Author Archives: Jenny Hwang

Your Best Insights to Early Admission Options

Over the past few years, all of us at Team Insight are noticing more and more families want to know if early admission option can increase their chance of acceptance. While early admissions may have a higher acceptance rate, it’s important to understand your options and weigh the restrictions before you send in your application!

 

Most of you probably know about early actions (EA) and early decisions (ED). If you are uncertain, you can learn more about them in our article “Early Decision vs. Early Action.” In addition to early decisions and early actions, we will also explain restrictive early actions (REA) and single-choice early actions (SCEA) and provide insights on Early Decision 2 (ED2).

 

Early Decision 1 (EDI or ED1)

If you look at any of the admissions statistics, you may be shocked at how high the acceptance rates are compared to regular decisions. Before you jump in and apply ED, note there is a catch. Early decision is binding. You can apply ED to only ONE college, and if you are accepted, you must withdraw all your applications to other universities. Essentially, when you apply ED to a school, you are signing a contract telling this school, “You’re my number one choice, and I will absolutely attend if I am accepted.”

 

Should you do that for your dream school? The answer is “it depends.” ED doesn’t mean less competitive; it may even be more competitive because it is a self-selecting process. Everyone who applies ED to UPenn is highly qualified, not to mention they are well-motivated to plan and start their application process early. If you are confident that you can finalize a high-quality college application by the typical November ED deadline, ED may be an option for you.

 

The other consideration is financial aid. Once again, when you apply early decision, you are signaling to the college that you will attend no matter what. This means colleges are less likely to offer you scholarships or financial aid. Therefore, if you are counting on financial help, then early decision may not be the right option.

 

Read more: Think it Through: Early Decision

 

Early Decision 2 (EDII or ED 2)

This is a relatively new admissions option, and not all colleges offer this. You follow the same rule as ED1. For many schools, ED2 deadline is slightly before or the same as regular decision. Why would you choose the ED2 option then? The main reason you’d apply ED2 is that you were deferred or rejected from your ED1 college.

 

Like ED1, your ED2 school is a college that you are excited to attend. Although early decision 2 admissions rate is not as high as early decision 1 acceptance rate, it can still provide you with a boost because of the binding policy.

 

A word of caution for ED2: some universities (for example, Santa Clara University) offer both early action and early decision 2. You cannot switch from early action to early decision 2. That’s why ED2 options need to be factored in early during the admissions process rather than treated like a backup option. If you are not sure which of your top-choice colleges offer ED2 or how to use it to your advantage, reach out to your Insight Counselor!

 

Have quesitons about applying early? Talk to one of our Counselors today!

 

Early Action (EA)

The deadlines for early action are typically November 1st or November 15th. For some schools and majors, you may need to submit your application as early as mid-October. When you apply EA, you can apply to as many schools as you want. A word of caution, some colleges offer EA programs, but the admissions process is closer to restricted early action, which we will get to in the next section.

 

What’s the benefit of submitting your applications early? In addition to getting a big to-do item checked off before your high school finals, you also hear about the admissions results earlier. You may find out in December or January whether you get to attend your top-choice school, and who wouldn’t like that as a Christmas present?

 

The other advantage is you have time on your side to strategize (or relax) since you won’t have to commit to a college until May 1st. This gives you time to apply to more schools, compare financial aid options, and visit more campuses. Since early action is non-binding, you can choose what you like the most.

 

Restrictive or Single-Choice Early Action (REA or SCEA)

This is where things get a bit more complicated. Whether you see restrictive early action or single-choice early action, please note that REA and SCEA are interchangeable. Ultimately, it’s up to the admissions office’s restrictions, so always remember to read the college admissions website carefully. When in doubt, talk to your Insight Counselor!

 

There are two different types of restrictive early action, and we will explain both with examples. The first type of REA limits perspective students from applying ED to any universities, nor can they apply EA to any private colleges. The colleges that adopt this type of REA are Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, CalTech, and Yale (on Yale’s admissions site, this is known as the single-choice early action). This means if you are applying early to Princeton, you cannot apply EA to USC, but you can still apply EA to University of Michigan.

 

USC now words their early action deadline differently, so you may still be able to apply to restrictive early action to some of the examples listed above. Wonder how this might work? Schedule a personalized college admission strategy session with an Insight counselor today! 

