12 Tips For Attending a College Fair

October 10th, 2014

College fairs are a great way for high school students and their parents to meet with representatives from various colleges and universities around the country. This is often a student’s first contact with a college, and it is advantageous to make the most out of your college fair experience.

Here are some tips on attending a college fair:

Make a list. Before going to the fair, find out which colleges will be at the fair (a list may be posted on the fair’s website) and write down the names of 10-12 you want to learn about. Visit those representatives first. If you have extra time, check out some of the other booths. You may stumble onto a great college you hadn’t considered. Focus primarily on schools that are more than two hours from home. Colleges and universities that are closer can be visited in person.

Do research. Visit the websites of the colleges on your list and learn as much general information as possible. With this knowledge, you can ask more in-depth questions when you talk to college representatives.

Create a set of labels. Most colleges will have an inquiry form for you to fill out. This will place you on their mailing lists and also record that you visited the booth. If you bring along self-stick labels to place on the cards, you can save a lot of time. Include your contact information, e-mail address, birthday, high school graduation date, GPA, and areas of interest. Make sure your email address is appropriate.

Sign in. If there is no inquiry card, sign in at the school’s table. Students get extra points from a school for demonstrating interest. Signing in lets the college know that you attended an event and were interested to stop by. Use legible handwriting, the same spelling of your name that you use on the college application, and the same email address you plan to use for all college admissions correspondence. If not, the college will think you are another person and you may lose the “credit.”

Dress for success. Dress in a manner that suggests you are serious and taking the event seriously. It’s about putting one’s best foot forward and showing respect, enthusiasm, and interest. Clothes need to be neat, not as if one fell out of bed and into yesterday’s clothes.

Arrive early. You will be easier to remember if you are not the 300th student a representative meets.

Act like a professional. During the encounter, students want to be professional, engaging, positive and enthusiastic at all times. Smile. Look the representative in the eye. Introduce yourself. Avoid giving yes or no answers. Ask for the business card or the name of each admissions representative you meet.

Pass out your resume. Handing out your high school resume at college fairs will show college representatives that you are a go-getter. Your resume will allow the representatives to see what kind of a student you are and allow them to take it back to their college admissions office for review.

Ask thoughtful questions. To avoid being another face in the crowd, students should ask two or three specific questions that call attention to their specific interests about a particular college. Good questions include: “What is the personality of this college as you’ve experienced it? What kind of student is happy here? What are some of the best features of the school?” Stay away from questions with answers that can easily be found on the website or in the catalog. Also stay away from questions that can be answered “Yes” or “No.” Try to think like a journalist looking for answers. If others are waiting to talk to the rep, keep the conversation short. This is not the time to discuss your personal circumstances.

Stay organized. After the fair (or even before it) make a folder for each school that you are interested in. On the folder write down the date and location of the college fair, and the names and contact info of the representatives you met. Put any brochures or other printed materials you received into the folder. Toss out materials from colleges you’ve ruled out so you can focus on the colleges you’re interested in.

Do more research on the schools you like. Explore websites, contact the admission office and-or plan a campus visit. If you’re enthusiastic about the college, it may be time to visit in person.

Follow up. If you have an alumni interview or have more questions for the admissions office of a school, mention that you attended the college fair and remind them of something you spoke about in your conversation.

To find out when local college fairs will be held in your area, contact your high school counselor. To find out the dates for the national college fairs, visit nacacnet.org

College Admissions Advisors Answer Questions on “Rigor”

September 24th, 2014

One of the most frequently asked questions advisors at International College Counselors hear is on “Rigor” and what do terms like “rigorous course load” mean and how rigorous should a student’s schedule be? We’ve listed some questions below with the answers.

1. How Do Admission Officials Weigh High School Rigor?

Comparisons are made when evaluating students. Admissions officers weigh everything from backgrounds around the world to the context of each high school. In other words, there is no one deciding, defining scale for “rigor”.

What admissions officers will agree upon is that students should take the most challenging course load that they can do well in, while still having enough time to show the deep and passionate involvement in activities that the colleges seek.

2. How many Advanced Placement courses should a student take in high school?

It depends on the student, the high school being attended, and the desired college.

