Posts Tagged ‘college admissions’

College Admissions: Tips for the College Interview

Like we’ve said before, SAT preparation is far from the only aspect of the college admissions process. There’s your personal statement or college essay, your activities resume, your GPA and the classes in which you’re enrolled, and the potential college interview.

If the opportunity presents itself for you to have an interview with a representative from a college that you’ve applied to or an alum from that college, we encourage you to take it. If you’re not offered a college interview, be sure to call up the school to see if it’s possible to request one. While the college essay gives you a chance to be more than a set of numbers and allows you to tell your story, the college interview puts a face to your application—literally!

We’re sure most of these next few items are understood, but here are a few reminders for interview (college or otherwise) etiquette:

  1. Appropriate dress is essential.


    What not to do on a college interview...

  2. Be courteous and respectful.
  3. No gum chewing.
  4. Avoid the “Umms” and “Likes”

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Obvious items aside, the most important piece of advice that we can give to you is to be yourself. This is your chance to show an admissions officer who you are, to tell them about your interests, goals, and hopes for your academic future and beyond.  But as wonderful as you may be, some preparation should go into getting ready for your college interview.

We would recommend that you have some general answers ready to go for some possible questions that college interviewers may be asking you. A few might include:

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself? (*Yes, it’s a broad question, so be sure to highlight something special.)
  • Why have you selected this particular college? (*If you’re seeking admission to a college, you should 100% be able to answer this!)
  • In what academic areas are you interested?
  • In what extracurricular activities have you been involved? (*Talk about the one that’s proven most meaningful for you.)
  • What sets you apart as an individual and applicant?
  • What books or articles have you read in the last year that have meaning to you? (*Even if it wasn’t in the last year, be able to talk about something you’ve read that has impacted you.)
  • Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

We’re not saying to write out long answers to the above questions so that you’re ready to recite them verbatim. Instead,  simply have some talking points prepared for these kinds of general questions. And here’s the good news: THERE’S NO “RIGHT” OR “WRONG” ANSWERS! These aren’t trick questions; for the most part, they’re about you! It’s not so much a matter of whether you will get stumped or not, it’s a matter of whether you remember to highlight the things you wish to get across about yourself.

But guess what—your college interviewer is also helping you to determine whether this college is the right place for you, so you should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. There is a lot of information to be gained on both sides during a college interview. In a way, you are interviewing the college as much as they are interviewing you. The following are a few suggestions for possible questions you may want answered by a college representative:

  • What is the average class size and are there seminars and honors classes available?
  • When do you select a major?
  • How many courses are required and is there much room for self-selection of coursework?
  • How is faculty available to students beyond the classroom?
  • Is there a writing center?
  • How diverse is the student body?
  • Is it a “suitcase” school where the majority of students go home on the weekend rather than dorm?
  • Are there study abroad programs available? What countries may I visit?
  • What internship opportunities are available for my field of study?

Of course, these are only our suggestions. Choosing what college to attend is a BIG decision. We’d encourage you to ask any questions you would like answered about your potential future school.

Finally, one more piece of advice: Be sure to remember your interviewer’s name! Because after the interview, we suggest that you write a thank-you note. But don’t overdo it—it doesn’t need to be an overly sweet, lengthy letter. Keep it brief and sincere; it can’t hurt.

So though the importance of an interview will vary from college to college, we say, take advantage of the chance to put a face to your application when you can. It’s your opportunity to shine, and to ask meaningful questions about your potential college.


SAT Vocabulary: Happy Holiday from Vocab Videos! Be sure to check out our FREE GIFT…


Happy Holidays! Enjoy your FREE Vocab Videos SAT vocabulary word list.

To Vocab Video fans and readers of our Vocab Videos blog: We wish you and yours a joyous holiday season and a happy & healthy new year!

‘Tis the season of giving, and Vocab Videos is getting into the spirit!

  • Don’t forget to download your FREE SAT vocabulary word list consisting of 500 of the most common SAT vocabulary words and their definitions!
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Education, after all, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Whether we like it or not, standardized tests like the SAT are a big part of the college admissions process and, therefore, our progression toward a higher education.

And don’t forget: having a rich vocabulary will help you for, but also long after your college entrance exams.

So, enjoy your holiday, and enter the New Year ready to learn!


College Admissions: Completing Your College Resume (Well)

Like the college essay, the college resume is important because it allows admissions officers to get a more complete picture of you, the applicant. It’s not just your name, the school you attend, or your SAT scores—it’s a glance into what you’ve been doing over your last four years in high school. Be sure to highlight those extracurricular activities that hold a special meaning for you, the athletic involvement that you’ve committed your time to, and/or the community service that is significant to you. If you’re involved in a lot of activities inside and outside of school, this is your time to shine. If you’re not, that’s okay too—you can still make your resume work for you. Elaborate on those activities to which you have committed your time and been dedicated. Below are a few suggested categories of activities to include in your resume. For each category, you should be sure to name and describe the nature of the activity, list your grades of participation, and provide the time commitment involved (in terms of hours/week and weeks/year). You should also mention any honors won or positions held.

  • Extracurricular Activities: Include all of those extracurriculars you’ve given your time to throughout high school—after school clubs, student government, marching band. Don’t forget to mention that year you were elected class president.
  • Athletics:  Be sure to point out all of the athletics you’ve been involved in inside and outside of school—whether it’s your school’s intramural basketball team or your town’s swim team. Even if you’re not going to school on an athletic scholarship, any degree of participation is worth mentioning.
  • Community Involvement: So, maybe you’re not an athlete or overly involved in extracurriculars, but you love volunteering your time for a good cause. Mention any involvement in community service activities, whether it’s volunteering at a local hospital or giving your time to your church.
  • Work Experience: Include any jobs that you’ve had during high school on weekends or over the summer. Whether it’s a regular babysitting commitment or lifeguarding, it’s a time commitment you’ll surely want to make known.
  • Honors & Awards: Be sure to list honors, awards, and recognition you’ve received during high school (for success in academics, athletics, etc.).   

Take the time to make your college activity resume and your application stand out. Include any and all applicable categories, so admissions officers can get a better sense of who you are and what’s important you.


College Admissions: Navigating the Common Application

During the college admissions process, it’s wise to be able to navigate the Common Application (  A good number of the colleges that you’re applying to could accept the Common App, so using it instead of filling out a school’s individual application could save you time and effort.  And when you’re almost certainly stressed out preparing for your SAT, writing your college essays, and gathering letters of recommendation—why wouldn’t you want to save some time and energy? Here are some basic, but useful things you’ll need to know when getting started with your Common Application:

  • General Information: What may seem like the easy part of the application is, in fact, quite simple if you can answer certain questions about yourself and your family. The “Applicant,” “Demographics,” and “Family” sections of the Common App ask some basic information of you. What’s your name? Your address? Are you a US citizen? What are your parents’ names? If you can answer these questions easily, which hopefully the majority of you can, you won’t have much of a problem getting through this first part of the Common Application.
  • Academics: Seeing that you’re in school and applying to college, filling out this portion of the Common App also shouldn’t be too complicated, but there are a few things you should be sure to know before taking it on. The first, is some basic information about your guidance counselor—you will need his or her name and contact information. At this point you’ve probably made your way to the Guidance Office a few times, seeking assistance in the college application process, but in case you don’t have this information, make sure to find it out for before filling out your Common App. You’ll also need to know all the courses in which you’re currently enrolled, and any academic honors or distinctions you’ve received throughout high school.
  • Tests: It’s  college application season, so be sure to know all your standardized test information. Which standardized tests scores will you be submitting to colleges: your SAT scores, your ACT scores, your SAT Subject Test scores (SAT IIs), all of the above? For whatever tests you’ve taken with scores you plan to submit, make sure to: know when you took each test (month/year), and what your scores were (for the SAT and ACT, you’ll need to know the scores for each section as well as your overall score).
  • Activity Resume: A portion of the Common App involves detailing the activities and work experience that you’ve been involved in throughout high school.  The list provided allows you to add up to 7 extracurricular activities. You’ll need to briefly describe your involvement in each activity, list the grades in which you participated, and include the time spent on the activity (in terms of hours per week & weeks per year). Your work experience is to be entered in a separate chart. To successfully enter this information, you’ll need to list the specific nature of the work, your employer, the approximate dates of employment (month/year-month/year), and the number of hours per week working
  • Writing: The writing portion of the Common App is two-part. The first question requires a brief response (of no more than 150 words), and asks you to elaborate on one of your extracurricular, personal, or work activities. You have some options when it comes to choosing the longer essay topic. Some of these options include writing about a significant life experience, an issue of concern or importance to you, a person that has had a significant influence on you, or choosing a topic of your choice.  Because you do have a wide range of options, make sure you choose a subject matter that is meaningful to you; the essay, after all, is your chance to express yourself to admissions counselors.

Good luck getting through your Common Application, and on your college application journey!

If you found this entry helpful, be sure to explore Vocab Videos for standardized test prep and other useful tips!


