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Our head tutor's tips, tricks and thoughts for all your SAT, ACT, and US College Prep needs.

Filtering by Tag: American College application

Quilts, Cows, Money and Meaning: College Essays That Stood Out

Elizabeth von Nardroff

An Applicant’s Perspective on the College Essay from the New York Times is an excellent starting point for those unsure of what to write or the style or tone the essay should take.

It’s always good to read successful College Application Essays. It helps get a better sense of different styles and topics others have utilised. To help, here are Five College Essays from the New York Times 11/5/19 .

Overall timetable for applying to US Colleges/Universities

Elizabeth von Nardroff

From my article in November edition of The American

Applying to the US from the United Kingdom can be a bit tricky. First off, it's not as straight forward as UK University applications where pretty much all that is required are academic records and a personal statement. Also as a student in the UK, it can be easy to lose track of when to do the various things necessary when applying to US Schools. Student counsellors here may not be very aware of the process so it is up to the student and/or the parents to be more proactive and make sure that all the boxes are ticked. To help with the process, it can be helpful to have an overview. Let's break this down step by step and year by year:

Year 11 to Lower 6th/Year 12:

Start to think about which schools to apply to: research should ideally start in Year 11-12 or Lower Sixth. Get to know what types of schools you'd be interested in, visit local College Fairs (such as Fulbright here in London!), talk to student reps. Get a better sense of which might be suitable for you – not everyone is Harvard material, nor should they be! With over 4,000 institutions, there are a great range of Colleges, so it's worth doing some homework to find the best-fit school. There are counsellors in the US whose full-time job is to do just that, so finding outside help might well be worth it.

Also, begin to think about your extracurricular activities – these are important to US Colleges, so if you aren't as active as you should be by Year 11 or Lower 6th, then it is time to look into activities and/or sports outside of school to engage in.

Begin to think about which teachers you might ask for teacher recommendations – remember – US schools expect a more thorough, detailed evaluation from your teacher about you – beyond just your academic performance. Request ones from teachers who know you well.

Start your ACT/SAT prep! These are standardised tests required by most schools in addition to your application. Get an idea from your research the scores their admitted students get. You should aim to take your first test in April/May of your year 12/Lower 6th. That way if you need to retake (and many students in the US take the test multiple times), you've got time to do so in June of that year and in Autumn of Year 13/Upper 6th. Schools also may require SAT Subjects Tests – again, make sure and schedule these is. Please check the next issue of The American for more information on the SAT and ACT Tests.

Upper Sixth/Year 13 – Get started on you applications and application essays. Most schools accept the Common Application, but may require additional essays. These are important so make sure they are a true reflection of yourself. Applications will be due October for Early Decision and Early Action, December/January for Regular Please see last month's issue of the American for discussion on the differences. Every school is different, so it's important to keep track of deadlines. Make sure you have your final tests taken in time for deadlines.

While it may seem like a lot to do, the it is definitely worth the effort. Getting into your best-fit American College will pay off for the rest of your life!

Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision -- from my Sept. 2016 article in The American magazine

Elizabeth von Nardroff

With autumn now upon us, students applying to US Colleges need to get cracking! There is a lot to get done: final SAT or ACT tests to take, applications to fill out, teacher recommendations to request, and essays to write. But did you know about the different types of admission -- Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Admission? It’s important to note the differences and consider the reasons which might be the best option for you.

Let’s first look at Early Decision. With this option, you apply to only one school, with the deadline much earlier than the rest -- typically in October. Early Decision applications are the ideal choice if you have thoroughly researched schools and found your ‘dream school,’ one that you would have no qualms about attending. If accepted, you find out in December (before Regular Decision applications are even due) and the offer is binding – i.e., you must accept it. The upshot is you have the freedom to relax, knowing that the application process is complete and your school place is secured. Another benefit of applying Early Decision is it enhances your chances of being accepted at your school of choice. The downside is the need to have all testing, essay writing and teacher recommendations requested done by October. Also, there is no guarantee you will be accepted and may need to apply to other schools as well.

Early Action is similar to Early Decision in that you can only apply to one school. Similarly, you find out if you’re accepted earlier that Regular Decision, but not as early as Early Decision – more typically in January or February. The difference is then if you are accepted, you need not decide straight away whether or not to accept the offer. If fact, you can still apply to other schools using Regular Admissions and await their acceptance or rejections before committing to the Early Action school. Again, the earlier deadline for applications can be off-putting if you aren’t ready or are unsure of which school you might like.

Then, of course, there is Regular Decision. If you are either uncertain of which school you’d like to attend, or are deferred or rejected by your Early Decision/Early Action school, you can still apply, usually by January, to any number of schools. The benefit of this is the added time for retaking tests and working on essays, as well as determining potential schools. The downside is the applicant pool against which you are competing will be that much greater, making it more difficult at some schools to gain a place. Offers are typically made late March/early April.

Please note that these are guidelines only – do check with individual schools for precise dates!