Category Archives: college

LIVE BLOG: The Universities of the UK and Amsterdam

TUESDAY, June 18 2019 – The Myers Briggs Company

 I was thrilled to visit the global office of the Myers Briggs Company, located in Oxford.

A bit of background… For many years, I have been extremely engaged with the personality and interest assessments of The Myers Briggs Company, learning as much as possible about these tools and administering them to my clients. These assessments include the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), based on Jungian psychology and used to determine innate personality; and the Strong Interest Inventory, which identifies interests in academics, activities, and career paths.

I have administered and interpreted these assessments with hundreds of individuals from 14 years of age through 50, and have conducted workshops with organizations on how to use the MBTI assessment to strengthen teamwork, communication, and collaboration at their company.

I regularly meet with the marketing and product directors of the Myers Briggs Company in the United States. On Tuesday, I had the great opportunity to meet with Liane Hawthorne, the Director of Marketing for the global division of the Myers Briggs Company.

As you may know, the MBTI looks at four dimensions of personality, with each having two preference options:

 

 

Each individual’s preferences for these four dimensions produces a 4-letter personality “type.” For example, my type is ENFJ, including a preference for Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. Identifying an individual’s 4-letter personality type is considered Step I.

 

There are 16 potential personality types. Each type has its own strengths and potential blind spots; as well as preferences for learning, communication, teamwork, and managing conflict and stress.

The front of the Myers Briggs Company headquarters displays the diagram below, summarizing a few salient features of each of the 16 types:

Liane presented a fascinating metaphor, that we can each imagine that we live in an enormous 16-room home. We have our favorite room (which corresponds to our particular personality type), but we need to go into the different rooms to perform different activities. For example, a research activity might require an ISTJ approach. It’s beneficial to learn how to function in the different rooms, but we always want to come back to our “home-room,” where we feel most comfortable, to recharge.

It’s possible to take a more advanced examination of an individual’s personality type, in which we look at “facets” within each personality preference to further differentiate the person; this requires a Step II analysis.

 

Here are the five facets within each of the eight preferences:

I always administer the Step II MBTI because these facets can reveal so much about a person, and can help individualize his or her personality. For example, I am an ENFJ, with “out-of-preference” Thinking facets of Logical and Questioning. For my other preferences of Extraversion, Intuition, and Judging, all my facets are within preference. My resulting personality type is: Logical, Questioning, ENFJ

 It was very gratifying to feel part of the MBTI community! At the Myers Briggs Company’s global headquarters, I felt surrounded by people dedicated to helping others increase their self-awareness and personal effectiveness! 

 

TUESDAY June 18, 2019 – Balliol College, Oxford University

As you may recall from my previous blogs, the University of Oxford is comprised of about 30 individual colleges, each run as a separate, distinct entity and each with its own culture.

Prospective students apply to a particular academic “faculty,” or degree program, within a specific college. Each college chooses which academic fields to offer based on the faculty members, or tutors, affiliated with the college. Not all academic fields are offered by all colleges. For example, the very popular PPE program (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) is offered by 32 colleges; more Prime Ministers have a PPE degree than any other. In contrast, Earth Sciences is only offered by six of the Oxford colleges, and History of Art by eight.

Students’ academics are a combination of lectures offered by their department to all students pursuing a degree in their “faculty,” and tutorials offered by their college by the faculty affiliated with their college. For the first year, students participate mostly in tutorials in their own college; and in years 2 and 3, may take courses in other colleges.

This blog will focus on Balliol College, “arguably the oldest college in Oxford, founded in 1263. It has stood on a single site longer than any other college in the English-speaking world,” according to the current Master, Dame Helen Ghosh.

When I visited, I chatted with three students. One student was from a small town in northern England, and was studying Maths (the British term for Mathematics), and did his thesis work in theoretical number theory (such as imaginary numbers). After graduation, he was going to pursue a PhD. from the University of Durham, where I visited several years ago. Two other students were friends from Germany. One was studying PPE; he visited Balliol and chose it based on its central location and the warmth of the student body. The other was studying history; he never visited but learned about Balliol from virtual tours.

With about 400 undergrads and 400 grad students, Balliol is a relatively medium-sized college within Oxford. It consists of several beautiful quads, including Front Quad below, bordered by two libraries and the chapel.

 

The Old Library was built in the 15th century, originally for Fellows’ use only.

The “New” Library was also built in the 15th century, originally as a dining hall, and converted to the humanities part of the library in 1877. Both libraries are very popular for residents of Balliol, but they are free to use other libraries around campus as well.

Below is a photo of the Chapel, which is the third one on the site.

Students and faculty eat in the Hall, reminiscent of Harry Potter’s school facilities! Surrounding the tables are portraits of Masters and alumni. Balliol alums have included nine Nobel Prize winners and three Primer Ministers.

At the far end of Hall is the Faculty table, where the faculty dine every meal. The elevation of the faculty table is intended to convey the higher stature of the faculty and the respect they deserve.

Master Ghosh described why she chose to join Balliol: “The reputation that Balliol has – of academic excellence, a sense of social responsibility, and intellectual independence – perhaps especially suited me most of all.”

 

Monday, June 17th – Bioengineering at Imperial College

 

WHY STUDY BIOENGINEERING AT IMPERIAL?

Since Imperial is devoted to the study of STEM, and bioengineering is an interdisciplinary STEM field, the combination of bioengineering and Imperial is powerful!

While many undergraduate fields of study at Imperial (and in fact throughout England) are 3-year programs, the Bioengineering degree is available only as a 4-year MEng degree or 5-year MEng degree, including a Year in Industry. As such, you graduate with much stronger credentials.

Imperial’s bioengineering program houses state-of-the-art facilities. The first two years include required core courses, with a deep coverage of the life sciences.

 

 

Imperial’s state-of-the-art life sciences lab.

The tissue regeneration lab.

 

The bioengineering program includes a significant research component. In the third year, students work on a group project to solve real-world problems. As described by Lorna Stevenson, the Admissions and Outreach Manager for Bioengineering, “engineering is a team sport!” In fact, the interview plays a large role and students are encouraged to interview in person on the Imperial campus; in addition to an individual interview, applicants are given a group task to see how well they deal with solving engineering problems within a group. The photo below shows a backstroke device developed by a bioengineering team for Andrew Mullen, a Paralympian swimmer.

