Archive for the ‘Advice & Tips’ Category

Education Matters: In College, Working Hard to Learn High School Material

The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the failings of many New York high schools (and, undoubtedly, many across the country) to adequately prepare students for college courses. Many students find themselves failing the required CUNY placement tests, and thus placing into remedial reading, writing, and mathematics courses. With good reason, students wonder why they are in this position after passing Regents exams and graduating high school with sufficient grades. It doesn’t help but call to question how we define secondary education success. While Mayor Bloomberg has improved the high school graduation rate, up to 61% in June from 46.5% percent in 2005, the rate does become less impressive when looked at next to the percentage of high school graduates that need remediation in these three core subjects when they enter CUNY community colleges: 22.6% in 2010 (2,812 students), up from 15.4% in 2005 (1,085 students). 74% of NYC high school graduates enrolled at CUNY’s six community colleges take remedial courses in at least one academic subject.

But what’s perhaps more troubling is that the problem doesn’t end there. Students who require remediation in all three subjects, likely discouraged,  are at the highest risk of dropping out.  To respond to the large number of students in academic need and to prevent dropouts, CUNY has developed the Start program, an intensive semester focused on remedial  reading, writing and mathematics. The program has proven successful and given students the much-needed help they require. Of the 300 students enrolled thus far, 241 stayed the duration of the semester, and 159 of these students after taking the course, passed all three remediation tests.

CUNY is taking the right steps to help students facing all too common of a problem: not being prepared for college level material. As the Times article points out, it calls to question what Regents exams, which so often drive school curriculum, are actually measuring. Unfortunately, in many cases, it seems the tests do not accurately reflect what students need to know for college success. So how do we better prepare students academically for college? NYC’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, says the solution isn’t adjusting passing and “college ready” scores, it’s  “to give kids more challenging, rich and authentic work.”

What’s your take?

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College Admissions: The Pressures of College Entrance Exams

In an increasingly competitive college admissions environment, college applicants are feeling the pressure. With more students than ever applying to college and competing for a limited number of spots at universities, it’s not surprising that college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT cause a good amount of stress. But it’s important to keep in mind that YOU’RE MORE THAN A TEST SCORE!

While there’s no use denying that SAT and ACT scores are an important piece of your application and student profile–they’re not everything.  Four years of hard work and good grades (hopefully) in high school  are not erased with one standardized test score.

That being said, the SAT and ACT are tests that can be mastered through hard work and time commitment. (more…)

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FREE SAT VOCABULARY VIDEOS: Vocab Videos FREE Subscription Plan

Vocab Videos is pleased to announce that it has recently launched a FREE Vocab Videos subscription plan! Now, visitors to our site can register for a free one month account and receive access to more than 150 Vocab Videos and a portion of our study materials! We wanted to give everyone the chance to see what we do over here at VocabVideos.com and how our videos can making learning vocabulary fun!

ATTENTION EDUCATORS: See bottom of post!

By registering for a free subscription plan, users can access the following features:

  • Vocab Videos Study Guide: Our study guide provides suggestions on how to get the most out of Vocab Videos. Learn how to best utilize the videos, absorb vocabulary efficiently, and employ our review material most effectively. The guide will help you to craft your own individualized vocabulary regimen.
  • Video Library: Our free account provides access to 8 episodes and over 150 Vocab Videos! Become familiar with engaging Vocab Videos storylines and meet some of our  hilarious characters. You’ll can’t wait to see what happens next!
  • Digital Quizzes: Test your new vocabulary knowledge by taking a Vocab Videos digital quiz after each episode! SAT–style questions offer preparation for standardized tests. At the end of each quiz, detailed quiz results show quiz performance and what questions were answered correctly and incorrectly; results can be downloaded and printed.
  • Downloadable Worksheets: Worksheets can be used to maximize comprehension and retention. They provide space to write sentences, synonyms and mnemonic devices, and to build a more clear understanding of the meaning of the words.

