18 Tips For Writing The College Admissions Essay

June 19th, 2014

college admissions essayMany students find the college admissions essay to be the most difficult part of the college application process. The essay is an opportunity for students to improve their chances for admission by showing what makes them stand out. This is not an essay that can be banged out in a day or when a student is under a lot of stress. Given this, summer is an ideal time to get the jump on the writing.

“From our many years of experience, students are much less stressed during the summer when they’re not bogged down by schoolwork, or distracted by sports, extracurriculars, socializing and testing,” said Mandee Heller Adler, CEO and founder of International College Counselors. “With less pressure, students are better able to think, reflect and connect with a writing topic. During the summer they also have more time to write and revise.”

The essay may be as short as 150 words, but those words can mean the difference between a “maybe” and a “yes.” The essay tells the admissions committee how and why one student is different from all the others. While there is no exact formula for the perfect admission essay, here are some tips to consider when trying to make a lasting impression on someone who reads 50 to 100 essays a day:

  1. Make it personal. The admissions committee is looking to learn about the student—his or her achievements, obstacles, goals, passions, personality, values, and character. If a student is asked to write about an influential person, the college wants to know his or her influence on the student. In whatever topic is chosen to center an essay around, the student needs to shine through.
  2. Focus on one facet. Admissions committees are looking for an in-depth essay. Pick one project, one activity, or one passion. Students who cover too many topics in their essay will end up with a list. The magic is in the details.
  3. Tell a good story. Students who want to write about a difficulty, should not give the admissions committee a list of complaints. It’s best to tell them how that difficulty was overcome.
  4. Keep it real. Speak from the heart and it will show. Then the essay will flow more easily. A student should choose something that he or she has experienced because this will provide the vivid and specific details needed in an essay.
  5. Come out looking good. Students must always think about what information they want colleges to know and use when evaluating their application. Students should not share anything that doesn’t make them sound good, unless they absolutely have to, or can turn it around to show the positive.
  6. Share your opinions, but avoid anything controversial. Anyone could be reading an admissions essay, so a student wants to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Write about something that is liked as opposed to something that is not.
  7. Don’t repeat information already in the application. If six AP courses in one year are in the application already, students should not insert this fact in the essay unless this relates directly to the focus of the essay. Admissions officers want to learn something about a student from the essay that they can’t learn from reading the other sections of the application.
  8. Avoid cliché topics unless there is something extraordinary to say. These topics include a trip to Europe, the controversial celebrity who is idolized, overcoming an injury and making an athletic comeback, and understanding the meaning of life from a camping trip.
  9. Leverage native culture, traditions, and experiences. International applicants, Native Americans, or otherwise non-traditional students, should not try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” their application. Schools are looking for diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.
  10. Copy-and-paste carefully. Sure, it’s easier to tailor one essay for many schools than to write each one from scratch. However, read each essay over carefully, like it’s the first one that was written. Almost every admission officer can tell tales of students who accidentally wrote how excited they were by the opportunities offered at another school.
  11. Avoid scientific words, acronyms, industry jargon, or foreign phrases. The essay needs to be easy for anyone to read.
  12. OMG! Avoid using slang or other hard-to-decipher language.
  13. Profanity. Don’t use any. It will get a student noticed. Not in a good way.
  14. Spend time on the essay. The admission committee is looking to see what a student can do given the time to brainstorm, rewrite, and polish. They are looking to see what topic was chosen and what was done with it. An essay won’t help a student if it’s sloppy and uninformative.
  15. Check the grammar and spelling. It is OK to write conversationally, but the grammar and spelling still need to be correct. And don’t solely rely on a computer’s spell-checker. Often times, the wrong word (spelled correctly) can slip by.
  16. Show the essay to someone who can provide objective feedback. Sometimes students can get too close to the essay and be unable to see it clearly. Other people can often tell if there isn’t enough being revealed, if essay rambles, if the humor is falling flat, or if the impression being made is not the most flattering one. Remember, this essay is going to a total stranger and is going to be making a big decision based on what they’ll learn from it.
  17. Write the optional essay. Optional essays are not optional.
  18. Don’t lie or plagiarize on the college application. If a university finds out a student lied on an application or essay, the application will get rejected, almost guaranteed. Plagiarism is always wrong, and schools are getting better at detecting it.

“The earlier a student starts writing, the less pressure he or she will feel,” said Adler.

Tips for International Students Considering Graduate School in the U.S.