 

 

In the fourth year, students conduct an individual research project and take electives in their specialized field of interest. The seven fields of research illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of the program:

  • Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
  • Biomedical Sensing, Diagnostics, and Imaging
  • Computational and Theoretical Modeling
  • Medical Devices
  • Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
  • Regenerative Medicine and Biomaterials
  • Neurotechnology and Robotics

A tour through the Bioengineering labs illustrates the exciting scope of research projects designed to improve the lives of human beings.

 

 

Finally, Imperial College is committed to supporting women in STEM, and participates in the UK Athena Swan program. 54% of students in the bioengineering program are women, and Imperial received a silver Athena award this year in recognition of its support of women in its student and faculty population.

 

 

Stay tuned for more updates from my trip, including information on Oxford University, Kings College, University College London, and the Myers Briggs Company.

Monday June 17th – Imperial College

I was very excited to re-visit Imperial College, one of the top STEM universities in the world! Imperial can credit its existence to the vision of Prince Albert, a big believer in the power of STEM; he helped establish the Royal College of Chemistry in 1845, the earliest school of Imperial. Over the years, the university has grown steadily and incorporated other educational institutions, and at present includes three streams of study: Medicine, Engineering, and Natural Sciences.

Imperial’s main campus is in South Kensington. As part of its continual expansion, it recently opened the Francis Frick Institute, a partnership with Kings College, University College London, and several governmental science institutes, to form the largest biomedical research center in Europe.

MEDICINE DEGREE AT IMPERIAL: OVERVIEW

Unlike in the US, medicine can be studied on the undergraduate level at UK universities. As such, learning about the UK Bachelors degree in medicine provides an interesting glimpse into an alternative approach to medical education. In America, medical education on the graduate level is required, preceded by pre-medical education in the undergraduate year in the form of 8 required science and math courses.

Typically undergraduate education in England consists of a 3-year Bachelor’s program, but Medicine at Imperial totals 6 years; this includes a 4-year course of study for the BSc degree (Bachelors of Science) followed by a 2-year program for the MBBS degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) with a complete cycle through all medical and surgical specialties.

A unique feature of studying medicine at Imperial is that the program is steeped in basic science and research-based, so you are fully qualified to become a scientific researcher and/or clinician when you graduate. In addition, the hospitals affiliated with Imperial serve a wide variety of patient populations, from St. Mary’s, where the royal babies are born, to the the Surrey Hospital, which serves rural populations.


MEDICINE CURRICULUM AT IMPERIAL

The medicine curriculum at Imperial has recently undergone a complete review, and a new curriculum will be implemented shortly, consisting of 3 “phases” of study:

Phase 1 (Years 1-3)

The first 3 years of study will be non-clinical science based, but students will be exposed to relevant clinic work; for example, when studying the cardiology system, students will observe a cardiology ward. In the 3rd year, students will have longer clinical “attachments” (rotations) in various hospitals and clinics, during which they will take histories, go into wards, and shadow doctors. They will be exposed to a variety of environments, including primary care in communities, in-hospital clinics, and out-patient clinics.

Phase 2 (Year 4)

In the 4th year, students complete a research project to obtain the BSc degree. There are 11 different pathways from which to choose. Management and bioengineering are among the more popular pathways. New options this year include surgical innovations and cancer frontiers. For example, a student team in bioengineering developed a rowing sleeve for Pam Relph, diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis at a young age, in order to assist her training on the ergometer; this enabled her to achieve her dream to become a World Rowing Champion.

Phase 3  (Years 5-6)

Years 5 and 6 are the senior clinical years, and include “preparing for practice” longer rotations. During this period, students can pursue clinical attachments in elective areas in which they wish to specialize during their careers. At each point of the attachments, students are required to do practical assessments such as medical procedures or reflective pieces.

After graduation, students do two Foundation years, in which they practice medicine, and are paid; in the second Foundation year, they can begin to specialize.

INTERVIEWS

Imperial is moving from the traditional structured interview to the MMI (Multiple Mini-Interview). There will be seven stations; at each station, students receive a question, have 2 minutes to prepare, and 5 minutes to speak with an interviewer in response to the prompt. The stations will cover the following topics. A current medical school would lead the last station:

  • Work experience – 2 stations
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Empathy and ethics
  • Value-based scenarios – 2 stations
  • Contribution to Imperial Medical School community
PARTICIPATION OF US STUDENTS

Increasing numbers of US students are applying and attending medical school at Imperial, due to the ability to study medicine on the undergraduate level. US applicants can subsequently practice medicine if they pass the Step 1 and Step 2 USMLE medical boards (US Medical Licensing Examination). While it’s possible to return to the US after the 1st Foundation year, it’s recommended to complete both Foundation years in order to have the flexibility to practice medicine in the UK in the future.

UP NEXT…

Stay tuned for future blogs about Imperial’s Bioengineering degree, Oxford University, Kings College London, University College London, the Royal Central School of Drama, and the Myers Briggs Company! For more information on applying to the Medicine program at UK universities, see our previous blog.

Saturday, June 15th – Departure!

Starting today, I’m off on my fourth trip to the UK to visit universities—and I’ll be sharing my knowledge and insights here, in this blog, from start to finish.

On this trip, I will return to top universities including Oxford, Imperial, King’s, and University College London. But this time, I’ll be focusing on unusual degree programs unavailable in US undergraduate institutions like medicine and law. While in Oxford, I will also meet with global directors of The Myers Briggs Company, to discuss worldwide applications of personality and interest assessments. I’ll then continue on to visit a variety of unique and prestigious schools, including the Royal Central School of Drama.

Finally, I’ll also be traveling to the Netherlands to visit the University of Amsterdam for the first time.

Stay tuned for daily updates, and check out our previous UK live blog, as well as our blog on how to apply to UK universities.

Grammar and Writing Style Tips

Even the most talented writers make grammatical mistakes! Whether writing is a favorite pastime or a dreaded task, if you are a college applicant then you will have to compose essays. As such, we’ve compiled a list of grammar and writing style tips to keep in mind when you are creating your personal essay or supplemental essays.

Grammar Tips

Check for run-on sentences.

A run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses (or complete sentences) are improperly joined. For example:

 “Sheila wants to go to college she is working hard to attain her goal.”

You can correct a run-on sentence with a period or a semicolon:

“Sheila wants to go to college. She is working hard to attain her goal.”

“Sheila wants to go to college; she is working hard to attain her goal.”

You can also correct a run-on sentence with a comma and coordinating conjunction:

“Sheila wants to go to college, and she is working hard to attain her goal.”

On that note, avoid comma splices.

