say, leave even strong writers paralyzed. While the temptation might be to adopt a distant, academic tone, and tackle a safe topic, it’s important to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicant pool by making your Personal Statement personal.

All’s Well That Begins Well

The hallways are beginning to fill with the buzz of seniors talking about their college choices. It’s hard to believe that just a year has passed since they started their college search – so many campuses have been visited, so many interviews have been had, and so many essays have been written! As the junior class embarks on their own college process, we offer these tips to get their college search off to a strong start: • The process of finding and applying to the colleges that are the best fits for you takes a considerable amount of time, thought, and energy. In the months ahead your ideas about the “right” college will evolve, your selection criteria will change, and what you most value in your college experience will shift. Give yourself the time and space to consider what is best for you. • Commit yourself to working on your college search as if it were an additional class. Set aside time each week for your “college process homework”. • Finding the right college involves many steps and even more details. To keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed, set up organizational systems early. Designate a place to store all your college materials. Set up folders in your email account specifically for college related correspondence. Create file folders to store hard copies of materials and ask for help from a parent or a friend if organization does not come easily or naturally to you. There is so much to do, you won’t want to waste time looking for materials. • Go into this process with an open mind. Don’t put too much weight on your preconceptions about a particular college or rely too much on what your peers tell you. Your unique impressions are what matter most. • Understand that this year-long process is about more than just “getting in”. It’s a process of self-discovery, values clarification, and taking responsibility for yourself. Be sure that you are at the center of the process, not your parents, or you will deny yourself the opportunity to learn these valuable lessons. • For most, going away to college marks the beginning of your real independence from your family. Just as leaving home is a big step in your life, so to is it for your parents. Understand that they are going through their own version of the college process and will need time to process just as you will.

Although the road ahead is a long one, getting off to a strong start can set the tone for a successful and rewarding college search experience. Get organized, set aside time to work on your college process, and take advantage of the opportunities to show your emerging independence and self-sufficiency that this process allows and your efforts will be well rewarded.

The Envelope, Please....

Over the next few weeks, seniors will be anxiously attending their mailboxes, eagerly awaiting the delivery of the proverbial “thick envelope” as colleges begin sending out their first round of early admissions decisions. However, for many students, applying early isn’t in their best interests for a variety of reasons. The college process, when done well with care and thought, can be quite a time consuming process and many seniors simply haven’t had the time to do research and to visit campuses in order to make a well-informed decision by the early deadlines. For those who are just reaching their academic stride, the opportunity to include an additional term of higher grades will make their application all that much stronger. Not all students who rush to meet the early deadlines are doing so for the right reasons and those students feel compelled to apply early “just to get the process over with” often rue their hasty decision.

Why all this pressure on students to apply early? From the college’s perspective, early application options are useful tools to increase their selectivity as well as to manage their applicant pool. Many students’ inboxes are being flooded with pleas from colleges to apply, often with enticements that make this process as straightforward as possible. The math is simple – the more applications they receive, the lower their percentage of accepted students. If they can target students with high SAT scores, so much the better – that will raise the average standardized test scores of their applicants. In these ways, schools begin to appear more competitive.

The selectivity of a college is based on their yield – that is the number of admitted students who actually matriculate at their school. The higher the yield, the more selective the school’s ranking. While Early Decision applicants are committed to attending, even Early Action candidates are more likely to accept an offer of admission. Thus, a college can improve its yield numbers by offering early application opportunities.

Although some of the most talented students are in the early pools, some colleges use early applications for other strategic reasons. Often recruited athletes are asked to apply early decision to demonstrate their sincere interest in playing. Early decision also meets other institutional needs, such as legacies who might not be as competitive in the regular pool, but are accepted early because they are more likely to yield.

Without question, early applications can work to the college’s advantage and for the student who applies with care and thought, this is a tremendous opportunity. However, it is important to remember that of the 2,000 four year colleges in the country, only about 350 reject more students than they accept. The frenzy around submitting early applications is driven by only the most selective schools and it’s important that students use this opportunity to their advantage, not the college’s.

Behind the Doors of the College Admissions Office

With applications sent off, the college application moves from the student’s desk to the college admissions office where, for the next two months hundreds of thousands of applications will be reviewed while students across the country anxiously await a decision. What goes on behind the closed doors of the admissions office is a mystery to most and decisions can seem to reflect more “artistry” than science. In fact, the process varies from school to school and depends on the size and type of institution, its selectivity, and the school’s own “flavor. However, every college and university assesses the strength of each application relative to the applicant pool as well as the school’s enrollment objectives. While each student is considered on his or her own merits, schools work to “socially engineer” a class that reflects the demographics of society as a whole and each student is valued for how they contribute to that mix.

While larger universities typically use a formula based on standardized test scores, GPA, and other pertinent information to calculate a student’s admissibility, most schools review each and every application personally and thoroughly. Students can be assured that their application will be reviewed by a committee comprised of admissions counselors, faculty members, current students, part-time hired staff, or any combination of the above. By being viewed by several different people representing a variety of perspectives and interests the goal is to make the process as fair as possible.

