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What have I done!?We have been informed that the Common Application 2015-16 will retain four of the five personal statement essay prompts introduced two years ago in CA4, with some revisions in wording, and an additional prompt to replace one that was dropped from last year (below). These changes were made based on a survey of admissions officers, guidance counselors, independent education consultants, parents, and students. CA4′s personal statement essay will continue to have a 250 word minimum and a 650 word maximum. Of course, the applicant chooses only one of the five prompts. In this post, I will discuss how to approach these essay prompts.

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Your high school student is completing those last few weeks of senior year. Commencement is right around the corner, and questions are beginning to arise about how to best spend this last summer at home before going off to college. Below are a few tips that I often share with my clients.

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COLLEGE MOVE-IN is on the horizon. Where to start? As a college admissions consultant, I not only like to see my young clients get into their first choice college, but also be prepared to move into college as well. There are move-in shopping resources for every budget level and taste preference, with online stores often offering free shipping. I peruse the resources and annually update a college checklist for my soon-to-be freshman families.

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I love quotations! (Doesn’t everybody?)

That’s why I display a quote that is seasonally relevant to the college process on the righthand panel of my blog.  Read More…

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It’s that time of year again. School holidays are coming up: Spring Break, Easter Break. Time for high school juniors to explore college campuses. As a college consultant, I am frequently asked how to plan and optimize college visits. So here are some key steps:

1. Decide which schools to visit. With the help of your guidance counselor or an independent consultant, you and your high school student need to be developing an initial college list. The criteria for selection should include: type of institution (public, private, university, liberal arts college, technical institute, arts conservatory); academic and extracurricular programs offered; affordability (public, private, merit scholarship availability); size; setting (urban, suburban, rural); geography and distance from home; diversity; and academic, political, cultural and social atmosphere. Read More…

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graduate-rearview-mirror-645x400As a college admissions consultant, I am well acquainted with the stress that families experience focused on that pivotal point in a young person’s life when the “fat envelope” signals acceptance to college. I joyfully share their excitement and collective sigh of relief, as a significant milestone is reached and that particular struggle is in the rearview mirror. However, I know that this milestone is only one of many in a young adult’s higher education and career journey. As I have mentioned in “High School Seniors: Looking Toward College” and “Freshman Year of College: Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire,” the challenge of succeeding in life has just begun.

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Updated 1/20/2015. January of Junior Year. You just got a notice from your 11th Grader’s guidance counselor that parents are strongly encouraged to attend upcoming “Junior College Night”. They want you to know it’s time to get serious about your kid’s college future.

What to expect? Depends on your school, but most likely it will include a perspective on today’s college application process, how it differs from “back in the day.” Why has the process become so competitive (therefore stressful)? S. P. Springer et al, authors of Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College, identify three factors: the “echo” boom (or baby boomlet), social changes, and the Internet.

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Updated 1/20/15: When my son was a high school sophomore years ago, we kept wondering what, if anything, we should be doing to help him prepare for college. In retrospect, let me share ten essential things parents can do for 10th graders:

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Most college freshmen will experience an avalanche of initiatory rites beginning in mid-August. Some attend orientation programs earlier in the summer, depending on the university’s structure. For many, this is the first time they will set foot on campus since their first tour months ago.

The edge of a great beginning. Here’s what to expect!

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As a college admissions consultant, I often hear parents and their teens ask at the end of junior year, “What can we be doing during the summer to prepare for the crazy fall ahead?” This blog post lays out five answers to that crucial question.

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