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On episode 152, Alexis Avila speaks to Dr. Shirag Shemmassian, founder and admissions consultant of Shemmassian Academic Consulting. As a Cornell University graduate and Cornell admissions interviewer, Shirag knows what the best schools are looking for in prospective students during admissions interviews. On today’s episode Shirag gives you some insider tips for what college admissions committees are truly looking for.
Want to get into any ivy league school? Shirag advises to grab what you love and go in deep with that and don’t be a dabbler!
While grades and test scores tell admissions that you work hard and have smarts, the extra currics and essays tell them what type of person you are.
Shirag’s advice for teens. 1. Believe in yourself and 2. Do what you love to do (nothing is too silly)
For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #90 with Elizabeth Dankoski: How a Perfect SAT Score can Backfire on You
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What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about what college admissions committees are truly looking for? Do you have any questions for Dr. Shirag Shemmassian and Alexis Avila?
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Today on episode 144, I’m talking to returning guest Elizabeth Dankoski of The Dream School Project.
For the past 15 years, Elizabeth has worked as a private college consultant, helping students get into incredible schools: Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Yale, Caltech, Dartmouth, and many, many others.
On today’s podcast, Elizabeth shares some of the biggest myths about the college admission process and teaches us ways to make ourselves more interesting and attractive to college admission officers.
For a link to my last conversation with Elizabeth Dankoski click on Episode 94 How a Perfect SAT Score Can Backfire on You
Elizabeth highly recommends this book How to Be A High School Superstar
Elizabeth’s college admissions myth: Grades and test scores are the only things you should focus on when applying to college
Elizabeth’s best college admissions essay? A great story is one that describes how you have grown and evolved.
How to become more interesting? Ask yourself what light’s you up! What are you curious about? And think about what problems in the world you notice and want to address.
Advice to teens: Focus on what light’s you up and tap into your unique gift to the world. We all have a gift!
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about How to Rise Above College Admissions Mania? Do you have any questions for Elizabeth Dankoski and Alexis Avila?
WATCH our interview here:
On episode 138, Alexis Avila talksto Ethan Sawyer, a nationally recognized college essay expert and sought-after speaker. Each year Ethan the Essay Guy helps thousands of students and counselors through his online courses, workshops, articles, products, and books, and works privately with a small number of students.
Raised in Spain, Ecuador, and Colombia, Ethan has studied at seventeen different schools and has worked as a teacher, curriculum writer, voice actor particularly for video games, motivational speaker, community organizer, and truck driver.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Ethan holds an MFA from UC Irvine and two counseling certificates. He lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, Veronica, and their amazing daughter, Zola. On Today’s episode, Ethan gives us tips on how to write more compelling answers to college application personal insight questions.
For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #130 NivedRavikumar, The College Statement Guru Gives His Best Essay Tips
Buy Ethan’s book on Amazon
Ethan’s college essay tips:
Don’t write a boring, general essay.
Do write an essay that showcases your unique skill and demonstrate how that skill has changed you.
What do college admissions officers really look for?
Ethan’s words of wisdom for teens: Focus on what you have to offer.
Don’t sleep on supplemental essays. They ARE important.
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about how to write compelling personal insight questions? Do you have any questions for Ethan Sawyer and Alexis Avila?
On episode 130, Alexis Avila talks writing tutor Nived Ravikumar, AKA the Statement Guru. Nived took a pretty unusual path to essay educator extraordinaire. Born and raised in Southern California, he became obsessed with movies at a young age. In high school, he became so preoccupied with writing screenplays that he went on to major in Film Studies from UCal Santa Barbara and obtain a Masters from Chapman University (M.F.A in Film Production). Today Nived uses his creative writing talents to help thousands of students all over the world learn to tell unique, engaging college admissions narratives. Nived’s admissions statement philosophy? Tell a great story! Involve readers! Get them to care! On today’s episode Nived will give you his best tips for writing amazing, unique college admissions essays.
