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Four Things Students Should Do If They Are Deferred From Their Dream University Four Things Students Should Do If They Are Deferred From Their Dream University

A deferral is similar to the limbo of college admissions—you aren’t quite into the university, but you aren’t rejected yet either. When the university defers you, it means that the school sees potential in your application, but the admissions officers want to evaluate your application again during the regular decision cycle.

    If you do get deferred, here are four steps you should take.

  1. Decide if the university is still your top option. Is the university still your “dream school?” Or have things changed since you have sent in your application? If another school might be a better fit for you, this deferment has opened up your options for you, and a chance for you to reconsider your college list.
  2. Update your resume and LinkedIn. Think about your recent accomplishments, updated test scores, or accolades you might have achieved throughout the last couple of months. Our students send in not only a resume, but also their LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile serves as a portfolio to add any research papers, pictures from service projects, or videos of you performing an extracurricular activity.
  3. Ask for another letter of recommendation. Ask a supervisor at an internship, coach, teacher, or manager at a job to write you a letter of recommendation. This recommendation should add something new to your application. Make sure you are asking someone who you have a close relationship with and can speak about the positive aspects of your personality.
  4. Write a deferral letter. If you are still committed to attending the school, you should send a letter of continued interest. This letter should be about one page in length. It is important you send the letter immediately. The purpose of this letter is to demonstrate how you are now a stronger candidate for the university than when you first applied, helping to sway the admissions officers’ decision in your favor.

How To Write The Deferral Letter
The letter must display your continued interest in attending the school. In the first paragraph, convey why the school remains your top choice. Don’t lie; only write a deferral letter if you are committed to attending.

Next, describe your most recent accomplishments. Update the admissions officers on things that have occurred since you applied. You want to make your candidate profile stronger, and showcase why you would be a great asset to the university.

    Here are some examples of things to include:

  • High test scores on standardized tests (ACT, SAT)
  • High grades in challenging courses
  • Accomplishments in extracurricular activities like music, sports, DECA, HOSA, Science Olympiad, National Honors Society, etc.
  • Shadowing or volunteer hours
  • Independent projects, such as research

End the letter by restating why this particular university is the right fit for you. Don’t repeat things you’ve already mentioned in your supplemental essays or personal statement; be specific and personal.

Once you have finished writing your deferral letter, email it to the admissions office. Do not delay sending it!

5 FAFSA Tips To Get The Most Financial Aid

As colleges get more expensive each year, students rely more frequently on financial aid to help offsets the costs of education. However, many students are making simple mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars in grants or scholarship money each year. Here are five tips to help you get the most financial aid possible.

1. Fill Out The FAFSA
One of the easiest ways to get financial aid for college is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While some students mistakenly believe that the FAFSA or CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile is only for students with extreme financial needs, this is false. All students, regardless of their economic background, should fill out the FAFSA. This application not only takes into account the income level but also the number of children in the family and how many are enrolled in college simultaneously.

Each year, more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid goes unclaimed because people do not fill out the FAFSA. While the FAFSA can be a bit tedious, it is well worth the few hours it takes to complete.

2. Submit The FAFSA Now
The FAFSA application opens on October 1, and it is beneficial to you to fill it out as soon as it opens. Many organizations that gave out larger financial packages will have early deadlines, often before the new year.

Many of these organizations operate on a “first-come, first-serve” system, and by applying early, you give yourself the best chance to earn more financial aid. You can find the full list of FAFSA deadlines on the US Department of Education’s website.

3. Complete The Right Form
Unfortunately, some people have created look-a-like websites to trick people into putting in their financial data or credit card information. Before filling out the form, check to ensure you are on, which is the only official FAFSA website.

Make sure you are filling for the correct year. For example, if you are planning on enrolling in college for the 2020-2021 year, make sure you are selecting the form for that year. Filling out the form ensures you get all the financial aid you are entitled to for that school year.

4. Add ALL Your Schools
One of the biggest mistakes students make is not adding in all their schools to the FAFSA form. Initially, you can only add 10, but after you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can send the FAFSA information to all the schools. Even if you replace another school’s code with another one, it will never delete your financial information from that university’s system.

