College Admissions

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Breaking down the common app personal statement
The common app personal essay can seem like a daunting task to tackle. Not only that, misconceptions abound about how to write this "all-important" essay and what to put in it. Not to worry - Cambridge Coaching is here to dispel these common misconceptions and give you some tools to start your writing on the right foot!
An international student’s guide to US college applications
International students (who typically require an F-1 visa to study in the United States) account for an increasing percentage of matriculated undergraduate and graduate students each year. I was an international undergraduate student myself, and I remember that the process of applying to colleges in the US seemed so intimidating and overwhelming ...
What to do over the summer as a rising senior in high school
Happy summer, rising seniors! I hope you are taking some time to enjoy yourselves. I'm here to tell you that you do not need to work on your college applications each day to have a successful college process. This is a great time to continue the slow and steady work you have already begun, but it is also important that you find time to rest and ...
What is demonstrated interest? How do I show it? Why should I care?
Colleges increasingly rely on calculations of a student’s “demonstrated interest” (or "DI") to make decisions about admission and offers for various merit scholarships. It is important that students and families have a true understanding of DI to see how it can support an application.
How to get to know a college when COVID means you can’t visit
As COVID was canceling proms and making graduations “drive-through” last spring, it was also causing a major shift in how colleges and admissions offices were introducing themselves to students and families. Students and families began to wonder, “How can I get to know if X College is right for me if I can’t visit and see it for myself?” Just ...
Making your personal statement stand out in just the first two lines
A personal statement is the best (and sometimes only) chance you have to make your application jump off the page. Even if you have outstanding test scores, those scores alone do not guarantee you admission. Which brings us to the personal statement, your chance to show your readers how engaging you are, how you are a future leader in your field, ...
How to choose the right college essay topic
Choosing the right topic for your college application essay can feel daunting. How are you supposed to make yourself stand out from the crowd? What are you supposed to do if you’re just “normal”? How can you say anything meaningful about yourself in only 650 words?
How to “find your voice”
You will often hear writers talk about “finding their voice.” It sounds like a simple task, but honing one’s voice can take years of practice, study, and trial and error. When you are putting together your applications for college or graduate school, you are likely facing a fast-approaching deadline—so time is a luxury you don’t have.
5 tips for authentic interviewing
There’s something comical about reading articles that coach you on how to be yourself. If you Google “authentic interview tips,” you’ll find articles titled “How to Sound Authentic” and “How to Be Yourself,” which evoke truisms like Oscar Wilde’s “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” and Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true.” But what ...
The best way to approach your college application essay
Few high school assignments are more difficult than the college application essay, especially given the immense amount of stress and pressure surrounding it. Here’s a secret about writing and stress: creativity requires freedom, and freedom requires security. Pressure makes it hard to create something great. So, the very nature of the college ...
How to approach your personal statement
No genre of writing is simultaneously as fun to read and as taxing to write as is the personal statement. I say that the personal statement is fun to read because a good one gives the reader a sense that he or she has really met and come to know someone else, even (and perhaps especially) a complete stranger. I say that the personal statement is ...
Authentic and vulnerable reflection in your college personal statement
The personal statement is one of the most important factors in your application. But in the end, it’s your story. Here’s the secret: it doesn’t matter what you write about; what matters is how you write it. If you write astutely and creatively, and if the story is yours, your essay will be unique and unforgettable.
Top 5 pitfalls to avoid when writing the supplemental “Why College X?” essay
Many colleges require students to write school-specific supplemental essays. These are usually some variation of what I call the “Why Us?” prompt. For instance, Yale asks, “What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?” and Columbia requires 300 words on, “Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.”
Letter of recommendation: 2 great books to help you in your college search
Thank you for checking in to the final post in my 3-part series on resources for creating your college list! So far, I have written about my top podcast and website suggestions that can help you on your college search . If this is your first time coming across my blog, you may want to go back and read up on those suggestions, as each resource is ...
Letter of recommendation: best websites for college research
Welcome back! If you are keeping up with my series on finding your perfect college fit, you’ll remember that my last post covered my favorite podcasts on this topic. If you are just now tuning in, I highly recommend that you check out the previous post, especially if you are app savvy. The podcasts I mentioned are great for the whole family to ...
Letter of recommendation: two podcasts to help you find your best fit college
Following up on my previous post, I'm going to post a 3-part series on what resources you can use to help find your perfect college fit. Are you ready? Get excited. And, if you are not excited, go back to my first post and remind yourself to stop stressing and breathe. Go back in time and remember when you were a tiny human, eyeballing the toys at ...
