College Planning

  • Meet with your counselor
  • Develop skills to be academically successful
  • Get involved in the community (at school or in the wider community)
  • Choose the right classes for your area of interest (if there is an area of interest)
  • Begin to think about where in the world you would like to be
  • Stay active – have more depth in your involvement
  • Explore different career and interest options
  • Look at what testing is necessary and how to prepare for it
  • Keep up your grades
  • Choose between entering the IB program and/or pursuing the Brent diploma.  
  • Focus on keeping up or improving grades
  • Narrow down the area and schools of interest
  • Look towards leadership positions in your activities
  • Plan for when to take necessary testing
  • Start connecting with your schools of interest (come to college visits)
  • Meet with your counselor
  • Take the PSAT (in October) and review the results
  • Prepare for your junior interview
  • Develop your priorities (criteria) for your colleges (size, location, program, cost, etc)
  • Be realistic about:
  1. Your finances and what fits your family budget
  2. What is an safety, ideal, and reach school for you
  • Develop a preliminary list of schools you are thinking about
  • This is the final summer your have  to see and experience the place where you may live for four years.  We strongly recommend taking the time to visit colleges and universities.  Many schools offer tours and summer programs of study.
  • Refine your preliminary list of schools you are thinking about
  • Update naviance
  • Visit your counselor often for help with applications, questions, and especially your essay
  • Take advantage of all of the great college visits we host at Brent every year! Parents are also welcome!
  • Allow time for essay writing, applications, and maybe even more college visits during holidays
  • Discuss  the advantages or disadvantages of Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Decision
  • Complete and submit college applications
  • Be watchful for symptoms of “Senioritis”
  • Receive admissions decisions and deposit at your school of choice
  • Be sure all parent financial forms and information is complete for student visas or financial aid
  • GRADUATE!

College Handbook

Each Fall, students start the frenzy into the whole college selection process. One key to avoiding being caught up in this rush is to start the process early. The intent of the Orientation and the College Planning Handbook is to help guide the student and parents through the process. Every parent and student should take the time to read through the booklet. Most of the information and resources used in the creation of this booklet have been borrowed, begged or stolen from a whole variety of other sources. We believe we have compiled the best information that is most applicable to our population of students in the most compact format.

As students are thinking about going to college, there is a myriad of elements about which they and their parents must think about.  

Where?  Cost?  Major?  Which school?  And lots, lots more!!!

This guidebook is meant to provide you with some basic information as you think about higher education.  The emphasis is upon higher education in the United States as majority of BISM students are planning to go to the U.S. for their undergraduate college studies.  However, a lot of information provided is applicable to other countries as well.  To find general info about non-US systems, go to the appropriate page in this guidebook or visit websites mentioned.

College decisions are a collaborative effort among students, parents, counselors, teachers, friends, and admissions personnel.  Communication and information gathering from all sources is essential.  We have taken the liberty of extracting information from many primary and secondary sources as well as some opinions of our own to provide this eclectic presentation of information.

This section is an attempt to address some of the unique differences for schools in various countries around the world. Students attending colleges and universities in countries other than U.S. need to check on the specific entrance requirements for that country and that specific school.   When applying to universities abroad many countries will accept the IB diploma as equivalent to their secondary education leaving certificate/diploma.  With this in mind, the IB diploma will allow students the most direct path to university education.  Many universities also have pathway programs for students who do not meet the academic requirements for admission ie. Brent diploma, IB course certificates.

Australia and New Zealand

The school year in Australia and NZ begins in February/March. Students need to begin applications no later than the September after their graduation for the February/March entry date. Some schools offer mid year entry (based on IB predicted grades), but the semester starts at the end of July right after graduation.  

For more information, visit these websites:

Canada

Compared to the US, there is a clear distinction between a “college” and a “university”. Generally speaking, “colleges” offer technical and vocational training while “universities” is the term used to refer to schools offering Bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Applications are usually due between January and April of the applicant’s senior year. There is a general application for schools in Ontario. SAT’s are generally not required if applying with the IB diploma, while the TOEFL maybe required for students whose first language is not English.

For more information, visit these websites:

Europe

Many countries in Europe have a desire to increase the number of international students and each year there are more Bachelor’s programs offered in English.  Applications are generally completed during the second semester of senior year. You need to have a clear understanding of what documentation you need as each school has different requirements.

To learn more about country specific information, visit the link below:

Japan

Many Japanese universities have Bachelor’s programs conducted in English.  University applications deadlines span throughout senior year.  Returning Japanese students may have different requirements for admission.  

