Author Archives: Holly Spence

Parenting During College Admissions – Our Top Insights!

College admissions is a stressful time for the entire family. Seniors are anxious about starting a new chapter of their lives and leaving the comforts of home behind. Parents are equally worried about sending their children off into the world, hoping that they have prepared them well over the past 17 years.


(Parents, for tips on supporting your child as college decisions are being released, check out this video from Insight’s Co-Founder and Head of Admissions Counseling Purvi Mody). 


But before families can see their children off, they must first get through the admissions process. Increasingly, parents are taking a much deeper role in the process — some for better and some for worse. Below are some insights into what the parents’ role should and should not be during the college admissions process.


1 – Guide your child in choosing colleges that would be a great fit, but don’t force your child to only apply to schools that you like. This is the perfect opportunity to have an open conversation with your child. Emphasizing rank and brand might cause your child to react negatively to the pressure.


2- Check if your child is ok with this before reading over your child’s essays and giving advice. Do not write or rewrite the essays for them. A teenager’s voice is distinctly different from a parent’s voice. Colleges want to hear from the students about what is important to them, and admissions officers are very savvy about distinguishing essays written by parents and those written by students.


3 – Drive your child to an interview or college visit, but let them take control once you arrive. If your child is interviewing with a local alumnus or admissions officer, refrain from introducing yourself or even going into the interview location. When visiting colleges as they come to your school or town, encourage your child to talk to the presenters.


4 – If you have questions that can only be answered by an admissions office, have your child call. It helps the student to develop the ability to speak to adults and to take control of the admissions process. Do not call the admissions office frequently with questions that can be answered by perusing the website.


5 – Students will need to ask their teachers for letters of recommendation. It’s not appropriate for parents to ask on their behalf.


6 – Remind your children about due dates and help them manage the process, but don’t micromanage them. Doing so will cause undue stress for everyone.


7 – Do not request letters of recommendation from family friends because of their connections if they genuinely have not had significant interaction with your child.


8 – Be ambitious yet realistic in expectations. Support your children in applying to schools they really love, even though they may be a little (or much) harder to get into. Make sure, though, the list is balanced so that there are options in April.


9 – Don’t compare your students to others. Rising seniors and seniors are as stressed as they can be right now, and comparisons to other children can only make them feel inferior.


10 – Celebrate all successes. Every acceptance is cause for celebration, even if it is a safety school. This will give your child confidence as the other decisions come.


While applying to college is a means to an end, it is a learning process nonetheless. Your children are learning to be an adult and you are learning to let them be more independent. Your support and words of encouragement can make all the difference.


In a few months, essays, applications, interviews, and supplements will be a distant memory, but the relationship you build and the bounds you establish now can last a lifetime.



Written by Purvi Mody

This article was written by Insight’s Co-Founder and Head of Counseling Purvi Mody.

Since 1998, Purvi has dedicated her career to education and is exceedingly well-versed in the college admissions process. Her philosophy centers around helping kids identify and apply to the schools that are the best fit for them and then develop applications that emphasize their unique attributes and talents.

What Do the New UC and CSU Standardized Testing Requirements Mean For You?

Insights into UC and CSU Standardized Testing Requirements for the 2021-2022 Admissions Season

According to the University of California Application Center, “UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships.” In other words, UC is test-blind for the high school class of 2022.


Because UC is test-blind, this may mean that other factors such as grades, strength of curriculum, essays, and extracurricular activities might hold even greater weight. So, please consult with your Insight counselor and make sure you are keeping your grades up, taking the strongest curriculum you can handle, writing great application essays, and doing meaningful extracurricular activities.


Regarding the California State Universities (CSUs) there is not currently an official stance on standardized testing requirements that applies to the entire CSU system, so please contact each CSU that you are applying to, in order to find out what their standardized testing requirements are. However, I spoke with the admissions office at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and it is not considering SAT or ACT scores for the high school class of 2022. So, like the UCs, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo is test-blind for the high school class of 2022.


The most important factors Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo will be considering for admission include GPA, extracurriculars, work experience, and strength of curriculum (what a student does beyond the minimum course requirements).


If you have any questions about the UC and CSU standardized testing requirements for the high school class of 2022 and about how you can make your applications stand out, please contact your Insight counselor.


Finally, it’s very important to remember that just because the UC system and many CSUs are test-blind for the high school class of 2022, this doesn’t mean the end of standardized testing. In fact, the data shows that for the high school class of 2021 (when many schools were test-optional) the students that submitted good SAT or ACT scores—especially to elite colleges and universities—were more likely to have gained admission. In other words, it is still important to prepare for and take the SAT or ACT.

Need help preparing for the SAT or the ACT? Check out our ACT Boot Camps or SAT Classes.

Are you worried about the recent cancellations/postponements of the SAT and ACT? 

Are you wondering if any schools have changed their testing requirements and whether you should still take standardized tests?  If so, please read on for important information from Insight counselor Jason.


The University of California system has been debating for years about whether to eliminate its SAT/ACT requirement.


While standardized testing advocates say the tests predict college readiness and can help identify promising disadvantaged students with lower GPAs, anti-test advocates claim that standardized testing makes admissions less fair since higher test results are correlated with higher family incomes. Earlier this year UC decided to keep the SAT/ACT requirement. 


However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainty students now face, both the UC and CSU systems have decided that the SAT/ACT will not be required for students applying for Fall 2021 freshman admission. 



University of California Testing Policies

According to UC’s April 1, 2020 Counselors and Advisers Bulletin:


“UC will suspend the standardized test requirement (SAT and ACT) for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission. This modification is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.”


Additionally, according to a FAQ posted on the UC admissions website:


“Students applying for Fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements.


Campuses will adjust their internal processes accordingly to ensure that no student is harmed in admissions selection should they not submit a test score.”




California State University Testing Policies

Not long after the UC’s announced their policy, the California State University (CSU) schools followed suit.


The CSU system announced that they will not use test scores to determine eligibility for the fall 2021 class.


According to CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, “This temporary change will ensure equitable access to the university and should provide some measure of relief to prospective students and their families.”


Under the new CSU admissions policy, first-time freshmen for the term of fall 2021 must meet the new requirements to have earned a high school diploma, completed their “A-G” requirements, and have earned a GPA of 2.5 or better. 



What Does this Mean for Me?

In other words, if you are a student applying for freshman admission to a UC or CSU campus for fall 2021, you do not have to take the SAT or ACT. 


However, if you have already taken the SAT or ACT or are able to take the SAT or ACT in the future, submitting your score may have a real positive impact on your application and UC graduation requirements. 


As a result, people should not assume that getting into a UC will be significantly easier next year – that would be a mistake.


Additionally, as of now, this does not impact the class of 2022 or 2023 – so current sophomores and freshmen should not work under the assumption that testing will not be required for admission to the UCs or CSUs.  


What are Other Colleges Doing?

Also, it is important to note that not all colleges have dropped the testing requirement. As a result, students should plan to test if they will be applying to even one college that has not made that announcement.


Students applying for very competitive and specialized programs should still be planning to take the appropriate tests.  If you are wondering whether you should be testing, please consult with an Insight counselor.


Finally, although this latest news about the UCs/CSUs may be great for current high school juniors that don’t test well and that want to attend a UC or CSU, this is definitely not the time to stop testing. 



Concluding Thoughts

We want to emphasize that even though the UCs and CSUs have dropped their testing requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission, as of now this change only affects that group. 


Many colleges and specialized programs still require standardized testing (including the UCs—except for fall 2021 freshman admission).


During these unprecedented and uncertain times, please remember that Insight counselors are here to discuss your college admissions and testing plans. Overall, this UC and CSU news is good, but should be taken cautiously.  



Written by Jason Katz

This article was written by Insight Counselor Jason Katz.

Jason has helped hundreds of students gain admission to their best-fit universities. In addition, he wrote more than 170 college admissions/college life columns for the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News. Read his full bio here.

Early Decision vs. Early Action – Which to Choose?

If you are entering the college admissions process, you might have heard of these terms. You might even wonder what they are. What is the difference? Which is better for your college admissions strategy, if at all? Insight Head of College Admissions Purvi Mody is here to share with you all the insights on Early Decision and Early Action, so you can pick the option that best suits your needs.

Quick Summary

  –   Both Early action and early decision have earlier application deadlines than regular admissions.

  –   You will also receive college admissions decisions earlier, usually starting in mid-December.

  –   You can apply to as many schools as you want using EA.

  –   ED is for only one school, and it is a binding agreement, which means you have to attend when you are accepted.

“Early Decision” and “Early Action” are likely terms that you have heard before when talking about the college application process. The biggest thing to get your head around – what is the difference between the two? They have similar names but are quite different in their outcomes. 



What is Early Action?

As the name implies, your college applications are due earlier than regular application deadlines. Typical deadlines for regular applications can be December 1st and January 15, whereas early deadlines mean you’re probably submitting around November 1st. For some schools and majors, you need to complete your admissions file by mid-October.


There is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to using early action. This can be a great option because it means you have submitted applications to schools early in the season – they’re off your plate! But why would you want to submit your applications a month before everyone else?


According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), early action means that “students apply early and receive a decision well in advance of the institution’s regular response date.” And that is a big advantage. You will receive your admissions decisions back earlier! You may find out in December or January about where you stand with your dream school. That may also mean you can relax and enjoy the rest of your senior year.


Another advantage with early action is that you do not need to commit until May 1 (the national response date), so you have almost half a year to decide and to compare financial aid packages. 


Though to make things confusing, some schools use restrictive early action (or single-choice early action), which is exactly like early decisions. The restrictive early action limits you to using the process only once. Thus, be diligent in your college research and weigh your options carefully before committing to applying early. 


What is Early Decision?

Unlike early action, early decision is binding! You can apply to only one because you are saying that if the school accepts you, you will 100% attend. Because of this commitment, colleges require signatures from you, your family, and a school counselor in order for you to apply early decision.


Early decision benefits students who know their first-choice college and who are confident in their odds of getting accepted. Similar to early action, you will also receive an admissions decision early, usually in December.


One of the challenges with early decision can be that you will not find out about other schools until later in the year. If you get into a different school that you’d actually like to attend more than your early decision school, you don’t have the option to switch. So be 100% certain about your early decision school. If you are torn on which school you would ultimately like to attend, or which major you’d like to do, early decision might not be for you.


Another aspect of early decision to consider is the financial side of it all. If you apply early decision, you’re telling the school that you will attend no matter what. This means they are less likely to offer you a scholarship or financial aid because they know they don’t need to add those incentives to sway you to attend their school. If you are counting on some financial help, early decision again may not be right for you.


Read more: Think it Through: Early Decision


What Are the Benefits of Applying Early?

By applying early, you stagger the deadlines, which alleviate the stress that comes with stacked regular admissions. Early action allows you until May 1 to decide whether or not you want to attend that school. Both early action and early decision show the schools that you have done your research and you are interested in these schools.


Something else to keep in mind is that some colleges do take a substantial amount of their incoming class from that early decision pool. Many elite schools look at early decision as a way to separate the students that are “kind of interested” from the students that are willing to commit 100% to that school. 


Should I Apply Early?

With all the advantages, it may seem compelling to apply early. Keep in mind that the early admissions process works best for students who know their dream school(s) and who feel they are competitive applicants.


How do you know if you are competitive? Check the school’s website. Most schools give you an idea of their applicant profile. In addition to your application, you need to thoroughly research the schools. It is not a blanket statement that “all elite schools will take a higher percentage of their class from the early decision applicants”. Some schools only take a slightly higher percentage, and in some cases, the difference between early and regular admissions rounds is not noticeable at all. Other than the academic offerings, campus, school culture, and location, you should also research the different available financial aid packages. 


Our biggest tip is to do your research! Talk to your school (and Insight) counselor, your parents, and family members. Figure out if you have a school on your list that might be a good candidate for early decision, and if you do, make sure you are prepared for the financially and mentally to commit to that school.

Transferring Between UC Campuses…Wait, That’s Possible?

You’ve probably heard about transferring from a community college to a UC institution, but did you know it’s possible to transfer between UC campuses?  This is the path I took—I spent my first two years at UC Santa Barbara before transferring to UC Berkeley for my last two years of undergraduate studies. If you’re interested in hearing about my experience at both universities, please read my Insight Alma Mater: UC Santa Barbara and Insight Alma Mater: UC Berkeley blog posts. 


As someone who has successfully transferred between two UC institutions, I want to share my experience; however, I do not want to downplay the potential challenges (and rewards!) students who choose this path may face.


 Ultimately, this blog post aims to give an honest account of my experience and things you should be mindful about if you’re considering this option in the future.


Transferring Between UC Campuses: Who, What, and Why?


What Does This Mean & Who Is Eligible: As alluded to previously, students who attend one of the nine UC campuses can apply to transfer to a different UC campus and finish their degree, as long as they meet the transfer prerequisites to do so.


(The requirements to transfer are beyond the scope of this article; however, I strongly recommend consulting Insight counselors if you’re interested in pursuing this option).

The degree conferred is from the latter UC.  In my case, I have a BA in Linguistics and a minor in Chinese from UC Berkeley. 


Reasons for Considering This Option: A few notable reasons to consider this path include a student’s ideal major is not offered at their UC campus; a student feels that another UC institution may fit them better; personal reasons; or special circumstances.  However, please read the full article to better understand what this may entail.



10 Things To Know Before You Transfer


Now that you hopefully have a better idea of what it means to transfer between UC campuses, I’ve compiled ten things you should be aware of if you’re interested in pursuing this option.


#1 From My Experience, Transferring Between UC Institutions is Not Easy 

Like I said, I want to provide an honest account, and from my experience, IT IS NOT EASY to transfer between UC institutions. During my sophomore year of college, I had to complete the UC application again and take college-level courses while balancing my other commitments, which was a lot to handle.


What’s more, the official University of California, Office of the President website states, “we give the highest priority to California community college students transferring as juniors—who make up over 90% of our transfer class.”


With few spots available for students transferring from 4-year universities, a strong profile at your original UC institution will only benefit you if you plan on pursuing this seriously.



#2 Try to Make the Most of Your Time at Your Original UC Institution

While transferring is an option, I also strongly encourage you to make the most of your time at your original UC institution by building community; being engaged with your professors, TAs, and the material you’re learning; and exploring all that your school has to offer. 


After all, college will pass by quickly, so take advantage of it! Your school could potentially grow on you, and you might prefer completing all four years there.  

You now know that you need to work hard at your original school and that you should make the most of your time there. What happens if you’re still looking to transfer in the future? Keep the following in mind:


#3 You Might Feel Like a Freshman…But with University Experience and Less Time  

When I transferred to UC Berkeley, I felt like a freshman all over again in some ways, even though I was technically an upperclassman.  I got lost multiple times during the first few weeks of school and knew very few people. On the flip side, I already had a sense of how lectures and discussions section worked; I knew how clubs and organizations generally operated; and I had experience living in the dorms from UCSB. 


This could possibly be viewed as an “advantage” of transferring from another UC institution—you already have a sense of what being at a 4-year university is like. Nonetheless, this dichotomy of being an upperclassman but feeling like a freshman was something I had to grapple with.  


In addition, as I will explain in more detail below, you inherently have less time than freshman by nature—less time to get acclimated, less time to make friends, less time to join clubs, and less time to explore all that your new school has to offer. This will be the reality you will face should you choose to transfer.


#4 People Might Not Understand What It Feels like to Transfer Between UC Campuses

As previously mentioned, California community college students make up the vast majority of transfer studentsEven within the transfer community, you’ll likely be in a unique position if you transfer from another UC campus, which can feel isolating. I would strongly encourage you to reach out to your support system as you try to build a community at your new school. 


#5 There is a Big Difference Between Quarter System & Semester System 

I spent my first two years in the quarter system before transferring to a school that uses the semester system.  From my experience, that was an adjustment. I had to learn how to pace myself so that I wouldn’t burn out by the end of the fifteen weeks.  So, if you plan on applying to schools with a different system, I suggest taking that into account. Also, your units might not transfer, as I will elaborate on below.  


#6 You Might Need to Retake Classes  

I had to retake many of my major classes, perhaps partly because quarter system units and semester units might be weighted differently. On one hand, this was a chance to solidify the information in my major classes or see the information presented in a different way.


On the other hand, I also had to decide if I wanted to take all the classes I was interested in and risk not graduating in four years, or focus on taking the mandatory classes which would give me a higher chance of graduating “on time.” 


This is something that would be imperative for those seeking to transfer between UC institutions to consider. To better understand your specific major, I recommend reaching out to the major adviser of the schools that you are interested in transferring to and asking if you would need to retake your major classes should you decide to transfer.


#7 You’ll Likely Experience Activities You Wouldn’t Have Had the Chance to 

While I had to retake many of my classes, one thing I appreciated about transferring was the amount of extracurricular activities present at UC Berkeley. As I mentioned in my Insight Alma Mater blog post, I taught Taiwanese; joined a dance club for a semester, which was something I’ve always wanted to try; and mentored some community college students. Take advantage of these organizations and experiences that were not present at your old school, especially when you theoretically only have two years to do so. 


#8 You Will Gain Some & You Will Lose Some

To sum up, you will gain some and you will lose some if you decide to transfer in case that wasn’t already clear. However, a few years from now, you will ideally have a stronger sense of your values and what you are willing to compromise on if you choose to reapply, given that school culture, environment, weather, relationships, extracurricular activities, academic rigor, research opportunities, and future job prospects are just a few areas that can change should you choose to transfer.


#9 Understand Schools from the Perspective of a Transfer Student

If you receive acceptance as a transfer student, it’s imperative to not only try to understand the school and environment but also understand the school from the perspective of a transfer student.


How big is that particular school’s transfer population? What specific resources are available for transfer students and students transferring from another UC institution? How much support is given to the transfer population? What courses can you transfer over, and what courses do you need to retake? Know the answers to these questions.


#10 You Will Get a More Holistic College Experience 

I learned quickly that UC campuses, at least the ones I attended, are unique schools in many ways, even if they’re all classified under the UC system. From noticing the difference in school culture down to the nitty-gritty of how students get to and from campus, you’ll gain a more holistic experience and nuanced perspective of what university is like that other students don’t experience should you decide to transfer. 


After witnessing what culture and learning environment best fits you, this could be incredibly valuable insight if you plan on applying to graduate school in the future.   


Since it’s uncommon to transfer between UC campuses, I hope this blog post has provided some insight into what this may entail should you pursue this in the future.


However, your Insight counselor is a great resource who can provide more details about the process and offer suggestions given your individual circumstances, so please consult your Insight counselor if you’re interested in hearing more about this path.

Thanks for reading! Good luck, and you got this!

Authored by Jenny Huang.


Insight’s List of Colleges Accepting AP Credits 2020


Adelphi University: “We will still award Advanced Placement (AP) credit in the same way for virtual exams being offered by the College Board. We will also lend flexibility for International Baccalaureate (IB) credit on the basis of predicted scores and/or final grade scores in absence of final exam scores for qualified HL courses.” Source.

American University: “American University is committed to ensuring that AP and IB students receive the appropriate AU credit they have earned as outlined in the AP and IB charts for Academic Year 20-21.” Source.

Auburn University: “CollegeBoard announced changes regarding AP Exams. For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home. For more information, please visit” Source.

Baylor University: “Baylor University will accept the 2020 AP abbreviated exam scores for credit as indicated in the table below.” Source.

Beloit College: “Beloit College will grant credit for the online versions of AP tests with credit/placement consistent with our previous policy.” – Kate Virgo, Director of Enrollment Operations

Bennington College: “Bennington will not make any changes to the way that credit is awarded for AP, IB, A-Level or French Baccalaureate exam scores, even if those scores are produced in a different way or based on different information. We will honor any changes made by the testing organizations in order to support students. See the full credit transfer policy for First-Year Students.” Source.

Boston College: “Boston College will continue to acknowledge our incoming students’ aptitude and hard work in rigorous academic coursework by maintaining our Advanced Placement policy which allows students to use qualifying scores to fulfill requirements in the University Core Curriculum.” Source.

Boston University: “Yes. Boston University has decided to honor all current advanced credit policies for fall 2020. Please see our approved advanced credit policies for 2020-21.” Source.

Brandeis University: “Brandeis is committed to ensuring that students receive credit for the rigorous coursework they completed this year. Brandeis will accept appropriate AP scores received on the shortened at home administration of the AP exam offered in Spring 2020 for credit transfer.” Source.

Brigham Young University: “COVID-19 Update: BYU will accept the online exams for the 2020 AP test. Students who complete an AP exam with a score of 3, 4 or 5 can potentially receive BYU credit depending on when the exam was taken.” Source.

Bryn Mawr College: “The College Board and IBO have committed to releasing AP and IB scores even though they will be arriving at the scores in a different manner than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bryn Mawr will accept those scores using our standard matrix. Our placement test policies may be adjusted.” Source.

California State University: “The College Board has announced changes to the AP exam content and format for spring 2020. The CSU will honor all existing transferable credit articulation for spring 2020 AP exams on which scores of 3, 4, or 5 are earned.” Source.

  • California State University – Bakersfield
  • California State University – Channel Islands
  • California State University – Chico
  • California State University – Dominguez Hills
  • California State University – East Bay
  • California State University – Fresno
  • California State University – Fullerton
  • California State University – Long Beach
  • California State University – Los Angeles
  • California State University – Monterey Bay
  • California State University – Northridge
  • California State University – Sacramento
  • California State University – San Bernardino
  • California State University – San Marcos
  • California State University – Stanislaus
  • Cal Maritime Academy
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Humboldt State University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Sonoma State University
Carleton University: “Yes, Carleton continues to offer advanced standing (transfer) credit for up to three subjects from these systems as usual. We recognize that much work has already gone into this years’ study in these challenging qualifications, and even though many exams have been cancelled or modified, the examination boards have indicated they will still be awarding credentials that reflect the completion of that work. Please see the official websites of your exam boards for more details. Minimum grade requirements still apply. Credit will be granted provisionally upon receipt of official results.” Source.
Carnegie Mellon University: “If you were are unable to take your Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam(s) this year, this won’t affect your admission decision. AP/IB examinations aren’t required for applicants but can be used for credit. At Carnegie Mellon, each college or school has its own curriculum and thus decides how AP or IB exams contribute toward your degree. Carnegie Mellon may grant advanced placement and credit for 4’s and 5’s on AP exams taken in the College Board Advanced Placement program or for 6’s and 7’s on IB exams. Visit The Hub’s credit awarding page for more information on the guidelines for receiving credit.” Source.

Chapman University: “Yes. We have not changed our policy or requirements for acceptance of spring test scores for credit. For more information on these policies and required scores, visit: Advanced Placement Equivalencies, International Baccalaureate Equivalencies.” Source.

Clarkson University: “We have been made aware that AP testing will now be conducted online for May 2020. Clarkson will accept scores of 4 and 5 on AP tests within our current awarding parameters. Though IB testing has been cancelled for Spring 2020 we will not change awarding policy. Missing IB exams will not matter as long as the student meets the IB requirements as IB will still grade on the normal 1-7 scale. Taking challenging courses is very important however, our admissions team understands that you may not be able to take the final exams.” Source.

College of Idaho: “Given recent exam cancellations and modified assessment and calculation of results for multiple pathways that high school students may earn collegiate credit (ex. IBO, AP, Dual-Credit, etc.) due to COVID-19, The College of Idaho remains committed in its acceptance of these results and adjusted methods of assessment.We do not wish for students to be penalized for changes that are beyond their control, and we believe the final grades/scores provided still present an accurate equivalency of collegiate credit.” Source.

College of William and Mary: “William & Mary will accept the scores the College Board reports for 2020 and grant credit in accordance with our existing requirements.” Source.

College of Wooster: “Yes. Wooster has not changed its policy regarding AP credit equivalencies. Learn more here.” Source.

Colorado State University: “Yes, CSU credits from Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) will still be accepted. Reach out to your respective testing agency for more information.” Source.

Concordia University Irvine: “Yes, CUI will still award college credit for applicants who achieve certain scores on AP exams. For the scores that need to be achieved in individual subjects to receive credit and the number of non-accredited units CUI accepts, consult this transfer credit information.” Source.

Cornell University: “For students planning to start studies at Cornell in 2020, 2021, or 2022 who have been enrolled this term in accelerated programs such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Cambridge A-Levels, and who will be unable to take the exams or taking a different form of exam, Cornell will continue its current practices in awarding credit and course placement, using the modified results and reporting that the testing agencies have announced: AP:” Source.

