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Posted byModerator | Stanford '2117 days ago
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I've decided to resticky the megathreads about once a month in order to ensure that they do not get cluttered up with too many comments. I do not yet know how long this will continue given that this lawsuit could turn up more provocative findings at any moment.

Please read over the following notices with regard to such threads:

-All discussion related to the ongoing lawsuit concerning Harvard's admission policies AND all discussion related to affirmative action in general must be done on this thread. There will be no exceptions made to this rule from this point on. This rule will remain in place for an indeterminate amount of time.

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Posted byMod | Private Admissions Consultant2 months ago
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(For those of you considering applying to colleges in the US)

Please note that my views about this might be different than advice you hear from other sites or even other posters on this subreddit. My philosophy is that it’s good to hear different thoughts and ideas, and then you can make decisions about what works best for you.



Get involved with stuff:

Yourself (exercise healthy habits , personal hobbies and projects, READ real books, practice mindfulness and meditation). Your family (help with sibs, grocery shopping, clean up around the house, take care of dinner one night a week). Your community (community service—can be totally individual projects and/or organized group projects).

Get a summer job.

Just an old fashioned summer job. This will give you all sorts of skills you won’t gain by volunteering and also demonstrate leadership, diligence, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, and determination.

Practice and prep for the PSAT.

You take it in October and it helps you qualify for national merit if you score high enough.

Practice and prep for the ACT and SAT. Take a couple of practice tests and see which one feels better to you and which one you score higher on. Then move forward with that one. Consider taking one in December of junior year. Definitely take one in early spring semester. It’s nice to have testing completed before you start senior year.

Take SAT subject tests especially if you are considering applying to highly selective schools. Take one or two in August that fit with classes you’ve just studied.

Enjoy your summer. This is super important. You need to take time to recharge your batteries. That’s part of being Involved with yourself. Be sure to just take some time completely off from school and college admissions stuff.

Start Your Resume. If you haven’t already, make a list of all your activities you’ve been involved in since freshman year. Keep in mind that basically anything you do outside of class time, homework, and test prep counts as an EC, so that includes old fashioned summer or part time jobs, home and family responsibilities, elderly and child care, personal projects and hobbies, and independent research, in addition to the more traditional research, internships, and in and out of school clubs and sports. If you use coalition app, you can start on your locker. Keep this list updated throughout the next two years.


Pretty much all of the summer stuff applies still. 😁

Add to that:

Take the hardest course load you comfortably can. Colleges say that your course rigor is more important than your grades and test scores. Remember they evaluate you in the context of your school. So don’t worry about classes that aren’t offered.

Get to know your teachers. Visit them at office hours. You will be asking them for teacher recommendations later.

Keep up your grades.

Read 📚Read 📚Read.

Reading will improve your test scores and your essay writing.

Stay involved with everything I listed for summer and also get involved with your school. Join a club or two that interests you. Create a club if you don’t see one that interests you. Or just do individual activities that add to your school environment.

Keep prepping and practicing for ACT and SAT. Start testing in the late fall or early spring.


Letters of Recommendation Ask two or three teachers who know you best to write your letters. I encourage you to ask junior year teachers who teach you in core academic subjects.

College Visits🏛 Start visiting colleges if you can. Look around in your city or town. Visit large schools and small schools. It doesn’t matter if it’s a college you think you would consider or not. Just go to start thinking about what feels right to you. Just hang out on campus. You don’t have to do a tour or info session if you’re not ready for that yet. Then, if you can go on College Visits for schools you might find interesting, do so. Be sure at this point to sign in and go on the tour and info session, but also just wander around. Sit on a bench and eavesdrop on conversations. Do you like what you hear? Talk to students. Ask them what they’d like to change about their school. Or what they do on a Wednesday night? Don’t be shy. They remember what it was like to be a prospie and even if they are annoyed by your questions, who cares? They don’t know you and won’t remember you. Just move on and find a kinder person. Check out the dining hall and the gym. Look for the area near campus where kids hang out if there is one. Lots of kids try to go on spring break trips to visit colleges if it’s affordable. If you can’t afford to visit out of your area, at the very least check out the colleges near you to get the feel for the kind of vibe that works for you.

College List Start thinking about what you want in a college and compile a big ole list. It’s ok to have a ton of schools on this initial list. As you explore yourself and the colleges more as you go through the admissions journey, you will naturally begin to filter schools out.

