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  • Megan Dorsey

    Title: SAT Prep & College Advisor

    Company: College Prep LLC

    • verified

    College Specializations
    Rice University, Texas A & M University, Texas State University-San Marcos, Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Houston, Houston Baptist University, Sam Houston State University, Houston Community College, George Washington University, Washington University in St Louis, Elon University, Southern Methodist University
    Years of Experience
    18
    Languages Spoken
    English

    Colleges I Attended
    Rice University (BA) University of Houston (MEd) UCLA (certificate in college counseling)
    Degrees
    Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree
    Certifications
    College Counseling - UCLA; Certified Teacher & Counselor - TEA
    Professional Affiliations
    NACAC, TACAC, SACAC, HECA
    Prior Job
    Houston Independent School Dist.
    Prior Title
    High School Counselor
    About Me
    I'm a former high school counselor with 18 years experience in test prep and college admissions.

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  • Admissions Expertise

    • Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?

       

      Begin by scheduling your visit through the admissions office. Most colleges will allow you to schedule online. Often you will be given the opportunity to attend an information session, possibly presentations by particular departments or schools, and a campus tour.

      Don’t try to skip the official visit and substitute a do-it-yourself tour instead. Some colleges track “demonstrated interest” and may consider the fact that you’ve visited campus when making admissions decisions. Additionally, the information presented in the session will help you decide whether admission and scholarships are likely, possible, or a reach at this school.

      What you are able to see on the day of the tour will depend on your schedule. Here are some of the things I do every time I visit a campus:

      1. Ask questions. Ask your tour guides and take time to talk to people you meet – students, professors, and staff. What do they like about the school? What would they change? Every school has flaws— knowing them ahead of time helps.

      2. Take time to see parts of campus not shown on the tour. Does it fit in with what you were shown? How long will it take you to travel from one end of campus to the other? Where are the freshman dorms located?

      3. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper. Find out what issues have students talking. Typical student papers feature complaints. Do you see standard complaints about tuition rates and campus politics or are there bigger problems?

      4. Eat in the student cafeteria. Ask the admissions office to let you eat in the regular cafeteria, not the fancy food court they show you on the tour. Try to experience campus as you would as a freshman.

      5. Visit the surrounding area. You may find a beautiful campus situated in a bad neighborhood. Are there places to eat? Could you walk there safely at night? Is crime a problem?

      If you are serious about a particular college or university, you may want to make a more comprehensive visit. These take a little more planning, but are worth it as you try to decide which school is right for you. On a more in-depth visit you may:

      1. Meet with a professor in your department. The admissions office can help schedule this. Find out what undergraduates in the program experience. If possible, talk to current students and ask what they like and dislike about the department. Do their classes and requirements meet your goals?

      2. Stay overnight. Some schools offer weekends for admitted students in the spring and sometimes the admissions office can help you coordinate a visit on your own. You can stay in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria, visit classes, and get a better feel in 24-36 hours than you would with a traditional visit.

      3. Interview or schedule time to speak to an admissions officer. Some colleges include interviews as part of the admissions process. If you interview on campus, you often meet with someone involved in making final decisions. Even if you don’t have an official interview, take time to meet with an admissions officer. Get your questions answered and show them you are serious about the school for the right reasons.

      4. Visit the financial aid office. Usually this is a top concern for mom and dad. Find out more about aid packages at this school. Will your outside scholarships be applied to “your” contribution first or will they reduce the amount of aid the school offers?

      5. Explore sports teams or activities where you will spend considerable time. If you are accepting an athletic scholarship, make sure you like your future teammates and the overall feel of the program. If you intend to spend a considerable amount of time with any activity, you need to do the same. Check out the program, talk to involved students, ask a lot of questions, and view it with a critical eye. Is this the place for you?

      Campus visits are your chance to test drive colleges. Take time, ask questions, and try to get an overall feel for each school.

    • Are guidebooks, relatives, and rankings useful in choosing a school?

       

      All information can be helpful in choosing schools; just make sure you recognize the biases and limitations of your sources. Guidebooks are widely accepted as a useful tool in discovering colleges and gaining initial impressions about schools. Guidebooks can seem impartial, but remember that student quotes or impressions from a single visit can be subjective. In a ranking-crazy environment, it is hard not to hear about “best values” “top programs” “coolest campuses”, etc. Ranking are fine, even fun, as long as you understand they can easily be manipulated by the factors they evaluate and the formula used to determine final ranking. Finally, I don’t know if you could avoid input from your relatives. It seems like everyone wants to share their college experiences and suggestions with you. You may get some good information and you may have to smile, nod, and thank your relatives for their interest while you continue to pursue your own research. As long as you consult multiple sources and recognize that the best source of information is a college visit, guidebooks, ranking, and relatives can all be good resources.

    • Can the number of times you contact a college impact your chances?

       

      Your contact with a college or university is considered “demonstrated interest.” Some schools consider demonstrated interest as part of their admissions criteria while others don’t. The philosophy is that a student who has taken the time and effort to make contact with a school is more likely to accept an offer of admission and eventually enroll. At a school that tracks and considers demonstrated interest, your contacts wit the college can impact your chances of admission.

    • Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

       

      A college could favor a student with the ability to pay full tuition without the need for scholarships and financial aid. To some, this practice seems unfair. Why should one’s ability to pay play a role in admission? Keep in mind, not all schools look at a student’s finances during the admissions process. In fact, many colleges and universities have “need blind” admissions policies where admissions and financial aid are made separately. If you are worried that your ability to pay full tuition could impact your admission, find out if that school has a need blind admission policy.

    • Do prep school students have an automatic advantage?

       

      The fact that a student attends a prep school seems to indicate advantage, but these advantages are not guaranteed and non-prep school students can also share the same advantages. Prep schools often offer rigorous academic preparation with experienced and involved teachers in a small class setting. Students have access to guidance counselors who have time to help them with the college admissions process. Many, but not all, prep school students come from families with strong educational backgrounds and the means to pay for additional enrichment activities and tutors. All these factors are advantages, but they are not limited to prep school students.

    • Do rich kids have an automatic advantage in college admissions?

       

      It would be idealistic, but naïve for me to say no. Students who’ve grown up with money do have some advantages. They’ve probably attended good schools with recognized academic programs. (However, there is still a bottom 50% to every top school.) They’ve had the means to hire private tutors, test prep coaches, and private college consultants if needed. Parents probably didn’t limit their participation in extracurricular activities based on cost. (But they still are limited to 24 hours a day like every other student.) In researching colleges, they could afford to visit more campuses and apply without regard to financial aid. Money can buy advantages, but it doesn’t guarantee admission.