Nived’s 4 tips for writing college essays: 1. Don’t cram everything in it. 2. Create a dynamic title to act as your anchor throughout 3. Do a force retype, instead of superficial edits 4. Focus on the “hero’s journey” so don’t be afraid to show your flaws and how you were able to persevere and learn from mistakes.
Nived’s no no’s for writing essays: Don’t be redundant and don’t play it so safe!
Nived’s advice for teens? It’s great to have an idea of your long term goals but don’t be afraid to change your mind while in college and explore other possibilities. Be adaptive!
For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #72 with Elly Swartz: How to start, write, and revise the college admissions essay
What was your biggest takeaway from this parenting podcast? Do you have any questions for Nived Ravikumar and Alexis Avila?
On episode 126, Alexis Avila talks toJessica Yeager, CEO & founder of Impress the Ivies. Jessica is a graduate of Harvard and MIT. As a senior in high school, she gained acceptance to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia. Her students have gotten into elite schools, like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.
WATCH our video here!
On Today’s episode Jessica gives us tips on how to craft an application that Harvard will want to see! Jessica’s take on why perfect scores sometimes get rejected? Colleges want to see that you spend hundreds of hours on something more impactful than just on test prep.
Jessica’s X factor for getting into Harvard? Showcase what makes you unique and don’t be a dabbler.
Jessica’s advice to students who get rejected from Harvard? It’s not the college you get into that is most important but rather it’s what you do with your degree that matters. Get involved and make an impact at the school you get into.
Jessica’s advice for teens: Surround yourself with positive people who make an impact in the world, that will help you step up your game!
For Prepped & Polished listeners only, you can access Jessica’s Ultimate Guide to the Commmon App!
Listen to our interview here!
What was your biggest takeaway from this parenting podcast? Do you have any questions for Jessica Yeager and Alexis Avila?
A lot of high school students applying for college want to rule out big colleges without really knowing them. Here are three big college myths to help you make a more informed decision when applying to college from Alexis Avila CEO of Prepped & Polished.
Three Myths about Big Colleges
Myth 1. Big Colleges don’t have small class sizes. Truth is, you can find all types of class sizes at big colleges. Class size really depends on what you’re majoring in and what year you’re in.
Myth 2. Big Colleges have an out of control party scene. Truth is, you’ll also find a lot of activities to do that are non-party related. It’s a big school and there is something for everyone!
Myth 3. You won’t meet anyone at a big College. Truth is, because there are so many students on campus you will find a wide diversity of students there. So it’s easy to find people you share things in common with because there are so many interested students coming to that school!
What was your biggest takeaway from this video about Three Myths about Big Colleges? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?
College is an expensive investment, so you not only want to take that campus tour, but also do these five things to make sure you find the best college for you!
Alexis Avila CEO of Prepped & Polished gave us some tips.
Five Things to Do on a College Visit
from Alexis Avila CEO of Prepped & Polished
Visit school when it is in session, bustling with kids.
Sleepover in the dorms. Hanging out with students overnight will tell you volumes about the day to day college scene.
Really taste the food! You’re going to spend the next two to four years eating at this dining hall, so make sure you like the cuisine!
Identify your academic interest and take a class in it. Was the class interesting? Were the students engaged?
Get to know other college students. Find out what’s REALLY happening at the school.
What was your biggest takeaway from these five things to do on a college visit? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?
Watch our video cast here!
On episode 108, Alexis talks to nationally known educator college coaching expert Sia Knight. Sia Knight’s story is one of triumph in the face of adversity and achievement against all odds. This former teacher, counselor and administrator has transcended humble beginnings to become an educational specialist in one of the largest school divisions in the country. On today’s episode Sia shares some key tips, that every college applicant should know, including:
Bonus tip: Set up a special email address just for college admissions
Sia on college admissions mania: “college admissions can be really sressfull but the smart thing to do is prepare early
Key Tip: Speak to your middle schooler about college and career. This will instill desire and motivation to want to get into college and do well in the future.
Key Advice: Pay attention! Pay attention to each lin on the scholarship application, pay attention to instructions, or you will get left behind!
Sia’s words of wisdom for teens: Get ready for college in a systematic, organized way. PLAN IT, DON’T PANIC!
Follow Sia on Twitter, Periscope, Facebook
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Sia Knight and Alexis Avila?
Check out the Four Things the SAT and ACT Test Creators Will Never Tell You. Alexis Avila, Founder of Prepped & Polished, Tutoring and Test Preparation told us more.
1. You can learn to beat the test. By practicing and learning test-taking strategies (such as back solving questions on the math section or answering reading questions as you read the passage), you won’t only improve your test score, but can ace the test.
I had a student who practiced SAT problems each day, got tutored, and took the test 5 times, and then after super scoring his results (combining his best sections from multiple sittings), he improved close to 500 points and got into Brown University.
2. The essay graders spend no more than several minutes reading and grading your essay. The SAT graders are trained to do a masterful job of glancing through hundreds of essays in a sitting. Therefore, it’s critical that you make a great first impression on the judges by taking care of the basics.
Qualities of a cosmetically appealing essay include:
Legible handwriting (not cramped, enough spacing between words)
No cross-outs (erase all mistakes)
3 to 5 indented paragraphs (introduction, 1 to 3 supporting paragraphs, conclusion)
The longer the better (minimum 1.5 pages. In general, scores decrease as the length decreases)
3.The SAT is probably a harder test than the ACT test.
For years, students have come to my office to take my Test Prep Selector Practice Test which is an ACT SAT Hybrid Test comparing your ACT score to your SAT, and find that the majority of students do better on their ACT sections than on SAT sections. Why is that? The ACT is a more straightforward, less trickily worded exam; with fewer answer choices, no guessing penalty, and best overlaps with the school curriculum.
The SAT, which is getting redesigned starting March 2016 is trying desperately to look more like the ACT. The SAT got rid of the guessing penalty, there are fewer answer choices, and made the essay optional, but still the SAT exam questions look harder than ACT questions! So when applying for colleges, consider taking the ACT.
4.The SAT and ACT tests will help you get into college but not predict how successful you will be in college and post-college.
A good SAT or ACT score may get you into a better college on paper. But it’s proven that an accurate predictor of success is not the college you go to but how you utilize your time while in college.
A recent Gallup poll surveyed nearly 30,000 college graduates last year and found the percentages of students, who were thriving in all aspects of their lives, did not vary whether the grads went to a public or private four-year college.
I have students who got descent test scores, didn’t get into a top college but are doing amazingly well. What is their secret? These students maximize their time while at college. They find great programs and professors to partner with, they take advantage of the many internships available to them, and make great social and professional connections.
Overall I know students who didn’t ace the SAT and they are now young adults running their own businesses, working in careers that suit their passions, and best of all these students are happy. Just don’t tell the SAT that!
What was your biggest takeaway from these ACT/SAT tips? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?
See our interview on Video here!
Alexis Avila talks host of The Prepped & Polished podcast talks to Elizabeth Dankoski
For the past 15 years, Elizabeth has worked as a private college consultant, helping students get into incredible schools: Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Yale, Caltech, Dartmouth, and many, many others. Elizabeth has a Bachelors from Wellesley College Magna Cum Laude. Elizabeth is founder of the Dream School Project, a powerful mentoring program created for high-achieving high school students who want to get into the school of their dreams. Elizabeth created The Dream School Project as an antidote to all of the anxiety and stress around the admissions process.
On today’s episode, Elizabeth gives her take on college admissions mania and based on her experience, what it REALLY takes to get into elite colleges.
Get the book “How to be a High School Superstar” by Cal Newport. If you want to get into top schools, you need to be INTERESTING
Elizabeth’s next enrollment into her mastermind group is early 2016. Spaces fill up quickly! Her mastermind helps kids find mentors and find opportunities to find interests and flourish.
Two college admissions myths:
Elizabeth’s Three Take home tips:
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Elizabeth Dankoski and Alexis Avila?