5. Finish it!
The FAFSA takes time to do, but it is well worth the struggle. In fact, a study by the NCAN (National College Access Network), found that seniors who finish the FAFSA are 63% more likely to enroll in a university than students who don’t complete the form.

Spend a few days completing the FAFSA! While it can be a complicated process, it makes college more affordable and is one of the necessary steps you should take when preparing for college.

Five Surefire Ways For Students To Manage College Application Stress Effectively

Applying to colleges can be stressful, and for teenagers, this decision is one of the biggest they will have made in their lives. College-bound seniors might be feeling overwhelmed and overworked as admissions deadlines loom closer, and the stress will build as they struggle to finish everything on time.

The application process isn’t easy, so students should create a plan of action on how to cope with the added pressure. Parents can also serve as a supportive shoulder to lean on during this busy time. Here are five surefire ways for students to manage college application stress effectively.

1. Start Early
If the thought of applying to college causes you anxiety, then you might be overwhelmed with all the options. Start early by visiting admissions websites, talking to college students or representatives and attending information sessions to figure out where you might want to attend college.

The Common Application prompts are released before summer even starts, so you could get started on your personal statement now. By finishing that essay by the time school starts, you can alleviate some of the stress of balancing classes with the application process.

Another thing you get off your plate early is the letters of recommendation. Think of teachers, mentors or coaches that you have formed a close relationship with over the years. Give them your resume and ask them to write you a letter of recommendation early in the process to ensure they have time to write a thoughtful recommendation.

2. Stay Organized
Regardless of how many schools you choose to apply to, there can still be a lot of information and conflicting dates to remember. Instead of trying to keep track of it mentally, write it down and organize it. List out all deadlines, the cost of attendance, whether you need test scores, how many recommendations schools require and if they require any supplemental essays. As you complete the items on the checklist, cross them off. That way, you are never left wondering if you forgot to answer a supplemental essay question or how many letters of recommendations you need to submit.

3. Ask For Help
You aren’t expected to do this all on your own. Ask a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher or school counselor for help with an essay, your college list or any other part of the application. You could even consider hiring an independent counselor to be your guide and assist you with more specific issues. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

4. Reuse What You Can
Luckily, the Common App makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools a little quicker. You won’t have to refill out your basic information numerous times, and you can send your personal statement to all the universities that accept the Common App. However, some schools will require supplemental essays. As you apply to more schools, you might realize you have to write on a similar topic for multiple schools. Reuse the content when you can, but make sure that each essay is still tailored to the particular school and fully answers the specific prompt.

5. Keep A Positive Attitude
You will get in somewhere! If you have planned ahead, written genuine essays that reflect your personality and applied to a balanced list of colleges, then you will likely get into a school that is the perfect fit for you. College application season can be stressful, but by taking these steps, you can manage the workload and find your place at the college of your dreams.

Three Ways To Make Your High School Resume Impressive To Colleges by Kristen Moon

Admission rates at top colleges have become more competitive over the past ten years, with even the best students finding themselves on the waitlist or rejected from many of the schools on their list. If you have your heart set on attending a highly-selective school, then you should start planning on ways to get your resume and application to stand out from the crowded field.

With a little bit of creativity, you can accomplish this goal by making your resume so intriguing that colleges can’t wait to meet you. Regardless of whether it is published on LinkedIn, a similar site or attached to your Common Application, your resume should give your profile an extra boost. Here are some ways you can challenge yourself to create a standout resume before applying to colleges.

Get Published
Proving that you are a good writer through top grades and high SAT scores is one thing, but earning a byline is an excellent way to distinguish yourself. You can get started by writing for your school newspaper, and then reach out to local publications and pitch them that you can write articles from a student’s perspective. Look up online publications that are related to your interests and pitch article ideas to them.

If you don’t think you want to commit to writing for an established publication, you can also self-publish. Write a Medium post or a personal blog about the research you have completed, or summer camp and volunteer experiences. If you don’t have a blog yet, you can start one for free with WordPress, Tumblr or Wix.

Start A New Group
Find your passion and think outside the box to bring your interests to the rest of the community. If you love doing arts or crafts, you could consider starting a weekly summer program for local children. You could even visit a nursing home and do simple arts with the residents. Growing the group shows initiative and displays your leadership skills and resourcefulness to college admission officers.