Students can take zero to two AP courses and get admitted into a good college. Others can take five or six AP courses a year and get rejected from Harvard. How to decide?

For the most selective colleges, students need to take the most rigorous curriculum available within their own high school.

If a student is home schooled or the high school does not offer AP courses or enough AP courses, there are different indicators of rigor. Colleges are aware of different situations that may restrict what courses can be taken. What they really expect is that students excel in the opportunities to which they do have access.

However, students should be aware that they can take AP classes online. And, colleges know this too, of course!

3. Which are better International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) or Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) classes?

All of these curriculums have merit.

AP is the most common curriculum as it’s available to all schools either in school or via Virtual School. In AP classes, colleges and universities often grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the exams. In the IB program, students receive an advanced high school diploma and those who pass six exams can sometimes enter college as a sophomore. Students who receive an AICE diploma and pass the exams with a grade of E or higher receive college credit and sometimes advanced standing based on their scores in these examinations from the public universities and colleges in Florida and other schools around the country.

Students should check with each school about which credits or which scores are accepted. For example, some schools give students credit for 3s on the AP tests and some only accept 4s or 5s. And several schools outside of Florida don’t yet recognize AICE credits as it’s still a relatively new and predominately Florida-based program.

One curriculum is not necessarily better than the other. But once again, the student needs to take the most rigorous curriculum offered at his/her school.

4. Which is better: an A in the regular course or a B in the honors course?

The most accurate answer is: An A in the honors course.

This is how the joke goes, but it’s the truth.

Colleges like to see students challenging themselves. So the direct answer is: A ‘B’ in an honors course is better that an ‘A’ in regular. A ‘B’ in an AP course is better than the ‘A’ in honors.

Colleges are looking for students who push themselves, are intellectually curious and are interested in learning. More demanding courses are a reflection of this.

However, what a student should take depends on the student. A student must be careful not to overreach. Every student should take the most challenging courses he or she can perform well in. It does not help to take AP courses and get a “C.” Students who take AP must also look towards passing the AP exam.

The worst thing a student can do is take honors courses and then switch to easier courses later in their high school career in order to boost GPA. Warn your student not to catch “senioritis!”

5. What courses do colleges want to see?

There are very few situations in which the appearance or absence of any one particular class would determine a student’s college future. But, please be careful: Students do need to meet all the prerequisites of the colleges they are applying to. Some require a certain number or years of math, English, science and foreign language. And, some schools require certain math levels (such as pre-calculus) for consideration.

Overall, colleges want to see courses that tell a story. They want to see that a student has pursued his or her interests and have taken a balanced set of challenging classes.

As Yale puts it, “We encourage you to pursue your intellectual interests, so long as it is not at the expense of your program’s overall rigor or your preparedness for college.”

A few good questions from Yale for weighing course selection for the upcoming year:

  • Am I taking a well-balanced academic program that will provide me with a good foundation for college?
  • Am I prepared to take college-level math, writing, and science courses?
  • Do I feel challenged by the courses that I am taking?
  • Am I seeking challenge or avoiding it?


The fact is, admissions professionals are well-trained to identify “rigor” in the entire transcript and not just courses.

If you are a client of International College Counselors, contact one of our college advisors on what courses are most appropriate for your high school student. Other students should talk to their high school counselor.

U.S. News & World Report Announces the 2015 Best Universities and Colleges

September 15th, 2014

U.S. News & World Report released its 2015 college rankings. The Best Colleges 2015 edition offers rankings and data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities across the U.S.

According to the report, the Best National University is Princeton (NJ), followed by Harvard (MA), Yale (CT), Columbia (NY), Stanford (CA) and the University of Chicago (IL). Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Chicago all tied for fourth. The Best National Liberal Arts College is Williams College (MA), followed by Amherst College (MA) and Swarthmore College (PA).

U.S. News also put together college rankings for Regional Universities and Regional Colleges.

To create the 2015 lists, U.S. News used quantitative measures. According to their website, they gathered data from each college on up to 16 indicators of academic excellence. Each factor was assigned a weight that reflected the judgment of U.S. News about how much the measure mattered. Then the schools were ranked against the other schools in their category, based on their score.

These are the indicators used by U.S. News to capture academic quality, their weights in the ranking formula and a brief explanation of each.

