Let´s talk about RANKINGS!

When looking for a college, one of the factors you might take into account are rankings.


First and foremost, keep in mind there are several types of rankings and schools might have different positions depending on what list you´re looking at. So be sure to check several rankings before determining whether a college is “well ranked” or not. For example, the University of Chicago is ranked as #3 by US News in their National Universities Rankings. Times Higher Education ranks University of Chicago as #13 in its US Colleges Rankings. Forbes ranks University of Chicago as #20 in its America´s Top Colleges Ranking. Each ranking uses different methodologies leading to different results.

Second, you should look at rankings for majors you might want to study as there´s a vast difference between national rankings and rankings for specific majors. For example, Purdue University is ranked by US News as #60 in National Universities Rankings. Purdue is also ranked by US News as #9 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. Purdue also ranks as #13 in Best Undergraduate Teaching.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, don´t look just at rankings – it is important that a college be a good fit for YOU – that might be uncorrelated to its ranking and that is perfectly ok.

Keep in mind there are rankings for pretty much anything from major, to food, to dorms, to quality of life, to best teaching, etc. For example, Princeton Review “Happiest Students” did a survey and ranked where students seem the happiest.

Here are some of the most popular rankings that you should take a look at:

US News National Universities Rankings

US News National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings

US News – Other Rankings Including By Major

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Times Higher Education US Colleges Rankings

Times Higher Education – Other Rankings

Forbes America´s Top Colleges

Princeton Review Best 381 Colleges

Reflections on the College Admissions Process


Worth reading this article from a Stanford student: Stanford freshmen reflect on the college admissions process

She provides some tips on college applications such as:

  • Applying to too many schools can be just as detrimental as applying to too few
  • Only apply to schools where you see yourself attending
  • Diminish the “luck factor” by researching well your schools and by showing passion. Be prepared!
  • Remember that college acceptances don´t measure your worth as an individual


Common App Changes

Common App

The Common Application, system used by nearly 700 colleges and universities, just announced some new changes. These include:

  • A more detailed “courses and (now) grades” section: Common App will ask for the names of classes taken (or to be taken) over the 4 years of high school. Common App will also ask for grades as they appear on the student´s transcript. Schools will still have to submit an official transcript but students will also have to self-report everything.
  • Google Drive integration: Common App will allow students to upload documents such as essas and resumes directly from Google Drive into their applications.
  • Adding advisers: The Common App will allow students to assign advisers who will be able to view their work and check their progress. School counselors already had this view, but now students can add outside counselors to their account to help.
These changes will be released in the new version scheduled to be released on August 1, 2017.

Kindness – can it help you get into college?


We recently read a very inspiring article by Rebecca Sabky who´s a former admissions director at Dartmouth. Below are some of our favorite parts:

“The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper. It is incredibly difficult to choose who to admit. Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness.”

“The most surprising indication of kindness I´ve ever come across in my admissions career came from a student who went to a large public school in New England. He was clearly bright, as evidenced by his class rank and teacher´s praise….But one letter of recommendation caught my eye. It was from a school custodian…the custodian wrote that he was compelled to support this student´s candidacy because of his thoughtfulness. This young man was the only person in the school who knew the names of every member of the janitorial staff.”

“Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit.”

We hope this will serve as inspiration and/or encouragement to all our students who may apply to college one day. Have you done an act of kindness recently? It might help you get into your dream school!

Read the entire article: Check This Box if You´re a Good Person

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How to choose the right college…


Adam Weinberg (President of Denison University) wrote the following article:

A letter to parents from a college president (and a dad): How to choose the right college.

In it he writes some valuable tips including:

  • Value comes largely from fit. If the fit is wrong it is nearly impossible to get a good education – no matter how good the college is
  • Mentorship especially from a faculty member is crucial
  • Students are more likely to succeed when they are able to participate in activities outside the classroom (student organizations, athletics etc)
  • Students learn a lot from one another
  • Discuss fit! Prefer small classes or lecture halls? More comfortable in urban setting or rural? What kinds of people do you thrive around?
  • Choose a college where you can pursue your passions
  • Visit the colleges if possible

For more tips read the entire article.

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ACT: What to do today if you´re taking it tomorrow

Taking the ACT tomorrow? Don´t worry! Today is the day to relax, get some rest and prepare logistical items. See below for some tips:

