There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. And while the media tends to focus on just a handful of schools, we at College Coach encourage students to think outside the box during their college selection process and explore a wide range of colleges, including this week’s School Spotlight, Agnes Scott College. Agnes Scott College, a private, liberal arts school, enrolls almost 1,000 undergraduates (all women!) on its 100-acre campus, located just six miles from downtown Atlanta. An amazing 48 percent of students study abroad during their time at Agnes Scott, and students also enjoy participating in one of the oldest honor systems in the country. Although Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college (where majoring in biochemistry and minoring in human rights is both possible and probable), students can also study professionally aligned programs including business management, engineering (through a dual degree with Georgia Tech), and computer science (through a dual degree with Emory University). What are some of the benefits of attending a women’s college? In addition to creating both a supportive and empowering learning environment, Agnes Scott also places a heavy emphasis on developing students’ leadership qualities. Whether through leadership retreats, the LeaderStories speaker series, or the Women’s Bridge to Business program, the women at Agnes Scott are taught how to create meaningful change in their communities. Good to know: Any applicant who has a 3.75 GPA, 1250 SAT, or 26 ACT (and meets the College’s minimum application requirements) is automatically qualified for a $25,000 merit Trailblazer Scholarship, renewable for up to four years!
There is a scholarship (or many scholarships) out there for everyone. In this week’s Scholarship Spotlight, we look at the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Scholarship. Recently, College Coach Robyn Stewart’s daughter figured out how to balance a spoon on her nose. “You will be great at parties,” Robyn told her, “now finish your dinner.” Unusual talents are another area to focus on when searching for scholarships, so what’s your party trick? For students who not only know the difference between a diving duck and a dabbling duck, but can imitate a merganser and a scoter as well, this duck calling contest may be right up your alley. For more information on this scholarship and how to apply, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
You know you love Harvey Mudd, but now it is time to articulate why by clearly showcasing the synergy between you the college and providing the admissions committee with a holistic picture of who you are and what you will bring to their community.
In addition to the Common Application Personal Statement, Mudd requires two additional essays. The first essay is essentially asking you, “Why Harvey Mudd?” while the second gives you four prompts to choose from. When writing these essays, remember that words are precious real estate; an opportunity for you to pop out of the computer screen as a multidimensional human being and showcase elements of yourself that aren’t found elsewhere in your application. This is a space to reflect deeply, to show that you are a strong fit for Mudd (and Mudd for you) and that you will bring wonderful skills, passion, and enthusiasm to the campus.
Essay 1: What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you?
Before you starting writing this essay, spend at least half an hour exploring the college’s website and identifying clear connections between who you are as a scholar and person, and the core values and strengths of Mudd. I encourage you to start by reading HMC’s Mission and Strategic Vision. They are very clear that they want their alumni to emerge as not only practitioners of engineering, science, and math, but as leaders and innovators in their fields. Their alumni are not only leaders in the sciences, but they value a holistic and well-rounded education and care deeply about making a positive impact on society. Explore majors, student affairs programming, research opportunities, and the Discover page to find specific examples of how Mudd is the right school for you. As you write this essay, be careful not to fill the space with general statements about the college’s prestige or ranking (they know they are excellent) or elements of their education that can be said about most colleges; be specific.
As a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium, the Mudd experience is deeply impacted by the ability to make friends and take advantage of programming and offerings across all seven campuses, so take some time to learn about the consortium before writing this essay.
Essay 2: Choose from four prompts
For this essay, take some time to review the four options, determine which prompt resonates with you most, and then do some brainstorming. This space should either share a part of your life or experiences that is not elsewhere in the application OR be a deep dive and reflection on something briefly listed in your activities section or other parts of the application. Notice that these supplements are geared toward getting to know YOU: your story, your holistic interests beyond science, the human being that will join their campus. This essay should not read like a narrative resume listing all of your accomplishments, but rather a thoughtful reflection on your life and experience.
Best of luck finishing your application, and make sure to check out blog.getintocollege.com for more info.
November 1 marks one of the biggest early application program deadlines of the year, and many students will submit at least one application by that day. But what if you’re a senior and you’re just getting started thinking about your college applications? To kick off our latest podcast, we have some good advice for you to help kick off your applications. In other segments, we’ll look at the financial impact of your college list and selection process. And, finally, last week we gave you the low down on the University of California application, and this week we’re tackling the application’s personal insight questions. To listen, say, “Alexa, play Getting In: A College Coach Conversation.”
While many might think of Carleton College when they hear “Northfield, Minnesota,” there’s another fabulous school in this small town—St. Olaf College. Like its neighbor, St. Olaf is a small, liberal arts college. But if you’re planning to apply, you’ll want to be sure you demonstrate deeper knowledge of the college and its culture in your supplemental essay responses than that! So let’s look at what those questions are and how you might answer them.
St. Olaf applicants are required to answer one 100-word essay and three 10-word short responses. You might look at this in comparison to say, the Stanford prompts, and think, “This will be a breeze!” But it’s still important to approach these essays with care and thought—St. Olaf is quite serious about crafting an intentional community of students.