Undergraduate academic reputation (22.5 percent): A school’s reputation was based on an academic peer assessment survey of top academics at other schools, including presidents, provosts and deans of admissions. For the national universities and liberal arts colleges, the survey also went to 2,152 counselors at public high schools, each of which was a gold, silver or bronze medal winner in the U.S. News rankings of Best High Schools, as well as 400 college counselors at the largest independent schools. Academic peer assessment accounted for 15 percentage points of the ranking while 7.5 percentage points were for the counselor ratings.

Retention (22.5 percent): This measure has two parts: the average proportion of a graduating class earning a degree in six years or less (80 percent of this score) and the average proportion of freshmen who entered the school in the fall of 2009 through fall 2012 and returned the following fall (20 percent). According to U.S. News, these retention rates are likely to indicate that a school offers the classes and services that students need to succeed.

Faculty resources (20 percent): The following measures were used to deduce that students had more contact with their professors: the proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students (30 percent of the faculty resources score) and the proportion with 50 or more students (10 percent of the score). The next set of measures were said to indicate a school’s commitment to instruction. The first was the average faculty salary, plus benefits, during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, adjusted for regional cost of living differences (35 percent). Also weighed were the proportion of professors with the highest degree in their fields (15 percent), the student-faculty ratio (5 percent) and the proportion of faculty who work full time (5 percent).

Student selectivity (12.5 percent): This measure had three components: the admissions test scores for all enrollees who took the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT and the ACT score (65 percent of this score); the proportion of freshmen at the national universities and liberal arts colleges who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes or the proportion of freshmen at regional universities and colleges who graduated in the top 25 percent of their classes (25 percent); and the ratio of admitted students to applicants (10 percent).

Financial resources (10 percent): This indicator took per-student spending into account, meaning the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures.

Graduation rate performance (7.5 percent):  They basically measured the difference between a school’s six-year graduation rate for the class that entered in 2007 and the U.S. News prediction for the class. This indicator is supposed to show the effect of the college’s programs and policies on the graduation rate of students.

Alumni giving rate (5 percent): This reflects the average percentage of living alumni with bachelor’s degrees who gave to their school during 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Families interested in all the data about each of the 1,600+ schools in the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings can access it online for $29.95 for one year.

International College Counselors note that the college search is not all about getting into the Best College as decided by a survey. The best college for one student is not necessarily the best college for another.

We can help you find the best ‘Best Fit’ College for your student. Contact an expert college counselor at International College Counselors.

Tips When Meeting College Admissions Representatives

September 4th, 2014

Starting in September, students will have opportunities to meet with college admissions representatives. The meeting may be a formal interview or an informal interview, or the meeting may take place at a high school college visit or a national college fair. Whenever the encounter, knowing what to expect and being prepared for the meeting will help the student get through any interaction.

Do Research.

Prior to going on a college visit or meeting with an admissions representative, students should do a little research on the school. Start by looking through the brochures and on the college’s website. Type the school name into a search engine and see what comes up. Go to their social media pages and see what’s trending. Students should know why they want to attend a school, which programs and activities interest them, and why and what inspires them about the school.

Sign in.

Students get extra points from a school for demonstrating interest. Signing in lets a college know that a student attended an event and was interested to stop by. Be sure to “sign in” to all informational sessions attended or on any sign-in sheet available. Students must remember to use legible handwriting, the same spelling of their name that they use on the college application, and the same email address they plan to use for all college admissions correspondence. If not, the college will think they are more than one person and the student may lose the “credit.” Meeting with a representative also gives students good conversation for more formal admissions interviews. It is also an action that can be mentioned in an admissions essay.

Ask thoughtful questions.

To avoid being another face in the crowd, students should ask specific questions that call attention to their specific interests about a particular college. Good questions include: “What is the personality of this college as you’ve experienced it? What kind of student is happy here? What are some of the best features of the school?” Stay away from questions with answers that can easily be found on the website or in the catalog. Also stay away from questions that can be answered “Yes” or “No.” Try to think like a journalist looking for answers.

Dress for success.

