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Mom’s Famous Spaghetti

Aug 17, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

It seems like to get into college these days students have to be involved in nearly everything: sports, debate team, internships, nonprofit volunteering, honor societies, part time jobs…the list of potential activities goes on. But how do you describe yourself adequately without breaking the cardinal rule of the college essay: Do Not Regurgitate Your Resume? Here’s a little metaphor to help break it down.

Imagine that all the different pieces of you are embodied in ingredients to your favorite meal. Your volunteering is the pasta, your creativity is the tomato, your leadership is the salt, that time you lost the championship game is the garlic…and so on. Now imagine that your college essay is the recipe and it has to tell the admissions officer, the cook, how to make your Mom’s famous spaghetti.

To make her sauce it is important to have the right proportions: how many tomatoes, how much salt and how much garlic? A list of ingredients is nothing without the amounts and neither is your application. Did you spend a year on a research project? Have you volunteered since you were in elementary school? Look to the length of your involvement for signs of character growth, project manifestation, and endurance.

Once you put the ingredients in the pot, you have to heat them up. You have to stir it to just the right temperature so that the scent fills the air around you. The circumstances of your involvement are important too. Did you finish the race despite all odds? Did you try something new? How did it change you? In what way did you interact with your environment to accomplish something?

Then there’s the secret ingredient, the one that Mom’s grandmother’s grandmother whispered in her ear years ago. It’s the ingredient that lets the sauce linger on your taste buds just a second longer so you can savor the taste. In your essay, it’s what creates the perfect picture of you. For me, it was sharing my biggest hopes and dreams, for you it might be describing the way your hands shook when you held the trophy, or the feeling of your first paycheck. It is something unchangeable, something only cultivated by a true connection between the reader and the writer.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision?

Aug 10, 2015

by Emily Rabinowitz

There are three common options for submitting your application to college. Early decision is a binding agreement stating that if you are accepted you will attend that school regardless of the cost or which program you are accepted to. Early action is simply submitting you application early and receiving your decision earlier. Regular decision is when you submit your application on the normal deadline and hear back in the spring.

There’s a lot of debate over which type of decision process is easier to get into. Generally, the caveat with Early Decision is that you are in a smaller pool of applicants, all of whom are as attached to that school as you are. This might mean that the acceptance rate is lower in fact for early decision applications. However, some people argue that applying early decision shows a school you are dedicated. That was the argument my parents used. It was an alluring one, you could know your college by Winter Break.

If you’re like me though, the thought of committing to a school without knowing all of your options terrifies you. That’s okay. There are many reasons why you might be wary of early decision even if your parents are ready to jump the gun.

Both of my parents went to their safety school; they did not have the option of a dream school. They wanted me to have every possible chance of acceptance at the best school. What I had to help them understand was that I did not know which school was my dream school. I applied to 12 schools, many of them reach schools that all had stellar reputations. The idea of turning down one school for another without even knowing the financial aid, honors, or other options I might have, did not make sense to me.

Eventually I convinced my parents that there was not a significant enough advantage to early decision to make committing worth it for me. I told them I wanted to see all of my financial aid options, compare career programs, and look into the fine details of where I was going to be for the next four years. Now that I am committed to my school, I can honestly say I do not regret doing regular decision. In fact, filling out the dozen applications helped me see which schools I liked better, and the long wait illuminated which school I was desperate to know about. In the end, by the time I got my acceptance to NYU, I had already decided I would go there in the fall.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Strategy for Picking a Major

Jul 30, 2015

by Erica Lewis

Picking a college is hard enough on its own, but deciding what to major in can be even more challenging. Your major helps you find your future career, which is daunting, but don’t worry too much. Many students will end up changing their mind on what major to pursue at one point or another. The back and forth decision beings it’s in high school while trying to decide what school to go to and even carries into a student’s college career.

When picking a major, I would suggest thinking about what areas interest you. I was the type that always enjoyed math and science classes throughout all my years of school. This led me to look down the career path of engineering. Throughout high school, I was always looking at what schools were good for engineering, and there are many options out there. However, I ended up choosing Food Science and Technology because I found out that it was a better fit for me.

If you still feel confused about what major you want to choose or even if you have a major but don’t know what career path you want to follow, don’t worry. Go talk to your academic advisor or career services. Those people are there to help you make the right decision for your interests.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The Many Benefits of Honors Programs

Jul 13, 2015

by Erica Lewis

There are many opportunities that come from being a good student in high school...and I don't just mean scholarships. Many colleges have honors programs, which give students the chance to meet other high-achieving students and challenge themselves even more academically. There are many advantages to being in an honors program, such as opportunities to meet with professors one-on-one, take classes with other honors students and build your resume.

Honors program members have the chance to get to know their professors more personally and meet faculty that many students may not have to opportunity to meet. I'm in the honors program at UNL and I enjoy getting to know my professors more than just seeing them at the front of the room during lectures.

You may also be eligible for priority registration or special classes offered only to honors program students. These classes are specifically designed for honors students and are smaller in size compared to the typical class. You can get to know your professor and classmates really well in this setting. In fact, I have met some of my best friends have through the honors courses at UNL!

Being in an honors program is a great resume builder as well. Once you start college, your high school resume is essentially null and void so you pretty much have to start over. An honors program looks good on a resume because it shows that you have put in extra effort for those classes and aren't afraid of a challenge.