How to Pick a College for the First (or Second) Time: Advice on Selecting a School for First-Time Applicants or Transfers
Well-meaning parents and older friends will probably tell you that college will be “the time of your life.” “You will find your people,” they might say. As a rising high school senior, I found this exciting and disconcerting: Would my peak be in college? And, how would I find my people anyway? I remember feeling both thrilled to graduate high ...
Summer is the time to start your college application process
In between junior and senior year? Here’s what you need to focus on. Junior year of high school can be very demanding. Not only are your grades and GPA incredibly important to the college admissions process, but you’re also balancing AP classes, SAT and ACT tests, extracurriculars, a social life, and (for many) part-time jobs. It’s a lot. So ...
How to build a smart, non-crazy-making college list
The college application process can seem totally daunting. No surprises there. The standardized test date that looms in the distance as you study into the nights, combing the recesses of your mind trying to remember the difference between a conjunctive adverb and a subordinating conjunction from that one grammar lecture in third grade. The deep ...
Cracking the College Admissions Process, Part II: Stats, Scores, and Paperwork, Oh My!
Tackling the College Application Beast You already know that applying to college involves a bunch of moving parts, and it can be a scary process to undertake (let alone hit “submit” on!). To make it feel a bit more attainable, let’s go through it piece by piece. In this post I’ll provide an overview of decision timelines, the logistics of ...
Cracking the College Admissions Process, Part I: The Search and the Setup
Everyone and their mother seems to have advice about college… ...but well-meaning uncles and even teachers sometimes forget how much work it is to apply to college. People talk about how exciting it is and how you’ll be taking the next step towards your future, but they don’t always mention that the process is stressful, too. Not only do you have ...
College Interviews: Dos, Don'ts, and Common Questions
Remember that the college interview is as much an opportunity for the school to learn about you as if is for you to learn about the school.  There is no right answer during an interview (it should be thought of more as a conversation); though there are some helpful things to remember when you step into your first interview.
Writing a thesis and topic sentences in your personal statement
Every applicant who needs to write a personal statement for their high school, college, or graduate admissions struggles with structuring their personal statement.  It is hard enough to muster the courage to brainstorm your most salient life experiences on paper; now, the most important part is structuring your personal statement with your thesis ...
To Write a Memorable College Essay, Tell a Story
Essays Without Concrete Information Are Quickly Forgotten As I regularly tell students in my AP English classes, essays full of generalizations aren’t worth the paper they are written on.  An essay that fails to include concrete examples of the concept under discussion is forgotten the moment the reader reaches the end—if, indeed, the reader gets ...
What should I write about? 3 rules to follow when coming up with a college essay topic
In this blog post, our college coach Zuzanna reviews tips for tackling your college essay. For a good college essay topic, you don’t have to think big! There are so many misconceptions about the college essay floating around – especially among international students. To tackle them all would require writing a book. But the one I encounter most ...
College Admissions: what to talk about in your alumni interview
In my last post, I laid out four reasons why you should schedule that “optional” alumni interview advertised on universities’ pages for prospective students. In today’s post, I’ll describe how to hold a conversation that is valuable for you, and for your alumni interviewer, as they draft their report for the admissions committee.
Have You Finished Your College Application Essay? (Part Two)
If you’ve already read Part One of this post, you’ll have ensured that your college application essay has a consistent main point, that its ideas flow in a logical order, and that it represents your own writerly voice. In Part Two, we’ll address more local concerns: although the questions below might seem limited to “smaller” editing or ...
Have You Finished Your College Application Essay? (Part One)
One of the toughest parts of applying to college is actually hitting that “Submit” button at the end of the application and sending it off to admissions readers. Even if you want to be done, application nerves can make it difficult to commit to being done. In this two-part post, I’ll give you a list of things to look for in your college ...
College Admissions: How to Select and Contact your Recommenders
In the olden days of college applications, high school seniors would haul stacks of addressed, stamped envelopes to each of their recommenders, so that those recommenders could send a different hard-copy recommendation letter to every school the student was applying to. So much work! In some ways, submitting recommendation letters for college ...
Where Else Could you Go to College? Your Top Four Choices Beyond the Ivies
When high school juniors and seniors are putting their lists of schools together for college applications, they sometimes run into a paradox: on the one hand, there are so many colleges and universities they could apply to. On the other hand, everyone seems to be talking about just eight of them—the Ivy League (or maybe a few more if they’re ...
How to Address Weak Areas of your College Application
Although it may feel like you have to have the perfect application to get into college, with acceptance rates at one top-tier school dropping below five percent, there is no perfect formula for being accepted to college. Your goal instead should be to present any “problem areas”—a dip in your GPA, lower test scores than you wanted, or other high ...
4 Key Tricks for Brainstorming Your College List
If you’re a rising high school senior looking toward college application season, one of your most important first steps is putting together a list of colleges you want to apply to. This list will help you plan college visits and make a schedule of application deadlines; it’s also an important time to check in about which schools’ admissions ...
A Quick Review Of Early Decision Schools And How To Plan For Them
Many sophomores and juniors—along with their parents—are thinking about college right now.  Though so many have whittled down a balanced list of schools, many applicants and their families have difficulty deciding when to apply.
Your College Admissions Timeline
Looking ahead to the college application process, it is imperative to have a roadmap to follow.  The most successful applicants begin to plan for their college application during the sophomore year of high school. By beginning to plan for the college admissions process early, applicants can better position themselves and significantly reduce the ...
Tips to Rock the College Admissions Interview
source: Randy Glasbergen You’ve picked the college, started to submit materials, and began writing draft #239 of your personal statement. Then you get the invitation to interview. Having now been on both sides of the table, I can say that being the interviewee can be really stressful, and I sympathize with you. Here are a few tips for rocking it:
Ask an Expert: Do Colleges Consider Campus Visits in their Admissions Decision?
In this blog post, we ask four of our New York and Cambridge college admissions coaches a simple question. Based off of their expertise in coaching prospective applicants, four of our coaches weigh in on the discussion.
How to Use Your ACT Scores to Bucket Your College List
Yes, you can apply to 50+ schools and every year, there are students that do. However, if you build a strong college list there is no need to exhaust yourself by applying to too many schools. I always recommend students prepare a list of nine to twelve schools. Personally, I think nine is plenty but I understand the security that comes with ...
How To Tackle Common App Essays
 Stephen King at his desk, writing away!  While the Common App has streamlined the college application process significantly, the fact that the essays go to the majority of schools you are applying to gives them that much more importance. You don’t get another chance to refine an essay or make it better for another school, so your essays need to ...
Tackling the “Why Do You Want to Apply to This College” Admissions Essay
The Common App has taken a huge amount of work off of your shoulders. Gone are the days of separate, specific essay questions and endlessly different applications. But, that also means that any opportunity to get more in-depth, specialized knowledge about your interests is going to be very valuable for admissions teams. It makes the “Why Do You ...
What essays should I read to help me write a personal statement?
Who said writing your personal statement had to be boring? When you’re writing your personal statement, you want to write in your own voice as honestly and clearly as possible. Of course you want to write a personal statement that will stand out from the pack, but you don’t want it to stand out for the wrong reasons: you still need to follow the ...
What Books Should I Read To Help Me Write my College Personal Statement?
You don't have to feel this way when writing your personal statement!  What is a personal essay? What does a college personal statement sound like? You’ve looked at tons of sample personal statements, but none of them are particularly inspiring. How do you find your voice as a writer?
Break Through Writer’s Block! Tips for Your College Admissions Essay
Not sure how to go about writing your college adissions essay?  Fear not!  We've all been there. The college admissions essay is daunting. The possibility of writing about anything, and with the essay being such a central part of your application, can reduce even the most confident writer to a procrastinator of distinction. Regardless of the ...
Choosing Colleges to Apply to: The Perfect List Is Not What You'd Expect
Follow our tips and you're sure to learn something about yourself! When my brother and I were choosing colleges to apply to, we were similar candidates in many ways––comparable test scores, grades, and extracurriculars––but our college lists were starting to look very different. My brother’s schools skewed towards the larger end: he wanted a large ...
Planning College Visits (Part 3 - On Campus Checklist)
Fingers crossed for good weather. [Image source: Columbia University, where Andrew spends most of his time]  This post is part of a 3 part series. Check out Part 1 on Getting Started, and Part 2 on Traveling Efficently.  Once you’re finally on campus for the visit and information session, you may feel like the battle has already been won.  I see ...
How to Plan Your College Visits: Getting Started
Rory from Gilmore Girls visits Yale. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have a grandpa alumni. For all rising juniors and seniors, this is the season to take the first step in the college application process – planning your college visits. Remember, this is your first opportunity to examine a range of colleges and their first chance to get a look ...
What Should I Write My College Essay About?
Yes, let’s. I’ve met all kinds of students over my years as a college essay tutor in NYC, but there has been one thing that almost all of them had in common: the hardest part of writing their college admissions essay was picking a topic. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Staring at a blinking cursor wondering how on earth you should represent ...
Admissions: 5 Things to Know About Getting Into Oxford and Cambridge
Watch the Jeremy Irons Brideshead Revisited and tell us you don’t want to go to Oxford. Oxford and Cambridge (affectionately known to many as “Oxbridge”) are amongst the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Hundreds of leading figures from virtually every sector of society have passed through the Ivory towers of Oxford and Cambridge, ...
College Admissions Coach: How Juniors & Seniors Can Take Action Today!
Applying to college can feel like this sometimes--but it doesn't have to! After spending five days on five separate college admissions tours and information sessions with my younger sister last week, I couldn’t be more excited to coach my Class of 2015 and Class of 2016 students as they begin the college admissions process! I’m here to help you ...
Application Consultant: How Lists Can Jumpstart the Personal Statement
Lists: The Solution to, But Not Cause of, All of Life's Problems. Early applications for colleges are due in just one week! Whether you're among the many students nationwide who are still struggling to figure out their common app essay, or you're applying regular decision and don't even know how to start, read on! Today, Adrienne, one of our top ...
Do College Admissions Officers Look at Facebook Profiles? You Bet!
    Today, Cambridge Coaching presents a guest post from our friends at Cornerstone Reputation, a company which teaches students to use social media in a healthy and powerful way and helps them develop strategies for building a positive online presence that will be an asset to them in the future, such as during the college admissions process.
College Admissions: What Do I Do if I End Up on the Wait List?
Samuel Beckett knew what it was like to wind up on the waitlist.
College Admissions Guidance: What Does "Leadership" Actually Mean?
Now is the time that seniors in high school should start moving into leadership positions in clubs...but what does "leadership" mean? Today Sam, one of our expert online college application consultants, explains.  
College Admissions Guide: Writing Your Most Compelling Essay
  Hello, dear readers! I’m going to switch gears a bit in today’s posting and give my in-depth analysis of SAT-II problems a breather. Instead, I will be talking about college admissions essays, and sharing with you some ways to help maintain perspective during the writing process. At first blush, the college admissions essay seems a very ...
Do Top Colleges Care If Students Take Both the ACT and SAT?
  Do top colleges care if students take both the ACT/SAT? Do colleges have a preference for one of the tests over the other (i.e. Do some schools prefer the ACT, while others prefer the SAT?) Will an applicant who has taken both the ACT and SAT be favored over one who has only taken one of the exams?  Different answers and opinions were revealed ...
College Admissions Guide: The Art of Making the Reader Happy
Consider the college application reader.  She might be an admissions officer, but she might also be a well-meaning, well-trained volunteer who teaches for the college.  On November 2, she is delivered a towering, wobbly stack of colored folders containing the collected dreams of hundreds of applicants.  Over the next month or two she will spend ...
The "Why DO You Want to Apply to Our College?" Admissions Essay
One of the great (and few) advantages that applicants today have over their predecessors is the near-universal acceptance of the Common Application. Instead of having to grimly grind out a dozen colelge essays on a multitude of head-numbing topics, applicants can now take the time to polish their main essay to a high shine. The unacknowledged side ...
College Admissions: Why Bad Things Happen To Good College Applicants
College admissions committees work in mysterious ways, and sometimes, even the most qualified applicants are the victims of bad luck.  Here's how to cope.
College Corner: Counting Down to College Admissions
For students starting to think about (or in the midst of!) the college application process, it’s helpful to be aware of all the possible components of a strong college application, as well as how to best leverage the high school years towards your candidacy.
College Admissions Process: College Interview Guide
With regular decision applications in for most college-bound seniors, congratulations on completing the college admissions process!  The waiting period begins, interspersed with alumni and on-campus college interviews. Remember that the college interview is as much an opportunity for the school to learn about you as it is for you to learn about ...
The Writing Wizard: Academic Skills & Your Outline -- Supersized.
                                          
Application Consulting: Free Writing the Personal Statement
 "Never stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing."[1]
College Corner: Writing your College Admissions Essays
Many colleges and universities require a few essays as part of the application, and many colleges and universities provide different prompts...You could be writing 15 different essays by the end of the process, but hold on, you don't have to do that!
The College Corner: Do's & Dont's of the College Interview
Remember that the college interview is as much an opportunity for the school to learn about you as it is for you to learn about the school.  There is no right or wrong answer during a college interview – it isn’t a standardized test. Think of it as more of a conversation. Don't stress too much. Applying to college can feel like a drag, so keep ...