Create Something Online
High school students who are technologically gifted might consider reaching out to a local, small nonprofit and offering their talents. You can help them revamp their website or build an app. Many nonprofits don’t have the budget to pay for professional design and creative services, so this would be an excellent chance for you to have a significant impact while honing your own skills.

You can also offer to run a social media campaign or create marketing materials for a nonprofit. You might even offer to write blog posts. Volunteering and creating meaningful work can be showcased on your resume, and you can link all your creations to your LinkedIn profile.

Making your high school resume more impressive to colleges isn’t as challenging as you might think. By taking the initiative, you can gain invaluable skills that will benefit you both in college and in your future career. You might also form new connections within your community and discover where your academic interests lie.

Free Courses For High School Students Interested In STEM by Kristen Moon

For the ambitious student, taking online classes is an excellent way to expand your knowledge, advance your education, and help your application stand out from a crowded field. Some high schools, faced with budget cuts and overfilled classrooms, have had to cut out intensive courses. This leaves them at a disadvantage, and lacking in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Other students want to challenge themselves further than what is offered at their school and must look for alternatives.

With STEM jobs on the rise, gaining exposure to this discipline is becoming increasingly important. Regardless of whether a student is looking to explore a career path, learn more about their intended major, or simply to add a new skill to their resume, there are options online for high schoolers to master STEM, without having to spend a dime.

Many of the offered courses are through accredited universities, created to allow for an even platform for learning. Students can find college-level classes that can showcase an impressive drive for learning to college admissions counselors. Here are some of the top free courses for high school students interested in learning STEM.

MIT OpenCourseWare
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has one of the largest collections of free OpenCourseWare (OCW) on the internet. A majority of their thousands of courses do cover STEM topics. “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python” and “Mathematics for Computer Science” are two of their most popular courses. No matter what your age or occupation is, you can find something of value with the MIT OCW content. There are no signups, enrollment, or deadlines you have to hit; you can learn on your own time.

Learn more:

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative offers a variety of classes, many of which are free. Their courses do not have any start or end dates, and you won’t have any tests or receive any certifications at the end of it, but you can gain invaluable skills by the end of the course. A few of their offered courses include “STEM Readiness” and Chemistry.

Learn more:

Open Learning At Harvard
Through Harvard Extension School, motivated students have the chance to learn from the prestigious university. They offer free courses on a variety of subjects, including STEM courses such as Introduction to Game Development or Data Science Probability. The courses are all self-paced, and often do not require a big time commitment per week, making it easy for even a busy high school student to complete during the school year or summer.

Learn more:

Apple’s “Everyone Can Code”
Apple created “Everyone Can Code” because the company realized how essential coding is, and it wanted to give everyone an equal platform to learn. The tech giant created the app-development curriculum using the Swift programming language that is incredibly easy to use. Through the app, users have to solve puzzles to master code. As you advance, the puzzles become harder, allowing you to learn complex code in a fun way. The only caveat is students will have to use an iPhone or iPad to download Swift Playgrounds.

Learn more:

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of Moon Prep provides one-on-one college counseling services. 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.

Junior Year Checklist

Junior year is a turning point for many families because it marks the year when college planning activities begin to consume your free time. It helps to go into your senior year with a plan, so start now to ensure that you are not falling behind.

Spring Of Your Junior Year

Meet With Your Counselor

Make sure you will complete all the requisites for your diploma. Take full advantage of the classes offered by your high school and schedule a rigorous course load.

Check on your class rank and your current GPA. If you haven’t performed as well as you had hoped the first two years of high school, it is not too late to change that. An upward trend in grades is something colleges like to see.

Standardized Tests

During the beginning of the semester, look up testing dates and locations for the SAT and or ACT. The tests are typically offered about once a month during the school year. Signing up for both can give you an advantage because you can decide which one highlights your strengths.

College Visits

Begin to narrow down your college selection and schedule visits to your top choices for the summer. Make sure those colleges fit the most important qualifications to you – size, location, cost, majors, or any special programs that are of interest.

Letter of Recommendations

Most schools require you to submit at least one or two Letters of Recommendations (LOR) from a teacher or guidance counselor. Additional letters can be written by a manager, a club leader, coach, or anyone you have formed a close relationship with recently. Begin to gather the material you will give each person to help them write the best LOR possible.