If you like what you see, we make it easy to upgrade to a 6-month or 12-month premium account! A premium subscription plan includes  total access to ALL 500 VOCAB VIDEOS + our extensive suite of study resources. In addition, to our entire video library our premium subscription level offers access to:

  • ALL Digital Quizzes: Take a total of 25 digital quizzes, one for every Vocab Videos episode + cumulative quizzes that take some vocabulary from each episode. Detailed quiz results chart your quiz performance and what words you answered correctly and incorrectly; results can be downloaded and printedQuiz results are stored to the user dashboard, so you can constantly monitor your progress.

  • Digital Flashcard Maker: The digital flashcard maker allows you to create flashcards for additional vocabulary words or for ANY academic subject – flashcards will be saved and stored in your personal Vocab Videos account. Flashcard maker features include:
    • Add an image or movie file
    • Study in quiz mode—“flipping” cards to review
    • View cards in table mode (option to hide the question or answer column)
    • Download and print flashcard sets to review on-the-go

  • Digital Worksheets: Like downloadable worksheets, digital worksheets provide space to write sentences or mnemonic devices to build a clear understanding of the word. Once they are entered, sentences are stored on a personalized study sheet. Print out worksheets for review on-the-go.

  • Vocab Videos Glossary: A searchablealphabetical glossary of all the words featured in Vocab Videos along with their definitions. The glossary allows users to keep track of words they’ve mastered, and to review definitions even when they don’t have access to a computer.
  • Vocab Videos Definition Groups: These category lists group words by common themes. This valuable reference allows for an even more comprehensive understanding of the vocabulary. Definition groups are useful for helping grasp subtle differences in meanings and when to use particular words.
  • Vocab Videos Crossword Puzzles: Crossword puzzles by episode offer a fun form of review. Users can print these out to study on-the-go.

EDUCATORS: Don’t forget, you’ll want to consider a school or classroom package to introduce Vocab Videos to your students! Classroom packages provide individual student and teacher accounts for Vocab Videos.

Teacher accounts allow you to monitor student usage, view quiz results (questions students answered incorrectly), and download review material to incorporate into your curriculum. Sign up for a free teacher demo account on our Educators page, or contact us to get started with a classroom package:

Email: [email protected]

Call: 646-216-9187 ext. 202

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College Admissions Tips: Should You Know What Your Major Will Be Entering College?

going to major in...

Apart from choosing which college to attend, choosing what field of study to major in could very well be your next biggest decision involving your college education. Some students enter college having clear career ambitions and knowing exactly what it is they want to study. Certain colleges have separate “schools” or programs with a particular academic focus—sometimes even with different admissions standards—that may require that students declare a major as a freshman.  But if you’re neither entering one of these specifically-focused schools nor certain about what you would like to study, and it’s time to accept your choice college’s admissions offer—don’t stress out.   

Many students begin college with little or no idea of what they will ultimately choose as a major, so if you’re checking off the “undecided” box, you’re not alone.  There is no rush for you to jump to a decision about your major as soon as you step foot on campus. Most colleges won’t even require you to declare a major until at some point into your sophomore year, or even at the start of your junior year. Using your time in the college classroom wisely can, without a doubt, help ensure that you go into the right field of study.  After all, part of what is wonderful about college on an academic level,  is that your required core classes will help you to get a feel for what you enjoy learning about; you may even discover a previously unrealized passion for a subject that you didn’t have the opportunity to study in high school.  And hopefully this penchant or passion for a particular academic subject can help you to decide what career path or continued educational trajectory you would like to pursue. Because a college major should be chosen based on your interests and career goals.

So when deciding on a major, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • What are my interests (academic and otherwise)?  What about my talents and natural abilities? You’re going to be taking lots of classes in your major, so you’re far better off choosing a program that interests you! If you choose a major you don’t enjoy, it’s going to be a LONG four years!
  • What kind of career am I interested in? If you’re not sure—look into it a bit. Check out your campus career center, they can offer you some guidance when it comes to career planning and then help direct you toward an appropriate major.
  • What kinds of majors are available and are strong programs at your particular college? There are probably majors available at your college that you didn’t know were options or you know very little about. Familiarize yourself with all the possibilities of what you have the opportunity to study!
  • Are there resources available to offer some guidance?  In addition to the career center, take advantage of what’s around you. Talk to professors, academic advisors and other students; consult your school’s course catalog or a college major guide (there’s probably one in the academic advising office)

Put some serious consideration into what you decide to study during what are bound to be the most important years of your education.  Not only will choosing the right major make your academic experience in college worthwhile, it could allow for valuable internship opportunities and ultimately open doors when it comes to your career and your future.

