Some grad-school hopefuls with stellar test scores and straight As might be disappointed to discover they aren't a shoo-in. Sure, schools want to see top-notch grades, but many also want to see a few years of work experience in the field and some meaningful volunteer work. You can have all the wonderful grades in the world, but if you don't make a commitment in a bigger way to being a leader, and do something in the community, you're not somebody great schools need to have in their class.
Having two to three years of professional experience will add to the richness of the discussion and having some work experience also "demonstrates a commitment to that field." In some cases, a summer internship or a recent community service project may be enough to help you stand out.
People considering a master's degree should take a year or two off to get work experience after they earn their bachelor's, especially if they don't have any professional experience. It can help you sort out what direction you'd like to go" with your degree. And maintaining professional connections while in school can also help increase a student's chances of landing a job once the program is over.
For more tips on what grad schools won't tell you, ask our experts here.
Contributed by Joyce Mei, Hunter College HS (Class of 2015)
We all aim to write the perfect common application essay that gets us into our dream college. Here are a couple tips from an insider, who reviews applications as a Director of Admissions:
Contributed by Joyce Mei, Hunter College HS (Class of 2015)
A crucial part of the college admissions process is the application essay. And we all want college admissions officers to read our application and totally understand who we are from these couple paragraphs that are supposed to capture our essence. One must consider, then, how will a college admissions officer dub you?
We must keep in mind that these admissions officers have over 1000 applications to look over and that they will only spend an average of eight minutes per application. Therefore, they will label each applicant with a couple of words that stand out. It is the applicant’s job to make sure that dub is a good one. Here are a few examples:
For more information and advice on writing college admissions essays, contact Lee Academia experts.
Students can say farewell to vocabulary flashcards with arcane words like “membranous,” “pugnacious,” and “jettison.” In the new SAT, to be unveiled in 2015, David Coleman, president of the College Board wants to get rid of obscure words and replace them with more common words like “synthesis,” “distill” and “transform,” used in context as they will be in college and in life.
And the math? “There are a few things that matter disproportionately, like proportional reasoning, linear equations and linear functions,” Mr. Coleman said. “Those are the kinds of things we’re going to concentrate on.” He also mentioned that it shouldn't be about picking the right answer, but about being able to explain and see the applications of math.
Big changes are coming to the nation’s two competing admissions tests.
Mr. Coleman is intent on rethinking the SAT to make it an instrument that meshes with what students are learning in their classrooms. Meanwhile, the ACT, which has always been more curriculum-based, is the first of the two to move into the digital age. In adapting its test for the computer, ACT Inc. is moving toward more creative, hands-on questions.
Both organizations are striving to produce something beyond a college admissions test. ACT plans to start yearly testing as early as third grade to help guide students to college readiness. One of Mr. Coleman’s goals is for the College Board to help low-income students see broader college possibilities.
Since he arrived at the College Board in October, Mr. Coleman has been working on a fundamental redesign of the SAT, which he announced in February. The test, he said, should focus on “things that matter more so that the endless hours students put into practicing for the SAT will be work that’s worth doing.”
As the architect of the Common Core standards — guidelines for what students should learn in each grade — that are being put into place in most states, it is no surprise that he has clear views on what the SAT should test, although he declines to offer specifics because College Board members need to be consulted on every element of the redesign.
In 2005, spurred by the threat that the University of California system might no longer consider its test for admission, the College Board introduced with fanfare the “New SAT,” dropping quantitative comparisons and the “warm is to cool as top is to ___” analogies and adding more advanced math, in the process making the test more like the ACT.
Competition between the two tests has not let up: for the first time last year, the ACT surpassed the SAT in market share. With the new redesign, the SAT seems likely to inch even closer in content to the ACT, which focuses more on grammar, usage and mechanics than on vocabulary.
“Kids need to have a level of ambition,” he said, “because what we find is that absent the intensity of a peer group committed to getting into college, kids just fall away, even a lot of the ones who do very well on the test, and could go to top colleges.”
Recent research on how few high-achieving low-income students apply to top colleges, and that the College Board must help ensure that these students get information about colleges they could aspire to and financial aid that would pay for it were considered.
“We will consider students who take the assessment as within our care, and that means that sending out a score report isn’t the end of it,” he said.
Starting in 2015, the ACT will be available on a computer as well as, for the time being, on paper. Those who take the test on a computer will see a new breed of questions — free-response questions in which students manipulate on-screen images to form their conclusions. In one sample question, students move a plunger on a cylindrical gas tank to change gas pressure and temperature. They then write a few sentences describing the relationship between distance and pressure and between temperature and pressure, and graph those relationships.
Many details of digitization remain to be resolved. Which questions will be graded by computer, and which by humans? And because the two versions need to be comparable, just how many beyond-the-bubble questions will be added to the mix?
One decision that has been made: content will be unchanged.
Indeed, ACT wants to reach ever younger — into elementary school. Next year, it will start rolling out a series of computer-based tests that track student learning over time as well as progress in the current school year, and measure how far above or below grade level a student is in core subjects. Alabama, for one, has signed on to use the tests as its end-of-year assessment for Grades 3 to 8. In the program, parents and teachers will get increasingly detailed reports outlining the skills needed to be ready for college.
Student loan rate hike stopped, but that doesn't make college affordable. The lower interest rates on student loans don't do much to reduce the spiraling cost of a college education.
Congress has finally agreed on legislation to keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent this school year. The Senate passed a compromise bill last week that ties federal student loan rates to the yield on 10-year Treasury notes. That means undergraduates will pay an interest rate of 3.86 percent on loans taken out this year; grad students will pay 5.41 percent.
These interest rates will increase as the economy improves, but the legislation caps interest rates for undergrads at 8.25 percent.
Keeping interest rates on student loans from rising won't do much to make a college education affordable. In fact, it may make it worse, some conservatives argue. Some believe that the federal government is contributing to the rapid increase in college tuition.
Student loan debt accounts for 36 percent of Americans' total non-housing debt, a bigger share than auto loans or credit card debt.
According to the College Board, it cost an average of $22,261 for students to attend an in-state public college last year; the "moderate" budget for a private college averaged $43,289. With prices like that, it's no wonder student loan debt is exploding. And it's no wonder that politicians vow to do something about it.
In his economic speech last week, President Barack Obama promised to "lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs, and improve value for middle-class students and their families. It is critical that we make sure that college is affordable for every single American who’s willing to work for it."
For ways to start saving for college tuition, start planning with expert, Ms. Elisa Cheung, at FAConsultant_Elisa@gmail.com.
Stephenie, having been a tutor/instructor/mentor since 1996, discovered her passion and founded Lee Academia Educational Consulting, LLC. after she left the dental and medical field. She loves teaching/mentoring and counseling her students. Her passion lies in educating others and helping them pursue their educational path. Today, certified in College Counseling and with more than 10 years of experience, Stephenie and her team continues to blog about current updated educational news and events.
Lee Academia Educational Consulting, LLC