SAT Subject Tests

Start to do more research about what they require for admission, such as SAT Subject Tests. There are four policies regarding Subject Tests: required, recommended, considered, and alternative. If it is financially feasible for you to take the SAT Subject Tests, and schools on your list either require or recommend it, you can sign up and prepare for them in the spring and summer.

A small number of colleges have the policy that Subject Tests can act as an alternative to standardized testing; they allow an applicant to submit Subject Test scores in lieu of ACT and SAT scores.


Once you narrow down your college list, go to their websites to find out how much it costs per year to go there. Get to know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even though you can’t fill out the FAFSA until October 1 of your senior year, you can start to gather the necessary materials.

The Summer After Your Junior Year

The summer should be your time to get a headstart on your application process. Check out the Common Application to see their selection of essays and begin working on them as soon as possible.

Resume and LinkedIn

The Common Application has a limited character count for extracurricular descriptions, therefore, your resume can be used to expand on your accomplishments.

Your LinkedIn profile should be your online portfolio that adds another dimension to your application. You want to include videos, pictures, research papers, and anything else that can help to humanize you to the admissions staff.

The second semester of your junior year is an essential time for preparing for college. By starting early, you can put together a stronger application that might help you get into your dream college.

About the author:
Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of Moon Prep provides one-on-one counseling 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.

How To Get Accepted Into A BS/MD Program

Getting accepted into a medical program isn’t easy. In 2017-2018, the average acceptance rate hovered around just 7 percent. For the uber-competitive programs, the acceptance rate drops to below 3 percent. Because of this, many students decide instead to compete for a coveted spot in a direct medical program, also referred to as BS/MD.

A spot in this program guarantees the undergrad admission to medical school after completing program-specific criteria. High school seniors fill out just the one application that will essentially lock them into a career in medicine. While this can be a daunting commitment at such a young age, there are perks such as a shorter time at a university (some programs are only six or seven years instead of the typical eight) and greater flexibility over their course selection. However, many of these programs admit less than 20 students per year. To stand out, there are a few tips that students should follow.

Don’t Try to Do Everything

Most students applying for these types of programs will all have similar levels of grades, AP courses taken, and ACT/SAT scores. It can be incredibly challenging to stand out so students should develop a deep interest that they spend time and energy cultivating. By focusing on something related to the science or medical field, it can show that they can devote time and energy to a single task and do it well, which is more impressive than doing many activities at a mediocre level.

A memorable interest showcased on your resume helps bring your application to the top of the pile. You can achieve this through a shadowing position, volunteering, research work, or any other extracurricular activity where a deep interest is portrayed.

Concentrate on Science

Your academic transcript will be one of the first things looked at by the admission officers. GPA, rigor of courses, course selection, class rank, and standardized testing scores are all carefully scrutinized. Therefore, students should create a resume that will attract the notice of the BS/MD admissions office.

Students can do that by:
● Avoid taking too many AP courses; instead of enrolling in every AP course offered, take fewer classes and concentrate ones that are science-focused. By taking less AP courses, you can devote more time to extracurricular activities, which are another important factor in acceptance
● Not taking “easy” AP courses to bump up their GPA
● Focusing their coursework around science-based classes, in particular by taking advanced AP courses in science-related fields.

Spend Time Crafting a Stellar Personal Statement

The application essay is your chance to come alive and help establish you as a real person outside of the numbers. A direct medical program is a massive commitment; therefore the student must convey their conviction to this career path.

To write a persuasive essay, a student should:
● Tell a story with a purpose and emotion, that ultimately will bring the narrative back to you. By telling a memorable story, the admissions officers will be able to recall yours more easily.
● Refrain from repeating extracurricular activities that can easily be found in the application. The essay is your one chance to showcase your personality.
● Do not procrastinate. It will most likely take you longer than you think to write a compelling essay
● Answer the question “Why Medicine?” Use your essay to convey your maturity and powerful intent to study medicine by showing how your activities have prepared you for this program.

With thousands of students applying for these intense programs, make sure every aspect of your application, from the essay to your academics, to your activities revolve around medicine and science. Show you are prepared and have put serious consideration into your selected career path to make sure you stand out from the other applications and beat the odds.

