Tag Archives: US University Admissions Winter 2013

US University Admissions – Winter 2013 Issue

Happy New Year! First off, congratulations to most of you on completing all of your applications and to those of you who were accepted Early to any of your universities. If you were accepted Early Decision you can relax (somewhat, but not too much!) for the rest of the year. Also remember to contact the remaining universities to which you have applied to let them know that you have been accepted ED somewhere else.

We are looking forward to working with you in 2013. Below are some tips on how to make the process a success and hopefully reduce stress along the way.


For students planning their schedules, the goal is to create a schedule that will challenge but not overwhelm you. Challenge yourself in your areas of strength and yes, take the honors or AP level if you can get an 80 or better without throwing the rest of your schedule off kilter. So how do you do this? Below are some tips to help manage the process:

      1. Identify your goals for college. If you know that you would like to be competitive for a highly selective college (those accepting fewer than 35% of their applicants), then your schedule should be the most challenging for you. If you do not care about attending a highly selective college, then you have more leeway in selecting your classes.
      2. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone in areas of strength. Go through your current classes and identify which subjects come most easily to you. For those subject areas that come easily for you, it is important to push yourself further. If you are very strong in English and foreign languages, then you should be taking the highest level in those subjects. If you spend all of your time studying an Honors Math class and are still barely getting a B, then you should drop down to a lower level. If, however, you are taking Honors Math, Spanish, and English and working hard, but not killing yourself, and getting a B or better, then that is the correct level.
      3. Go for your interests. Once you have fulfilled all of your graduation requirements, it is time to take classes that interest you. So if you have a passion for science and no interest in foreign languages, it may be okay to double up on science senior year and not take another year of foreign language. The key is to substitute equally rigorous classes in your area of interest.
      4. Know your limitations. Some students overshoot what they can handle and that can end up just as problematic. Most college students take between four to five classes per semester. So if you have four AP classes along with all your other classes and activities, that may be too much. Determine if you do better under pressure with a lot going on or if you get overwhelmed. The most successful students understand their strengths and weaknesses and work with them.


Students are advised to begin test preparation in grade 10 and aim at completing all required standardized testing by the end of grade 11. For details regarding our SAT and ACT classes, offered in collaboration with Can-Am Learning Academy, please refer to the Workshops & Classes page on my website: http://www.scadmissions.com/workshops-2/ To register, email: register@scAdmissions.com


Testing is a necessary evil for getting into college. So the key is to find the test that works best for you. Colleges accept both the ACT with writing and the SAT. So what’s the difference? The ACT tends to be more straightforward and also has a science section. The SAT tends to ask trickier questions and students with a good vocabulary can shine in the SAT.

For the math sections, if you are a really good math student in class, work fast, can memorize four pages of formulas, and hate being tricked – go for the ACT. If, on the other hand, you are great at logic problems, like figuring out puzzles and hate the idea of studying and memorizing formulas, the SAT is probably better for you.

Here are the key differences between the two tests:

What is being tested – The SAT is more of a logical reasoning test using numbers than a math test. The ACT is a traditional test of high school math skills.

Level of content – SAT covers arithmetic, algebra plus some geometry and algebra 2 concepts (lower level math). The ACT covers content through pre-calculus (higher level math).

Use of Formulas – The SAT provides you with all the formulas. For the ACT, you will need to memorize approximately four pages of formulas. However, it is legal to pre-program your calculator with most of these formulas, which we highly recommend.

Trickery – The SAT is full of tricks (remember, it is more of a reasoning test than a math test). The ACT is a more straightforward test.

Timing – The SAT allows for more time per question than the ACT: 1 minute & 20 seconds for each question on the SAT compared to 1 minute per question for the ACT.

Penalty for Wrong Answers – The SAT takes off 1/4 point for each wrong answer, whereas there is no penalty for wrong answers on ACT. However, it is still to your advantage to make an educated guess on the SAT if you can eliminate two or more wrong answers.

There are specific techniques to prepare for each of these tests and preparing for one test will not necessarily help you prep for the other. Pick the test that plays to your strengths and do the best that you can!


1) Know which test you are going to take. Both tests are equally accepted so if you can focus your energy and time on the test that suits you best, you are ahead of the game.

2) Decide if you do better learning in a group class or with one-on-one tutoring. Both are effective, however, self-studying is a must as well!

