To write strong essays, here's a helpful checklist for students to follow:
**I slowly, carefully, and thoroughly proofread my essay before submitting for review
**My topic is manageable
**Sentences are varied (complex, compound, simple)
**I do not have “around me” in my essay (e.g.: the world around me; the people around me)
**My sentences have different beginnings and varied structure.
**All Google suggestions have been addressed for spelling and grammar.
**I don’t use “will be able to”/”am able to”/”was able to”/”allowed me to”
**Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization is all correct; check those proper nouns!
**I have learned to embrace the comma!
Quick rules for commas
Extended rules for commas (esp. when using the word "but")
**My essay is not just 1 big paragraph; in fact, it has at least 2 paragraphs
**I’ve shown off my strong and varied vocabulary instead of the typical overused blah words.
**I enjoyed reading my essay (hint: if you don't enjoy it, it's likely that others won't either).
The recent SCOTUS decision regarding affirmative action in college admission didn't necessarily come as a surprise to us. We have been asking Admisssions staff for the past many months about their thoughts and unequivocally, all are committed to building a diverse and welcoming campus environment that enriches learning for all students. Diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and viewpoints in conversations, interactions, and work make students stronger and more prepared for success.
Prior to this decision, Washington State passed Initiative 200 in 1998 and was one of nine states that had already banned the consideration of race in university admission. The others were: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nebraska.
However, as Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his ruling, “nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university.”
In reading between the lines coupled with our experience in working with universities that already did not consider race in admission decisions, we expect to see more opportunities for students to write about their experiences and extrapolating meaning from those experiences in addition to academic achievements, activities, and all the other parts of the application. Holistic review is very valuable, and now more so than ever. We will continue to encourage students to be mindful and reflect upon experiences that shaped them and how they can incorporate those perspectives into their applications.
ICC had a very busy spring!
Oh, March...what a bittersweet month you are... So many emotions with admission decisions across the board, but as we write this in late May, we find that all of our students are now excited about where they are going and the initial sting of some decisions has waned.
April was especially busy for us with professional development which we will share with you in a future post because we're really excited this month to do something a bit different on our blog and post an article from one of the parents with whom we have worked. We absolutely loved the writeup they sent and thankfully got permission to share it with you. We hope you also enjoy it!
Coast to Coast College Campus Tours: A Parent’s Perspective
Graduating high school and making decisions about college are tough times in a young person’s life. It is a time of mixed emotions both for the college bound young adult and the parent. Feelings of excitement, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and the anticipation of what the future can hold are some of the most predominant ones. Recently, I had the opportunity to partake in the “which college to go to” decision with my 17-year-old son. What a privilege this was, as most teenagers want nothing to do with their adult’s opinion. This is a parent’s perspective on the schools my son ultimately narrowed down his choices to and those we visited.
We have lived across the United States from the east coast to the mid-west to the west coast, so he decided to apply across the board. He received many acceptances, many wait lists, and a few rejections. The acceptances were emotional highs, and the wait lists and rejections were definite emotional lows, but as with many things in life, a little bit of time helped heal those momentary blows. And then to look at it realistically, he had many acceptances and options!
At the end he narrowed his options down to three business schools that fit his unique persona, based on major, finances and best cultural fit for him. He is a business major, with a concentration in marketing. These were his choices in the school of business: Northeastern University, Santa Clara University, and Indiana University. (Like I said across the US) We visited all three schools, and this was my perspective on how each presented themselves on the day of admitted student tours.
Northeastern University located in Boston, MA (sprawling a few city blocks) did an outstanding job welcoming us and helping us recognize the culture and fit of the school. They served both breakfast and lunch and had a solid welcome ceremony. It was informative about the history of the school and the admitted students’ statistics. They had many informative sessions we attended:
I thought this format gave us a real feel of the students, the faculty, the types of co-ops available and how competitive they are. We met a student (junior) at the last session, who was pursuing exactly what my son wanted to do. It was very beneficial to speak with students to discuss the pros and cons about the program. Also, it helped us learn and recognize what the culture is like there and if you could see yourself there. What I did not like, is the Global Scholars session, I did not think it was worthwhile as it did not provide additional information than what was shared in the brochure. Also, I felt this program would be very disruptive to the student’s college experience, by being in four different locations in the first two years. Overall, I think they did a well-rounded job giving us the opportunity to feel what the University is like from an academic and cultural point.
The second school we visited was Santa Clara University located in Silicon Valley. This is a very beautiful, picturesque campus. They served breakfast and lunch and had a fanfare type of welcome ceremony with a few freebies to give away. They had the band and cheerleaders out to welcome the admitted students and families. They spoke about their Jesuit values and history behind the school.
Overall, I believe the opportunities to network and make some connections are available here, however, I am unsure about the academics he would receive.
The third and last school on the list was Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. They had a breakfast and a solid welcome ceremony, about their history, academics, and IU Sports. Indiana University is one of the prettiest campuses for sure. I am told the Fall colors are stunning. This tour was broken up into three different sessions.
Although IU is a very large school and out in Bloomington, an hour away from Indianapolis, I thought it presented itself as a solid University and with a sound business program. The one key thing worth mentioning about IU, is every representative student who spoke all mentioned the advisors are readily available to guide your career when registering for classes and throughout the entire four years.