June 19th, 2014

The number of international students enrolling in United States graduate school programs continues to rise. This increase can be attributed to a number of reasons including quality of education, future employment opportunities, cost, scholarships, social recognition, and opportunities for immigration.
Without a doubt, America has one of the world’s best education systems, with outstanding programs in virtually all fields. Combine this with several thousand colleges and universities to choose from, and the U.S. has options and educational opportunities for everyone.

American culture and the opportunity to meet diverse, new people are other major draws for international students. Many employers, both in the U.S. and abroad, value the knowledge, adaptability and experience that international students acquire by studying in the U.S. Worldwide career prospects increase for job seekers with cross-cultural skills, communication abilities, self-confidence and independence.

International students oftentimes find themselves frustrated by the graduate school admissions process. However, they should not let these feelings stop them. The expert advisors at International College Counselors can help international students navigate the admissions process and overcome a number of specific challenges including the following:

1. Deciding where to apply. Getting into a U.S. graduate school is typically more difficult for international students. Although international students in some fields like STEM make up more than half of enrolled students, many of the “more known” schools often limit the overall student population. A student can gain an advantage if he or she knows which schools want international students to add diversity and cultural enrichment to their programs.

2. Taking the required tests. Many universities require international students to take the TOEFL or IELTS as part of the application process. The TOFEL and IELTS test a student’s understanding of English. Oftentimes, the only exemption for this requirement is if an international student’s native language is not English, but the student earned a bachelor’s degreein a particular country like the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, or Anglophone Canada. Students also need to complete the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT or other standardized test.

3. Completing the application process. International students may need help gathering some of the elements needed to complete this application. For one, students need to make sure colleges receive translated versions of transcripts or grades they require along with letters of recommendation. Essays are another area of the application that may cause problems for students of English as a second language. In writing the essays, international students should not try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” their applications. Schools want diversity; emphasize diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.

4. Deciding where to attend. This is made more difficult because it is often impossible for students in other countries to visit all or any of the graduate schools being considered. Some countries have international fairs so students can meet school representatives, but students should still try to visit the college prior to making their final decision.

5. Getting scholarships. Searching for scholarships can be a daunting process. For top students, there may be aid through fellowships and assistantships, but these aren’t available to everyone and don’t cover all expenses. Some countries provide assistance to students for international study. Students should look into these options and research them fully. Some, but not all, of these require students to return home upon graduation.

An expert advisor at International College Counselors can help the student avoid frustration and get the best opportunity to succeed.

 

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.

For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

18 Tips for Writing the College Essay

June 18th, 2014

The personal essay can help improve a student’s chances for admission.

The essay may be as short as 150 words, but those words can mean the difference between a “maybe” and a “yes.” The essay tells the admissions committee how and why one student is different from all the others.

While there is no exact formula for the perfect admission essay, here are some tips to consider when trying to make a lasting impression on someone who reads 50 to 100 essays a day:

  1. Write about yourself. The admissions committee is looking to learn about you—your achievements, your obstacles, your goals, your passions, your personality, your values, and your character. If you are asked to write about an influential person, the college wants to know his or her influence on you. Whatever topic you choose to center your essay around, make sure you shine through.
  2. Focus on one facet of yourself. Admissions committees are looking for an in-depth essay. Pick one project, one activity, or one passion. Cover too many topics in your essay, and you’ll end up with a list. The magic is in the details.
  3. Tell a good story. Demonstrate how you are compassionate—don’t just tell readers you are. If you had a difficulty, don’t give the admissions committee a list of complaints. Tell them how you overcame them.
  4. Keep it real. If you speak from the heart, it will show, and your essay will flow more easily. Choosing something you’ve experienced will also give you the vivid and specific details needed in your essay.
  5. Present yourself in the best light. Always think about what information you want colleges to know and use when evaluating your application. Don’t share anything that doesn’t make you sound good, unless you absolutely have to, or you can turn it around to show the positive.
  6. Share your opinions, but avoid anything controversial. You don’t know who is going to be reading your essay, so you want to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Write about something you like as opposed to something you don’t.
  7. Don’t repeat information already in your application. If you’ve taken six AP courses in one year, don’t list that you’ve done it unless this relates directly to the focus of your essay. Admissions officers want to learn something about you from your essay that they can’t learn from reading the other sections of your application.
  8. Avoid cliché topics unless you have something extraordinary to say. These topics include a trip to Europe, the controversial celebrity who you idolize, overcoming an injury and making an athletic comeback, and understanding the meaning of life from a fishing trip.
  9. Leverage your native culture, traditions, and experiences. If you’re an international applicant, Native American, or otherwise non-traditional student, don’t try to “Americanize” or “mainstream” your application. Schools are looking for diversity. The goal is to stand out and not appear to be like all the other applicants.
  10. Copy-and-paste carefully. Sure, it’s easier to tailor one essay for many schools than to write each one from scratch. However, read each essay over carefully, like it’s the first one you wrote. Almost every admission officer can tell tales of students who accidentally wrote how excited they were by the opportunities offered at another school.
  11. Avoid scientific words, acronyms, industry jargon, or foreign phrases. Your essay needs to be easy for anyone to read.
  12. OMG! Avoid using slang or other hard-to-decipher language.
  13. Profanity. Don’t use any. It will get you noticed. Not in a good way.
  14. Spend time on your essay. The admission committee is looking to see what you can do given the time to brainstorm, rewrite, and polish. They are looking to see what topic you chose and what you did with it. An essay won’t help you if it’s sloppy and uninformative.
  15. Check your grammar and spelling. You can write conversationally, but the grammar and spelling still need to be correct. And don’t solely rely on your computer’s spell-checker. Often times, the wrong word (spelled correctly) can slip by.
  16. Show the essay to someone who can give you objective feedback. Sometimes you can get too close to the essay and be unable to see it clearly. Other people can often tell if there isn’t enough being revealed, or your essay rambles, or if the humor is falling flat, or if you’re not making the impression you’d want to. Remember, this essay is going to someone who doesn’t know you and is going to be making a big decision based on what they’ll learn from it.
  17. Write the optional essay. Optional essays are not optional.
  18. Don’t lie or plagiarize on the college application. If a university finds out you lied on an application or essay you will get rejected, almost guaranteed. Plagiarism is always wrong, and schools are getting better at detecting it.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

International College Counselors Announces Winners of 2014 College Scholarship Essay Contest

May 27th, 2014

International College Counselors announced the winners of the 2014 College Scholarship Essay Contest. In its fifth year, the scholarship recognized four high school students who each received $250 in college scholarships. One winner was selected from Miami-Dade County, one from Broward County, one from Palm Beach County and one from outside the tri-county area. The scholarship is part of International College Counselors commitment to give back to the community.

This year students were asked to submit essays that answered the question: “What advice would you give middle school students about achieving success in high school?” Essays were judged on the basis of originality and effectiveness of argument or presentation.

The turnout of nominations was remarkable this year and the students’ advice was truly inspiring. The high school students gave the topic a lot of thought, and mustered constructive ideas for middle school students to achieve success. Choosing the winners was a hard decision.

Students from across the country in grades 9-11 were asked to submit a 500-word essay written in either English or Spanish. Several common themes emerged in the annual College Scholarship Essay Contest, including joining extracurricular activities; keeping up with school work and not procrastinating; making new friends; and managing time wisely.

The Broward winner was Chloe Schumannan 11th graderfrom Western High School in Davie. Wrote Chloe, “For middle school students seeking success in high school, I would advise they befriend their teachers, boldly take on new challenges, and realize they are stepping into the first moments of the life that will predict the outcome of their collegiate future.”

Palm Beach winner Angel Rodriguez, an 11th grader from Palm Beach Central High School in Greenacres, wrote about balance. Said Angel, “Balance truly is the one aspect every high schooler must have not only to be successful, but just to survive high school.” Rodriguez also wrote, “If someone decides to take an AP course simply because that person was told it was easy or just because he or she wants to fill up their schedule, then that person is depriving him or herself of the real value of an education.”

The Miami-Dade County winner was Jonathan DeWainan 11th grader from Miami who attends Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory High School. Said Jonathan, “In middle school, you thought you knew everything there was, and thought you were the prime of the school. In high school you are back to the beginning.” Jonathan recommends that students join clubs, but still set aside time to do homework; know who they are and pick the right friends; and do volunteer work as it “not only benefits the school, but teaches you how to cope with others.”

The scholarship winner from out of the tri-county area was Bethany Kirkpatrick an 11th grader from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN. She wrote about passion, “the quintessential quality for success both in high school and in life.” Wrote Bethany, “If all middle schoolers can take the challenge, do the hard thing, and find a love greater than one person or item, they will not only succeed in high school but also be remembered long past graduation as the people who made a difference.”

Congratulations to all the scholarship winners and to everyone that put forth their best effort in submitting an essay. We are already looking forward to next year!

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications to domestic and international students.

The college counseling and college coaching services are tailored to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student. International College Counselors’ achievements include being recognized as one of South Florida’s Top 100 Small Businesses in 2012.

