Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional – Updated 4/11

Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional – Updated 4/11

Colleges have continued to roll back test-optional policies. We will update this post as more updates are made.

You’ll need competitive test scores to apply to the following schools:

Auburn (testing STRONGLY preferred; required with certain GPA)
Cal Tech
Georgia Tech
University of Georgia
University of Florida (state-wide)
University of Tennessee (state-wide)
UT Austin

We have also found it beneficial to send high scores to most other test-optional schools in the top tier, especially if you are applying to a selective major (engineering, comp sci, data science, business, hard sciences) or attend a high school where the majority of students test and test well:

Notre Dame
Carnegie Mellon
Boston College
Boston University (exception: General Studies)
Case Western
University of Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Wisconsin
University of Virginia
University of North Carolina
University of Illinois
University of Maryland

Reach out to us if you’d like help with your application strategy and deciding whether you are a good candidate to apply test-optional or not.

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Common App Announces 2024–2025 Essay Prompts

Common App Announces 2024–2025 Essay Prompts

The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2024–2025. Get a head start by grabbing a copy of The Complete College Essay Handbook!

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

They will retain the optional community disruption question within the Writing section, too.

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Elevating Your Extracurriculars for Summer 2024

Elevating Your Extracurriculars for Summer 2024

The strength of your curriculum (rigor), the grades you receive in academic courses (core academic GPA), and your extracurricular activities (ECs) are what matter most in the evaluation of a college application. 

College counselors can help students choose the right courses and connect them with the learning support they might need to achieve excellent grades, but advising on the extracurricular activities that will help students stand out is much more complicated!

It’s getting harder and harder to stand out extracurricularly; a lot has been done before, and it can be tough to come up with original ideas when the internet provides conflicting information. It is easy to pay to undertake research or get published; spend time on a college campus taking a course alongside peers; or travel the world serving communities you don’t have an intimate connection to but that are exciting to visit and experience. For some applicants, these ECs do the trick—really! 

However, if you are targeting selective schools, you’ll benefit from not taking the easy path when it comes to ECs. 

Your ECs will need to not only support a clear academic narrative and demonstrate your intellectual curiosity but also highlight what matters most to you and what you care about in your world. You will benefit from getting creative! 

We understand not everyone needs or wants full-blown college counseling, but we also want to make sure students really understand the role of extracurriculars in the college admissions process and spend their time wisely. If you are interested in a standalone extracurricular planning session to maximize the summer of 2024, reach out!

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Common Application Student Advisory Committee Applications

Common Application Student Advisory Committee Applications

Common App is looking for students to participate in the second cohort of their Student Advisory Committee. This committee aims to provide a student perspective on the college admission process. The goal is to gather valuable feedback on the Common App experience and students’ overall college application journey.

The Student Advisory Committee will consist of: 

  • High school juniors or seniors
  • 2-year college students
  • First-year students at 4-year institutions 

All students are welcome, whether or not they are applying to a Common App college or currently using the platform. For questions about the application process or serving on the committee, please visit the CA website or email

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Business Bound Workshop for High School Students

Business Bound Workshop for High School Students

Business Bound is an on-demand, interactive workshop led by Dr. Brittany Maschal (no boring PowerPoints, promise) to help high school students who are undergrad b-school hopefuls set the foundation for competitive, differentiated applications. This workshop is offered in a small group setting (5 students max) or 1:1, and covers: 

Academic Foundations: Math is your friend! You’ll learn how to choose the appropriate foundation and extension courses both in and out of school and understand the nuances of standardized testing in the undergrad b-school admissions process. 

Why B-School: You’ll benefit from developing a compelling reason to study business in college. After this workshop, your why could change drastically and for the better.  

Extracurriculars: Your activities are the key storytelling elements of your application. They back your why, and they highlight what you’ve got to bring to the table. 

Leadership & Impact: Leadership is everywhere, and everyone can make an impact. We’ll show you how. No title of Captain or President needed.

Email us for more information on pricing, timing, and how to sign up. 

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Students Admitted Early Decision as a Percentage of Enrolled Freshmen

Students Admitted Early Decision as a Percentage of Enrolled Freshmen

In 2022, Education Reform Now released the first brief in their Future of Fair Admissions series. The brief contained the most comprehensive research on college admissions early decision plans, which provide an applicant an admissions decision in mid-December in exchange for the student’s commitment to enroll if admitted. 

The chart linked below from ERN shows the 84 IHEs where a third or more of freshmen were enrolled through early decision (ED) programs in 2022 plus 6 more that enrolled more than a third of their freshmen ED in 2020 but did not share data for 2022. The Common Data Set does not publish the number of students who are enrolled through early decision. Since early decision is binding, you would expect a very high share of all students admitted ED to enroll. Blank spaces represent years when data were not available. 0% represents years an IHE did not offer ED.

You can review the chart here
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Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Some colleges have merit deadlines that are earlier than posted deadlines. For example, if you are applying to BU in RD, the merit deadline is 12/1. Same with UConn, Pitt, Vandy, and others. You’ll find a list below via College Kickstart, but keep in mind this list might not be exhaustive. Please check the application instructions for every single school on your list if you want to apply by merit deadlines. 
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Colleges Using The Self-Reported Academic Record — SRAR

Colleges Using The Self-Reported Academic Record — SRAR

Applicants must complete the SRAR for the following schools, where required. You can typically find more information about the SRAR on a school’s application instructions. Please read them. 



Baylor University (TX) — optional

Binghamton University (NY) – optional

Clemson University (SC) — required

Duquesne University (PA) – optional

Florida A&M University – optional

Florida Atlantic University — required

Florida Polytechnic University (NOT Florida Tech) – optional

Florida State University — required

Kean University of New Jersey — optional

Louisiana State University – optional

Montclair State University (NJ) – optional

New College of Florida — optional

New York University – required

Northeastern University (MA) – required

Pennsylvania State University — required

Rutgers University (NJ—Camden, New Brunswick and Newark) — required

Texas A&M University — required

United States Air Force Academy (CO) — required

University at Buffalo (NY) – optional

University of Connecticut – optional

University of Delaware – required

University of Florida — required

University of Minnesota Twin Cities – required; also uses CA Courses/Grades Report

University of North Florida — optional

University of Oregon – also uses CA Courses and Grades Report (need to submit only one of the two—not required to complete both)

University of Pittsburgh (PA) – required

University of Rhode Island — required

University of South Florida — required

University of Tennessee Knoxville – required

University of Texas Arlington — required

University of Texas San Antonio – required

University of West Florida — required

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) – required

***Please be sure to check with each individual college website to determine if this information remains current***

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How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

New essay prompts, the review of fewer activities, no more checkboxes….lots of news!

Read more here and here

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