Davidson College: “There will be no changes to our AP policies due to COVID-19 changes to the AP examination process.” Source.

Duke Kunshan University: “IB, AP and Cambridge Assessment International Education have announced modifications to, or cancellations of, their respective final exams. We know that the alternations to or cancellation of these exams also disrupts the educational plans of many of our applicants. Please know that we plan to support the modifications and cancellations announced by AP, IB and Cambridge International Education so that admissions decisions and advanced placement credit policies are upheld. We also want to reassure admitted students that we will not penalize or overturn the decision of any student due to educational interruptions caused by Covid-19 or related precautionary measures.” Source.

Eckerd College: “We will continue our policy of awarding credit for AP exam scores of four or five.” – Jacob Browne, Director of Admission

Elon University: “Elon University awards credit for acceptable Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test scores. Students are responsible for having their test scores sent to Elon. Please refer to the Academic Catalog for the university’s policies governing these examinations.” Source.

Emory University: “Emory University will accept AP credit in the same way as we have in the past. Review our AP test and credit policies. We do not plan to add additional, university-specific, entrance exams for Emory class placement.” Source.

Evergreen State College: “Students with appropriate scores on the Advanced Placement Examination of the College Entrance Examination Board will be awarded college-level credit. See current policy.” – Carl Forbes, Associate Director of Admissions

Furman University: “Furman continues to monitor the status of AP, IB, and other standardized test offerings over the coming months. We recognize the stress our admitted students may feel in conjunction with these exams; however, in no way will the results of such exams impact an already determined admissions decision. Furman will continue to observe its existing policy on awarding credit for AP and IB examinations. Please see our Exam Equivalency Policy for further details.” Source.

George Washington University: “We understand that this is stressful when students have worked so hard taking these rigorous classes. We have kept our transfer credit policy in place, and we will honor the AP scores for all exams taken in spring 2020. View AP tests equivalents.” Source.

Georgetown University: “Georgetown University is pleased to announce that it will honor the scores reported to us for the 2020 online AP exams. The amount of credit awarded will be determined by Georgetown’s AP policy, which is currently being reviewed, as it is every year, and will be finalized by individual departments later this spring. While some policies may change, they will NOT discriminate against 2020 AP scores based on the COVID-related adjustments to AP testing.” Source.

Georgia Institute of Technology: “CollegeBoard has announced the transition to at home AP exams for 2020. To review Georgia Tech’s credit by exam policy for AP courses, please visit here.” Source.

Georgia Southern University: “Georgia Southern University recognizes both the need for these changes and the effort that students have already made in these challenging courses. Georgia Southern University remains committed to granting students academic credit for the successful completion of 2020 AP Exams and our current policy for awarding credit will remain in effect for students who test in 2020. We appreciate students’ efforts to do their best under the difficult circumstances.” Source.

Gettysburg College: “Gettysburg College’s policy on AP credits will remain the same, all students who receive a 4 or a 5 on an AP exam will be able to transfer the credit. For students in an IB curriculum, receiving a 5 or above in higher level IB courses will allow you to transfer credit regardless of modification or cancellation of the IB exams. If prospective students need more information, please call the Admissions Office at 1-800-431-0803 or (717) 337-6100.” Source.

Gonzaga University: “Gonzaga appreciates the work students put into AP coursework and test preparation.  The changing test format will not affect Gonzaga’s policy for AP exams. We will honor our current policy.Source.

Hofstra University: “We will be flexible with unofficial documents until we return to some degree of normalcy. We know your high school professional staff are stressed, and it is our promise to WORK WITH YOU. Don’t be too concerned about transcripts, final grades, AP’s, test scores. Together, we will figure it out.” Source.

Hunter College: “Yes, we will still honor the exam scores for the AP exams you take in accordance with our AP score equivalency policy.” Source.

Illinois State University: “Yes, Illinois State University will continue to award academic credit for Advanced Placement Programs as determined in the University Catalog.” Source.

Indiana Wesleyan University: “We’ll definitely continue to accept AP credits! To learn more about which Advanced Placement tests we recommend you take, contact your admissions counselor.” Source.

James Madison University: “Yes, the university will maintain its current policies for accepting these prior learning assessments taken during Spring 2020. See more information on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge.” Source.

Kansas State University: “Yes! We will not change our test credit policies. See qualifying scores and course credit awarded.Source.

Kennesaw State University: “Kennesaw State University recognizes both the need for these changes and the effort that students have already made in these challenging courses. Kennesaw State University remains committed to granting students academic credit for the successful completion of 2020 AP Exams and our current policy for awarding credit will remain in effect for students who test in 2020. We appreciate students’ efforts to do their best under the difficult circumstances.” Source.

Lawrence Technological University: “At LTU we have not changed our policy or requirements for review AP examination scores. Please review the AP Guidelines outlined on the website to see minimum scores and how credits will apply.” – Carly Miller, Assistant Director of Admissions

Lawrence University: “We will honor scores earned on the shortened, at-home versions described on the AP Central page of the College Board’s website. More information can be found here.” Source.

Loyola Marymount University: “LMU is not changing our policy surrounding the acceptance of AP exam scores for credit. For more details, please click here.” Source.

Marist College: “Our current AP credit policy will still stand, despite the College Board’s recent announcement. IB scoring policies will also remain in place. However, student success is paramount at Marist, so there may be cases where the subject matter is deemed critical and a prerequisite for additional coursework and the credit would be accepted as elective credit. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis, with student knowledge and preparation the biggest driver in our decision.” – Kent Rinehart, Dean of Admissions

Marquette University: “Marquette will award credit for achievement on AP examinations. You can view a list of AP credit transfers here. Official scores will need to be sent from College Board.” Source.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Our colleagues at the Office of the First Year (OFY) maintain the comprehensive guide for AP, IB, transfer, and ASE credit, and are updating it as events warrant, so you should check back there as things continue to develop.” Source.

Meredith College: “Meredith’s policy for accepting AP test scores has not changed. We will accept the score you earn on the new online, shortened test. Students may want to reconsider accepting the credit, however, if the course was not completed in its entirety. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success at the next level of coursework.” Source.

Michigan State University: “We will honor the plans set forth by International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), GCE A-level examination boards and other institutions for final documentation of a student’s examinations and work. MSU will grant credit, where appropriate, based on the scores we receive from these organizations.” Source.

Michigan Technological University: “AP scores received through the at-home testing option for AP classes will result in the same course placement or credit as traditional AP scores. We are exploring options for students who were planning to take IB exams for HL courses.” Source.

New York University: “We will be granting credit as normal for AP, IB, & A-Level exams taken in spring 2020.” Source.

Northern Arizona University: “Northern Arizona University’s practice of accepting Credit by Exam is unchanged. For a full list of AP/IB/CLEP scores needed to earn credit, please visit” – Tyler Cegler, Assistant Director of Admissions

Occidental College: “There are no changes to the way Occidental awards AP, IB, and A-level credits this year, even with the changes made to the format of the test environments. First-year students may be granted credit for subjects in which they have completed College Board Advanced Placement examinations with scores of 4 or 5, or International Baccalaureate scores of 6 or 7 in Higher Level (HL) courses. Credit for GCE A-level exams is awarded by department petition.” Source.

Ohio Department of High Education: “The OATN recognizes the need for these changes and the need to hold students harmless in light of these changes. Consequently, it is OATN policy that the FY 20 Spring AP Exam scores will be accepted for college credit, using the same guarantees that exist in current policy.” Source.

  • Bowling Green State University
  • Central State University
  • Cleveland State University
  • Kent State University
  • Miami University
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio University
  • Shawnee State University
  • University of Akron
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Toledo
  • Wright State University
  • Youngstown State University

Oregon State University: “If you are taking AP exams at home this term you will be awarded credit based on the score earned in the same way we would have if you were at school and taking the longer exam.” Source.

Pacific Lutheran University: “There will be no change to our current College-level credit policies. PLU will continue to accept AP, IB, and Cambridge credits if, due to the impact of COVID-19, exams are taken at home.” Source.

Plymouth State University: “PSU is honoring the time and effort students have put into AP courses and will honor passing the exam in the same way we have in previous years.” Source.

Pomona College: “Our credit policies for AP test scores has not changed; please see the Advanced Standing webpage for more information.” Source.

