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College Admissions Counselors

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Purvi Mody: Head of College Counseling & College Admissions Counselor

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Hello! My name is Purvi Mody and as the Head of College Counseling and one of the partners/founders at Insight Education, I love working with students ready to achieve their educational dreams!  I have over twenty-two years of experience as an educational and college admissions counselor. My formal experience in this field began with Achieva […]

Hello! My name is Purvi Mody and as the Head of College Counseling and one of the partners/founders at Insight Education, I love working with students ready to achieve their educational dreams! 

I have over twenty-two years of experience as an educational and college admissions counselor. My formal experience in this field began with Achieva College Prep in 1999, but I have worked privately with students since 1998. At Achieva, I developed the Jump Start Program, designed for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. My work with more than 1200 students during my career has allowed me the privilege of assisting many with their admission to some of the top universities in the country and the world including Stanford, Brown, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cambridge, and the University of Toronto to name but a few. My 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. I also enjoy working with Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors helping them with every facet of their high school journey. I have increasingly spent time advising families of middle school students on choosing the best high school for their child and helping their children develop the fundamental skills to be successful in high school. And as graduate school admissions, including law and medical, have become more complex, I have worked with applicants to develop and execute their admissions strategy. 

I graduated from UCLA with a BA (Honors) in Psychology, and minors in Education and Business. I then completed my Masters in Education at the Stanford University School of Education. My final foray into a degree program culminated in an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I am a member of WACAC (Western Association for College Admission Counseling).

I have built my career on my passion for education and am exceedingly well versed in the college admissions process. More importantly, I love to connect with students as they embark on an increasingly stressful and complex journey. 

When I am not reviewing college admissions essays or helping students start a new club and set academic goals, I can be found spending time with my beautiful boys (future Insighters) and husband.

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Zach Pava: Senior College Admissions Counselor

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Hello! My name is Zach Pava and I am a Senior College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education. The oldest of three brothers, I grew up in Newton Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology. It has been a wonderful experience to work with an extraordinary […]

Hello! My name is Zach Pava and I am a Senior College Admissions Counselor with Insight Education. The oldest of three brothers, I grew up in Newton Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology. It has been a wonderful experience to work with an extraordinary team of professionals at Insight, who provide a comprehensive, but personalized approach to college admissions counseling.

My previous experience as a teacher, counselor, and behavioral coach has enabled me to successfully guide Insight students from the more open-ended nature of freshman year to the more rigorous demands placed on upperclassmen. My background in psychology and managerial experience has allowed me to assess the specific needs of other people. No two students are exactly alike, as each brings his or her own unique personalities, talents, and goals to the admissions process.

A creative writer throughout my life, I believe there is no better place for students to distinguish themselves than through their college essays. Colleges want to know who you are, not just what you’ve done. With tutoring certifications in writing and editing and a decade spent guiding students to develop their ideas using constricted word counts, I will help to ensure that your essay is the one that stands out.

In my role as a college admissions counselor at Insight, I have worked with high school students applying to the UCs, CSUs, BS/MD programs, International schools, and world-class technical institutions like MIT. I have worked with seniors on the Coalition Application, which features UIUC, UT Austin, Maryland, and Washington, and also supported hundreds of students with the Common Application, which includes the Ivy League, the NESCAC, and the Claremont Colleges. I have helped students to successfully navigate applications to Stanford, Michigan, Duke, NYU, Northeastern, BU, Wisconsin, UNC, Purdue, USC, Santa Clara, Tufts, Emory, GaTech, CMU, and Northwestern, among others. Additionally, I have led Insight’s counseling clinics, taught ACT classes, and worked with many college students on transfer applications during their freshman and sophomore years at the university level.

As the lead counselor and head of our Boston office, I have the unique opportunity to work with live clients and remote clients from coast to coast. This enables my students the flexibility to work with a remote counselor from home while still utilizing all of the resources and services in our Cupertino office. I also travel to meet students in-person several times throughout the year.

When not conducting mock interviews, helping with course selection, or brainstorming college essays, I can be found cheering on the Celtics at the Garden, relaxing on the beaches of Maine, and exploring playgrounds with my kids, who always keep me on my toes.

I can’t wait to meet you!

