Learn to Code! Free and Low Cost Coding Resources

Learn to Code! Free and Low Cost Coding Resources

Learning to code is not only a must for aspiring computer science majors! It is also very helpful for pre-engineering majors and even business majors. Finally, it’s a very low to no cost extracurricular activity. Get started today with the resources below!

Codecademy

Take your pick of more than a dozen coding languages, including C++, Python, Ruby, SQL, Java, and beyond with the online offerings of Codecademy. Codecademy offers both paid and free courses, so you can customize your learning to meet your needs and your budget. The free membership option lets you access basic courses that feature interactive lessons and daily practice options. You’ll need to upgrade to the pro membership to get beyond the basics, however.

Hack Reactor

Hack Reactor’s online coding bootcamp is the best around, so it’s no surprise that the company’s software engineer free prep program is also incredibly effective for learning Javascript as a beginner. Hack Reactor offers a free, online, self-guided prep course that lets you study at your own pace and work on your own time.

Girls Who Code

2022 Summer Programs teach girls and non-binary students the computer science skills they need to make an impact in their community while preparing for a career in tech. Participants will get exposure to tech jobs, meet women in tech careers, and join a supportive sisterhood of girls in tech. The program is available as a 2-week intensive or as a 6-week self-paced program.

Kode with Klossy

Offers a few programs, including a free two-week summer program for young women and non-binary individuals ages 13 – 18 that will teach you to build real-life apps whether you’ve never written a line of code or you’re a full-fledged hacker.

Also check out:

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Math

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Math

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 math.

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), or work with a teacher at your school to develop an independent study—there are tons of options ranging from super formal (and pricey) to those as simple as reading in your free time. They all “work” to build your academic narrative and explore your area(s) of interest.

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(Late) News of the Week!

(Late) News of the Week!

Harvard, Yale,  and other Ivies report near-record numbers of early-admission applications…and on another planet (New Jersey), Princeton joins a small group of schools not releasing admissions data, citing impact on applicants’ anxiety. Side note: This is not how to solve anxiety around college admissions. 

Harvard extended its test-optional policy for four more years. But the main reason Harvard and its counterparts are dropping the test is that it’s in their interest to do so.

A news flash? Binding admission offers do not, in fact, oblige you to attend. If you can’t afford to go at the price that the college has asked you to pay, you can back out.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

Test Optional May Not Apply to Homeschooled Students. Even some colleges that have gone test optional still require homeschooled applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. Admissions officials say test scores are a valuable metric for homeschooled students, who can be challenging to evaluate.

Twenty education groups are issuing an open letter to college presidents and boards urging them to abandon legacy admissions, which remains popular among private colleges and some public institutions. “As Jerome Karabel details in his book, The Chosen, legacy preferences arose at elite institutions in the 1920s and 1930s as a way to limit the enrollment of Jewish immigrants whose qualifications outstripped those from long-standing well-to-do families that Ivy League colleges preferred to see on campus,” the letter says. To this day, the legacy preference continues to favor wealthy, white families. 

Ten Higher Education Stories of 2021

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What to do if you were deferred by a top choice college

What to do if you were deferred by a top choice college

Every year we work with a handful of deferred students on turning those defers into admits. Reach out to us if you want individualized guidance!

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to in early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer some and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small at many top-20 schools) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone! A not so nice practice. Most students who fall into this category should move on and focus on other schools. If you are not sure which category you fall into, ask us. 

If you’d like some general guidance on working the deferral, you’ll find it below. But first, a few notes before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision 2, and keep moving forward on other apps! Those are much more important now.

2. Consider ED 2; it’s often smarter than relying on RD. Not all schools have ED 2; check your Common App to see if ED 2 is offered at any schools on your list. Why? Because….

3. The RD round is tough.  Get familiar with the ED 1 and RD numbers and understand why ED 2 can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart by Jeff Levy and Jeannie Kent. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

4. Don’t make the same mistakes again. You should be very open to doing a thorough evaluation of what might have gone wrong with your early app(s). With fresh eyes, you might find a few things you would change. Or, with the feedback from someone else, see that you missed the mark completely on some elements of your application. If you’d like an evaluation of your deferred app, our “redo report,” contact us.

Other Tips:

–Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor advocate for you via telephone. Make sure updated grades/transcripts are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

-If you applied test-optional, consider taking and/or sending scores. Colleges have always valued competitive scores and this year is no different.

–Get an extra letter of recommendation if the school notes you are allowed to send one*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, employer, or someone else who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is usually no. And…some schools explicitly state not to send any extra letters.

–Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings can be included in your deferral letter.

-Connect with your regional rep and consider sending a deferral letter (aka an update letter or letter continued interest). You should have connected with them prior to applying, so this email won’t be out of the blue. Ask if they have any specific advice for deferred candidates. Are reasons for the deferral that you can address in the coming months (grades, test scores or lack thereof, lack of demonstrating interest, or understanding the mission and values of the school)? If you had an interview and established a good relationship with your interviewer, you can also reach out to them to see if they have any tips. A deferral letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied as a way to show your fit for the school, how you will add value, etc. It should not be a list of your accomplishments or a brag sheet.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

PSAT scores are back this week. If you’re a high school junior, this moment marks the start of SAT and ACT prep season. (That is, if you haven’t started already!) Read Applerouth’s handy guide to understanding your PSAT scores and what to do next as you prepare for the SAT or ACT.

The Will to Test in a Test-Optional Era. Hundreds of colleges have suspended their ACT and SAT requirements. Many students won’t let them go… (but for good reason…not all TO is created equal). 

According to an updated list released by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), more than 1,815 colleges and universities now practice test-optional or test-blind admissions, an all-time high. The list includes nearly all of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities. At least 1,400 institutions have already extended those policies at least through the fall 2023 admissions cycle. Among the schools that will not require ACT or SAT tests from current high school juniors are well-known private institutions, such as Amherst, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Tufts. In addition, many public university systems including those in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington will remain test-optional or test-blind.

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College Deferral Steps

College Deferral Steps

Every year we work with a handful of deferred students on turning those defers into admits. Reach out to us if you want individualized guidance!

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to in early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer some and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small at many top-20 schools) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone! A not so nice practice. Most students who fall into this category should move on and focus on other schools. If you are not sure which category you fall into, ask us. 

If you’d like some general guidance on working the deferral, you’ll find it below. But first, a few notes before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision 2, and keep moving forward on other apps! Those are much more important now.

2. Consider ED 2; it’s often smarter than relying on RD. Not all schools have ED 2; check your Common App to see if ED 2 is offered at any schools on your list. Why? Because….

3. The RD round is tough.  Get familiar with the ED 1 and RD numbers and understand why ED 2 can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart by Jeff Levy and Jeannie Kent. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

4. Don’t make the same mistakes again. You should be very open to doing a thorough evaluation of what might have gone wrong with your early app(s). With fresh eyes, you might find a few things you would change. Or, with the feedback from someone else, see that you missed the mark completely on some elements of your application. If you’d like an evaluation of your deferred app, our “redo report,” contact us.

Other Tips:

–Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor advocate for you via telephone. Make sure updated grades/transcripts are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

-If you applied test-optional, consider taking and/or sending scores. Colleges have always valued competitive scores and this year is no different.

–Get an extra letter of recommendation if the school notes you are allowed to send one*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, employer, or someone else who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is usually no. And…some schools explicitly state not to send any extra letters.

–Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings can be included in your deferral letter.

-Connect with your regional rep and consider sending a deferral letter (aka an update letter or letter continued interest). You should have connected with them prior to applying, so this email won’t be out of the blue. Ask if they have any specific advice for deferred candidates. Are reasons for the deferral that you can address in the coming months (grades, test scores or lack thereof, lack of demonstrating interest, or understanding the mission and values of the school)? If you had an interview and established a good relationship with your interviewer, you can also reach out to them to see if they have any tips. A deferral letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied as a way to show your fit for the school, how you will add value, etc. It should not be a list of your accomplishments or a brag sheet.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

Through mid-November, applications are up, the Common Application finds. For early applicants, there is only a modest increase in submitting test scores.

Ohio State U. Unveils a Plan for All Students to Graduate Debt-Free

Admission to University of California campuses will from now on be done without standardized tests. When the board voted to eliminate SAT and ACT scores from its considerations, it left open the possibility of using another test. But faculty members did not believe such a test existed or could be created.

Schools are starting to release their testing policies for the 2022-2023 admissions season. Stanford is one of the first, going test-optional for a third year in a row. 

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Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

Early admission decisions start to release soon, so it’s about that time of year when College Kickstart starts tracking the latest early decision and early action notification dates. They post over 100 schools, and update frequently, so you will want to bookmark their page and check back. 

They also very nicely include actual notification dates from last year where available. That said, many schools notify applicants in advance of their official dates, so stay tuned to your email. 

Thank you College Kickstart!

PS — Class of 2026 is also known as the high school Class of 2022

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