International College Counselors has offices in Miami Beach, Florida; Miami, Florida; Coral Gables, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela.

Celebrate National 529 College Savings Day with Promotions, Sweepstakes and More

May 20th, 2014

May 29 (5-29) is National 529 College Savings Plan Awareness Day. This designated day of the year is for celebrating the importance of preparing for future college expenses and the advantages of 529 College Savings Plans.

For those unfamiliar with college savings, a 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to offer a simple, affordable way for families to save for future college costs. These investment accounts allow tax-free growth and withdrawals of earnings for qualified expenses, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, while attending an eligible educational institution.

The 529 is named after Section 529 of the tax code that created these savings plans. Almost every state has one or more 529 plans available. These plans differ from state to state.

In celebration of 529 day, a number of states are offering special promotions:

Alabama: CollegeCounts $529 Giveaway

  • Enter to win one of $529 in college savings that will be deposited directly into a new or existing CollegeCounts account.
  • All entrants must submit a form and answer two questions in 250 words or less. The questions are related to why they are saving for college.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 29, 2014

Connecticut: CHET 529 Day Promotion

  • Connecticut residents who are the parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child born in Connecticut during the month of May 2014 are eligible for a chance to win a $1,529 contribution towards a CHET 529 plan account.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Florida: Florida “National 529 College Savings DaySweepstakes

  • Ten winners will receive a $529 scholarship deposited into a Florida 529 Savings Plan account.
  • U.S. citizens over 18 who open a Florida 529 College Savings Plan between April 28 and May 28, 2014 will be automatically entered.
  • Winning is also possible without opening an account.
  • Winners will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 28, 2014.

Georgia: Path2College 529 Plan Newborn Sweepstakes

  • Enter for a chance to win $5,529 towards a Path2College (Georgia) 529 Plan
  • Open to residents – or Path2College 529 Plan account owners – who are the parent, guardian or grandparent of a child born in a Georgia hospital during 2014.
  • One winner will be selected to win $5,529, and will have the option to use all or a portion of the prize to open a Path2College Savings plan for the newborn.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: April 15, 2015

Georgia: Path2College 529 Plan 25,000 Reasons to Save Sweepstakes

  • Enter for a chance to win $15,000 towards a Path2College 529 Plan in Georgia.
  • Georgia residents who are at least 21 years of age or older. All entrants must be a parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child age 18 or under who is a Georgia resident attending a Georgia school, homeschooled, or not yet old enough to be enrolled in school.
  • Open to all Path2College 529 Plan account owners (regardless of state of residency) and non-Path2College 529 Plan account owners.
  • One winner from all entries will be selected to receive a $15,000 Path2College 529 Plan contribution. In addition, the school of the child from the winning entry will also receive a $10,000 cash contribution.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: August 10, 2014

Indiana: CollegeChoice $5,000 Giveaway

  • Indiana residents who are 18 years of age or older can enter to win a $5,000 contribution to a new or existing CollegeChoice 529 account.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

College Savings Iowa – 2014 $5,290 College Savings Iowa Spring Giveaway

  • Winner will receive a $5,290 contribution to a College Savings Iowa (CSI) 529 account.
  • Must be an Iowa resident 18 years of age or older. Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Kansas Learning Quest $1,000 Seasonal Contest

Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust Newborn Giveaway

  • Open to parents, grandparents, or guardians of babies born in Kentucky during the prior 12 months.
  • One drawing will be held each calendar quarter, and the winner will receive a $529 KESPT college savings account. A total of four drawings will take place this year.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: Entries must be received by September 30, 2014.

Maryland: College Savings Day at the Maryland Zoo and Zookeeper for a Day Giveaway

  • Maryland parents can enter to win a chance to win a $529 Maryland College Investment Plan account, a Behind the Scenes Zoo experience, and a zoo family membership.
  • The first 529 kids to visit the Maryland Zoo on Saturday, May 31, 2014 will receive a special admission of $5.29. Representatives from the College Savings Plans of Maryland will on site to answer any questions on 529 plans.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: June 6, 2014

Missouri: MOST 529 College Savings Day Giveaway

  • Missouri residents can register for a chance to win a $5,290 contribution to a MOST 529 Plan account.
  • Winner will be selected by random drawing. Participants can earn additional chances to win by liking MOST on Facebook and following them on Twitter.
  • Entry
  • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Nebraska Educational Savings Trust – Teach Children to Save NEST $529 Drawing