College Admissions: Vocabulary You Should Know

During the college admissions process, it’s not only important to know your SAT vocabulary—it’s also good to get familiar with some college admissions terms that you’ll be hearing quite often. Check out a few below:

  • Early Action: Early Action is a college early admissions policy  in which students apply to a school of their choice by an earlier deadline to demonstrate their interest in a school. As opposed to the regular college admissions process, early action generally requires students to submit an application by November 1 of their senior year of high school instead of January 1. There is restrictive early action and non-restrictive early action. Restrictive Early Action allows candidates to apply to only one early action institution and to no institutions early decision, while, these constraints don’t apply to the non-restrictive Early Action policy. Applicants, however, can reject admission offers in both types of early action.
  • Early Decision: Early Decision is an early admission policy similar to Early Action, but requires that students who are accepted withdraw their other applications and enroll. It is used to indicate to the college or university that the candidate considers that institution to be his or her first choice. Candidates applying early decision typically submit their applications by the end of October of their senior year of high school and receive a decision in mid-December. So remember: Early Decision differs from Early Action in that it represents a binding commitment—applicants must withdraw all applications to other institutions and enroll at that institution.
  • Rolling Admission: Rolling Admission is a policy used by many colleges in which candidates are invited to submit their applications to schools anytime within a large window. The window is usually more than six months long, and some schools do not have a previously specified end date (the window closes when all spots are filled). The university will review the application and notify the applicant of their decision within a few weeks from submission.
  •  (FAFSA): Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the official application students use to apply for federal financial aid for college.  It’s filled out annually by current and anticipating college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for all federal student financial aid (including Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs).

Hopefully, this knowledge will make it a little bit easier to navigate the often complicated college admissions process.

And, of course, don’t forget to stay on top of your SAT vocabulary with Vocab Videos!


College Admissions: Tips for Selecting Colleges, Part 2

During the college admissions process, when selecting which colleges to apply to and eventually the one to attend, it’s difficult not to let a college’s “name” play a role. After all, who wouldn’t be proud to have a college like Harvard, Princeton, or Stanford on one of those stickers you put on the back of your car? A college’s reputation, however, shouldn’t be a student’s sole reason for selecting a college. The “best” school a student gains admission to may or may not be the best fit for that student.  

Consider the college admissions tips and advice below:

  • Visit Colleges: Visiting the schools that you’re applying to and taking a college tour is far more than a good excuse to take a day off from school. Going to a college and exploring the campus for yourself is a good way to get a feel for the college. In fact, many students say that they know pretty much right away whether they can see themselves attending a school or not. What’s the campus like? What about the surrounding community? Does the school feel so small that you’re worried it could be like high school all over again? What are the students around you like? Could you see yourself here? It’s important to ask yourself all of these questions, so you choose the college that’s right for you.
  • The “Best” College vs. the Right College for You: It’s not that a college’s reputation is insignificant. It can certainly be important and influential, and it’s something that will understandably be a part of your college decision.  But, it’s not everything. There are a lot of good schools out there, and the most prestigious college you can get into is not necessarily the right college for you. Stay open-minded. You’re going to be spending what could be the best four years of your life here. Choose the college that you truly believe to be the best fit for you.
  • College is what YOU Make of It: When the college admissions process is all said and done and you’re getting ready to embark on this new chapter of your lives, regardless of where you’ve chosen to go to school—MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Up until this point, you’ve had little or no choice when it comes to class selection. Sure, nearly all colleges have their fair share of core requirements, but when you’ve completed those choose classes that interest you, ones you will benefit from.  It will be an entirely new academic experience—one that you could even enjoy! And, of course (although I’m sure we don’t really have to remind you to do this), HAVE FUN! College is a learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. Make your four years unforgettable.

If you liked this advice, and if you’d like some help getting into the colleges of your choice—check out Vocab Videos!


College Admissions: Tips for Selecting Colleges, Part 1

During the college admissions process, it’s very important to select a broad range of schools.  Colleges’ admittance selection can often be a crapshoot—there are a lot of variables. How many students are applying to this particular college this year?  How did I do on my SAT compared to everyone else who is applying to college? Is a school looking to fill its remaining spots with a particular “kind” of student? Because you just never know what a college’s ultimate decision is going to be, it’s important to apply to a wide spectrum of colleges. Visit college websites to get some sort of profile of the previous year’s class, and consider the useful terms below to categorize the colleges you’re applying to:

  • Safeties: These are the schools that you will most certainly gain admission to. Your SAT scores and GPA more than meet the mark—they exceed it.  If the unfortunate circumstance occurs that you’ve been rejected from or waitlisted at all of your colleges, you still know you have a spot at your safety schools.
  • Possibles: These are the schools where your SAT scores and GPA are right on target, and with your impressive activity resume and superb college essay (see our College Essay Tips blog!), you’ll be more than likely to gain admittance to your “possible” colleges.
  • Reaches: These are the colleges that are somewhat of a long-shot, but that’s okay. Of course it’s important to be realistic (which you are by placing schools in this category!), but it’s still good to have a few of these types of schools on your list. Sure, your SAT scores and GPA are lower than what the school typically requires, but you just never know. A college admissions officer could be blown away by your essay. The possibility makes it worth a shot.

The college admissions process is stressful, but to eliminate the anxiety and uncertainty that can surely come from not knowing if you’ll receive admittance to your college choices, consider applying to a few of each category of colleges.

If you liked this advice and want some help staying stress-free during your SAT test preparation, check out Vocab Videos!