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College Fairs Popping Up This Spring

Sunday, February 16, 2020

With spring weather on the horizon, college admission representatives from hundreds of institutions are making their way to college fairs throughout the country to meet prospective students and share their school's story.  Chances are that a college fair will be one of your stops along the college-shopping journey.

This spring, the "granddaddy" of area college fairs, NACAC Boston National Fair 2020, will be coming to town from Thursday, April 30 - Friday, May 1.

This widely-anticipated event expects to host more than 350 two-year and four-year colleges, nursing schools, business schools and trade schools at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority located at 415 Summer Street, Boston.

Other Local College Fairs On Tap

By attending a college fair, students can learn about a wide variety of schools' offerings and connect with admissions reps. This is a bonus opportunity in particular for students and parents who may not be able to make in-person campus visits or who wish to gather more information before investing time and money in travel arrangements.

And before late April blooms, there are several college fairs scheduled for earlier in the spring.  Have a look at what is coming up in your local area this spring ...

** SERF College Fair - Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School
Saturday, March 21, 2020

12.15 - 3 PM

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** MetroWest College and Career Fair - Ashland High School
Saturday, March 21, 2020

9 AM - 12.30 PM
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** TEC Spring 2020 College FaIr - Westwood High School
Thursday, March 26, 2020

6.30  - 8.30 PM

http://tec-coop.org/student-programs/college-fairs/spring-college-fair-westwood-high-school
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** Providence NACAC National College Fair
Providence, RI
https://www.nacacfairs.org/attend/national-college-fairs/providence/

Tuesday, April 07, 2020
5:30 - 8:30 PM
401/458-6000
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** Arlington High School College Fair
Monday, April 27, 2020

6:30 – 8:00 PM
Arlington High School, 869 Massachusetts Ave

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Top 12 Tips for Campus Visit Success

Thursday, February 13, 2020
What? Already? The campus tour season is here. As you check out colleges during break and beyond, be intentional and make the most of time invested on the road.  Solid planning makes for worthwhile (and memorable) on-the-ground college research.

Looking to get the most out of exploring colleges? Check out these top suggestions for campus visit success:


  1. Register ahead via the campus website for information sessions and tours. Some colleges receive many hundreds of visitors in a week, and spaces may fill up.  If you need to cancel a reservation, contact the school so a spot can open for another visitor.
  2. Sign in when you arrive to campus so there is a record of you having taken the time to visit. This will also ensure you a spot on the school mailing list.
  3. Allow yourselves plenty of time to arrive and, most of all, to park and find the Admission Office. Do not assume that parking and the Admission Office are close to one another. And don’t assume that a tour or information session will take place at the Admission building.
  4. Even though it may sound obvious, wear comfortable footwear and bring a snack or drink with you as touring can tax one’s energy. Keep up the blood sugar.
  5. Bring extra pairs of dry socks (seriously). Even if shoes get wet in the rain, you will be much more comfortable if you at least can pull on dry socks for the next tour.
  6. Capture several photos of campus and nearby town, maybe even with you in them. Photographic images evoke deeper memories. 
  7. If you do not have time for both tour and information session, prioritize the tour.
  8. Don’t be shy about stopping a couple of friendly-looking students and saying something like: “Hi, I’m visiting today and wanted to get some thoughts about what students here think of X College. So what year are you in and what are you studying here? What are a few favorite things for you about your school?”
  9. Check out food places; fitness center; Career Center; Student Success Services or "Disability” Office; library; etc. if these are not included on your tour.
  10. Peek at posted signs; notices — anything that tells you what is being promoted or talked about at that school.
  11. If financial assistance is part of your college process, ask if admission is “need blind” or “need aware.” This will tell you how much the school considers demonstrated financial need when evaluating applications. You could also ask what % of demonstrated need the college will meet. If the school meets 75% of your demonstrated need, that means that the rest will be up to you to obtain.
  12. If the school says they offer merit awards, ask which financial applications, special essays, if any, need to be completed to be eligible for merit aid.
  13. What is the 13th tip you would like to see here?  Submit your favorite tip to marla@achievecoach.com, and you may see your suggestion added here next month.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


Starting College in the Spring

Monday, February 03, 2020

A growing number of students are receiving admission to sought-after colleges -- just not in the fall.

For years some northeastern elite colleges, including Middlebury and Hamilton, have engaged in an admissions practice offering a selection of students second semester admission. Midd "Febs"and Hamilton "Jans" share a mid-year enrollment calendar with a number of other highly-selective colleges and universities.

