Archive for the ‘College Admissions Tips’ Category

4 Things the SAT and ACT Test Creators Will Never Tell You

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:

Neatness:
Legible handwriting (not cramped, enough spacing between words)

No cross-outs (erase all mistakes)

Structure:
3 to 5 indented paragraphs (introduction, 1 to 3 supporting paragraphs, conclusion)

Length:
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!

4 Things the SAT and ACT Test Creators Will Never Tell You

What was your biggest takeaway from these ACT/SAT tips? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?

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SAT Prep

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January 18th, 2016
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ACT, College Admissions Tips, College and Career, Featured, SAT, Television, Test Prep, test preparation, Tutoring
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Episode 94: Elizabeth Dankoski, How a Perfect SAT Score Can Backfire on You

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.

Takeaways:

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:

  1. Your grades don’t have to be perfect. If you spend too much time on perfection you don’t have time to distinguish yourself.
  2. Just because an elite college is a top 20 in the US News Rankings, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right FIT school for you.

Elizabeth’s Three Take home tips:

  1. Ask yourself what do you love to do and how can I make an impact
  2. Find a mentor (seek an older person who can help you think BIGGER)
  3. Go out there and DO what interests you

Episode 94: Elizabeth Dankoski, How a Perfect SAT Score Can Backfire on You

For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.

Please rate, review and subscribe to the show on iTunes!

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Elizabeth Dankoski and Alexis Avila?

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September 10th, 2015
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Episode 89: Five Things to do on a College Visit

On episode #89, Alexis Avila talks about five things to do on a college visit

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished discusses five things to do on a college visit.
Tip 1. Visit the college either in the Fall or Spring.
Tip 2. Spend the night in a Dormitory.
Tip 3. Eat a meal at the dining facility.
Tip 4. Take a Class in your academic area of interest.
Tip 5. Engage with other college students.

 

Episode 89: Five Things to do on a College Visit

For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.

Please rate, review and subscribe to the show on iTunes!

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about things to do in a college visit? Do you have any questions for and Alexis Avila?

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August 19th, 2015
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College Admissions Tips, College Living Tips, Featured, Podcast
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Episode 87: Why is the ACT Test Important?

On this tutoring tips episode, Alexis Avila talks about why the ACT is an important college admissions test.

Episode 87: Why is the ACT Test Important?

For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.

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What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about the ACT test? Do you have any questions for Alexis Avila?

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August 11th, 2015
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Episode 72, Elly Swartz, How to start, write and revise the college admissions essay

Alexis talks to the Essay Adviser and author Elly Swartz. Elly is an experienced writer and author of dozens of articles for both The Journal of Legal Ethics at Georgetown University and for Teen Life Media, and has over a decade of experience helping hundreds of students gain acceptance to America’s best colleges, grad schools, and independent secondary schools. Elly received her B.A. with honors from Boston University and J.D. with honors from Georgetown University. Elly’s company The Essay Adviser helps students with the school application process, particularly focusing on the application essay. From brainstorming to editing to hitting send, Elly Swartz offers a custom-designed, personalized approach that best ensures your son or daughter will get into a top-tier school. On today’s episode, Elly talks gives you key tips on how to start, write, and revise a fantastic college admissions essay.

 

8 Takeaways from this podcast are:

  1. You don’t need to write a grand story, but it’s the slivers of moments that are most impactful.
  2. Get ideas flowing by looking at old photo albums.
  3. Don’t worry about word limit when you write your first draft, just write.
  4. On college visits, snap pictures, and take notes so you can write a better and more specific supplemental essay.
  5. When revising your essay, read your essay out loud and make sure you answered the question correctly.
  6. Revise for spelling mistakes and make sure you don’t misspell the school name!
  7. Write what is important to you, not what you think the admissions officers want to read.
  8. Don’t wait to get started. Use the summer to start writing!

 

 
ep 72 elly swartz

For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.

What was your biggest takeaway from this article? Do you have any questions for Elly Swartz and Alexis Avila?

