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Admission Nuggets

The ACT is frequently described as a curriculum-based achievement test, measuring what a student has learned (English, reading, math, science) in school. The SAT is considered a combination aptitude and achievement exam covering reasoning, mathematical, and verbal abilities.

Summer experiences can translate into valuable material for applications and admission essays — opportunities to showcase the applicant’s personality, values, work ethic, intellectual curiosity, and abilities outside the classroom.

Unable to visit every campus on your list? Check for an online tour on the college’s website,, or

Admission officers may check an applicant’s Facebook or other social media accounts. “Inappropriate content” can be cause for rejection.

Student and parent interactions with the school are routinely tracked; Lack of courtesy to staff can lead to a negative outcome.

Stanford is known to use the acronym —SP (“standard positive”) for strong, but unremarkable, essays, and applicants.  These students are NOT typically admitted.

Interviewing can be a huge advantage: Take advantage of opportunities to showcase your personality and conversation skills, ask insightful questions, and reiterate your interest.

When admissions people are asked to name what they consider the single most-impressive high school course, a frequent reply is AP Calculus.

“Rich kid” school break activities, with little substance, can actually make a negative impression.  Activities and volunteer service should be meaningful and purposeful.

Cuts to education budgets, combined with increased caseloads for guidance counselors, have resulted in reduced college advisory time and resources at many high schools.

Use caution when picking colleges based solely on intended academic major. Most undergraduates change their major at least once or twice!

The two common college education tracks at U.S. colleges and universities are Liberal Arts and Pre-Professional.

Admissions officers, when choosing “a well-rounded class” seeks students with passion and commitment. One or two activities, where the applicant has shown leadership, dedication, and responsibility, is far more impressive than dabbling in many extracurriculars.

Your application only gets a few minutes to make an impression: Admissions officers often read 5 or more applications per hour.

Outstanding candidates don’t always get in. Selective colleges routinely turn down, defer, and waitlist qualified applicants.  The needs of the school, and the desire to enroll a well-rounded class drive decision making.

A high school résumé can be a big help in the admissions process. In addition to helping guide interview conversations, it can be invaluable for completing application activity lists, applying for scholarships, and sharing with recommenders.

Make sure to properly thank guidance counselors, teachers, and coaches for their written recommendations. They may be contacted by the admissions officers at a college to talk about you.

Best Application Essay Advice: Show the Person You Are and Will Be.

The SAT is administered seven times a year — in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.  The ACT is given seven times a year — in February, April, June, July, September, October, and December.

For a qualified applicant, applying Early Decision can double or triple the likelihood of admission.

Follow directions:  Don’t extend your personal statement into the additional information section, attach a resume that is redundant with your activities list, or send additional letters of recommendation that don’t add value.

Personality matters: Students who come across as arrogant, entitled, elitist, unempathetic, selfish, or mean spirited generally don’t impress admissions officers as caring community members and builders.