Looking Beyond “Highly Rejective Colleges”

Looking Beyond “Highly Rejective Colleges”

Linking to a post by Lynn O’Shaughnessy on The College Solution blog that introduced us to the spectacular term highly rejective college. 

The term highly rejective college was coined by Akil Bello, who is an expert on standardized testing and senior director at FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing standardized testing.

Highly rejective schools focus on turning away nearly all applicants. Rather than use their considerable financial might and prestige to expand the number of students they educate on their own campuses or through satellite campuses, they cling to the status quo.

More higher-ed observers, including Jeff Selingo, the former top editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, are using the term highly rejective colleges because that accurately defines what these institutions are all about. 

Lynn’s article also features some insights from Tuition Fit’s Mark Salisbury. Here is what Salisbury said about this 2021 phenomenon is impacting popular universities and colleges:

  1. Students who normally would apply to second-tier selectives “shot their shot” with the uber selectives.
  2. As a result, those students didn’t apply to those second tiers at quite the same rate.
  3. Those students got rejected at the uber selectives like they always do.
  4. The second tiers are in the midst of a scramble to get more applications because their admission modeling depends on it. [this is where better deals might emerge!]

Read the whole article here—it’s a must-read!!!

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Colleges Do Not Want Well-Rounded Applicants

Colleges Do Not Want Well-Rounded Applicants

We talk about the myth of well-roundedness a lot around here, so glad to see it talked about in this recent Forbes article!

Being a well-rounded individual is certainly admirable. What’s not to like about someone who is widely curious and has balance in their interests? When it comes to selective college admission, however, increasingly “being” well-rounded has been replaced by “doing” well-rounded. Applicants approach the experience feeling like they have to do it all. Gil Villanueva, associate vice president and dean of admission at the University of Richmond says, “the incessant belief that colleges want well-rounded students needs to just end. We want to build orchestras and we can’t have them if everyone plays the cello.” He tells students, “the reality is we want well-rounded classes. So it’s perfectly fine, if not great, that you don’t do everything at your schools. Ultimately, we simply want to see a positive impact in whatever co-curricular activity(s) you do because we can predict that you will contribute to our campuses outside of academics.”

The whole article is worth a read!

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Planning for an MBA? Here’s When You Should Take the GMAT or GRE

Planning for an MBA? Here’s When You Should Take the GMAT or GRE

If you are planning to obtain an MBA, you’ll need to take the GMAT or GRE. When should you do that? The short answer is that sooner is generally better than later. In fact, you should consider studying for these exams while you are still in college. Your senior year is often the perfect time to take the GMAT or GRE.

MBA program applications are evaluated based on a variety of factors. Undergraduate GPA, professional progression and responsibilities, leadership, community service, and GMAT or GRE score all play a role. Many undergraduate students who know they may want to someday earn an MBA assume that the best time to study for the GMAT or GRE will be a few years before they apply. They just meld GMAT or GRE prep with the process of submitting an MBA application in their minds. But, one can take the GMAT or GRE long before they actually fill out an MBA application. Still other undergraduate students have a vague sense that getting an MBA might be something they consider in the future but have no idea if they’ll actually pursue one. These students may not even have thought about the GMAT or GRE at all.

In this article, we’ll explain why studying for an taking the GRE or GMAT while you are still in college is a reasonable way to improve your score and chances of admission to a top MBA program. And really, the same logic applies to any sort of graduate school program (which would then require the GRE, not the GMAT).

Why Could Taking the GMAT (or GRE) While You are Still in College Improve Your Score?

There are two basic reasons that studying for standardized tests while you are still an undergraduate can improve your score.

First, you probably have more time to prepare during your senior year of college than when you are in your second year of your first job. You might feel extremely busy when you are in college, particularly if you hold a leadership position in one or more organizations or are still looking for a job. However, although you can’t realize this while still in college because you can’t peer into your own future, you’ll likely be even busier when you are working full-time (i.e., with increasing amounts of responsibility, perhaps a new spouse and/or other family responsibilities, etc.). If you have more time to prep, it will be easier to build GMAT or GRE prep into your weekly schedule and consistently spend time on it.

Second, some, not all but some, of the skills you’ll need to excel on the GRE or GMAT will be much fresher when you are still in college.  Both the GMAT and the GRE test things like: mathematic ability, vocabulary skills, knowledge of grammar, problem-solving, logic, and reading comprehension skills. Although these exams are much less like academic math tests than many people believe, you’ll still need to know the rules of algebra, probability, and geometry.  If the last math class you took was 6 months ago instead of 6 years ago, you’ll be much better positioned to absorb the conceptual material so you can focus on test-taking strategy. If you haven’t taken a math class for nearly a decade, you might quickly find yourself considering a GMAT tutor.

