About College Match

The secrets to finding and getting in to the right college.

College Match is the college placement firm that provides a strategic coaching approach to college admission that results in higher percentage of successful admissions, scholarships and awards for students. College Match provides private education planning services to families and students considering college and graduate programs. For more information, please go to www.collegematchus.com

Monday, July 19, 2010

Improve Your Chances For College Admission

The Main Essay (a.k.a. The Common App) is the linchpin of your College Application:

Strategizing and targeting the Main Essay and supplements: a key component of the admissions profile
Most advice on how to write it is based on common myths
A well-written Main Essay can garner merit awards for the student

The SAT Essay: Writing vs. Facts

The College Board, which administers the SAT, in their official guide for scorers explains:

"Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or ' "Anna Karenina," a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' " (Actually, that's 1775; a novel by the Russian Leo Tolstoy; and poor Anna hurls herself under a train.) No matter. "You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of facts."

Gearing up for Law School: A Marathon, Not A Sprint

You may be thinking about law school and how to approach the process from a planning perspective.  The following is a ‘pearl’ that we believe will save you time and, ultimately, some grief.

Relative to college and other professional school admissions processes, applying to law school seems fairly simple.  Your grades are your grades.  You prep for, then take the LSAT (and about three weeks later maybe decide to retake it).  You look at data tables to figure out what law schools are in 'play.'  Then, upon reviewing the requirements (99% of which will be near-identical across schools) you worry about getting those recommendations.  Eventually you hunker down at your computer and crank out a personal statement.  Finally, you spend a few minutes looking over the forms and, just like that, you're done.

Simple, right? Simple? Sure.  Effective?  Absolutely not.  Though natural, it's a bad idea in terms of the process and quality of your output.  Despite your natural inclination, you can and should tackle certain elements of your law school application in parallel.

At a minimum, you'll spend a month prepping for the LSAT.  Given the perception of the test's importance, many devote 100% of their early law school application time to prep.  That's silly.  The LSAT isn't about internalizing subject matter, it's about honing your testing and analytic skills.  It follows that you can't "cram" by staring at books all day.  Furthermore, even if you devote your time to practice tests, doing more than the equivalent of a full-LSAT in a day would be a masochistic and futile exercise.  Your brain can only process so many passages about competing theories of basket weaving practices of indigenous peoples.  Instead, I suggest you allocate more like 60-80% of your early time on the LSAT and devote the remainder towards easy, changes of pace—like settling logistics, prepping recommendations or brainstorming essay topics.
Choosing, engaging and equipping recommenders takes time, but not a sustained process that eats up days on end.  Rather it’s a series of emails, dropped off forms, office meetings and check-in phone calls spread across weeks, even months.  Take a break from studying to attend to some of these processes and you'll be less likely to mentally burn out while saving yourself a mad rush in the fall.

Seemingly little things like sending your college transcript to LSDAS (the service that compiles your academic and testing info and sends to law schools) take more time than you may expect.  Applicants who transferred schools or took classes at programs abroad need all of those documents sent to LSDAS.  ‘Better to check this box early then have something silly like a missing transcript for a 1 unit class hold up the submission or even the review of your application.
Due to college conditioning or sheer desperation, too many personal statements are churned out shortly before submission.  There's a better way.  I'm not saying you sit down, four months ahead of time, staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen and add a couple sentences every day to ultimately arrive at an essay months later.  Rather, an essay - particularly one meant to reflect your personality and values - is easier to write when one has devoted significant thought to what they want to convey and how they want to express it.  If you've been at your desk diagramming dinner guest seating around an unnecessarily complex table for an hour, take a logic games breather to reflect.  Maybe go on a jog and ponder your hopes and dreams.  Perhaps flip through your resume and old papers to get a sense for the passions which have driven you thus far. Or jot down ideas on a whiteboard and iterate as additional thoughts come to mind.  All of these things will make life easier when you ultimately sit down to actually write your statement.

Whether its school, work or keeping up with the World Cup, you're available law school prep time is finite.  But that does not shackle you to a 'one thing at a time' approach.  Be better than that and your law school prospects will be better for it.