The key is to dress in a manner that suggests a student is serious and taking the meeting seriously. It’s about putting one’s best foot forward and showing respect, enthusiasm, and interest in a formal atmosphere. For men, a safe list of clothes includes khaki pants, a light blue or white collared shirt, and a jacket. For ladies, a nice blouse, a skirt that extends to the knees or pats, and possibly a jacket. Showing a flash of personality is nice as long as it doesn’t include anything provocative or profane. Students with required school uniforms should make sure to wear the more formal style. Clothes need to be neat, not as if one fell out of bed and into yesterday’s clothes.

Act like a professional.

During the encounter, students want to be professional, engaging, positive and enthusiastic at all times.

  • Smile.
  • Look the representative in the eye.
  • Show up on time.
  • Turn cell phones off.
  • Avoid giving yes or no answers.
  • Answer the rep’s questions truthfully. For example, if asked what other colleges are being considered, it’s ok to name a couple.

Follow up.

The impression a student makes does not end when the info session ends. Students should write a handwritten thank-you note after the interview or meeting to show that they are a professional, polite person who values the admission representative’s time.

Remember, if you are interested in a school, please do try to show up! If an admissions rep comes to your school or your hometown, the expectation will be that interested students will come to listen and learn.

How to Write the “Why [insert school name]” Essay

August 19th, 2014

One of the most common school essays asks some version of “Why do you want to go to this school?” By answering this essay, schools get to learn if you truly are interested in the school, whether you’re a good fit with their values and offerings, and whether you’ll be able to contribute on campus and ultimately graduate from their institution.

Imagine you’re an admissions officer reading another essay about a student wanting to go to Tulane or NYU because they love the city; or a student wanting to go to Brown because of their open curriculum; or a girl wanting to study psychology at X school in order to help people.

What can an applicant say that’s different? What can you offer the college that no other applicant can?

Be specific. Hone in on a couple of reasons why you want to attend your desired school. Do not laundry list all the reasons why you love the school. A few really meaningful reasons that resonate with your background, experiences, and goals will go much longer in showing your understanding of the school.

Don’t rehash the school’s website info. The school does not need to know that it offers “65 majors and 80 minors.” They already know that the college’s “beautiful campus sits on 300 acres and has 50 buildings.” Rehashing the website doesn’t explain why you want to attend.

Research the classes/programs/activities. Schools want to know that you have intellectual curiosity and that their classes/programs/activities will help quench and expand your knowledge. Peruse the school websites and syllabi – are there particular classes that interest you? Is there a particular program that you want to join? Or if there isn’t a particular club or program, can you demonstrate your ability to possibly develop that activity on campus?

Research the faculty. Schools don’t want to read, “you have top-notch professors.” Via online research, is there a particular professor that impresses you? Did that professor have a particular body of work that interests you and, just as importantly, is there a way you can help that professor’s innovative research?

Cite faculty or alumni. If an admissions officer visited your school, you went on a school visit or fair, you took a summer class at the school, or you spoke with a faculty member on the phone, reference back to your experience with this person and how it changed your feelings about the school, what you learned, and how it’ll be a good fit. You can also mention alumni and their words of wisdom.

Avoid broad, generic statements. Do not give broad statements about other applicants, about other groups of people, or about the school. You’re not the busiest, hardest worker able to multi-task academics and extracurricular activities and that’s why the school should want you. Not every student at the University of Michigan or Duke is a huge sports fan. Write about yourself; not everyone else.

Reinforce interest. You always want to make the school feel that it’s your #1 choice. They want to know that if admitted, you will attend.

Other tips. If you’re applying to several schools with the same essay question, make sure to change the name of the school in which you’re applying. Make sure that the school has the offerings you’re listing. If you write that you want to major in pre-med, you’re going to be out of luck. And, always proofread.

Remember, the “Why X college” essay gives you a unique opportunity to show that you’ve done your research, that you understand the school, and that you can offer something that no one else can. We know you have a gem of an essay in you!

Tips for Getting a Good Letter of Recommendation

August 13th, 2014

One of the most important parts of your college applications isn’t even written by you, and that’s the Letter of Recommendation. Most private colleges want one counselor and one or two teacher recommendations. Here are some tips for securing good letters of recommendation:

  1. Choose your recommenders wisely. When it comes to choosing whom to ask, you want someone who knows you well enough to write something special about you. The best recommendations provide insight about you and knowledge of your high school success. You want someone to write about your talents, abilities, and more.

    Make certain the recommender is someone who likes you. Make sure to ask a teacher whose class is one where you have great attendance, have few or no tardies, actively participate in class, are well behaved, and get good grades. Most likely you’ll never see the letter that is written about you, so it needs to be from someone you feel comfortable with.

  2. Start Early. Do not wait until the last minute to ask for your letters of recommendation. Your recommender needs time to write a thoughtful and articulate letter. The more time you give your recommender, ideally the more time he or she will have to write something reflective and complete.
  1. Make an appointment to speak with your recommenders. Don’t just thrust the letter template into a teacher’s hand the five minutes you have between periods or tackle a coach in the locker room. Additionally, school counselors usually have a full schedule. Making an appointment shows that you respect that person’s time.
  1. Help your recommender. At your meeting, make sure you give your recommenders everything they might need to write your letter and submit it on time. You gain extra points for yourself because your letter will, more likely, be properly detailed. You gain extra points with recommenders for showing them that you are taking this process seriously and that you appreciate their time and effort.

    Some information to provide includes: your full name, address, email, phone number, and detailed examples of any accomplishments/improvements in a particular teacher’s subject or class. Be careful about sending your recommender your resume. You want that person to write about you as a student in a particular class. You don’t want them listing your activities. But if they ask for it, make sure you have one ready! And for a high school counselor who does not know you too well, you may want to provide your resume.

  2. Follow Up. Remember, your recommenders are doing you a favor. Show your appreciation by sending a thank-you note.

If you have questions on securing Letters of Recommendation contact International College Counselors.

Avoid these Common Application Mistakes

August 6th, 2014

On August 1 the Common Application went live letting students send out applications to the over 500 colleges that participate in the program. The following are some of the most common mistakes counselors at International College Counselors have seen students make on this college application.

Learning from mistakes helps them not get repeated.

  1. Failure to Follow Directions. Applicants should answer all questions on the Common App and they should make sure they are answering them correctly and completely. For example, “country” and “county” should not be mixed up. Answer spaces should not be left blank unless there are spaces on the application that clearly do not apply to the student. Students must also make sure to stick with the word or character limits on essays and other responses.
  1. Not Proofreading Applications. Spelling and grammar mistakes must be avoided. Students should have at least two people proofread their application, including the essay. Among other things, it’s a big mistake to provide incorrect email addresses, telephone numbers or social security numbers.
  1. Waiting too Long to Ask for Letters of Recommendation. Students should give their references at least one month before the earliest deadline to complete and send the letters. The earlier a recommendation is asked for, the better. Some teachers will be writing many letters and this takes time. A teacher will do a better job on a recommendation when he or she is not rushed.
  1. Repeating Information. The Common App offers very limited space for students to sell themselves to their colleges, so the last thing they want to do is to repeat themselves by talking about a certain activity twice. If a student submits a resume in addition to filling out the activity section, it should add to the story, not repeat it and contain accurate and up-to-date information.
  1. Writing a Generic or Unoriginal Essay. Admissions officers are reading hundreds of essays and looking for the ones that stand out. This is the chance for students to tell them who they are as a person. Important things to highlight are strengths, interests, personal background, and what the student will bring to a college. The essay should be used to give the admissions officers insight on the individual behind the information on the rest of the college application.
  1. Unfocused Extracurricular Activities. Students should only put down the ones they think are truly important for their application. Admissions officers are looking for quality over quantity. They are looking for passion and sincerity.
  1. Forgetting to send test scores directly from the ACT or College Board. Students fill in scores on the Common Application, but colleges must also receive the “official score reports.”
  1. Using a Name Other than a Legal Name. A student’s name should be consistent with the name that appears on their birth certificate and should include the student’s middle name. When applicants use different names or nicknames it is difficult for those who process the applications to match materials and email messages submitted on an applicant’s behalf. Middle names distinguish students from other applicants with the same first and last names.
  1. Skipping the Optional. Anything a college says is optional is actually not optional. Optional essays are an extra chance for students to reveal more of themselves, so they shouldn’t pass this up.
  2. Waiting Until the Last Minute. Students who wait too long to start on the Common App are asking to be rejected.  Their apps will be messy and easy for admissions officers to dismiss. Many students have been working on their essays all summer, so it is best to get started now.
  3. Failing to Confirm the Status of a Submitted App. It is the students’ responsibility to confirm that their complete application file was received. Students should check the online status via their Common Application account. It is also recommended that they contact a college directly to make certain everything is there.