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College Essay Tips: Make the Most of Your Summer!

Sure this doesn't look so fun...BUT it will pay off!

The summer provides a good opportunity for students to get a head start on their college applications and essays. Some colleges have already begun posting applications for the 2010-2011 application season, and many more will do so as the summer goes on. Our friends at College Essay Organizer (CEO) are constantly updating their extensive database of college essay requirements, so that students can get started with their essays as soon as possible. Here’s why starting applications over the summer is the way to go:

  • The college essay is generally thought to be the most time-consuming and overwhelming aspect of college applications. Get it over with!
  • Writing an essay is a multi-step process—a really good essay is typically brainstormed, outlined, drafted, edited, proofread, and finalized. Working on it gradually over the summer gives you time to really work through all these stages. 
  • When school, homework, and after-school activities start up again, and it comes time to apply to your colleges, you’ll be WAY more carefree having already completed the most dreaded part of applications.

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Getting started on essays and applications early will make the college application season far less overwhelming.

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More importantly, the essay is a significant component of any application, giving admissions officers an opportunity to look beyond the numbers and allowing students to put a personal stamp on applications. But writing an impeccable college essay is a process that requires a lot of time, preparation, and effort. The Vocab Videos team encourages you to get ahead of the game by working on applications and essays over the summer before the hectic school season starts up again.

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SAT Scores: Top National Universities’ Average SAT & ACT Scores

Have you ever wondered to what colleges your SAT scores will earn you acceptance to? Using US News & World Report’s 2010 ranking of national universities and data from the College Board, the Vocab Videos team has compiled a list of the average SAT scores of first-year students at some of the country’s top universities. Take a look below to see if your SAT scores are on target to gain you admission to your top-choice college. And don’t forget learning your SAT vocabulary can help raise your SAT scores 150+ points, so don’t forget to give Vocab Videos–our FUN & EFFECTIVE vocabulary learning system–a try!

From CollegeBoard.com: Average SAT Scores by College (Middle 50% of First-Year Students)
America’s Top National Universities 2010 (US News & World Report) SAT Critical Reading SAT Math SAT Writing ACT Composite
Harvard University 690 – 780 690 – 790 690 – 780 31 – 34
Princeton University 690 – 790 700 – 790 700 – 780 31 – 35
Yale University 700 – 800 700 – 780 700 – 790 30 – 34
California Institute of Technology 690 – 770 770 – 800 680 – 770 33 – 35
Massachusetts Insititute of Technology 650 – 760 720 – 800 660 – 760 32 – 35
Stanford University 660 – 760 680 – 780 670 – 760 30 – 34
University of Pennsylvania 660 – 750 690 – 780 670 – 760 30 – 34
Columbia University 680 – 770 690 – 780 680 – 770 31 – 34
University of Chicago 690 – 780 680 – 780 670 – 760 28 – 32
Duke University 660 – 750 680 – 780 660 – 760 30 – 34
Dartmouth College 660 – 770 680 – 780 670 – 780 30 – 34
Northwestern University 670 – 750 690 – 780 670 – 750 30 – 33
Washington University in St. Louis 680 – 750 710 – 780 32 – 34
Johns Hopkins Univeristy 630 – 730 670 – 770 650 – 730 29 – 33
Cornell University 630 – 730 660 – 770 29 – 33
Brown University 650 – 760 670 – 780 660 – 770 28 – 33
Emory University 640 – 730 660 – 750 650 – 740 29 – 33
Rice University 640 – 750 680 – 780 650 – 740 30 – 34
Vanderbilt University 660 – 750 690 – 770 660 – 750 30 – 34
University of Notre Dame 650 – 750 680 – 760 640 – 730 31 – 34
University of California–Berkeley 590 – 710 640 – 760 610 – 720
Carnegie Mellon University 620 – 720 670 – 780 620 – 720 28 – 34
Georgetown University 650 – 750 650 – 750 27 – 33
University of California–Los Angeles 570 – 680 600 – 730 580 – 700 24 – 31
University of Virginia 600 – 710 630 – 730 610 – 710 27 – 32
University of Southern California 620 – 710 650 – 740 640 – 730 29 – 32
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor 590 – 690 640 – 740 600 – 700 27 – 31
Tufts University 680 – 750 680 – 750 680 – 760 30 – 33
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill 590 – 700 620 – 710 580 – 680 26 – 31
Wake Forest University 580 – 690 600 – 700 27 – 31
Brandeis University 620 – 730 640 – 730 620 – 720 27 – 31
New York University 610 – 710 600 – 720 620 – 710 27 – 31
College of William and Mary 620 – 730 620 – 720 610 – 710 27 – 32
Boston College 610 – 700 640 – 730 630 – 720 29 – 32
Georgia Institute of Technology 580 – 680 650 – 750 580 – 670 27 – 31
Lehigh University 590 – 630 630 – 710
University of California-San Diego 540 – 660 600 – 710 560 – 670 24 – 30
University of Rochester 590 – 690 640 – 720 590 – 690 28 – 33
University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign 540 – 660 660 – 770  
University of Wisconsin–Madison 550 – 670 620 – 720 570 – 670 26 – 30
Case Western Reserve University 590 – 700 650 – 740 590 – 690 28 – 32
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 610 – 700 660 – 750 580 – 680 25 – 30
University of California–Davis 520 – 640 560 – 680 520 – 650 24 – 30
University of California–Santa Barbara 540 – 660 550 – 670 540 – 660 24 – 30
University of Washington 530 – 650 570 – 680 530 – 640 24 – 30
University of California–Irvine 520 – 640 570 – 680 530 – 640
Penn State–University Park 530 – 630 560 – 670 540 – 640
University of Florida 570 – 680 590 – 700 25 – 30
University of Texas–Austin 530 – 660 570 – 700 530 – 660 24 – 30
Tulane University 630 – 700 620 – 700 630 – 710 29 – 32
University of Miami 570 – 680 600 – 700 570 – 670 27 – 31
Yeshiva University 550 – 690 550 – 680 22 – 28
George Washington University 600 – 690 600 – 690 600 – 690 27 – 30
Ohio State University–Columbus 540 – 650 580 – 690 540 – 640 25 – 30
University of Maryland–College Park 580 – 680 620 – 710
Boston University 570 – 660 600 – 690 590 – 680 26 – 30
University of Pittsburgh 570 – 680 590 – 680 560 – 660 25 – 30
Pepperdine University 560 – 660 560 – 680 560 – 660 24 – 30
Syracuse University 510 – 620 540 – 650 520 – 630 23 – 28
University of Georgia 560 – 660 570 – 670 570 – 660 25 – 29
Clemson University 550 – 640 590 – 680 25 – 30
Fordham University 570 – 670 570 – 670 570 – 670 26 – 30
Purdue University–West Lafayette 500 – 610 540 – 670 490 – 600 23 – 29
Texas A&M University–College Station 530 – 640 570 – 670 500 – 620 24 – 30
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities 520 – 670 600 – 710 530 – 650 24 – 29
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey–New Brunswick 530 – 630 560 – 680 540 – 640
University of Connecticut 550 – 640 570 – 670 550 – 650 24 – 29
Southern Methodist University 560 – 660 580 – 680 560 – 660 25 – 30
University of Delaware 520 – 630 540 – 650 520 – 640 24 – 28
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 560 – 660 630 – 720 560 – 660 26 – 31
Brigham Young University–Provo 560 – 670 570 – 680 25 – 30
Indiana University–Bloomington 520 – 630 540 – 660 24 – 29
Michigan State University 470 – 610 540 – 660 480 – 610 23 – 27
University of California–Santa Cruz 510 – 630 520 – 640 520 – 630 22 – 28
University of Iowa 500 – 640 560 – 690 23 – 28
Virginia Tech 540 – 640 570 – 670 540 – 630
Colorado School of Mines 550 – 650 620 – 700 26 – 30
Miami University–Oxford 530 – 630 560 – 660 24 – 29
University of Colorado–Boulder 520 – 630 550 – 650 24 – 28
Baylor University 530 – 640 550 – 650 510 – 620 23 – 29
Northeastern University 580 – 670 620 – 700 580 – 670 27 – 31
SUNY–Binghamton 580 – 670 620 – 710 27 – 30
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry 520 – 610 540 – 630 22 – 27
American University 590 – 700 580 – 670 580 – 690 25 – 30
Marquette University 540 – 640 540 – 660 530 – 640 24 – 29
Stevens Institute of Technology 550 – 650 620 – 710 540 – 650 24 – 29
University of Denver 540 – 640 550 – 650 520 – 620 24 – 29
Auburn University 520 – 640 540 – 660 510 – 620 23 – 29
Clark University 550 – 650 530 – 640 550 – 650 24 – 29
Drexel University 540 – 630 570 – 670 520 – 630 23 – 28
Iowa State University 490 – 640 540 – 690 22 – 28
North Carolina State University–Raleigh 520 – 620 560 – 660 510 – 610 23 – 28
St. Louis University 540 – 650 540 – 670 24 – 30
University of Tulsa 570 – 700 560 – 690 25 – 32
University of Vermont 540 – 640 550 – 640 540 – 640 24 – 28
Howard University 460 – 660 440 – 660 430 – 660 19 – 29
SUNY–Stony Brook 520 – 620 580 – 670 520 – 620 24 – 28
University of Alabama 500 – 600 500 – 620 21 – 28
University of California–Riverside 450 – 570 480 – 620 460 – 570 19 – 25
University of Kansas 22 – 27
University of Nebraska–Lincoln 510 – 670 530 – 680 22 – 29
Florida State University 550 – 640 560 – 650 540 – 630 24 – 28
University of Arizona 460 – 600 490 – 620 21 – 27
University of Missouri 530 – 650 530 – 650 23 – 28
University of Oklahoma 510 – 640 530 – 660 23 – 29
Illinois Institute of Technology 540 – 670 630 – 720 530 – 640 530 – 640
University of Massachusetts–Amherst 520 – 630 540 – 650 23 – 28
University of Tennessee 510 – 640 530 – 650 24 – 29
Washington State University 480 – 590 490 – 610 460 – 570 21 – 26
Texas Christian University 520 – 630 530 – 650 520 – 630 23 – 28
University of Dayton 510 – 610 520 – 640 23 – 28
University of New Hampshire 510 – 610 520 – 630
University of San Diego 550 – 640 570 – 660 550 – 650 25 – 29
University of South Carolina–Columbia 530 – 640 560 – 650 24 – 29

