FAQs

FAQs

FAQs

harvard

Who gets admitted to top colleges?
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Highly selective colleges and universities seek not only excellent students but also those who align with the institutional mission. College admissions have changed dramatically even over the past few years. Colleges that used to be reasonably good bets for top students are no longer “safe schools”. Though the emphasis is on “applying to college” – filling out a form and submitting it — understand that a symbiotic relationship exists between the institution and the students whom it admits.

How do you motivate students?
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True motivation comes from within the student, not from someone else. I am an advisor, and the admission process and deadlines are those of the student. I can set a schedule, build in flexibility, and help the student with troublesome steps as needed. But if the plan is ignored, I cannot get the student to the next step. If the student does not want to work on the components of applications – course rigor, grades, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, gaining familiarity with colleges, and applications including essay writing, the possibility exists that the student is not ready for college.

Many reasons can exist for unexpected underperformance. Using a student planner, cleaning out the backpack every day, or organizing materials might help, but motivation is critical for any accomplishment in life. For example, a childhood interest in sharks evolved into a marine biology major, which required courses in calculus and organic chemistry, and led to STEM job opportunities. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Discussions with high school teachers or counselors may provide some insights about the student. Often, reviewing assumptions about the process and outcomes of “education” can identify options.

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How long does it take to complete an application?
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While some students can finish applications in a few days and be admitted to top-ranked universities, 4-6 weeks is the typical amount of time for a student to gather information, organize it, write essays, and complete the application for a holistic evaluation. Because of time stress, CollegesGPS does not accept as clients students (and parents) who begin the college application process in the senior year.

How do you work with students on essays?
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My essay work with students is by email. I also read better without someone watching me read their essay. Sometimes, I like to think about an essay before responding. I do try to reduce stress as much as possible. Essay prompts may be available as early as late spring. The more that a student can accomplish during the summer, the easier the senior year will be. Students are free to ask questions about my comments. I also find, especially for Chinese international students, that having something explicitly written lets them re-read my comments.

dinosaur bones

Who should submit an early action or early decision application?
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For early applications, EVERYTHING must be received by the college’s deadline, unless the college says otherwise. It can take 2 weeks for test scores to arrive at their destination. Also, the primary reason why early applications are accepted at a higher rate than regular applications is because they are qualitatively better. Students most likely to be admitted early have a string of As, top test scores, activities that build year after year – and senior year is likely to continue this pattern. Students optimistic about improving their transcripts and test scores during the 1st semester of their senior year may be better off applying later. Submitting too early could result in a denial and not a deferral to the regular applicant pool.

What are some ways that families can help their students?
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Try to see the world through your student’s eyes. Don’t overschedule and build downtime into routines. Insist that the student work hard; do the best as one possibly can; get 8 hours of sleep, exercise, eat sensibly; and be kind. Limit extracurricular activities to 20 hours per week – that’s everything from school activities to videogaming and chats with friends.

Maturation is the accumulation of daily struggles as well as major achievements. A new world is opening for your student and may affect you too. Mind expectations and decision biases and also keep a sense of optimism about the future.

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