 

The second type of REA does not limit the type (private or public) of EA schools you can apply to. Georgetown is a good example. On the admissions page, Georgetown classifies its program as early action, but their description of their EA program outlines the restriction. If you apply early to Georgetown, you can still apply EA to both USC and UMich, but you cannot apply to any early decision programs.

 

While it may be confusing on what you can or cannot apply, the restrictions end at the early admissions round. Both REA and SCEA are non-binding. Thus, you can still apply to other schools during regular decision deadlines, and you can enroll in the college that you like the most.

 

Final Insights

While you may use early admissions to increase your chance in getting into your dream schools, it’s still important to have a strong college application that tells a powerful personal narrative. Ultimately, it’s up to you. How thoughtful you are in putting together your college list. Have you talked to your parents about financial aid? Did you send your application to your Insight Counselor for review yet? Are you following up with teachers who can be strong recommenders? Have you been working on your college essays? Are you scheduling time every week to focus on your application and essays? These are all actions you can take to ensure you have the best chance of maximizing your college admissions acceptance rate. If you need help or additional clarification, don’t hesitate to email us at info@insight-education.net and let our team of experienced college admissions counselors help you!

 

 


Written by Purvi Mody

This article was created from an interview with 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.

Top 10 College Essay Mistakes to Avoid

It’s application season! Whether you’ve been working on your college essay drafts all summer or just finished slaying your first draft, you want to double-check your personal statement or personal insight questions (PIQs) response. In this article, Insight Counselor Zach summarizes the top 10 most common college essay mistakes that you definitely want to avoid!

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Key Insights to the UC App Updates in 2022-2023

The University of California (UC) application portal has been open for 2022-2023 admissions since August 1. As Insight Counselor Jenny guided our seniors step-by-step through filling out their UC apps, she discovered some important updates to the UC applications that you wouldn’t want to miss!

 

Key Insight #1: UC Berkeley Major Choices Update

In the past, UC Berkeley only allows applicants to select one major. In the 2022-2023 admissions season, you can indicate your alternate major choices on all UC campuses. This is in an effort to standardize the University of California system’s application process.

 

However, UCB will only review your alternate major as space permits. What does that mean? It means your second major choice for UC Berkeley may not be reviewed. In short, nothing has changed in the review process. If you want to study Computer Science (CS) and not Electrical Engineering/Computer Science (EECS), then you should be honest in that preference in your application. Keep in mind that CS at UCB is a pre-major, and if accepted, you will enroll in the College of Letters and Science (L&S) as undeclared. On the other hand, those admitted to EECS will spend their 4 years in the engineering program.

 

Not sure what you should do to maximize your chances? Interested in other competitive majors? Let our College Admissions expert do a 360-review of your profile and help you plan the path to your dream school!

 

Key Insight #2: UC Approved Courses in You Academic Section

This is a massive improvement! In the past, UC applicants had to visit the UC A-G Course website and check how the UC admissions office categorizes their high school classes. Now, once you enter your high school in the UC application, you should be able to find the classes offered in your high school in the academic section.

 

While this is true for many high schools across the United States, there are of course exceptions. If you cannot find your school or coursework on the UC A-G Course website, then follow your transcripts as closely as you can. Avoid any unclear abbreviations. Most importantly, make sure you satisfy the UC subject requirement.

 

Did you know? At Insight, each college application is thoroughly reviewed by multiple counselors. We don’t just check your academic records, activities, and essays. Our team carefully examines your personal information and your major choices to make sure your application is complete!

Key Insight #3: UCSD’s New Eighth College

For those who are applying to UCSD, you should know to rank the colleges you want to be at. These are usually not related to your major (though it can be), but the community you want to be a part of. At Insight, our counselors guide their seniors to carefully rank these colleges to maximize the overlapping of required coursework and personal interests. This year, San Diego has a new college – the Eighth College.

 

The Eighth College’s theme is “engagement and community.” The Eighth students will be taking more writing-intensive courses which focus on community, critical engagement, and structural racism.

 

This begs the question: will you be more likely to get accepted into UCSD this year if you rank the Eighth College as number one? Sadly, no. You will only be placed in one of the UCSD colleges AFTER you are accepted. We know we say this a lot at Insight; it is important to be true to yourself and be authentic on your application. Rank the colleges where you can see yourself thriving in the next four years!

 

Concluding Thoughts:

The UC made many changes in the past couple of years, and the historically low acceptance rates of some UC campuses may be daunting. If you are a high school senior right now, take a deep breath and understand this: while you cannot change your past, you have the power to do your best in the present. Focus on what is important right now. Fill out the UC application carefully and accurately. Continue to do your best in your classes. Brainstorm and revise those Personal Insight Questions and personal statements. And should you need any guidance on major choices, college essays, or comprehensive application review, all of us at Team Insight are happy to help you!

 

What a Co-op University Offers and Why it is Appealing

Do you know what’s a co-op university? What is unique about co-op? Can you name a few colleges that offer this? Let our College Admissions Counselor Kevin (previously an academic advisor at Northeastern) tell you all about cooperative universities and why you may want to add a few of them to your college list! Continue reading

Test Optional Colleges and Score Reporting Policies for 2022-2023

The list contains the test-optional colleges that changed their admission policies due to COVID-19. Some have extended their test-optional policies. These policies primarily focus on ACT and SAT standardized tests for first-year U.S. undergraduate applicants. This list was last updated in September 2022.

Need help improving your SAT scores? Check out our SAT classes here.
Taking the ACT instead? Check out our ACT test prep classes here.

*While we try our best to keep this list complete and updated, please note that this list is not exhaustive.

 

 FAQ About Test-Optional and College Admissions

 

1. Test-Optional vs. Test-Blind

Test optional means that you can still submit your scores (and you should if you can) and universities will take them into consideration. On the other hand, test blind means colleges won’t look at test scores at all. In both cases, test scores may be used for placement purposes, so you won’t have to take a placement exam before course selection. In some test-optional colleges, test scores are required for certain programs, majors, and/or merit-based scholarships. You may also need to submit test scores if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirements. Please see the “Notes from Insight Education” section for specific college admissions requirements.

Have questions regarding test-optional? We can help! Talk to our team by clicking HERE.

 

2. For freshmen and sophomores, should they prepare for SAT/ ACT or wait to confirm or later is test-optional or not?

For now, most popular schools extended their test-optional policies for Fall 2023 applicants. There are colleges that adopted test-optional policies, too. Therefore, it depends on your college list, which can shift and change over the years. Your college list can change until the moment you finish submitting applications! To keep your options open (and stress level low), it’s good to take the diagnostic test and then strategize to see if test scores can give you an advantage. Also keep in mind that certain majors, athletic admissions, honors programs, and scholarships require ACT / SAT test scores, and you can use your test scores in lieu of placement exams.

 

3. Will I have an advantage with ACT / SAT scores?

Yes! From the 2021 and the 2022 admissions results, we’ve seen those who submitted test scores have a higher acceptance rate than those who did not. In some cases, the school may ask you to submit test scores as they are reviewing your applications. Certain colleges require additional essays and/or admissions interviews when you apply without a test score. To learn more, check out our blog on “Top 3 Tips to Prepare You for College Admissions” or “How to Approach Standardized Testing“. 

 

College Essays: How to Slay Your First Draft?

Things I hear during application season:

“I read a bunch of college essays on ____ site to help me understand what I should be writing.”

“My friend/parent/older sibling told me I should do _____ – is that OK?

And on it goes.

Write College Essays DraftWhy is writing for college applications so very difficult? Why does it stir up so much doubt? Because of fear. Fear of looking silly. Fear of writing the wrong thing. Fear of being REJECTED.

When it comes to college essays, you often feel that the stakes could not be higher.

What should you do? Reframe the task. College admissions officers want to hear what you have to say. They are not out to play “gotcha” – they actually want to get to know you. That’s what your college essays are all about. How can you help them to see the real you? Let’s dive into that first draft!

 

 

How important is your college essay? Check out our post on Why The College Essay Matters

 

brainstorming and plan your college essay contentInsight #1: Channel Your Creativity!

Great writing starts with great…pre-writing. Yes, brainstorming! A simple pen with paper will do. So will sticky notes, or, if you like being able to move, erase, etc. your ideas, I highly recommend using a mind-mapping software (Coggle and Miro are examples). Check your environment – is being at home too distracting? Hit the library or literally take a hike (and bring your notebook with you).