Put simply, a comma splice is essentially a run-on sentence that uses a comma as an accomplice (in its crime against grammar). Building on the example above, one might write:

“Sheila wants to go to college, she’s working hard to attain her goal.”

Or, to add a subtler example:

“Tomatoes aren’t actually a vegetable, they’re a fruit.”

Both can be fixed using the methods above.

Make sure it’s a sentence!

Sentence fragments occur when a piece of a sentence is missing (noun or verb) or if a complete idea is not expressed. Let’s use the following example:

 “Writing is hard work. Which is why you have to keep practicing it.”

The second sentence is a fragment and can be easily fixed by joining it to the main clause:

 “Writing is hard work, which is why you have to keep practicing it.”

Use serial commas consistently.

When listing items in a serial sequence, a comma before “and” is optional in the English language. However, omitting it can cause confusion. As a result, one may choose to include a comma after the penultimate item in a series, known as the Oxford comma, which we recommend. For example, the following sentence is grammatically correct:

 “During the speech, she thanked her friends, the president and God.”

However, without the last comma, this sentence reads that the speaker’s friends are the president and God. The Oxford comma does not allow for this misperception:

“During the speech, she thanked her friends, the president, and God.”

Whichever approach you use, make sure to be consistent.

Get rid of dangling participles!

A participle is a word or phrase that looks like a verb, but acts as an adjective and modifies a noun.

A dangling participle occurs when the participle is not tied to a subject. First, let’s take a look at correct usage:

“A speeding train entered the tunnel.”

In this sentence, “speeding” is the participle and “train” is the subject. Another example:

“Speeding faster than a locomotive, the train entered the tunnel.”

Here, the phrase, “Speeding faster than a locomotive,” is a participle describing the noun, “train.”

Here’s an example of incorrect usage:

“Walking along the road, a tree blocked our way to school.”

The participle “walking along the road” is meant to describe the narrator. But instead, this dangling participle modifies the “tree” instead. To fix a dangling participle, make sure that the participle comes right before or after the noun that it is describing:

“Walking along the road, we noticed the huge tree had fallen and blocked our way to school.”

Watch for consistency of verb tenses.

Do not switch between verbs in the past, present, or future within a clause. For example:

“On Monday, the children walk to school, but rode the trolley home.”

The fix:

“On Monday, the children walked to school, but rode the trolley home.”

Writing Style Tips:

Your writing should have a cohesive flow.

Each essay should have a main theme that you should build on throughout the essay. Try not to jump from idea to idea in an unrelated way, or you will lose your audience. A good exercise to do after you have written an essay draft is to see if you can summarize your main theme in one sentence.

Each paragraph should have its own idea.

There should be a main idea with supporting points in each paragraph.

Vary your word choice.

Make sure that you are not using the same word more than twice in a grouping of sentences. Varying your word choice is more interesting and allows you to choose words that convey more clearly what you want to express. Don’t be vague or choose large words out of the dictionary. Simple is better.

Vary your sentence length 

There’s no firm rule governing the length of a sentence and in theory a great sentence could go on forever. However, take a pass through your writing and make sure that all your sentences are crisp, clear, and easy for your reader to digest. Going on too long often results in confusion.

Similarly, keep your reader engaged by varying the length of your sentences. Too many short sentences in a row make your writing feel choppy. It gets repetitive. It feels unsophisticated. People start to get annoyed. Do you see what I mean yet? On the other hand, too many long sentences can become soporific and difficult to follow, so for the sake of keeping you awake, I’ll spare you a demonstration and just ask you to imagine four sentences in row as long as this one. So, switch things up. And, while you’re at it, use sentence length to your advantage. Longer, flowing sentences like the one that I’m writing right now allows you to add details, probe your ideas thoroughly, and create interesting descriptions. Short ones make a point.

Always read what you have written aloud.

When you are editing, reading aloud often helps you to hear your syntax errors and grammatical mistakes in addition to seeing them. Most importantly, make sure that your writing sounds like you! It should be in your own voice.

Each college applicant has his or her own voice and ideas to convey in the personal statement and supplemental essays. Writing your truth and expressing a piece of who you are as a person and student may seem like a complicated and intimidating process. Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help!

Seeking Out Local Scholarships

Faced with the rising price of a college education, students and parents often look for ways to lower costs. As a result, scholarships for need, merit, athletics, community service, hobbies, and other interests are often highly sought after—especially large scholarships offered on a national level.

However, students should also consider scholarship sources closer to home. Local businesses, religious or ethnic organizations, and other venues often acknowledge hometown students by helping with college costs through scholarships that are awarded on a yearly basis. And while a $1,000 local scholarship may seem small in comparison to the large sticker price of college, winning several of these scholarships could help to offset the cost of room and board, books, and some tuition.

According to the CollegeBoard, local scholarships have an advantage over national scholarships: they are only available to a smaller pool of applicants from a specific geographic region. Because there is less competition, the chances of winning are higher. Students should still apply to national scholarships that are meaningful to them, but it is also important to research the scholarships offered to your specific high school, town, county, and state.

Now, local scholarships may seem like a great idea, but how to begin? We hope to guide you on a path to finding your best-fit local scholarships in this blog.


When should I start looking for local scholarships?

It is best to start researching scholarships by the spring and summer of junior year, as most deadlines for these awards are in the fall of senior year.


How do I find local scholarships?

High school
The way to begin is to ask the guidance office at your high school for a list of local scholarships. For example, Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY, has an extensive list of local scholarships available to its high school students. Another group to ask within your high school is the PTA. Scarsdale High School in New York offers a PTA scholarship that awards college-bound seniors a one-time grant ranging from $1,000 to $7,500.

Local businesses
Next, look into scholarships from the companies or organizations where your parents are employed. Many companies offer scholarships to the children of employees, and the Human Resources department or your supervisor will most likely have this information. Many employee scholarships are also merit-based, rather than solely need-based.

Religious and ethnic organizations
Additionally, explore the groups that you and your family belong to. Religious and ethnic organizations often have scholarships that are awarded to the children of members. For example, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Knights of Columbus, Elks, and Lions Club all offer national as well as local scholarship opportunities. If applicable, your place of worship may be aware of local scholarship opportunities that hope to assist members of your faith.

Additional sources
Other places to check include your town or community website and local media websites (TV, newspapers, and radio stations). Additionally, your library’s reference section may have a list of scholarships offered by town businesses or civic groups.

To cast a wider net, you can research the offerings of your state grant agency. Each state has scholarship opportunities for its residents. In taking a closer look at New York, for example, The Scholarship For Academic Excellence is intended for students who will attend a New York college, and is based on the results of the Regents exam.