Think about these six fits:

Financial: will you need full financial aid? Will you qualify? Will you qualify for any aid? Do you need full merit aid? These are important considerations. You and your parents need to spend some time thinking about this and going through net price calculators on various college websites.

Geographic: what areas of the country appeal to you? Open your mind here, too. I can’t tell you how many kids say no Deep South or Midwest without really thinking about it, and in doing so, they are depriving themselves of some amazing options and merit aid. Also, do you want urban? Do you want rural? Do you want an enclosed campus or one that’s incorporated into the cityscape? Do you want beaches? Mountains? Corn fields? Do you wanna get out of your comfort zone here or stay with the familiar?

Weather☔️☃️☀️: also important. If you really really hate the cold, then moving to Boston or Chicago or Maine might not appeal to you. If you have to have four seasons, then the Midwest or the northeast might have good options.

School Culture : are you looking for that stereotypical American big college experience with the big game on the weekends? Or are you looking for the quirky school ? Or something that has it all?

School Size: do you want a big ole state school with loads of options? Or are you looking for something smaller or even mid sized? Do you want discussion based classes where you can develop strong relationships with your professors or are do you want to be in big lectures where you can take notes or go to sleep?

Potential Major: if you don’t have one, don’t worry. You have plenty of time to figure that out and it actually frees you up a bit. If you do think you know, research some schools that might be strong in your major. Maybe touch base with a professor or two.

This requires putting a lot of thought into what you want out of your experience and about who you are and who you want to be. It doesn’t require pulling out USNWR and listing the top twenty schools.

Essential Books about College Admissions: The Fiske Guide, Colleges that Change Lives, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.

Make a NO COLLEGE TALK ZONE 😶 Make a No College Talk Zone in your house. At my house it was our dining room table. This will help you and your parents keep your sanity during the next year.

New College Email Address Make a new college only email address to use for college applications and communications. Make it appropriate! This is important because then all your info from colleges wont get mixed up in your other emails, and I encourage you to allow your parents to have access to it if you feel comfortable with it. Be sure to check your junk, trash, and spam inboxes so you don't miss important info!

Get in touch or make contact with your high school counselor.
They have a lot of knowledge and can guide you along the way.

College Info Sessions

If a college comes to your town or close to your town or your school, go listen. Make sure you sign up and sign in.

College Fairs

go to them! Talk. Ask questions. Learn.


All the same stuff as junior summer. (So, rising seniors, read the junior summer info).

Finish up testing. SAT, ACT and subject tests

Summer Job

Be involved

Take time to recharge batteries

Take time to care for your mental health and your body. Learn more about meditation, mindfulness, or yoga. Get outside and walk or run. Listen to music. Have dance parties in your room. Breathe. Listen to books or podcasts. Hang out with friends.


Write like a motherf*cker as one of my favorite writers, Cheryl Strayed says. Write about yourself. Don’t worry too much about the essays just yet. Just write. Everyday. Get used to your voice. Figure out who you are. Use to force yourself to just get words on paper. This will help you get that Personal Statement ready to go by October 1.

Think and Practice Writing the Personal Essay

Remember--no matter which prompt you choose or which kind of vehicle or conceit you use to relay your message, the topic is YOU. Just focus on teaching the admissions officers about who you are. Don’t worry about being unique; worry about who you are. Don’t worry about standing out; worry about sticking with the reader. You do that by creating connections and bonds. Those are created by opening yourself up and letting them inside. Let the reader know what’s happening inside you. They want to know what you think about, what you believe, and what you value. They don’t need to hear a whole lot more about what you’ve already told them in other areas of your application. Focus on More Expressing, Less Impressing. If you’ve read this far and you’re interested in some more materials for creating a less-stress Personal Statement, you can send an email to me at

Make a common app and coalition account.

Start filling out the details like activities, family info, and educational background.

Update your resume.

Sign up for information from any college you’re interested in —even if they’re already sending you stuff.

Visit Colleges if you can.

Your List: Start narrowing down your list—including a wide range of selectivities.

Make sure you have a SFSS (sure fire safety school)

This is one that guarantees you auto admission based on your stats, that is a financial fit for you, and in a place where you can see yourself. Don’t take this lightly. This is a very important school--maybe even your most important one.