    • Do you need to have a prospective major, or is it okay to be undecided?

       

      The reality of college is that most students change their majors a couple times before finally graduating. This should tell you that no matter what boxes were checked on applications, most students were undecided. However, you will need to give each college an idea of what you will study, so they can ensure you will have a place in that program. Are you leaning towards science, liberal arts, engineering, fine arts, etc? At most colleges, you will be able to change majors with little trouble, but there are some universities and some programs that make change a challenge. If you are undecided, make sure your college list contains schools that will encourage you to explore different options and help you declare the right major once you have decided.

    • Early, rolling, regular: When should you apply?

       

      Applying early can have its advantages. It shows colleges and universities your desire to attend a particular school and submitting applications lifts a weighty burden for many seniors. Receiving an offer of admission before winter break is exciting and further reduces college-planning stress.

      However, there are times when applying early can be a bad thing. Some early options are binding. Students admitted under a binding program do not leave themselves options in case circumstances or interests change. Additionally, binding programs force a commitment before families have a chance to review financial aid offers, eliminating the chance to compare costs. Some students are just not prepared to apply early and submit weaker materials in their haste. You should understand all early options and their restrictions before applying.

    • How do you build a good relationship with your high school guidance counselor?

       

      I sat behind that desk at a large, public high school. Depending on your counselor’s case-load and personality, you may have an easier (or harder) time building a relationship. If possible, begin early. If you are introverted by nature, make an attempt to be more open and outgoing when you meet your. Make a point to say hi when you see him or her in the hall. By the time you begin junior year, let your counselor know your tentative college plans and what you are doing to prepare (course selection, activities, etc.) Stay in contact, so when it comes to application time senior year, you counselor already knows you.

    • How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

       

      The importance of athletics as a hook depends on your interests and each school’s needs. Do you want to pursue intercollegiate athletics on a Division I or II level? Continue competitive sports at a Division III school or participate in your sport but on a less demanding club level? Athletics is a more powerful hook if you intend to play on the school’s team (D I, II, or III), but you will need to match your talents with each school’s needs. You may be the best short stop in your state, but if your top-choice university already has more short stops than it needs, your hook won’t matter. Athletics can be the reason you are admitted, but you still need grades, classes, and scores and at least one school interested in your for your athletic ability.

    • What are some questions you should ask on an overnight stay?

       

      Yes, you should do some advanced planning for an overnight stay. Once you know what to bring, where to go, and when, start thinking of the questions you should ask your host and any other students you get to visit with. Here are some ideas:

      ? What does your typical week look like?

      ? How much time to you study each week?

      ? What has been the hardest part of adjusting to college life?

      ? How big was your largest class? What was it? How many large classes have you had?

      ? What has been your smallest class? How many students?

      ? How often do people skip class? What happens?

      ? How hard is it to get the classes you want? Do you have priority registration?

      ? Where else did you apply? (what other colleges?)

      ? What made you decide to come here?

      ? What would you change or improve about the school? Why?

      ? What do you like most? Why?

      ? What did you think you would like, but didn’t?

      ? Were there any surprises after you decided to enroll? What?

      ? Do people actually study abroad, get internships as freshmen, get to do hands on research, participate in service projects etc? (fill in any activity/ program of interest to you)

      ? What do people do for fun on the weekends?

      ? Do you think you are getting a good education?

      ? Do you have any advice for me as I’m applying to colleges?

    • What are some tips for college visits?

       

      Before I visit, I go online and schedule my trip through the admissions office and spend some time learning about the school. I like to have a picture of the university in my mind, so I know what to expect: size, location (urban, suburban, rural), top programs, unique features, cost, type of students, and overall feel.

      On the day of my visit, I try to arrive early and drive around. This lets me see where I need to check-in and I can begin making a mental map of the campus. At this time, I like to see the area surrounding the school. There are some schools that are gorgeous, but if you venture two blocks from campus, the surrounding neighborhood is questionable.

      I like to arrive ten minutes early for the information session, so I can begin looking over any materials and get ready to take notes. I write a lot during the information sessions because I know I won’t remember the details if I wait until the end of the day. Anything that seems to distinguish the university from other schools is worth jotting down. I also like to record all admission statistics—scores, requirements, deadlines, etc.

      I take a lot of pictures wherever I go. After a couple of college visits, universities begin to look the same. Taking pictures helps me remember. My first picture of every campus includes the name of the school, even if I have to snap a photo of a brochure or campus map. This helps if I’m visiting a number of schools on one trip because I can easily tell where one series of pictures ends and the next begins.

      As the tour concludes, I make sure I’ve had a chance to ask all my questions. What I do next varies. If I have an appointment to meet with an admissions officer, it is usually after the tour. This is when you may have an interview or appointment with a particular department. If I have any remaining questions, I ask before I leave the admissions office.

    • What are the benefits of taking AP exams in high school?

       

      There are a variety of benefits to taking AP exams in high school.

      1. You learn to prepare at a college level. AP exams are challenging and students who take them seriously will have spent months studying and practicing with college-level material. Some students report that their AP preparation was more rigorous than some freshman level college classes; obviously they were ready for the academic challenge.

      2. You get out of taking some required courses when you enter college. If you earn a qualifying score, usually a 4 or 5, you can earn college credit for that AP Exam. To this day, I am thankful for my AP Calculus credit. I was a liberal arts major and did not have to take any math classes in college because I earned a 5 on the AP Calculus test. This allowed me to take classes I found more interesting and relevant.

      3. You can save money. The cost of one AP Exam can seem high at the time, but if you earn a qualifying score, that test just saved you hundred or thousands of dollars. Some students enter college with enough AP credits to qualify as sophomores. If you have a full-year of college credit from you AP Exams, you have just saved 25% on the cost of your undergraduate education.

    • What exactly are US News and the College Board?

       

      U.S. News & World Report is a weekly news magazine. In 1983 US News first published an article entitled “Americas Best Colleges.” You probably know it as “THE” college rankings. It is a handy resource to see tons of college data all in one place, but don’t take the rankings too seriously.

      College Board is the corporation that brings you a majority of your college testing – the SAT, PSAT, Advanced Placement Exams, and much more. The College Board has expanded its website to include college search and practice SAT materials. When you take the SAT your junior year, you will register with College Board. As a senior, you will login to your College Board account to send your scores to all the colleges on your list.

    • What if you can't visit a school?

       

      There are many options to help you get a feel for a school before you apply. Frequently colleges will offer information sessions with admissions representatives in your area. If you have indicated an interested in a particular school, they will often invite you to these sessions which may be held at local hotels, restaurants, or meeting places. You can also find an event schedule on most admissions websites or you can always call the college’s admissions office and ask. An out-of-town information session may be enough for you to decide if that is a school worth keeping on your list. After an hour or two, you will either leave wanting to know more and ready to plan a visit. Or you will leave thankful that you only spent a few hours and a drive across town because it just wasn’t the school you thought it would be. Either way, these sessions can be a valuable part of your college research.

    • What kinds of obstacles do minorities face in higher education?

       

      Minorities face the same challenges in higher education that they face in other areas of life. There may be certain colleges where minority students feel excluded because there are few professors or fellow students who share their racial or ethnic background. Some students don’t mind being one of the few minority students in a class or university, but others feel out of place. Consider how important it is for you to have a large or diverse student population as you evaluate schools.

    • How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

       

      Most families use rankings to determine how “good” schools are.  So colleges and universities are under pressure to elevate their numbers, focusing on statistics, not students.  Selecting a college is—or should be—a personalized process accounting for a student’s unique interests, talents, and personality. College rankings do contain useful data such as graduation rates and average scores, but a complex set of statistics cannot capture the human elements that draw a student to his or her “best-fit” college.  To use rankings effectively as part of the college selection process, families should educate themselves about the factors evaluated and the ranking formulas used.

    • As a high school junior, what are the most important things for me to do before senior year?

       

      Extra time over the summer can help you get caught up on your college search or get a head start on applications, but it is essential for you to do three things your junior year:

      1. Take the SAT & ACT at least once. With application deadlines as early as October, students can no longer wait until senior year for admissions testing.

      2. Make the grade. The first thing colleges will see on your transcript is your junior year record. Earn the best grades possible.

      3. Get and stay involved. If your participation in the past was anemic, use your junior year to strengthen your involvement. Senior year will be too late.

    • We don't have time or money to visit some schools I’m really interested in. What can I do?

       

      While you are exploring colleges, do your research online—virtual tours, online forums, and social media all will help you check out each school’s vibe. But before you commit four years and many thousands of dollars to a school, you need to experience the campus and people in person.  Schedule visits to your top picks, taking advantage of discount travel website deals. Schools may help you economize with shuttles from the airport and meals in cafeterias. Many colleges will allow you to stay in a dorm overnight, and some even provide a transportation allowance for students with financial need…be sure to ask!

    • What are the most significant, avoidable mistakes students make in the admissions process?

       

      Pay attention and stay organized so you don’t fall into these traps:  1) Failing to research schools adequately. I’ve known students who arrived on campus to find the university doesn’t offer their desired major or doesn’t have a good campus life. 2) Missing deadlines, forgetting essential items, or failing to confirm receipt of all application elements. One senior who was admitted to an Ivy League school came to me frustrated because it was the only university that hadn’t offered him financial aid. The university told me why: He had never submitted any of the required paperwork. 3) Making sloppy errors. Misunderstood questions, poorly written essays, and typos all will undermine your application.

    • Tuition aside, what benefits and drawbacks exist by going to school in-state vs. out-of-state?

       

      There are exceptional schools in state or out of state, no matter where you live. What you consider a benefit or drawback of a locale depends on your personality and interests.

      • Staying closer to home can save you on travel, shipping costs, and other expenses.

      • Going further away may expose you to more diversity in race, economic status,

      cultural traditions, and scenery.

      • In-state means you can go home more often.

      • Out-of-state means you get to explore new places.

      • In-state means you’ll likely know other students (often your roommate) right away.

      • Out-of-state means you’ll make new friends.

      There is safety and security in-state, but moving out-of-state can be exciting and stimulating…the choice is yours.

    • How many colleges should I apply to? How many reaches? Safety schools?

       

      The number of schools a student applies to depends in part on the student, his or her interests, and the competitive nature of the schools to which he or she is going to apply. For the sake of practicality I usually recommend between 5-10. This allows students to get a good balance of schools and to find a good fit without going overboard. However, some students who are applying highly selective schools, the schools with very low admissions rates, may submit more applications.

      Here’s the balance I like to see: I like to see at least one school where the student is pretty much assured to get in and a school where they’re assured it will be affordable (this may be the same school or a different one). In other words, these are two types of back-up schools – academic and financial.

      I like to see a lot of schools in the mid-range. These are schools where admission is possible, but not guaranteed. They’re good fits. These are great schools that match up with the student’s academic abilities and personal strengths.

      I always like to throw in a couple of stretch schools. Those are sort of long shot or reach schools. It’s good to have a challenge, but you can’t have an entire list of hard-to-get-in schools, no matter how strong your qualifications.

      Occasionally, I will have students who apply to more than ten schools, but they have specific reasons for keeping each school on the list and I warn them in advance that the process can be exhausting and expensive.

    • What are the most important questions to ask a tour guide on a college visit?

       

      There are no specific questions. Instead, try to engage your guide in a conversation designed to answer your biggest question—Is this the right school for me? Think about academics. What was your favorite class? Least favorite? Why? How much interaction do you have with professors? Other students? Think about campus life. What do people do for fun? What is campus like on Friday night? How often do you go home? What is the political or religious climate of campus? How much drinking or drug use should you expect? Think about your priorities and ask questions that will help you determine if this school is right for you.

    • What should I make sure to do and see on a college visit aside from the tour?

       

      Begin by scheduling your visit through the admissions office. Often you will be given the opportunity to attend and information session and possibly presentations by particular departments or schools. Next, take time to see parts of campus not shown on the tour and the surrounding area. You may find a beautiful campus situated in a bad neighborhood. Take time to talk to people you meet – students, professors, and staff. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper and find out what issues have students talking. Finally, ask the admissions office to let you eat in the regular cafeteria, not the fancy food court and try to experience campus as you would as a freshman.

    • What types of students, faculty, and staff should I try and speak with while visiting a college?

       

      Try to speak with people who can confirm (or contradict) whether this college is right for you. Students – speak with students in your prospective majors, any students from your high school or hometown, and those involved in the sports or activities you would like to pursue. Faculty – speak with professors in your potential department. Find out what classes are like and what types of students succeed in their programs. Staff—speak with admissions staff, but for a more candid view of the school speak to some unexpected people—librarians, student center employees, even maintenance personnel. Ask about student life and what they think is best about the school. Be open to unscheduled encounters and you may be surprised what people will tell you.

    • Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

       

      Overnight stays, particularly those arranged through the college or university, can be your best tools in deciding if schools are right for you. To prepare, pack as you would for any overnight trip, but bring extra clothes to allow for comfortable, casual, and dressier attire. You may have a great host who exposes you to a variety of campus offerings or you could have a turkey who ditches you at some point to pursue his/her own agenda. Prepare for the “bad visit” by understanding that you may need to assert yourself, just as you will as an actual college student. You can learn more about a school in an overnight stay than you could in hours of reading or talking to students.

    • Should I try and network with admissions officers or professors during a college visit?

       

      The term “networking” can be a turn-off; it conjures images of sycophants working the room backslapping and handshaking. Instead, think about making connections with people you meet during your campus visits. Connections are valuable. Initial campus meeting provide additional information. Once you leave campus, professors and admissions officers serve as a point of connection answering questions and putting you in touch with others on campus. These relationships can help you make final college decisions and ease your transition to college. As you meet people and maintain connections, be genuine in your interactions and seek to connect. No one likes to be used and disingenuous interactions can backfire.

    • Can students apply to college online?

       

      I worked in public education for two decades, so I have a personal understanding of how the field of education tends to lag behind in technology, but we have fully entered the world of online college applications. Even in low-income areas, most students have access to computers and the Internet and prefer the speed and ease with which online applications can be submitted. Gone are the days of typewritten or handwritten paper applications. Most students can and should apply online.

    • Do colleges view online applications the same as paper applications?

       

      College will evaluate applications equally whether you apply using a paper application, an online common application, or a school specific online application. However, from an administrative perspective, colleges favor online applications because they require less time and effort to process. This is why you may receive offers from some schools willing to waive application fees if you apply online-only before a given date. Your choice of application format will not influence the admissions decision, but I think we will see fewer and fewer paper applications over the next few years.

    • What are the best ways to stay organized during the application process?

       

      The deadlines, high school forms, piles of shiny brochures, applications, application supplements, and scholarship opportunities can be a little overwhelming. The first way to stay organized during the process is to create and use a college-planning calendar. List application due dates, college visits, test dates, and school functions. Then create files to manage all the information. Create a file on your computer for essays, account passwords, resumes, and all application related document. You will also need some files for the mountains of paper. Recycle mail from any college you have removed from consideration and make a file for each school still on your list. Keep a file with copies of your test scores and transcript. When you know where everything belongs it is easier to manage the deadlines and details.

    • How can students get the best high school teacher recommendations?

       

      Students can affect the quality of their recommendation letters. Be thoughtful about whom you select: Ask teachers who can describe your academic abilities and personal characteristics. Ask early: Who wants to write letters over winter break to meet a January 1 deadline? Explain to teachers why you selected them and what you hope they will share in their letters: Ask for details that each teacher is uniquely able to present. Finally, don’t forget to follow up: Check to see if your teacher has any questions, and then deliver a hand-written thank you note when you know the letter has been sent.

    • How can planning increase a student's chance of getting great teacher recommendations?

       

      First, planning will allow you to make your request early and avoid the rush of last minute requests made weeks before the deadline. When teachers and counselors have time to think, write, and revise, they produce higher quality letters. Next, planning allows you to secure your first choice teachers. I’ve known plenty of teachers who have to turn students away because that teacher is overwhelmed with requests and wouldn’t be able to write another quality letter in time. Finally, with some strategic planning you will not only choose the right people, you will be able to tell them why their letter is important to your overall application and what you hoped they could discuss.

    • Can students speed up the recommendation letter process and still get great results?

       

      Can you do me a favor? And can you drop everything and do it now? This question implies you are working with a deadline and are already behind, something I advise all my students to avoid. Yes, you can speed up the process and obtain great results if you initiate the process early. If a teacher or counselor has already written a quality letter for you (maybe for a scholarship junior year), you may be able to get an updated letter in a matter of days. Make your request early to avoid the application deadline rush. Keep in mind you are asking your teachers and counselor for a favor. Most will be happy to oblige, but ask politely and respect the deadlines and timeline they give.

    • How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

       

      The importance of athletics as a hook depends on your interests and each school’s needs. You need to determine whether sports will be part of your collegiate experience and on what level. Do you want to pursue intercollegiate athletics on a Division I or II level? Continue competitive sports at a Division III school? Or participate in your sport but on a less demanding club or intermural level? Athletics is a more powerful hook if you intend to play on the school’s team (D I, II, or III), but you will need to match your talents with each school’s needs. You may be the best short stop in your state, but if your top-choice university already has more short stops than it needs, your hook won’t matter. Athletics can be the reason you are admitted, but you still need grades, classes, and scores and at least one school interested in your for your athletic ability.

    • What should prospective students know about intercollegiate sports?

       

      For many student-athletes, intercollegiate sports can help open doors for college admission. While it is exciting and flattering to be pursued by various colleges, prospective students should know that participating in intercollegiate sports is hard work. 1.) Your sport will take considerable time and effort. You’ve done this throughout high school, but in college your team may to dictate most of your schedule. Expect mandatory study halls in addition to practice and games. 2.) If you are a scholar-athlete, your scholarship will depend on your continued participation in that sport. Quitting your sport due to loss of interest or a career-ending injury may affect your ability to pay for school. Intercollegiate sports bring so many positives, but prospective students need to know the drawbacks as well.

    • How do prospective students get recruited for their sport?

       

      I know there are a lot of companies out there promising to get prospective students recruited with a personalized website, athletic resume, or highlight reel, but promotions don’t get you recruited; talent does. College coaches keep an eye on the rankings and begin to identify top performers as early as 9th or 10th grade. If they are interested in you, you will hear from them. (Understand the restrictions on coaches contacting you; download the NCAA Guide for Student Athletes.) If you are interested in a program, start by comparing their stats to yours. You can contact coaches and provide a resume and links to video highlights, but they will be looking for talent that matches the needs of their program. You may be the best pitcher in your region, but if the coach is looking for outfielders this year, that program may not recruit you.

    • Where should I start my college search if I want to major in the arts?

       

      If you want to major in the arts your first decision should be the type of school or program. Do you want a school exclusively devoted to performance and art education such as Juilliard or the Berklee School of Music? Would you prefer to study in the art, music, theater, or dance department in a more traditional university setting? Once you know the type of school you prefer, narrow down programs by degrees offered. Look at the requirements for a generalized liberal arts education with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree versus the more specialized and intensive Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) degrees. Of course, you should follow up this initial research by talking with students, professors, and professionals and making visits to the top colleges on your list.

    • How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

       

      The financial aid process works the same for prospective athletes as it does for all other prospective students; it is the scholarship process that differs. Prospective athletes, like prospective academic scholarship candidates, need to determine what each university is likely to offer. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Division I and II institutions may offer full or partial scholarships and the remaining balance is what a student may need additional financial aid to cover. Recent (2012) NCAA policies require university athletic departments to clearly explain scholarship amounts and duration. As with all money matters, families need to understand the process and ask a lot of questions before making a final decision.

    • When do student athletes need to begin the recruitment process?

       

      Recruitment begins with talent and it’s never too early to develop skill, strength, and discipline. As an underclassmen prospective athletes should become familiar with the recruiting rules for their sport by downloading a copy of the “NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete.” Students and parents should begin discussing the process with their high school and club coaches and looking at colleges that would be a good fit athletically. By junior year, students should be narrowing down options. Some students will have official campus visits or sign letters of intent as early as junior year and others may be forced by NCAA recruiting regulations to wait until senior year.

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

       

      As an educator with 18 years’ experience in test prep, I find it promising that you are thinking ahead to the PSAT and SAT!  That’s good news—no matter what approach you take, your effort will be the key to a strong test score.   Official College Board questions should be the foundation of any study plan; I like The Official SAT Study Guide and the online “SAT Question of the Day.” Then, supplement with a strategy guidebook from the library or bookstore.  And if you have the budget, ask around to get recommendations for effective prep classes or private tutoring.

    • How do I understand my financial aid package and which tips and tricks can maximize my aid?

       

      Stop looking for tips and tricks! Ask yourself a difficult question: Can I honestly afford this college? Make sure you really understand the details of the package you've been offered. Most financial aid offices are happy to explain their offers. Think carefully: Will you have money for food, books, and travel? If you can barely cover the cost now, what will happen when tuition goes up and your one-time scholarships are gone? What will your monthly student loan payment be on graduation? Don't financially overcommit yourself now - make sure you can actually afford your dream college.

    • How important are standardized test scores compared to other pieces of the application?

       

      Although more schools have joined the “test optional” movement, most colleges and universities continue to require standardized test scores, weighing scores equally along with grades, classes taken, activities, recommendations, essays, etc. Scores are only one piece of the application puzzle, but they are important—and in some situations, essential. Many state universities have automatic admissions standards that use a student’s class rank and scores to determine admission; in these cases, scores are 50% of the equation. Bottom line: Your standardized test scores should reflect your best effort, but don’t ignore the other elements of the application.

    • Standardized tests: Which ones? When? How many times?

       

      Your test plan will be unique to you, your strengths, and where you’re likely applying. Most students take the PLAN or PSAT in 10th-11th grade. All juniors should take the ACT and SAT at least once. These tests are different; one is not easier than the other. Once you determine which test format best matches your strengths, retake it to improve your scores. Because colleges and universities will use students’ best scores, most opt to take tests two or three times. In addition, students applying to some highly selective schools may be required to take SAT Subject Tests, and international students may need additional tests such as the TOEFL.

    • What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

       

      It’s essential to know the academic content beforehand! In the two decades I’ve taught SAT/ACT Prep, I’ve noticed a majority of students are lacking knowledge of the academic areas tested: algebra, geometry, basic math, reading comprehension, college-bound vocabulary, standard grammar and usage, and critical thinking skills. The more you can learn and retain in school, the easier it will be to take the SAT and ACT. If you’re solid on academic content, test prep courses will teach you effective strategies and techniques for test taking. Some students can study on their own using library books and practice tests, while others need more personalized attention and accountability. No matter what method you chose, set clear, achievable goals and stick to a study calendar.

    • How can a student figure out which standardized tests to take, when, and how many times?

       

      At a minimum, juniors should take the ACT and SAT once, but many students re-test multiple times to achieve their personal best scores. If you want to re-test, focus on whichever standardized test best highlights your academic strengths. You can retake both the SAT and ACT senior year, but pay attention to application deadlines—some fall test dates may be too late. Students applying to highly selective schools also may be required to take SAT Subject Tests, and international students may need additional tests such as the TOEFL. Specific details on which tests you need and when you need to complete them will depend on where you choose to apply. Check with each college and university to make sure you satisfy all testing requirements.

    • Is the SAT still as important as it used to be? If so, how?

       

      In the 20 years I have worked in the field of test prep, I’ve frequently heard speculation that the SAT is going away. For good or bad, the SAT is still an important part of the college admission process. There are more selective schools (as opposed to open-admission schools) joining the test-optional movement every year. But unless your entire college list is made up of these institutions, your scores still matter for general college admission, admission to honors programs, and scholarship applications. For most students, SAT scores are still important, so take some steps to maximize your scores.

    • What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

       

      The obvious advantage of test prep is improved scores, but other pros include increased comfort with test format and content, decreased test anxiety, and enhanced content-area knowledge. Test prep isn’t magic, though: It only works when students put in the time and effort. While some diligent students are dedicated enough to prepare on their own for a minimal cost (under $50), others need the instruction and accountability of a structured program. The more personalized and time-intensive the program, the more it will cost. Online classes can be found for a couple hundred dollars, and traditional classes typically cost $600-$1,000, while private tutoring can cost several thousand dollars. Don’t be fooled by “bargains”: Ask around for recommendations and seek out experienced SAT/ACT prep instructors.

    • What are great ways to manage time effectively while taking standardized tests?

       

      I teach my students that a steady test-taking pace is essential to standardized test success. Working too fast often results in careless errors. Extra points are not awarded for finishing first, so slow down so you don’t misread questions or make calculation mistakes. On the other hand, working too slowly can be detrimental. Even if you are getting every question correct, you may not complete enough questions to earn the score you want. Practice a number of timed test sections to determine the right question-answering speed for you. Finally, bring a watch or timer to the actual test to keep an eye on the clock.

    • Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

       

      In the SAT prep programs I’ve developed, I always advise: 1. Brush up on basic Algebra and Geometry skills. 2. Know that SAT math sections begin with easier questions, and they become progressively harder. 3. Unless you want to earn a score of 650+ in math, you can leave the last 10-20% of the questions blank. These are the hardest, most time-consuming problems. 4. Writing problems out will help you avoid careless errors. Don’t try to solve everything in your head! 5. Remember that harder questions may not require higher-level math concepts, but often these questions involve multiple steps and the ability to avoid calculation errors.

    • What is work study?

       

      Work study is a great deal for students. Work study may be offered as a part of the financial aid package from your college or university. Your school agrees to “pay” you an amount to be credited towards your tuition in exchange for you working on campus a set number of hours per week. Often the amount credited towards your college costs is more than you would have made getting an hourly job off campus. Another benefit of work study is that your job is on campus and follows the school schedule, so you don’t need to worry about asking for time off during holiday breaks. There are some fun and fascinating jobs available, but start looking as soon as you arrive on campus to have your choice of the best positions.

    • What is the FAFSA?

       

      The Free Application for Federal Student Aid—FAFSA—is a form you must complete each year you want to receive financial aid, and it’s the first step in the financial aid process. It determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on family size, income, savings, and other assets. Once the calculations are made, the results are sent to your schools, which determine if you qualify for financial aid. IMPORTANT: The FAFSA is a required element that does not consider special circumstances, so if you have changes in financial status or a unique situation, be sure to talk to your college’s financial aid office about them.

    • What are the best ways to pay off student loans?

       

      The best way to pay off a student loan is to not take one in the first place! This may seem unconventional, but it is always possible to find less expensive schools and/or work while in school to pay for college. If you already have (or have to get) loans, the best way to pay them off is quickly. Don’t just stick to the required loan pay-off schedule: You could be paying on that loan until you retire. Instead, make a budget, pay extra each month, and develop a plan to pay off your loans early.

    • What are the best ways for students to manage their college expenses?

       

      BUDGET!

      Plan how much you can spend and stick to it. There are many methods available for tracking your spending. Some people like to use only cash. If you plan $40 a week for fun money and your wallet is empty, you know you’ve hit your budget limit. There are a variety of programs and apps available to help you plan and record your expenses. One of the biggest budget challenges the first year is knowing how much to plan for each category. If you live on campus and have the meal plan your first year, most of your necessities are covered. You will need to plan for books/ supplies, travel, and fun. Some families don’t anticipate the level of social spending. Be realistic, but be flexible. Set an initial budget and be prepared to adjust it as you find out the real cost of college life.

    • How can students save money on textbooks?

       

      Your first visit to the college bookstore can be shocking. Fortunately, there are several options to help you save money. Start by asking around. Is there anyone who has the book who would loan it to you or sell it at a reduced rate? Most textbook buy-back options pay very little, so you can offer a bit more and you both get a deal. Another option is renting your books. Renting is less expensive than buying and is a good option if you won’t need to reference that text in the future. You can always look for used copies of books. Search online and compare prices to get the best deal.

    • Should students go to the best school they were accepted to, even if they will graduate with more debt?

       

      More Debt Can Make Your Dream School a Nightmare

      Nationally, student loan debt now dwarfs credit card debt. Countless news reports feature stories about graduates struggling to repay college loans, and these graduates agree that their dream educations turned into financial nightmares. I simply cannot advise students to borrow huge sums of money for their undergraduate education. Attending a prestigious university does not guarantee you a job—in today’s competitive market, you are more likely to find employment via your internships and networking efforts. Your “best” school should be a matter of fit rather than ranking, and it should be a school you can actually afford.

    • How can a student get accepted at Harvard, rejected from Brown, and waitlisted at Yale?

       

      Yes, it happens all the time! When I worked as a school counselor I would see the top students in every class “take turns” at who would get into what school. One would get into Harvard and some would be waitlisted. Two different students would be admitted to Yale and the Harvard admit wouldn’t. Then a completely different student would be admitted to Princeton when the other Ivy admits are denied. This goes to show you that at the highly competitive universities (Ivy League and Ivy-Like) all serious applicants are such outstanding students that the difference between admission, wait list, and rejection can come down to such miniscule factors that it is difficult to predict.

    • Can students appeal a rejection? Does that ever work?

       

      Yes, you can appeal and there are situations where it works. I wouldn’t advise you to appeal a rejection from a highly competitive college, a school that rejected a majority of its applicants. These schools are forced to make tough decisions and each year reject qualified students. My students have had most success appealing decisions from moderately competitive colleges. Last year I helped a student successfully appeal at a state university. After contacting the admissions counselor, he was encouraged to submit essays and letters of recommendation which were not required when he first applied. He also retook the ACT. When in doubt, call the admissions office and politely ask if there is anything you can do to appeal a rejection.

    • If rejected from my top choice, is it worth it to apply again after a year at a different school?

       

      Probably not. I don’t want to sound negative, but planning to sit in an academic holding pattern for a year waiting on the perfect school is a lot like spending every weekend at home pining for Mr. Right, waiting for him to dump his current girlfriend. You will waste a year building up a dream of your top school while the opportunities at your current college go ignored. And there is no guarantee the top school will take you the second time around. I’d encourage you to move on, select the next school on your list and make the most of it. Dive into academic and social opportunities on campus and begin to make friends. Accept the rejection and move on – a tough but great life lesson.

    • How can students get the most out of life in the dorms?

       

      Go in with an open mind and meet as many people as you can in the first month. Do not shut yourself away in your room talking or texting with high school friends or family members. If possible, leave your door propped open when you are studying or hanging out in your room to encourage people on your hall to drop in and say hi. If that doesn’t work, spend time each week hanging out in the lobby our lounge, any place people will pass through and start a conversation. Most dorms will sponsor social activities – Go! Even if the activity is a dud, you will benefit by meeting people and making new friends.

    • I was rejected from my top school and waitlisted at my second choice. How do I pick a backup?

       

      If you only had two acceptable options on your list, you received bad counseling advice. Spring is not the time to pick a backup school when you are reeling from rejection and disenchanted. Multiple backups should have been built into your college list last fall. Hopefully, you have some of these schools and you just need to choose from the list of colleges where you have been admitted. If you need to, make additional campus visits. You want to pick a school where you will be most successful, one where you are comfortable academically, socially, geographically, and financially can afford to attend.

    • How can students make the most of their second choice?

       

      The best way is to remain somewhat detached until you receive notification of admission. But that rarely happens. I know it is difficult to let go of a dream school, but when students fall head-over-heals from their top choice, they will suffer heartbreak when rejected. It’s disappointing. How would you advise a friend to move on and get over a boyfriend or girlfriend who dumped them? Looking at your second choice school isn’t all that different. You need to let go of the rejection and begin looking for the positive factors in this new opportunity.

    • What are some quick easy foods that college students can make?

       

      When I was in graduate school, my roommates and I were too busy and poor to keep perishables like milk or butter around, so we would mix the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese cheese packet with water—definitely an acquired taste. I also ate my share of ramen noodles, canned soup, Spaghetti O’s, and frozen burritos. Were I to go back to college now, I would opt for more fresh fruits, salads, and sandwiches. Bananas, apples, bread, peanut butter, baby carrots, yogurt, and other staples are easy to keep on hand. Overall, plan on sticking to meals that don’t require many ingredients or you’ll never make them!

    • What is the food like on college campuses across the country?

       

      Food varies by campus. Most colleges have a food court area where you can get pizza, burgers, salads, and foods from national fast food franchises. Most of your meal plan dining will be in the cafeteria. For breakfast expect a variety of cereals, eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, bagels, fruits, yogurt, and drinks. Lunches and diners offer more variety and you will usually have some choices. On a daily basis you may find a salad bar, sandwiches, and a few selections of hot entrées with at least one vegetarian option. Some food is consistently tasty while other schools may have passable food typical of your average cafeteria. Don’t expect gourmet dining and you should be able to find something to eat at each meal.

    • What exactly is a Resident Advisor?

       

      A Resident Advisor (RA) is usually an upperclassman or graduate student who lives in the dorm and serves as a mentor / guide for students living on that floor or wing. RAs resemble peers because they tend to be only a couple years ahead of you in school and tend to be very approachable. Students can approach their RAs with academic, social, or personal problems and receive confidential advice. But RAs serve in an official capacity too; they are there to provide some level of supervision and accountability in the dorms. Your RA isn’t there to spy on you, but will step in if he or she observes illegal activity or destruction of university property.

    • What makes a great college essay?

       

      A great college essays is uniquely YOU. It is well-written with college bound vocabulary and style, but easy to read and somewhat unassuming. Like great works of fiction, these essays clearly paint a picture in the reader’s mind. The main character (YOU) is developed with depth and detail. Great essays are memorable because they distinctively portray their subjects without relying on clichés or formulaic topics. They convey on paper a sense of who the writer is as a person. After reading a great essay, I feel as if I have just had an enlivening conversation with the person even though it was entirely on paper.

    • What are some tips regarding video essays?

       

      Video essays are very new in admissions. You may want to contact the admission office and ask about video essays if they do not have a policy clearly explained. Keep in mind your video should be as polished as an essay. Sound and video quality should be clear. Be yourself – not overly stiff, but not so relaxed that the video shows you in your old sweats speaking in slang. Video length, like that of an essay, should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting. Finally, have a trusted mentor, teacher, or counselor look over your video to make sure your message is clear.

    • Is it ok to have someone proofread your essay?

       

      I’ve heard it said that a camel is a horse created by committee; each part seems reasonable on its own, but taken as a whole it seems impractical. The same situation occurs when students get too much advice on their college essays. Getting one or two trusted people to proofread is worthwhile as long as they understand their role is to point out errors and make suggestions, not rewrite your essays into their own voice. You run the risk of receiving contradictory advice when you have more people proofread. Make sure the final essay sounds like you and is representative of your best work.

    • Is it okay for parents to help edit their child's college essay?

       

      More than any other element of the application, the essay gives insight into who a student really is. So it should “sound” like the applicant, revealing personality, interests, quirks, personal style, and voice. Some parents can act as a sounding board without taking over the project, while others cannot. It is okay for parents to suggest topics, point out unique experiences or strengths, and help proofread the final product, but parents want to make sure the essay showcases the ideas and voice of an educated teenager rather than that of a middle-aged adult.

    • What are the most popular extracurriculars?

       

      What are the most popular activities at your high school? Are they the same for all high schools in your area? Popular extracurriculars will vary by college. Some campuses are highly political, others are actively green, and others are into Greek life. Most college students belong to a couple extracurricular clubs or organizations, but usually not as many as they were part of in high school. Usually there will be some type of activity fair in the fall, so you can learn about different organization, what they do, and get to meet the members. This “show and tell” of clubs will help you determine what is most popular on your campus. You might try out half a dozen clubs, but eventually become a regular member of only a few.

    • Do employers look at extracurriculars?

       

      Employers will look at your resume. Does your resume include leadership positions in clubs and organizations either on campus or in your community? It should! Employers aren’t looking for a specific number of activities. Instead they want to see skills, talents, and habits that indicate your potential as an employee. You can acquire and heighten these skills through extracurricular activities. A word of warning – your potential employers may not think you position as captain of the campus beer-pong team shows leadership as much as it shows potential negatives. Use good judgment when including leisure based extracurriculars.

    • Will athletics take away from my academics?

       

      If you are a varsity athlete in high school and are planning on playing college sports, you already know the answer to this question. Any demanding activity requiring 20 or more hours per week of your time will take away from academics. This doesn’t mean your academics will suffer; it means you have to work harder, stay organized, and sacrifice sleep or other activities in order to get it all done. To encourage this, most college athletic teams have daily or weekly study hall times. Yes, you may struggle to keep up during competition season, especially if your sport involves a lot of travel and missed classes, but it can be done.

    • What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

       

      It can be frustrating to work at an unpaid internship, especially if your peers have managed to land lucrative summer positions in their fields. Unpaid internships may not help your bank account now, but they can be the key to landing your first job out of college. The first benefit to any internship is the ability to see the day-to-day workings of a business. My first college internship was in the Press and Publications Department at the National Gallery of Art. It sounded exciting and glamorous until I saw what really happened behind the scenes. Gaining real-world experience can help you decide whether a job or particular company is right for you. Another major benefit is the connections you will make. Everyone you meet can be a source of advice, a potential mentor, or a link to your first job once you graduate.

    • What are the best ways to land an internship?

       

      No matter which field of study you choose, an internship can be invaluable. You gain practical work experience in your chosen field and get a foot in the door of a company you may someday wish to work for. Here are some tips to land that internship. 1.) Begin with your college or university. Check with the placement office as well as your academic department. 2.) Research online. 3.) Be willing to go abroad. Some internships are open to international students with the proper qualifications. 4.) Treat your internship as you would a real job. Prepare yourself for your interview. Research the position and company and whether or not you are being paid for your internship, put your best foot forward.

    • How can students make the most of their college internships?

       

      Internships are your single best tool for getting a job offer upon graduation. However, too many college students waste this opportunity and hurt future employment chances instead. Treat your internship as a serious job. Some things should go without saying—arrive on time, dress in accordance with the office standard, work hard while you are there, and strive to make a good impression without sucking-up. Next, use the opportunity to make connections at your internship and in the field. Attend meeting for professional organizations and local networking groups. You will leave your internship with great experience, knowledge about the industry, and plenty of professional connections.

    • How important are internships for college students?

       

      Education is a must if you hope to have a high paying, steady and fulfilling career, but education isn’t enough to guarantee you a job after graduation. No matter which field of study you choose, your experience and connections are more likely to help you land that first job than the seal on your diploma is. For this reason, internships are invaluable. You gain insights into your field as you gain hands on experience. Potential employers and future colleagues can observe your aptitude, work ethic, and ability to fit into the culture of a particular workplace. For you and your potential employers, an internship is like an extended test-drives; it lets you know if a position would be a good fit.

    • Are there things a student should never say during a college interview?

       

      Whether interviewing with a university’s employee or an alumni, remember that they love their school! Nothing sinks an interview faster than a lack of interest. “I’m applying here as a backup” or “because my dad made me” indicates you are unlikely to attend, even if admitted. Lack of interest also shows if you ask questions that easily would have been answered by looking at the school’s website before your interview. Finally, “Do I really need to study?” and “Yeah, I’ve got an easy senior schedule,” are comments that speak volumes about your lack of interest in higher education overall.

    • How many schools should I apply to?

       

      While there is no right or wrong number, I recommend students apply to 6-10 schools. Fewer than six and you probably don’t have enough variety. You need one academic and one financial backup school just in case. The rest of your choices should provide o an array of choices. If you are applying to highly-selective colleges, you may want more schools on your list due to the competitive nature of these schools where each year top students are rejected. I’ve worked with a few students who applied to 12-15 schools and with all the applications, essays, and supplements they were exhausted. If you apply to more than 10 have a clear justification and be ready to work.

    • Is early decision important for international students?

       

      Early decision (or early action) has benefits and drawbacks for all students. Showing interest in a school by applying early can help, but making a binding decision before you hear from other schools or receive financial aid and scholarship notifications can be risky. International students can benefit from the increased admission rates seen with early decision. Especially if your school calendar does not match with the university admission process in the US, applying early can give you an advantage and make it easier to send other applications later if needed. If you will not need financial assistance or scholarships, I’d encourage you to apply early to your top school. If money will be an issue, avoid binding early decision options as an international student.

    • TOEFL or IELTS, which test is better for college admissions?

       

      Most of my international students have graduated from American high schools and are exempt from the TOEFL / IELTS requirement, so my experience with this is limited to a few cases over the years. The TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) both evaluate listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The TOEFL is designed to assess an applicant’s ability to understand and use the English language at a college level and the IELTS measures how the level of English skill from non-user to expert. Many universities will accept either test, so use the free practice materials available for each test and consider taking both tests to see which one is best for you.

    • How can parents help students with the college search and application process?

       

      Parents should emphasize academic achievement and extracurricular involvement starting when their children are in elementary school. Offering encouragement and guidance throughout the school years will help ensure students take challenging classes, earn the best grades possible, seek out extra help in academic problem areas, and participate in meaningful extracurriculars. From freshman year on, parents can encourage students to explore college, make college visits, and compare top choices. When the real application process starts, though, it’s important that parents step back, offering advice and encouragement but allowing the student to do the work.

    • What should students consider before making the decision to transfer?

       

      No college is perfect. Be careful not to idolize your new school and demonize your current one. You don’t have to hate a school to leave and your new school will never live-up. Even with solid reasons and reasonable expectations, transferring is harder than just doing the application. I speak from experience having transfered to Rice my junior year. It is hard to learn a new place with new people, traditions, requirements, and standards. It is difficult to leave friends and mentors from your old school. Transferring is a bit like getting a divorce – you wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but in some cases it is the best option. It just isn’t quick or easy.

    • What are some tips for transfer students with regards to the application?

       

      Take your transfer application seriously. When I transferred from George Washington to Rice University, the acceptance rate for transfers was less than half that of regular applicants. Do not assume a few years of solid grades at an established university will open all doors. Spend time on your application and do it well. Try to articulate why you want to transfer without whining or complaining. Even if you are miserable at your current school, focus on the positives. Admissions officers understand if a school isn’t the right fit; they want to hear from you why there school will be a better fit.

    • What, if any, are some red flags for transfer students?

       

      Red flags to warn you, the student? Watch for colleges where it will be difficult for you to fit into the social scene. Make sure you won’t lose a significant number of classes when transferring. Remember that no college is perfect and be cautious that you don’t idealize the new school because you will soon find it has flaws too.

      Red flags in your record that might make transfer difficult? Multiple transfers without solid reason are a sign you don’t know what you want and won’t be satisfied wherever you go next. Low grades or lots of withdrawals. Prolonged periods out of school with no explanation can lead admissions officers to jump to worst-case scenarios in their imagination.

    • What are the best ways for students to make sure all their credits transfer?

       

      If transferring is your plan from day one, you can take steps to insure your credits will transfer. Meet with an academic advisor and check the requirements of the school from which you eventually want to graduate. I live in Texas and here there is a list of credits that are guaranteed to transfer from community colleges and satisfy core requirements at state universities. However, a lot of students don’t plan to transfer. I left George Washington for Rice University at the end of my sophomore year. I was one of the fortunate transfer students that year; I only lost three credit hours. Some of my peers lost entire semesters. Transfer credit isn’t guaranteed, so seek academic advising and keep every course syllabus, so you can justify why credit should be awarded.

    • What are colleges looking for when admitting a transfer student?

       

      Essentially colleges are looking for the same things they look for when admitting first time freshman. Even if you are transferring between your sophomore and junior years, expect colleges to ask for all of your high school credentials—SAT / ACT scores, transcripts, etc. Colleges want to know if you are academically able to do the work. They will want to see your college grades and will evaluate the degree of difficulty both in your course selection and in where you earned the credits. Be prepared to put as much or more time and effort into your application as you would have in high school.

    • What do students need to know about transferring?

       

      Transferring is like applying to college all over again, and it can be more competitive! Transfer students face challenges: making new friends, learning about campus, and losing academic credits or adding semesters. However, if you are 100% sure you are transferring for valid reasons and know the new school is the right fit, transferring can be worth it. George Washington was a good school and I had made friends there, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. I applied to transfer to Rice University after my sophomore year—it was a much better fit for me, I only lost three credit hours, and I graduated on time.

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