Monthly Archives: July, 2012

Open Access College Advising Calendar


Helping your family understand the process

1. Understand the college admissions process for what it is. Many parents think of college admissions as a competitive battle to be won. But, in truth, it is a key developmental phase to be experienced. This is your child’s initiation into adulthood and, at the same time, an important moment in parenting. Your job now is to become your child’s “grounding cord”—the calm and confident adult who keeps things safe as your child is exposed to the judgment and serendipity of college admissions officers.

2. Realize it isnt happening to you.We are so connected to our children that we sometimes lose the boundaries between our own issues and theirs. You are not applying to college; your child is. Being clear about this affords you the distance to help him or her calm down when he or she is most scared. When your own anxiety spikes, walk away and firmly remind yourself that the college admission process is not happening to you.

3. Watch those pronouns!Think carefully about the messages you are sending your child. You may think it’s OK to refer to your child’s application as “our application.” But chances are your child will hear something like, “You aren’t mature enough to get into college on your own, so I have to help you.” This is your child’s initiation into adulthood. Your job is to lift your child up, not bring him or her down.

4. Keep your anxiety to yourself.Parents of college applicants have much to worry about, such as, “How can we afford this?” “What if my son or daughter gets rejected?” “How can I be old enough to have a child going to college?” While your worries are real, it’s important that you do not share them with your child. Your fears will only amplify his or her own. Keeping a peaceful household is the goal now, so share your feelings with a trusted friend or peer. And if you’re really at your wits’ end and have no trusted friend, buy one: Now could be the perfect time to get professional short-term counseling.

5. Work with your team.Never act as your child’s one and only adviser. The most effective parents team up with their child’s guidance counselor and follow his or her lead. Even if that counselor is a 20- or 30-something, he or she still knows more about college admissions than you do.

6. Teach self-soothing. Sometimes we collect information because it helps us feel more in control. We ask our child such questions as “What did you get on that test last week?” or “How do your SAT scores compare with your classmates’?” These questions imply judgment to our child, something that teachers, school administrators, college admissions officers, and peers might already be offering in large amounts. When your child is expressing anxiety, offer reassuring responses—”Don’t worry, things always work out for you,” “Everything is going to be OK,” “It seems scary now, but better days are ahead.”

7. Look for the griefyours. It may surprise you to know that some of the upset you feel about the college application experience may actually be grief over your child’s leaving home soon. Because grief is about loss, it’s more comfortable for many people to turn it into another emotion that’s easier to feel, such as anger. Rather than create more turmoil for you and your family, it is best to recognize the grief for what it is, feel it, and then move on.

8. Develop Plan B. It’s not surprising that the main source of anxiety in the college admissions process comes from being unable to control the result. So here’s a secret: In order to maintain an inner sense of calm, prepare yourself in advance for your worst case scenario—e.g., your child gets rejected or wait-listed everywhere—and work out a plan to deal with that. Then file the plan away somewhere and get back to focusing on success. Knowing that you have a backup plan in place will keep you more relaxed throughout the process so you can be that positive, steady influence for your child during the anxious moments ahead.

Reposted from: US News Education

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Tips on Writing a Personal Statement

1. Be yourself
The personal statement is just that personal. It’s an opportunity for you to share your life experience, achievements, or struggles. Schools want to hear about significant places or events in your life; about books you have read, people you have met or work you’ve done that has shaped the person you have become.

Schools want to know about you so don’t portray someone else in the essay. It’s almost like going on a first date. You want to display your best qualities but be yourself at the same time. You want the other person to like you, not someone you’re pretending to be.

2. Show diversity
Rayna Reid, a personal statement guru, received her undergraduate degree at Cornell, Masters at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a Law degree at Columbia. Reid says a personal statement is really just a way to make the college fall in love with you.

“The essay is where you really get a chance to differentiate yourself from the other applicants,” she said. “Explain why they should accept you. What will you contribute?”

Sean Carpenter, University of Southern California Student Services Associate and undergraduate student, reiterates the importance of differentiating yourself from other applicants.

He works in the Annenberg School for Communication admissions office and deals with prospective students daily. Carpenter says USC or any major school want to see diversity. “They want to see how you’re different from all other applicants, especially through diversity. What makes you unique out of all the other applicants?” Carpenter said, “Tell things that has helped you grow as a person and built your character.”

3. Do research and tailor each essay accordingly
Every college is different, so each personal statement should be different. Many students try to get away with having a universal essay but admissions departments will notice.

“Do research to give concrete reasons why you’re interested in particular program,” Carpenter said. “Speak with a faculty member that you’re interested in working with or doing research for and mention that in your statement. It would also be beneficial to say what classes you’ve taken that were relevant to the field of study.”

4. Be concise and follow directions
Make sure you read the directions carefully. One of the biggest red flags for an admissions office are students who don’t adhere to word limitations. For the Common Application essay, it needs to be 500 words or less. Don’t give them a reason to throw out your application. Believe it or not, there is a way to say everything you want in a page or less. If you need some help, ask several faculty members to read over your essay and give you feedback.

5. Go beyond your resume, GPA and test scores
Many students worry about how their GPA and test scores will affect the admissions process. The personal statement is an opportunity to explain any strengths or weaknesses in your application — such as changes in major, low GPA or lack of experience.

For instance, Reid was worried about not having a 4.0 GPA. Since Reid didn’t have the perfect GPA, she explained what she did with her time to make up for that fact. Being on the Varsity rowing team and a Teach for America Corp member are great examples of how devoting her time to other things made an impact on her GPA.

6. Tell a story
“Nothing makes someone fall in love like a good story. It does not have to be the next Pulitzer winner,” Reid said. “For college, one essay I wrote was about how I have often felt like my life was a movie and how Dirty Dancing (yes, the movie) changed my life. My sister who currently goes to Princeton even wrote about killing a fly!”

One of the worst things you can do is bore the admission officer. Make yourself memorable by telling a story about something distinctive from a creative or different angle.

With this advice, your personal statement will be the highlight of your application. Good luck!

Reposted from USA Today

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Maximizing your Application Material

  • View every college application as a challenge instead of just “something you have to do.”
  • Answer every question thoughtfully. Write a rough draft of your answers on a sheet of paper or on a copy of the application before you complete the final document.
  • Ask a parent or teacher to read your answers and make suggestions about readability and clarity.
  • Write your résumé before you start the application process. You might be surprised by how many neat things you have done!
  • Be sure to answer all the questions on an application.
  • Give the college what they want. If you have additional information that is pertinent, attach an additional page if there has been no opportunity to describe it elsewhere.
  • Be reasonable, and don’t go overboard. Ten pages of letters of recommendation from your neighbors are not significant to admissions personnel.
  • Get involved in your school or community. Play a sport, join a club, get a part-time job, sing in a group, join a youth group or become a volunteer. Every one of these experiences will further define you as a person to any college representative.
  • How do you maximize your successes and potential in the college admissions process? It is really quite simple. Live your life to its fullest as an active citizen/participant in your school and community, and remember to occasionally take the time to assess and document your progress.

Article reposted from: Fastweb

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Selecting Colleges to Apply

Choosing what colleges you’ll apply to is no easy job! There are hundreds of schools in this country, and they’re all different! You may find fifty schools that offer your major, and while you’ll narrow down your selection with questions such as “Is this school too far away?” and “Does this school cost too much?” it’s also important to consider what the chances will be that you’re accepted to these schools. You don’t want to apply to five really tough schools, and find yourself going to none of them, nor do you want to cut yourself short by applying to the places you know you’re guaranteed. You’ll want to apply to one school you’re practically guaranteed acceptance, one or two schools you have a pretty good shot at, and one school you’re taking a chance on.

When choosing where to apply, here are some more questions you may want to ask yourself:

What are the average SAT and ACT scores of accepted students, and do I fall above or below that mark?

If your test scores fall in the average or above slot for this school, your chances of being accepted are better; however, just because you meet the average test score doesn’t mean you’ll be accepted, and many will find their below-average test score won’t prevent them from getting in.

What is my GPA? Is it above or below the average for accepted students?

Similarly to test scores, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance if your grades are average or above for that school; however, your GPA isn’t the only criteria admissions departments consider. If you fall below the average, you may want to apply anyway!

What is this school looking for in their students? Am I that type of student?

Just as you look for a college that will be a good fit, colleges look for students who will be a good fit.

What would I be able to offer this school? Do I have any talents, knowledge, or experience that will make this school want me?

For those students who are exceptionally great at a sport, or have won a variety of awards in a given subject, it certainly doesn’t hurt to apply to schools that value those areas.

What can this school offer me?

If you’re able to articulate why you’re choosing a particular school, you’ll have a better chance of acceptance than if you’re unsure. Also, even though some schools may be on your list of “safety schools,” don’t be dismissive of what they can offer. A “back-up” school attitude on your part during the application process may lead to a rude awakening!

Cappex has lots of resources to help students find their perfect college match.

Re-posted from

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Open Forums

Open Forum’s are designed to help students and parents alike answering questions you might have about application processes.

These are OPEN forums, so any questions or themes are welcome. We will be coverings questions regarding Common App, Community College, Fee Waivers, SAT vs. ACT, Public vs. Private differences, What does “Liberal Arts” mean, FAFSA, and any other questions that you can think of! At Open Access, we’re here to serve you!


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