College Preparation

Getting Oriented—the First Year Transition

Getting Oriented—the First Year Transition

While attending orientation might seem insignificant, it can influence the friends you make, the classes you select, and, most importantly, your attitude when the classes begin in the fall.  

A lot of students get apprehensive about attending orientations; they especially fear the awkwardness of meeting future classmates, upper classmen, or faculty. It is better to think of orientation as a stress-free introduction to a new institution and its numerous departments, clubs, and resources.

Enrolling in a MOOC

Enrolling in a MOOC

To add a unique activity to your college application and resume, enroll in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in subjects ranging from essay writing to nanotechnology.

A MOOC is simply an online course with the capability to serve a large number of students (for example Stanford’s initial MOOC in 2011, Introduction into AI, enrolled 160,000 students) with open access via the web. Supplementary learning materials may include videos, lectures, e-books, or problem sets.  

Involvement: a Key to College Success and Admissions

Involvement: a Key to College Success and Admissions

In high school the best students often use to the fullest the resources available to them. There are stories of Bill Gates, along with his friend Paul Allen, hacking into the computer system at Lakeside high school. Tales of students who begin on the school newspaper as freshmen and gradually expand their responsibilities to managing editors are legion. These are the type of applicants many of the most selective schools seek.

The College Board's 'ReadiStep' Test for 8th Graders

The College Board's 'ReadiStep' Test for 8th Graders

Two weeks ago, the College Board unveiled a new "low stakes" (a phrase used in testing circles that means the results don't affect student placement or admissions) test called "ReadiStep." ReadiStep (details can be found at www.readistep.com) will be designed to give "early feedback to help 8th grade students identify the skills they need to be college ready. The test, according to the College Board, will align with "the English Language Arts and Mathematics College Board Standards for College Success" and will have "three multiple-choice sections-reading, writing and mathematics." The two-hour long test will debut in fall 2009. (ReadiStep Quick Reference from the College Board)

The TOEFL, IELTS or the Pearson Test of English

The TOEFL, IELTS or the Pearson Test of English

ETS (Educational Testing Service) used to be almost a monopoly. They created a test like the SAT or the TOEFL, and test takers signed up; they didn't really have a choice. Those days are over. The SAT, as mentioned in a previous column, is under siege from the ACT and the growing number of colleges (Fairtest.org) who are no longer requiring standardized tests. Now the TOEFL, with over a 1,000,000 test takers, each, on average, paying $140, a $140,000,000 concession, is also feeling the heat of competition. The first threat to TOEFL began to seriously rear its head in 2003: the International English Language Testing System, the IELTS (www.ielts.org). This test, an entity of Cambridge University and a consortium of British and Australian organizations, is the test of choice for EFL students seeking to enroll in universities across the British Commonwealth.

Considering the IB Edge

Considering the IB Edge

Parents are constantly seeking an edge for getting their students into the most selective schools possible. Graduates of one program (though using its international spelling convention, it should be "programme"), gained such an edge in 2003. Their admissions prospects into Harvard improved by 2%; into Yale by 2%; into Stanford by over 4.5%; and into the UCs by over 26%. The programme I'm referring to is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme; it's quite a lengthy and impressive name. Yet, it's a program well respected by some of the heavyweights in the selective school universe: