Category Archives: Colleges

Colleges and universities find best practices, success stories, and practical guidance to help students throughout the enrollment process.

How To Use Demonstrated Interest To Your Benefit by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

If you’ve read about tactics for improving your odds at college admissions, you may have heard the phrase “demonstrated interest.” What “demonstrated interest” means is your level of engagement and sincerity when researching and interacting with a school you may apply to. A school’s representatives specifically watch for this, as they are trying to gauge a prospect’s likelihood of actually enrolling if accepted. There are several ways to capitalize on demonstrated interest, and multiple opportunities.

The first thing that you can do to stand out from the typical flurry of admissions is to apply early. In addition to the normal window of time for admissions, there’s also an early-application period. Part of this window includes Early Decision and Early Action. When one applies for Early Decision, this automatically means that you will accept and enroll should admission be offered to you. This is very telling, as you are essentially assuring a particular school that they are your first choice. Early Action is non-binding, meaning you are not committed to a particular college by applying early.

Another way to demonstrate your interest is to tour the university; this may sound obvious, but it’s not always practical when a school is across the country, or perhaps across the globe. Visiting a campus and picturing yourself there is an investment of time on your part, which brings me to the next point.

When an appealing school is not within easy traveling distance and you can only devote yourself to visiting your top institutions, something you can do is attend a local college fair or information session. Most schools, if not all, hold various events throughout the country and the school year. Seeking out a particular school at a fair shows the representatives that you have planned to speak to them.

One other thing you can do to make yourself visible and memorable to a school representative or admissions officer is to engage with them in conversation. While they are certainly able to answer your generic questions about their course offerings, their campus, their local community, etc., they will gladly answer your more personalized questions regarding how a particular program may be a good fit for you, or any other questions you may have regarding their school and how you would do well there.

Each of these tactics will help you stand out to the representatives and admissions officers. Your biggest advantage is to be memorable. Consider that officers read application essays for between 8-10 hours per day during application season; set yourself apart from the paper.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one coaching services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

Engaging Ways To Open Your Personal Statement by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

Summer is here and rising seniors have college applications on their mind. The Common Application essays have not changed from last application cycle. Therefore, students can get a head start and use their summer to write their personal statement.           

Keep in mind, an admissions officer may read essays for countless hours every day during admissions season – therefore your essay needs to be memorable. Here are some tips on writing an engaging personal statement. The most important component of this is a strong opening.

Your essay or “personal statement” is meant to share more about yourself with the admissions officers. They already know your academic history from your transcripts – you do not need to repeat it. What the officers will not glean from your transcripts and standardized test scores is your personality. Your essay is your opportunity to illustrate yourself. Share a compelling memory, an anecdote from your life. This is your chance to connect with your reader.

This is the opening paragraph of Isabella’s essay:

My small body and head of curly hair trotted over to the refrigerator in search of some butter for my bread. I shifted some cans of half-opened Goya beans and the remnant of a brick of dulce de leche that had seen better days. After much shuffling, I spotted the big brown container of margarine. Carefully placing the tub on the kitchen table and readying for my “feast,” I opened the container. To my dismay, it was filled with arroz con pollo. My eyes tightened and my stomach made Chewbacca noises. Maybe I could mash the dulce de leche on top of the bread.

Isabella’s beginning is personal, funny and very relatable. The opening paragraph is engaging, and “hooks” the reader into wanting to finish reading the story. Isabella throws the reader right in the middle of her story. This is a perfect example of using an anecdote to open your essay.

Three elements of a strong opening:

The Why – Isabella’s opening is a great example of this. The reader wants to know what happens next; how will she solve the problem?

The Surprise  – Sometimes a shocking statement works; your reader will pay rapt attention. An example of this is: “I grew up a killer,” then followed by a story about deciding to become vegetarian. You can use a figurative, alarming statement to grab your readers’ interest.