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  • Print your admission ticket. This ticket has important details printed on it – you also won’t be able to take the test without it.
  • Know what time the test is and when you need to be there – standard check-in time is 8 am. If you’re late, you won’t be allowed to take the exam. Plan on getting there 15-20 minutes early so that you won’t be rushed (or late) if anything happens in the morning, like unexpected traffic.
  • Know where the test is, how to get there, and how long it’ll take you to get there. You can double-check the location on your admission ticket or at your ACT Account. Try using Google Maps to plan out the fastest route. Enter your arrive-by time for the next morning in addition to the testing center address and your starting point – Google Maps will tell you when to leave!
  • Have a wake-up plan, especially if you’re prone to oversleeping. Set multiple alarms, giving yourself an extra cushion of time (10-15 minutes) to get ready. Plan on having a family member wake you up as a backup plan.
  • Set out all your outfit for the next morning. Choose something you’d be comfortable sitting around in for several hours. Layers are a good idea, in case the testing room is warmer or colder than ideal.
  • Organize everything you need to bring for the test. There are only a few items you have to bring, but there are several other items that would be smart to have for the test:
    • Mandatory: Your admission ticket
    • Mandatory: Photo ID
    • Mandatory: Several sharpened #2 pencils
    • Good quality erasers
    • An approved calculator + extra batteries
    • A watch (without an audible alarm)
    • A bottle of water and snacks to eat during breaks. Officially, you won’t be able to eat or drink in the testing room, but you should have access to food + water during breaks.
  • Plan on leaving forbidden items at home. If you bring any forbidden items, you could jeopardize your scores. Here’s a list of items you should leave at home:
    • Any electronic device aside from your calculator and watch (no smart watches, obviously)
    • Anything with an alarm
    • Any writing utensils or tools aside from your #2 pencils
    • Any pamphlets or papers
    • Dictionaries or other books
    • You can find more info on prohibited behavior here – basically, just listen to directions and be polite and you’ll be fine

A note about cell phones: If you don’t have to bring it, then don’t. If you do choose to bring your phone, make sure it’s turned off and out of reach during the test and during breaks. If it goes off at any point – even if it’s an innocent alarm – all of your scores will be canceled.

You might be feeling pressure to cram as much info as you can into your brain the night before the test. You want to make sure you remember as much stuff as possible, right?

Well, stressful cramming might do more harm than good. The ACT isn’t a test where memorizing factoids will help you perform better – the best preparation strategy is a long-term one.

Ultimately, there are a couple of ways you could “prep” for the ACT the night before the test without stressing yourself out. Here are your options:

1. Don´t prepare at all

2. Briefly review key concepts or problems

The most important thing is to get some rest and relax the night before the exam!

Dartmouth to Visit Band – Fun Facts!

On April 12 at 9:40am we will have Dartmouth, New York University, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Washington University at St Louis visiting Band. This week we will post fun facts about each of the visiting colleges – one per day and in alphabetical order.

So let´s start with DARTMOUTH! Dartmouth is one of the Ivy League colleges. Did you also know that Dartmouth is:

  • Dartmouth accepted 2 Band students in the past 2 years!
  • #1 in study abroad. Dartmouth leads the ivies in study abroad.
  • Top ten for internship success.
  • 4,214 unique individuals. Students come from 50 states and 71 countries. 
  • $46,315 average scholarship. Every year awards more than $88 million in need-based scholarships.
  • 7:1 student to faculty ratio.
  • Over 2,100 courses. Catalog includes the flexibility to design individualized study.
  • Over $200 million annually in sponsored research. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “research university with very high research activity.” Undergraduates can participate in research alongside faculty and graduate students as early as their first year.
  • Recognized nationally for commitment to undergraduate teaching, every year since the ranking began. Classrooms are led by stellar faculty.
  • #2 in return on investment. Alumni pay it forward as their way of saying “thanks.”

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Want to learn more? Come to the event on April 12!

ACT: Understanding Your Scores

Several students will be taking the ACT on Saturday, April 8.

The focus now should be on preparing for the exam, but after the exam is done, you will need to understand your score.

You will receive a score report similar to the images below. In it, you will be able to view your Composite Score as well as your individual scores in each section.

Go to this link to watch a video explaining the breakdown of your score report and how to analyze it: ACT: Understanding Your Scores

Universities disclose the average ACT score of their incoming freshmen class so you can go onto the websites of the universities you want to apply to in order to see how your ACT score compares to their average acceptances. This is an example of Stanford´s disclosure on test scores: Stanford Applicant Profile

Have questions? Come talk to Olavo or Debbie to understand your scores and colleges better.

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5 Myths About College Admissions

The Washington Post just published an interesting article about some common myths about college admissions.


Myth 1: Admissions essays don´t matter

Myth 2: The more extracurriculars, the better

Myth 3: Ivy League schools are the most selective

Myth 4: Average grades in hard classes are better than A´s in easy ones

Myth 5: Schools don´t need affirmative action to make diverse classes

Read the article to learn more about these myths: Washington Post “Five myths about college admissions”

Follow Universities on Instagram

Are You Following Universities on Instagram?


You can learn a lot about a university by following them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.

Here are some of the more popular University Instagram accounts:

  • Harvard University @harvard
  • Stanford University @stanford
  • Princeton University @princeton_university
  • Columbia University @columbia
  • University of Pennsylvania @uofpenn
  • University of Chicago @uchicago
  • Yale University @yale
  • Brown University @brownu
  • Georgetown University @georgetownuniversity
  • New York University @nyuniversity
  • University of Michigan @uofmichigan
  • University of Florida @uflorida
  • Texas A&M University @tamu
  • Univ of California – Los Angeles @ucla
  • Univ of California – Berkeley @ucberkeleyofficial
  • Univ of Wisconsin – Madison @uwmadison

These are just some ideas…almost every university abroad has an Instagram account so search for the ones you like and follow them on Instagram.

If you want to learn more about universities and their social media presence, check out this article: http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-college-social-media/