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College admissions officers first look at test scores, grades, and the rigor of courses students take in high school. However, what are also important in the admissions process are a student’s extracurricular activities. Students are a representative of the college they attend, and it goes without saying colleges care about the character of the people they admit to their school. Extracurricular activities are a good indicator of what a student does during his or her time spent outside of school. In other words, what a student is doing over summer vacation and on the weekends, gives admission officers a good idea of what kind of individual they are considering admitting to their college. No doubt about it, volunteerism is very important; however, admissions officers are looking for real hands-on involvement. There is a difference between the student that volunteers once to collect money for a charity and the student who spends every Saturday helping clean up city parks. The... read more

You’ve studied and you’ve prepared, but what comes next? Determining what colleges to apply to and attend is difficult as there are so many factors to consider. At Augmentus Tutoring, we aim to help you achieve your highest possible test scores that provide you with the ability to choose the school that is best for you. There are a multitude of considerations that contribute to this decision, including your goals and personality. We’ve narrowed it down to two top decision making factors: Size and Location. The benefits and considerations listed below are generalizations, so do not hesitate to reach out to a specific school to learn more about their programs. The size of the school affects the size of classrooms, size of athletic programs, and numerous other activities that will impact your overall experience. Attend a Big University Benefits that come with big colleges include a seemingly unlimited list of majors and minors, well-funded sports teams,... read more

As competition among college applicants has become more dog-eat-dog, high school seniors are more pressured than ever to distinguish themselves from other applicants. Volunteering and community service are great ways to do exactly that. What to Avoid Many students nowadays make it obvious that they are volunteering simply because they have to in order to get into college. Many of our students volunteer at one of two places: the library or hospital. When asked why they are volunteering at these locations, they answer, "To get into college." It is important to choose a cause close to your heart. If you love animals, volunteer at the animal shelter. If you are passionate about helping those without food or a place to sleep, volunteer at a homeless shelter. The point is, whatever you do, have a good reason for doing it. It will make you stand out on a college application. How Long to Volunteer Commit to a single cause over a long period of time... read more

I have worked in graduate admissions in higher education for over 10 years, and during this time, I have read a lot of personal statements – some good and some not-so-good. So, what qualities help to make a good personal statement that will help a student gain admission into the program of his or her choice? While admissions committees do consider a variety of factors in their decisions, here are just a few tips that might help you as you prepare to write your statement of intent. 1. Know the requirements. Are you writing a statement that is 500 words or 5 pages? Different programs have different requirements, so you should contact the schools to find out what they are expecting. It will not help your application to submit a document that is 5 pages long if the committee is only going to read the first page. 2. Use formal, academic language. Your document is going to be read by faculty, so you need to impress them with your background as well as your writing... read more

Please consider following this link to learn about the growing trend in "need-aware" rather than "need-blind" admissions.  This may be a factor for you or your child if you are applying to a private school that is not hugely wealthy, particularly if it is a stretch school rather than a place where your child is probably a top applicant.   For truly exceptional students, this needn't be an issue: either they can get into a prestigious and wealthy school which covers their need, or they can be a highly-sought-after candidate somewhere further down in prestige.  But for more average and above-average students, make sure that the college you are applying to has a large enough endowment to realistically bring its sticker price into the range you can afford, and always be aware of declared "need-aware" programs if your family has a low income.  This doesn't by ANY means imply that low-income students shouldn't aim high--if anything,... read more

Students have a wonderful opportunity to show admissions officers who they really are, by using the college essay to stand out from the crowd. In my experience, if you find a topic that you care about, and you write an essay that speaks from your heart, you will have a successful application experience. Admissions officers have to read dozens of applications per day in the 'busy season'. If you give an application reader a chance to pause, laugh out loud or wonder about the end of the story, and really recognize you as an individual, whether using humor, philosophy, creative writing about a memory or a fictionalized experience, or a profound lesson learned, you will hit a home run!   I am happy to help you get started, and then to edit your results. I do not write essays for students, but I do help you present yourself in the best light possible, and to give you opportunities that you may not find on your own.  Contact me for 3-session essay writing package... read more