 

 

 

 

Insight #2: Let Your Inner Editor Wait Its Turn

 

let your thoughts flow when you write your college essay draftsIf you are worried about your writing, while you are writing it, this means your editor and writer selves are battling for control. Who is the captain? The editor or the writer? If the answer is “both” that means the boat goes nowhere (“boat” in this metaphor being your draft). When you notice your inner editor interfering, questioning, or otherwise stopping the writing process, try thanking it for showing up and asking it to wait a while until it is time to work. When will that be? AFTER the first draft.

 

Writer’s block? Read more about Overcoming Writers Block

Insight #3: You are Feeling the Pain of Learning How to Write About…You

Quick, grab any adult you know and show them some of these college essay questions. Would they love to answer these? Of course not. They are difficult! So part of this process is learning that the discomfort of learning how to write about yourself doesn’t mean you are “good” or “bad” at it – it just means you are learning.

 

Insight #4: Everyone Can Do A GREAT Job

No matter how you feel about your writing skills, it is highly unlikely that you have written anything like this before. Do you think that my students who have written novels and scripts, or have worked on their school newspapers sailed through the applications process without a care in the world? Nope! If you write well, your fears may be even more pronounced than someone who feels less confident about their writing. Why? Because you know that you can always do a better job.

What if you struggle in English classes? That is also OK. I have worked with students who aren’t native English speakers, and they are still able to express themselves well in their college applications. How??? The fact that the process of writing your college essays is difficult. Keep in mind that your first draft does not predict the later quality of your work. At Insight, we work with students through one draft after the next, and every iteration pushes their college essays toward greatness. Don’t feel discouraged if your first few drafts aren’t perfect. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and making consistent progress – that is what matters!

 

Insight #5: You Are The Expert of Your Life

Lastly, something to remember is that you have had 11 years of people telling you to listen and follow their lead. It can be shocking to realize that colleges want to hear from you. It is a completely different dynamic. My goodness – now someone wants to hear what I have to say? It takes some acclimatization. However strange it may sound, you are actually an expert – on your own life. You are 100% qualified to discuss it.

 

Want more college essay tips? Check out 5 Tips for Your College Essays

 

I hope these college essay insights help you as you move through your drafts this summer/fall. Happy Writing!

 

Need help with your college essays? We are here for you! Schedule a 1-hour personalized college planning session with an Insight Counselor today to learn how we can help you write your college essays!

 


Written by Meilin Obinata

This article is written by Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata.

Meilin Obinata is a Senior College Counselor who enjoys learning from her students. She believes education is a creative endeavor and creates a space that allows students to explore new ideas. As a Bay Area native who grew up in Santa Cruz, she is familiar with the local schools. Read her full bio here.

The 2022-2023 ACT Registration is now open! What now?

For those who check the ACT website often, you’ve probably noticed that the ACT registration is now open for September 2022-July 2023 test dates! Here is a quick guide on when the ACT tests are happening, the deadlines for signing up, and what you should do (depending on your graduation year).

Taking the SAT instead? Check out 2022-2023 SAT registration is opened! Now what?

Not sure which test to take? See our advice on ACT vs. SAT: Which Test Should You Take?

2022-2023 ACT Test Dates

According to ACT.org, the 2022-2023 ACT exam dates and deadlines are shown below. You can register for all of these dates now.

 

ACT Test Date Registration Deadline Last Day for Late Registrations & Changes (extra fees apply)
September 10, 2022 August 5, 2022 August 19, 2022
October 22, 2022 September 16, 2022 September 30, 2022
December 10, 2022 November 4, 2022 November 11, 2022
February 11, 2023 January 6, 2023 January 20, 2023
April 15, 2023 March 10, 2023 March 24, 2023
June 10, 2023 May 5, 2023 May 19, 2023
July 15, 2023 June 16, 2023 June 23, 2023

 

Insight Advice for Rising Seniors (Class of 2023)

 

If you haven’t been able to take the SAT or the ACT at all, you are not alone. Many schools have extended their test-optional policy to the Class of 2023, and you can find out what your top-choice college decides to do in our Test-Optional Colleges HERE. If you are planning to take the ACT, you should start preparing now. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer.