  • Open a new NEST Direct or NEST Advisor College Savings Plan account between April 10 and May 29, 2014 and be entered to win one of five $529 deposits into a NEST account.
  • Use “2014TEACH” as the promotion code
  • More information
  • Deadline: May 29, 2014

Nevada College Savings Day $529 Scholarship Giveaway

  • Nevada residents with children 13 or younger may enter to receive a $529 contribution into an SSgA Upromise 529 Plan. The money will be deposited directly into a new or existing account.
  • Twelve winners (12) will be selected by random drawing
  • Entry
  • Deadline: June 30, 2014

New York: 529 College Savings Day Sweepstakes

 

  • Enter to win $500 paid directly to the winner’s 529 Account (existing account or a to-be-established 529). Simply fill out an online form to win.
    • New York State residents 18 years or older are eligible to enter.
    • Entry
    • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Ohio: CollegeAdvantage $529 Giveaway

      • Win a $529 CollegeAdvantage College Savings Award for the benefit of a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend, or other loved one.
      • Twenty winners (20) will be selected by random drawing
      • Entry
      • Deadline: June 9, 2014

Oklahoma: Fizz, Boom, Save for College Sweepstakes

      • One child and teen will each win $2,529 towards an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan
  • Each parent, legal guardian or grandparent who has a participating child in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries 2014 Summer Reading program can receive one (1) Sweepstakes entry form at a participating Library. Online entry at www.ok4saving.org
  • Deadline: August 31, 2014

South Carolina: Future Scholar Palmetto Baby Program

      • Families with a newborn born in South Carolina on May 29th, 2014 who open a new Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan account will be eligible for a $529 college grant.
      • More information
      • Deadline: September 2, 2014

Tennessee: TNStars 529 Day

      • Enter to win $529 for college savings from the TNStars™ 529 College Savings Program. There are a number of other prizes, as well, including zoo and museum memberships, A Family VIO Suite for the Nashville Sounds and a special pack of Memphis Redbirds gear
      • Several promotional events will also be hosted by the TNStars 529 program on May 29, including discounted admission to baseball games, museums, and the Knoxville Zoo.
      • More information
      • Deadline to enter the random drawings is June 1, 2014

Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan 529 Day Promotion

      • Vermont residents 21 or older can enter for a chance to win a $529 VHEIP 529 Plan contribution. All entrants must be a parent, legal guardian or grandparent of a child age 18 or under.
      • Two winners will be selected at random
      • Entry
      • Deadline: May 31, 2014

Virginia529 Matching Contributions

      • Open a new inVEST 529 account between May 15 and May 29, 2014 with an initial contribution of $100 or more and receive a $50 matching contribution from Virginia529.
      • To earn the match, account openers must select 529 Day for “How did you hear about the program?” in the online application.
      • All accounts opened during this time period will be entered into a drawing to win an inVEST account with an initial opening balance of $2,500.
      • Those with existing accounts or who do not want to open an account may also enter the drawing here.
      • More information
      • Deadline: June 30, 2014

Not a state, but another opportunity

College Savings Bank: 5-29 Day Express Lunch Webinar

      • Sign up for a half-hour webinar to learn about FDIC insured college savings certificates of deposit (CDs) in 30 minutes, which includes a live Q&A.
      • All attendees are automatically entered into a drawing to win one of two (2) $250 scholarships toward a new college savings account and a Kindle Fire. Three attendees (3) will be randomly selected to receive either one of the two scholarships or Kindle Fire.
      • Choose one of two times to attend on May 29th: 12:30PM – 1:00PM ET or 3:30PM – 4:00PM ET.
      • Registration

For more information on 529 plans or any other college savings plans, clients of International College Counselors should contact one of our expert college advisors. We can also help you determine if a college is the right fit for you.

How to Apply for Scholarships

May 19th, 2014

 

How to Apply for Scholarships

Even if money grew on trees, you’d have to grab your basket and get to work. The same goes for scholarships.  They don’t come to you.  You have to go out and get them.

The good thing is there are a lot of scholarships – many more than there are money trees. Some scholarships are available to kids as young as six.

Applying for a scholarship is a lot like applying for college.  There are a lot of options to sift through before creating a list of worthwhile scholarships to spend time on.

