Tag Archives: college admissions

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

Get Ready for Senior Year! Insights to Your College Admissions Success

Are you an 11th grader or a parent and feeling overwhelmed by the college admissions process? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Join us on March 7 and learn from Insight’s 24 years of college admissions expertise. Our counselor will give you an overview of what to expect in senior year, how to balance your load, and how to stay on track.

 

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start preparing for college. The earlier you start, the more time you have to make informed decisions and avoid last-minute stress. This engaging webinar is designed to give you a competitive edge and ensure that you feel confident and prepared as you enter your senior year. Sign up now and take the first step towards a successful senior year and a bright future!

 

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 7 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

Grab your FREE tickets now

 

In this free online event, we will cover:

  • What expectations and routines to set up before entering senior year
  • How to optimize your summer before senior year
  • Ways to get a head start in the college admissions process
  • Tips on balancing schoolwork, application tasks, activities, and life
  • and much, much more!

 

Our Speaker:

Jenny Bloom – Senior College Admissions Counselor

Get ready for your senior year success with Jenny Bloom

Since 2012, Jenny has worked with a variety of students at Insight. She has a B.S. in Human Development Family Science from UT Austin and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Loyola Marymount. Her philosophy is to guide students to consider how they will build and hone their skills and talents to make a difference in the world around them.

 

 

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 Strong GPA and Academic Story

GPA, academic plans, and transcripts – together, they tell an important part of your high school story to the college admission offices.

 

Do you have a good GPA? What criteria should you consider when selecting your future courses? Join our college admission counselor in an engaging webinar to learn how you can build a strong GPA and academic story.

 

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 18 from 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Pacific)

Location: Online via Zoom

RSVP for your FREE tickets now

 

In this online event, we will cover:

* What college admissions officers want to see in your GPA and transcripts?

* What is the ideal GPA for college admissions?

* How many AP classes do you need to take?

* What courses should you focus on if you want to major in STEM? Or in business?

* How to avoid common pitfalls in course selection?

* 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

Class of 2027: Early Decision / Early Action Notification Dates

For many of you, your college applications are almost completed (and there is light at the end of the tunnel, we promise). The next big item coming up is early admissions decisions!

 

The college admissions landscape continues to surprise us this year. The new, digital SAT will be implemented in Spring 2024, and some schools, such as MIT, terminate their test-optional admissions policy. With USC offering its first Early Action admissions option and CalTech moving to a new Restricted Early Action plan, notification dates for early admissions results seem more important than ever!

 

Insights on Early Decision & Early Action

For 23 years, Insight Education is committed to helping high school students and families to navigate the college admissions process, and that includes understanding your concerns and providing a tailored strategy for you. Here are the top 3 common questions surrounding ED/EA, and you can always reach out to your Insight Counselor or contact us to find out more!

 

Q: What do I need to do between now and the decision time?

A: Check your portal regularly! Set up a weekly reminder and commit to checking your email and college portal. Some schools may require you to send in your progress report for the current school year.

 

Q: What does my result mean? Can I do anything if I am deferred?

A: To understand your result, check out our article “Accepted, Deferred, or Denied: Understand Early Admissions Results.” If you are deferred from your dream school, don’t worry! You’re not out of the race yet. The school wants to compare you to their regular applicant pool OR they simply need more details from you. To learn more about that, visit The Importance of Writing A Letter of Continued Interest  

 

Q: What do I do about ED II if my ED I decision won’t come back until January?

A: You can still apply to ED II. When ED I notifies your acceptance, you can withdraw your application from ED II school.

 

Q: What do I do if my current progress report is not as good?

A: If you are improving but your progress report doesn’t show it, ask your school counselor to make a note on your progress report before you send it to your ED school.

 

 

2022-2023 College Admissions Season –
Early Decision / Early Action Notification Date for Class of 2027

Here are early admissions decision notification dates for the upcoming Class of 2027. Please check back regularly for updated dates and times as we gather the most updated information – especially for those without specific dates and times or those labeled “TBD.”

Last Updated: January 9, 2023

School

Early Decision I Notification Date

Early Action Notification Date

Early Decision II Notification Date

Early Action II Notification Date

American University December 16   February 15  
Amherst College December 9 @ 6:21pm ET      
Babson College December 14  December 16 Mid-February  
Barnard College December 14 @6:30pm ET      
Bates College December 20   February 15  
Baylor University December 5  January 15 March 1  
Bentley University Late December   Early February  
Boston College December 6   February 15  
Boston University December 13   February 15  
Bowdoin College December 9   Mid-February  
Brandeis University December 15   February 1  
Brown University December 20 @ 7pm ET      
Bryn Mawr College December 16 @ 5pm ET   ED2: TBA  
Bucknell University December 14   Mid-February  
Cal Tech   December 10 @ 8:06am PT    
Carleton College December 15      
Carnegie Mellon University