 

For Class of 2023 who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take your ACT by October 22, 2022. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take your ACT by December 10, 2022.

 

Want a strategic, proven way to boost your ACT score? Click here to see our ACT classes!
Taking the SAT instead? Check out our popular SAT classes!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Juniors (Class of 2024)

 

Typically, we see juniors take their ACTs in the summer (June or July) and in the spring (usually after a spring break study crunch). If you already have a score you are happy with, congratulations, you can focus on expanding your extracurricular activities, AP courses, and schoolwork.

 

By preparing for the ACT early, you are giving yourself time to get a head start on your college admissions process next year. This can significantly lower your stress level (and tasks) for your summer after junior year!

 

Just starting your SAT preparation? Our SAT Advantage Classes are designed to give you comprehensive topic review as well as test-taking strategies.

Read more: Why Summer Study Can Be A Great Thing!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Sophomores (Class of 2025)

 

It may seem too early for you to even think about the SAT or the ACT. But it’s not! While these standardized tests are designed to challenge your English and Math abilities, their structures, formats, and timing are very different.

 

If you have already taken Algebra 2, which covers polynomials, trigonometry, and exponentials, you can start considering your test prep strategy! The best way to decide if you should take the SAT or the ACT is to take diagnostic tests for both. Taking both diagnostic tests can help you decide which test you are more comfortable with. You may like the SAT better because it allows for more time per question, or you may be an ACT person if you prefer to always have access to a calculator. Once you’ve figured out your style, you can focus on preparing for that!

 

Want to schedule your ACT and SAT diagnostic tests? We simulate the real testing environment to help you know how you will perform on the big day. Email us ( info@insight-education.net ) today or CONTACT US to find out more!

How to Write the “Why Major” or “Why College” Essays?

During the college admissions process, you may come across many supplement essays. The most challenging one is the “why” essay. Generally, these college essay prompt asks, “Why do you want to attend our school” or “why do you want to study this specific major?”

 

(Rather watch a video instead? Check out Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach’s video on How to Write the “Why Major” and “Why College” Essays!)

 

What Do College Admissions Officers Want to See in a “Why College” Essays?

It depends on the specific college or the specific program you are applying to. When you respond to the “why college” essay, you want to address the reasons that you’re drawn to that college. Essentially, you’d share what you find unique and different about that particular university.

 

Think of the “why college” essay like a love letter. There are thousands of colleges out there you can apply to, but what makes this college THE ONE? A good “why college” essay is based on in-depth research. You really have to do your homework! Don’t just jot down the first few things you see on the college’s website. Dig deep. What are some of the opportunities that this university offers that draw you in? How do you find yourself fitting perfectly into the campus culture? Why is this college the best fit for you academically or socially? What are some of your personal goals and values that can only be achieved at this school?

 

Just like any love letter, you want the reader to feel special. The why essay should not feel generic. The easiest way to check if your why essay is too general is to substitute the name. If you can replace “College A” with “College B” in your essay and it still reads fine, then you need to rewrite and be more specific.

 

What about a “Why Major” Essay?

The “why major” essay is specific to what you are hoping to accomplish or what career path you hope to be on in the future. Not every high school student knows exactly what they want to do. That’s perfectly normal. For those who are undecided or those who have several interests, be as clear as possible on what you are trying to achieve. What drives you to this set of majors? What do you hope to explore within this particular program?

 

For those who have a better idea of what they want to do, you’d want to research the resources that this major (or program) offers. What classes are available? Why do you find them intriguing? What research opportunities are offered? What facilities and labs will you be able to utilize? What professors would you study or research under? You want to demonstrate that you’ve really looked into this program, and only this major/program at this school can offer you the unique chance to achieve your goals.

 

How to Write a Good Why Essay?

Be specific! The more focused you are on expressing what attracts you, the better. The why essay is as much about you as it is about the school (or program or major). Don’t rely on samples or templates that are out there. You may want to talk to friends or alum who went to this college, but what they tell you to write might not make good content.

 

This really needs to be about you. Think about it from the admissions officer’s perspective. They are reviewing thousands and thousands of applications. You don’t want to sound like just any average joe. You don’t want your love letter to this school/program/major to sound generic. You want it to be unique. You want it to be authentic and specific. You want your own voice to come out. Most importantly, you want your why essay to supplement your personal statement.