The first step is finding the right scholarship for you. The second step is applying to them. Here are a few tips for finding and applying to scholarships:

THE SEARCH

Start Early.  The more time students put into looking for scholarships, the more choices they’ll have.  Students also need time to request necessary information and put the materials together.  Scholarships requirements may include:

Transcripts
Financial aid forms like FAFSA
Essay(s)
Letters of recommendation
Standardized test scores
Proof of eligibility, such as U.S. Citizenship, birth certificate, or tribal
membership card

Stay Organized.  Make separate folders for each scholarship and keep track of what is needed and when things are due. Track the Scholarships on a Calendar.  Make triple sure deadlines aren’t missed.

THE APPLICATION

Follow the Instructions. Carefully.  Count the words on the essay and provide the right materials.  If a student has any questions about what the scholarship requirements are, or how to fill out a part of the application, he should call or email the scholarship sponsors. Many applications are eliminated because the directions were not followed to the letter.

Stay on topic in the essay(s).  If the essay asks for the philosophic themes of an Ayn Rand novel, don’t be clever by comparing her to Batman.  Give them what they asked for.  Don’t give more.  Don’t give less.

Check and Recheck and Recheck the Application.  Everything must be easily readable, all the words must be spelled right and all the questions answered.
Make sure it’s signed and dated by the right people, whomever the application requests whether it’s a teacher or employer.

Send the Application in On-Time.  Make sure you do this!

***Scholarships DO Affect Financial Aid Packages***

Students should contact the financial aid office of any colleges they are considering to find out the details.  Each school has its own policy on which types of aid may be reduced or eliminated by the scholarship money.  Different types of aid that may be affected by scholarship monies are loans, work-study and need-based grants.
SOME SCHOLARSHIP SITES

Scholarships.com
Fastweb
Scholarship Experts
Cappex
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications to domestic and international students.

The college counseling and college coaching services are tailored to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student. Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and also received an MBA from Harvard Business School. International College Counselors’ achievements include being recognized as one of South Florida’s Top 100 Small Businesses in 2012.

International College Counselors has offices in Miami Beach, Florida; Miami, Florida; Hollywood, Florida; Coral Gables, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; Boca Raton, Florida; Medellin, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela.

7 Great Ways for Parents of High School Students to Spend Their Tax Refunds

May 15th, 2014

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund this year is roughly $3,000, reported CNN (4.3.14). Here are some great suggestions on what to do with the refunded money for parents of teenagers who plan to attend college:

1. Pay for tutoring. The importance of grades for colleges cannot be ignored. The GPA is the single most important part of a college application. Not only that, colleges want to see a challenging high school curriculum. If a student needs help in one or more subjects, spend some money on tutoring. (It may even pay off more in the form of scholarships.)

2. Put money into a 529 plan.
Even if a child will be a junior this year, it’s not too late to make a tax-preferred investment for college. Many states provide a tax deduction for 529 contributions even if it is only a short time investment.

3. Invest in a summer enrichment program.
Summer enrichment programs can help propel students toward college, as well as help them gain acceptance into a school of their choice. Students can explore a subject of interest or bolster volunteer work credentials. There are programs for all interests, including engineering, career exploration, robotics, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, music, drama and test prep. Nearly every school, including the Ivies, offers a summer program for high school students, allowing students to experience life on a college campus. Some programs offer college credit.

4. Go for the test prep. Next to grades, test scores are one of the most important factors in college admissions. Look into test prep courses with a (SAT word alert) splendiferous SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Test, AP and/or TOFEL tutor who can help boost a student’s confidence and increase the test scores.

5. Visit colleges. College visits can be costly but worthwhile. A student just may find their top-pick school is nothing like they imagined. Visiting a school may also increase chances of gaining admittance and of getting a better award package, if only slightly. Taking the time to tour campus shows commitment.

6. Encourage summer college courses. Summer college courses can give a student the opportunity to attend school classes with undergraduate students or other select high school students and earn college credits.

7. Hire an independent college counselor. An expert college advisor like one at International College Counselors can give a student the individualized attention to properly tackle the college admission process. From help choosing colleges, going on interviews, editing essays and applications, refining extracurricular activities and more, an expert private college advisor gives students the tools they need to find and get into the college of their dreams.

About International College Counselors International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

VIP Applications: What are they?

May 5th, 2014

A number of high school seniors may already be receiving personalized e-mails or letters congratulating them for qualifying for a special “V.I.P. Application.”

VIP Applications are applications sent from colleges to certain students, encouraging them to attend their school. The VIP applications offer a fast-track, simplified application process and often stress the offer being good for a “Limited Time.”

The students receiving this mail are typically those with SAT scores that fall within a certain (high) range. Students who are out-of-state high-achievers are also common recipients.