Keeping in touch with Colleges

Sign up to "request info" from the colleges if you haven’t already. Also, I recommend that you follow the admissions offices on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for your colleges on your list or potential list. They often put out a lot of helpful information for what's happening in their offices. I suggest following Common App, too. Also, it’s ok to contact your regional college admissions officers or the general front desk with questions.


All of the above....

Finish up any college visits especially for Early Decision possibilities.

College List:

Begin to narrow your college list. Make sure you have one or two surefire safeties that you love and that will be good financial fits, and then a collection of matches/reaches.

College Spreadsheet

Make a spreadsheet for all your colleges. Add application deadlines. Supplemental Essay topics--and look for overlap. Testing info. Contact info for your regional officer.

Early Action

Try to apply to as many schools by Early Action as are available. Make a calendar of deadlines and work through them one by one.

Letters of Recommendation

Check back in with your recommenders. Send them a reminder email and stop by if you can. Be sure to give them a big thank you!

High School Guidance Counselor

Check in with your guidance counselor or college counselor if you aren't in regular contact.

SAT/ACT/Subject Tests

Finish up any testing you have left to do.


Start writing your essays. Focus first on your Personal Statement. Then categorize your supplemental essays by due dates. How many Why College Essays do you have? When's the first one due? Then, organize the Why Major Essays and the ExtraCurricular Essays. Think about whether you want/need to write an Additional Info essay. And then group the others. Try to get the Personal Statement done by October 1.


Be sure to check your email (and trash and spam folders for interview invitations). Every school has a different method for signing up, so read the website carefully. Some you are automatically signed up. Others require you to sign up yourself. In most cases, they are optional and sometimes you might not be given the opportunity. Don’t worry (as long as you’ve checked your trash and junk mails). I do suggest that you do them though—even if they’re optional and you’re nervous. Lean in to your fear, admit it to them, tuck in your button shirt, comb your hair and wash your face, and go.


If you are deferred Early Decision, be sure to write a LOCI (Letter of Continued Interest).


Finish up applications

Sure Fire Safety School🔥

Make sure you have a sure fire safety school. If you don't, look for good fits for you that are still accepting apps.

Keep up your grades

Take time to care for your mental health and your body

Learn more about meditation, mindfulness, or yoga. Get outside 🌳 and walk or run. Listen to music 🎧. Have dance parties in your room. Waiting for those acceptances can be brutal. Breathe. Just acknowledge that once those little baby applications have flown away from your computer, you no longer have control.

Emotional Planning

Plan for the worst 😢, but hope for the best. Acknowledge that many colleges you might be interested in are extremely selective, and even if they're not, they might be holistic. Don't get too connected to any college except for your surefire safety.


Think about what you are grateful for. What are the good things in your life? Try to make a mental list every day.

Enjoy these last few months of high school. Connect with friends and family.

Whew! I think I'm done! You can also find this post as a blog on my website:


Edit - typos and excesss emoji removal.


Hey A2C! Last year, I was pretty active on this sub and was just really thankful for the help it gave me.

I recently made a YouTube video about safety schools you can apply to based on your dream school and I thought this sub would like it! It's really easy to find dream schools you're in love with, but with safety schools it's a little bit harder. I tried to include colleges that gave significant merit scholarships as well

I did A LOT of college research when I was applying, and now that I'm past the process I really want to just share all the info I gathered lol

I included pretty much the top 20 schools + a few more + why I think these schools would be good safety schools :)

(Disclaimer: I never self-promote bc I hate it, but I thought this info would be useful to y'all)

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Hometown is the best town! Sign up for Reddit Gifts Hometown exchange and show off the place that made you, you!


I managed to amass 100 volunteer hours in a month. I am very lucky and was able to do this because I live very close to a place that requires lots of volunteers. However, I have seen people say that it may be strange to have a lot of volunteer hours in short amount of time. Is that actually a thing? Could colleges see me as being dishonest about my hours?


Whenever I’m trying to sleep my brain just starts thinking of random details to add to my essay and I’m like oh shit that sounds so smart it’s going to sound so good so I have to get out of bed and add it at like three am so I don’t forget and then the next day I take a look at it and it’s actually not that good and delete it lmao this happen to anyone else?


Don't apply to out of state public schools that don't commonly offer good scholarships. Don't do it.