 

A good why essay should provide another dimension to who you are. You shouldn’t repeat information that’s already in the activity section or your personal statement. Ultimately, a good why essay shares why this college is a good fit for you while allowing the college admissions officers to get to know more about you.

 

Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?

One way to get started on your why essay is to ask – “What did you enjoy doing?” You want to reflect on what you’ve done thus far. Think back on your high school years and what you have accomplished so far. What are the ways you can continue excelling at the college level? How can this college help you grow?

 

For example, if you have been involved in certain charity work and you love it, look for opportunities on this college campus that will allow you to explore this. What are the ways this college or program will help you expand this experience? If you have started a particular research at the high school level, you will have access to more resources, better tools, and professors that can help you to further your research. It may lead to jobs and future career paths.

 

Another way is to visit the college. Check out research opportunities online. Walk around the campus. Join a virtual information session. Schedule informational interviews with alumni. Essentially, use all the possible resources to learn more about this college. This can help you convey why you are drawn to this school with detailed examples and reasons.

 

The key point to remember as you write your why essay: you want this college (or major) to do as much for you as you can for it.

Need professional guidance for your college essays? Schedule a personalized one-hour consultation with our College Admissions Counselor


Written by Zach Pava

This article is inspired by an interview by Insight Senior Counselor Zach Pava.

Zach has guided hundreds of students throughout the college admissions process. His extensive writing background includes essay contributions online and in print, a sports blog, screenplays, and film reviews. Contact Insight Education today to schedule an initial consultation with Zach. Read his full bio here.

2022-2023 SAT registration is opened! Now what?

For those who check the College Board website often, you’ve probably noticed that the SAT registration is now open for August 2022-June 2023 test dates! Here is a quick guide on when the SAT tests are happening, the deadlines for signing up, and what you should do (depending on your graduation year).

 

2022-2023 SAT Test Dates

 

According to the College Board website, the SAT test dates and deadlines are shown below. You can register for all of these dates now.

 

SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Last Day for Late Registrations & Changes (extra fees apply)
August 27, 2022 July 29, 2022 August 16, 2022
October 1, 2022 September 2, 2022 September 20, 2022
November 5, 2022 October 7, 2022 October 25, 2022
December 3, 2022 November 3, 2022 November 22, 2022
March 11, 2023 February 10, 2023 February 28, 2023
May 6, 2023 April 7, 2023 April 25, 2023
June 3, 2023 May 4, 2023 May 23, 2023

 

Insight Advice for Rising Seniors (Class of 2023)

 

If you haven’t been able to take the SAT or the ACT at all, you are not alone. Many schools have extended their test-optional policy to the Class of 2023, and you can find out what your top-choice college decides to do in our Test-Optional Colleges HERE. If you are planning to take the SAT, you should start preparing now. Learn how to maximize your score during the summer with our guide on How to Prepare for the ACT or the SAT this Summer

 

For Class of 2023 who want to apply for Early Action or Early Decision, you need to take your SAT by October 1, 2022. If you are applying for Regular Decision, you should take your SAT by December 3, 2022

 

Want a strategic, proven way to boost your SAT score? Check out our popular SAT classes
Taking the ACT instead? Click here to see our upcoming ACT classes!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Juniors (Class of 2024)

 

Typically, we see juniors take their SATs once in the fall once and once in the spring (usually after a spring break study crunch). If you already have a score you are happy with, congratulations, you won’t have to worry about the new digital SAT. However, you will get to experience it first-hand as PSAT in October 2023.

 

By preparing for the SAT now, you are giving yourself time to get a head start on your college admissions process next year. This can significantly lower your stress level (and tasks) for your summer after junior year!

 

Just starting your SAT preparation? Our SAT Advantage Classes are designed to give you comprehensive topic review as well as test-taking strategies. 

Read more: Why Summer Study Can Be A Great Thing!

 

Insight Advice for Rising Sophomores (Class of 2025)

 

It may seem too early for you to even think about the SAT or the ACT. But it’s not! While these standardized tests are designed to challenge your English and Math abilities, their structures, formats, and timing are very different. With the new digital SAT on the way, you may want to take the SAT early to utilize all the resources that are available to help you get ready for the current SAT.