Additionally, many scholarships in New York and elsewhere pay particular attention to applicants pursuing certain high demand fields. The NYS STEM Incentive Program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship for the top 10 percent of students in each New York State high school. Note though, that this scholarship (like many others of its kind) comes with conditions: awarded students must often either remain in the state or work in their particular field for a certain period of time. In the above example, students must pursue a STEM major and agree to work in a STEM field in New York State for five years after graduation.

What are the requirements?

Local scholarship competitions often ask for a completed FAFSA form, and may ask for tax returns/W2 forms (from student and parents), a copy of your transcript, letters of recommendation, and student-written essays. Many local scholarships also require you to take the PSAT/NMSQT by the fall of your junior year.

Finally, it is important to meet all scholarship deadlines, follow scholarship application directions, and gather your application materials early.

Here at Collegiate Gateway, we are happy to help you throughout your college search. Feel free to contact us!

Crafting Your Ideal College List

With over 3500 colleges in the United States to choose from, it’s no surprise that many students struggle to decide which of them to apply to. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to making this process effective and even fun! We recommend that you explore and visit colleges throughout junior year and finalize your college list in the summer before senior year.

Finding Your “Best-Fit” College Features

The most important aspect of the college admissions process is FIT. Which colleges will be the best fit for you as a unique individual? At which colleges will you be most able to grow academically, socially, and personally?

Start by thinking about your preferences. Here are some features to consider as you build your list of “best-fit” features:

  • Size. A small college (with fewer than 4000 students) tends to offer a more close-knit sense of community, with smaller, discussion-based classes, and closer relationships with professors. On the other hand, a large college (with more than 10,000 students) tends to offer more options of courses, specialized programs, clubs and organizations, and even friends. And a medium-sized college (with about 3,000 – 10,000 students) provides a blend of qualities of a small and large school.
  • Liberal Arts vs Specialized Programs. Smaller colleges tend to offer a “liberal arts” curriculum, with courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, such as psychology, history, and biology. On the other hand, larger universities often include specialized, pre-professional colleges within the school, and focus on areas such as business, engineering, communication, and architecture. Your academic interests and preferences for a certain size of college will help you decide which type of school is best for you.
  • Academics: Majors and Minors. What subjects interest you the most? Which classes have you most enjoyed? Research academic programs on colleges’ websites. See how many faculty members are in your areas of interest and review the departments’ courses and research opportunities. If you have a few different academic areas of interest, you will likely be able to pursue multiple subjects at college through a double-major or a major and minor. In colleges in the US, typically you can choose any combination of fields for a double-major or major/minor. For example, I have worked with students with a major in engineering and minor in studio art, a major in physics and minor in dance, and a major in Spanish and minor in biology!In addition, colleges are increasingly offering degrees in interdisciplinary areas, such as Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at University of Pennsylvania, biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis.  An academic area that has been growing at many universities is STEAM, the combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
  • Distribution Requirements. In addition to the courses in your academic major, think about whether you have a strong preference for being exposed to a broad-based curriculum, or having the freedom to construct your entire course of study. Most colleges require that you take 8-10 courses (about a third of your total coursework) in a variety of academic areas in order to receive a broad-based education. Colleges range from having no distribution requirements (such as Brown University) to having a prescribed core curriculum (Columbia University). Most colleges fall in between, offering choices of courses in a variety of categories. For example, Princeton University has distribution requirements in the areas of Epistemology and Cognition, Ethical thought and Moral Values, Historical Analysis, Literature and the Arts, Social Analysis, Quantitative Reasoning, and Science and Technology.
  • Study Abroad. Most colleges offer the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or year and provide credit for coursework at other universities. Some colleges, such as New York University, have developed their own programs abroad, staffed by their own faculty. How important is it to you to study abroad? If so, research colleges’ study abroad policies to see how feasible it would be given your intended major, and find out the percent of students who typically do study abroad to determine if it is part of the school’s culture.
  • Internships. Would you like to work for an organization for a semester or more during your college years? This opportunity can be an excellent supplement to your academic coursework and expose you to potential careers. Some colleges build internships into the curriculum by requiring that you participate in one or more “co-op” semesters. Additionally, internships are more available in cities than in remote areas.
  • Extracurricular Activities. Are there clubs and organizations that are very important to you in college? These might include a cappella groups, theater, athletic clubs and intramural teams, religious organizations, or community service opportunities.
  • Location. Do you prefer a certain location in the US or beyond? Do you want to be in or near a city, or do you prefer proximity to nature? Is it important for you to be close to home?
  • Social Life. What is your preference for the social life on campus? How important is it to have strong athletic spirit or the presence of Greek life?

What is your personality like? As you reflect on these features, take into consideration your personality! Are you more extraverted or introverted? Would you prefer meeting a lot of people or spending time with a small group of close friends? Do you prefer a more structured or laid-back environment? Do you like to learn from classroom instruction or do you prefer a more hand-on approach? The more you understand yourself, the better equipped you will be to find a college that is a good fit for you.

Making the Most of Your College Visits

Now that you have identified features that are important to you, what’s next?

Research colleges to decide where to visit:

  • Research colleges online. Look up their websites, and read about their academic programs, extracurricular activities, and college culture.
  • Read college guidebooks, such as The Princeton Review and The Fiske Guide.
  • Speak with college students.
  • Attend local information sessions of colleges.

Plan to visit colleges. Now that you have identified schools that could be a good fit for you, visit their admissions websites to see if you need to register in advance for a tour and information session. Plan to eat in the dining hall so that you can speak with students and get a feel for the culture of the school. Try to arrange meetings with professors in your fields of interest; you can ask them why they chose to teach at the college and how they would describe the student body. You can also meet with staff in specialized offices, such as honors programs or learning centers.

In gathering all this information during your visits, you will begin to discover your college preferences.

Creating Your College List

Now that you have visited colleges and evaluated whether they are a good fit for you, you can develop your college list. Keep evaluating their features to make sure that your colleges suit your needs. The goal is not only to be accepted, but to succeed and thrive at your colleges!

Decide on 10-12 colleges to apply to. We recommend that you end up with 10-12 colleges on your list, with a combination of reach, target, and safe colleges.  Generally speaking, here are your admissions chances at these categories of schools:

  • Safe: more than a 75% chance of acceptance
  • Target: about a 50% chance of being admitted (your profile matches the profile of admitted students)
  • Reach: less than a 25% chance of acceptance

Assess your candidacy!  The most important factors in college admission remain the numbers:

  • Grades, especially in the core curriculum courses of English, history, foreign language, math, and science;
  • Rigor of curriculum, evaluated within the context of what’s offered at your high school;
  • Standardized testing, including the ACT or SAT, Subject Tests, AP exams, and IB grades.

