Tag Archives: college admissions

2023-2024 College Admissions Interview Policies

As many of you have submitted your college applications for the 2023-2024 college admissions season, it’s important to update your calendar and check your inbox regularly for interview invitations.

 

You probably already know which schools on your list offer admissions interviews and whether the interview helps you demonstrate your interest in attending those colleges. Continue reading

2023- 2024 Test Optional Colleges and Score Reporting Policies

The list contains the test-optional colleges that changed their admission policies since 2020. 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 2023.

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, some schools extended their test-optional policies for Fall 2024 applicants. There are colleges that adopt 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?

This will depend on the particular colleges and your high schools. 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.

2023-2024 College Admissions Options and Deadlines

When it comes to college admissions, understanding the various application deadlines is essential. Three popular options that students often consider are Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), and Single Choice Early Action (SCEA). Each of these deadlines comes with its own set of advantages and considerations.

 

1. Early Decision (ED):

Early Decision is a binding commitment to attend a specific college or university if admitted. It typically has a deadline in November, with admission decisions released in December. ED is an excellent choice if you have a clear first-choice school and are certain about attending, as it can boost your chances of acceptance. However, it’s crucial to be aware that you must withdraw all other college applications if you are accepted through ED. This option may not be suitable if you wish to compare financial aid packages from different schools.

 

2. Early Action (EA):

Early Action is a non-binding option with a similar application deadline to ED in November, but it allows you to apply to multiple schools. You’ll receive your admissions decision in December or January, and you’re not obligated to attend the school if accepted. EA is an excellent choice for students who want to demonstrate their enthusiasm for a school and potentially receive early acceptance while keeping their options open. It also offers more time to compare financial aid offers.

 

3. Single Choice Early Action (SCEA):

SCEA, sometimes known as Restrictive Early Action, is a hybrid option. Like EA, it’s non-binding, but you can only apply to one school using SCEA. The application deadline and decision release dates are the same as EA. SCEA is ideal if you have a clear top choice, but you want to keep your options open at other institutions. It offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to apply early to your preferred school while maintaining flexibility.

 

When deciding which early admission option to pursue, consider your academic and personal preferences, your level of commitment to a particular school, and your financial situation. It’s also crucial to review the policies and requirements of each school, as they may vary. Keep in mind that not all colleges offer these early admission options, so research your chosen institutions carefully. Team Insight has compiled a short list of popular colleges and their admissions options and deadlines. This chart was last updated in September 2023.

Read more: Applying Early – Insights to Optimize Your College Admissions Strategy

 

 

In conclusion, understanding the differences between Early Decision, Early Action, and Single Choice Early Action can help you make an informed decision about your college application strategy. These options can provide a competitive advantage and potentially relieve some of the stress associated with the regular application process. Ultimately, the key is to choose the approach that aligns best with your goals and circumstances.

The Truth Behind Powerful College Essays

Learn from Insight Education’s 24 years of college admission experience and write compelling college essays to stand out!

 

College essays portray your story to the college admission officers. The last thing you want is for your unique narrative to get lost in the sea of hundreds of similar stories. In this webinar, Insight Admissions Counselor will share valuable tips and advice on ways you can stand out with your college essays.

 

Date/Time: Tuesday, July 18 from 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Pacific) | 8:00pm – 9:00pm (Eastern)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

 

As you dive into the essay writing process, get the best insights on what makes a compelling college essay! We will cover:

  • An overview of college essays, including Personal Statement and Why essays
  • Common mistakes and topics to avoid
  • How to level up your college essays and stand out!

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight

Insights into Honors College and Honors Program

So, you have heard great things about honors colleges and college honors programs. Now what? In this blog post, Insight Senior College Admissions Counselor Meilin Obinata will guide you through various factors to help you figure out if one of these would be a good fit for you (or not).

 

What is an Honors College ?

insights into honors college program and benefitsUsually, an honors college is part of a larger school, such as a university system, but often has its own funding sources, residential buildings, and activities specifically designated for honors students to use, live in, and participate in. I tell my students that these big schools often want to offer honors students some of the warm and fuzzy feelings of a liberal arts college, which is dedicated to giving undergraduates more attention and care than a typical big research university would.

 

 

Some perks and requirements you may find within an honors college:

    • Separate application guidelines, with distinct prompts and specific restrictions about who can write your letters of recommendation
    • Small living communities with other honors students
    • Social / networking opportunities with other honors students, faculty, or professionals
    • Priority class registration
    • Smaller class sizes
    • Exclusive classes, events, and scholarship opportunities
    • Mandatory thesis /capstone projects
    • Access to internships or research opportunities designated for honors students
    • Additional required coursework or assignments

 

Honors colleges vary widely. So, it is important to dig deep to understand if their philosophy of learning and living is a match for you if you were to be accepted.

Read more: Why It Is Important to Find Your “Best Fit” College

From an admissions standpoint, an honors college will have an admit rate much, much lower than the school in general. For example, sometimes students do not realize that applying to Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University is very selective because they are thinking of the overall admit rate to ASU, which is very generous (as of today at least). This means you will need to take this into account when building your college list – an honors college may very well be a “dream” or “reach” choice when the college at large may occupy a different category of risk.

honors program insights to help you decide if you should apply to college

You may also want to research honors colleges with a very clear view of how these programs intersect with your life goals inside the college and beyond college. Schreyer’s Honors College students at Pennsylvania State University can apply to an Early Assurance Program for Penn State’s medical school, which could be very attractive if you wish to become a doctor one day, for example.

