Dear Northwood School Seniors and PGs:

Greetings from Lake Placid! The first day of classes for the 2015-16 school year begins in a few weeks, and many early decision deadlines are less than ninety days away. Summer is coming to a close, and the school year will be upon us soon! Sure, it’s okay to spend time on the beach resting up for senior year, but everything you can accomplish this summer will make the application process so much easier during the busy school year. Here is the final summer update from the Northwood College Counseling office. See you in Lake Placid on September 5th!

John Spear
Director of College Counseling

The Common Application for 2015 – 16 is Now Live

commonappThe Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by over 450 colleges and universities. Only schools that evaluate applications holistically are allowed to use the common application; that is, the admissions staff must take into consideration things like letters of recommendation and the application essay. If a college bases admission solely on GPA and test scores, they can not be members of the Common Application. Nearly all top colleges and top universities use the Common Application.

Beginning August 1 college applicants can create a Common Application account and begin adding schools and working on their applications. I encourage you to create your account and to get started on the application, but do not submit any applications until you have had a chance to review them, line by line, with your Northwood college counselor.

The Application Essay

Most colleges require an application essay and just about every college ranks the essay as important or very important. A poorly written esssay can cause an otherwise great application to be denied, while a particularly compelling and well-written essay can move a marginal applicant from “reject” to “accept.” Read some of my recommended resources on the application essay.

Making the Most of the College Visit

The most important tool in the college search process is the college visit. Every college visit should have at least two dimensions—formal and informal. To cover both dimensions, begin your planning with this checklist. And to make sure you get to see everything you need to, don’t forget to call the college ahead of time and schedule your visit! Read more about visits.

About Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Admission

If you find a college that you are sure is right for you, you should consider applying early. Early decision and early action plans allow you to apply early (usually in November) and get an admissions decision from the college well in advance of the usual spring notification date. You will know by December or January whether you have been accepted at your first-choice college.

Sometimes, students who apply under these plans have a better chance of acceptance than they would through the regular admissions process. These plans are also good for colleges, because they get students who really want to go to the school to commit early in the process. Read More here or here.

Summer To Do List

 Keep building your college list: research, add and delete.

 Visit as many schools as you can: meet the coach (if applicable), have a tour and admissions interview.

 Keep working on the SAT and ACT prep courses.

 Read every day.

 Draft two college essays.

 Create a Common App account. Begin work on your applications now.

Review Your Social Media Profiles

College admissions officers research applicants on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and many use  social media to evaluate applicants. So when a college admissions official checks your Facebook page what does she see? In your photos? On your wall? On your list of pages/groups? On your favorite quotes? I have some tips to clean up your online image before you start applying to college. Read more.

What are good SAT, ACT or TOEFL scores?

Standardized test scores are only on criteria of many used by colleges to make admissions decisions, and it’s not the most important factor (your grades are most important). Still the importance of standardized test scores shouldn’t be underestimated, even though admissions officers say they take an open-minded approach to their decisions. Test scores can make or break an application.

But we are living in changing times. Some colleges and universities don’t require standardized tests and some have a variety of tests you can choose to create your standardized test profile. Here are a few links to resources on this important topic:

College Counseling Online

Visit my web site where you’ll find hundreds of resources, all organized by topic. When you visit, check out the list of more than 15 topics on the left. Topics include: application, financial aid, athletics, standardized tests, learning differences, international students. Choose a topic and explore resources that interest you.

Follow Me on Twitter

If you use the social networking site Twitter, please follow me (@JohnSpear). On Twitter I pass along college admissions advice and tips almost every day.

Like College Counseling at Northwood School on Facebook

Facebook users, please like our College Counseling at Northwood School page on Facebook.

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