Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

College Acceptance Day for Ivy League Schools

Eric Barnes -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comToday at approximately 5:00 EST, each of the eight Ivy League schools will post acceptance notices for regular decision students. While students can still wait by their mailboxes to see if they receive a fat or thin envelope, most will go online today and hit “refresh” on their browser until the magic web page appears. We wish everyone the best of luck in the admissions process. Here’s a link to a discussion on College Confidential tracking the admission announcement dates of many colleges.

Sprint to the Finish!

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comWhether they realize or not, high school seniors are entering one of the most critical phases of the admission process. This is the time of the year when admission officers watch to see what students do when it would seem the spotlight is no longer on them. They want to see how students respond down the “stretch run” of the senior year.

Consider, then, the mile race. It is an apt metaphor for your high school experience. In order to complete the race, you need to make it around the track four times. Winning requires that you endure the grueling pace and still have what it takes to sprint when the race is on the line.

Let’s suppose, then, that your race has gone exceedingly well through the first three laps. You jumped out to an early lead and have maintained a strong pace. With only one lap to go, you are by yourself. You can’t even see the competition! This is a critical stage of the race because you begin to ask yourself, “Do I really need to work that hard in running the last lap? Should I save myself for the next race and spare the inevitable agony that otherwise comes with a sprint to the finish?”

The question you really need to ask yourself, though, is: “What have I won?” The answer is simple. “You haven’t won a thing!” You may have a “feel-good” feeling about where you are in the competition, but the race isn’t over. Moreover, changing your approach with a lap to go could prove costly as other runners are bound to be pushing hard to catch up.

The same is true of your high school experience in which each year is like a lap of the race. Each year was important academically as it prepared you to step up and meet the challenge of the year that followed. In all likelihood, your Junior Year really put you to the test as the work was harder and the expectations were greater. But you made it and that may have been cause for celebration in itself!

Having done well through your Junior Year may have left you feeling good about your prospects of graduating and getting into the colleges of your choice. Nonetheless, you need to ask yourself, “What have I accomplished? How many colleges have accepted me?”

The Senior Year is the all-important “last lap” of your high school experience. If your objective is to not only graduate but to get into colleges that can make choices among hundreds if not thousands of compelling candidates, you need to be attentive to how you are finishing the “race.” Even now, in mid-March of your Senior Year, the outcome of the race has yet to be determined. And, believe it or not, admission officers at selective institutions are waiting and watching to see who among the competitive applicants will sprint–or stumble–when the race is on the line.

So, stay focused academically. Continue to get the most out of your high school experience–even when it would seem that doing nothing is a viable option. In doing so, you give admission officers every reason to be excited about you as you sprint to the finish!

For more advice from Peter Van Buskirk on college planning, visit TheAdmissionGame.com.

Anti-SAT Protest at UC Berkeley

Karl Schellscheidt -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comAccording to an article that appeared on the website of The Daily Californian, a group of protesters marched through campus demanding the elimination of the SAT as factor in UC Berkeley’s admission process. The protesters claim that the test discrimiates against minority students, making it more difficult for them to compete for admission spots.

Whether the SAT really does discriminate against minority and/or low-income students, I am not sure. (I hope it doesn’t.)
Whether the SAT really does add nothing to the admission process at UC Berkeley, again, I am not sure.

There are, however, a few things of which I am certain:

1. The SAT does test mastery of subject areas (math, reading, and writing) that are critical for success in college and life beyond;
2. Success on the SAT requires the kind of problem solving and critical thinking skills that are generally rewarded in the real world; and
3. Public dialogue in generally a good thing. (That’s why I decided to share the article.)

The Admission Game

Karl Schellscheidt -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comOn the evening of March 11, 2008, I had the opportunity to attend “The Admission Game” lecture by Peter Van Buskirk in a local high school auditorium. I attended for both professional (ePrep) and personal (I have three children) reasons.

In short, Peter did a great job. He essentially created an interactive environment that allowed all participants to experience the admission process from the college or university’s point of view. The experience was truly enjoyable and eye-opening.

Visit The Admission Game for a list of Peter’s upcoming events. I highly recommend “The Admission Game” program. It is both informative and engaging.

Easy Courses vs. Hard Courses

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comA question that seems to circulate among high school Juniors at this time of year as they make course selections for the Senior Year sounds something like this: “Is it better for me to take a course in which I know I can get an ‘A’ or should I take a harder course and risk getting a lower grade?” And the answer is: “Take the harder course and do as well as you can–why not shoot for the ‘A’?!”

