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February 24th, 2020

Great College Visit Questions (Part One: Student Life)

“Boots on the ground” was one of the best pieces of advice I heard while my oldest child and I were beginning the college process.College visits - Boots on the ground!

I looked blankly at the woman who said it to me. “Go on some college visits,” she repeated.

Ahhhh. That made sense! I promptly started scheduling college visits to my daughter’s prospective campuses. This is also an important way to show interest in a college to Admissions. Learn more about demonstrated interest as it can be an important factor in boosting a college application. Another perk: some schools will waive the application fee if you make a registered college visit to the campus.

Your teen can learn a lot about a school’s culture by walking around the campus, talking to students, and asking questions. Of course, which questions to ask will depend on what’s important to your student. My main question probably isn’t the one you might expect: I wanted to know where students hung out. Fortunately, my daughter has always done well academically, and I can reasonably hope that to continue in college. However, studying is generally done alone. I wanted to know where my daughter, a social creature, could find new friends and have fun. Don’t worry, I also asked where students like to study!

Some other questions we asked on our college visit about student life:

  • Do most students stay on campus on the weekend?

  • What’s your favorite thing about (insert university name)?

  • Is there anything fun to do off-campus?

  • How’s the Wi-Fi?

Our college visit questions will probably be different from your questions. Make sure you visit the school’s website and check out the FAQ. It’s a great place to start your list! Then think about what is essential to your teen’s happiness? A great gym? Make sure you visit the athletic center while you’re on campus. Find out what it offers and when it’s open. Is your teen particular about food? Ask your tour guide where to find the best food on campus. And the best latte… Is your teen a sports fan? Do tons of students attend games? Or is school spirit kind of meh?

As we continue to navigate the college process, I’m glad my daughter put boots on the ground at some of her prospective schools, so at least she had the answer to these crucial questions: how does the campus feel? Can she see herself as a student there for the next four years? If that answer is yes, then we can probably figure out the rest of it…and so can you. To get you started on this process, check out US News College Search to compare information from 1900 colleges!

As always, Test Preps is available to help with your SAT and ACT preparation needs.

Stay tuned for Great College Visit Questions (Part Two: Academics).

*Thank you to my bff Amanda for sharing her experiences as she navigates the college process with her own teens in this series of guest posts!

 

January 16th, 2020

Should Your Student Apply to an Honors College?

I asked a college sophomore in the Honors College at Duquesne University, and her response was: “Absolutely! You get priority scheduling, better class selection, and usually nicer dorms.”

So if your teen is a high achiever and is looking at schools with an Honors College, he or she should definitely consider applying. Academic benefits can include smaller class sizes with more meaningful discussions and interaction with their professors. Access to professors is limited in a larger lecture setting and office hours may be inconvenient. Other benefits can be priority class registration and nicer dorms or a dedicated space where honors students can study and hang out. Sometimes, honors students take a series of classes together, so faces become familiar more quickly in the smaller-group setting. Honors programs can have professional benefits as well. If your teen plans to pursue a higher degree, masters programs will look favorably on an honors program’s rigorous course of study. Similarly, potential employers recruit graduates with have critical thinking skills.

Now let’s consider the possible challenges of an Honors College program…

First and foremost, there’s no getting around that fact that an honors program is extra work. The classes are smaller and require more participation, which makes it more difficult to “coast.” If your teen hates public speaking, he or she might prefer to be in a large lecture hall where there’s less chance of being singled out. Often, there’s a required GPA to maintain Honors College standing or housing, and some schools may ask students to attend a certain number of Honors College events.

Honors College isn’t for everyone, but for motivated students who are accustomed to a challenging workload and high achievement, the benefits are undeniable. At Test Preps, we excel at helping students achieve their goals. Contact us today if you’d like to learn how your teen can improve their ACT/SAT score for any program!

October 25th, 2019

What Is “Demonstrated Interest” And How Do I Show It?

As if sending SAT/ACT test scores, high school transcripts, and applications isn’t enough to do, some colleges (not all) track how much “interest” prospective students show in their institution. This is called demonstrated interest, and while it might not make or break your teen’s admission status, what if it’s one variable that can set them apart from other applicants? So it certainly can’t hurt to show some enthusiasm and interest starting with the college search during junior year.

Traditionally, a campus tour is a great way to show demonstrated interest. If finances and time allow, visit prospective schools, and make sure your teen’s name is checked off on the attendance roster. If visiting isn’t feasible, sign up for an online webinar that might cover the same material and offer a virtual tour. Have your child reach out to an admissions officer via e-mail or phone with genuine, pertinent questions about the admissions process, provided that information can’t be found elsewhere. Other ways for your teen to show demonstrated interest: register for and attend college fairs and engage with counselors at prospective schools’ tables, speak with admissions officers if they visit their high school, and always open e-mails from schools on their application list. Some schools offer alumni interviews, another great way to show interest with the double benefit of also getting an insider perspective on the school.

Colleges appreciate demonstrated interest because it improves the chances of receiving a “YES” response to their acceptance letter. Students who accept offers make the schools look desirable, and demonstrated interest is a great way to predict an enthusiastic “YES.” However, demonstrating interest also has a great stealth benefit. Thoroughly investigating schools, talking to admissions officers, visiting campuses, and reading e-mails can help you and your teen figure out whether a prospective school is truly a good fit.

As always, Test Preps is here to help you lock down that best possible SAT/ACT score so that demonstrated interest is the bow on top of the already-awesome student package. Now get out there, get enthusiastic, and prepare for possibilities!

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