Same College, Alternative Path In

Today, students applying to a handful of schools on both coasts might see their admission offers contingent on an unanticipated timeline.  A sampling of schools and programs potentially offering applicants a later freshman start include:  

The Spring Difference 

Top-of-mind questions for second semester admits concerns the impact of a spring start on forging solid social connections. What will campus life be like for the new group joining established classmates who have been living and learning together on campus since fall orientation?

Students who begin college via the second semester option tend to report that their smaller cohort provides them with a more intimate, bonded social experience at their start of college. A strong January campus orientation program can serve to support those connections.  

Sometimes a later start incorporates a first semester international experience, the destination country compatible with the student's intended major. Participants bring these closer connections back with them to campus in January.

An organized program, such as the University of Maryland - College Park's Freshman Connection, offers spring admits an optional opportunity for a fall start, living on campus while choosing from selected classes. In contrast, other schools may leave the choice of fall programming entirely up to the student, potentially involving employment, volunteerism, or community college classes for credit. 

Cornell University's First Year Spring Admit (FYSA) program admits up to 50 students as "January freshmen," while recommending pursuit of enriching extramural involvements prior to arriving in Ithaca for spring semester.

The University of Southern California offers students the opportunity to pursue classes at affiliated American universities located in Europe where they may pursue classes for credit with students from around the world.

Regardless of the entry date, the premise supporting a January start is enrichment for the student prior to the start of college, bringing even greater anticipation and readiness for their educational experience.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Indiana University's Flagship Goes Test Optional

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Indiana University's flagship campus in Bloomington, IN has said "no thanks" to requiring SAT or ACT in admissions evaluations.  IU has now joined six other campuses in its state system in the test optional movement. 

According to IU Admissions, the university has observed that GPA performance in high school is the best predictor of college success, and that standardized test scores typically reflect the economic resources that students are able to invest in test prep.

Students applying to IU in 2020 will not be required to submit test scores with their applications.  

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Got Email?

Friday, December 20, 2019

In an era of non-stop texting, instant messaging and SnapChat, for our students email is soooo 20th-century.  

While email remains the preferred mode of communication in the professional world, it seems our Generation Z would prefer to keep things briefer.

Because Email

The importance of juniors learning to get with their email account begins to accelerate once the college process kicks off. Frequent touch points with one's email account begin to take on new importance. Standardized testing registrations; financial aid application notifications; and not to mention actual decisions rendered by colleges, typically arrive through an email platform. A high school junior or senior's daily touch point with their email account becomes important. At least 3 - 4 inbox visits per week is my recommendation for even the most email-phobic teen.

Too Much of A Good Thing

Ironically, part of the reason college applicants are squeamish about opening their inboxes is the overwhelming amount of communications generated by the colleges themselves. Kiddoes often comment on the hyperactivity on the part of schools stuffing their inboxes with solicitations imploring them to apply.

Email Etiquette

Even though youngsters prefer the ease and spontaneity of the quick text, now is the time to learn how to manage the realm of  to/from/subject lines.  Email communication is how most in the professional world interact with colleagues, clients -- and prospective employers.

Just as formal telephone skills were once a fundamental element in professional communication, the same stands today when we talk about email.

Be A "Wide Receiver"

As colleges have been observing the strange but growing disconnect with applicants across this "old-timey" platform of email, they are resorting to seeking permission to make contact via text message. For some high schoolers this could come as a welcome blessing, while for others an intrusion into what feels like a personal domain.  And let's not forget that not every student is in a position to own a cellular device with a texting plan.

Managing Inbox Overwhelm

Kids might consider opening a designated "college process" email account to separate out the personal stuff from the college mailings.  Now there will be no excuse to miss notifications about essentials such as scholarship awards or missing recommendations or test scores. Until communication technology evolves yet again, keep that email inbox front and center. Don't want to miss those important notifications from the Dream School, do you?

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


The Best Recommendations For How to Succeed at College

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Where was the oh-so-wise Dr. Glenn Altschuler when I was in college? While I had not the good fortune to sit in on even one of the good professor's classes, I feel fortunate to be in the position today to channel his wisdom about bringing the best of study, personal care and time management skills to any student's university experience.  Amongst all that new independence and freedom that college students embrace, setting up for academic success in the first year sets the tone for what's to come down the road.

Dr. Altschuler, who has long been regarded as a beloved professor on the Cornell campus, presents Ten Recommendations for First-Year Undergraduates.  If I were to highlight one primary tip from his Top-10 for any budding college student, it would be to cultivate that very precious resource -- TIME -- learning how to think ahead and plan, plan, plan.  

Squeezing Into a 24-Hour Day

College life features a boatload of choices and possibilities to manage. Students benefit when they learn to operate in advance of what is coming the next day, the following week, and the month to come.  High school students who learn how to anticipate what lies ahead make the best transitions to college, earn the best grades and can dig into the wealth of offerings.  And what about self-care and time for social enjoyment?  The fun stuff counts, too. 

Learning how to "work smart" is smart.  Even without sitting in on any of Dr. A's lectures, students can still carry his good advice into their daily lives while still in high school, starting as a first-year, and beyond.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


2019-20 Common Application Essay Supplements

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

They are here! Rising seniors looking for a head start on individual college supplements will be delighted (well, maybe kinda glad?) that several schools have announced their updated supplementary essay prompts for the 2019-20 admissions cycle.

This gives students an extra few weeks ahead of the start of senior year to focus on what drives their interest in the colleges they plan to apply to in the fall.  Our current updates include, in alphabetical order, supplementary essay prompts for the following colleges:

  • Boston College
  • Dartmouth
  • Emory
  • Tufts
  • University of Colorado - Boulder
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Virginia
  • Villanova
  • Wake Forest
BOSTON COLLEGE

Choose one of four (400 words max):

1. Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?

2. When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community?

3. Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?

4. Jesuit education considers the liberal arts a pathway to intellectual growth and character formation. What beliefs and values inform your decisions and actions today, and how will Boston College assist you in becoming a person who thinks and acts for the common good?


DARTMOUTH

Respond in 100 words or less:

While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, Sir…a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2023, what aspects of the College’s program, community or campus environment attract your interest?


Choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:

1. “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.

2. The Hawaiian word mo’olelois often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.

3. In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?

4. In The Painted Drum, author Louise Erdrich ‘76 wrote, “… what is beautiful that I make? What is elegant? What feeds the world?” Tell us about something beautiful you have made or hope to make.

5. “Yes, books are dangerous,” young people’s novelist Pete Hautman proclaimed. “They should be dangerous—they contain ideas.” What book or story captured your imagination through the ideas it revealed to you? Share how those ideas influenced you.

6. Labor leader Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist who co-founded the organization now known as United Farm Workers. She said, “We criticize and separate ourselves from the process. We’ve got to jump right in there with both feet.” Speak your truth: Talk about a time when your passion became action.


EMORY

In addition to your Personal Statement, please answer two (2) of the prompts below. Choose one prompt from the “Reflections” category and one prompt from the “Tell us about you” category. Each response should be no more than 150 words.

“Reflections” Category: Respond to one of the following.

1. Share about something you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community.
2. Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
3. Emory University’s shield is a crossed torch and trumpet representing the light of learning and the proclamation of knowledge. It symbolizes our mission to impact the world through discovery. What truth or knowledge do you want to see shared?

 “Tell us about you” Category: Respond to one of the following.

1. Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?
2. If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?
3. If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say? (Yes, the actual Twitter character limit would likely be shorter than 150 words, but thanks for indulging us.)

TUFTS

Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too.

Applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree answer the following two questions:

1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?’ (100-150 words)

2. Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):

A) From recognizing break dancing as a new Olympic sport, to representation in media, to issues of accessibility in our public transit systems, what is something that you can talk about endlessly? What do you care about and why?

B) Whether you’ve built circuit boards or written slam poetry, created a community event or designed mixed media installations, tell us: What have you designed, invented, engineered, or produced? Or what do you hope to?

C) We all have a story to tell. And with over 5,000 undergraduate students on our campus, that is over 5,000 stories to share and learn. What’s yours?

Applicants to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA at Tufts answer the following two questions:

1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)

2. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. Whether you think of Ai Weiwei’s work reframing the refugee crisis, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the Obamas reimagining portrait painting on a national scale, or Yayoi Kusama’s fanciful Infinity Mirrors rekindling our sense of wonder, it is clear that contemporary art is driven by ideas. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO- BOULDER

At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance. (250-650 words)


UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.

Choose 1 of 4 -- 300 words max:

1. UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as “the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember.” Tell us about one of your “blackberry moments” from the past five years.

2. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What is the best part? What advice would you give to a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?

3. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

4. Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.

1. UVA students are charged with living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.

2. What's your favorite word and why?

3. We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.

4. Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?

5. UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

VILLANOVA

Villanova has three new prompts for their Choose 1 of 3 supplement. (250-1000 words)

1. In the spirit of Saint Augustine, we believe that everyone in the Villanova community learns from each other. What is a lesson that you have learned in your life so far that you will share with others?

2. You may live in one of the busiest cities in all the world or come from a small town with just one traffic light. The place that you call home has probably shaped who you are in some way. Tell us about where you are from and what, from there, you will bring to Villanova.

3. Please describe a choice for change that you have made in your life that has greatly affected your life or the lives of others.


WAKE FOREST
How did you become interested in Wake Forest University and why are you applying?

Tell us how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.  (300 words max)

What piques your intellectual curiosity, and why?

As part of our “Voices of Our Time” series — which allows students, faculty, and staff to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers — Wake Forest has hosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, Eboo Patel, and Thomas Friedman. If you could choose the next series speaker, whom would you pick, and why? (150 words)

At Wake Forest, we gather our students in “Calls to Conversation,” congregating small groups around dinner tables in faculty’s and administrators’ homes to discuss topics organized around a theme, for example “arts for social change,” “gender in society,” and “leading a meaningful life.” If you could design a theme for a “Call to Conversation,” what would you choose, and why? (150 words)

We live in an age intensely interested in heroes. Professor Joseph Campbell defined “hero” as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Describe a hero in public life and how and why, in your opinion, they meet Professor Campbell’s definition. (150 words)

We are all different, and our lived experiences — influenced by our culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and/or religion — shape our understanding of the world. How have your experiences shaped your development, and how do you plan to use those experiences to interact and engage with others who might be different from you within our Wake Forest Community? (no word limit)

OPTIONAL - 12 QUESTIONS

Give us your top ten list and theme (100 characters for each)

Have you visited the Wake Forest campus? Tell us about your visit and with whom you spoke. (150 words or fewer)

Have you ever been on probation, suspended (in or out of school) or dismissed from any high school or college? If yes, explain fully on a separate sheet.

Have any criminal charges been brought against you? (Exclude charges which have resulted in a finding of not guilty or complete dismissal.) If yes, list and explain fully on a separate sheet.

If you have attended more than one high school, please explain reason for transfer.

300 words max:  Tell us how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.

1a. List five books you have read that intrigued you. Author. Title.

1b. (100 characters each)

As part of my high school English curriculum, I was required to read:

I would have liked to replace it with:

The required book I was most surprised I enjoyed was:

150 words max:   What piques your intellectual curiosity, and why?

150 words max:  Which of your extracurricular accomplishments has had the most meaning for you and why.

150 words max:  As part of our “Voices of Our Time” series — which allows students, faculty, and staff to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers — Wake Forest has hosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, Eboo Patel, and Thomas Friedman. If you could choose the next series speaker, whom would you pick, and why?

150 words max:  At Wake Forest, we gather our students in “Calls to Conversation,” congregating small groups around dinner tables in faculty’s and administrators’ homes to discuss topics organized around a theme, for example “arts for social change,” “gender in society,” and “leading a meaningful life.” If you could design a theme for a “Call to Conversation,” what would you choose, and why?

150 words max:  We live in an age intensely interested in heroes. Professor Joseph Campbell defined “hero” as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Describe a hero in public life and how and why, in your opinion, they meet Professor Campbell’s definition.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


The Top 5 Summer To-Do's for Rising Juniors & Parents

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

The summer is for enjoying much-needed downtime and then making a little time for these tips that will make junior year -- and the college process -- run more smoothly:

1. Design a testing schedule for next year, including practice tests, prep calendar, etc. Students can take either the SAT, the ACT, or both. Because colleges equally accept scores from either, students are smart to test according to their personal strengths.

2. Try on something fulfilling over the summer. Jobs, travel, volunteering -- any activity that draws a student's authentic interest provides a great opportunity to grow their world and help discover strengths.

3.  Read, read, read.  (Anything that you enjoy!)

4. Visit a couple of local colleges -- or check out what's close to the family summer vacation spot -- to gain a sense of how different campuses look and feel.  Make an effort to vary campus size and location for a broader perspective ex. large vs. small; urban vs. rural. 

5. Have an open parent/student conversation about college affordability.  For students heading to college in Fall 2021, it's a smart idea for parents and students to consider financials to determine the family's expected financial contribution (EFC).  For an early estimate of financial aid eligibility, check out this planning tool.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Do I Need to Write the Optional SAT Essay?