Purdue University: “Purdue will continue to accept AP credit as usual; see Purdue’s AP credit transfer criteria.” Source.

Rollins College: “Rollins plans to award AP/IB credit as we have in the past. For information, review our AP and IB credit policies.” Source.

Rutgers University: “There is no change for how AP credits are awarded for students entering in Fall 2020. However, since some of the 2020 Advanced Placement exams will not include all of the units typically covered on those exams, students who earn scores of 4 and 5 on some exams in the 2020 test administration may need to consult with faculty and professional advisors to determine if they have the prerequisite knowledge and background to be successful in more advanced coursework in the fall semester. Once AP scores are received in July, advisors will reach out to students as appropriate with more information and guidance.” Source.

Ryerson University: “Ryerson will continue to accept applications for transfer credit for AP courses with examination scores of 4 or higher. Engineering students are not eligible for transfer credits for core and professional engineering courses using AP examinations.” Source.

Saginaw Valley State University: “Special note for 2020 AP students* SVSU recognizes the effort that students have already applied in these challenging courses and will award SVSU credit for 2020 AP exams consistent with previous years.” Source.

Saint Anslem College: “We will continue to award AP credit based on our current requirements (seen below). If students wish to have AP credit considered for possible credit, please send all AP exam results to Office of the Registrar or Office of Admission.” Source.

Saint Louis University: “We will honor AP/CLEP/IB scores as they have amended their policies due to COVID-19.” Source.

Samford University: “Despite significant changes surrounding the administration of AP and IB exams, Samford’s current policies for AP credit will remain in effect for the class entering in fall 2020. Samford’s policies regarding Credit by Examination at Samford are outlined in our University Catalog.” Source.

Seattle University: “Seattle University will continue to accept AP, IB, Cambridge and other testing scores with the new virtual testing format that has been established. All past Seattle U policies regarding AP/IB/Cambridge etc. scores will remain in place until further notice. Updates will be made accordingly.” Source.

South Dakota Board of Regents: “The South Dakota Board of Regents and public university system shall accept AP credits earned during the Spring 2020 semester according to existing Board policies and Academic Affairs Council (AAC) guidelines. Board Policy 2:5 – Transfer of Credit and AAC Guideline 7.5 – Advanced Placement govern the acceptance of AP credits by the South Dakota Board of Regents and the public university system.” Source.

  • Black Hills State University
  • Dakota State University
  • Northern State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
  • South Dakota State University
  • University of South Dakota

Southern Methodist University: “SMU grants credit and placement for scores of 4 or 5 on most AP examinations taken in high school. Six to eight credits will be awarded for scores of 5, 6 or 7 on International Baccalaureate higher-level exams, with a maximum award of 32 credits. For more information, click here.” Source.

St. Olaf College: “St Olaf will accept AP and IB credits if exams are taken from home due to the impact of COVID-19. St Olaf respects the expertise of testing boards, schools, and educational institutions to make alternative assessment plans due to COVID-19 for students finishing their high school coursework in 2020.” Source.

Stony Brook University: “Yes! See our AP chart.” Source.

Syracuse University: “Yes, each individual college at Syracuse University evaluates AP, IB, and college credits. View a list of AP and IB scores required for credit.” Source.

Temple University: “In light of the recent announcements of exam cancellations and the modified assessment and calculation of results for multiple international qualifications (IBO, A levels, French Bac, AP, etc.) due to the impact of COVID-19, Temple will continue to accept these results and the adjusted methods of assessment as determined by the examining body/ministry of education without any negative impact on offers of admission or scholarship. For those of you who were anticipating advanced credit due to completion of IB, A Level, AP or CLEP courses/subjects, our awarding policy will not change and we will recognize successful completion as determined by the examining body. Please find the advanced credit policy here.” Source.

The Catholic University of America: “For students taking AP examinations in the Spring of 2020, Catholic University will maintain our existing policy for awarding college credit based on AP scores.” Source.

The New School: “We will continue to award advanced standing credit for AP exams (scores of 4 or 5) and will award credit for IB (results of 5, 6, or 7 on HL courses).” – Candice MacLusky, Senior Director of International Admission

Tulane University: “Tulane will continue to Accept AP, IB, and A Level scores without any change to our previously established equivalency chart. Scores from shortened AP exams, and scores determined from previous internal assessment and practice exams (IB and A Level) will continue to carry the same weight as previous years.” Source.

Union College: “Union College will honor this year’s AP scores, and our AP credit policies can be found at: We will honor this year’s IB scores as well.” – Katherine DeSieno, Associate Dean of Admissions

University of Bath: “We will accept grades awarded on these alternative exams as normal. You can also use any existing AP grades you have achieved that fit the conditions of your offer.” Source.

University of California: “UC recognizes the effort that students have already made in these challenging courses and will continue to award UC credit consistent with previous years for 2020 AP exams completed with scores of 3, 4, or 5.” Source.

  • University of California – Berkeley
  • University of California – Davis
  • University of California – Irvine
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • University of California – Merced
  • University of California – Riverside
  • University of California – San Diego
  • University of California – San Francisco
  • University of California – Santa Barbara
  • University of California – Santa Cruz

University of Chicago: “Yes! We accept scores of 5 on most Advanced Placement (AP) exams and of 7 on certain International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level examinations for credit; other scores may be accepted in particular subjects. UChicago also offers placement and accreditation tests to entering students in select subjects. Learn more about accelerated course credit here.” Source.

University of Colorado – Boulder: “Yes. We recognize all the work that goes into taking an AP or IB course and/or studying for the exam. Rest assured that a change in testing format does not change how CU Boulder awards credit for AP exams or IB credit. For more information on these policies and required scores, visit the credit by examination webpage.” Source.

University of Connecticut: “UConn will recognize the effort that students have already made in these challenging courses and will continue to award credit consistent with previous years for 2020 AP online exams.” Source.

University of Delaware: Advanced Placement (AP) policy for “tests taken in 2020 and earlier.”

University of Denver: “AP exams will be administered remotely in May 2020, and College Board has provided details on their website: College Board will provide universities and colleges AP scores on the normal 1-5 scale, and DU will award credit based on our standard policies. Students must take the exams to receive credit from DU.” Source.

University of Hartford: “We are aware of the testing changes that are being made in the AP program. UHart will accept those scores and award credit according to our AP policy. Our AP policy is available here” Source.

University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign: “CollegeBoard has announced updates to the administration of AP exams. We do not anticipate any changes to our credit policies based on the in-home administration of the exams.” Source.

University of Iowa: “Yes, see our Advanced Placement Program Credit Policies for details.” Source.

University of La Verne: “Yes, the University of La Verne acknowledges you have worked hard to prepare for these exams. The University of La Verne will continue to award credit consistent with previous years for exams taken in 2020.” Source.

University of Mary Washington: “COVID-19 changes to AP and IB exams are not impacting the awarding of credit at UMW.  Please visit our AP and IB exam guides online to see how exam scores may give you advanced standing/transfer credit at UMW. Visit College Board or International Baccalaureate sites for information on changes to exams, timeline, and preparation materials.” Source.

University of Massachusetts – Amherst: “UMass Amherst will follow our normal process of applying credit and course equivalency (if appropriate) to AP exams if the student provides results of the AP exam taken in spring of 2020 and receives the required score to award credit for a particular exam.” Source.

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: “Yes, the University of Minnesota will accept AP and IB credits if exams are taken from home due to the impact of COVID-19. The University of Minnesota respects the expertise of testing boards, schools and educational institutions to make alternative assessment plans, due to COVID-19, for students finishing their schooling in 2020.” Source.

University of Missouri – St. Louis: “At this time, there is no change to this.” Source.

University of New Hampshire: “We remain committed to supporting students during these challenging times and will continue to accept AP credit(s) if exams are taken at home as outlined by College Board.  Similarly, we will honor the guidance provided by examination boards such as Cambridge and other educational institutions for final documentation of successful coursework for IB/Cambridge (AICE) and dual credit courses.  Please refer to UNH’s online AP and college credit policies as they pertain to the awarding of college credit in specific areas.  In some instances, academic departments either prohibit or discourage the awarding of college credit based on high school coursework in programs related to the student’s intended major.Source.

