Why should I sign up for counseling services? Colleges do not just look at students’ test scores and academic performance to determine acceptance, as the application evaluation process is far more complicated than just reading students’ numbers. The quantitative portion of a student’s application － such as GPA and test scores － may show his/her current ability, but does not necessarily represent personal qualities or future potential in college and beyond. The qualitative portion of the application becomes very critical, some of which include a student’s choice of classes and academic rigour, activities at school and within the community, pre-college and pre-professional programs, and leadership or work experiences. All these aspects inform colleges who the student is, where his/her interests and passions lie, and how he/she may benefit the college campus community.Maintaining a strong academic performance while staying committed to extracurricular activities is essential yet challenging, and finding opportunities and programs that fit your interests and objectives can be very time-consuming. Therefore, our highly experienced and knowledgeable college counselors can help make your high school and college application experience smoother and less stressful in a time of high importance.
When should I start my college essays? Although most universities’ applications are unavailable until late August or early September, do not wait until then to begin. Many colleges, including UCs, Stanford, and MIT, reuse their essay questions each year, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the prompts as early as possible. Most students begin in the summer before their senior year of high school. Also, keep in mind that the UC application date is always November 30th and most private schools have theirs due at the end of December or early in January.
How can I get the best possible recommendation letters? Recommendation letters give your profile an extra dimension and allow colleges to gain a different and holistic perspective of who you are. Colleges consider transcripts and SAT scores to evaluate academic achievements, but they also reference recommendation letters, as they reveal your character in the eyes of your mentors.Establish strong relationships with teachers and allow some of your teachers to know you on a deeper, personal level; this will enable them to write strong recommendation letters that strengthen your application. When thinking about which teacher you would like to write your recommendations, don’t necessarily pick the class you had the highest grade in — consider the teacher who saw you overcome obstacles, or the teacher who attends your swim meets and can attest to your personal strengths.
Should I apply Early Decision or Early Action? Both Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) allow you to receive an admission decision by December instead of the usual time in spring, as the application due dates are usually early November. ED schools tend to have much higher acceptance rates, but because ED schools are binding (you must attend the college if you are accepted), only choose ED if you are 100% committed to the school and it is your top choice school. EA schools, on the other hand, are not binding, giving students a choice to decline admission.
How many colleges should I apply to? There is no “right” number for any given person. Whether you apply to seven or seventeen, you can only attend one in the fall. When choosing how many schools to apply to, important aspects to keep in mind are time and money. When it comes to applying to colleges, it’s quality over quantity. The number of colleges to apply to is not as important as the type of colleges to apply to. Regardless of how many colleges you apply to in the end, ensure that you understand your chances of admission; apply to safety schools, target schools, and dream schools so that you have schools you are confident you can get into as well as schools that are more selective.
Should I take the ACT? If you are satisfied with your SAT score, then there is no need to take the ACTs. The ACT is a substitute test for the SAT; though it is more widely used on the east coast, it is valid as a replacement for the SAT I. Compared to the SAT I, the ACT contains more reading, and harder math, and gives you less time. It also includes a Science section in addition to the Reading, English, and Math sections. Although the Writing portion is optional, most institutions require you to take it. The ACT is a great alternative if you are more of a problem-solver than a memorizer.For more information on the SAT vs. ACT, or which exam you should take, please refer to our 2016 newsletter.