Attack the SAT: What to do when your score plateaus By Allyson Evans

You’ve been studying for weeks and you’ve taken multiple practice SATs. You saw improvement on your first couple of practice tests and were feeling great! Then, you scored your most recent practice SAT and your score stayed the same (or even went down a little). What a bummer.


The good news is that you are not alone! At some point, almost all students see their SAT score plateau or even dip a little. So, take a deep breath, know that you’re not alone, and read the tips below to ensure your score starts going up again!  

Don’t give up.

You’re going to have ups and downs when you’re studying for the SAT. It’s inevitable. Some days, everything will just click and you’ll get more points than ever! Then, the very next day, you might miss ten questions in a row. That’s totally normal. The thing that’s going to get you ahead of the competition is your perseverance.


Take a day or two off to rest, and then get right back to your SAT study schedule. Follow your One Month SAT Study Plan to make sure you are covering all the topics you need to and in the right order.  While you might be tempted to deviate from the plan, now more than ever you need to stay on track. This SAT study plan was designed to help you learn everything you need to in time for the actual SAT when your score really matters.


Also, remember to keep your personal motivation in mind. For most students, that’s thinking about their dream colleges and the scores needed to get into those schools. If you’re not sure yet what your dream school is, check out the average NYU test scores or Georgia Tech scores to give you a sense of what some top schools want. Start by reviewing NYU Scores: What You Need to Get In and Georgia Tech SAT Scores, and then start thinking about the school that would be best for you!


Now that you’re back on track and holding your head up high, let’s look at a couple of specific steps you need to take to ensure your next practice SAT score is higher.

Analyze your SAT practice test results.

To keep making progress, you need to know exactly what’s working and what’s not working for you. The best way to determine what’s working is to set aside a few hours and review your most recent practice test or two. Go through all of the answers—right and wrong—to make sure you understand what you did for each question. Even for the questions you got right, you need to comprehend your approach so you can do it again next time.


For the questions you got wrong, take the time to understand why you got the questions wrong. Did you miss all the Algebra questions? Or did you miss the meaning of vocab questions? By noticing these patterns, you can start to see what you should focus on for the remainder of your study time. You don’t want to keep trying the same approach—now is the time to really hone in on your weaknesses and strengthen them! Find a solid SAT ebook, like the  Complete SAT Study Guide, and be sure you’ve reviewed all the best strategies and tactics for your weaker areas.


Also, if the pattern you’ve noticed is that you’re always short on time, the next tip will be crucial to raising your SAT score.

Pick up the pace.

To keep seeing your SAT score increase, you have to work through most, if not all, of the questions efficiently. It doesn’t matter how many times you can get a data interpretation question right if you have thirty minutes. You have to learn how to solve each question in the allotted time you are given. If your score has plateaued, you need to do some timed practice.


Set up your timer and try one section at a time in the allotted time. If you’re really struggling to get through all of the questions, keep an eye on the timer to help you remember how much time you have left. (Once you develop a good sense of the time you have for each question, you won’t need to look as often.) Remember to move on when you get really stuck on a problem, you don’t want to miss an easier question down the line because you got tripped up early on in the section. With a little timed practice, you’ll start to notice your efficiency increase and, no surprise, your SAT score, too!


When your SAT score plateaus, it can definitely be discouraging. Keep your chin up and stick to your study schedule. Once you’ve analyzed your strengths and weaknesses, spend a little time increasing your speed. If you do all of these things, your SAT score will start climbing back up in no time!



About the Author:


Allyson Evans earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her JD from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been teaching and tutoring the LSAT since 2007, and loves helping students achieve their goals. She currently practices law in Austin, Texas. When she’s not helping students conquer the LSAT, she enjoys traveling and camping.



Catering to Your Skills: How to Choose the Best Degree By Kara Masterson

Enrolling in college is an incredibly exciting time in a young adult’s life. It can also be incredibly overwhelming. Even if you’ve chosen your school, you have a very big decision to make: what to major in. Most universities will offer a wide variety of majors, ranging from subjects in the arts and humanities field to science. To choose the best degree, you need to consider a variety of personal factors. Here are four ways to choose the best degree.

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