The Confession – By revealing something personal about yourself, you establish trust with the reader. They become your confidant. This is an effective way to pull a fact from your resume and then elaborate on it personally. An example: Lesley is ranked #1 in her high school and is valedictorian. Confession: She is dyslexic and has had to work diligently to overcome this learning obstacle.

Your essay is a critical part of your application; this is the school’s first impression of the real You. It completes the picture of your identity and shows the officers why you would be an asset to their community.

 


About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

3 Tips For Students Applying to the Ivy League and Highly Competitive Programs by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

Obviously when applying to these prestigious institutions and programs you must give your absolute best, and you can start as early as you like with your personal development and experience. Here are three guiding concepts to bear in mind as you make these choices.

1. Develop a Niche

If you’ve heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none,” this is particularly true in competitive college admissions. In college, you plan to pursue excellence and mastery of a specialized field, correct? It’s in your best interest to concentrate your attention on your intended field as early and as much as possible. We hear all the time that people are meant to be “well-rounded”. It sounds good, but that’s the same as knowing a little about a lot of things, rather than knowing a lot about one or two things.

These institutions are looking for potential students who will be successful in their programs. How will you demonstrate your abilities if you appear simply mediocre in many areas, rather than advanced in your desired field?  As with your admissions essay, you want your resume or curriculum vitae to stand out. You want it to be memorable. Invest your time and energy in courses and experiences that further your ultimate goals.

2. Don’t Expect Results Overnight

True professionals, true masters of their craft will invariably tell you that excellence is not easily achieved. You WILL need to put in the work. Consider this quote from Malcolm Gladswell: “The 10,000-hours rule says that if you look at any kind of cognitively complex field, from playing chess to being a neurosurgeon, we see this incredibly consistent pattern that you cannot be good at that unless you practice for 10,000 hours, which is roughly ten years, if you think about four hours a day.”

You will need to put in the work to convince these institutions that you deserve their assistance and resources in order to work even harder – at becoming a professional in your field. You are improving your chances at turning your passion into your career. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with being “pointy” instead of “well-rounded.” “Pointy” is passionate. “Pointy” is driven.

3. Understand What Universities Value

Colleges know that prospective students (and their parents) research rankings. Reputation matters to these schools, and therefore, you need to offer value to them. Your application should show them how you will add to their community.

In addition, schools are looking to maintain or improve their yield. Once admission is offered to a student, it improves their yield when that student actually enrolls. This factors into an institution’s reputation. This is why “demonstrated interest” is important – school representatives are encouraged by your attention and sincerity when you engage in conversation with them. This can be at a college fair, in your application and correspondence, during a campus tour, etc. They will know when your interest is not genuine, and they know that prospective students are researching multiple schools at once. When you demonstrate your interest in a school, be sincere.

Lastly, your standardized test scores matter here too. If your scores are higher than the school’s average, you raise their average. Inversely, if your scores are lower than the school’s average, you may lower theirs and therefore are considered a liability, which they will avoid offering admission to.

Obviously, these tips are not something that you can begin your senior year of high school after perusing a few colleges online.  If you review tip #2, preparing early can be to your benefit. If you know what your passion is, if you know what drives you, then you can channel that into your class selections, volunteer opportunities, internships, summer activities, etc. Prepare yourself to give yourself the best chance of acceptance.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

Tips for Attending College Fairs by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

At this point you may think it’s unnecessary to attend college fairs when you already have your list of potential schools. However, these fairs are a particularly efficient way to begin to narrow down that list. Equally, although there is a lot of practical and valuable information to be found online at each school’s website, a college fair can show you the inside workings and give you a better feel for what life would be like at these institutions. It also may not be obvious to everyone but you should really visit the campus of a school you plan to attend before accepting an admission offer.

Websites generally list available majors, describe the facilities, display beautiful photos of a campus, and give you short biographies of the faculty. However, recruiters can answer your questions regarding the true “personality” of a school and ultimately give you a much clearer idea of your compatibility. These events can give you a lot of insight, even if you think you’re sure about your selections. These tours are also ideal for students still in high school; do your research on the schools you’re interested in before you add them to your list.

The biggest buzzword for college fairs is, again, efficiency. These events are perfect for feeling out multiple schools at once, and eliminating those that are not the right fit for you. Many specifically visit multiple regions, in order to be accessible to prospective students around the country. You can also get an idea of what each school expects of its applicants and tips on what to expect during an interview. Recruiters like to see your interest, and they are looking for indications whether the students who approach them are seriously considering attending rather than just “window shopping”.

Even if you plan to attend a top-tier school, college fairs still have their uses. This list outlines several popular annual events. Be aware that although attendance is free, these events do require registration ahead of time.

The Coast to Coast College Tour

This literally cross-country tour includes some very recognizable names in the form of  Berkeley, Dartmouth, Northwestern, Princeton and Vanderbilt. These colleges have collaborated on their tour presentation as they each practice “holistic admissions” as defined by the AAMC: “Holistic review is a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics and, when considered in combination, how the individual might contribute value as a medical student and physician.”

Get the details and check the map and dates of their stops here: https://www.coasttocoasttour.org/

Exploring Educational Excellence

This lineup includes Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Rice and this tour includes information sessions for prospective students and their families, as well as counselor sessions that offer the opportunity to ask questions directly of admissions reps.

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AP Scholar Awards Explained by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

As May approaches, students are preparing for their AP Exams. AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May.

Competitive colleges do not simply look at a student’s GPA; they examine the rigor of the courses. If you are a student aspiring for the Ivy League or other highly competitive universities, make sure your academic record has AP courses.

An AP Scholar is someone who receives an award from the College Board for outstanding performance on several AP exams. There are different award levels depending on how many exams the student scores highly on. Being an AP Scholar offers a lot of advantages. For starters, you can list it on your college applications and resume.

AP Award Levels:

  • Scholar – This is awarded to students who score 3 or more on at least three AP exams.
  • Scholar with Honor – This is awarded to students who have averaged a minimum of 3.25 on the AP exams they take and score 3 or more on at least four of those exams.
  • Scholar with Distinction – This is awarded to students who average a minimum of 3.5 on all their AP exams and score 3 or more on at least five of these exams.
  • State Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student in each state. The student must have a score of 3 or more on the highest number of AP exams, as well as the highest average score on all the exams they take.
  • National Scholar – This is awarded to students who average at least a score of 4 in all the AP exams they take and score 4 or more in at least 8 of these exams.
  • DoDEA Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student attending one of the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. Whoever has the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams among all the students in the school receives this award. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
  • International Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student attending a school outside the United States or Canada with the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
  • Seminar and Research Certificate – This is awarded to students who score 3 or more in both AP Research and AP Seminar.
  • Capstone Diploma – This is awarded to students who get a score of 3 or more in AP Research and AP Seminar and any four additional AP exams of their choice.

Deadlines:

If you want to qualify for any of these awards before you apply for college, you need to take the requisite exams by the end of your junior year so that you can get the award by fall of senior year.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

44 Colleges You Probably Never Heard of, But Should! by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

Most people can name 20-30 colleges off the top of their head. There are over 4,000 universities worldwide. I want to introduce you to 44 universities you may not have heard of. If you are looking for great liberal arts colleges to apply to, you should definitely check out CTCL (Colleges That Change Lives). CTCL is a non-profit organization. Visit their website at ctcl.org. You can also check out the book at your local library; the author is Loren Pope. The book is a great resource to flip through and view universities by location. Their member institutions are a perfect fit for students looking for a challenging academic curriculum with more hands-on experience in their undergraduate environment.

