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Allen Grove

Allen\'s College Admissions Blog

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Bad Essay Topics - 10 Essay Topics to Avoid

Thursday May 29, 2014

Many college applications, the Common Application included, give you a lot of freedom to choose your topic. This freedom, unfortunately, can lead to confusion and bad decision making. Can you write about sex or drugs? Is it okay to argue for or against abortion? Surely that trip to Central America is a good topic, right?

College admissions officers encounter certain bad essay topics over and over again. Granted, a really skillful writer can make pretty much any topic work, but college applicants would be wise to steer clear of these 10 bad essay topics.

Also be sure to check out these essay tips for the five new Common Application essay options.

Last Chance to Register for the June 7th SAT

Tuesday May 27, 2014

If you're planning to take the popular June 7th SAT, the regular registration deadline has come and gone, but late registration is available until Wednesday, May 28th. The June exam is popular among high school juniors. Scores will be available online on June 26th. If you aren't happy with your scores, you have all summer to beef up your skills and then retake the exam in October. Register online here. You'll need to pay a $27.50 late registration fee on top of the regular exam fee.

To learn what SAT scores you're likely to need to get into some of the country's more selective colleges and universities, these articles can help:

What's a Good SAT Subject Test Score?

Friday May 23, 2014
The colleges that require SAT subject tests are some of the most selective in the country. As a result, the students who take subject tests tend to be stronger than the much larger group of students taking the regular SAT. Average scores on subject tests are typically in the 600s, and colleges will often be looking for scores up in the 700s.

The articles below provide score information for some of the most popular SAT Subject Tests:

GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Top New England Colleges

Thursday May 22, 2014

New England has some of the most prestigious, selective and historic colleges and universities in the country. To see if your grades and standardized test scores are on target for some of the region's top schools, check out these graphs of GPA, SAT and ACT score data for admitted, rejected, and waitlisted students: Amherst | Babson | Bates | Bentley | Boston College | Bowdoin | Brandeis | Brown | Coast Guard | Colby | Connecticut | Dartmouth | Harvard | Holy Cross | MIT | Middlebury | Olin | RISD | Smith | Trinity | Tufts | Wellesley | Wesleyan | Williams | Yale

GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Top Public Universities

Thursday May 22, 2014

If you want to get into a top public university such as Berkeley or UNC Chapel Hill, you're going to need good grades and strong standardized test scores. Realize that these prestigious universities do not have a cut-off for grades, ACT scores, or SAT scores. Highly selective universities have holistic admissions, so the admissions officers will be looking at more than empirical data. Challenging courses, a winning essay, and interesting extracurricular activities also play an important role. In many cases, letters of recommendation, a strong interview, and your demonstrated interest can also improve your chances.

That said, the numbers do matter, and higher is better. These graphs show GPA, SAT score and ACT score data for accepted and rejected students at ten of the country's top-ranked public universities: Berkeley | Chapel Hill | Georgia Tech | Illinois | Michigan | UCLA | UCSD | Virginia | William & Mary | Wisconsin

GPA, SAT and ACT Data for Top Liberal Arts Colleges

Thursday May 22, 2014

If your heart is set on getting into one of the country's top-ranked liberal arts colleges, realize that you're going to need good grades and standardized test scores. Also keep in mind that admissions are holistic, so a winning essay, glowing letters of recommendation, interesting extracurricular activities, and challenging courses are all important factors in the admissions equation. In some cases an impressive interview and clear demonstrated interest can also help.

When it comes to the more empirical information on your application, these graphs of GPA and test score data for accepted and rejected students can help you see where you stand: Amherst | Carleton | Grinnell | Haverford | Middlebury | Pomona | Swarthmore | Wellesley | Wesleyan | Williams | more schools

GPA, SAT and ACT Data for the Ivy League

Thursday May 22, 2014

The eight Ivy League schools are among the most selective colleges in the country. This doesn't mean that you need a 4.0 gpa and 2400 on the SAT to get in (although it doesn't hurt). All the Ivy League schools have holistic admissions, so they are looking for students who will contribute more than good grades and test scores to the campus community. A winning Ivy League application needs to present a strong academic record, meaningful extracurricular activities, glowing letters of recommendation, and a compelling application essay. Your college interview and demonstrated interest may also help, and legacy status can give you an advantage.

When it comes to the empirical part of your application, you will need good grades and test scores to get accepted to an Ivy League school. But how high do those numbers need to be? Check out these GPA and test score graphs for applicants to each of the Ivy League schools: Brown | Columbia | Cornell | Dartmouth | Harvard | Penn | Princeton | Yale

May 3rd SAT Scores Now Available!

Thursday May 22, 2014

If you took the popular May 3rd SAT, your scores should be available on the CollegeBoard website as of this morning. If your scores aren't what you hoped for, don't lose sight of the fact that they are just one part of your college application. The admissions officers at selective colleges will also be looking for a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and glowing letters of recommendation. Most important of all is a strong academic record in challenging courses.

To see how your scores measure up with matriculated students at various colleges, check out the SAT comparison charts below:

And if you need to get your scores up to be competitive at your top choice schools, check out the SAT test prep options from Kaplan.

Rejected? Waitlisted? Transferring? These 285 Colleges Still Have Spaces

Monday May 5, 2014

The NACAC College Openings Update for 2014 (formerly known as the Space Availability Survey) just went live, and 285 colleges and universities are reporting that they still have spaces available for qualified applicants. So if you received a stack of waitlist or rejection letters, or you're not happy with your options, realize that a lot of colleges are still looking for a few good students. The list is quite a bit longer than it was in 2013, in part because the number of graduating high school students decreased this year. See the full list of colleges on the NACAC website.

Don't conclude that only second-rate schools will still be looking for students at this late date. While it is true that you won't find Harvard, Berkeley or Williams on the list, there are many excellent colleges that will still welcome new applications for the fall. The reasons can be many: the applicant pool may have been too small or of low quality; the yield may have been lower than predicted; or the school may simply wish to keep the doors open in case an outstanding applicant comes along.

I found some of my favorite colleges on the list. Be sure to check out NACAC's complete list, but below is a sampling of my top picks. Click the school's name to learn more about the school and see admissions data:

May 1st - Decision Time!

Wednesday April 30, 2014

The whole college admissions process has led up to this. For most accepted applicants, May 1st represents the final opportunity to accept or reject an offer of admission. For students who were lucky enough to receive more than one acceptance letter, the decision is often a difficult one. Should you go where you feel most comfortable? Should you choose the school with the greatest name recognition? Or perhaps the college that offered the best financial aid?

In the poll to the left, let us know what factor mattered most when you made your decision. And best wishes as you enter this exciting new stage in your life!
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