Learn about your high school’s admissions history. Most schools use Naviance, a web-based software program that presents the admissions outcomes of students from your school, based on their GPA and test scores. Compare your academic profile with students from your school who have been accepted to colleges in which you are interested.

Below is a scattergram of students who applied to Emory University from Schreiber High School in Port Washington.  If your GPA and test scores place you in the top right of the scattergram, near all the green squares of accepted students, you have a strong chance of being accepted, if you meet Emory’s other criteria.  If your GPA and test scores place you in the lower left below the icons of accepted students, Emory may be a reach for you, unless you have a strong admissions “hook,” such as being a recruited athlete, legacy, under-represented minority, or first-generation student.

Boost your candidacy through your personal qualities. Although colleges place significant emphasis on your grades and test scores in their evaluation of your candidacy, qualitative factors have increased in importance over the last decade.  Colleges are interested in all the ways that you will contribute to campus life outside the classroom. To that end,  engage in extracurricular activities that genuinely interest you.  These activities can play a positive role in the following aspects of your application:

  • Essays and Interviews: you can discuss your involvement in activities in your Personal Essay, colleges’ supplemental essays, and interviews;
  • Recommendations: you can ask for letters of recommendation from people outside the academic courses, such as research mentors, coaches, clergy, supervisors of employment or internships

Balancing “Reach” With “Realistic”

Keep in mind overall admissions trends. The numbers of students attending college has been increasing and is projected to continue to increase over the next decade. More students are applying to college, and each student is applying to an increasing number of colleges. As a result, admissions rates have declined, and selectivity has increased. It has become increasingly more important to have a realistic list.

Make sure your college list is balanced. In a typical college list of 12 colleges, about 5 should be “target” schools (you have about a 50% chance of being admitted), with about 3-4 each of “safe” schools (more than a 75% chance of acceptance), and “reach” schools (less than a 25% chance of acceptance).

Tailor your list. Each individual’s college list should be suited to their academic and personal needs. If you would like a very challenging academic environment and have a strong academic profile, you could have more reach schools. If you would like a more manageable course load, or are trying to manage learning, emotional, or psychological challenges, you may want to increase the number of safe schools.

The process of deciding which colleges to visit, which to apply to, and which college to attend is complex! If you would like individualized guidance, feel free to contact us at www.collegiategateway.com. As always, we’re happy to help!

The Role of Grades in College Admissions

Your grades throughout high school remain the most important factor in college admissions.  While colleges also look carefully at your standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, and other personal factors, they view your grades as the strongest predictor of your academic success in college. This blog explains how colleges view your grades and curriculum in the overall admissions process.

Grades are #1

81% of colleges surveyed by NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counselors) give considerable importance to both grades in college prep courses and grades in all your courses. The chart below shows the percentage of colleges attributing different levels of importance to various admissions factors:

 Why Do Grades Matter?

 Admissions officers consistently say that your day-in-day-out grades are the best predictor of your academic performance in college.  Research shows a strong correlation between high school grades and not only academic performance in college, but retention and graduate rates as well.

While standardized test scores still play an important role, admissions staff recognize that your one-day test score may be impacted by a variety of factors such as test anxiety, inadequate sleep, lack of exposure to test-taking strategies, and test center distractions. But your grades show whether you have demonstrated persistence and focus on academic performance throughout your high school years.

Which Grades Matter?

The trend in your grades is important as well.  Often students take time to adjust to the greater freedom and responsibility of high school, and this is reflected in weaker grades during freshman year. Some colleges, such as Stanford University, explicitly state that they do not place importance on 9th grade grades. “We will focus our evaluation on your coursework and performance in 10th, 11th and 12th grades, primarily in the core academic subjects of English, mathematics, science, foreign language and history/social studies.”

All colleges place more emphasis on your grades in junior and senior year.  Your junior year grades are included on your official transcript, and colleges see your first-semester senior year grades in the Mid-Year Report (which is required by all colleges). And colleges also require your final report card for senior year, and occasionally rescind their acceptance offer if your grades significantly drop.

In addition, if you are applying to a specialized field, your grades in certain courses will receive more attention.  For example, for business or engineering programs, your math grades are particularly important.  For nursing, your science grades will be looked at closely.

How Important is the Rigor of Your Curriculum?

The strength of your curriculum plays an equally important role. Rigorous courses include accelerated, honors, AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate), and dual-enrollment courses (in which you receive college credit as well). Admissions officers encourage students to take the most challenging curriculum that they can reasonably manage. Williams College advises, “Applicants to Williams should pursue the strongest program of study offered by their secondary schools.”

Students who are especially ambitious and talented sometimes choose to take courses beyond what is offered at their high school at local colleges or online; one of the most common is Multi-Variable Calculus, which is the next course in the math sequence after AP Calculus BC, and rarely offered in secondary schools. So if you are planning to major in a math-based field, such as engineering or physics, and you complete AP Calculus in junior year, your candidacy would be enhanced by taking Multi-Variable Calculus in senior year, in a local college or an online course.  Similarly, students interested in pursuing art in college often take specialized art courses in their community if their high school has a limited selection.

For admission to the most selective colleges in the US, competitive students typically take courses to the end of the sequence in four or five of the core curriculum subjects of English, history, language, math, and science.  The “end of the sequence” would be defined as an AP-level course or a High-Level IB course.

If a student has a particular interest in one of the core subjects and is planning to major in that area, a competitive curriculum might include high-level courses in four of the five core areas, with a doubling-up in the student’s area of interest. For example, a future history major might take AP Government, AP Economics, AP Calculus (AB or BC), and AP science, and not take a high-level language course.

Trends in Admissions Factors

Over the past decade, grades in college prep courses has remained the top factor, and over the past few years, grades in all courses has become an equally important factor.  The next most important factor is the strength of the curriculum.This year, strength of curriculum is viewed as more important than standardized testing. The chart below shows trends over the past decade.

How Do Admissions Officers View Your Transcript?

 Admissions staff always view your transcript within the context of your high school. Colleges recognize that schools vary greatly. As Northwestern states, “Every secondary school is different in its level of competitiveness and in the range of courses offered. These factors are also considered when admission decisions are rendered.”