There are two perspectives to consider here. One revolves around the college admission process and what colleges want to see from you academically. Generally speaking, the harder it is to get into a college the greater is the likelihood that its admission officers will be checking to see if you are continuing to stretch yourself academically. Because they are choosing from among thousands of well-qualified candidates, they can afford to use the strength of an academic program as a competitive credential or “filter” in deciding whom to admit.

Here’s another way to think about it. If highly selective colleges know that they are setting the competitive “bar” at a certain level in their own classrooms, they will be looking at your record to find evidence that you can meet that “bar.” What confidence do you give them in your ability to do so when you have chosen to compete at a comfortably lower level in high school?

That doesn’t mean you should register for every high level course you can get in order to compete for admission. Rather, you need to know your capacity to tackle challenges and make a conscious effort to move to the next logical level of rigor for you in each academic discipline. Don’t over-reach your capacity! The key, then, will be to focus on colleges that will value you for your experience in those courses.

The second and often overlooked perspective on selecting courses has to do with your ability to prepare yourself for the next level of rigor in college. Wherever you go to college, you are likely to find academic expectations that exceed any you encountered in high school. If you have continued to step up academically through each year of high school, the step into the college classroom will be one for which you are prepared. On the other hand, if the academic challenge you give yourself in your Senior Year of high school is not that different from the one you experienced as a Junior, then the step up to college will be much more awkward if not painful.

The bottom line with regard to course selections–and your eventual college selections–is this: Do what makes sense for you. Take stock of where you are on your learning path, set your college sites reasonably and build a strong foundation through your coursework in high school that will propel you into a successful experience in college.

For more advice from Peter Van Buskirk on college planning, visit TheAdmissionGame.com.

New Dean of Admissions for UPenn

Karl Schellscheidt -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comThe University of Pennsylvania recently announced that Eric J. Furda will serve as the school’s undergraduate dean of admissions starting July 1, 2008. Mr. Furday is a graduate of both the University of Pennsylvania (BA, International Studies) and Teachers College at Columbia University (MA, Education). For more on Mr. Furda click here.

Writing Section - Mixed Messages

Karl Schellscheidt -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comI read an article from The Buffalo News this morning about the mixed messages that high school students are receiving about the SAT writing section:

Writing is important (my English teacher says so, and it is, after all, now part of the SAT), BUT

many colleges are not considering the SAT essay in the admissions process.

The very end of the article suggests that, despite the mixed messages, preparing for the SAT can be a positive experience, generally, and that preparing for the writing section, specifically, can help students improve their writing. I agree 100%. In fact, my own writing skills have improved since I began tutoring students for the “new” writing section a few years ago. (I admit my writing is not perfect, but it probably never will be!)

On a somewhat related point, I find it interesting that within the American school system, writing instructors stress clarity and brevity, yet most of what students are forced to read in their English classes is convoluted and difficult to understand. Talk about mixed messages.

Application Advice from Colby College

admin -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comColby College’s website posted some sound advice regarding their application package. Here is an excerpt of the article Behind the Decision — What Not To Write.

    1. Respect the word/character limits for the written responses. We have a lot to read and while we’re truly interested in your ideas, please stick to the prescribed space.

    2. Be yourself. Don’t try to write what you think we want to read. The essay is our way of seeing your personality; we’re interested in who you actually are, as opposed to who you think we want you to be. (more…)

College Admissions Swimming Proficiency Requirement

Michelle Hartwell -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comI came across this article and found it intriguing… I’d never heard of the swimming requirement as my school – San Diego State University – did not have this requirement. Imagine having to show that you can swim in order to graduate? I wondered why such a requirement was ever even implemented. (more…)

Weird and Wacky Scholarships

Michelle Hartwell -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.com Researching scholarships? Here are a handful of peculiar scholarships that have little to do with academics. Who knows? If you happen to satisfy their offbeat requirements, you may find yourself with some extra cash for college!



Milk Mustaches
Can you manage to make a mean milk mustache? If you’re adept at making milk stick to your upper lip, AND you have a pretty good athletic and academic record, the America’s Milk Processors Board may want to award you with a $7500.00 Scholarship!
Click here for more information.

Attention All Knitters (more…)

« Previous PageNext Page »