University of Notre Dame: “The Academy will continue to grant credit for examination in its current policy for those examinations that have moved online. For information on credit given for scores achieved, visit First Year Advising Advanced Credit and Placement.” Source.

University of Oklahoma: “The University of Oklahoma recognizes the hard work students have already completed in their AP courses. In response to COVID-19, the College Board has made modifications to 2020 AP Exams. In order to support our students and their plans for AP credit, OU will continue to award and honor credit based on previous evaluations.” Source.

University of Pennsylvania: “Penn will continue to grant credit and placement for these exams. Credit policies can be found here. We understand some scores will now be based on online tests, while other scores will be based on year-long academic coursework. Testing agencies are making prudent decisions to prevent large gatherings of people. We are in communication with testing agencies around the world and we support them in the decisions they feel they need to make.” Source.

University of Portland: “Any student who takes the AP test under the new guidelines and receives a score of four or five will receive credit.” Source.

University of Rhode Island: “We recognize that as a result of COVID-19, the College Board will be offering Advanced Placement examinations in a different format this year. International Baccalaureate examinations may also be offered differently this year. We want to reassure students who will be taking these exams that we will treat these scores in the same way we have in the past. Please refer to the chart below for more information.” Source.

University of Richmond: “Many national exams such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate have been moved online or cancelled. We will honor the published Credit-by-Exam policy for students entering fall 2020 who take standard or abbreviated AP exams or hold IB higher level certificates. Credit-by-exam policies are updated annually. As a reminder, UR does not require AP scores or IB scores as a condition of enrollment.” Source.

University of Rochester: “The University of Rochester recognizes that the College Board and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) have been forced to make significant adjustments to their testing and grading procedures in light of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.We also recognize that these adjustments are beyond students’ control.Therefore, the University of Rochester will continue to honor the scores reported to us by the College Board and IBO to determine credit awards for these online exams.Individual academic departments are reviewing the changes made to the exams in order to best guide students on course placement decisions.” Source.

University of Saint Thomas: “St. Thomas will continue to honor our policies on accepting Advanced Placement test results, even though the COVID-19 virus is impacting how tests are being administered.” Source.

University of San Francisco: “We understand you may not be able to take your scheduled AP or IB exams this spring or summer as you had planned. If you are unable to take these exams, your admission to USF will not be impacted in any way. If you take these exams at a later date, we will award credit for these scores/exams as appropriate.” Source.

University of Southern California: “Yes. USC’s AP, IB and A-Level exam credit policies are thoroughly documented on our Registrar’s website. The university’s AP credit-granting policy remains unchanged, since students will be able to sit for exams.” Source.

University of South Florida: “USF will be accepting all AP scores as usual even though the AP test only accounts for about 80% of the entire course content.” Source.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville: “We understand Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests, certain national exams, and other external examinations will also be modified or canceled due to the pandemic. We do not require applicants to submit these exam results unless they comprise graduation requirements for secondary school. As of now, test modifications will not impact our current credit policies for incoming students who have AP and IB scores seeking college credit; we will need the official score report from the testing agency to award college credit.” Source.

University of Toronto: “Yes. The faculties that traditionally award transfer credit for final IB, AP, A-Level, CAPE and French Baccalaureate results will award transfer credit to students admitted in 2020. The University of Toronto policy around transfer credit from these jurisdictions remains unchanged and is described in full at” Source.

University of Washington: “We recognize all the work that goes into taking an AP course and/or studying for the exam. Rest assured that a change in testing format does not change how the UW awards credit for AP exams. For an overview of credit awarded by subject, visit the AP exams for credit website.” Source.

University of Wisconsin – Madison: “The University of Wisconsin – Madison is aware of these changes to the AP examination. The university remains committed to granting students academic credit for the successful completion of their examinations and will continue to accept subject area scores as before. We appreciate students’ efforts to do their best under the circumstances and look forward to welcoming new Badgers next year.” Source.

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse: “UW-La Crosse will accept the results of the online May 2020 AP exams and award college credit accordingly. Visit UWL’s AP website for more information about earning college credit.” Source.

Vanderbilt University: “Despite significant changes surrounding the administration of AP exams, Vanderbilt has decided that our current policies for AP credit will remain in effect for the class entering in fall 2020.” Source.

Virginia Tech: “Undergraduate Admissions will accept scores from any modified testing and credit policies that The College Board puts in place.” Source.

Washington State University: “For the 2019-20 administration of College Board AP Exams, WSU will honor AP scores from any format of the exam offered and approved by College Board and we will honor the credits as listed on the WSU online AP chart. We will treat these exams and credits the same as we would in a normal AP administration. Please contact the Office of Admissions at if you have any questions.” Source.

Wayne State University: “We will be accepting the Advanced Placement (AP) scores from the online test with no changes in the scoring equivalents for credit.  We will be accepting the certificates that International Baccalaureate (IB) will be preparing and using the same equivalents for granting credit. There is no limit to the number of credit hours for AP or a combination of AP, IB, CLEP, and departmental credit by examination that may be used toward a WSU degree.” Source.

Western Michigan University: “WMU will not penalize students who must take online AP tests this spring and will continue to award credit as we always have.  You may view our AP table online.” Source.

Wheaton College (MA): “At Wheaton College we will continue to recognize the hard work and commitment our students displayed by challenging themselves in rigorous academic work and will continue to accept AP credit(s) as outlined by College Board.” – Wanda Suriel, Senior Associate Director of Admission

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: “WPI’s Advanced Placement credit policy is WPI faculty are evaluating the changes in exam administration for 2020 exams. Due to the shortened exam length, there will be topics that are not assessed in 2020 AP exams. The faculty will be reviewing these changes to ensure there aren’t content gaps in course equivalencies to ensure that students are successful in the WPI curriculum. The Dean of Undergraduate Studies wants to assure admitted and prospective students that there will be no change in our policy for the year and the faculty will work with students to be sure that they have the background they need to be successful at WPI.” Source.

Yale University: AP policies on Acceleration Credits.

What’s the Best Online School Etiquette?


Online etiquette has always been an important part of life, but it is even more so now with all of us staying at home and social distancing.  Insight Education has now moved to a virtual platform and so have many schools for the rest of the semester and possibly summer. 


Here are three tips that Insight feels are very necessary to be successful and mindful during this time and going forward.


Insight Tip #1: Improve Your Video Conferencing

First, let’s talk about tips for video conferencing.  Most of your teachers are holding virtual office hours or lectures and being present during them is required. Here are some important actions to take before you jump on a video call.


    • You should look presentable for a video call. When Insight says presentable, we mean that you should brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your face, and wear appropriate clothing. Be sure to wear a shirt AND pants, both matter. 
    • The next step is to set up your device in a quiet area where you won’t be distracted.
    • Some schools have required that students are sitting in a chair and not in their beds. Insight agrees, being in a chair with a table helps your body realize that it is time for you to pay attention and get in the mindset of going to virtual “school”.  Your bed should be the place where your body knows it’s time to relax and rest.  So find a space in your room or home and set it up so that you can be present during the meeting you may have.
    • Be sure your background is clean and not distracting to others on the call as well.



Insight Tip #2: Get the Most Out of Your Online Classes and Meetings

First, be sure you are alert and paying attention.  When you are having a meeting with someone one-on-one, or if you are listening to your teacher lecture, be sure to close other browsers (includes YouTube videos and group chats!) on your computer, don’t keep looking at your phone, and have the television turned off. 


You know what distracts you, so keep these distractions away and don’t tempt yourself to just move to the next tab to check out the latest videos people are posting.  Attend to what you are supposed to be attending to—your teacher or the speaker.  During online lectures or presentations, also take notes. 


If you have a question, note it down and ask when it is the appropriate time. These skills will help you while you are in the midst of distance learning and in the future for any meetings you are part of.



Insight Tip #3: Learn to Actively Participate

This is a great time to invest in participating in class and building your relationship with your teachers.  That means asking informed questions, asking follow-up, and clarification questions.  If you are a student who is less inclined to speak out loud in front of class, this is the perfect time for you to participate virtually. 


You are in a place where you are expected to contact your teacher through email to speak with them.  They want you to attend their office hours, so now is the time you can engage. And when you engage with them here are a few tips Insight has found to be really helpful:


    • Address the person you are email respectfully: “Dear Mr. Bloom, Hello Mr. Bloom”
    • Ask them how they are doing.
    • Ask your question in a thoughtful way, but also be clear and concise.
    • Thank them for their time.
    • Be sure to capitalize, and to use proper grammar and punctuation!



