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Insight Answers Your Top College Admissions Questions!

This past weekend, Insight hosted two community seminars in Fremont and Cupertino respectively. During those seminars, families wrote down their top college admissions questions. 


We’ve collated those questions and our team of College Admissions Counselors has put together the answers! 

Below, a snapshot of some of the questions! 


Q: Everyone in my school is extremely competitive and it feels like I may have no chance compared to them even if I have a good GPA… etc. ?

A: Colleges are looking to build a diverse class.  There is a college out there for you. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on what you can do and how you will contribute to your school and your community– and how that translates to the college you will attend.  Your essays will help you stand out among your peers, so that’s where you can talk about these experiences and how you will fit into the college. 


Q: We have friends who have had children accepted at Universities that we are interested in. Would it be helpful to ask for a copy of their child’s admissions paperwork/essay?

A: Each student essay is unique to that student.  You cannot replicate what a “good” essay looks like because a good essay is specific to you and your experiences, not your friend’s experiences.  Also, each year for admissions is different. Colleges are looking to build a campus community and diverse class, so writing your story and experiences and how you will contribute to the campus life is what will benefit you the most. 


Q: Is it better if AP courses are done online vs in school? 

A: Some AP courses are easier to take online rather than at school.  If you are planning to pursue a degree in a similar field and your school offers the AP course, you should take it at your school.  Also to take an AP course online requires self-motivation and self-study.  If this is something you excel at, online courses may be a good fit for you.  If not, then taking the course at school in the classroom may be a better choice for you. 


Q: If a student is fully occupied with busy schedules of sports activities etc. no time left for other activities – does it affect their application?

A: Sports is a way to show leadership and teamwork.  So if a student is doing well academically and involved in sports, it shows that they have time management skills and can balance a busy schedule.  However, if the student is not doing well academically, then maybe cutting sports and focusing more time on studying and joining other activities would be appropriate. Student-athletes tend to have less time for other activities and that is okay!


Q: If my GPA was low freshman year but significantly improved over the course of high school, do I still have a chance at UCLA or UCB? Will it bring down my cumulative GPA?

A: Yes, it will bring down your cumulative GPA because that includes your Freshman year grades.  However, showing colleges an upward trend in GPA is great and UCLA and UCB do look at that and the essays you write.  Being able to showcase your strengths and how you will contribute to the school will help you in the holistic and comprehensive review UCLA and UCB do on their applications.


Q: What if SAT subject test scores are not released when I’m applying to college? How do I make sure the college will see the score(s)? 

Sometimes students will apply to colleges before all test scores have been released. This is often the case if they are still testing in October or November of senior year. If you are applying early, please be sure to check the college website for deadlines for submitting test scores so that they are accessible when the admissions department is reviewing the application. Many colleges (though not all) will also accept rushed scores, meaning that for an added fee, scores will arrive at the specific colleges you request much faster. This can be a worthwhile option if you are concerned about the process taking three or four weeks.


Thank you to everyone for attending these seminars, we really enjoyed meeting with you! 

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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • I liked the structured method by which Zach approached the whole admission process. First, there was research into colleges to make a list, then a rigorous back and forth on […]

  • Priya was absolutely amazing to work with! We are thrilled that our son got into his top choice for college at LMU for the undergraduate business program. We couldn’t have […]

  • Thank you so much for helping me formulate my thoughts into words and help me write my essays. I got into Ut Austin for biology – still waiting for the […]

  • I just wanted to thank you again for your help during the college admission process. My family and I have been scrambling to figure out the process for years, and […]

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  • I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your day to organize a meeting with me and help me in writing my summer program essays. […]

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  • Zach, thank you so much for helping me become a confident and successful writer

  • We were extremely happy throughout the process – got much more than what we invested in Insight counseling.

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