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June 19th, 2015
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Episode 66: Frank Bruni, An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

On episode 66 of The Prepped & Polished Podcast Alexis talks to American journalist and New York Times Best Selling Author Frank Bruni. Frank is author of “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania”. Frank was chief restaurant critic of the New York Times, from 2004 to 2009. He is the author of two bestselling books, Born Round, a memoir about his family’s love of food and his own struggles with overeating, and Ambling Into History, about George W. Bush. In June 2011, he was named an Op-Ed columnist for the newspaper. Frank received his undergrad from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Masters degree in journalistm from Columbia. On today’s episode, Frank talks about college admissions mania, the anxious parents of college bound students, and why top tier schools are rejecting even straight A students.
Frank’s advice for college-bound teens, “Remember a college education if it’s part of a life plan that you can execute is an extraordinary opportunity and adventure regardless of what that colleges acceptance rate is and there is a bevy of colleges that can give you an extraordinary education”

For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.

Please rate, review and subscribe to the show on iTunes!

ep 66 Frank bruni

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Frank Bruni and Alexis Avila?

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May 21st, 2015
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Podcast Episode 48 With Kelly Queijo, Helping You Make Smart College Visits

Helping You Make Smart College Visits: Kelly Queijo

The Prepped and Polished Podcast is an educational and inspirational show that offers tutoring and test prep tips as well as interviews with celebrities and leaders in education. It is hosted by Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished LLC, a tutoring and test prep firm for K-college.

On today’s show, Alexis is joined by Kelly Queijo founder of Smart College Visit, a resource to help coordinate and plan the multiple college visits during the college bound journey.

Kelly talks about company, and gives us her best tips for what makes a smart college visit vs. a not so smart college visit. She also discusses Campus Chat, her weekly Twitter Chat that takes place every Wednesday at 9:00PM EST. Each week, there is a new topic related to all things college.

For more Information on the Twitter chat, simply search #CampusChat on Twitter at 9:00PM on Wednesday’s and you can engage in the helpful college bound information.

Also, more information on Kelly’s company, Smart College Visit can be found on the web: www.smartcollegevist.com.

Enjoy, Thanks for Listening and remember at The Prepped and Polished Podcast, We Empower You to Take Control of Your Education!

Helping You Make Smart College Visits: Kelly Queijo

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Kelly Queijo?

Post your valuable tips or comments below:

 

 

 

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February 10th, 2015
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How to Have a Positive, Relaxing College Admissions Interview that Works to Your Advantage

College Admissions Interview Tips

Achieve Coach Marla Platt By Marla Platt, P&P Special Guest Blogger

College interviews can provide you the opportunity to add extra dimension to your application. If the whole prospect of a face-to-face meeting gives you the jitters, relax! In contrast to many an applicant’s worst fears, the interviewer is unlikely to try to trip you up or ask you questions out of left field. Instead, the interviewer’s main purpose is to learn more about you than what is revealed through grades, recommendations, test scores and essays. Give yourself the advantage: Prepare your thoughts ahead of time, and bring along enthusiasm as well as an active curiosity about the school you are applying to.

The following tips are sure to help set you off on the right foot:

When possible, interview with your “likely” schools first in order to buff up your skills and comfort level before meeting up with your target or stretch choices.

Dress for success, which means arrive neatly dressed and comfortable. No need for suit and tie or pearls, but avoid sloppy tee shirts, jeans and flip flops.

Be punctual. Arrive early to campus to ensure parking and locating the assigned building. Time for a short walk around campus before your meeting can help to relax you. If you have a phone or Skype meeting call in at the exact time, preferably on a landline for the best sound quality and make sure there is no distracting background noise.

Tutoring and Test Preparation

Learn your interviewer’s name and become familiar with it. At in-person meetings, ask for a business card and refer to it when you write your follow-up “thank you” note. Be sure to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time as well as enthusiasm for the school.

Express why the school is attractive for you. Be able to do the same with regard to the program of studies you are applying to, tying into your involvements and accomplishments in high school. Bringing along a resume may be helpful but is usually not necessary.