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Jenny Bloom: College Admissions Counselor

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Hello, I’m Jenny Bloom! I grew up in North Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a B.S. in Human Development Family Sciences. Post college, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a non-profit organization at UCLA, counseling and leading college students for three years. […]

Hello, I’m Jenny Bloom! I grew up in North Texas and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 with a B.S. in Human Development Family Sciences. Post college, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a non-profit organization at UCLA, counseling and leading college students for three years. I then continued my education at Loyola Marymount University, graduating with an M.A. in Early Childhood Education in 2012 with Honors and at the top of my program. 

I have been working at Insight Education since 2012. I have helped our many students with college and summer internship essays, SAT/ACT prep, and finalizing their college applications. I enjoy working with a wide range of students from all grades, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior to help them achieve their goals. I have worked with students who have been admitted to UC Berkeley, UT Austin, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, Purdue, Drexel, Cal Poly SLO, Boston University, UIUC, Penn State, UW, NYU, Northeastern, Santa Clara, LMU, University of British Columbia, Linfield, Chapman, Texas A&M, UT Dallas, American University, and many more!

My background in business and education allows me to contribute uniquely to the Insight team. Since moving to the Bay Area, I have worked as an Assistant Instructor at a community college teaching five different courses in the fields of Child Development, Family, and Nutrition. I also worked as a legal assistant at a prestigious a law firm in Santa Monica for five years prior to moving to the Bay Area. These experiences have given me a better understanding of the diverse skillsets needed in different industries and the dynamics of campus life in various geographic settings. 

In my spare time, I volunteer in the community of East Palo Alto, serving as a volunteer at a home for teen mothers. I also volunteer with families with young children at the church I attend in Palo Alto. When I am not working or volunteering, I spend time with my husband, toddler daughter and baby boy hiking in the beautiful Baylands. You can also find us cheering on our favorite teams from Texas and New York! Hook ‘em Horns!

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Amy Brennen: College Admissions Counselor

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Hi, my name is Amy Brennen and I’m a proud Bay Area native. What I enjoy most about working with students is helping them to meet their academic and personal goals, encouraging them to venture outside their comfort zones and helping them to become better versions of themselves. I graduated from UC Davis with a […]

Hi, my name is Amy Brennen and I’m a proud Bay Area native. What I enjoy most about working with students is helping them to meet their academic and personal goals, encouraging them to venture outside their comfort zones and helping them to become better versions of themselves.

I graduated from UC Davis with a double major B.A. in Economics and International Relations and earned my Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California. I have always been an educator at heart, and I spent the first three years of my career as an SAT instructor at the Princeton Review, afterwards managing the English department for two years at a private school in Japan.

I earned my master’s degree at USC where I worked on graduate policy research and helped found one of USC’s first peer-mentoring programs for international graduate students. I spent the next couple of years assisting with policy research and client services as a government and non-profit consultant in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

I returned to the U.S. and I have worked in college advising at Insight ever since. At Insight, I’ve helped to develop and lead a number of workshops, including our clinics on College Interviews, Developing a Compelling Resume and Cover-letter, and Choosing Your Major.

As a counselor, my work includes empowering students to study smarter (not harder), helping students identify opportunities that align with their academic interests, and developing a personalized admissions profile so each student truly shines during the admissions process. 

I am a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, the Association of International Educators and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling.

Outside of work, I enjoy exploring the Bay Area, being a polyglot, watching stand-up comedy and listening to podcasts.

 

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Emily Sena: College Admissions Counselor

Hi, I’m Emily Sena! I grew up in San Mateo and live there now with my husband and three high school-aged kids. I have been working on various sides of the admissions world for nearly two decades. I have recently been through the college admissions process with my twin boys (Class of 2019) and am […]

Hi, I’m Emily Sena! I grew up in San Mateo and live there now with my husband and three high school-aged kids. I have been working on various sides of the admissions world for nearly two decades. I have recently been through the college admissions process with my twin boys (Class of 2019) and am now embarking on it with my daughter (Class of 2022). These have given me new insight into both the parental and student perspective of this exciting time.

I attended Connecticut College where I received a BA in Anthropology, and then to the University of Pennsylvania, where I earned an MSEd in Higher Education Administration. I worked in Law School admissions at Penn, then transitioned to Higher Education Consulting for Coopers & Lybrand post-graduate school.

I began working for Achieva College Prep Centers (where I met Purvi Mody) in 1999 and worked there for many years on a full-time, and then part-time basis after having children. For most of the past 17 years, I worked part-time as an admissions reader for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I also worked for a few years as the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Sea Crest School (K-8) in Half Moon Bay.

My favorite aspect of college counseling is helping students discover more about themselves than they expect. The college admissions process is so different than anything most 17-year-olds have done, and I love to see the growth that comes when students learn about themselves along the way. I believe there are many great colleges for every student and love to help students in that discovery.

Outside of work, I am obsessed with travel, and run a small business bringing groups of women to Southeast Asia. I spent a year traveling the world with my children when they were younger, and miss life on the road daily! 

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Indrani Stangl: Associate College Admissions Counselor

Hello! My name is Indrani Stangl, and I am an Associate Admissions Counselor at Insight Education. Although I was born in New Haven, CT, my parents moved me and my brother to Stanford, CA when I was less than 2 years old. As my dad was the Director of Lane Medical Library, I was lucky […]

Hello! My name is Indrani Stangl, and I am an Associate Admissions Counselor at Insight Education. Although I was born in New Haven, CT, my parents moved me and my brother to Stanford, CA when I was less than 2 years old. As my dad was the Director of Lane Medical Library, I was lucky enough to grow up on the Stanford University Campus and graduate from Gunn High School in Palo Alto.

Although I am new to Insight Education, I have many years of experience working with students as both a student services officer at Stanford and more recently as an admissions counselor and career coach. I graduated from Occidental College with a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science, and later received my master’s degree from Santa Clara University in Counseling Psychology. I then began my career at Stanford, working in the School of Education, followed by the Law School and finally at the School of Engineering. I was a frosh advisor for many years and have gotten to know the type of student Stanford tends to admit, which is very helpful as I help guide students through the college application process.

I find I can build a strong rapport with my clients, using a warm approach and sense of humor. I very much believe every student has a compelling story to tell, and I work with them to refine the message and help build a package that best represents them.

I currently reside in Half Moon Bay and I work remotely with my students, which I find is a flexible and effective way to get this work done. When I am not helping students with their college applications, I enjoy walking the coastal trails with my husband and two rescue dogs. I have also been a core volunteer with Pound Puppy Rescue for the last 15 years and very much enjoy helping families find a furry friend to join their pack. You may also find me listening to jazz music and putting paint to paper to design artistic works like greeting cards and wall hangings.

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Jason Katz: Associate College Admissions Counselor

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Hi! My name is Jason Katz and I’m a proud Bay Area native—born in Berkeley and grew up in Palo Alto. I love working with students, especially on their college application essays.  By carefully crafting their college application essays, students become more introspective and learn a lot about themselves. Nothing makes me happier than to […]

Hi! My name is Jason Katz and I’m a proud Bay Area native—born in Berkeley and grew up in Palo Alto. I love working with students, especially on their college application essays.  By carefully crafting their college application essays, students become more introspective and learn a lot about themselves. Nothing makes me happier than to see their smiling faces when their essays are in final draft form, and they know they have done their best work.

 

After graduating from Palo Alto High School, I headed off to NYU.  However, after two years at NYU in New York City, and a summer and a semester at NYU’s amazing campus in Florence, Italy, I was tired of the New York winters and homesick. So, I transferred to Santa Clara University where I earned my B.A.

 

Having agonized through my original college application process as a high school student, without the help of an independent college counselor, but then working with an independent college counselor throughout the transfer application process, I know firsthand what a difference working with a college counselor can make. My transfer application process was significantly more organized, efficient, and less stressful.

 

Therefore, after graduating from Santa Clara, I knew I wanted to pay it forward and become an independent college counselor. I began interning with the independent college counselor that helped me with the transfer application process, and I also enrolled in UCLA Extension’s Certificate Program in College Counseling.  After completing my Certificate and my internship, I started my own independent college counseling business in Redwood City. Throughout the years I ran this business I also wrote more than 165 college admissions / college life newspaper columns for The Palo Alto Daily News (many of which were also published in the online edition of The San Jose Mercury News).

 

Next, I went back to school and earned my master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. After earning my master’s, had a few different jobs, but nothing that I was as passionate about as helping students, which is why I am so excited to be back in the college admissions field, working for Insight Education, specifically helping students with their application essays. I look forward to meeting you to work on the writing process!

 

When I am not writing or helping students with their college application essays, you can find me hanging out with family and friends, traveling, exercising, rooting on all the Bay Area sports teams, or taking long walks with my wife, Cathie, and our rescue dog, Posey (named after the San Francisco Giants’ catcher).

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Jenny Huang: Junior College Admissions Counselor

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It’s nice to meet you! My name is Jenny Huang. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Linguistics and a minor in Chinese and am excited to join the Insight Education team as a Junior Counselor.  I spent the first two years of my undergraduate career at UC Santa Barbara before transferring to […]

It’s nice to meet you! My name is Jenny Huang.

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Linguistics and a minor in Chinese and am excited to join the Insight Education team as a Junior Counselor. 

I spent the first two years of my undergraduate career at UC Santa Barbara before transferring to UC Berkeley. I guess you can say I’m the transformed version of a Gaucho and Golden Bear…maybe a Gaucho-Bear?

My unique undergraduate experience has fueled my passion to become a College Admission Counselor. At the time, I couldn’t find much information about doing an inter-UC transfer; after numerous phone calls to admission officers and successfully transferring from UCSB to UCB, it became my goal to assist other students in navigating the college admission process. 

Consequently, I joined “Starting Point Mentorship Program,” a program where UC Berkeley transfer students mentor community college students, during my last year at UC Berkeley. I felt extremely privileged to walk alongside my mentees, listening to their worries and rejoicing in their accomplishments, as they worked towards shaping the next chapter of their life. The highlights were definitely getting to know my mentees as individuals, rather than students, and receiving joyous messages from some of them as they were accepted to their dream schools. 

As my undergraduate career comes to a close, I now understand how different each school is, even if they are in the same UC system.  Given my experience, bikers and skateboarders at Santa Barbara were replaced with mostly pedestrians at Berkeley and trips to the beach were switched with trips to boba shops (No really, it’s remarkable how many boba shops are within walking distance from Berkeley campus). Thus, I hope I can become a College Admission Counselor who helps students find the best fit school for them!     

In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, playing piano, and finding new music to listen to. Besides sending me your essays, please feel free to send me some of your favorite songs! I look forward to meeting you! 

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Ramya Annam: Junior College Admissions Counselor

Hi! My name is Ramya Annam, and I am one of the Junior Counselors here at Insight Education. I currently live in Santa Clara, but I’ve had the privilege of living across the country, growing up and through my education. I’ve lived in Texas, Virginia and most recently, Massachusetts.    After graduating from USC with […]

Hi! My name is Ramya Annam, and I am one of the Junior Counselors here at Insight Education. I currently live in Santa Clara, but I’ve had the privilege of living across the country, growing up and through my education. I’ve lived in Texas, Virginia and most recently, Massachusetts. 
 
After graduating from USC with a degree in Psychology, I entered the world of Sales and Marketing, for big companies like Whole Foods Market and 49ers, and for smaller nonprofits and startups. A few years in, I knew I wanted to do something more impactful with my life, and so I followed my lifelong dreams of becoming an educator by enrolling in graduate school at Boston University.
 
At BU, I was involved in many organizations, such as 826 Boston, a nonprofit aimed to bridge the literacy gap for underserved students. I fell in love with helping students find their voice and express their true selves in creative and authentic ways. In May 2020, I graduated with a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
 
At Insight, I help students express their ambitions and dreams through essay writing, interview prep, and more. The world of college admissions is ever-changing, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your student’s journey to success!
 
When I’m not reading essays, I’m usually gardening, hiking, or thrift shopping. I look forward to meeting you!
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Brian Nanos: Essay Specialist

Hello from Massachusetts! My name is Brian Nanos and I’m an Essay Specialist with Insight. Originally from New Jersey, I bounced around the country before my wife and I settled in the suburbs of Boston. We live there now with our two kids.    I graduated from Trinity College with a degree in English with […]

Hello from Massachusetts! My name is Brian Nanos and I’m an Essay Specialist with Insight. Originally from New Jersey, I bounced around the country before my wife and I settled in the suburbs of Boston. We live there now with our two kids. 
 

I graduated from Trinity College with a degree in English with a focus in creative writing. I went on to Northwestern University and earned my Masters Degree in Journalism with a focus in newswriting and reporting. 

This is my first year as an Essay Specialist with Insight. In my previous career as a newspaper reporter and editor, I covered hearings on Capitol Hill, but also school committee meetings and bake sales in suburban Boston. I wrote hard-hitting news stories and lengthy features, but also designed the layout of the paper and edited submissions for clarity and grammar.

After a hiatus as a stay-at-home dad, I’m excited to use my writing and editing training to help students achieve their education goals. My goal is to help students use their personal statements and essays to express their personalities, strengths and interests in ways that a simple resume can’t capture.   

 

I currently live on the North Shore of Massachusetts. When I’m not reading and editing college admissions essays, I’m usually at home with my two children. I spend a lot of my time helping them with their remote learning classwork, taking them to the beach and the zoo, and baking them homemade pizzas.