After reviewing the file, students are assigned a ranking, either numeric or alphabetical, and those given the highest scores are typically admitted and those with the lowest ranking are usually denied. It is the applications that fall in the middle that receive the greatest attention. At this point the colleges are looking to fine-tune the composition of the incoming class and each applicant is evaluated for the ways in which they might uniquely contribute to the school based on their particular strengths and talents.

Admissions offices are always interested in increasing their “yield”, or the number of admitted students who actually matriculate at their school. A student’s “demonstrated interest” can be a good indicator of their likelihood of yielding, so admissions committees note if the applicant visited their campus, met with them at a college fair, interviewed, or joined the group when the college visited the student’s high school. Typically, the more often the student demonstrated their interest in a school, the better.

Admissions officers are also interested in letters of recommendation and look specifically to see if what others have to say about the applicant supports the information the student has provided in his application. Is the student the passionate scholar he claims to be? Is she really a leader in a meaningful way or are her positions merely titular?

Finally, some students may be “on the bubble” because of their academic standing. If their grades are close, but not quite, what the admissions office would like to see, they may wait until the third quarter grades are released to make their decision. As at this point no applicant really knows where they stand in the admission pool, it is important to continue to strive to get the best grades possible. It is not too late to make a good impression!

So, the waiting game continues. Know that admissions counselors are doing their best to weigh every piece of an application to make the best and fairest decision possible. In the meantime, keep working hard, and keep your fingers crossed.

Fine Tuning the College List

After months and months of research, visiting schools, and interviewing, many seniors are faced with a new dilemma: how to cull what has become an impressively long college list into something more manageable and realistic. With more than 3,000 colleges from which to choose, the challenge is to develop a list of schools that both matches the student’s abilities, interests, and character and that also represents an appropriate range of selectivity. Generally, a college list of 8 - 10 schools is appropriate for most students. Even though the Common Application facilitates the application process, interviewing, campus visits, and completing supplemental materials can take a tremendous amount of time. Working on too many applications can compromise both the caliber of each individual application as well as detract from time and effort better focused on school work and extracurricular activities.

To hone the list, consider carefully why each school was put on the list in the first place. Likely, through the college process, search criteria became increasingly refined and those schools chosen early in the process may no longer be appropriate. Review the list carefully, and keep only those colleges that remain the best matches.

The next step in refining the college list is to check it for balance, making sure that there are “Reach”, “Eye-Level”, and “Likely” schools represented. Typically, the most selective, or Reach schools, are the easiest to add and lists quickly become “top heavy.” Because these schools typically have lengthy supplements, applying to many of them can actually backfire as it’s hard to put forth one’s best effort on each and every application. A better strategy is to submit thoughtful and well-polished applications to the top 2 – 3 Reach schools.

At the other end of the spectrum, “Likely” schools play a critical role and should not be just “thrown on” as afterthoughts. Like every other school on the final list, these schools should be places where the applicant would thrive academically and socially. If a Likely school is not a college the applicant would attend, then it shouldn’t be on the list at all. These 2 – 3 schools are the most difficult to find because they involve a compromise of some kind and they don’t have the same cache as the more selective schools.

The middle tier of schools that appear on a balanced college list are the “Eye-Level” or “Moderate” Schools – those institutions where the applicant stands an even chance of being admitted. These 3 or 4 schools are the backbone of the college list and should be chosen with tremendous thought and care. Chances are, it is one of the schools in this category that the student will end up attending.

Developing a balanced list of appropriate schools takes time but should reflect a range of schools at which the applicant will be a happy, successful student. While there can be compelling reasons to have lists that are longer or shorter than the recommended 8 - 10 schools, the most important thing is that the list is balanced between Reach, Moderate, and Likely schools and that the applicant puts his best effort into his applications at each and every school.

Making the Personal Statement Personal

Writing the Personal Statement can be a torturous exercise for many seniors. Fears of sounding like a braggart or worse, having nothing worthwhile to say, leave even strong writers paralyzed. While the temptation might be to adopt a distant, academic tone, by making your Personal Statement personal you help the admissions office gain a richer understanding of your unique character and qualities.

10 Steps to Writing a Winning Personal Statement

I have yet to meet the student who finds writing their Personal Statement for the Common Application to be the most exciting part of their college process. They whine, they procrastinate, they beg me to write it for them – and I am sympathetic. It’s hard to capture the “essence of who you are” in 500 words. But just as each essay should be as unique as the person writing it, there are some qualities that successful personal statements share: 1. They give a unique insight into the applicant. Begin by writing one sentence about what you want to convey about yourself to the reader. After the first draft, ask yourself if your essay conveys what you wanted it to. If it doesn’t, refocus.

2. They are well edited. Don’t let your mom or dad be your only editor. Chances are they love you too much to bring any kind of objectivity to their assignment. Beyond identifying grammatical errors, ask your editor what impressions of you your essay sent. Does that message match the one you intended to send?