Be Prepared: The Common App Goes Live August 1

July 24th, 2014

On August 1, the Common Application goes live, and students can start filling out applications to the over 500 colleges that participate in the program. These schools are in 47 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. The colleges and university members are of all sizes and missions and include public and private schools, even the Ivy League schools. Keeping organized is the best way to complete what will seem like a daunting task. Keep pertinent information easily accessible. Print out the following and put it in an expandable folder. Then don’t lose track of the folder.

  • Your social security number.
  • Family information— your parents’ or guardians’ legal names, addresses, occupations, employers, colleges they attended, years they graduated, and degrees they hold.
  • Your high school’s information—address, your date of entry to the school, and your guidance counselor’s full name and contact information.
  • Scores on standardized tests, including the SAT or ACT and AP, IB or SAT Subject test scores.
  • A copy of your high school transcript so you can enter your previous courses and grades.
  • A list of the high school courses you’re currently enrolled in.
  • A list of the college credits earned if taken through a college.
  • A list of summer jobs, extracurricular activities, honors and awards received.
  • A credit card for the payment of the application and to send the test scores.
  • Financial aid plans. (Do you intend to apply for need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarships?)

Students applying as an in-state resident will usually need to show a few documents for proof. For example, the requirements in Florida can be seen here.

Get started on or keep finessing your Common App essay.

The 2014-15 Common Application Essay Prompts can be found here.

Work on your resume, if required.

Students can attach a resume only if a specific school asks for it.  There will be an upload area for it within the college’s writing supplement.

Keep track of your progress on the Common App.

Students can do this by checking the completion Dashboard. When submitting the application, some materials must be submitted together, while others can be submitted independently. The ENTIRE Common App must be completed before it is submitted.

Track all dates and deadlines on a calendar.

You can do this on an old-fashioned wall/desk calendar or program the dates into your phone and set it up to alert you as the deadlines approach.

Keep a folder for each college of interest to you.

This will help ensure that you keep all the printed materials, notes, correspondence, passwords, and photos together. They will all start running together otherwise.

Know the requirements of each college.

Some colleges require applicants to submit writing supplements. These supplements may only be submitted after Application materials have been submitted. Optional writing supplements are not really optional. A number of schools have already posted theirs for the upcoming year and can be found here. Some colleges give interested applicants the option to complete and submit an Arts Supplement as part of their application. Some member schools replaced the Arts Supplement with Slideroom.com integration. Make sure you know the requirements of each college.

Make printed records or screenshots.

Whenever you send an email to a school or interviewer, or receive a response, make sure you print it out and add it to the folder. You will also want to take screenshots of completed applications and confirmations. One of our students used a screenshot to prove his application was not late. And it worked. It’s best to keep all this together.

Break down your tasks. Set manageable goals for yourself.

You won’t be able to complete the application in one night or even one weekend. And if you take it all on at one time, it’s going to be overwhelming. Pick a date for contacting teachers, counselors, or coaches who are writing recommendations. Set time aside to really work on your essays. Then remember to check the Application over multiple times before you send it.


August 21 8pm – Books & Books Coral Gables What should every public school student know about college admissions? Come hear author and CEO of International College Counselors, Mandee Heller Adler, as she reads and discusses her new book, From Public School to the Ivy League: How to get into a top school without top dollar resources.

School Admissions Consulting for Kindergarten-12th Grade

July 16th, 2014

Choosing the right elementary school, middle school, and high school can be an overwhelming process. There are many, many choices. Make the right decision and you could put your child on a better path to success. Given that, many parents have been asking us to help them choose the right schools that will best pave the way toward lifelong learning and a prestigious college education.

We are proud to say, we are expanding our services. Through our partnership with School Choice International, expert advisors at International College Counselors will now be helping families understand and navigate the K-12 public, private, magnet, charter and parochial day schools in South Florida and around the world.