To sum it all up, I believe all three schools were good options. It helped to go visit on their admitted student days, as it provided a different perspective than what I learned from reading about them online. Some schools did a better job representing themselves than others, however, I don’t believe that is the only thing to look at here. I think the visits help take away some pressure to go to a name brand school, while also helps figure out if the fit is correct for your student. At the end, the decision must be based on what you value the most and where you believe your student will succeed.
A MUST READ! If you like to read rankings and rely on them in any way, it's important to hear the perspective of institutions who have a very bittersweet relationship with them. This article is very important to read to gain another viewpoint you don't often hear.
The 6 Colleges had a counselor webinar in late February where many issues were addressed including the future of continuing their testing policies, upcoming changes to FAFSA, chat GPT, the anticipated Supreme Court ruling regarding race in college admission, how the work of Admissions is tied to the respective school's goals and mission, and much more. One of the key takeaways was "more is not better" citing the example of AP + IB courses taken simultaneously by students trying to shape a strong profile. Highly selective colleges understand the pressures this puts on students and they want to see applicants who can choose classes carefully based on their needs, abilities, and maturity.
This webinar also address the huge surge in STEM nationally no matter the size of the school. These institutions mentioned how they appreciate students wanting to participate in all classes and not just in their major.-related classes. Interdisciplinary studies and social studies are also growing, and humanities isn't going away, but is waning. All of these institutions are feeling the difficulties of hiring CS faculty, a national challenge. They did also mention how it is "exciting" to read apps where students want to study classics or other unusual areas.
They did mention that the application should showcase what motivates students, what excites them, and how students engage in their interests, and this can also be showcased in letters of recommendation.
Overall, admissions is being very thoughtful about many upcoming significant changes while remaining focused on their institutional missions and goals.
Shifting gears, as we feel prices rising just about everywhere due to inflation, we are expecting higher ed to increase tuition. An article recently published about Stanford raising tuition 7% is here. In previous years, Stanford has raised tuition 4% so this is a significant increase and other institutions are expected to follow suit. However, Stanford has also adjusted their financial aid threshold. Here is another interesting article on UC enrollment numbers in the context of surging demand.
A new calendar year brings new beginnings, large or small. Perhaps this is an opportune time for you to watch this video, one of the most highly viewed TED Talks, to re-think education and its future, and perhaps who you are and who your student is within this realm.
For our growth, ICC did some college visits to Cal State San Marcos, UC San Diego, University of San Diego, UNLV, College of Southern Nevada, and the Claremont Colleges. We also attended webinars for UPenn, Claremont Colleges, Yale, Rice, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins.
The Common App published trends through January 1 noting "rapid growth in applicant and application totals over the past 3 seasons...with underrepresented minorities and first-generation applicants increasing faster.... The majority of applicants continue to hail from the wealthiest zip codes. The number of applicants residing outside the USA increased at nearly triple the rate of applicants in the USA since 2019-20."
We firmly believe that every student we work with is amazing in their own right. Every student has strengths, talents, skills, abilities, traits, and more that are amazing, and our job is to help them understand their gifts and highlight them.
As parents we understand how it's hard to not get caught up in what we see around us, but we also work hard at recognizing how each student has their own journey on their own pathway.
Few newsworthy articles:
How the University of California Strike Could Reshape Higher Education
Law schools with LSAT rule change: In an unprecedented move, top law schools decide to move away from LSAT and also stop sharing data with US News for rankings. The move to drop LSAT requirement for admissions starting fall 2025 is a direct consequence of the American Bar Association's decision to stop requiring law schools to use this or any other standardized test when admitting students. The interesting question now is whether we will see a change in how undergraduate colleges view US News rankings. So far, only one undergraduate institution, Reed College shunned rankings.
Some of the most common corrections we make in essays:
November's annual NACAC Fair in Seattle is a great way to start the month! College and universities make a big effort to come to Seattle and we're always thankful for the time they spend here with students and families.
Seniors have been doing the final push with their applications and finishing up all their essays. We're so proud of them submitting so many apps in November and queuing up the remaining ones for December and January deadlines. As of today, we have reviewed 1,504 essays that accompany applications! This does not include resumes or other essays that we do for summer programs, juniors, or others.
While most of our reading this month was essays, beyond that we especially appreciated this article by Jeffrey Selingo: What Does an SAT Score Mean Anymore? The mass pivot to a test-optional approach reshuffled college admissions. MIT Decided it was done. We encourage you to take some time to read it. The switch to digital SAT testing outlined by the College Board is on track. For international students, the digital format is only a few months away as the Dec 2022 is marked as the final paper test. For domestic (US) students, the migration to the digital platform takes place in March 2024.
While our blogs are mostly good news and industry updates, we do want to extend our heartfelt wishes for the students who were personally impacted by unnecessary gun violence this month. We hold space for you.
Whew! As soon as summer came, it left. The return of school also brings in the return of a get-it-done mindset. Every time this year, we in the thick of helping seniors with essays, shaping their college lists, applications, managing letters of recommendation, and visiting with college and university reps who are once again out travelling.
Fall is the busiest "travel season" for all the admissions officers; their goals are simple: recruit and get great applicants to apply. Take advantage of all the visits and online events the admissions staff are doing!
WalletHub published a great, searchable rankings that determines the top-performing schools at the lowest possible costs to undergraduates while also analyzing post-attendance metrics. (Hint: check out Whitman vs Univ. of Washington)
A few other recommended reads are: