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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Personal Essay – Freedom, Not Formula

In looking back at the hundreds of applications I read this season, the personal essay was always my favorite part. Sure, grades and extra-curricular activities are vital to the application. Yet, the chance to sing in your own voice adds a flavor unlike any other portion of the admission process!
I scanned the internet to find 101 different ways to make the perfect admission essay and believe me I saw them all while reading! Many of the tips and tricks stressed for the personal essay are important to keep in mind, but here are some personal Do’s and Don’ts given my own reading experience.
Do – Take time to prepare the essay. Summer is a great time to sit outside and think about a great topic or story to use in this segment. Once school starts, you may fall into the same routine; lots of homework and rushing to get things done. With your essay out of the way before September rolls around, you will automatically worry less! Summer offers the ability to remember fond memories and think with a more care-free attitude. Take advantage of it.
Do – Write about you! Nothing is more disappointing than to read a magnificent essay about someone’s favorite character or their eloquent description of the sky. Admissions officers want that small essay to explain something about your personality that won’t be seen in the rest of the application. You favorite Shakespearean sonnet may be the perfect way to define your life, but show us how!
Do – Use first person! While many essays in high school ban any personal thoughts, this essay should be about you.
Don’t  - Use a thesaurus to make every word seem more impressive. Application readers can tell and often words don’t quite fit what you are trying to say!
Don’t – Use a generic or prepared theme. It is amazing how many people have had personal moments with Legos – realizing in turn they want to become engineers! Not that these generic themes will count against you, they just will not stand out or make for a memorable piece of writing.
Don’t – cut corners. Writing a great personal essay is so important, but it should be equally as impressive in style as other smaller parts of your essay. If your shorter sections are poorly written, it makes the personal essay seem as if it had quite a bit of help! This is your application, treat the entirety of it with respect!
In the end, taking some time and consideration to write your personal essay is very important! Yet, overwhelmingly, there is no formula. The essays that stood out to me were often simple. A personal experience, the willingness to let a stranger look into your life for just a bit, can add a dimension to your application that your resume and activities cannot.

A prospective student who views the world just slightly different than many others… that is exactly what universities are looking for. Readers can read up to 50 essays in a day, don’t make them guess where you fit in. Show them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just for Fun - Which Ivy are You?

Just for fun, a quiz to see where your personality might fit best in the Ivy League! Of course, every school has its stereotypes, but with a few questions this might be a good way to get a head start!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lessons Learned from Admissions 2012

Admission rates are out for 2012 and as expected applicant numbers have only continued to increase across the board at almost every institution! Nearly every Ivy League School, as well as a few other top institution rates have lower than 10% admission rates, as seen in the chart below. Now, what do these numbers mean? How can we help the next applicant pool become a member of the class of 2017? Sometimes it is good to know what one is up against before preparing an action plan

1. Do your Research and Apply Early. As you can see when comparing early versus regular decision applicants, in nearly every institution it is advantageous to apply early. At the very least, there is no disadvantage. Think about it; schools want to accept students they think will assuredly come, to help with their own statistics. Additionally, timeliness and a willingness to commit proves to be a stronger application. In many cases, a college is early action, rather than decision. Additionally, many private schools will allow a student to apply to state or public schools where they may receive a scholarship. Lastly, won’t it feel great to know where you are going to school next year as soon as possible?

2. Wait Lists. Schools vary on their wait listing policies, ranging from handing out almost as many wait listers as admitees to hardly any at all. College Match does a great job of an action plan if you do happen to fall into this category. Depending on the school, it may mean that no hope is lost at all! With others, perhaps where many admitted students do choose their school in the end, it may mean a more difficult road. Either way, it is sometimes good to know what you are up against, in order to accept scholarships or opportunities elsewhere if they are presented.
3. More Students Less Seats. Upon looking at acceptance rates, clearly many more students are applying and acceptance percentages are going down. Yet, it is less easily noticeable that there are less seats being offered! Perhaps, admissions offices in 2011 were unprepared for the quality and numbers of candidates received. We will have to see if the numbers of students admitted in general is also decreasing, or if this is just an unfortunate circumstance for the 2012 class. Ideally, there will be more places for next year’s class to claim!

Take a College Personality Quiz

Often, when starting to discuss college admissions and choices with students, I am sad to see so many things become more important than their own needs! Sure, finding a college that is prestigious may seem necessary and certainly you want to make family and friends proud. Yet, all of this should be secondary to an understanding of your unique academic personality. The quiz below is a great resource in looking internally see assess your academic, social, and personal consciousness.

This quiz is important to keep in mind as you move forward in assessing goals and needs from a school. After looking in, then you can look outwardly to see what schools match you! Only then is it time to start applying and proving your worth in securing a place in an incoming class.

Price Check in Aisle Ivy

My dad always wears the Princeton baseball cap that I gave him freshman week, right when I started school. Whenever people ask about the tattered, sweat and bleach stained thing, he has the same response;“I paid to wear this hat”. It is probably the most expensive piece of clothing he owns! When considering a student’s four year college experience and the financial commitment necessary for a degree, images of a second mortgage may cause uneasiness in every parent. The Ivy League especially is preconceived to mean an even larger price tag. I am not here to take sides on how much an Ivy education should be worth. I do however know that financing it will work if you want it to!

A scholarshipis money that a university may offer a student based on their performance. This may be merit-based in academics, or for another arena, such as sports or the arts. In the world of athletics and the arts, Division 1 and 2 schools may offer scholarships. The only exception is the Ivy League. No, the Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships. Yes, I am sure. Yes, the person who told you someone got a full athletic scholarship to an Ivy is wrong.
If the Ivy League were allowed to offer any type of performance based scholarship, imagine the difficulty in finding which students would deserve money based on sports or their academics! Every year, many perfect 2400 SAT scores do not get into these top schools. With acceptance rates under 10%, every student admitted might be deserving of some type of performance-based scholarship elsewhere, but rest assured, these schools will fill their seats without any scholarship offers.
That does not mean that acceptance to an Ivy immediately means giving up your retirement fund! The Ivy League, given huge endowments to work with, wants to ensure that once a student is admitted to their institution it becomes a manageable expense. All 8 schools have a need-blindadmission process to promote low-income students to apply, without concerns of the expenses. Additionally, all the aid available is used on a need basis. Need in Ivy terms may not seem “needy” to our preconceived notions. Across the board, all the Ivies offer some type of need-based aid to 50-60% of their students. Princeton has a no loans policy, allowing all students to graduate debt-free [FinAid]. In 2008, Dartmouth eliminated tuition for students from families with incomes of under $75,000 [Dartmouth Public Affairs]. Harvard and Yale have incremental expectations of how much a student should pay, from 0 to 10 percent, with family earnings of $60,000 to $120,000 a year [Fitzsimmonsand Yale Public Affairs].

While the Ivies may be prohibited from offering talent based awards, they certainly ensure the cost of tuition will be manageable; given it is a worthwhile endeavor for the student. Students are free to win merit based scholarships from outside institutions and organizations. Sure, my middle class parents were uneasy at first, but slowly we saw as a family how this worthwhile investment could become manageable. Overall, my first year of tuition was cut in half with a diligent search for a variety of national and state scholarships. Additionally, combining a part-time job, my parents’ contributions, and a very accommodating aid package from Princeton, I am looking forward to law school with no debt!
Sure, it can be a blow to feel desired elsewhere and be offered nothing but admission to the Ivies. Yet, long-term, I felt Princeton offered me the opportunity to reach my potential athletically, academically, and personally. To me, it seemed like an opportunity many are not granted and I would be foolish to pass up. If it’s worth it, the investment works out – I promise!