Finally, Insight wants to leave you with some general tips as you engage more often on online platforms.  This is a time to think about what you post before you post it.  Be sure to be open-minded and understand that people are coming from different perspectives. Be constructive and positive, and remember what you post on the internet can follow you forever!


Distance learning, or virtual learning offers you opportunities you may not have had before.  Whether you prefer it or not, this is the new normal for you during the next few months.  At Insight, we do believe these tips for online school etiquette will help you even after this phase. 


Authored by Insight Counselor Jenny Bloom.

Online Extracurricular and Volunteering Ideas To Make the Most of Your Lockdown

So many of us have found our lives up ended during COVID-19. However, just because all of your extracurriculars have been canceled doesn’t mean you can’t still try to find ways make the best of this time at home.


So at Insight Education, we wanted to put together a list of great online extracurricular ideas that you can do at home: from volunteering, to academic research, to creating your own impressive project so much is possible!


Keep Up Your Clubs – On Video


Just because you’re no longer meeting at school doesn’t mean your clubs should disappear!


Set up a Google Hangout session for your school club, assign an article or Youtube video as club reading, do your choir practice over zoom, have remote discussion sessions, and keep those friendships and interests alive.





This is a time of need unlike most of us have seen before, and even small actions can make a real difference.


If you are able to go out and sort food at a food bank like Sacred Heart or Second Harvest of Silicon Valley or join a mutual aid network to deliver groceries to elderly neighbors, these are amazing ways to give back. However, there are many equally good opportunities that you can still do from home.


These opportunities can be anything from:



  • Sewing facemasks for healthcare workers or knitting blankets for children in hospitals





Additionally, one volunteering area where there is huge need is in academic and peer tutoring.


Try contacting local schools, tell them what subjects you’re best at, any volunteering experience you have, and see if you can digitally tutor struggling students who are no longer getting the help they need in school.


At Insight Education, we recommend looking for other volunteering opportunities on AllforGood, VolunteerMatch or Idealist that you can do anytime, anywhere.




Academic Research


Did you know that you can do college-level academic research in the comfort of your own home?


Academies like Pioneer Research, Polygence, and colleges like Tufts are connecting students to top professors to produce guided research projects and academic papers developed with the oversight of subject matter experts.


This can be especially valuable for students studying STEM or who are thinking of going onto graduate school, where research is such a huge part of the academic experience.


While applying for these academies and colleges is a more common way of getting research opportunities, some persistent (and lucky!) students have also found research projects through directly emailing professors or through creating their own science fair projects at home.



Your Own Project


Whether it’s finally earning your black belt or getting your Girl Scout Gold Award, completing a big project is not only a great way to get that feeling of accomplishment, but it can also really impress colleges as well!

That’s because taking the initiative to make a creative project of your own lets you do something you love while also demonstrating how proactive and driven you are.


At Insight, we’ve worked with many students who’ve created their own projects, many of which have been documented in digital portfolios. Join many Insight Students to strategically pursue your passion projects! Schedule your 1-hour college admissions planning sessions today.


For projects to be impressive, they have to be something that’s highly original, creative or done with a significant amount of effort.  Most great self-created projects aren’t projects that are whipped together over just a couple of days or a week or two.


Most truly excellent projects require a minimum of a month or 30-hour commitment and are typically based on the arts, STEM, or community service. Creating a project plan, finding some people who can help, and consistently sticking to this plan are essential for success.


Past projects have included a:

  • App developed by a student to help the blind to identify obstacles


  • Virtual tutoring platform


  • Series of costumes designed and sewed by a student


  • Healthy food garden built at a low-income school


  • Series of talks raising awareness around a social issue


  • Writing and publishing a short story



Please speak with your Insight counselor to learn more about brainstorming ideas for your own impressive, self-created project.


Find your Project, Find your Balance


Taking on a new online extracurricular is a wonderful idea, however, remember that right now we can’t only be focused on being productive.


It’s also important that you stay balanced and well, whether it’s by staying physically active, finding time to get away from digital devices, calling a friend, or by challenging yourself to take one or two of the ideas from this article.


By keeping together with your school club, volunteering, doing research, or taking on a creative project we can all work to make the best of these unprecedented times.


Choosing A College: Questions to Ask Alumni and Current Students


Congratulations, Seniors!


Not only have you finished applying to college, but you’ve also now hopefully been accepted to a school and maybe even multiple schools! 


What are your next steps? In our previous article, “How to Conduct a Virtual College Tour During COVID-19 Closures,“ it’s especially valuable during this time to reach out to current students or alumni to gain a better understanding of the schools you are considering of attending. 


While it’s important to remember that each person’s experience is unique, you can likely gather genuine insights through talking to current students and alumni.


Now, you might be wondering, “but what if I don’t know any current students or alumni!” Or even if you do, you may be confused on what to ask them. 


Don’t worry, at Insight we are here to guide you on who to reach out to and possible questions to inquire about!


I Don’t Know Any Alumni or Current Students. What Should I Do When Choosing a College?


Insight counselor Amy shared great resources—Facebook, Reddit, Quora, YouTube, LinkedIn—in her article where you can begin connecting with current and past students.

One other resource worth mentioning is to reach out to your existing community.


What does that mean?


We’re all part of a community, and often, multiple communities:

  • Are you on a sports team or orchestra group? Community.
  • Do you attend church or religious services? Community.
  • Do you spend every major holiday with a group of family friends? Community.


These people within our community are also part of their own communities.  Leverage these connections—your mom’s friend’s son might currently be a student at Cornell.


Your church friend’s sister’s boyfriend might have recently graduated from UCLA.  Your boss’s nephew at the part-time job you work at every Tuesday could be an alumni from CSU SLO. 


You get the picture—people know other people, so reach out to trusted members in your community and see if they know trustworthy individuals who currently attend or graduated from a college you’re considering. (The key word here is trust. As a safety precaution, make sure that you’re connecting with people who you or your love one’s believe have good intentions).


After finding a few individuals who are open to connecting with you, you may be wondering “What should I ask them?” Below is a list of questions to get you started.



Question #1: How was Transitioning From High School to <College Name>?


This is a very open-ended question, which makes this a great starter question.  The recipient might allude to academics, social life, dorm life, environment, culture etc.


Consequently, you can now ask follow-up questions and get the conversation rolling! If they need a little bit more direction, you can ask, “What similarities or differences did you notice between high school and college?” Alternatively, you can inquire, “What aspects about <college name> was easy or difficult for you to adjust to?”



Question #2: What Clubs or Extracurriculars did You Participate in, and What Clubs do You Recommend Checking Out?


 This question allows you to better understand the person you’re speaking with and also breaks the ice if both of you have similar interests.  Equally as important, it may be worth asking, “What clubs have a strong presence on campus?” Students generally have an understanding of the culture within the organization and which clubs are notably active.


Question #3: Which Professors/TAs and Classes Would You Recommend Taking?


It can be overwhelming scrolling through hundreds of classes, so it’s helpful to hear from current and past students about any memorable professors or classes they’ve taken. You might hear about an interesting class that you’ve never imagined existed or thought of taking had you not asked!


If you’re speaking with someone who is or graduated with the same major you’re thinking of pursuing, this question can particularly be helpful as you will likely encounter these professors, TAs, or classes during your time there.


Question #4: What are Your Favorite Places to Study? Favorite Restaurants? Favorite Places to Hang Out? Favorite Dorms? Favorite Apartments?


Besides classes, current students and alumni are hopefully well-versed on the campus and the surrounding area, so they can give fabulous advice on places to study, which dorms to apply for, which apartment complexes are nice, where to eat, and what places to hang out in the surrounding area—all important information to make your college transition as smooth as possible.  


Question #5: What Activities are Around the Area, and What Benefits Come With My Student ID?


Alluding to the previous question on favorite places to explore around the area, you can sometimes get discounts or perks with your Student ID, so be sure to inquire about that!




Question #6: What Facebook Groups Would You Recommend Joining?


Oftentimes, there are a variety of Facebook groups for housing, selling used items, or rideshare groups for students from a particular college, which can give you access to information that you wouldn’t have otherwise. However, as with any online forum, use these resources wisely and with caution.


Question #7: In Your Opinion, to What Extent is the Reputation About <College Name> True?


It’s easy to believe whatever you hear, even if what you hear isn’t fully legitimate. If the college you’re thinking about has a certain reputation, it’s valuable to ask current and past students on their opinions regarding this matter.

It not only allows you to hear genuine experiences, but it also provides a space for students to clarify if they feel like anything is misconstrued about their school. Remember, this can be a somewhat sensitive topic to some, so be polite and open-minded during the conversation.

If the recipient is a recent graduate and the conversation seems to be going well so far, you might consider politely asking if these opinions about their alum mater has impacted them after they’ve graduated from school.


Question #8: How are Minority Students Treated? How Accessible are Resources for Minority Students?


If you identify as a minority student in some way—race, gender, sexual orientation, learning difference, health concerns etc.—it can be important to ask how you could potentially be perceived or treated on campus by your peers and professors if that is a concern.

In addition, hearing how readily available or effective these resources are to students would be essential if you anticipate utilizing them during your time in college.  


Question #9: How Safe do You Feel On-and-Off Campus?


When it comes to safety, it’s important to hear from personal experiences, and students or alumni may be able to provide input on what areas are generally safer.

In addition, asking current and past students about their experiences using resources that intend to provide safety to students would be helpful to inquire about. Keep in mind that each person’s experience can be different!  



Question #10: Any Last Bits of Advice That You Would Give to Potential Students?


This is a strong wrap-up question because it provides a space for the recipient to mention anything that they feel is important but may not have been addressed already.           

Students and alumni are beneficial resources for providing authentic accounts of their experience at a certain school. After reading this article, I hope you have a sense of who to reach out to and a list of questions to get you started. At the end of the conversation with your recipient, you will hopefully have a good sense of the culture, academics, extracurriculars, housing, support services, and the surrounding area of the school.


Concluding Thoughts on Choosing a College


However, it’s important to remember that we will all have different experiences at each school based on our own identities and preferences. 


For example, a STEM majors experience could vary significantly from a Humanities students experience. For this reason, try to also find individuals who share similar interests, majors, or identities as you if possible, so that you can ask more tailored questions to your specific needs or major.  


Regardless, all our experiences are pieces of a puzzle that create a picture of our school or alma mater; therefore, you’ll want to collect as many puzzle pieces as you can.


Start collecting, and good luck!


Authored by Jenny Huang.

How to Get the Most Out of Virtual College Tours

Are you stuck at home because of Coronavirus fears? Or concerned about the high travel cost of college tours? Whatever the reason, more and more students and families are turning to virtual college tours and college research to learn about different universities from the comfort of their own homes.

But how can you get a feel for a school without being able to walk around the campus and interact with the people there?

Here at Insight, we believe that by doing your research correctly, taking extensive notes, and approaching your college research with the same amount of thoughtfulness you would for any other big decision, you’ll certainly be able to make an educated choice about which college you should attend!

Read on below for our tips on how to learn all about a college — without ever visiting.

Insight Tip #1: Go to The School Website

Where can you learn all about a particular college? On the college’s website, of course!

Be sure to learn about the different majors and classes offered. This will help you to distinguish between the offerings of each college. You can also find helpful resources tailored to your exact needs at Student Support Centers, which might include:

  • Career Services
  • Disability Services
  • Cultural Affinity Services
  • Women’s or LGBTQIA+ Services
  • Student Wellness Centers – for both physical and mental health support
  • Student Success Centers – for free tutoring and academic support

You’ll be surprised to learn what support centers are available and what services they offer.

So whether you’re hoping to pursue study abroad, internships, academic research with a professor, join a club or looking for other unique opportunities, be sure to do the research about all the exciting opportunities available at your college.

Insight Tip #2: Visit Their Social Media — and Interact with Actual Students

Another great way to learn all about a college is by visiting their social media sites.

You can learn almost everything about a particular school by researching their InstagramYouTubeLinkedInTwitter, TikTok, and Facebook pages. Here you can also get a better sense for the college’s brand and what really makes them unique.

However, an even better way to learn all about a college is by talking with current and former students!

That’s why I love interactive forums like Facebook groups for university students or specific university clubs, forums like Reddit or Quora, and even LinkedIn, to connect with current students and alumni. Connecting with groups is generally easier when you share something in common with them like a hobby, major interest, or even a shared hometown.

Challenge yourself to ask at least five questions, and don’t be shy to post a question or to even reach out to a particular student or student group!

These forums are all especially helpful to understand the student experience at a school. However, if you’re unable to connect with any students, watching YouTube videos of current students or alumni talking about their experience at a particular school can also be a great way to learn more.

Insight Tip #3: Go to The College Review Sites — But Read Them Critically!

Another great resource is online college review forms like NicheUnigo, or even sites like RateMyProfessor.

These review forms are great places to find both amazing qualities of a particular college — and also learn about areas for concern! Every college has its positive and negative qualities. That’s why informed students are aware of all these before they make their college decision, and before they show up for their first day.

Think of college websites like a glossy brochure. They’re touting all the positives of a school, but it’s on the review sites where you can find the real, nitty-gritty truth and both the positive and negative qualities of a college.

That said, these websites can also be forums for students to air their complaints (whether real or imagined!) and so you should be sure to read them critically.

From college review sites, you’ll find areas of concern, such as discovering that a college might have less-than-responsive professors or impacted, hard to get classes.

That’s why by doing research ahead of time, smart students can recognize these challenges, how they compare across their schools, and then take proactive action. If professors are hard to get in touch with, they’ll take actions like being persistent and visiting office hours. Or if classes are impacted, they’ll plan ahead and take a class over the summer to get ahead.

By doing college research, you can know before you go to college.

Insight Tip #4: Get in Contact with School Officials

Whenever possible, get in touch with college officials by emailing or calling the Admissions Department, the department of the major you’re most interested in, or even career services.

That’s because there is no better way to understand the specific benefits of a college than by talking to those who work there. Prospective students can even reach out to ask school officials to be connected with current students or alumni to learn about their experiences.

So if you are having trouble deciding whether to become a business major at ABC College or XYZ University, one of the best ways to understand the differences between these two schools is by talking to those with first-hand experience.

Most college officials are happy to respond to your questions via email or phone. So if you want to understand what services you can get at the career center or the most popular classes for your major, directly contact the people in the Admissions Office, Career Center, Disability Services, or Student Success Services to gain great insights into your universities.

Insight Tip #5: Don’t Forget to Research the College Town Too!

It’s easy to forget to research the environment around the university. However, where your school is, what resources are available there, and other local cultural factors will greatly impact your college experience — and should not be overlooked!

So be sure to research the town that you are considering moving to, particularly if it is a place quite different than what you’re familiar with.

Do this by looking up the town on Yelp and TripAdvisor to see what the local attractions are and get a sense of the community. Additionally, consider that where you attend college could impact your internship opportunities. So don’t forget to research opportunities ahead of time by going to job-search sites like LinkedIn and Indeed to see what jobs and internships would be available to you in this town and region of the country.

Even if you’re not able to visit a college in person, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make an informed college decision.

If you do your research, take detailed notes, (and don’t forget to connect with students, administrators, and alumni!) you’ll be certain to find which college is best for you. And always remember, your Insight counselor is available to answer your questions about colleges.

Best of Luck,

Team Insight

20 wonderful years of Insight!

This year, 2019, Team Insight celebrated 20 wonderful years! 

We have been so blessed to share in the pivotal moments and journeys of so many wonderful students and families over the past 20 years, and 2019 was no different! We have enjoyed a busy year, below is a small snapshot of all the fun we have had.


We held our first college counseling seminar in Boston, celebrating the opening of our office in Newton:


We also hosted two college admissions seminars for high school students at our office in Cupertino, with NBC Bay Area filming one and releasing a story about it on the nightly news: 


Team Insight took part in many community events including presentations at Kasier, for the YMCA and Cupertino chamber, and at the India West college fair: 


We also enjoyed some college visits: 


And celebrated student successes:


We had some amazing new team members join us this year, including Jenny and Jason, our new counselors and essay specialists! 


And through it all, we made sure to enjoy our team and spend quality time celebrating the important milestones: 

From all of us at Team Insight – Happy Holidays! We can’t wait to see where the next 20 years takes us.