December 10 after 9 am ET

  February 1  
Case Western University December 5 December 21 Beginning January 9  
Chapman University December 16 Late December, rolling through early February    
Clark University Late December Mid-January Early February  
Claremont McKenna College December 15   February 15  
Clemson University   December 1    
Colby University On and before December 15   On and before February 15  
Colgate University Mid-December   Mid-February  
Columbia University December 15 @ 7pm ET      
Cooper Union

Late December

     
Cornell University

December 15 @ 7pm ET

     
Dartmouth College December 16 @ 3pm ET      
Davidson College December 15 @ 9pm ET   February 1  
Drexel University Mid-December Mid-December    
Duke University December 17 @ 2pm ET      
Elon University December 1  December 20    
Emerson College Mid-December Mid-December Early February  
Emory University December 15 after 6pm ET   February 15  
Fordham University December 20  December 20    
George Mason University   December 15    
George Washington University December 15   Late-February  
Georgetown University   December 15    
Georgia Tech  

 December 9 (for Georgia students)

  Late January (for Non-Georgia students)
Hamilton College December 15   February 15  
Harvard University    REA: December 15 at 7pm ET    
Harvey Mudd December 15   February 15  
Haverford College December 10   Early February  
Hofstra University  

December 15

   January 15
Indiana University Bloomington    January 15    
Johns Hopkins University December 16   February 17  
Lafayette College December 15 @ 4pm ET   February 15  
Lehigh University December 9   Mid-February  
MIT    December 17 @ 12:17pm ET    
Middlebury College Mid-December   Mid-February  
Mount Holyoke College Late December   Late January  
New York University (NYU) December 15   February 15  
Northeastern University December 8 February 1 March 1  
Northwestern University December 16      
Oberlin College December 15   February 1  
Occidental College December 15   February 20  
The Ohio State University   Late January     
University of Oregon  

November 8 

(some Insight students already heard the great news)

   
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)  

November 15

(some Insight students already heard the great news)

   
Pomona College December 15 @ 5pm PT   February 15  
Princeton University   Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) Decision Notification:
December 15
at 7pm ET
   
Purdue University   January 15    
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute December 10  January 28  January 14  
Rice University December 14 after 5pm CT      
Rutgers University   January 31    
Santa Clara University Late December Late December Mid-February  
Stanford University    REA: December 16 @ 4pm PT    
Suffolk University   Late December    
Swarthmore College December 13 at 7pm ET      
Syracuse University  Late December rolling through January

 

   
Temple University  

November 18

(Some Insight students already heard the good news)

Mid-February  
Trinity College  December 15   Mid-February  
Tufts University December 13 at 7pm ET   Mid-February  
Tulane University December 1 at 4pm CT January 15 January 31  
University of Chicago December 21 December 21 Mid-February  
University of Georgia   November 18 at 4pm ET    
University of Illinois at Chicago   December 1    
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)   January 27    
University of Massachusettes   Late January    
University of Miami December 9 Late January Late February  
University of Michigan   Late January    
University of Minnesota  

November 7

(Including engineering. Some Insight students already heard the good news!)

   February 15
University of North Carolina (UNC)   January 31    
University of Notre Dame  

Restrictive Early Action decisions released in December 16 @ 6:42pm ET

   
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) December 15 @ 7pm ET      
University of Richmond December 9 January 25 February 15  
University of Rochester Mid-December   Early-February  
University of San Francisco Mid-December Late January    
University of South California (USC)    January 20    
University of South Carolina   December 14    
University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)   February 1    
University of Wisconsin-Madison   On or before January 31    
University of Vermont December 20 December 20    
University of Virginia December 13 at 5pm ET February 15    
Vanderbilt University December 14 @ 5:30pm CT      
Villanova University December 14 @ 5pm ET January 20 February 15  
Virginia Tech December 9 at 5pm ET Late February    
Washington & Lee University December 16 @ 8pm ET   Late January  
Washington University in St. Louis (Wustl) December 13   February 17  
Wellesley College December 10   Mid-February  
Wesleyan University December 10   Mid-February  
William & Mary December 9   Early February  
Williams College December 9      
Worcester Polytechnic Institute December 13 January 15 February 15 March 1
Yale University   Single choice early action decisions will be available in December 15 after 5pm ET    

 

 

Summer Opportunities Fair 2022

Thank you for your interest in Insight’s Summer Opportunities Fair on November 5, 2022! We hoped you had a great time meeting the participating volunteering, research, and internship programs. We want to share a few snapshots to capture the day’s festivities and the list of participating programs (listed in alphabetical order).

Wondering what you should do for the summer? Need help with your summer program essays and application process? Contact us and schedule a meeting with our counselors today! 

 

Bay Area Community HealthInsight Education Summer Fair 2022 Bay Area Community Health

Bay Area Community Health was formed in 2020 off the strength of southern Alameda County’s Tri-City Health Center and Santa Clara County’s Foothill Community Health Center. Formed during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area Community Health (BACH) brings more than 70 years of combined service to an area that stretches from Union City to Gilroy. BACH serves more than 100,000 people, who rely on high-quality healthcare services, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, disabilities, or ability to pay.

 

 

 

 

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Insight Education Summer Fair 2022 Lumiere ResearchThe Lumiere Research Scholar Program is a selective research program for top high school students. As a Lumiere scholar, students work 1-1 with top researchers from universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford. Founded by a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard College classmates, the program guides students in the creation of an independent, 20-page research paper over the course of 10 weeks. 

 

 

 

 

 

Our City ForestInsight Education Summer Fair 2022 Our City Forest

Our City Forest (OCF) is an urban forestry non-profit located in the heart of San Jose. OCF’s mission is to create a green and healthy Silicon Valley by engaging community members in the appreciation, protection, growth, and maintenance of our urban forest. Volunteer opportunities range from helping out at the Community Nursery and Training Center with various tree and shrub-care activities, to joining at the new Education Center at Martial Cottle Park to help expand the arboretum. OCF also hosts community tree planting events in which volunteers can help plant trees at various locations throughout Santa Clara County! These events are typically held on Saturdays. 

 

 

 

PilotCity

Insight Education Summer Fair 2022 PilotCity Student InternshipsPilotCity runs programs where students “build projects to win internships” with our employers – serving as an engine for innovation in cities with the people from there. Students enrolled in the program explore employer projects, choose a project, and then are guided through a series of unlockable activities & deliverables to complete to then auto-apply, interview & win offers for internships. Upon hire, interns further advance their project, assigned tasks, and the objective of the employers.

 

 

 

 

Pioneer Academics Insight Education Summer Fair 2022 Pioneer Student Scholar Research Program

The Pioneer Research Program is a virtual research institute for outstanding high school students worldwide. It offers STEM, social sciences, and humanities disciplines. Widely respected for its high standards in admissions selectivity and academic rigor, it is the only US online college credit-bearing research program for high school students. In Pioneer’s rigorous academic system, students work one-on-one with university professors in advanced study and research of a topic of their interest, culminating in a full-length research paper. To learn more about Pioneer Academic’s Information Sessions, please click here.

 

 

Polygence

Insight Education Summer Fair 2022 Polygence Student Research ProgramPolygence is an online research academy connecting high achieving students with expert mentors to pursue personalized research projects and publish research papers. Polygence offers project-based research mentorship in academic disciplines across STEM, the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Polygence students submit their projects to high school science fairs, research journals, and conferences with guidance from expert mentors. Mentors hold PhDs, MDs, JDs, MAs, and MFAs in a variety of disciplines from neuroscience and computer science to fashion design and architecture.

 

 

 

Rosetta Institute of Biomedical ResearchInsight Education Summer Fair 2022 Rosetta Institute of Biomedical Research Program

Rosetta Institute provides advanced classes for high achieving high school and middle school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related fields, such as biomedical research, drug development, pharmacy, or nursing. They offer a variety of workshops related to molecular medicine – Molecular Biology, Medicinal Chemistry, Medical Bioinformatics, Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Covid-19: Biology/Immunity/Medicine, Cancer Research, Immunology Research, and Biomedical Research – that are taught by PhD-level instructors with years of research and teaching experience. 

 

 

 

Youngzine: Summer Climate Fellowship Program

Insight Education Summer Fair 2022 Youngzine Climage Change Volunteer Student Fellowship ProgramYoungzine teaches children about our environment and the changing climate. Its mission is to empower youth to action. Youngzine’s Climate Fellowship provides an opportunity for high school students to help combat climate change and contribute to a more sustainable future. During a three-week program, students will have the chance to learn about climate change issue, interact with climate experts, and develop a climate or sustainability-related project. Throughout the year, Youngzine offers training and opportunities for high school writers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more: Top 6 Summer Activities for High School Students

 

Extracurricular and summer activities are important in building a powerful narrative in your College Application. It is also important to help build your character, skillset, network and values! Not sure what summer or extracurricular activities you should do?  Contact us and schedule a meeting with our counselors today! 

So you want to be a CS major – How to build a Strong high school narrative

Do you know what it takes to get into college as a Computer Science major? Join us online at 5:00pm (PT) on Wednesday, September 28 to learn what you can do to build a powerful narrative!

This FREE webinar is perfect for 9th – 11th graders and their families!

CLICK HERE to Get Your FREE Tickets Today!

 

About this event 

It’s no secret that Computer Science is one of the hottest (and hardest to get into!) majors, so you need a powerful narrative if you are interested in applying as a CS major. In our webinar, Insight Co-Founder Ajit Jain and Senior College Admissions Counselor Zach Pava will share their advice on

  • The college admissions landscapes for a Computer Science major
  • What you can do academically to stand out
  • Which criteria you should consider in selecting your extracurricular activities
  • How to build a powerful personal narrative in your college application
  • and much much more!

Seats are limited! Hurry to RSVP your FREE tickets today!

 

Looking forward to meeting you!

Team Insight

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!

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.