I learned the hard way that applying to OOS public schools is a waste of time and money. I spent hundreds of dollars and probably over 50 hours applying to schools like georgia tech, michigan, illinois, and wisconsin. I got into all of them but they offered me a total of $5000 of aid between the 4......

I get that it's easy to fall in love with schools like UCLA or UMich, but it'll only break your heart more if you get in and see that it'll cost 60k to attend. Instead, spend your time applying to 2 or 3 in state schools and a ton of 100% need met schools. Here's a list:

Learn from my mistakes. SAVE YOUR TIME AND MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I hear this a lot around the sub; is it because they're boring? Generic? Weirdly wordy? Pretentious? Contrived? Gimmicky? Grammatically incoherent?

"Badly written" isn't really a precise description. I just find it hard to believe that kids who have been writing essays their whole lives and have months and months to edit and lots of editors at their disposal are still apparently churning out off-putting, terrible essays? I know people procrastinate, but it would be really helpful to know exactly what about an essay makes an AO groan.


I know that essays are supposed to be a medium through which you portray yourself and your personality.

From what I assume, most people write about their passion(s,) benevolence, motivation, etc

What if I am none of these? I get good grades and have good test scores, but I can’t hide the fact(s) that I am lazy, unmotivated, selfish, have no academic passion, etc

Am I just not the type of person colleges want?


I'm starting school this coming Monday and I feel a little apprehensive about balancing my schoolwork and college essays, creating teacher rec folders, and cramming for my SAT on Saturday. I figure my teachers will be a bit understanding (mostly hoping) of the fact that all seniors are gonna be pretty stressed and busy, but I'm already starting to feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. Anyone who has gone through the process have any advice? I'm scared I won't do well enough to get accepted anywhere lol


Have you guys ever googled a college acceptance rate and gone down the rabbit hole of admissions websites to find the most recent one? Or if you’re a transfer, you’ve probably worked 10x harder. Obviously you can tell that yes, college info is readily available, but not conveniently located. I’ve had to scour tons of sites just to get basic info as someone whose parents have no college app experience in the US. Hell, I didn’t even know what a common data set was until a month ago and I’m willing to bet a lot of people still don’t, either.

So my question is: I’m working on said app right now it’s still in it’s beta stages. But. Do you guys think an app with all of this would be helpful? ie: updated acceptance rates, financial aid how to’s, a customizable calendar with deadlines for colleges AND financial aid stuff, general FAQs (covering letters of rec, SAT vs ACT). I know reddit, niche, usnews do all of this to some degree but they all focus on broader topics and not many people know about them. Any feedback would help, especially if you have any ideas on improvents! Thank you!!


So I am going to apply for the Questbridge College Match Scholarship because I am a poor, minority senior who needs a full-ride. But my counselor suggested I also look into the Gates Scholarship. So now I am like: Do I apply for both? If I get both do I say: "Yeah no sorry I already have this other scholarship which I like better than yours."

Should I pick and choose these big scholarships or just apply for both and make an excuse to opt out of one when the time comes?

Also any tips on smaller scholarships? Any good scholarship library out there? Because I don't want to turn to Google and click the first link and get scammed.


If you qualify for the common app fee waiver, is there a limit or can you apply to any number schools on the common app with it (the limit on the common app anyway is 20 I think)?


Like honestly AOs r always saying “essays r important bc we get to see your character!!!” And they’re not wrong but tbh the extent to which They rely on them is honestly just ridiculous. So many people I know who get into ivies just have private counselors “edit” their essays for them and they come out 58382992 times better than whatever shit they can produce on their own. Also it’s fucked up how apparently AOs can perfectly!!! Envision!!! An applicant!!!!!!! On their campus!!!!! With just a 650 essay and some supplementals. Anyone who has a decent shred of sanity would know that a lot of fantastic kids are bad at writing about themselves in the first person and lots of terrible kids are great at bullshitting narrative writing. Top colleges pass up on too many great kids and take in so many flakey ones because of this shit tbh


Hey guys,

I want to go down the premed route and will probably major in Bio or Biomed engineering. However, I'm faced with a dilemma that really does kill my confidence in going down this path.

