- How to size up the colleges you're considering—and come up with a coherent list.
- What are college nights, college fairs, and college rep visits—and how you can use each to your advantage.
- What are "holistic", "contextualized", and "legacy" admissions—and how each can work for you.
- How some schools count "demonstrated interest"—and how you can take advantage of this little-known fact.
- What are Early Decision, Early Action, and Single-Choice Early Action—and whether any is right for you.
- How to figure out the true costs of college, and what is the difference between "need-" and "merit-based" aid.
- What it means when colleges say they meet "100% of demonstrated financial aid" and what "loan-free" means.
- When and how to make campus visits—and what to do on each.
- How to prepare for each section of the ACT or SAT—and how to increase your scores.
- What admissions officers are looking for in your application—and how to give it to them.
- How to write the all-important Common App essay—and present your extra-curricular activities.
- How to prepare for an alumni interview—and present yourself in the best light.
- Whom to ask for letters-of-recommendation—and how to help them write the best possible letter.
- How to compare your final offers—and, in some cases, substantially improve them.
- When it's good to wait out the "wait list"—and when not.
- -and much, much more.
When you understand the college admissions process, you can maximize your chance of success. Why not put yourself ahead of the pack?
About the Author
Table of ContentsTo You—The Future College Student xv
Top 10 Reasons to Read This Book xix
The Professors’ Guide™ Icons xxi
1 STARTING YOUR SEARCH 1
10 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Begin Your College Search 2
Learning the Landscape: The 6 Major Kinds of College 7
8 Things That Make Better Schools Better 13
2 BUILDING THE LIST 19
10 Tips for Making Your Initial List 21
Top 12 Websites to Help You Construct Your Initial List 27
Top 10 Websites for Finding Scholarships 32
Surfing the College Website: Tips and Techniques 34
11 Tips for Going to See Your College Counselor 39
Top 10 Ways to Make the Most of the College Night (or College Rep Visit) 45
Do’s and Don’ts for Attending College Fairs 51
The 10 Biggest Financial Aid Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them 57
Applying Early? 10 Questions to Ask If You’re Considering Early Decision or Early Action 67
3 GOING ON TOUR 75
FAQs for Planning Your College Visits: A Beginner’s Guide 76
Top 10 Things to See and Do on a College Visit 83
21 Must-Ask Questions on the Campus Tour (and Why You Should Ask Them) 91
10 Things to Look for When Visiting a Class (or Two) 97
Top 12 Tips for Nailing an On- (or Off-) Campus Interview 102
4 TAKING THE TESTS 111
FAQs about Standardized Tests 113
Your Step-by-Step Plan for Preparing for the SAT and ACT 121
Top 10 SAT/ACT Test-Taking Tips 127
Top 10 Tips for the English Section 132
Top 10 Tips to Make Yourself a Mathmagician (or at least Kill the Math Section) 138
7 Things You Need to Know about Your Calculator (but Might Not) 144
Top 10 Strategies for the Reading Section 149
The Science of Taking the Science Section on the ACT 155
10 Best Tips for Writing the SAT/ACT Essay 160
Flash! Big 7 Changes to the 2016 SAT—and What to Do about Them 166
5 CONSTRUCTING THE APPLICATIONS 173
Top 10 Strategies for Making Your Final List 175
9 Things Admission Officers Look for in an Application 182
Top 10 Tips for Writing the Common App Essay 187
10 Best Ideas for Filling Out the Activities Section of the Common App 196
Top 10 Tips for Getting Awesome Letters of Recommendation 202
8 Secrets for Answering the Supplemental Questions 208
6 MAKING THE CHOICE 215
Top 10 Strategies for Making Your Final Choice 216
Top 10 Tips for Assessing the Financial Aid Offer 223
APPENDIX HOW ADMISSIONS DECISIONS ARE MADE (from a Presentation given at the 2014 Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions) 233
Web Resources 247