What you can learn about college essays from Matt Damon

Bad college essays tell stories that the writer hopes will sound impressive, not stories that the student actually cares about.  They usually include sentences the writer would never say to a friend.  What football player would ever tell a teammate, "Football has taught me important lessons about hard work and commitment"? What kid who volunteers […]

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Recommended Reading for High School Counselors

When our counselors go through the Collegewise training program, we read and discuss a number of books about college admissions.  Here are a few of our favorites. Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Processby Rachel Toor Toor  takes you along with her during her three-year stint as an admissions officer at […]

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Should you take a risk in a college essay?

Students and parents ask us all the time if it's advisable to take a risk in a college essay.  Should you write about something controversial, or take on a subject that may offend the reader, or admit a mistake you made? I usually tell students that if you're taking a risk in a college essay […]

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How parents can help

A worried mother at a local high school's college night last week told me, "My daughter has worked so hard.  She'll be just devastated if she doesn't get into one of her reach schools." It was clear that she, too, was going to be devastated if those schools didn't admit her daughter.  And while she […]

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Expert opinions?

If I want to get stronger, I ask a trainer at the gym for advice.  But when my arm hurts more than it should after working out, I don't ask the personal trainer to take a look at it.  That's a job for a doctor.  And what kind of shoes should I wear when I […]

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It’s school first

With all the talk about what colleges look for in applicants, it helps to remember that college is school first.  Yes, colleges care about your extra-curricular activities.  They care about how you're going to make contributions to the campus.  They like it when your interviewer finds you personable, and when you show interest in the […]

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Not a life-defining day

Admissions decisions from colleges aren’t life defining. They can feel like it at the time.  A lot of hard-working students spend their high school years driven to gain admission to a particular (or to a particular type of) college.  So when the “Yes,” or “No” arrives, it can feel like your high school career has just been validated or […]

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Rejected by your dream school? You’re in good company

From a great piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about college rejection letters and the people who've received them: "Teenagers who face rejection will be joining good company, including Nobel laureates, billionaire philanthropists, university presidents, constitutional scholars, best-selling authors and other leaders of business, media and the arts who once received college or graduate-school rejection […]

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