3. The personal statement doesn’t rehash information that can be gleaned from other pieces of the application. If you’re a B+ student taking Honors classes at a competitive high school, there’s no need to tell the admissions office about how challenging your classes are - they already know. DO talk about an assignment or a moment in class when you felt particularly challenged or successful.

4. 3,000 words were written to get to the final 500. One page doesn’t leave any room for digressions or unimportant details. Make every word count, because it does.

5. They focus on describing moments, feeling and insights, not scenery. If your essay tells little more than what the reader could see on the front of a postcard, send the postcard instead.

6. They view the moment through a microscope, not a telescope. You can’t tell the reader everything you want to, so focus in tightly on the most significant details.

7. They are not cliché. Did you score the winning goal for an important game? Did you travel to far-off lands to do community service? Do you have an uncle who has overcome a serious physical handicap to accomplish incredible things? That’s wonderful. But, unfortunately, not original. If you are going to write on a theme that has been worn to death, there is a special onus on you to show how these moments have specifically shaped YOU.

8. Great personal statements are not about anyone else but the writer. If you are telling the story about a person who had an influence on you, be sure to keep the spotlight on you.

9. It’s not just about the story you tell, it’s also about how you tell that story. The deft use of alliteration, allusion, metaphor and other literary devises separates the good essays from the great.

10. They are more personal then they are statements. Great essays give the admissions officer information about what make you uniquely you.

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No One Said Applying to College Was Easy: 7 Tips for Parents

Time and time again parents sit in our office and reflect, “I don’t remember it being like this when I applied to college” and, indeed, the process has changed in some important ways. More colleges are making standardized testing optional, schools are becoming increasingly competitive, students are sending out more applications and parents are more involved in the process than ever before. For parents of rising seniors, we offer these words of advice: 1. Help your child remember that college is first and foremost about the academic experience. Colleges are offering some very enticing options including gourmet food service, dorm suites with full kitchens, athletic centers with state-of-the-art equipment, and cyber cafes at every turn. All this is very appealing, but students can lose focus on what should be at the center of their college experience – the academic program. Enjoy all the amenities colleges have to offer, but help your child assess the breadth and depth of courses offered and the level of academic rigor. While these intangibles can be hard to evaluate, it is important to help your child to keep the rightness of the academic fit at the center of the decision making process.

2. If your child has been a procrastinator for 17 years, going through the college process isn’t going to draw out Type A qualities. Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and proceed accordingly. If he is disorganized, set up organizational systems. If he needs to read about colleges to really understand them, buy him guide books. Tech savvy kids can gather a lot of information from YouTube videos, podcasts, and school websites. Learning and behavioral styles are hard to change, so play to your child’s strengths.

3. Remember, this is not your turn to apply to college. While you’re college years may have been the best of your life, that doesn’t mean that your alma mater is perfect for your child. Let your child decide what is the best place for him/her to spend his/her undergraduate years.

4. It’s hard to be objective and supportive at the same time. If you start more sentences with “Tell me more about what you think about …” and fewer with “I think that…”, you’re well on your way.

5. Applying to college is probably the longest, most involved, and most difficult decision your child has ever had to make. Give him plenty of time and space to process all the information and don’t undervalue the emotional component. This is important practice for making even the even bigger decisions which the lie ahead.

6. View the process of applying to college as just that – a process. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end and each child will go through the process in his own way, in his own time, hopefully taking on increasing responsibility and ownership. Ultimately, this is not just about “getting in”, but about developing self-awareness, clarifying values and becoming self-sufficient and self-directed. When parents become too involved, the student is denied the chance to go through this very maturing, self-actualizing process.

7. First row seats don’t always provide the best view. Sometimes the best place to watch this process is from the bleacher seats.

One Tour, Two Different Perspectives My daughter is a high school junior and last week we took our first official tour of colleges specifically for her. Although I had, of course, anticipated this moment for years, looking at colleges through the eyes of an invested parent instead of a detached consultant, was an extraordinary experience for me, unexpected in many ways. I worried about how she would find her niche in this new community, I tried to imagine her taking a semester to study abroad, and I wondered how she would be shaped differently by her experience at each college.

Read more: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/archive/x1076645602/COLLEGE-MATTERS-One-tour-two-different-perspectives#ixzz1KGkDiJSm

How to choose classes for next year Over the next few weeks, students will be filling out their course selection forms for next year. Students should put careful thought into their choices, selecting those that will demonstrate their academic potential and willingness to challenge themselves while not creating a schedule that will leave no time for extra-curriculars - or sleep!

Predicting who is more likely to retake the SAT

Does your SAT score end in "90"? Tomorrow Juniors head off to take the SAT with varying degrees of preparedness and nervousness. While most students will sit for the SAT and/or ACT at least twice, we don't encourage our students to take these tests over and over in pursuit of that ever-elusive "highest score possible". Standardized tests are only one piece of the college application. While an important part, they shouldn't be given undue time or weight.

Good luck, juniors!