I’ve been thinking lately about why college application essays—any personal writing, really—triggers so much anxiety.  Andrew Ferguson gives us a marvelously personal perspective when he describes his experience as a father shepherding his 17-year-old son through writing the college essays during their last holiday break. He calls this process “the Great Extrusion,” where parents brace themselves “while dragging, pulling, tugging word after word and draft after draft from the insides of their mulish offspring until something presentable appeared.” Ferguson first gently, then more forcefully, offers stacks of books with sample essays to his son, as he does all he can to help without actually writing the essay for him.   By contrast, Robin Mamlet, a former Dean of admission, and Christine VanDeVelde, a journalist, offer a professional perspective. Their clear, step-by-step approach to the college essay advises 10 drafts written over the span of at least one month... read more

Have you ever wondered just who is reading that personal statement you have to submit (along with the rest of your material) when applying to a college or university. Here's a statement from one such reader (No, I didn't write it).             *             *              *            *             *               *                *                     * "The key fact to know about your audience (and yes, you are writing for a specific audience... read more

While this article takes in many issues relevant to high school education and the college process, the point made about halfway down by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby is hugely important.  An expensive college degree AT A GREAT COLLEGE will pay off; an expensive degree at a middling or substandard school may not.  Especially here in Florida where most students are physically isolated from the country's top universities (news flash--even UF is nowhere remotely close to many states' flagship public schools, and there is no Florida school in the current US News and World Report Top 50), it's critical for high performing students to look outside their comfort zones.  Read college websites.  Talk to your school counselor, and not just when you have to.  Don't be afraid to apply to a school you haven't physically visited.  But make sure that your expensive education is the best that your high school record can manage.  And if your high school record... read more

This is ESSENTIAL information that all college applicants need to know.  The article lays it out well, but in a nutshell: if you're not super-rich, but the best college you can get into is, then you are likely to actually pay LESS at an elite institution than you would in-state.  This isn't true for higher net worth families, but if you're below six figures, then you are likely to pay radically less for the top tier than for in-state.  Especially important to know in Florida, which really doesn't have the greatest state university system (not a single "Public Ivy" here). Plus the resume line and the instant networking through alumni groups lasts forever.  Just make sure you know the difference between a genuinely elite school and one trying to make itself look better than it is.

Okay, guys. I hate to do this, but I need to put on my teacher hat for a moment. (I don’t think teachers actually wear hats, but I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down.) Here’s the thing: YOUR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING IN YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY MUST, MUST, MUST BE PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY! You may be rolling your eyes and saying, “What’s a little mix-up between ‘there’ and ‘their’ between friends?” While I don’t think your entire acceptance hinges on one spelling error, I do know that mistakes cast a shadow on your application. For example, if your transcript says that you’ve taken Honors English since freshman year but your essay has several grammatical errors, then an admissions officer might assume that either your grades were inflated or your mom was giving you a little too much help on those final papers. Don’t give the admissions department a single reason to doubt your school smarts. What can you do to perfect your essay? Start with the spelling... read more

You may be thinking, “Rosie, your essay advice is great, but my applications are due in just a few months and I’m applying to nine different schools and they all have different essay prompts and I have soccer and homework and my job and babysitting to do. How am I ever going to finish nine different essays? AHHHH! I’m not going to college!” Okay, that last part got a tad Lifetime movie-ish, but you know what I mean. I can certainly understand your frustration with trying to tackle such a big job. But the answer is simple: Take the easy (and smart) route: write one essay and modify it to suit the essay prompts from each school. How do you do this? Chances are that you will be able to find a common thread in the essay options between schools. It’ll just take some creative thinking to find the connection. Don’t get me wrong–you will have to modify your essay for each school. The same core life event (and the meat of your essay) can be reused as long as you emphasize aspects of... read more

One of the greatest joys of the private college advising process is celebrating how things turn out for your clients at the end. This 2010-2011 school year, I helped students apply to over 30 colleges. I am pleased to say that all of my advisees who have heard so far gained admission to their top choices: Bryn Mawr, Hampton, Howard, Occidental, University of Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Today is the big day---April 1. More news to come!

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