The first prompt is, “How are you and St. Olaf a good fit for each other?” This is essentially going to be your “why” St. Olaf answer; in this response you’ll want to demonstrate your knowledge of the school and its unique idiosyncrasies—and, of course, why you in particular have been drawn in. Because of the brevity of the response (100 words), we encourage you to go for depth rather than breadth. For example, did you know that St. Olaf students go by the nickname “Oles” and are known for being trustworthy, sincere, and deeply committed to their community? There’s even a tradition, called “Friday Flowers,” of students buying flowers to leave in friends’ post offices boxes with notes. If that doesn’t scream kind community, we don’t know what does!
St. Olaf then requires each applicant to complete the following three sentences in ten words or less:
- Everyone knows that I…
- No one knows that I…
- St. Olaf should know that I…
This is your chance to have a little fun! While you don’t want to overthink it and come up with the trite answer that you think the admissions officer wants you to give (that’s too boring!), you should be using this space to get a little creative. What aspects of your personality or experiences will the application reader not see from the other components of the application? If we were reading these responses, we would have loved to see some personality show through here—so don’t be afraid to let it! For more on St. Olaf and other popular college essay requirements, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. And while the media tends to focus on just a handful of schools, we at College Coach encourage students to think outside the box during their college selection process and explore a wide range of colleges, including this week’s School Spotlight, University of California, Merced. There are so many well-known and highly regarded universities within the University of California system. Of course UCLA and Berkeley come immediately to mind, but have you ever considered the incredible opportunities at the UC’s newest campus, UC Merced? Located one hour from Fresno and 90 minutes from Yosemite National Park, the University of California, Merced opened in 2005 and has many of the same hands-on research opportunities as its older siblings but with a more personalized feel. With under 9,000 students (and only 8% of UC Merced students are grad students), both the academic and social offerings here are geared to the undergraduate experience. The student body is incredibly diverse. In addition to being designated a Hispanic-serving institution, the University also provides tremendous support for its large populations of low-income and first generation students. The vibe at UC Merced is decidedly green. All of the buildings on campus are environmentally certified, and conservation efforts can be seen everywhere across campus, from ubiquitous recycling and compost bins to tips and reminders to save water and energy. Academically, students can choose from a growing array of majors including many unique interdisciplinary options like Critical Race & Ethnic Studies (new as of 2017), Global Arts Studies, and Public Health. Good to know: students interested in UC Merced apply using the UC application, which must be submitted between 11/1 and 11/30.
There is a scholarship (or many scholarships) out there for everyone. In this week’s Scholarship Spotlight, we look at the Walmart Associate Scholarship. Many high school students hold down a part-time job or two before college, and if one of those jobs happens to be as a Walmart Associate, you are in luck! A combination of community involvement and financial need are considered for students applying for the Associate Scholarship offered through the Walmart Foundation. For more information on this scholarship and how to apply, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
Over time, College Coach Kennon Dick has had a number of students struggle with writing their responses to the Emory University supplemental prompts, and this year they seem to be equally, if not more perplexing. Emory requires students to respond in under 150 words to one of three prompts reflecting upon a topic of importance to them and to one of three prompts which give the reader a peek at the students’ inner workings. The difficulty of writing something really illuminating in 150 words or less makes it even more challenging, and having multiple prompts to choose from doesn’t seem to mitigate student’s stress very much. If Emory is on your list, check out Kennon’s tips for tackling these short essays at blog.getintocollege.com.
More than 200,000 students will apply to the University of California system this year using the U.C. application. That’s bound to generate a lot of questions, and we have a lot of answers for you on the latest episode of our podcast, Getting In: A College Coach Conversation. We’re also answering your other admissions and college finance questions in our listener Q&A segment. To listen, say, “Alexa, play Getting In: A College Coach Conversation.”
The National Merit Scholarship Program has taken on a strange bedfellow. Beginning with the 2020 National Merit Scholarship competition, students identified as Semifinalists by their P.S.A.T. scores may submit “confirming” scores that result from either the S.A.T. or the A.C.T. to be considered for Finalist standing. The A.C.T. has long been the primary competitor of the College Board, producer of the P.S.A.T. (and S.A.T.) and cosponsor of the National Merit Scholarship Program. A likely outcome of the A.C.T. option as a National Merit Scholarship Program confirming test will be a surge in A.C.T. testing on the part of high-achieving students who want to improve their chances of selection. Students would be wise, however, to maintain perspective. Semifinalists will be invited to complete applications that include an essay, a recommendation from a school official and evidence of consistently superior academic performance in the classroom. In a competition featuring students who enter with already very high scores, S.A.T. or A.C.T., the final determination will likely be derived from a more holistic assessment with emphasis falling more on subjective submissions than fine distinctions between near-perfect scores. That being the case, Semifinalists are well advised to focus more on developing an insightful essay and maintaining excellence in the classroom during senior year than on trying to add a few points to their S.A.T. or A.C.T. profiles. Learn more from our partners at Revolution Prep in the latest post on College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.