Our educational consultants know the local schools and will provide clear advice about which schools are a match for each child. Through a personalized, one-on-one approach, school placement consultation services include:

  • Student Assessment & Strategy
  • School Evaluation, Recommendation and Selection
  • Essay Editing
  • Application Completion
  • Standardized Test Review
  • Interview / Audition Preparation
  • Visual Arts Portfolio Recommendation
  • Letters of Recommendation Support
  • Decision Making Support
  • Deadline Reminders
  • Encouragement and Support

Through in-person meetings (where available), phone calls, email and Skype correspondences, we provide families with the information and help needed to navigate the K-12 admissions process.

For more information, visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or contact us at 954 414-9986.

Applying to College as a Prospective Visual or Performing Arts Major

July 9th, 2014

When it comes to applying to colleges as a prospective visual or performing arts major, students must approach admissions with an abundance of passion for their careers. In addition to an application, personal statement and interview, admission requirements include auditions or portfolios. This can be time-consuming and nerve- wracking.

Most importantly, students need to find the right school for their talents.

Look beyond the elite schools.

Schools such as New York University, Juilliard, the Rhode Island School of Design, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Berklee College of Music, and Carnegie Mellon are the elitist of the elite for certain visual or performing arts. They are the Harvards and Princetons for the arts. In other words, many students want to attend but only a few will be accepted. In any given major—from musical theatre to graphic design—there are other good schools out there. U.S. News & World Report offers a listing of specialty schools. Look into the schools on the list called “Unranked Specialty Schools: Arts.”

Get an honest opinion on your talents.

Before students and their families spend the time and money on applying to college for visual or performing arts, get an expert or two to critique the student’s talent. It may be better for a child’s future to pursue an arts passion as a minor or a club activity.

Know what you need for the audition or portfolio. Know what the school requires for the admissions process.

Art programs require portfolios that show a student’s best pieces of artwork within specific parameters. Selections for a portfolio should display the student’s interest and aptitude for the arts. Typically, art colleges and programs ask for portfolios with an average of 10 pieces of art. The artwork should illustrate diversity in technique and variety in subject matter. Always check the requirements at the schools being applied to, as some will ask for specific types of work. Visual artists should also be prepared to explain their artistic perspective through an artist statement, and may be required to describe the feeling and intent behind the pieces in their portfolio.

Dance auditions often require a student to attend an open class before the formal audition. Students who attend will learn a routine which he or she will then need to perform. This individual performance will be evaluated on coordination, rhythm, technique, degree of movement, and body structure. The student’s ability to learn will also be evaluated. Certain schools accept video submissions of other performances, either as additional audition material or in lieu of attending auditions in person. Check with each school to see if this is an option.

Music departments are looking for technical competence and performance achievement; however, each program is different. At some schools, students are asked to include two or more pieces as evidence of the student’s skills and achievements. Instrumental auditions should be performed without accompaniment and should be sent in either audio or video format, as requested by the school. Some schools may also require in-person auditions. If so, many times a variety of locations for such auditions are offered. Check a college’s website or call and ask for specifics about their music audition requirements.

Students looking to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre, or apply to specific colleges as a theatre major, may be required to audition. Different theatre departments have different requirements for their auditions and students should check with the schools they plan to apply to for details. Many theatre programs require a prescreening for auditions. Students who pass the prescreening process will be invited for an audition. Programs may require a resume of theatre experience, a recent photo, and/or two contrasting monologues from student-selected plays. Musical theatre requirements generally consist of one up-tempo musical selection and one ballad, as well as a monologue from a student-selected play or musical. Students who attend an audition or send in a video must make sure to wear appropriate clothes and perform appropriate material.

Attend joint auditions.

Attending a joint audition can help students and their families save money. Joint auditions mean a number of schools that offer a bachelor’s degree program in a particular major, get together and hold auditions or review artwork and offer feedback for attendees. Theater majors look into the National Unified Auditions. Visual art and design majors look into National Portfolio Day.

Pay attention to financial aid.

Many art schools and conservatories are expensive. They also tend to offer less financial aid than traditional colleges that offer a wider range of majors. Students who are interested in the arts can successfully develop their passions at traditional schools, so don’t ignore them.

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