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Countdown to college: Is it worth sweating over the college essay?

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Just how important is the college essay, anyway?

According to recent surveys conducted by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the essay was given “considerable importance” or “moderate importance” by over 50% of colleges surveyed. Essays will never carry the weight of rigor of coursework and grades, but ...Read more

Countdown to college: A senior's fall to-do list

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The to-do list for high school seniors seems to be growing longer each day. When they’re not doing homework, participating in their extracurricular activities, hanging with friends, sleeping, eating or texting, here’s what they’re thinking about: their college list, testing, upcoming campus visits, college applications, the Common ...Read more

Countdown to college: What are colleges looking for in essays?

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It is no longer uncommon for colleges to receive 30,000-50,000 applications a year. In fact, the University of California, Los Angeles, received more than 111,000 applications in 2020. UCLA has four required essays, so admissions officials there are looking at reading more than 400,000 essays. Yikes. How do students set themselves apart with ...Read more

Countdown to college: Don't be a snowplow parent

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Drop-off stories have changed. It used to be that parents would drive their children to college, unload the car, make the bed and have a tearful goodbye. I’ve heard stories about how the drop-offs are going for some families these days, and I’m shocked and concerned for the parents and the children.

Here’s an example:

A neighbor’s ...Read more

Countdown to college: The basics of early applications

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Ready or not, the college application season has begun. Early or not is the question.

I know I’m not the only one who feels the college application process seems to be creeping up earlier each year. There used to be a uniformity among colleges and their deadlines. For the most part, applications were due in January of the senior year and ...Read more

Countdown to college: Navigating the admissions process during COVID-19

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This is one column I really didn’t want to write.

I had hoped, like the rest of the world, that as high schools and colleges started this fall, there would be a welcome sense of “normalcy.” But as the delta variant rages and masks are making an unfortunate resurgence, things seem eerily similar to last year at this time. So, let’s ...Read more

Countdown to college: Plan now, feel better later

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You can still qualify for the honor of being called an “early bird” as long as you complete at least one college application before school starts.

Teenagers may be prone to romanticizing about the last remaining lazy days of summer and getting anxious about the stress once they return to school. My recommendation to a parent is to be the �...Read more

Countdown to college: Last-minute advice for soon-to-be college freshmen

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The countdown to your first day as a college freshman has officially begun. There are advice articles galore with lists of what to pack and what not to pack. It’s almost as overwhelming as the college admissions process.

Here are a few important mantras that I like to share.

1. You are going to college in the United States and there will...Read more

Countdown to college: Breaking up is hard to do

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For young couples in high school heading off to college, it must seem like the world doesn’t believe in love. Everyone — well, mostly everyone — is telling them to break up and start fresh in college. Long-distance romances can be challenging in the best of times. Trying to maintain a relationship that started in high school can be ...Read more

Countdown to college: How to answer prompt No. 1 in the Common Application

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There are seven essay choices on the Common Application. Students need to write one essay that is 250 to 650 words. Let’s take a look at prompt No. 1:

“Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please ...Read more

Countdown to college: It's time for seniors to think about their college essays

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Summer is a great time to ponder deep thoughts, and right about now, rising seniors should be pondering their college essays.

The essay is the best opportunity for students to set themselves apart in the college application. Their grades through junior year are set, and while they may be able to improve their test scores in the fall, it’s ...Read more

Countdown to college: Make the most of summer campus visits

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College campuses are opening up. For the first time in a long time, families are actually planning real in-person campus visits.

People always seem to apologize when they’re making plans for summer campus visits. “I’m sorry, I know we should have done all this sooner, during spring break, but we couldn’t work it out.”

Campus ...Read more

Countdown to college: A parent's perspective

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about a student who shared lessons learned during the college admissions process. This week, it’s equal time for a parent’s perspective. Here’s what one mom had to say:

Q: What did you do right?

A: We started early, looking at schools at the end of sophomore year. At first it was just casual “window ...Read more