Other schools send these applications to students who “qualified” simply by requesting information or visiting campus.

VIP Applications also come under the names “Presidential Select,” “Select Scholar,” “Priority Application,” and others.

These special applications are a marketing ploy with benefits for both the school and the student.

BENEFITS TO COLLEGES
Colleges use these VIP Applications to appear more “selective.” These applications help increase a School’s applicant pool as well as strategically raise the average SAT scores of their applicants. These applications also increase a School’s chances of enrolling students from this desirable pool.

BENEFITS TO STUDENTS
VIP applications are quick and easy to fill out. Many times the student’s name and address are already filled out on the form accompanying the letter or on the form that is easily assessable via the email. Typically these applications don’t require a long essay and applying is free.

Since students are urged to return the application or apply online earlier than the college’s regular deadline, students often get the chance to receive an early acceptance to a school. Having an acceptance so early in the application process can ease anxiety.

An acceptance is not a binding commitment.

College advisors at International College Counselors also note that receiving a VIP Application is not a guarantee that a student will be accepted.

If you received a VIP Application, feel flattered and complete it if you have some interest in the school. It’s a good opportunity to take advantage of. Though, if you’re not a good fit for the school, expert college advisors at International College Counselors would not encourage you to attend.

For more information on VIP Applications or any other college applications, clients of International College Counselors should contact one of our expert college advisors. We can also help you determine if a college is the right fit for you.

You’re all VIPs to us!

FOR MORE INFORMATION
International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

College Admissions Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities

April 30th, 2014

Almost every accredited university provides support services for students with learning disabilities. These services vary in quality and extent from school to school.  For students with disabilities, it is imperative to find the school that is the best ‘fit’ in providing programs, policies, procedures, and facilities that meet your needs.

Below are some tips on choosing a school that suits your needs and goals — and what you need to do to make them choose you.

Review Your Needs

Sit down with a knowledgeable adult or counselor and review your needs. The goal is to better understand how your disability will influence your college choices. Questions to answer include:

  • How does my disability affect how I learn?
  • What are my academic strengths?
  • How do I learn best?
  • What strategies do I need to help me learn?
  • What facilities may I need?

Once you have these questions answered, the next move is to begin building a college list.

Investigate and Choose Schools

Students with disabilities should follow the same steps for choosing and applying to a school as any other student.  Preliminary research can be accomplished via internet searches, visiting colleges websites, checking out college guides, going on college visits, attending college fairs, and asking around.   Make a list of all the schools that interest you.

Then make a separate list of what your college must have to accommodate your needs.

For each of the schools you are interested in, contact its disability services office to determine if the college has the services and accommodations that can meet your specific requirements. Most colleges have an office that provides services to students with disabilities, or a person who coordinates these services.  Once you contact the office and get your questions answered, put a check next to each school on your list that can accommodate your needs.

Questions for the disability services office may include:

  • Are basic skills, study skills, time management, or organizing classes offered? Are they available for credit? Can they be counted as hours toward full-time status? What is the cost?
  • Is there a support group for students with disabilities?
  • Is there adaptive technology available?
  • How many disability specialists work with the program full time and part time?
  • Does the school offer specialized academic advising for students with disabilities?

Make sure to visit each school’s website for college disability services to get an idea of eligibility requirements, resources, services and accommodations, documentation required, available academic support and policies.

Make Yourself a Strong Candidate for Admissions

Do this by succeeding to the best of your abilities!

It is important to know that a school cannot deny your admission because of your condition if you meet the basic requirements for admission, including application deadlines, grade point averages, and college entrance exam scores. In fact, you don’t even need to tell a school you have a disability on your application, unless you want an academic adjustment.

What you must do is keep your grades up and become involved in extracurricular activities—just like any other student. Disabled or not, students must meet school standards for admission.

To Tell or Not to Tell

Whether you should reveal your disability early in the admissions process is up to you. The best filter may be: Will it hurt my chances?” or “Is it helpful to know?”

Disclosure early in the process is often recommended for applicants who need to provide context. For example, a student with disabilities may need to explain why a standardized test score appears low when compared with outstanding grades. However, applicants with strong grades and test scores should think twice before disclosing any learning issues, especially if there were no academic repercussions or if they are no longer relevant.

The Application

If you decide to disclose your disability, you can either describe your disability in a letter to the appropriate school personnel and keep a copy of the letter, or call attention to your disability in your main essay. If you choose to disclose your disability in your main essay, the essay must be positive and show how you can succeed. Do not try to write an essay designed to make an admissions officer feel sorry for you; this doesn’t work.

Testing Adjustments

Students with disabilities can receive special accommodations on standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP Exams and PSAT/NMSQT. As a student with a disability, you can request accommodations when you schedule your exams.

Be prepared to send copies of your psycho-evaluation, testing records, and any other assessments of your disabilities directly to the school or testing agency.

Stay positive

The college admissions process can be daunting for any student, but it can be entirely manageable if you start early and take it step by step.  The more information you have, the more “educated” your decision can be.

For more information and for other locations, visit http://www.exploringcollegeoptions.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION

International College Counselors is an independent college admissions company that helps students in the U.S. and all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The college counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process. For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986.

 

7 Ways High School Students Can Make the Most of Their Summer

March 26th, 2014
Spring break is almost here. That means it’s time to start thinking about summer.

High school students who want to stand out on their college applications should consider the summer an ideal time to add some resume gold.

There have been changes over the past few years in what admissions officers are looking for. For one thing, colleges are no longer giving extra points to students who build huts in Costa Rica. They are looking for summer activities that tie in with a student’s overall narrative. Activities that allow students to take a leadership position or connect with an interest in an academic area are ideal. There are many choices of summer activities that raise the APA (application point average).

Summer is coming up fast so here are some ideas for high schools students to make the most of the summer.

1. Attend an Enrichment Camp. There are hundreds of different summer enrichment programs, from the local to the international and, between them all, they offer thousands of opportunities. There are art camps, athletic camps, academic programs, adventure based programs, volunteer programs, leadership programs, and more. Some come with the opportunity to earn college credit. A number of programs give high school students the taste of life on a college campus. Importantly, the camp that is chosen should tie in with a student’s long-term goals. Many of these programs exist. Below is a glimpse of two of them.

For rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, the Boston University Summer Challenge program is one example of a program that allows students to explore existing interests, investigate new topics, examine subjects not offered in high school, and maybe even determine a college major. The two-week, residential summer program offers a preview of college life. Students participate in lectures, discussions, individual and group work, project-based assignments, and field trips.

Another summer program is the Columbia University Summer Program for High School Students. This three-week program allows college-bound high school students to follow a curriculum designed to meet their interests, talents and needs. Each day students will participate in independent study and tutorials, private meetings with instructors, extracurricular activities, and use of the university’s libraries and other facilities.

2. Get a summer job. Summer jobs are great ways to gain valuable real-world experience and earn money towards college. However, in a tight job market, a high school student’s best bet may be the internship. Any job is good, but working in a challenging job that shows colleges’ leadership skills and-or ties in with a student’s academic interests are best.

3. Become an intern. An internship is unpaid (or token payment) work experience that provides students with an opportunity to gain experience in a field of interest. What isn’t gained in cash, is gained in experience, friends, and networking connections. Think of it as a summer course. With persistence and luck, a student can even land an internship in a dream career.

4. Do volunteer work. It can be profitable to work for nothing. Students can make a difference, gain experience make networking connections, and explore interests. Students get more points if the volunteer work links with an area of interest. For example, if a student is interested in a career in medicine, he or she can volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. The choices are endless and the hard work and time can pay off. Colleges and scholarship funds truly adore students who can demonstrate that they make the effort to help others. Then there’s always the fact that doing good is a wonderful reason to volunteer in itself.

5. Take virtual classes or attend a dual enrollment program. Virtual classes and dual enrollment programs offer students a chance to explore something new. Both can help save time and money if the classes count both for high school credit and college credit. Depending on what college is attended, the credit may reduce the course load per term or even allow early graduation.

6. Dive into a language immersion program. There are a number of programs both in the U.S. and abroad. Perfecting a second or third language is always worthwhile. The additional benefits of study abroad programs are cultural immersion and a greater understanding of the world. However, colleges look favorably on any language immersion programs.

7. Start a business. Launching a business or collaborating on one can be a great learning experience and even set a student up for success. The general recommendation is that students start a simple business with an immediate and obvious customer base. The idea is to generate a profit. Students with a passion for business who want to learn more about entrepreneurship may consider attending a program to help them get started. Nova Southeastern offers an Entrepreneurship Summer Camp and Personal Enrichment, called ESCAPE. Similar programs also exist.

Don’t forget to add some down time into the summer. All students need time to relax, recoup and regenerate. They need energy and enthusiasm for the fall.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:

This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.

For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.



International College Counselors
4700 Sheridan Street, Suite J
Hollywood, Florida 33021 USA
(954) 414-9986

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