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)
Brown
Cal Tech
Dartmouth
Georgetown
Georgia Tech
Harvard
MIT
Purdue
University of Georgia
University of Florida (state-wide)
University of Tennessee (state-wide)
UT Austin
Yale

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:

Ivies
Stanford
Vanderbilt
Northwestern
JHU
Duke
Rice
WashU
Notre Dame
Carnegie Mellon
Tufts
Emory
USC
Boston College
Boston University (exception: General Studies)
NYU
Clemson
Case Western
Villanova
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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Calling All Young Writers: Submit to the Adroit Prizes and the Summer Mentorship Program!

Calling All Young Writers: Submit to the Adroit Prizes and the Summer Mentorship Program!

For those looking to develop as a writer and work with a mentor…

Adroit is accepting applications from current high school students (including seniors!) for their online summer mentorship program through April 7th @ 11:59pm PT.

For guidance and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, please visit our Mentorship FAQ page.

For those with a polished piece of poetry or prose that’s ready for submission…the Adroit Prizes, awarded annually to two students of secondary or undergraduate status, are open for submissions.

The 2024 Adroit Prize for Poetry will be selected by Ocean Vuong; the 2024 Adroit Prize for Prose will be selected by Kaveh Akbar. The submission deadline for the 2024 Adroit Prizes is May 1st, 2024 @ 11:59pm PT.

If you would like to submit your work, please familiarize yourself with the submission guidelines.

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News: UT Austin Admissions Changes

News: UT Austin Admissions Changes

Some big changes out of Austin!​

UT will no longer be test-optional. All 2025 freshman applicants must submit an official SAT or ACT directly from the testing agency to be eligible for admission. Applicants do not need to submit the writing section.

Other changes include:

  • Introduction of a new Early Action program. This optional deadline will require application submission by Oct. 15, with a guaranteed decision communicated to applicants by Jan. 15. The regular deadline for applications will remain Dec. 1, with a guaranteed decision communicated by Feb. 15.
  • Modification of the required essay. This will provide greater flexibility in topic choice and enable students to leverage responses used on other applications, while expanding opportunity for a more personalized response.
  • Reduction in the number of short answer responses. This reduction from three responses to two will maintain the currently used major-related question, while creating a new prompt that allows students to highlight a specific activity of their choice.
  • Introduction of a waitlist. Applies to students who are not automatically admitted. Most students will be notified as early as March 1 if they are admitted from the waitlist.
  • Narrowed scope for letters of recommendation. Applicants submitting letters of recommendation will be strongly encouraged to provide those letters from sources outside of their high school. This reduces the burden of this work on high school teachers and counselors and allows University staff to better leverage other materials.

The official write-up is here.

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Applying to Selective Colleges? Please Don’t Skip Calculus

Applying to Selective Colleges? Please Don’t Skip Calculus

More than 75 percent of EDII admits had studied math through calculus, taken biology, chemistry, and physics, and learned a foreign language for at least four years. 

Students who are well matched with MIT take the following classes in high school: math through calculus.

Four years of mathematics; calculus is strongly recommended for majors in Architecture, Business, and Engineering; science majors in Arts & Sciences; and those who intend to pursue a pre-medicine path.

The above are just a few snippets shared by selective colleges and universities regarding high school coursework. 

Calculus.

It’s a hotly debated topic. Just Google “calculus and college admissions,” and you’ll find plenty of articles such as this one.  Although I agree that it counts for a little too much in the college admissions process, the “math bar” is not something that appears to be changing anytime soon. Right now, it’s set at calculus. And if you can take BC over AB, do that. BC is the gold standard for selective schools, especially if you are applying for a competitive major.

So, if you plan to apply to selective colleges, plan to take BC calculus to be the most competitive applicant that you can be. 

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Hillel’s Virtual College Prep Series

Hillel’s Virtual College Prep Series

We’d like to share a series of three virtual events from Hillel International, the world’s largest Jewish campus organization.

Session 1 (Recorded):

College Selection: Choosing the Best Fit for You. February 29, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | 9 a.m. PT – Choosing the right school can be a little (or a lot) overwhelming — especially with so many factors to consider. And while there’s not yet a magic wand or AI to generate the perfect college match, Hillel’s tools and resources can get you pretty close. The first session of Hillel’s Virtual College Prep Series will focus on the college selection process, and provide you with the tools you need to find the best fit, featuring top college counselors, current Jewish college student leaders, and experts from Hillel as well as partners in youth and teen programming.