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College Admissions Counseling: Make the Most of Your Summer

If you’re a high school sophomore, junior or soon-to-be senior, consider optimizing your time off from school. Make the most of your vacation with one of our summer opportunity suggestions:

Even if it’s not on your reading list, read a good book this summer
  • Summer job: For many of you, a summer job is a typical part of your summer experience.  If it’s not, we’d recommend you start looking around and applying. Not only will a summer job put some cash in your pocket, it’s a good learning experience. Did we mention it’s also something to tag onto your college activities resume?
    *If you’re getting a bit too late of a start, and summer jobs are scarce, don’t be too discouraged—read on for other ways to have a productive summer!
  • Internship: Internships can provide a world of opportunity. They are a terrific way to get a glimpse into a particular occupation or industry, and thus, to discover if the career path that you’re contemplating is right (or wrong) for you.   And while it may be looking a bit down the road, internships can also turn into job offers.  Whether it’s a paid or unpaid internship, the experience is generally profitable in the end.
  • Volunteer: If you’re having a hard time finding a summer job or internship opportunity, we’d urge you to consider volunteer work. After all, it’s unlikely a volunteer organization will turn down a helping hand. Sure, giving back and giving your time will look good when you’re applying to colleges, but there are many more reasons to volunteer your time. Volunteering can give you the chance to take on a leadership role, meet new people, get involved in your community, or learn and develop a new skill. Overall, it can be quite a personally rewarding experience.
     