I attend a school that focuses on Humanities (basically a version of a LAC). Our school has a very horrible STEM department for the most part and the teachers here do not prepare you and they are bad at teaching. I'm pretty smart and self-determined, but I've never been exposed to rigorous STEM classes and the ones I have had really did deflate my confidence in STEM because of bad experiences and honestly not enough exposure to such classes I would take as a premed. I feel as if I would be substantially disadvantaged in college if I go down this path.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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ive noticed that a lot of the schools im applying to (ivy leagues mainly) ask for a music portfolio regardless of major and i was just wondering how much that weighs into the application, because im really good at guitar and i wanted to help out as much as i can lol

Edit: but also i havent done anything w guitar in school or out of school really. ive just been playing for my own self enjoyment and im trying to record originals


Does the category within L&S matter (ex. social sciences, biological sciences, etc.) in terms of selectivity. Like if I put biological sciences versus social sciences do I have a better chance of getting in if social sciences. Or is it the same because both categories are still within the College of Letters & Sciences at UCB?

Also if I get in for a certain intended major can I still major in anything as long as it is in L&S?


I’m applying for financial aid, but I’m almost positive I won’t get anything. My parents are divorced, but they both contribute and their combined income puts them at about 400k-500k (before taxes) + 5.6% of their assets which puts that close to 1 mil (including house and retirement though which I hear isn’t necessarily accounted for so maybe more like 450k). Ok also what is an unprotected asset and what’s an open asset? I don’t know if the 450k is protected, but I’m assuming it’s not. So, anyways, my parents are making me fill it out even though I don’t think we’ll get anything. I have a sibling that’s going into his 5th year at a private university and a sibling that is going into her 3rd year at an instate university. Does my family stand a chance at getting anything? If so, will the schools that factor that into decisions just look at the fact that I applied or will they look at how much I would get? I’m applying as a transfer which often makes it harder for people applying for aid. At Brown, for example, I believe only about 14% of accepted transfer students are getting aid.

1 comment

In common app there’s an activities section, where are they supposed to go on the coalition app?


I'm an international student and really want to ED 2 to Bowdoin, my parents are concerned about it not being as "prestigious" as Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore and Pomona. They'd rather I ED 2'd to Pomona, even though I don't really like the atmosphere there as much as Bowdoin.

In terms of recruitment, internships, and academics, is there any difference between the four and Bowdoin? I would also appreciate if someone could shed light on Bowdoin's campus scene as well, in addition to the things listed above (for one, I know that the food is excellent).


I did worse on the SAT I took with the essay than I did without, took it without the essay first. My essay score wasn’t even that good, 18/24, so can I just send the 1520 without the essay and leave the 1440 with the essay (June hit me hard) in the dust?


Thanks to u/jlzambrano for reminding me about asking this (I’m not trying to steal your question)

So I’ve been playing cello for seven years, won at a few state-level competitions, have lots of cello awards, etc - that’s been a really big E.C. of mine, and I obviously will send recordings to colleges. What exactly do I submit if I am not at all majoring in music but just want to be placed in their groups or possibly orchestra? Do they want scales too? One Romantic, one Baroque (I do like zero baroque lol)? Could I play contemporary stuff (Piazzolla?) or even non-Western music? Is it entirely up to me? Do I have to have one fast one slow, or if slow and melodic is what I’m best at, should I just submit that?

Second, I volunteer at nursing homes by singing for them. I’ve always been told I have a good voice, used to do opera when I was little, but as I got older I never had the time to do choir and stuff because of other E.C.s. I still love singing, and I really want to do it in college, but is it even possible to submit vocal and instrumental?

Sorry it was super long.


What is the most ridiculous or over the top thing you have done or you have heard of someone doing solely for their college apps?


Is this okay? I don't want to waste my word count by trying to sound proper lol

1 comment

So I talked with a student from Haverford for a while and she told me that there's a huge community for physics and math and that, in fact, they often have math and science themed parties. For the second prompt for Haverford (what excites you most about Haverford/what motivated you to apply) would this be a kosher topic to talk about? Or is it too whacky? What I'd talk about is a community that fosters STEM at a Liberal Arts School and why that passion is something I want to be a part of. Also, should I mention that I talked to the student in the essay or should I leave that out?


At most schools, how does admission to the engineering school work? Is it usually a separate admission, or can you declare an engineering major normally? I’m not an exceptionally gifted student, and I want to find some way to study engineering in college, but I’m not sure if I’m smart enough.

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