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Ready. Set. Apply!

Common App Now Live, Students Already Registering for Accounts

August 3, 2012

Ready. Set. Apply!

by Alexis Mattera

Sure, most high schools won’t be back in session for another month but some rising seniors aren’t wasting any time getting back into the academic swing of things: As of Tuesday evening, admissions season officially began with the launch of this year’s Common Application. According to the not-for-profit’s website, 300 individuals registered for Common Application accounts within the initial 30 minutes they were available this admissions cycle, with the first one coming in less than 60 seconds after the launch!

So should you use the Common Application? Seeing as though some of the most selective schools in the country (think UChicago and Columbia) have adopted it, we think it’s definitely worth it if you are applying to more than one school. The online system makes it very easy to complete and submit applications to multiple schools but some colleges and programs do require Common Appers to complete supplemental questions to gauge applicants’ knowledge of and interest in that specific school; these are NOT optional and neglecting to submit supplements means your application will be viewed as incomplete and will not be considered for admission.

Ready to get the application process started? Register for your own Common Application account today!


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Attending College Versus Going Pro: A Tough Decision Facing Successful Student-Athletes

by Alexis Mattera

An Olympic gold medal is the ultimate goal for many athletes but when you’ve managed to achieve this feat before even turning 18, what do you set as your next accomplishment? There are usually two options – attend college and perfect your craft or go pro and rack up endorsement deals – but figuring out the "right" choice is becoming more difficult for many up-and-coming student-athletes.

A perfect example is Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom who scored five medals at the London Olympics. She has made it clear that she wants to swim in college but if she does so, she will not be able to take advantage of the potentially millions of dollars in endorsements her Olympic success has afforded her. (The NCAA strictly prohibits athletes from accepting sponsorship and advertising money if they want to maintain their eligibility, though many athletes have petitioned this rule).

A recent article in The Atlantic details that going pro makes more sense for athletes in certain sports – for example, since the level of competition in collegiate gymnastics is lower, gold medalist Gabby Douglas didn’t hesitate to give up her amateur status...and sign a deal with Kellogg’s – but for Franklin, attending college would give her not only a chance to improve upon her already impressive swimming skills but earn a degree and have somewhat of a normal life after her time in the Olympic spotlight. Her choice? She hasn't announced it yet but it's her decision to make. "If Missy Franklin wants to go to school, bravo for her, and nobody who doesn't live inside her heart and mind should criticize it," said sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who has worked with athletes ranging from Olympians Brian Boitano and Kerri Strug to pros Troy Aikman and Steve Young.

What path do you think Franklin will follow? If you shared her situation, what would your choice be and why?


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College to Offer Course Credit to Gap Year Takers

by Alexis Mattera

Though taking a gap year has yet to win mass societal approval, it is getting a pretty big endorsement from one NYC school: Admitted students who opt to take time off between high school and college will now earn a full year of academic credit.

Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts and Global Citizen Year have partnered to offer incoming students who have been admitted to both programs the opportunity to earn 30 college credits as they support development projects in other countries. Participating students will spend their seven-month "bridge year" living with local families and bettering their host communities by teaching English and working as peer mentors; instead of being one year behind students who started traditional classes the previous fall, they’ll enter Lang as full-fledged sophomores. "There are a lot of worthy learning experiences in life but we don’t give academic credit for them," said Stephanie Browner, the Lang dean overseeing participating students. "I think this is the right way to launch yourself into college."

Lang is the first school to join forces with Global Citizen Year but founder Abby Falik is eagerly anticipating the impact her program will have on college campuses across the country. Would you take advantage of this opportunity at your school? Why or why not?


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The Common App Announces Big Changes

by Alexis Mattera

Show of hands, people: Who has ever applied to college or is considering applying to college by using the Common Application? As the list of schools accepting this document grows (there are currently 488 members), so will the number of college hopefuls opting to use it. It’s incredibly convenient for students looking to apply to multiple schools but future applicants should know that big changes are afoot for the next admissions cycle.

According to representatives from the Common Application, changes – which will take effect on August 1, 2013 – include web-only submission and the removal of the popular "topic of your choice" essay option. Rules regarding the essays will also become more rigid: Students will be required to write at least 250 words but those who exceed the 500-word maximum will face an error message. Lastly, the ability to upload resumes will be eliminated unless specifically requested by a particular college.

What do you think of the Common App’s new approach? Will you welcome the changes or will they deter you from using this application method altogether?


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High School Seniors – This Scholarship of the Week is for You

Deadline for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Four-Year Award for Seniors is Approaching

September 24, 2012

High School Seniors – This Scholarship of the Week is for You

by Alexis Mattera

Are you a high school senior who is committed to giving back in unselfish ways, embodies service over self and is already making a difference in society? If so, add this Scholarship of the Week from Coca-Cola to your application list.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to 250 high school seniors each year. Fifty of these are four-year, $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year for four years), while 200 are designated as four-year, $10,000 awards ($2,500 per year for four years). The scholarships must be used at an accredited U.S. college or university and the deadline for this year’s contest is October 31st.

Winners are selected based on a balanced consideration of leadership, character, achievement and commitment both inside and outside of the classroom. Coca-Cola Scholars are characterized by their ability, perseverance, determination and motivation to serve and succeed in all endeavors; they are a diverse group of individuals representing every ethnic group and all 50 states. To find out if you qualify, visit the official scholarship website here or find the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Four-Year Award for Seniors in your Scholarships.com scholarship matches. Don’t have a Scholarships.com account? Create one and conduct a free scholarship search today!


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by Suada Kolovic

Today's high school students have to face some serious obstacles when applying to college. With ballooning numbers of applications and fierce competition, educators and college counselors have long sung the praises of AP courses to stand out but for those students looking for an even bigger leg up on the competition, some high schools are allowing students to skip lunch in order to take additional classes.

According to several news reports, there are currently a handful of districts across the country are allowing students (with parental consent, of course) to forgo lunch to take another class. Translation: Participating students would typically have nine 42-minute periods without a break. Students in favor of skipping lunch say that the extra time allows them to pursue subjects they are passionate about – think: art or music – that they may not otherwise be able to fit in their schedules. But not everyone agrees with the option: School Nutrition Association spokeswoman Diane Pratt-Heavner insisted that students who don’t sit down to eat a healthy midday meal will not have the attention span and level of detail they need to succeed in school. "Wolfing down a meal between classes is not promoting a healthy lifestyle," she added. (For more on this story, click here.)

If this was an option at your school, would you opt out of lunch to fit in an extra class? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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Penn Admissions Officer Fired After Mocking Applicants on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for an edge in the college admissions process? Sure...who isn’t? If you’re considering applying to some of the most competitive colleges in the country, you’ll need to find some way to distinguish yourself from the thousands of other hopefuls vying for a spot. Adding details of perseverance and overcoming adversity to your essay is a great place to start but be wary about what personal anecdotes you decide to share because you never know where your private story will end up: An admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania was fired after she posted and openly ridiculed excerpts of students’ application essays on her Facebook page. Not cool.

Penn officials were made aware of the series of online posts written by Nadirah Farah Foley through a collection of Facebook screenshots anonymously sent to the dean of admissions. According to The Daily Pennsylvania, Foley included quotations from essays as well as disdainful remarks. In one excerpt, she quoted an essay in which an applicant had described the experience of overcoming his fear of using the bathroom outdoors while camping in the wilderness. “Another gem,” Foley wrote on the student’s topic choice. And although she is no longer working for the university, neither she nor her supervisors have officially confirmed that the postings were the reason for her departure. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think Foley breached Penn’s privacy policy even though she didn’t mention any students by name? What would you do if your essay was one of those Foley mocked? Let us know in the comments section.


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Standardized Test Myths Debunked

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to preparing for standardized tests, everyone seems to have an opinion. Whether it’s the “when in doubt, choose C” mantra or that SAT/ACT prep courses are the only way to guarantee a high score, it’s important to note that while test tips are well-intentioned, they don’t necessarily translate into good or even practical advice. But don’t fret, the U.S. News & World Report has debunked seven popular standardized test myths to get you through the stressful process. Here are a few of our favorites:

Myth 1: Taking both tests will double your chances of doing well.

If you are remarkably better at one test, it should become evident pretty quickly after some practice. If it doesn't, then you are probably like most kids and will do equally well on either. Pick the test you feel more comfortable with and put your efforts into that test.

Myth 2: The ACT is an easier test than the SAT.

The ACT is a different test, not better or easier. In fact, most kids will get similar scores on both. Note though that most doesn't mean everyone—and might not mean you.

Myth 3: The SAT is more coachable than the ACT.

Familiarize yourself with both. Take a practice test of each. Then, compare not just your scores but also your relative strengths and weaknesses on each test. Which areas of weakness are likely to be the easiest for you to improve?

Myth 4: You should take the SAT or ACT as often as you can.

Unless you plan to start on the varsity SAT team, you are probably better served by taking the SAT and ACT only a couple of times.

For the entire list of debunked myths, click here.


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Fastest Growing Jobs for College Grads

by Suada Kolovic

Today is National Decision Day for college applicants and while determining where you’ll be headed in the fall is huge, knowing what you’ll be studying once you get there is just as imperative. With the economy the way it is, pursuing a growing job field would be ideal. With that in mind, check out some of the fastest growing jobs in America below:

Would you consider pursing any of the positions listed above? Will the current labor market impact your decision on what you’ll major in? Let us know in the comments section.


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Oops! Dozens of Vassar College Applicants Given Fake Acceptance Letters

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and stomach pains, it all seems worth it when you read those magical words, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted.” Most would celebrate such an occasion with screams of triumph, followed by an immediate Facebook update or witty tweet sharing their enthusiasm...until that same school you were sure you’d call your alma mater informs you that there’s been a terrible mistake and that you have, in fact, been rejected. Is this a nightmare? Nope – it was an unfortunate reality for dozens of Vassar applicants.

Roughly two hours after 76 Vassar College early admission applicants learned they had been accepted to the prestigious liberal arts school, they received emails stating that they were actually rejected. The school president, Catharine Hill, said in a statement, "We understand how very upsetting this is for those students who viewed the inaccurate decisions that we posted online, and we are very sorry to have added to the overall stress of the college admissions process for these students and their families." The school says that though it will refund application fees and is reaching out to each individual family impacted by the error, the admissions decisions are final. Ouch.

Do you think Vassar should grant admission to those affected by the technological gaffe or would it be unfair to the rest of the student population? Let us know what you think.


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