• Start researching colleges and universities. Go to college fairs and open houses. Learn as much as you can about colleges online.
  • Begin planning college visits. Try to visit colleges near you over spring break. Include a large, medium size, and small campus.
  • Request recommendation letters from the counsleor and teachers.

Spring to-do’s

Juniors, here are tips on what to do as you embark on your college admissions journey.


  • Develop a preliminary list of colleges that interest you. Go online to request additional information.
  • Take a look at some college applications. Make note of all the pieces of information you will need to compile. Make a list of teachers, counselors, employers, and other adults who could write letters of recommendation.
  • Consider lining up a summer job or internship.

 

 

This Earth Day, we bring you an overview of environmentally-related college offerings. 

 

If you are interested in the environment, many schools have environmental science or environmental studies majors/minors. What is the difference between these two fields? Environmental science is often focused on preserving nature and Earth’s resources, whereas environmental studies looks at the interactions between environment, policy, economics, etc. The courses you can take to fulfill the environmental studies requirements are often interdisciplinary, which helps to build your critical thinking skills. For example, Hobart and William Smith College offers many cool courses in environmental studies, like Intro to Environmental Law and Environmental Change in the Indigenous World.

 

In addition, many colleges have Eco Reps, who promote sustainability through projects and community programs. Tufts University’s Eco Reps sponsor programs like a widespread Zero Waste Week Challenge, during which students are encouraged to carry around all of the garbage they produce in a bag, in order to dissuade waste production. The Tufts Eco Reps also put out an Eat Local Sustainability Guide, to promote nearby restaurants that buy their produce locally.

 

Furthermore, some schools have green living spaces in which students can choose to live. Dickinson College has “The Treehouse,” in which sustainability-minded students may choose to live. The Treehouse takes food from the dining hall that would otherwise be thrown away, and all of their extra foodstuffs go into the compost. In addition, while the house has a washer, they hang-dry all of their clothing to save energy. 

 

If you are interested in the environment, check out your prospective schools’ websites, and see if you are interested in their related majors, clubs, housing, etc. 

 

 

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month and 4/20, we are dedicating this blog to campus party culture. Whether you would like a school with a vibrant partying culture, or one with no big parties at all, there is definitely a school out there for you. No matter what list you consult, some of the biggest partying schools include the University of Wisconsin, Tulane University, University of Alabama, Syracuse University, and University of West Virginia. On the flip side, Fordham College, Pepperdine University, West Point, and Brigham Young University are generally recognized as some of the colleges with minimal to no partying. 

 

In addition, each school has its own policy on drugs and alcohol. For example, some campuses are “dry” campuses, meaning that even after students turn 21, they are not permitted to drink on campus. Other campuses are “wet,” meaning that once students turn 21, they may consume alcoholic beverages on campus. Depending on your comfort level, these are some factors you can look into to help narrow down your college decision. 

 

Tips

  • Find your passion.
  • Secondly, get involved.
  • Thirdly, leadership doesn’t mean ‘president’.
  • Fourth, show initiative.

Admissions: forget the scatter grams


Times have changed

The pandemic has upended college admissions. The top 20-30 schools have seen their applications increase by anywhere from 20 to 50 percent as a result of going test optional or blind. Nearly 168,000 freshmen and transfer students applied to UCLA for fall 2021 admission, a 24.6% increase compared to last year, according to data released by the University of California Office of the President. Of those, 139,463 applied for first-year admissions, while 28,440 applied for transfer admissions. Applications at Tufts were up 35 percent from the previous year.

What college admissions offices noticed with the test optional/blind policy is that many underrepresented students were now applying. These students sometimes had quite stellar resumes filled with community and school leadership roles and landed some sweet acceptances at top schools.

This leads us to data and scatter grams. By the time data points show up in Naviance, the data is at least one year old. But without community and school leadership roles, those data points on scatter grams are meaningless. The top schools want a diverse student body; they want students who show initiative, leadership, involvement, empathy, business acumen, creativity etc. 

So, a near perfect test score coupled with a stellar GPA alone isn’t going to get a student into a top school – those days are gone. It’s all about strategy.

 

 

Happy National Stress Awareness Month! We know that the college admissions process can be stressful, but we are here to demystify the system and give you the information you need to make the right decision for you. They say a little stress is healthy, but if you aren’t someone who thrives under stressful conditions, then we recommend avoiding these schools with the most stressed students:

 

1- University of Pennsylvania

2- Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3- Cornell University

4- Northwestern University

5- Columbia University

6- Harvard University

7- Vanderbilt University

8- Washington University in St. Louis

9- Stanford University

10- California University of Technology

 

Note: This list was compiled from multiple sources that looked at the schools with the most stressed students. We combined the lists, based on how frequently different schools appeared, to form the list you see here.

 

Why volunteer? 

Most schools have a minimum requirement for volunteering in order to graduate. But that should not be the sole reason for volunteering. It’s a way to give back, to help others whether people, land or animals – volunteer for a better world. Volunteering is a great way to help you better understand yourself and what you value. Some people like to work with animals and spend part of a Saturday at an animal shelter; others enjoy serving food or loading trucks with food being distributed to families in need. Each school has its own rules regarding what can be counted for volunteering hours, so be sure to check with your school. And if your school doesn’t have a list of pre-approved volunteer organizations/opportunities, try Youth Service America for some excellent ideas.

Don’t forget, you can also design your own volunteer project, and YSA has advice on how to get started. Ultimately, volunteering should make the volunteer feel good about themselves.

What are your volunteering plans for this summer? How will you help make the world better?

irl girl power…

Happy Women’s History Month! Since the 1970s, Women’s Studies programs have been emerging on many college campuses across the nation. In the most basic of definitions, these programs allow students to study women’s lives and experiences with a cultural and social lens, considering how race, power structures, ideologies, institutions, etc., interact with gender.
When these Women’s Studies programs first began to appear with the advent of the Women’s Liberation movement, many were skeptical. Critics asked, “What can you DO with a Women’s Studies major?”
The answer is–pretty much anything! Interdisciplinary majors like Women’s Studies develop students’ analytical thinking, oral communication, and writing skills, all of which can be flaunted on resumes.

Women’s History Month

(by Emma Sonnenblick)


Top Women’s studies programs:

Where are the best Women’s Studies programs, you may ask? Here are the top 10, as of 2020:
1. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
2. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
3. Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
4. Amherst College (Amherst, MA)
5. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
6. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
7. Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
8. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
9. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
10. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
These are only 10 out of the more than 800 programs across the country, so if you are interested, you have plenty of options!
University of Michigan women graduates, 1909

(published by Emma Sonnenblick)

Smith, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley–what do all of these schools have in common? All of these schools are Women’s Colleges! When these schools were founded in the 1800s, many higher education institutions existed on the East Coast for men, and most of those colleges excluded women from admission. These four schools in particular were originally part of the “Seven Sisters,” which acted as counterparts to the male-only Ivy League schools, providing an educational equivalent to women from upper class families. 

 

Some historically all-female schools, like Vassar, went coed in the late 1900s. Others, like Radcliffe, got absorbed into traditionally male schools, with Radcliffe becoming a part of Harvard. Although many schools are now coeducational, some women still choose to attend all-female schools because of the unique environment they offer. 

 

Atessa F. (Smith College, 2020) shared some of the benefits of the all-female college experience, saying, “I loved going to a historically women’s college because it gave me the confidence to not only pursue a major in a traditionally male-dominated discipline [math], but to participate confidently in all aspects of my community.”

 

The all-female schools named above (and others!) continue to offer this special opportunity for women to excel in the academic sphere without intimidation from, or competition with, men.  

 

    • 70% of Georgetonians marry other Georgetonians.
    • Yale students get assigned to one of fourteen houses, which they will remain in for the entirety of their time at Yale. Each year, the residential colleges compete in an intramural competition for the Tyng Cup.
    • At Swarthmore, all grades are pass/fail for the first semester.
    • At Franklin and Marshall, you can find charging outlets in the trees.
    • The campus of American University is an accredited arboretum.
    • Tufts students can apply to Tufts School of Medicine in their sophomore year of college without taking the MCAT and gain admission through the early assurance program, guaranteeing them a spot in the med school after they graduate.
    • Columbia’s student center sells Broadway tickets for only $2.
    • More of Google’s employees come from Stanford than any other school.
    • Oberlin’s art museum rents out paintings by famous artists like Renoir and Picasso for only $5 a semester. What a way to decorate your room!
    • Students at Villanova have the opportunity to apply for the Vatican Internship Program, in which they manage the Pope’s social media accounts.
    • University of California-Los Angeles has the best food of any college campus.
    • Harvard has the highest percentage of students living on campus, with 99% of the undergrad population in the residential system.
    • In New England,  KeeneState_ is the only state college or university with a bachelor’s program specializing in #Holocaust and #Genocide Studies.

 

 

How do I compare colleges if I can’t visit?

Before comparing colleges, look inward to assess your likes and motivations. Critical thinking is more important now than in the past.  What is important for you to have in your college? Do you want football games on the weekends and crowds that have huge school spirit? Do you want small classes where you can ask more questions and have discussions with your professors?

 

Being able to ask the ‘why’ questions is crucial. Why did you make certain academic choices? Why did you choose specific clubs/activities? Why do you want to go to college? What is most important to you in your ideal college?

 

Begin to search for colleges that match your interests, goals, and what’s important to you. You can use average GPA and test scores, potential majors, and other factors to help you narrow it down.

 

Sign up for email from schools to receive information from them. 

Virtual College Tours

Many colleges have canceled their on-campus information sessions and tours, so what can a student do to find deeper info on a college? Go to colleges’ websites and register for their virtual tours to show your interest. 

Also, demonstrate interest by getting on the schools’ mailing lists. Read the emails from the colleges and click on some links in the correspondences to learn more.

Virtual college fairs are a thing. You might check out the following for more info:

NACAC National College Fairs

 

 

Do you have a high school junior? Winter and Spring are very busy times for Juniors wanting to go to college. Let’s focus on the NOW. Here’s a list of some things you should be doing in your prep for college admissions.

Winter is the perfect time to look at free, personalized, SAT test prep at Khan Academy. Students can take eight full-length, real practice tests and content is created in partnership with College Board (the creators of AP). We recommend getting started here before paying for a test prep tutor. 

There is also the ACT test. On their site, they also offer some free prep materials.

Winter is the time to identify challenging classes for the senior year. For some students, this means honors while for others it means AP. And some students will end up taking a class or two that are mid-level courses. This is fine as long as the student also takes a good number of more challenging classes.

If your 11th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.

Also, from the comfort of home, your student can begin attending virtual college fairs to learn more about schools.