  1. What does CTCL do as an organization? – Their main goal is to educate students, counselors and family members about colleges that they might not have heard of. Their process is more informed, streamlined and introspective. They are strong advocates for the liberal arts and all their member schools are known for their quality liberal arts programs.
  2. How are the colleges selected? – The late Loren Pope, who was responsible for the list believed that the residential liberal arts experience is the ideal way for college students to learn. As of 2016, CTCL has 44 member schools that are all part of a non-profit organization interested in working together with students and parents to educate them about the liberal arts college scene.
  3. Who are the ideal candidates for the CTCL member institutions? – Any student who is looking for a college experience that includes extensive interaction with the faculty members will be best served by the CTCL schools. Since the class sizes are small, the faculty members act as mentors and not just advisers. Small schools create an excellent intellectual space in which the students get to live and learn. They are challenged, supported and they get to interact with a diverse group of both domestic and international students.
  4. Do they ever drop or add colleges? – No school has yet been removed from the organization. If the school is no longer able to offer a strong liberal arts program or change their educational system and admission process and make it less student-centered, they would no longer fit with the organization and their message. Colleges can be added if they follow the founding principles.
  5. Where can I learn more about CTCL? – If you want to know more about CTCL and its attendant institutions, visit their website. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #CTCLColleges. They post regular updates on their specially curated tours for parents and students across the nation. They also have a lot of smaller events in which the executive director of the organization talks more about CTCL and the process of the college

College Spotlight

Agnes Scott College – 1889, Decatur, GA 

This Presbyterian-founded, women-only liberal arts college, with its current student population of 914, nonetheless boasts some impressive distinctions. Renamed in 1906 in honor of the mother of a magnanimous benefactor, Col. George Washington Scott, this is “the first institution of higher learning in Georgia to receive regional accreditation.” Since 1920 Agnes Scott has been in the top 10% of American colleges whose student complete their Ph.D. degrees. Agnes Scott is also listed among 2018’s Best Colleges’ National Liberal Arts Colleges.

This particular institution has a rich and fascinating history, more than can adequately be conveyed in this little summary. It is also ranked NCAA Division III – U.S. South, and one of their guiding philosophies is to operate on the Honor System, which trusts the integrity and best judgement of each individual. I would strongly recommend learning more about this enchanting and well-respected college. https://www.agnesscott.edu/

 

Cornell College – 1853, Mount Vernon, IA

This institution, often confused with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, even includes a page on their website which proudly states “We’re Not In Ithaca”. Cornell College also has a proud history, and their picturesque campus is on the National Registry of Historical Places. Cornell should be considered a pioneer in human rights: in 1858 it was the first college “West of the Mississippi” to award a degree to a woman, and a few years later to give equal pay to a female faculty member. In 1870 Cornell declared that “color and race shall not be considered a basis of qualification in the admission of students”.

Cornell College also has a very unique curriculum, introduced in 1978: “One Course At A Time”, wherein students attend one intensive, complete course for 3.5 weeks before moving on to another course.

Other notable facts about this college include Cornellians being regular recipients of Fulbright Scholarships, and their annual “Eyes of the World” multicultural show. Also, Mount Vernon, Iowa is among Arthur Frommer’s “America’s Coolest Small Towns”. Frommer is known for the magazine Budget Travel. https://www.cornellcollege.edu/index.shtml

 

Ohio Wesleyan University – 1842, Delaware, OH 

This institution has perhaps the most unusual and storied history of these few spotlights: it had its beginning in a repurposed old hotel building, the purchase of which was essentially crowdfunded by the townspeople – for $10,000 in that time. Now many of their sites are also listed on the National Registry of Historical Places.

A phrase from their website which captivated me was the school’s offering of an “all-you-can-experience buffet” for those with a passion “for life and learning”. There are too many amazing facets to this university that I cannot possibly touch upon everything here; please do yourself a favor and check out this school, particularly if you have zeal for international issues. A distinguishing feature of Wesleyan is the Global Scholars Program, the motto of which is “Think Big, Go Global, and Get Real”. Described as a “competitive” program for “high-achieving first year students”, once accepted, these students retain that designation for their four years, and those upperclassmen who maintain the required high standards throughout their time have the opportunity to earn a $2000 theory-to-practice grant, specifically intended to fund “an approved international research or study project of their choice”.

A few more impressive factoids about Wesleyann: their Selby Stadium is the fourth largest privately-owned Division III stadium in the country, according to their website. Forbes has listed Wesleyann among their “Most Entrepreneurial Colleges”. I truly want to tell you more about this remarkable university, but we have to move on. Be sure to read about their three objectives which constitute a success for their students. https://www.owu.edu/

 

Guilford College – 1837, Greensboro, NC

Guilford still operates by the Core Values adopted by its Quaker founders. These guiding Values are: Community, Diversity, Equality, Excellence, Integrity, Justice, and Stewardship.

This college has been a member of CTCL for 21 years. Guilford offers 41 majors and 52 minors, and 83% of their graduates are employed within their first year after leaving, which is 15% higher than the national average. Their teacher-to-student is an incredible 1:1, and this institution was included in the 2016 Fiske Guide to Colleges as a “Best Buy”.

Discussing Stewardship and Diversity, Princeton designates Guilford as a “green” college, the grounds of Guilford were once part of the Underground Railroad, and 40% of the incoming 2020 class are students of color. Guilford adds yet another notable history to CTCL’s list, and their website displays “Your 4-1-0 Guarantee: Four Years, One Tuition, No Worries”. https://www.guilford.edu/

 

Southwestern University – 1840, Georgetown, TX

Southwestern claims to be the second school West of the Mississippi to offer coeducation (after Agnes Scott, see above). A self-descriptor which immediately caught my attention is: “Education for Tomorrow: Creating the 21st Century Thinker”. Once again I’m unable to cram all of the compelling facts about this school into a few paragraphs.

Just one example of this is their annual Shilling Lecture Series: this year’s speaker was Jonathan Haidt, a prominent social psychologist and author of the NY Times Bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion. His lecture was “The Age of Outrage: What It Is Doing To Our Universities, and Our Country”. If that is not captivating enough, past speakers include conservationist Jane Goodall, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, anti-death penalty activist and author Sister Helen Prejean, former Secretary of State James Baker III, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and our 39th POTUS, Jimmy Carter. This is to name only a few.

The bottom line is that CTCL colleges are student focused learning institutions. The member colleges challenge the notion that only Ivy League universities are capable of offering challenging courses and top-notch faculty. The CTCL metrics of what constitutes a great learning environment are more varied and interesting than the ones used by most college guidebooks and their effectiveness as a measure of quality education is evident in the results they produce. The member colleges also have resources for students who have learning disabilities. If you are planning to apply to a liberal arts college, their site will help you make a more informed decision about your path of education.

 

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

Technology in the Classroom: How to Help without Hindering By Dixie Somers

Modern students are often inundated with electronic distractions. They also have access to more information and more processing power than any previous generation. What can educators do to manage valuable technological resources like iPads and online programs without letting it get in the way of real learning?

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10 CollegeWeekLive Schools with Great Environment Programs By Kristina Carroll

As we learn more about the environment, the more in-demand careers in this field become. Whether you’re looking for a degree in environmental studies, or simply want to join a club that focuses on sustainability projects on campus, one of these schools could be the perfect fit for you.

 

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10 Great Schools for Students with Special Needs By Brianna Burrows

This article was provided to us by Study in the USA.

Portrait Of Female Pupil Studying At Desk In Classroom

The United States provides world class education, and not just for a select few, but for all individuals who seek to better themselves. Fortunately, the USA has some of the best disability and accommodation laws in the world and this extends to the education system as well. Many colleges and universities offer comprehensive resources and support to students with special needs. We’ve highlighted five great schools for students with specials needs.

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California Colleges and Universities that Offer Scholarships to International Students

This post was brought to us by Study in the USA.Businesswoman Using Laptop At Desk In Busy OfficeFinding the money to attend college or
university can be quite a struggle, especially
for international students. That’s why it is by
far one of the most popular questions on
StudyUSA.com: where can I find scholarships
for international students? Here are some
California schools that offer scholarships to international students.

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