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Chelese Belmont: Essay Specialist

Hi from Los Angeles! I am an Essay Specialist with Insight, and this is my eleventh year with the company! I graduated (in three years) with Honors from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History, then obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from The Actors Studio in New York City. During my years […]

Hi from Los Angeles! I am an Essay Specialist with Insight, and this is my eleventh year with the company!

I graduated (in three years) with Honors from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History, then obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from The Actors Studio in New York City. During my years at UC Berkeley, I tutored high school students in writing and assisted them with college applications and essay composition. I also worked with junior high school students in after-school programs in Oakland as a mentor and tutor.

Prior to my acceptance to grad school, I worked as a full-time College Admissions Counselor at Insight in Cupertino, assisting students with writing college essays, applications, and SAT test prep. Once I moved to New York, I stayed on with the Insight team remotely, editing and commenting on students’ essays in my spare time. 

In Los Angeles, I have taught SAT classes, worked as a leadership camp counselor, and recently become a book editor, in addition to my work as a college counselor and academic tutor for private clients in LA. I also volunteer with the non-profit, The Young Storytellers, which teaches underserved fifth graders to express themselves through screenplay writing.

When I’m not helping kids reach their college and academic goals, I am an actress, screenwriter, and producer pursuing my own artistic ambitions.

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What Are Insight Students & Parents saying?
  • “Our ACT instructor methods were so helpful and wonderful to have.”

  • “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.”

  • “From their knowledge of all the colleges and resources, professionalism and the hands-on coaching, Insight has raised the bar!  ”

  • “Insight counselors truly care about students not only during their time at Insight but further along the road.”

  • “I am currently a student at Carnegie Mellon University and I can honestly say that without Insight Education, I would not have gotten in.”

  • “Sarah was a great mentor & worked with our kid in keeping him motivated & focused along the way. She is extremely knowledgeable ”

  • “I wanted to thank Purvi from the bottom of my heart for guiding both of my kids through the maze of high school education.”

  • “Our counselor really helped in educating us – the parents – on the process.”

  • “I took an Insight SAT Boot Camp, and afterward I got 1570 on the SAT! 800 in MATH!”

  • Early Decision vs. Early Action – Which to Choose?

    October 8, 2020

    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 College Admissions counselo..
  • How to Combat Zoom Fatigue

    September 15, 2020

    If you are finding yourself exhausted between classes, office hours, webinars, and social time all on Zoom, you are not the only one. Over the past few months, “Zoom fatigue” or “Zoomed-out” have shown up more and more over social media and ..
  • List of All Test Optional Colleges 2021

    August 14, 2020

    The list contains the test-optional colleges that changed their admission policy’s due to COVID-19. This list was last updated (September 23, 2020).  FAQ About Test-Optional 1. Test-Optional vs. Test-Blind Test optional means that you can still su..
  • What are College Admissions Officers Looking for?

    July 17, 2020

    An Interview with Santa Clara University’s Claire Kreeft, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions I conducted an interview via email with Ms. Claire Kreeft, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission at Santa Clara University (SCU).  Ms...
  • How Covid-19 Has Impacted Insight Alumni

    July 11, 2020

    This is a special one. At a time of uncertainty for all of us, five former Insight graduates have taken the time to share the details of their experiences in college during the pandemic. There have been highs and lows and their experiences range from..
  • Standardized Testing: A Reflection

    June 24, 2020

    I feel like there are certain activities that will always make me a little—okay, very—nervous.  These include riding a roller coaster, watching a horror movie, and lastly, taking standardized tests!   Standardized testing was not my forte, ..
  • Finding Your College Match If You Have Learning Challenges

    June 9, 2020

    Have you ever wondered how to find a good college match if you have learning challenges?  In order to answer that question and provide insight, I conducted interviews via email and phone with Gabrielle E. Miller, Ed.D., Assistant Vice Provost, Learn..
  • From Our Founders

    June 7, 2020

    Dear Insight Community,   It has taken us a number of days to gather our thoughts and put something down on paper to share what we are feeling with our Insight community. The country and the world are going through significant turmoil and the mo..
  • Transferring Between UC Campuses…Wait, That’s Possible?

    May 13, 2020

    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 transferri..
  • Insight’s List of Colleges Accepting AP Credits 2020

    April 30, 2020

    THE FOLLOWING LISTS THE COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES ACCEPTING 2020 AP CREDITS 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 flexib..

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