  • Get Smart: Even though you’re not in school, try not to use summer as an excuse to turn off your brain. You may not like the sound of this, but if you’re going into your sophomore or junior year, summer is a great time to start preparing for your SAT. Read a few good books and the newspaper to improve your reading comprehension, try Vocab Videos for a fun way to learn your SAT vocabulary, or slowly work your way through an SAT study guide while lounging around. If you’ve already taken the SAT, read regardless to keep that brain active! Use summer as a time to get ahead of the game.
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Top 5 Things to Avoid on the SAT Essay

Knewton: Online Prep for the SAT, GMAT, & LSAT

This blog post was brought to you by Josh Anish, Senior Editor at Knewton, where he grades essays as part of the company’s SAT course.

1) Don’t write too little. Many scorers grade on perceived effort, which they often judge—for better or worse—on the number of words written. Use most if not all of the space allotted. Write at least 4 paragraphs (5 is even better), with at least 3 sentences per paragraph.

2) Don’t be controversial. Not even a little. You may think that the United States’ invasion of Iraq was super whacky, or that the Tea Party Movement is brilliant—but keep those kinds of topics far, far away from the SAT essay. Write about things like heroism, generosity, and kindness. In other words, play it safe. You’ll have plenty of time to share provocative thoughts in college.

3) Don’t use first-person pronouns (“I” or “me”) in the first paragraph. The graders of the test know who wrote the essay. You don’t need to say “I think peanut butter is the best thing since sliced bread.” Just go ahead and assert, “Peanut Butter is the best thing since sliced bread.” It’s a stronger statement anyway.

4) Don’t be vague. We get it; these essay topics are super broad and boring (almost by design). But that doesn’t mean you should respond in a super broad and boring way. Home in on specifics. Don’t use words like “society” or phrases like “in this day and age.” Besides, it’s easier to be specific. Draw on concrete examples. For example, if you’re asked to write 400 words about “honesty,” drill down the topic to talk about honesty in business, or the honor code at your school.

5) Pick a thesis and stick to it. Don’t make too many concessions to the other side. If the essay prompt asks whether a penny saved is a penny earned, and you think the answer is an emphatic “Yes,” don’t waste any time making the case for spending a lot of money. Think of yourself as a lawyer advocating for a perspective, not a historian summarizing the full spectrum of events.

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College Admissions: Dealing with Rejection

Well this sucks...time to consider my other options.

“To allow other people’s assessment of you to determine your own self-assessment is a very big mistake.”

Columbia University President, Lee Bollinger

After seeing a headline in the newspaper reading THE ANSWER IS NO: The Zen of Dealing with Rejection, we at Vocab Videos were reminded of just how rough students applying to college these days have it. You never want to open a letter from one of your colleges that begins “It is with regret that I must inform you…” but in the increasingly competitive world of college admissions, the unfortunate reality is that not all of you will gain admission to your top choice college. In fact, at most top schools, the acceptance rate is below 10 percent. Rejection is never easy, but it is a test of our resilience.