In addition to evaluating your school’s transcript, colleges typically recalculate your GPA using a standard formula, so that they can compare students from different schools with different GPA scales.  Usually, colleges will use a 4.0 scale, where A+ and A = 4.0, B+ = 3.7, B- = 3.3, B = 3.0, and so on.

Action Plan

We recommend that you develop a preliminary plan of courses when you begin high school as a freshman. You can then re-evaluate your plan each year, based on your academic performance, your interests, your college goals, and your commitments to extracurricular activities. Your coursework should be your top priority in high school, and at the same time try to live a balanced life with sufficient time for activities, family, friends, and sleep!

There are many ways that you can reach your potential with your academic performance.  Most importantly, engage in your courses. Keep up with homework, try to review your notes regularly, and don’t wait until the last minute to study for tests or write your papers.  If you need help, see your teacher, work with other students, and use review books.

The college admissions process is complex, and success requires thoughtful planning from the start of high school. Feel free to contact us at www.collegiategateway.com. As always, we’re happy to help!

The Role of Your Counselor Recommendation

Most colleges request a letter of recommendation from your high school guidance counselor. This letter serves a unique function in the college admissions process. The counselor is expected to describe your high school environment, place you within the context of your peers, and discuss your unique attributes. “Many college and university admission officers use the counselor recommendation to learn more about the school and the community of the student applying for admission,” says Shawn Abbott, assistant vice president and dean of admissions at New York University.

While your teachers will focus on your academic strengths, your counselor can provide insights about your character, values, and goals. As stated by Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, recommendations “help us look past the numbers and learn more about who the student is.”

Hamilton College’s admissions office advises counselors to “take the time to tell us things we wouldn’t learn elsewhere in the student’s application… To be sure, the single most important factor in our decision-making process is the high school transcript. But your comments and insight provide us with perspective and help us assess fit with our community.”

What questions are asked of counselors?

Beginning with the 2015-16 application year, the Common Application developed a new form for counselors to complete. The Counselor Form consists of several prompts to help admissions officers learn more about who you are as a person and as a student:

  • The duration and context in which you’ve known the applicant (short response)
  • The first words that come to mind to describe the applicant (short response)
  • A broad-based assessment addressing topics like academic and personal characteristics, contextual comments for the applicant’s performance and involvement, and/or observed problematic behaviors that an admissions committee should explore further (long response)

Understanding the recommendation process

The ratio of students per guidance counselor varies widely around the country, but the average is a staggering 476 students per guidance counselor. At most public high schools, there is no dedicated college counselor; instead, guidance counselors incorporate college advising within all their other academic and disciplinary responsibilities.

Some high schools have put procedures in place to help counselors obtain personalized information on students. At Midwood High School, in Brooklyn, which has two counselors for 800 seniors, the guidance office prepares a folder for each senior that includes their contact information, test scores, teacher recommendations, a student profile and autobiographical essay, and a “parent brag sheet” with anecdotal information.

But not all high schools have such an organized and comprehensive system for collecting personalized information about seniors. As a result, the more you can do to help your counselor understand who you are personally, the more effective his or her recommendation letter will be.

How can you help your counselor describe you as effectively as possible?

The strongest recommendations paint a well-rounded portrait of who you are. With that in mind, here are some tips:

Develop and maintain a strong relationship with your guidance counselor. Make regular appointments throughout each school year. Keep your counselor informed of your achievements in academics and activities. In the fall of senior year, stop by to discuss how you spent your summer.

Create a detailed resume that describes your extracurricular activities, internships, employment, and volunteer work in detail. Try to be as descriptive and authentic as possible, and don’t use generic phrases.

Write a 1-2 page letter to your counselor describing your strengths, values, and goals—if your counselor does not ask you to complete a form or essays. Reflect on the following questions, and provide thoughtful responses. If possible, provide specific anecdotes to illustrate your points:

  • What are a few significant experiences that have influenced who you are today?
  • What obstacles or challenges have you been faced with, and how did you overcome these?
  • How do you approach your schoolwork?
  • What are your relationships like with peers, teachers, and advisors?
  • How have you improved your community?
  • What academic areas of study in college interest you? How do these areas relate to your academic accomplishments in high school?
  • Do you have specific career goals at this point?

In addition, provide your counselor with a list of colleges you are currently considering applying to, as well as specialized academic programs if applicable.

For guidance on recommendations and other aspects of the college admissions process, feel free to contact us at www.collegiategateway.com. As always, we’re happy to help!

What is a High School Profile and What Role Does it Play in College Admissions?

College admissions staff always view your transcript within the context of your high school. Colleges recognize that schools vary greatly. As Northwestern states, “Every secondary school is different in its level of competitiveness and in the range of courses offered. These factors are also considered when admission decisions are rendered.”

Each school’s guidance office develops a 2-4 page “school profile” that describes the community and high school.  While there is no standard format for the high school profile, typical information includes the curriculum, grading system, grade distribution, average test scores, and college acceptances.  The profiles tell colleges how rigorous and competitive the high school is, and this information impacts the way a college will evaluate a students’ grades and course selection.

Your GPA

The high school profile typically explains how your GPA is calculated, which includes what courses factor into the GPA, and whether advanced courses receive a weighting. For example, Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY gives an extra .5 weighting for Honors courses and 1.0 for AP courses.

Students often wonder how they can possibly be compared with students from other high schools. The answer is that in addition to viewing your high school’s approach to your transcript, colleges typically recalculate an unweighted GPA using a standard formula, so that they can compare students from different schools with different GPA scales.  Usually, colleges will use a 4.0 scale, where A+ and A = 4.0, B+ = 3.7, B- = 3.3, B = 3.0, and so on.

Grade and Test Score Distribution

High school profiles also typically include a grade distribution chart showing the percentage of students at different GPA brackets or the distribution of each grade for each course; as well as average standardized test scores for the SAT and ACT.

When viewed alongside average standardized testing scores, GPA information reflects the degree of grade inflation or deflation, and for private schools may also reflect the selectivity of admissions to attend the school. For example, if most students at a school earn As, but have average standardized test scores compared to national or state figures, colleges would conclude that the school has grade inflation.

Rigor of Curriculum

Colleges also evaluate whether you have challenged yourself in your coursework.  Again, colleges view you within the context of the curriculum offered at your school. The variety of curricula include International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, both, or neither. Each high school profile clearly describes the curriculum available at the school.

For example, if your high school offers a minimum number of AP courses, you will not be expected to have taken the same number of APs as students with access to a large number of AP courses. For example, Great Neck South High School, a public high school, offers 31 AP courses, as compared with Chaminade High School, a private Catholic school, offers none.

Having said that, it is possible to take courses outside your high school to fulfill your intellectual passion and also demonstrate this to colleges. If you have strong interest in a particular academic area in which coursework is not sufficiently offered at your school, you could consider taking courses outside of school – at a local college or online. For example, students interested in pursuing engineering or other STEM fields sometimes opt to take Multivariable Calculus or Computer Science at a local college or through online courses if their high school does not offer these classes.

For guidance on how to reach your academic potential, feel free to contact us at www.collegiategateway.com. As always, we’re happy to help!

Making the Most of Summer College Visits

Summer vacation is right around the corner, and with it comes many opportunities to visit potential colleges. In the fall, you’ll be incredibly busy with classes, homework, and college applications. Which means that it’s more important than ever to visit prospective colleges while you still have time.

The fact that fewer students are on campus can sometimes make it harder to get a good feel for a school, but that doesn’t mean the visit isn’t worth it. In fact, if you plan effectively, there are even a few advantages. The summer is an excellent time to explore a wide variety of different colleges, and discover what’s most important to you. If a school ends up at the top of your list, you can always plan a return trip for the fall.

Take advantage of extra time and flexibility.

Visiting campuses is an important step in the college admissions process. Since you’ll be visiting in the summer, your visits can last longer. You’ll have fewer responsibilities and will be able to extend trips for an extra day or two. This gives you time not only to see more colleges, but to tour each one in a more in-depth way. You’ll have time to stay overnight, which in turn provides opportunities to meet with professors and explore the surrounding town (more on that below).

Visit far-away campuses.

In order to figure out which schools will fit you best, it’s important to visit as many as you reasonably can – from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, located in big cities, small towns and everywhere in between. Since you don’t have to worry about missing school, you can explore campuses that are otherwise too far from home; the summer is a great time to drive or fly cross-country – even abroad! Not to mention that, if you’re already planning a vacation, you may be able to visit nearby campuses.

Personalize your tour.

There will be fewer students on campus, but fewer visitors as well. Over the summer, both tour groups and information sessions will be smaller. Take advantage of this, and ask more questions about the specific features that matter to you.

Seek out students who stayed behind.

Even though it’s summer, there will still be students on campus – you just have to try a little harder to find them.  Some will be taking classes, while others will be conducting research, interning, or working. And, luckily for you, admissions offices are generally more than happy to put you in contact with students to talk to you about life on campus. In some cases, they can even pair you with students who share your interest in particular majors, sports, or other organizations. All you have to do is ask!

Schedule meetings with professors in your field of interest.

Visit the home pages of departments you are interested in and find one or two faculty members who teach or conduct research there. Email them to ask if they might have a few minutes to chat with you. You’ll be surprised how often they say yes, especially if you’re visiting during the less busy summer months. Meeting directly with faculty is a great way to find useful information about academic programs that are important to you, and to learn about the school from a unique perspective. Find out why faculty choose to teach at this particular college, and ask about the kinds of students who thrive there. In doing so, you’ll gain a deeper and more nuanced view of academic life on campus.

Hit the town.

The summer also gives you time to explore the surrounding town. In addition to checking out restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues, make sure to do your homework on more practical places like pharmacies, grocery stores, and bookstores. You may also want to take some time to check out potential off-campus housing, especially if a significant percentage of students choose not to live on campus.

Take notes (and pictures, too).

Once you’ve visited a large number of colleges, you may not remember the specifics of each. Take notes and pictures throughout your visit in order to keep track of the features you like (as well as those you don’t). Capture the architecture, paying particular attention to buildings where you would spend time, such as the student center, museum, and gym.

Remember to register.

Finally, remember to register at the admissions office when you visit. This will ensure that each college has a permanent record of your visit, an important part of demonstrating interest.

Enjoy yourself!

The college process is already fraught with enough anxiety, so make this part as enjoyable as possible. Enjoy travelling, and have fun imagining yourself as a student at different colleges – pretty soon, you will be!

Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help! Feel free to contact us with any questions about the college process.

 

College Application Platforms

There are several different online platforms through which universities accept applications. While the Common Application is still the strong favorite, the Coalition Application seems to be gaining in popularity, and the Universal College Application has several interesting features.

All of these platforms allow students to create a centralized college application and use it to apply to several colleges, saving time. Each online application approach includes an applicant profile, list of member colleges, checklist to see the status of applications, and application requirements; but the overall look and formatting differs.

Colleges decide which platform(s) they wish to accept, and this blog will be your guide to understanding the differences between all of them. At the end, we will recommend a course of action.

Common Application

Accepted by over 750 member colleges, the Common Application (CA) is still the most popular platform for the college application process. Most members are in the U.S., but an increasing number of colleges around the world are accepting the Common App, including schools from Canada, China, and the UK (including St Andrews, King’s College London, and the University of Glasgow).

Additionally, the Common App has a rollover feature that conveniently allows students to begin working on their profile before August 1 of their senior year. The platform is user-friendly and has been around for a while, so many high school counselors and educators are well-versed in using it.

Universal College Application

The Universal College Application (UCA) was launched in 2007 as an alternative to the Common App, and currently has 23 member colleges. The only schools that exclusively use UCA (and not the Common App) are the University of Charleston (WV), Fischer College, Landmark College, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

The UCA platform has the advantage of allowing applicants to make essay edits even after submission, which is great if you catch a mistake. This platform also lets applicants link to online content in order to share more information, such as online video, portfolio (pictures or photographs), musical composition, or newspaper article.

Coalition Application

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success was developed in 2015 in order to provide greater access to college applications for under-resourced students.  A notable feature of the Coalition application is the Locker, in which students can begin storing documents, photos, and videos in 9th grade, which can later be attached to the Coalition college application. This information could include essays, artwork, and performances, as well as standardized test scores and awards. The Coalition feels that gathering this information early will reduce stress later.

The application has steadily grown in popularity, with over 113 participating colleges at present. 19 additional colleges will accept the application in 2018/2019, including Brown, Bucknell, Cornell, and UVA. As of the 2017-18 application cycle, the only colleges to exclusively require the Coalition Application were the University of Florida, University of Washington, and the University of Maryland.

UCAS (United Kingdom)

For international students, UCAS has traditionally been the UK’s centralized application form for higher education institutions. Notably, UCAS limits students to a maximum of five university programs. You are also limited to one school in all of the Oxford and Cambridge’s colleges, known collectively as Oxbridge. Several international schools have joined the Common App as part of a strategic effort to increase the presence of US students on campuses. These include King’s College London, St Andrews in Scotland, and Queen’s University Canada. More international students are now using the Common Application, which has the much greater limit of 20 total universities.

A critical difference between the UCAS application and the Common Application involves the essays.  UCAS includes only one essay, the Personal Statement, that focuses entirely on academics; the prompt asks students to discuss their chosen academic course(s), why it interests them, and why they are suitable. In contrast, the Common Application Personal Essay can be about any topic of the student’s choice; and colleges typically have supplemental essays that are specific to their universities.

For an in-depth look at how to apply to UK universities, see our blog.

Individual College Application

In addition, several schools continue to have only their own application and do not accept any of the shared applications. The motivation is to weed out students who are not genuinely interested in the college, and to customize the application and essays. A few examples are Clemson University, Georgetown University, and the University of Wisconsin.

A few other colleges accept a shared application as well as their own application.  Tulane has had its own application since it began in 1834, and several years ago began accepting the Common Application.

State System-Shared Application

Some schools like New York’s SUNY system and the California state universities share an online application platform that allows students to apply to one or more public colleges within their network.

Our Recommendations

While each student’s situation is unique, overall we recommend the following:

Use the Common Application wherever possible. Perhaps a decade ago, when the Common App was not as widely accepted, we may have recommended that you use a college’s own application, if available, in order to demonstrate interest. But with 700 member institutions, the Common App is now valued by colleges as strongly as their own application.

Coalition Application. Use this application platform if you feel that it would be helpful for you to start saving documents, artwork, and video content in the Locker, beginning in freshman year.

UCAS. Use this universal UK platform if you are applying to two or more UK universities that do not accept the Common Application.

When you have a choice, choose based on the essays. If you’re applying to a college that accepts multiple application platforms, examine whether the essay options are different, and choose the option that matches your needs.

For example, St Andrews (Scotland) accepts UCAS and the Common Application; if you apply through the Common Application, you can personalize your essays more.  You will have the opportunity to submit your Common App Personal Essay (which can be more creative than the UCAS Personal Statement) as well as a supplemental essay about why you are a good fit for St Andrews. The UCAS application does not allow for any university-specific essays.

Navigating your online applications and knowing how to best represent yourself as a college candidate can be daunting. Here at Collegiate Gateway, we’re always happy to help! Feel free to contact us.

How to Demonstrate Interest to Colleges

In recent years, “demonstrated interest” has become an increasingly important part of the college admissions process.  Most valued by colleges that are private, smaller, and more selective, this “informed” interest allows you to reveal your knowledge of the college and make a stronger case as to why the school is a good fit for you.

Demonstrated interest helps colleges assess the likelihood that students will:

  • Attend if admitted
  • Be a good fit and engage in activities on campus
  • Be loyal to the school as an alum, and donate money or time

Citing the 2014 NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counseling) State of College Admissions Report, Money notes that about 20% of colleges say they place considerable importance on the admissions factor of a student’s demonstrated interest, 34% of colleges claim it’s of moderate importance, and about 20% of colleges state it has no importance at all. About a decade ago, only 7% of colleges assigned heavy importance to demonstrated interest.

One reason for this change is that as the numbers of applicants increases, college admissions has been more selective, and demonstrated interest helps colleges narrow the field. In addition, the US News & World Report college rankings include “yield,” or the percentage of accepted students who choose to attend the college, as one factor, so increasing yield boosts colleges’ rankings.

Inside Higher Ed points out that students who have high SAT scores can be impacted by this admissions factor the most. Colleges do not want to be considered a “safety school,” and may avoid high-scoring applicants who demonstrate little interest beyond applying.

So how do you go about demonstrating informed interest in a school? Below, we’ve developed a 10-point plan, outlining the many different ways you can communicate the strength and depth of your genuine interest to your best-fit colleges.

Collegiate Gateway’s 10-point plan: 

VISIT the college and register in the admissions office. Many colleges track campus visits as a key measure of demonstrated interest. The University of Rochester tracks all student contacts with the school. Colleges may offer many different kinds of visit opportunities. For example, many colleges, such as CornellNorthwestern and University of Michigan, offer tours and information sessions for their specialized schools in fields such as business, engineering, or communications. Some colleges offer organized visit days for students; Lehigh offers a Junior Open House in the spring and Senior Open House in the fall. However, there are other colleges, like Stanford and Brown, that do not track visits or interest.

But keep in mind that regardless of whether the college tracks your visit, being on campus still has enormous value for you in helping you understand the features that are a good fit for you, and in determining whether you wish to apply to the school.

ATTEND info sessions at your high school or local college fairs. Even if you have visited the college campus, it is still worthwhile to attend local sessions where your regional admissions officer visits your high school or participates on a panel or college fair in your community.

APPLY EARLY! Applying Early Decision shows the most interest, as the binding decision is a clear demonstration of your commitment to the school. However, only apply ED if you are sure that the college is an excellent fit for you, and is within reach. Applying Early Action (non-binding) also shows interest because you are sufficiently motivated to prepare and submit your application early.

REGISTER on the undergraduate admissions website to receive information.

FOLLOW colleges on social media, including Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. Often, the information posted will be more informal, and will give you a more “inside” look at the school. And some colleges do track your engagement with their social media.

INTERVIEW on-campus or with an alumni in your area. Colleges are reducing the availability of on-campus interviews, due to the increased numbers of students applying and the lack of available staff. Alumni interviews are an excellent option; take advantage of all opportunities.

RESEARCH the college thoroughly when you write your supplemental essays. Many colleges have a “Match Essay” asking why you want to attend the college. Write as specifically as possible about the programs and culture of the college, and about the strengths and interests you would bring to campus.

THANK college officials after college visits and interviews. Email a thank-you note to the admissions officer who conducted your information session or interview, and include specifics regarding what you learned and the features of the college that most appealed to you. In addition, if you interview with an alum in your local area, send a thank-you note including specific discussion topics that were meaningful to you.

CONTACT the regional admissions officer after you apply by sending an occasional email if you have substantive news to report (e.g. honors, awards, completion of a major school project, a special accomplishment in an activity) or a genuine question that is not answered on the website.

CHECK your online portal for your application status, once you’ve applied, as some colleges interpret this as a sign of interest.

As more and more schools rely on demonstrated interest to help them achieve their enrollment goals, it is increasingly important to show your preference for schools in an authentic way. Here at Collegiate Gateway, we are always happy to answer your questions and discuss this topic further. Feel free to contact us!