So, if you know you want to get an MBA someday, you should strongly consider taking these exams while you are still in college. But perhaps more importantly, even if you don’t know whether you do or don’t want to get an MBA, you should still consider taking one of these exams while you are still in college.

How Long Are GMAT or GRE Scores Good For?

The astute reader might point out that GRE and GMAT scores have a shelf-life. They are not valid forever. Your GMAT score will be valid for five years from the day you take the test.  When you are applying to a top MBA program, they will treat your GMAT score the exact same whether you took it 1 month before applying or 59 months before applying. GRE scores are also valid for five years.

The fact that your GMAT or GRE score is only valid for five years is obviously relevant. You certainly don’t want to spend 12 weeks studying for the GMAT, get a great score, and then not apply to an MBA program within five years. If you follow that path and then decide you DO want to get an MBA, you’ll have to take the GMAT all over again. However, although it varies over time, typically 2-4 years of professional experience is more than enough to put forth an excellent MBA application. In fact, if you wait for 5+ years before applying for an MBA program, you can quickly become one of the older applicants. So, taking the GRE or GMAT during your senior year sort of forces you to prepare for applying to an MBA program within 5 years, which is not a bad plan.

Furthermore, many admitted students can defer matriculation for at least one year. So if you have an expiring GMAT score, you can apply, get admitted, and then defer for one year.

Should you take the GRE or GMAT?

Are you convinced you should take the GRE or GMAT during your senior year of college? Great! But which should you take? Top MBA programs all accept both. The question is how many truly treat them equally in the application review process. MBA programs typically place a slightly higher degree of importance on GMAT or GRE quant performance. And the GMAT is an MBA-specific exam that tends to be more challenging from a quant perspective. So, if you are serious about getting an MBA and want to demonstrate that to MBA programs, you might consider the GMAT. On the other hand, if your quant skills aren’t the strongest, the GRE might allow you to put a much strong foot forward. Schools may marginally prefer the GMAT, but if they see a 90th percentile GRE quant score and a 70th percentile GMAT quant score, that GRE quant score is going to be considered much more impressive.

And of course, if you are considering other types of graduate programs, the GRE makes perfect sense, since it’s accepted for MBA admissions and many other types of graduate school programs. For the college senior who really isn’t sure what the future holds, taking some time to study for the GRE is a fantastic use of time.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, the sooner you can take the GMAT or GRE, the better. The older we get, the busier we tend to get, and the more responsibilities we have (and therefore we have less time available to study). And the older we get, the longer it’s been since we engaged with the academic coursework these exams will ask us to recall.

About the Author

Mark Skoskiewicz is the founder of MyGuru, a boutique provider of private GRE tutoring and test prep for a wide variety of exams. He holds a B.S. from Indiana University and an MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University. 

Sophomores and Juniors: Independent Study

Sophomores and Juniors: Independent Study

COVID is still hindering in-person learning, forcing clubs to meet online (if not canceling them outright), and may even throw a wrench in in-person educational and extracurricular planning for the spring and summer. A primary focus of our work with 10th and 11th graders is extracurricular planning, and there’s one that is almost never dependent on needing to be anywhere in person: the independent study. 

Independent studies (IS) can be done anywhere and work with almost any area of interest, which is why in such uncertain times, they are our go-to EC. Like the “purpose” or “passion” projects many of our students undertake, the IS is a create your own educational opportunity, so there’s no one size fits all model to follow or template you can use to just plug and play. Below are some of the details we suggest thinking through if you are interested in conceptualizing an IS.

Who

The IS requires the student to have an area of interest that they want to explore (or explore more), as well as the time, energy, and foresight to plan it on their own. However, students may want to seek out support from a teacher at their high school or a mentor from outside of school if they desire to formalize it or have some guidance or check-ins along the way. 

What

Anything goes! But we suggest an area of academic interest related to what you may pursue in college. It might be a new topic, or it might be an extension of a topic you have already researched. The bottom line is, it should 1) be a topic/area you choose because you will need to be into it to make the work happen on your own and 2) if possible, it should work with your academic narrative (the academic story that unfolds in your college apps). 

Where

Planning the IS as a remote activity is a good call given the uncertainties around COVID. Doing so also provides the flexibility to add on other activities/formal programming or have time for a job if that suits you while still working on the IS, as well as plan something like travel (college visits?) if that becomes reality again! 

When

Winter break or early in the new year is the perfect time for students to start planning their independent study. As for an ideal start time? Many juniors are busy with testing so we suggest it as a summer activity, although students who may not have AP testing in May or who have finished or not yet started ACT/SAT testing could realistically start in the spring if their courseload allowed. The classes that appear on your transcript will always be the most important to colleges, so you don’t want your IS to get in the way of excelling in those courses. 