Provide a picture of how the school can benefit by having you as a citizen of the community. Schools are interested in attracting a population of students who will enhance one another’s experience, so come ready to talk about what interests you to demonstrate how you may add to academic and campus life.

Be honest about your strengths as well as areas of challenge. What inspires you? What excites you? What do you need to succeed? If someone were to ask you how you have dealt with your challenges, what would you say?

Prepare a few questions covering things you want to know about the school or program, but always ask beyond the basics covered in the school viewbook or website.

Familiarize yourself a bit about extracurricular offerings on or off campus and be able to talk about these.

Be ready to talk about yourself through the eyes of others. What would your teachers say about you? What about your friends or parents?

Don’t expect any interview, whether one-on-one or a group format, to be a passive experience. Come ready to express yourself and ask questions! The goal of a successful interview, like the goal of a good education, is all about sharing and learning.

Marla Platt is a college consultant and academic coach through AchieveCoach College Consulting located in Sudbury, MA. Marla guides students and families throughout the college search and application process. She is also a long-standing alumni interviewer on behalf of Cornell University and is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.

Which of these interview tips do you find most helpful? Any questions for Marla?

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September 3rd, 2014
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Five Theater Program College Application Essay Tips

Essay Expert for College Theater Programs gives College Application Essay Tips By Rosie Colosi, Essay Expert, Prepped & Polished, LLC

You brush past the curtain as you walk onstage, the floorboards creaking as your nervous feet propel you forward. You feel the heat of the spotlight as it hits your face. Your throat dries and your palms sweat as you prepare to sing. You open your mouth and…and…

If you are applying to a theater program, this scenario probably strikes excitement instead of fear in your heart. You yearn for a life upon the wicked stage and desperately hope to gain admission to a top-notch program that will equip you for a successful career in NY or LA.
But before you see your name in lights, you need to see your name on an acceptance letter.

You must go through the regular college application process, score well on your tests, and complete a performance audition. And of course, you must write an essay convincing the admissions committee that you are the next Kristin Chenoweth or Norbert Leo Butz.

Hate writing? No problem! Here’s the pot of gold at the end of Finian’s rainbow: The audition skills you have acquired on your theatrical journey will help you in your essay writing process. Read on…

1. Pick the right song
If you’re an alto, you wouldn’t sing “My White Knight” from Music Man for an audition. If you’re a tall leading man, you wouldn’t sing “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singin’ in the Rain. You would choose a song that suits your voice, personality, and appearance. Do the same thing with your essay. Pick a topic that is important to you, that means something, that tells the reader who you are. You know how voice coaches are always telling you to “sing what you love”? Well, write what you love. It’s that simple.

2. Practice, practice, practice
You would never audition for a lead in the play after listening to your audition song once, right? You’d listen to the song, find the sheet music, sing it in your room, and maybe even rehearse in front of a coach or friend. Incorporate those good habits into your writing process. Don’t submit an essay you typed in a hurry one afternoon. Allow ample time to write, revise, edit, adjust…then share with a writing coach, a trusted friend, or a supportive teacher. Outside perspectives will help perfect your ideas.

3. Hit all the right notes
It’s every performer’s worst nightmare: prepping to sing a glorious, operatic high note…but a clunker comes out of your mouth instead. To prevent that, we aim to sing right in the center of the note, we set specific breathing patterns, count note values—and all of that’s even before we add emotion. Similarly, the mechanics of grammar, spelling, and sentence structure must be on point in your essay. Misspelling a word in your first sentence can be as detrimental as singing that clunker, so do your homework on your writing mechanics—don’t just rely on spell check.

4. Be confident
You might shout to the rooftops that you’re best singer that ever lived. Or you might downplay your talent to strangers. Find some middle ground between these two extremes. Your essay should tell your dream college that you’re pretty awesome, but bragging will rub the panel the wrong way. It’s a fine, fine line between Kate Monster and Lucy T. Slut (I’m not being crude; it’s an Avenue Q reference!), so balance confidence with humility.

