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Beat the Deadlines to Avoid Stress

Applying to college and filling out applications are stressful. This is not new news. Neither is this: a lot of the stress attached to the application process is due to procrastination. The good news about this old news is it means there’s an easy way to avoid a little (or a lot of) stress.

The application deadline is not a recommended submission date – so save yourself some anxiety and don’t treat it like one. Give yourself a cushion and kick stress to the curb. It’s easy to underestimate the time applying will actually take – and sometimes the easy things we take for granted end up causing us HUGE headaches. For example, many prospective students applying for early decision/action for Fall 2014 admissions with the common application know this all too well.

Read more about glitches with the common app at the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNBC.

So… instead of meeting the deadline, try beating it.

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Speed doesn’t matter, and other misconceptions about math in America

Speed doesn’t matter, and other misconceptions about math in America

This post is spot-on. As a math tutor (professional for 4+ years), a former American “good” and sometimes “bad” math student, as well as a “not very good at math” math major in a top math program in the country, I’ve had to deal with all sorts of misconceptions (of my own doing!) with respect to math.

I’ve not only been declared “good at math,” I’ve also been told by a professor at my school, in consolation, that “some people just aren’t good at math.” I’ve had to convince teachers in high school that I was able to handle the higher level of math than they thought I could, only to go on to get a high grade in my next year of math. I’ve had to find a tutor for a college class I wasn’t very good at, but needed to graduate. And then, finally, after all of that school and all of those pronunciations as to my worth as a math student, I actually became good at math.

How did I do it? I was given the ability to study math for math’s sake. I no longer had my math self worth attached to a grade, so I could open up textbooks without pressure and, then through my job, talk through concepts with students. I had to be one step ahead of them always, but I found a joy for math I had long since lost, if I ever had it. I could see how and why questions were designed as they were. I could see what each question was supposed to get across, instead of just trying to force myself through it to finish an assignment or exam. It became fun because I had to think, because it was a puzzle someone had designed for me, for everyone, and I loved sharing those puzzles with my students as we worked through them.

Unfortunately, this approach is rare in our math world. Often there is simply a “right” answer and a procedural set of steps that must be executed. Jo Boaler from The Atlantic nails this discussion in her piece and promotes the move to the Common Core, which encourages the ability to think! And discourages our judgements on each other as “good” or “bad” at math, especially as relating to speed. It’s a fine read, and I’d love to take that online course she mentions in her piece.

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Getting through the Application Process

It’s the most important decision I’m ever going to make. This will determine the rest of my life. This choice is about more than just me. I don’t want to go where my parents want me to go. What if I don’t get in to anywhere I apply? I don’t have enough time to get my application essay just right. I don’t think my SAT/ACT score is high enough. How do I keep my GPA up and get all my application materials ready in time?

Does this sound like you? If you ever find yourself slipping down this thought spiral, just remember to breathe and stay positive. You are not alone and you are going to make it through it!

Don’t think so? Check out these student profiles with their personal experiences and insights on every step of the process.  http://www.usnews.com/education/features/student-profiles

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A Cost you Can Avoid: Application Fees

The cost of college can be intimidating and overwhelming, with even the little things piling up. The good news is some of these costs don’t have to be inevitable. The application fee, for example, can be avoided if you’re willing to do a little research and put in a little effort. Katy Hopkins from USNews.com offers some advice on and examples of formal and informal ways to get this fee waived:

  • Explore the online option – sometimes simply applying online will do the trick.
  • See if you have a connection – family in particular could be your ticket to a fee waiver. Less typical, but not unheard of, securing a fee waiver by having a letter of recommendation from an alumni.
  • Visit the campus – an official college visit might be accompanied with a waiver.
  • Proof of financial need – the majority of colleges offer fee waivers to those who can prove financial need.
  • Be proactive – it never hurts to contact the admissions office at your school of choice and ask them if there are any ways to apply for free.

For the full article, you can read more here: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2012/09/13/how-to-apply-to-college-for-free-2?page=2

 

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Should I take the ACT/SAT again?

A common question posed by parents and students is whether or not to take the ACT or SAT one final time. The answer to this question depends on several factors: which schools you’re applying to, which test you’re taking (SAT or ACT), and where your score sits respective to the middle 50%.

 

Question 1: Which school are you applying to (and what are their deadlines)?

Both tests will return scores back in approximately three weeks time. e.g. The October 6 SAT is returning scores on Oct 24th, and the Sept 21 ACT returned scores last week. So if the deadline for application is Feb 1, you can definitely still take the December ACT or SAT. If you’re considering applying for a scholarship or in the Early Action process, however, the deadlines are sometimes earlier.

 

Question 2: Which test are you taking?

If you are taking the SAT, you should consider if the schools you’re applying to want to look at every test date or just your best. If they’re looking at every test date, scoring lower might actually hurt your chances.

If you’re taking the ACT, you don’t have much to lose in taking it again (except approximately 4 hours and some $$).

 

Question 3:  Where does your score fall?

Confirm this with your guidance counselor, but from where I’m sitting, it seems advantageous to be in the median 50% listed on collegeboard’s Big Future. Yes, 25% of students get in with scores lower than that, but it only puts you in a better position if you’re within the middle 50% of the accepted students.

 

Ultimately, the decision should be made by the student and his/her parent after discussing with a guidance counselor. There’s not a hard and fast rule about whether or not to take it, but there is a right decision for you.

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Do I Need to Know My Major When I Apply?

Some admissions applications ask you to list your intended major, some don’t.

Don’t be fooled though. Though you may not be required to list your intended major, you’d be surprised how much it may impact your chances of getting into your top choices.

You don’t have to have your major, or your life all figured out when you’re applying to college. In fact, a large part of the college experience is the beginning of figuring it out. However, you should be aware of how your academic interests, or absences of interests, effects your chances of getting in.

Read more to get one dean of admission’s insights on the process.

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Choosing your Major

Many 4-year institutions don’t require you to declare a major until your sophomore (second) year. This means that you get almost a year and a half to explore different majors and degree options within your university or college. Obtaining your undergraduate degree is a lot of work – so, why wouldn’t you want to figure out what you’re passionate about and spend your time, money, and energy pursuing it?

Take the time to figure out what you like doing and find a school that offers a relevant degree. Look at it as an investment in yourself. Have some solid ideas of what you might like to do so that you can begin exploring those possibilities the moment you step on campus!

Here’s  a good article that offers up 5 tips in choosing a college major from U.S. News & World Report