Why

Beyond how the restrictions that might be in place around COVID make it an ideal activity, an independent study helps demonstrate to colleges your commitment to learning, your intellectual focus and curiosity, and that you are a self-directed learner interested in charting your own course and not limiting yourself to what you can take in school (or afford to take outside of it). 

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10th and 11th Graders: College Planning Starts Now!

10th and 11th Graders: College Planning Starts Now!

By 10th and 11th-grade college talk should be fairly consistent—especially if you are, or have a student who is—aiming to attend a selective college or university. The majority of our work with students, which includes summer planning, narrative development (your “story” for college), compiling school lists, and completing the personal statement, app data, and a comprehensive resume—starts in 10th and early in 11th grade. If this is you (or your student!) there is no better time to start the process than right now.

Sophomores should consider the following:

  • Starting to prep for standardized exams early. Don’t wait until spring of your junior year to begin prep. We have a small list of tutors that we can highly recommend; don’t leave who you work with up to chance.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other.
  • Now is the time to build your story for college! Have you heavily involved with any of your extracurricular activities (other than sports)? Look for leadership opportunities in school and consider activities outside of school as well. Does your resume point toward a major? It should start to at this time, and if it does not, that should be a goal for your summer plans.

And juniors, it’s not too late to:

  • Prep for and take the ACT or SAT. Yes, schools are going to be test-optional this year, but high test scores always help!
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other. Talk about your goal schools and your high school’s track record at those schools. Get their take on schools that are going to be a fit, and hash out a preliminary application plan.
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in, explore the admissions and academics pages, attend ALL of the virtual offerings offered, and sign up for a peer guide with us to really go above and beyond in your research. Now is the time to kick your college research into high gear.
  • Start your Common App essay brainstorming. Ask us how!
  • Plan your summer wisely. You’ll want to use this summer to round out your resume and make sure it’s pointed toward your intended major, and you’ll also want to finish most of your applications. Make a plan now because you don’t want to be playing catch-up in the fall.

Email us or fill out the contact form to schedule a consult and find out how we can support you in your college planning and application process!

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Prepping for AP Exams

Prepping for AP Exams

Yes, you should prep for AP exams!

US News posted a short 4-week self-study plan that you can find here. We agree that four weeks is typically sufficient, but also sense APs could become more important, so a six-week plan might not be a bad idea if you have the time. 

We also suggest going beyond self-study if you struggled in class, or after taking a full-length practice test, notice some gaps in your knowledge. The AP curriculum is not taught in the same way by every teacher, and it’s not uncommon to have not covered every single thing on a test. The good news is, prepping for an AP test is not nearly as time-consuming as prepping for the ACT or SAT. 

Reach out to us for some tutor recommendations so you can get started by early April!

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Test Optional Policy Extensions (3/11/21)

Test Optional Policy Extensions (3/11/21)

Although most colleges implemented one-year test-optional policies in 2020 (for the high school class of 2021), quite a few schools went TO on multi-year pilots. Below we’ve included some of the more popular multi-year pilot schools as well as those that have extended a TO policy for one additional year. Stay tuned for more extensions and moves to being test-optional for good.

We plan to post separately outlining test blind schools.

Amherst (2022, 2023 extension)
Baylor (2022, 2023 extension)
Boston University (2022 extension)
Claremont McKenna (2022 extension)
Colgate (3-year pilot)
College of Charleston (2022, 2023 extension)
Columbia (2022 extension)
Cornell (2022 extension)* some schools remain test free aka test blind
Dartmouth (2022 extension)
Davidson (3-year pilot)
Eckerd (2-year pilot)
Elon (3-year pilot)
Emory (2022 extension)
Fordham (2-year pilot)
Haverford (3-year pilot)
JHU (2022 extension)
Middlebury (3-year pilot)
New York University (2022 extension)
Notre Dame (2022, 2023 extension)
Princeton (2022 extension)
Oberlin (3-year pilot)
Penn (2022 extension)
PSU (3-year pilot)
Rhodes (3-year pilot)
Rice (2022 extension)
Santa Clara University (2-year pilot)
Swarthmore (2-year pilot)
Texas Tech (2022 extension)
Trinity (3-year pilot)
Tufts (3-year pilot)
Tulane (2022 extension)
Union (fully TO)
U. Connecticut (3-year pilot)
U. Illinois (2022 extension)
U. Maryland (2022 extension)
U. Richmond (2022 extension)
U. Southern California (2022, 2023 extension)
UT Austin (2022 extension)
U. Virginia (2022, 2023 extension)
U. Wisconsin (2-year pilot)
Vassar (2022 extension)
William and Mary (3-year pilot)
Williams (2022 extension)
Yale (2022 extension)

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Computer Science

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Computer Science

As part of your college application, extracurricular activities—including those over the summer— help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college). The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in computer science and technology.

Please keep in mind that “programs” are not the only way to explore academic interests. In fact, many colleges like to see students go beyond canned programming (ask us about this directly). You can join clubs at your school or locally, take free online classes via edX and Coursera, shadow, or intern (aka volunteer for most students)—there are tons of options ranging from super formal (and pricey) to those as simple as reading in your free time.

Google Computer Science Institute
A 3-week intro to coding for high school seniors. The program aims to train emerging tech leaders and innovators, held in multiple states each summer, with an inside look into Google operations. Participation is free.

Stanford AI4ALL

Stanford AI4ALL aims to increase diversity in the field of Artificial Intelligence. During this three-week online program, students are immersed in AI through a combination of lectures, hands-on research projects, and mentoring activities. Participants engage with professionals in the field to learn about cutting-edge ideas, such as how AI can be applied in medicine, disaster response, and combatting poverty.

CMU Computer Science Scholars

Participants will attend lectures by Carnegie Mellon faculty with expertise in various aspects of computing. They will also attend two academic seminars focused on programming and higher level mathematics. Project based learning will supplement classroom experiences and offer students an opportunity to apply learned concepts to real world challenges. Outside of the academic experience students will engage virtually with industry leaders to learn about the vast opportunities in the field of computing. Students will have an opportunity to be mentored by industry leaders throughout the country. At the conclusion of the program students will receive a comprehensive evaluation which can be integrated into their academic portfolios for college admission purposes.

Women’s Technology Program – MIT

The MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP) is a rigorous four-week summer academic experience to introduce high school students to engineering through hands-on classes, labs, and team-based projects in the summer after 11th grade. WTP is designed for students who are excited about learning, have demonstrated their ability to excel at math and science in their high school classes, and who have no prior background (or very little) in engineering or computer science, with few opportunities to explore these fields. WTP is a women-focused, collaborative community aimed at empowering students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in engineering. We especially encourage students to apply who will be the first family member to attend college, who come from high schools with limited access to STEM classes and activities, or who are African American, Hispanic, or Native American.

Girls Who Code

Events and programs vary year-to-year. Check site for more information.

Girls Teaching Girls to Code

Events and programs vary year-to-year. Check site for more information.

Others:

Duke TIP Artificial Intelligence Class

UT Auston Computer Science Academy

Illinois Tech

NJ GSET – GovSchool

Khan Academy – Computing Section

 

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

As part of your college application, extracurricular activities—including those over the summer— help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college). Some programs, however, are not purely academic, like those geared toward leadership development. The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in developing their leadership skills (and so much more!).

Please keep in mind that “programs” are not the only way to explore academic interests. In fact, many colleges like to see students go beyond canned programming (ask us about this directly). You can join clubs at your school or locally, take free online classes via edX and Coursera, shadow, or intern (aka volunteer for most students)—there are tons of options ranging from super formal (and pricey) to those as simple as reading in your free time.

Bank of America Student Leaders Program

Student Leaders participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization where you learn first-hand about the needs of the community and the critical role nonprofits play. In addition, you will learn valuable civic, social and business leadership skills. Each Student Leader will attend the Student Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. where you will learn how government, business and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs. Note: in-person events will be in line with local and national guidelines around gatherings and travel and may be subject to change.

The LEAP Young Adult Leadership Program

LEAP Week is a highly-immersive week-long leadership program for high school and college students held annually at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, California. Each year, 400 students from around the globe travel to attend LEAP Week, a full week dedicated to helping young adults uncover the “real-life” skills needed to achieve great success. Another major focus of LEAPweek is developing young adults’ networking skills. Especially in this modern age of social media, most teens already have strong networking capabilities, they just need some guidance to maximize these abilities. Networking will be tremendously important when you begin your career, and it also helps develop lasting friendships in every phase of life.

Young Women’s Leadership Institute

The Young Women’s Leadership Institute embraces the complex relationship between gender and leadership as its focus. As an YWLI participant, you should be curious, passionate, and ready to develop your skills as a leader. The Institute will allow you to develop trailblazing qualities and push you in new directions as you explore leadership through a feminist lens. Students are given the opportunity to tackle a problem in the world and work in small groups to design and execute a solution using the skills they’ve gained in courses and workshops. You will also have the opportunity to meet with women in workplaces throughout the city to learn about the skills and tenacity needed to stand out in today’s workforce.

Notre Dame Leadership Seminars

Leadership Seminars is for current high school juniors who are academically gifted leaders in their school, church, local community, or other social organizations. Students participate in one of three seminars (sample topic: Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age). Around 90 students are admitted each year—usually ranking in the top 10 percent of their class—and are eligible to receive one college credit.

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Do Your Best

Do Your Best

In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, W. Kent Barnds reflects on what he should have told his daughter and thousands of other high school students: just do your best. 

As we approach the time of year when it can be easy to lose sight of what matters (regarding college admissions!) it is worth a read!

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