If you have the opportunity to join the honors program at your school, I strongly recommend it. It is an excellent way to meet professors, students and build your resume. It may require a little extra work, but trust me: It's worth it!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Hundreds of Colleges Still Accepting Applications

May 26, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

High school seniors, are you down about not getting a fat envelope from any of the colleges you applied to? College students, are you looking to transfer from your existing institution? Don't freak out: There are hundreds of colleges that are still accepting applications.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling's (NACAC) annual College Openings Update, hundreds of schools are still accepting applications for freshmen and transfers as of May 26th. The list is comprised of schools that didn't fill all open spots for next year's freshman class, are seeking transfer students or have enrollment deposit deadlines later than the May 1st norm. While the majority of schools on the list are small, private colleges with enrollment between 1,000 and 5,000 students, there are a few large, public institutions on the list, too. Check out a sampling below:

For the full list of colleges still accepting applications, click here. Will you be taking advantage of this helpful resource?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Is Harvard Biased Against Asian American Applicants?

Complaint Alleges University Sets Higher Bar to Limit Asian Enrollment

May 19, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top universities in the country is undoubtedly unnerving given the quality of the applicants and the impossibly low acceptance rates. But what if because you were an Asian-American student seeking admission, you were held to an even higher standard? Well, that is what a coalition of 64 organizations is claiming.

According to the compliant, which was filed with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, Harvard University set quotas to keep the numbers of Asian-American students significantly lower than the quality of their application merits. It cites third-party academic research on the SAT exam showing that Asian-Americans have to score on average about 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanic students and 450 points higher than African-American students to equal their chances of gaining admission. "Many studies have indicated that Harvard University has been engaged in systemic and continuous discrimination against Asian-Americans during its very subjective 'holistic' college admissions process," the complaint alleges. The coalition is seeking a federal investigation and is requesting Harvard “immediately cease and desist from using stereotypes, racial biases and other discriminatory means in evaluating Asian-American applicants.” (For updates on this story, check out the Wall Street Journal.)

What are your thoughts on Harvard’s admission process? Share your opinions in the comments section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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What to Consider Before Opting Out of Standardized Tests

May 1, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Standardized testing is as much – if not more – a part of the college process as tweeting your acceptance, Snapchatting your new roomies and buying a shower caddy...or at least it used to be: According to reports, there is a growing trend toward test-optional admissions. What does that mean? If a student decided to apply to a test-optional institution, they can choose whether or not to submit ACT/SAT scores as part of their application. Thinking about signing up? Don’t shred your test prep materials into confetti just yet; here are some things to consider, courtesy of Time Magazine:

  • Your academic record: When admissions counselors evaluates a test-optional application, they pay particular attention to grades and the difficulty of the completed curriculum. Students who excel in AP, dual-enrollment, honors and IB courses – and who have the high marks to prove it – may find that test-optional admissions is particularly well suited to them.
  • Your exam history: If your exam results do not reflect your marks on most other academic tasks, test-optional admissions may be right for you.
  • Your prospective schools: Consider the colleges and universities to which you plan on applying. How many of these schools offer test-optional admissions? If even one school requires a standardized exam, it may be worth submitting your scores to every prospective college on your list.
  • Your financial aid prospects: Some academic institutions and outside organizations require ACT/SAT results as part of their decision-making process. Before you commit yourself to test-optional admissions, research the criteria for any grants or scholarships that appeal to you. If test-optional admissions will limit any needed financial aid, it may be best to follow a more traditional admissions path.

Do you think the test-optional admissions practice is the way of the future? What do you think is a better barometer of qualified applicants: test scores or essays? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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New York Teen Accepted to all Eight Ivy League Schools

Apr 6, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and chronic 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...but what would the proper celebration be when you've been accepted to not one but all eight Ivy League schools? Ask Harold Ekeh.

Ekeh has hit the admissions jackpot, receiving acceptance letters from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. This outcome, however, wasn’t just luck, for Ekeh is quite the accomplished and well-rounded student: The Elmont Memorial High School senior founded a college mentoring program, was names a 2015 Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, directs a youth choir at his church, plays the drums, is part of Key Club and Model UN and was elected to the homecoming court. And although he’s yet to make a definitive decision as to where he will enroll this fall, there seems to be a frontrunner. "I am leaning toward Yale. I competed at Yale for Model UN, and I like the passion people at Yale had,” he said. Ekeh will spend the coming weeks visiting all the schools before making his final decision. (For more on his story, head over to New York Post.)

Share your thoughts on Harold Ekeh's story in the comments section and be sure to let us know where you're headed this fall. And for information on the Ivies or countless other universities, use our College Search tool today! And don't forget to try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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This Year’s Quirkiest College Admissions Essay Prompts

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

Mar 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I'm sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you are would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected celebrating your nerdy side could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested in knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

Tufts University

Celebrate your nerdy side.

University of Chicago

What's so odd about odd numbers?

Lehigh University

You’ve just reached your one millionth hit on your YouTube video. What is the video about?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech.

University of Notre Dame

A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.

University of Richmond

Tell us about spiders.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about applying for college and the application essay, check out our College Prep section. While you're there, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

Comments (33)

Graduate School to Ask Applicants’ Sexual Identity

Oct 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Graduate School at Northwestern University will join Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a handful of law schools as it begins asking applicants about their sexual orientation.

According to The Graduate School, this question has been added to its application to gain a clearer understanding of the school's community and to better serve all in the school. “It's important for us, but also for others to move in this direction, as well," said school dean Dwight McBride in a statement. "If we don't ask the question, we are not building a data archive and, therefore, have no way of knowing what the needs of our populations and subpopulations in our communities are – beyond guessing and anecdote." It's important to note that answering the question will be optional and will specifically ask whether applicants self-identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. (Northwestern University does not pose the question on its undergraduate application.) For now, school spokeswoman Josie Whetstone said LGBTQ groups on campus have greeted the news without criticism, most likely because it’s an optional inquiry. (For more of this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on more universities asking students about their sexual identity? Do you think it's necessary or beneficial to the LGBTQ community? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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