 

If you have already taken Algebra 2, which covers polynomials, trignometry, exponentials, you can start your SAT test prep! The best way to decide if you should take the SAT or the ACT is to take diagnostic tests for both. Taking both diagnostic tests can help you decide which test you are more comfortable with. You may like the SAT better because it allows for more time per question, or you may be an ACT person if you prefer to always have access to a calculator. Once you’ve figured out your style, you can focus on preparing for that!

 

Want to schedule your ACT and SAT diagnostic tests? We simulate the real testing environment to help you know how you will perform on the big day. Email us ( info@insight-education.net ) today or CONTACT US to find out more!

How to Build Your College List

There are so many college ranking systems – US News might be the most famous one in the USA, but there are also lists from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. Can’t you just copy/paste a college list from one of these and call it a day?

Nope!

Because these lists often include hundreds and hundreds of schools, after seeing the common “name-brand” choices, they might just blend together so that you mentally check out – and overlook many excellent choices. Or maybe you decide against applying to certain schools because of the sheer intimidation factor. The rankings systems at best could be a place to start your research but you cannot substitute their judgment for yours!

 

College List Insight #1: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, AND MORE RESEARCH

knowing your priorities and asking universities the right questions can help you build a personalized college listYou will need to make a customized list for yourself for deciding where exactly you would like to apply. Yes, that means doing all kinds of research to get to know colleges to see what would be a great fit for you. It means attending in-person or virtual events to get to know the student body and personnel. It means really digging deep to understand what is most important to you as you emerge from high school. What is really going to help you grow? What do you really need? Reflecting on your wants, needs, and goals is essential for making a good college list. What if you have no idea what you are looking for? Then, start as soon as possible to take stock and identify what are the deal-breakers for you.

One of my students told me that she could not apply anywhere close to skiing sites because she would ditch school for skiing and not study at all. This was incredibly honest of her! Indeed, she ended up applying and ultimately attending *flat* locales (and was very happy).

 

College List Insight #2: SEE YOURSELF AT THE COLLEGE

As much care as you might put into choosing your next pair of shoes, you will want to put one thousand times that effort when you are looking at colleges. How much time do students spend on their classes? Do they connect with professors? Are you extremely independent about academics? Or is having a community of utmost importance? You can look at what majors are popular at a college, or one which is impacted (ones for which demand is greater than supply). What kinds of extracurricular activities, hands-on work or real-world experiences can you access through that college? How do you want to meet schoolmates? If you have loved music all your life as a performer, is there a way for you to continue channeling that joy where you land?

Summer Plans? Top 10 Summer Tasks for College Admissions

 

College List Insight #3: HOW DO YOU LOVE TO LEARN – AND LIVE?

For any college on your list, are you feeling like the college matches how you see learning – and does it meet you where you are at, right now in your learning journey? It won’t just be your brain going to college – it will be your entire personality. I heard from a senior who told me that she was so glad that she did not “live” for colleges – she lived her high school life with enjoyment and spent time doing what she loved – without regrets. She told me, “I put myself first.” That might seem obvious – who would not put themselves first – but that is not what everyone does in high school.

Building a college list is about best-fit for you not rankingI think this sentiment is important because so many students are scared about being authentic and allow colleges to dictate what they do. Choosing colleges that match who YOU are is so much more important than trying to fit into what you think they want from you. Keeping this in mind – that you are focusing on you – as you look for colleges that you want to consider for your college list – will help you stay centered and calm.

 

Takeaways

– Think about how you truly love to learn, and what you need to do that
– Lovingly research each college, allocating plenty of time to do so
– Try to imagine your life at the college – even if that seems very fuzzy right now
– Check for obvious deal-breakers
– Stay calm and centered by matching colleges which are going to be a great fit for YOU!

 

Read more:  Balance Your College List: Really Focus on What YOU Want

 


Written by Meilin Obinata

This article is written by Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata.

Meilin Obinata is a Senior College Counselor who enjoys learning from her students. She believes education is a creative endeavor and creates a space that allows students to explore new ideas. As a Bay Area native who grew up in Santa Cruz, she is familiar with the local schools. Read her full bio here.