3) Allow enough time to prepare. Most people do better when they have ample time to prepare. Allow at least three to four months of preparation before the test. As grade 10’s, you can also spread it out over time and do things like “SAT Question of the Day” or use other sites to help you break it down over a longer period. However, some people only do well with a deadline hanging over their head. So get into our prep course and do the homework each week. This will give you a deadline each week and keep you on track.

4) Figure out if you need and are eligible for extended time. I’ve had clients with learning disabilities who have improved their scores by upwards of 300 points just by getting the proper documentation to prove they need extended time. See me for details.


Twenty minutes of consistent SAT/ACT practice in the days and weeks following your test prep class, while the strategies are fresh in your mind, is equal to one hour of practice per day later. Between now and May/June, spend 20-30 minutes per day on SAT or ACT practice. Remember, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra!


Your grade 11 year is a great time for visiting universities to get a sense of what you like and dislike about schools. In the coming months, some good times to schedule visits campus are during spring break in March, Easter long weekend in April, or the Victoria Day long weekend in May.

For trip planning tips and a list of universities to visit, please come in for a consultation.

Here are some tips for university visits:

      • Check the Admissions website for each university and look up times when campus tours and information sessions are offered.
      • Most campus tours & information sessions do not require appointments but make sure you make an appointment if one is required.
      • Plan your visit when classes are in session to get a better feel for each university. Check the university calendar for dates when students are away for spring break or a holiday.
      • It is feasible to visit 2 campuses on one day if the distance to travel between them is short. However, it is best to schedule one campus visit per day.
      • Allow for time to walk around on your own, visit the student center, eat a meal in the cafeteria, meet and talk with students, sit in on a class (must be pre-arranged), or meet with a coach if you’re an athlete.


If you’re applying for aid, now is the time to complete the CSS Profile forms available through the College Board website. Each private university will have its own deadline. You will need to send reports to colleges at your expense. The CSS Profile has a non-custodial version and allows room for explanations. See: https://profileonline.collegeboard.com/prf/index.jsp


Remind your school counselors that mid-year school reports are due early to mid-February. These are sent through the commonapp.org site. Any new accomplishments you have may be included in this report, along with updated transcripts, and sent to all the universities to which you have applied.


UBC applications are due January 31. There are short 100 and 200-word essays so leave plenty of time for completing your application.


In the next few weeks, you will very likely be contacted by alumni of the universities you’ve applied to for interviews. Here are some interview tips:

      • Make eye contact with the interviewer.
      • Have a firm handshake.
      • Take 2 copies of your brag sheet/personal accomplishments profile/résumé.
      • Be prepared to explain to the interviewer why you’re applying to this university.
      • Relax and think of it more as a conversation than an interview.

Grade 12 Students

      • If you haven’t come in for a mock interview, make an appointment asap.
      • If you were deferred, we need to discuss an action plan and draft a letter to any universities to which you were deferred.
      • Remind your school counsellors that mid-year reports must be sent out to universities by the university’s February deadline.
      • Take up the top two universities you’ve been accepted to, on their offer for a campus visit. You’ll have a good idea whether the university is a good “fit” after your overnight stay with current students, and you will already have a small circle of friends when you enrol in the fall.

Grade 11 Students:

      • If you haven’t made plans for a productive summer, it is imperative that you come in right away to discuss your summer options.
      • This spring is the time to do a needs assessment in order to begin working on your preliminary college list.
      • Let’s meet to discuss your course selection prior to finalizing your course schedule for next year.
      • Send us copies of new score reports for the SAT and ACT as soon as you have them.
      • Send us feedback on any college visits so we can continue to refine your college list.

Grade 10 Students:

      • If you haven’t made plans for a productive summer, it is imperative that you come in right away to discuss your summer options.
      • Discuss your course selection with us prior to finalizing your list of courses for next year.
      • A review of your extracurricular activities and leadership roles should be done at the same time.
      • Now is the time to begin preparation for your standardized tests.
      • If you want to start testing the waters and visiting some universities to get a sense of what you like and dislike, let us know and we’ll map out a plan.

Grade 9 Students:

    • It’s a good time to meet to get an overview of what to expect and plan out next year’s classes and activities.

Please call us in the New Year to schedule a meeting if you want to go over college visits, revisit your plan for the academic year, or draw up your college list, etc.

Happy Holidays to all. Here’s to a great New Year!