Sunday, June 09, 2019

THIS POSTING HAS BEEN REVISED TO REFLECT FREQUENTLY-CHANGING SAT ESSAY POLICIES.

The optional SAT essay, requiring an additional 50 minutes of test takers' time, focus and energy, is swiftly becoming an artifact.  

Like the vestigial human appendix, at one point in time this component of the standardized testing landscape had its purpose. Today, more often than not, the essay score is simply disregarded, serving no true function in evaluating applicants, so says the testing policy at the vast majority of colleges and universities.  Still, every year we grapple with the wisdom of signing up for the optional essay.  

Testing Requirements Run the Gamut

How should students approach the decision of whether or not to sit for the optional essay?  General wisdom has long suggested that the smart and safe move would be to write the essay because without it colleges that do require this component will regard the main two-part SAT score, consisting of Evidence-Based Reading and Writing plus Math, to be incomplete.

So what are the policies that colleges hold around the essay?  Schools such as Bates, NYU, Quinnipiac, Connecticut College, UConn neither require nor recommend the optional essay and will not consider its score at the time of application review.  No longer does the College of Charleston or Occidental even recommend the essay, a relatively recent change.  As of last year, Duke stopped requiring it. None of the Ivies require the essay.  So who does?   

Look West

Primarily, the University of California system institutions (ex. UCLA; UC San Diego; etc.) and Stanford still ask for the essay.  A student applying to these schools will need to submit their essay score in order to complete their application. 

Future Tense

Another possible rationale behind writing the essay is as a back-up in the event a student later decides to transfer colleges, and the destination college is one that requires the SAT essay score for admission -- including transfer admission.  Without a complete score, the SAT two-part score may be regarded as insufficient.

International applicants whose language of instruction is not English may consider writing the essay to lend another perspective to their TOEFL or IELTS score.

In the present timeframe, if a student feels that they will likely have remaining mental focus to satisfactorily write the essay after completing the main SAT sections, then they might just pay the extra $15 fee and register for the essay.  And after once completing the essay and if satisfied with the two-part score, the student may not need to write the essay again in future testing scenarios.  In other words, when it comes to the essay more often than not it's "one and done."    

If a student wants to learn more about the essay section (highly-recommended prior to test day), click here to learn more about the approach to writing the essay and the skills assessed.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

What Is An "Adversity" Score?

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Since the College Board recently announced the gradual rollout of their new contextual index, dubbed the "adversity score," numerous parents have inquired about this latest quantitative measurement and how it might impact the perception of their student in the Admissions Office.  "Will my child be regarded more or less favorably?  Will living in a more highly-resourced community make my child look indulged -- or even 'spoiled'? If I move to a different neighborhood, how will it affect my high schooler and younger kids?" What influence will this numerical value have on admissions outcomes for the majority of students taking the SAT?

For most students the index, formally referred to as the Environmental Context Dashboard will, on its own, likely not have a major impact and, like all elements that go into a holistic reading of a college application, will be reviewed in broader context. 

The Stated Intention

In recent years the College Board, along with other major players in the sphere of higher education, has begun to publicly comment on the reality of how socio-economic advantage directly contributes to higher standardized test scores as well as a likelihood of admission to more selective institutions.  For the many students who either live and/or attend high school in less resourced or socially-challenged cities or neighborhoods, the "adversity score" aims to shed light on the environment many of our students have had to manage, thereby allowing greater insight to the context in which these peers live and learn.  

The index aims to quantify a student's neighborhood, family, and high school educational environment while excluding considerations of race.  The numerical value comes from an analysis of census data along with information the College Board collects.

Students do not see their dashboard score, adding to the opacity of this number and its impact on admissions.

Bottom Line

In my view the College Board, referencing their strength in student data collection, is attempting to repurpose the copious amounts of student data they collect via each test registration.  My sense is that this rollout is more about monetization of data on behalf of the College Board rather than a substantive element that will significantly impact how the vast majority of colleges will evaluate admissions files.  The College Board appears to be attempting an approach of quantifying students' living and learning environment.  But ask anyone how their living and learning experience could effectively be boiled down to a number?

Beyond quantifying elements too nuanced to be calculated, most important is that all students receive a fair and contextual evaluation of their applications and are reviewed in view their potential to succeed at any institution.  In sum, every individual, professional and institution dedicated to the mission of higher education should be vigilant that all students are awarded the opportunity to attain their potential to study, learn and engage.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

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