5. Keep breathing
You can’t sing unless you breathe. And you certainly can’t write unless you breathe. The college application process can get hugely stressful and overwhelming, but hyperventilating never helped anyone. A little dose of butterflies in your stomach can be a good thing for performers, and you may get similarly excited and scared about college, but channel that energy into your work. Do a few breathing exercises from your voice lessons before you sit down to write. Seriously. Some extra lip trills never hurt anyone…and they might even help you write your way into Carnegie Mellon.

Rosie Colosi, college essay expert and creator of Write With Rosie, earned an M.A. in English Lit from Boston College and a B.A. in English Lit from SUNY Geneseo. She has written 12 nonfiction books for Scholastic Inc., and she has performed on stages from Alaska to Athens. Most recently, she played Mrs. Claus in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes in New York City.

Are you applying to theater schools? How is your theater program essay coming along?

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September 10th, 2013
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An Actual Thank You Note’s Worth a Thousand Thank You’s

Writing TutorBy Meagan Phelan, Writing Tutoring Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

Your parents taught you to say thank you—and perhaps even to write thank you notes, but in an age when we whip off emails, texts, and tweets at lightning pace and everything seems instant, how important is it to put pen to paper to express gratitude?

Well… Cicero would say, very. He claimed that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Accordingly, overlooking an opportunity to fully express it to someone who has helped you or given you a gift seems equivalent to forgoing an important discussion with that person. Put a bit more harshly, it’s like saying, “I don’t care about my reputation.”

Tutoring and Test Preparation

When you receive assistance from a teacher on a special project, or time from a college admissions counselor during your first campus visit, or a gift from an uncle, you should be thinking about thanking these individuals with a note. Now, you may wonder why I’m writing about thank you notes on a page geared toward high school students contemplating strategies for academic success. I’ll tell you.

First, as previously discussed, thank you notes reflect your character; you’re someone who is cognizant of the sacrifices of time or money others make on your behalf. And character so-shaped is something colleges and employers actively seek. (Think about it: after a while, even the most competitive resumes begin to melt together, but the integrity with which the executive who interviewed you recalls you stands out). Along those lines, the pause you give when writing a sincere note—particularly for something intangible, like inspiration throughout a difficult project—provides space for you to actively consider the role those around you have had in your successes. In other words, it fosters humility, a character trait in leaders who truly garner the respect of those they lead.

Writing thank you notes also gives you practice communicating; even in this digital age of speedy chatter, the written word is important—an extension of your ability to critically think. If you cannot communicate well, your appeal will be limited. It’s one thing to tell the business executive who interviewed “thanks a lot;” it’s another thing entirely to communicate to him that you will apply the advice he gave on getting experience in a particular field, or studying a particular skill—and that in the future you’d be honored to work for him. (Aside: when writing to teachers or employers, keep it brief and professional. You can wax poetic to family and friends.)

Thank you notes are also important because, when it comes down to it, people like being appreciated. You give the gift of acknowledgement through your note, nurturing your relationship with that individual. (In this way, it’s a bit like networking).

Finally, expressing gratitude will also make you happy; it’s a little “time out” you take to recognize what you have, what you’ve learned, or to what lengths another individual has gone to help you succeed. Even when you are striving for goals you’ve not yet attained, it’s important to take time to consider how you’ve been helped in the process so far. It will make your more thoughtful (and even happy) as you pursue additional assistance. And you’d be amazed how much a cheerful persona eases interactions!

After having written your thank you note, you’re not done (exactly). John F Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” In other words, take what you write to heart (just as you hope the recipient will)—and try to live up to it! (If you thank your tennis coach for extra time spent the past few weeks helping you on your serve after practice, be sure to recall the lessons she gave you every time you step up to the line to launch that ace. Show her you’ve truly absorbed the teaching.)

I may not do everything my parents taught me (I really should dust my apartment sometime [for the first time]), but I rarely neglect writing a thank you note.

Meagan Phelan holds an M.A. in Science Writing from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and a B.A. in Biology from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. She has freelanced as a science writer and is a Fulbright Scholar. She currently works as a Senior Writer and Editor at AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe risk modeling firm based in Boston.

Do you send thank-you notes after college visits? When is the last time you’ve written a thank-you note?

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September 29th, 2012
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