Session 2:

Careful Considerations: Antisemitism on Campus. April 2, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | 9 a.m. PT – Since the attack on Israel on October 7, antisemitism has risen to historically high levels in the U.S. and around the world — and college campuses have not been immune from this surge in hate. With antisemitism on the minds of so many in the Jewish community, we want to ensure that Jewish parents and families have the information they need about what antisemitism and Jewish life on campus are truly like right now.

Session 3:

Looking Forward: Hillel’s Exciting Opportunities for Students. May 23, 2024 |  12 p.m. ET | 9 a.m. PT – This session will explore all of the exciting opportunities Hillel has for incoming first-year Jewish college students, including scholarships, graduation gifts, early move-in, travel opportunities, and leadership experiences — for all kinds of Jewish students!

You can register in advance for the webinars here. If you can’t make a session, they are recorded, and you can watch at your convenience.

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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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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Law, Government, Politics, International Relations

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Law, Government, Politics, International Relations

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in government, politics, law and IR.

Boys State/Girls State participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs. Legion posts select high school juniors to attend the program. In most cases, individual expenses are paid by a sponsoring post, a local business or another community-based organization.

The Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship fosters relationships among the younger generation of Europeans and Americans to build strong linkages and an awareness of shared values. The Fellowship engages 45 teenagers from Europe and ten American teenagers (ages 16 – 18) in a four-week U.S.-based exchange program that aims to reinforce the transatlantic relationship. During the Fellowship, participants will explore transatlantic relations, leadership development, critical thinking, diplomacy, community activism, and the media in order to unite young adults around common goals, using the legacy of Benjamin Franklin as a framework. American youth are eligible to participate in the fellowship, but do not travel abroad. This fellowship is funded.

The United Nations Association of Greater Boston’s Summer Institute in Global Leadership offers week-long Model UN programs for students from all over the world to work together and address global issues. Learn about global issues, build skills for life and leadership, and collaborate with students from across the world during our week-long Model UN programs! In-person and virtual options.

The U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program provides critical language study overseas for U.S. high school students through full scholarships to participate in intensive summer and academic year programs. Participants study one of the eight NSLI-Y languages while immersed in the culture and day-to-day life of the host country. NSLI-Y is part of the National Security Language Initiative, a multi-agency U.S. government initiative launched in 2006 to improve Americans’ ability to engage with people from around the world. NSLI-Y plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and contributes to national security. NSLI-Y participants serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries. If you have a passion for learning languages and want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, this program may be for you! No previous language skills are required. NSLI-Y languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, Turkish.

Onero Institute Virtual Teams. ​The Onero Institute produces high-level content on international affairs topics in new and creative ways. They develop projects specially designed for social media platforms to better engage young people on global issues and to bring credible content to an increasingly important space. Join the Virtual Engagement Team to take part in this unique area of today’s international discourse. If you would like to join but need more experience developing such projects, participate in the Virtual Engagement Program (VEP) to build up your skills in graphic design, concise writing, teamwork, and research.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. They now offer virtual programming.

Temple of Understanding Internship Program provides individuals with a hands-on learning experience of the work of the United Nations for four and a half intensive weeks. Students often discover their passion for a career in foreign affairs and related fields. Applicants are from different parts of the United States, as well as many other countries. Students accepted into this program have the opportunity to meet with different Missions and NGOs for discussions based on their specific questions and interests. Applicants are from different parts of the United States, as well as many other countries, and must be 17 years old by June 20 of the given Internship year.


Senate Page Program

Contact your senator’s office for more information on applying to be a Senate Page.

For Rising 9th Graders

The Summer Law Institute (SLI) is a five-week, summer law program for students who have just completed their eighth grade school year. The Summer Law Institute pushes rising ninth graders to see themselves as young professionals-in-training. The program exposes them to positive and successful role models, involves them in professional activities, and places them on a path that can lead to the fulfillment of their dreams. Students who complete the SLI are eligible to apply to our 4-year College Bound program.

Volunteer/Internship Opportunities:

Rock the Vote

US Department of Education

For the Many

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in developing their leadership skills (and so much more!).

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.

Notre Dame Leadership Seminars

Leadership Seminars are 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.

Coursera:

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Math

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Math

The following summer activities are some of our favorites for students interested in math.

Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSiM)

HCSSiM is an intensive six-week encounter with college-level mathematics for talented and highly motivated high school students. It is demanding and expanding. Participants spend a major portion of each day actively engaged in doing mathematics (not simply learning the results of mathematics). HCSSiM students live in the dorms at Hampshire College in Massachusetts for six summer weeks, and study and play in its fields, woods, and academic buildings (not typically in that order). Typically, there are as many girls and non-binary students as boys. The daily schedule includes 4 hours of morning classes (Mon-Sat), the pre-supper Prime Time Theorem, and evening problem sessions. Afternoons are devoted to reading, rest, recreation, occasional trips to town, and informal study. Participants have unparalleled access to faculty members in classrooms, at meals, and in the program dorm. Productive collaborations continue long after the program, and many lifelong friendships are forged.

MathILy

Do you want to explore and create mathematics? Then read on, for that’s what MathILy is all about! In MathILy classes, instructors provide the framework and you get to make (and prove!) the conjectures. You will encounter new ideas, improve your problem-solving skills, learn lots and lots of advanced mathematics, and hone your overall thinking skills. You’ll meet others like you. (Yes, really. We promise.) Most of all, you will find serious mathematics infused with levity. MathILy is five weeks of maximized mathematical marvelousness. MathILy is designed for students with an insatiable curiosity about mathematics and who are creative and enthusiastic in their approaches to learning. Participants come from all over the United States and, sometimes, the world.

Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)

PROMYS is a six-week summer program in mathematics for strongly motivated high school students who are carefully selected from across the U.S. and around the world. Founded in 1989, PROMYS is a residential program held on the campus of Boston University with approximately 80 high school students and 25 undergraduate counselors. PROMYS is particularly interested in increasing diversity in mathematics and in science and technology opportunities more broadly. They strongly encourage students who are female, Black, Latino/a, or from other groups underrepresented in STEM to apply.

The Ross Program

The first year course in the Ross Program is organized around a series of daily problem sets in number theory. These sets invite the participants to contemplate a variety of seemingly simple questions about numbers and their relationships. As the summer progresses students are encouraged to investigate these questions in increasing depth, and to return to them periodically as their skill at abstract reasoning and their collection of available tools become more powerful. This spiraling of concepts is summarized in the Ross Program’s motto: “Think deeply about simple things.”Students should expect to get deeply involved in intensive, mathematical work. Although formal classes take up only eight hours per week, Ross participants work hard during the many hours of unstructured time. They think about the many mathematical problems, and struggle with the difficulties. After a lot of effort they finally develop methods of thought that will prove useful in many aspects of their scientific lives.

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC) welcomes a select group of rising high school juniors and seniors from around the world for intensive study in advanced mathematics. SUMaC leads participants on a journey in advanced mathematics through lectures, guided research, and group problem-solving. In an environment centered on mathematics, participants explore current lines of mathematical research, the historical development of important areas of mathematics, and applications across scientific disciplines. SUMaC is for students who have an exceptional interest in mathematics, and who are prepared for study of abstract algebra and number theory, or algebraic topology.  Similar to what they would experience in a college course, participants can expect a heavy and engaging workload of assignments to work on outside of the live class meeting times.

Summer Workshop in Math @ Duke University

Summer Workshop in Math (SWiM) is a free workshop for rising high school seniors who are interested in mathematics, with a particular focus on advancing female participation in math. SWiM is particularly interested in increasing diversity in mathematics and in science and technology opportunities more broadly, so SWiM strongly encourages students to apply who are female or gender minorities, who are in their junior year of high school, and who are citizens or permanent residents of and reside in the US if held online.

Canada/USA Mathcamp

Canada/USA Mathcamp is an immersive summer experience for mathematically talented students ages 13–18 from all over the world. It is an intensive 5-week-long summer program for mathematically talented high school students, designed to expose these students to the beauty of advanced mathematical ideas and to new ways of thinking. More than just a summer camp, Mathcamp is a vibrant community, made up of a wide variety of people who share a common love of learning and passion for mathematics. At Mathcamp, students can explore undergraduate and even graduate-level topics while building problem-solving skills that will help them in any field they choose to study.

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