Preparing for Private High School Admissions

In recent years, approximately 30,000 Chinese students apply to private high schools in the US. This number continues to increase every year. As college admissions becomes more and more competitive, more Chinese students look to attend high school in the US as a way to improve their English earlier, acclimate to a US academic environment, and overall, get a leg up when it comes time to apply to college. 

Because of the increasing competition, especially with international students, the top boarding schools in the US can have their pick of the best students. What does it mean to be among the best students and have a fighting chance at the best boarding schools? These schools require at least 100 TOEFL and an SSAT with 90% or higher. Yet even with high scores and a strong academic track record, admissions officers are buried in hundreds or thousands of applications from international students. As such, many families decide to make a personal visit to the school. All of this must be well considered in advance. Some Chinese families decide to visit during the October national holiday or near Thanksgiving in the US. With over 300 boarding schools across the country, you must pay close attention to prioritizing a feasible itinerary and knowing what the prerequisites of each school are in advance. You do not want to waste time going to visit the wrong schools where students will not be competitive or where they require something like a Vericant interview before even scheduling an on-campus interview. 

The earlier (and more competitive) private school admissions deadlines begin around January 15th. However, this does not mean you can wait until December! While the deadlines begin at this time and there are still a few months until then, applying to private high schools in the US requires a few months of preparation, especially to do it well. Many other schools enforce a rolling admissions process. This means that the earlier you apply (and they consider your application ONLY when ALL application materials are submitted, including test scores), the better your your chances are of success. So don't wait, and get started today!  

The Differences in How College Rankings Are Created

The Differences in How College Rankings Are Created

Every year around this time of September, a number of college rankings and the "Best Of" listings are released. The most widely regarded is U.S. News & World Report, and others include Forbes, Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Business Week, Princeton Review. While many of the same schools occupy similar ratings or tiers, what causes some lists to rank a school higher or lower? Each list prioritizes different features. When you inevitably look at how schools compare in particular ranking lists, it's important to remember the origin of these rankings, and how these numbers were calculated. 

Advanced Placement (APs) Courses and Tests: Everything You Need to Know

Advanced Placement (APs) Courses and Tests: Everything You Need to Know

Q: What is the Advanced Placement (AP) program?
A: Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the US and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the exams. The AP curriculum for each of the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in that field of study. 

Q: Does every high school in the US offer every AP course? 
A: In short, no. High schools must receive approval from the College Board to teach AP courses. Some small high schools do not have the teaching staff or interested students to teach every AP class every year, and may rotate years when they teach certain AP courses. You should consult with the school, as some course catalogs may also be misleading if the course is offered every year or every other year. Note: If you are using the number of AP courses offered by a high school to "rank" the high school, stop! The number of AP courses offered at a particular high school does NOT mean it is better or worse than other schools. It may indicate relative strength of a high school's curricula, however many other factors contribute to this as well. 

Q: How many AP courses are there?
A: There are more than 30. See the list below:

International Applications Growing Faster, Lower Acceptance Rate Overall

In its annual survey of college counselors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling reports that colleges accepted 65.8% of freshman applicants for the fall 2014 semester (the most recent data available).

Between the Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 admission cycles, the number of applications from first-time freshmen increased 6 percent; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 4 percent; and international student applications increased by 23 percent, on average. Therefore, the largest demographic of growth of first-time US college applicants are international students. 

How to Write a Better "Why this School" Essay

How to Write a Better "Why this School" Essay

The purpose of the "Why this School" essay (a staple supplemental essay for many US colleges) is to convince the admissions officers at your dream school that it really is your dream school and you belong there! They need to know it wasn't just your counselor who added their school to your list, and you have actually REALLY done your research and know beyond a doubt you and the school are a match made in heaven.

50+ Art Contests for High School Students

50+ Art Contests for High School Students

Competitions can be a goldmine for Art students, offering money, scholarships, product vouchers, overseas trips, promotional opportunities and other prizes. With digital submissions common, those in disadvantaged countries can often compete on an equal footing, winning prizes that convert handsomely to a local currency. As well as the monetary benefits, prizes and awards can provide excellent fodder for university applications or CVs/resumes. The fame and social media attention garnered from a winning entry can also be just what is needed to launch a creative career.

Do you really have to take the TOEFL?

Do you really have to take the TOEFL?

If you are a non-native English speaker applying to college either from a US or international high school overseas, you will likely wonder— “Do I have to take the TOEFL or IELTS in order to apply to college in the US?" It is a good, and important question! Unfortunately the answer is not clear cut but well worth looking into where you fit in. 

Why try to avoid the TOEFL? Well, few sane people prefer to spend their time preparing for standardized tests. Preparing for another high-stakes standardized test adds stress, and takes time away from keeping up your grades and preparing for the SAT or ACT. But is there a need to take it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. 

If you are a non-native English speaker having studied in the US through high school but your 

How A Humorous Essay Helped One Girl Get Into 5 Ivy League Schools and Stanford

How A Humorous Essay Helped One Girl Get Into 5 Ivy League Schools and Stanford

In April of this year, senior in high school, Brittany Stinson learned she was accepted into top US universities including U Penn, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Stanford, with a lower-4.69%- acceptance rate than any of the Ivies. 

Of course, Stinson boasts an incredible academic and extracurricular record. However, her story became a viral sensation when Business Insider published her winning essay- which combined a dose of humor and enthusiasm to lay out her character as unique from thousands of other applicants. How did she begin this quest to distinguish herself?