If you receive a rejection letter from your top-choice college, it’s completely normal and natural for you to go through a period of mourning. Yes, you’ll be disappointed, and it will more than likely be difficult to decide on an alternative course of action when you already had your ideal college plan mapped out in your mind. But as hard as it is, this crucial period is not the time to wallow in feelings of rejection and sadness. Katie Malachuk, author of “You’re Accepted: Lose the Stress, Discover Yourself, Get in to the College That’s Right for You,” advises students in this tough spot to “turn a negative into a positive by taking charge of your life.” And we have to say she’s giving some pretty spot-on advice. Take this time to self-reflect and really evaluate what you want out of your college experience. Look to the schools in which you were offered admission and weigh in on what they have to offer you academically and socially. Often times, we get our mind so fixed on our one dream school that we fail to see some of the meaningful things other colleges have to offer. As Ms. Malachuk would say, be open to the notion that “sometimes ‘not your first choice’ is your best choice.” Re-evaluating your college options and ultimately your future may very well lead you to making the choice that is right for you.

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And no matter what happens, remember to stay positive. It’s not easy to take the negativity out of rejection, but do your best to keep an open mind. In the end, if you do choose to attend your second or third choice school, give it a real shot. You’re not locked into anything; if it’s not working out or if it doesn’t feel like the right fit, you always have the option to transfer or take some time off to reconsider your alternatives. But it’s never in your best interest to waste a valuable learning experience, and not giving a college a chance will only hurt you in the end.

*Click here to meet a few well known “rejects” who found extraordinary success after being rejected from their first choice colleges.

*The stress associated with college admissions is one of the reasons the Vocab Videos team is doing its small part to make the task of taking the SAT and applying to colleges a little bit easier. Sure we can’t make taking the SAT itself any more amusing, but we can make preparing for it more fun with our hilarious SAT vocabulary videos. Learning your SAT vocabulary can raise your SAT score up to 200 points, so be sure to give Vocab Videos a try!

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College Admissions: Applications to Selective Colleges Rise as Admission Rates Fall

 

Let Me In!!!

The New York TimesThe Choice college admissions blog recently published statistical admissions data to some of the nation’s most selective colleges. The Vocab Videos team encourages you to check out this 2010 admissions tally that will be regularly updated.

The article gives us some insight into just how difficult it is for students to get into top colleges these days. The Choice shares that undergraduate applications to Harvard rose nearly 5% to 30,489 with only 6.9% (or 2,110 students) admitted—that’s down from 7.5% in 2009. This trend, however, doesn’t stop at the Ivy Leagues. With more and more students trying to gain admittance to college, it’s growing more difficult for students to get accepted into all colleges in this increasingly competitive college admissions atmosphere.

But there are things you can do to make yourself a more “desirable” candidate. Consider the important admissions criteria below:

  • SAT/ACT Scores: Whether we like it or not, standardized tests continue to play a significant role in students gaining admittance to college. Be sure to fully prepare for whichever college entrance exam you’re planning to take. Whether you have a tutor, are enrolled in a course, or are preparing on your own—do some test prep as often as possible. Whether it’s a few questions a day or a practice test a week, practice more than anything else, is going to help you master and feel comfortable with the exams. To get an early start on SAT and ACT prep, start up on your vocabulary; it’s something that can be easily incorporated into your daily test prep routine.
  • Get Involved: If you’ve ever seen a college application, you’ll know that somewhere it’s going to ask you for your principal extracurricular, community, volunteer and family activities and hobbies.” Here, it’s your chance to show that you’re about more than grades and SAT scores. Because you know they’re going to be asking you for it, you should be aware of the importance of getting involved—in some way. You don’t have to join every club and sports team in addition to spending your weekends volunteering, but showing commitment to a few activities is imperative. (And if you’ve never volunteered, give it a shot, we’re sure that you’re going to find it quite rewarding).
  • College Essay: The college essay is also crucial, and it’s something you can get an early start on. You’re generally given some degree of choice when it comes to essay topic (take a look at the Common App’s essay options below), so this is an opportunity for you to share something about yourself that you’d like colleges to know. The essay helps to distinguish you as an individual and proves that you’re more than a test score. Be sure to write about something you’re passionate about and take your time with the essay writing process. A thoughtful, well-written essay can make a big difference in distinguishing you as a candidate.
    • Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
    • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.  Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
    • Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
    • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you
    • Topic of your choice.

Getting a head start on these items is going to make the college admissions process far less stressful for you, and doing each of them well is going to improve your chance of gaining admission to your top-choice colleges.

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