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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)

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.

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

ePrep

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…)

FAFSA on the Web

Michelle Hartwell

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comThe Department of Education is reformatting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be a bit more user friendly. The application in its original state was a complicated and lengthy form, and though it still requires a lot of information to be entered, the form is at least now easier to understand. (more…)

How to Ruin Your College Application

Michelle Hartwell

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comJay Mathews from the Washington Post recently wrote an amusing article on what not to do in your college application.

The article Ten Stupid Ways to Ruin Your College Application cites how tasteless Myspace and Facebook profiles, inappropriate email addresses and sarcasm during interviews could ruin your chances at getting into the college of your choice.

Click here to jump to the article.

Enjoy!

Taking the PSAT Enters You into a Scholarship Competition

Michelle Hartwell

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comJust a little FYI here. The actual name of the PSAT is PSAT/NMSQT – The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. When you take the PSAT in your junior year of high school, you are also entered into the running for a scholarship (more…)

College Fairs

Michelle Hartwell

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comAs a high school student, it’s probably safe to say that you will spend a great deal of time thinking about and finding the right college to attend. This can be a simple task, as maybe you already have a school in mind. But what if (more…)

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