 

What is a college’s Honors Program ?

These are programs often requiring students to meet a variety of standards, such as keeping a certain grade point average or completing specific courses within a major or department. This is more like an academic lane. Students may need to complete additional assignments and/or projects in order to graduate “with honors.”

 

One of my students was interested in the University of Washington, and I encouraged her to consider the honors program because of the interdisciplinary nature of the subjects and activities that she pursued in high school. She applied – and that program turned out to be one of her acceptances. She ultimately decided to attend the University of Washington because of the opportunities related to that specific program.

 

What should you think about before applying?

    • Treat the application as an entirely separate entry on your college list, as in, it should “count” in your mind as a separate college, with its own category of risk.
    • Research honors programs and colleges deeply before deciding to apply – don’t underestimate the work involved with applying to one of these. You might ultimately decide to apply to another college instead of applying to an honors option due to your overall workload in the application process.
    • As wonderful as these might be, you might look at the requirements for being a student in an honors college or honors program and decide – hey, this is too restrictive for my needs!

 

We hope you learned more about honors options so that you are better prepared for your college research process. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Insight counselor. Cheers!

Not an Insight Counseling family yet? No problem! CONTACT US to schedule a 1-hour personalized college planning session with an experienced admissions counselor. 


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.

Trending in College Admissions: Insights to who gets ACCEPTED

Analysis of the changes and trends in college admissions landscape by Insight Education’s Head of College Admissions Counseling, Purvi Mody.

 

Are you a high school student or parent curious about what it takes to get accepted into top colleges and universities? Join us for our upcoming event, “Trending in College Admissions: Insights to who gets ACCEPTED.” Our Co-Founder and Head of College Admissions Counseling, Purvi Mody, will share her knowledge and experience to demystify the college admissions process.

 

In this free online event, we’ll discuss the latest trends in college admissions, including what admissions officers are really looking for in applicants, the role of extracurricular activities and demonstrated interest, and how to craft a standout college essay. With our 24 years of college admissions experience, we’ll help you navigate the process with confidence and clarity. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get an insider’s perspective on what it takes to get accepted into your dream school!

 

Date/Time: Thursday, April 27 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

 

Our Speaker:

Purvi Mody – Head of College Admissions Counseling

Optimize your admissions strategy with Purvi Mody

Purvi is the Head of College Admissions Counseling at Insight Education, as well as its Co-Founder. She has worked with thousands of high school students and families, and her belief centers on helping students identify and apply to schools that are the best fit for them. Purvi also works on guiding the students in developing applications and essays that highlight their unique strengths and talents.

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight

Insight Scoop: Building a Balanced College List for YOU

Learn from Insight Education’s 24 years of college admission experience on how to balance YOUR college list!

 

Attention high school students and parents! Are you feeling overwhelmed by the college admissions process? You probably already know that having a personalized and balanced college list is crucial, but do you know how to get started?

 

Join our webinar, “Insight Scoop: Building a Balanced College List for YOU,” where we will provide you with the insights to create a college list that fits your unique needs and goals. In the increasingly competitive admissions landscape, finding your best-fit colleges can make all the difference in maximizing your chances. Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the admissions process – register now!

 

Date/Time: Wednesday, April 19 from 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

In this FREE community webinar, we will cover

  • The importance of finding your best-fit colleges
  • What it really means to have a personalized and balanced college list
  • Criteria to consider in your college research
  • And much much more!

 

Our Speaker:

Meilin Obinata – Senior College Admissions Counselor

Building a personalized and balanced college list to maximize your chance by Meilin ObinataAs a Bay Area native, Meilin graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Mathematics and later obtained her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul. Her diverse professional background in tech, social justice, and non-profit helps her to guide her students to connect current interests with potential career paths. Meilin believes that education is a creative endeavor and works with many students who are makers, engineers, programmers, artists, and creators.

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight

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.

Applying Early – Insights to Optimize Your College Admissions Strategy

In the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, University of Southern California (USC) offered the Early Action option for the first time. Earlier in 2023, USC admitted 2,400 students from a pool of 40,600 applicants. That’s a 6% acceptance rate! You may wonder if early action and early decision can still be your best options to get into your top choice schools.

 

We designed this webinar just for you, rising seniors and families! Our college admissions expert will analyze the early admissions trends, processes, and limitations. Whether you’re planning to apply early decision, early action, or regular admission, this event is a must for anyone looking to maximize their chances in college admissions.

 

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 21 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

In this free online event, we will cover:

    • The latest trends and driving forces in the admission landscapes
    • What to do if you want to apply early
    • Do’s and Don’ts if you are applying Early
    • and much much more!

 

Our Speaker:

Zach Pava – Senior College Admissions Counselor

Academic planning and GPA in College Admissions by Zach PavaZach is the lead counselor and head of Insight’s Boston office. He also works with students from other parts of the US remotely. He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a B.S. in Psychology.  Zach’s background in psychology and managerial experience has allowed him to assess the specific needs of other people. No two students are exactly alike, as each brings his or her own unique personality, talents, and goals to the admissions process.

 

Can’t wait until the event to meet with us? Contact us today and schedule your 1-hour personalized college planning session!

 

We are looking forward to meeting you! 

Team Insight