Get A Headstart

Rising Seniors, writing your essays without the pressure of schoolwork is a great way to get your college applications underway. Come Fall, you’ll be able to focus on school visits, finalizing your list of schools and completing applications while also focusing on your school work.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Begin by opening your Common App account, if you don’t already have one. Then read the essay prompts so you can begin thinking about what you’d like to write about.
  • Some schools require their own supplemental essays in addition to the Common App essays. Look through the websites for schools you’re considering to confirm their essay requirements.
  •  You want to give admissions reps a reason to remember who you are and an incentive to advocate for your candidacy so, write an essay that reveals a side of yourself that isn’t evident in your transcript or test scores.
  • A topic that’s ordinary and everyday can help tell your own particular unique story if you do it in a thoughtful way. It’s not the topic, but how you relate that topic to your life circumstances that’s important.
  • Your essay should be well written and convey your own voice. It’s okay to seek out help from a proof reader, but make sure your essay is in your own words. Admissions officers want to hear what you have to say, not your parent or teacher or mentor.
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Fire Up Your Summer With Test Prep

Once school is out for summer and your time is freed up from classroom and extracurricular commitments, put together a test prep plan to prepare for the ACT, SAT or SAT IIs, if you’re planning to take one or more.

Begin by choosing the test that’s best for you.  There are differences between the SAT and the ACT, including the format, material being tested and scoring. Students often find one test is more or less challenging than the other.

To get your best score possible, develop a personal test taking strategy. The best way to do this is to get comfortable with the test format and learn how to pace yourself and manage your timing. Take as many practice tests as you can in a quiet place without distractions, and with a timer set, to simulate the real test conditions.

Regardless of how you plan to prepare — on your own, in a group class or with a tutor, be sure to take advantage of the many free tests available through the resources listed below.


  • College Board offers free official online SAT practice tests. Your answers will be scored at the end of your test, and there’s a timer to help keep you on track.
  • College Boards also offers free paper practice tests which you can download and print. These tests give you the chance to get comfortable filing in the grids as you will under real test conditions.
  • Use College Board’s daily practice app which has daily practice questions.
  • Test prep companies, including KaplanThe Princeton Review and Peterson’s offer free practice tests, both online and at their test centers. You’ll be required to register and provide your contact information to have access to the tests.



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The Game Of Life

Parents, before you know it, your child will be starting their first day of college classes. Now is the time to share some practical knowledge with them. Help them to understand how to establish and live by a budget, make a doctor’s appointment and even fill a prescription. Ron Lieber’s Your Money column in the New York Times provides a very helpful list of things parents should teach their children to do before they start college, work or military service.

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Fine Tune Your Summer Plans

Summer is approaching and you’re probably thinking of all the fun things you’re going to do: meet your friends at the beach, sleep late, swim, travel, summer BBQs with family… Summer is also a good time for a bit of self discovery.  This is an opportunity to see where your interests for the future lie. You may already have plans, but if you don’t, now is the time to consider looking into finding a job, an internship or a volunteer opportunity. You may also consider taking a class either at a local school or online.

Regardless of what you decide to do, consider the following when making your plans:

  • Look to build new skills or deepen ones you already have
  • Be productive and get things done that have been on your “to do” or “try this” list
  • Challenge yourself to learn something new
  • Explore— discover what you do and don’t like



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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the late registration deadline for the June 1st SAT and SAT Subject Tests.

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Requesting Recommendations

Juniors, which teachers know you best? These teachers are the ones you’ll want to ask to write your college recommendations. Before you finish up this semester, take the time to ask, in person, if they are willing to write on your behalf.

Here’s how to request the best recommendations letters possible:

  1. Ask now. Many teachers receive more requests than they can fulfill, so by requesting in advance, you’ll be able to confirm they are able put you on their list.
  2. Most colleges require a minimum of two letters of recommendation from your teachers and one from your guidance counselor. Many require your letters be written by instructors you had in junior or senior year. If possible, ask primary subject teachers. Also, remember, a recommendation will be more valuable if written by a teacher who likes you and knows what kind of learner you are.
  3. If you’ve been involved in special programs such as science research or athletics, you may want to ask those program directors to write letters as well. These letters help admissions reps get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re likely to contribute to their classrooms and campus community.
  4. Help your recommenders to write the most effective letters on your behalf. Give them an outline of the highlights of your time spent in their classroom, your favorite assignments and samples of your work. Also, let them know what you enjoy(ed) most about their class. Share any experiences outside the classroom that are relevant to their subject matter. You can also show them your resume. Help them write a letter that ties together all your related experiences.
  5. When you get back to school in the fall, confirm with your writers. Once you know where you’re applying, give each recommender a list of your schools and the application deadlines.  Your recommenders will most likely submit their letters electronically. If not, provide each writer with a recommendation form for each college along with a stamped, addressed envelope.
  6. Make a list of the schools you are applying to and keep track of your recommendations. Jot down the date you give your teachers the forms and check online or with the colleges as the process progresses to confirm receipt.


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Registration Reminder

Remember, today is the late registration deadline for the June 8th ACT.


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