For more information, visit these websites:

S. Korea

Specific information can be obtained directly from the individual universities as requirements vary from year to year.  Overseas Koreans, their admission may be based on the number of years they have been living abroad.   The majority of applications will be completed during the second semester of senior year and after graduation.  A number of foreign universities have opened a campus on the Incheon Global Campus in Songdo.  These may be an option for both Korean and international students.

For more international students looking to study in Korea, visit this website:

UK

In the UK, students are required to indicate their desired course of study at the time you apply. UK acceptances are for a particular course of study within a particular university. If a student decides to change his or her course of study after the first year, then he or she would have to reapply for that particular course. Another difference is that most UK programs are three years rather than four years. The UK has a common application process through UCAS, where students can apply for up to five different universities. Offers of admission in the UK are contingent upon your meeting certain conditions. The major factors in UK admissions are predicted scores and final IB examination results.

For more information, check out these websites:

Ateneo De Manila University

Application & Testing Fee

PhP600 for local applicants
$50 for international applicants

Dates to Remember for Entry to SY 2018 – 2019

Issuance of application forms for freshman applicants: July 3 – August 18, 2017
Deadline for submission of completed application: August 18, 2017
Test dates: September 23 – 24, 2017

Criteria For Admission

  • Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) results
  • High School grades
  • Extra and co-curricular activities
  • Information in the application form

Forms of Scholarship and Financial Aid

  • 100%, 75%, 50% and 25% tuition and fees
  • book and/or transportation allowance
  • dormitory assistance

Criteria For Admission

  • ACET results
  • High school grades and rank in school; honors and awards received
  • Sense of service and leadership potential as reflected in student’s extra-curricular involvement
  • Desire to be part of the Ateneo community

Notice of Decisions

…by January 2018

Semester

  • 1st Semester: August to December
  • 2nd Semester: January to May

De La Salle University

Application Procedures for Freshmen

    1. Complete the Application processvia the Online Admission Facility
      1.1. Registration: Create an Account using a valid email address to register
      1.2. Upload all Application Documentary Requirements. Please allot reasonable lead time to secure the following requirements/documents and to prepare a clear scanned copy of each (in JPEG format) in time for the Application process deadline.
      1.3. Personal Information
      1.4. Contact Details
      1.5. Parent/Guardian Information
      1.6. Academic Information
      Please prepare a clear scanned copy of the following (in JPEG format):
      1.6.1. High School Student ID Card with photo or Equivalent valid ID with photo
      1.6.2. Colored passport size photo taken within 6 months, in white background, with neutral facial expression and both eyes open, must not be wearing eyeglasses or colored contact lenses, and with ears exposed if religious customs does not prohibit
      1.7. Degree Program Choices
      1.8. Proof of Citizenship
      1.9. Scholastic Record
      1.10. Accomplish the items on Self-declaration
      1.11. Payment of Application Fee
      1.12. Secure On-line Test Permit
    2. Take the DLSU College Admissions Test (Step 2) on the scheduled date, time, and venue as printed on the Test Permit.  All applicants must bring the Test Permit and Student ID (or equivalent valid ID) on testing day.  Guidelines and reminders stated on the test permit must be strictly followed.

Application Fee

  • PhP600 for Filipino citizens
  • PhP2,500 for non-Filipino citizens

Dates to Remember for Entry to SY 2018 – 2019

  • Application Period: 01 July – 30 September 2017 and 8 & 15 October 2017 (DLSU Manila)
  • Admission Test Dates: September and November 2017

Notice of Decisions

Access the test result from the DLSU website at www.dlsu.edu.ph on the first (1st) week of January 2018.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact:

Office of Admissions and Scholarships
Second Floor, Henry Sy, Sr. Hall
De La Salle University
2401 Taft Avenue
1004 Manila, Philippines

Tel: (632) 523-4230 (Direct) or 524-4611 to 19 local 166 or 167
Office Hours:
Mondays to Fridays: 8:00 am – 12 noon; 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturdays: 8:00 am – 12 noon only

E-mail: admissions@dlsu.edu.ph
Home page: www.dlsu.edu.ph

De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde

Application Procedures for Freshmen

1. Complete the Application Forms

Download, complete and submit the following application forms and requirements. Read the The Benilde Book for more information about program offerings.

2. Submit Application Forms

Visit the Benilde Admissions Center to submit your requirements. A representative may do this step for you. Prepare the non-refundable admission processing fee of PhP600.00 (for Filipino citizens) and US$50 (Non-Filipino citizens).

Upon submission of complete application requirements and payment of the application processing fee, you will be given a Benildean Entrance Examination (BEE) test permit.

3. Take the Benildean Entrance Exam

4. View Application Results

Obtain the application results as directed. Application results may be accessed through the Online Application Inquiry page. If you do not receive your results, please inquire directly at the Benilde Admissions Center.

Application Fee:

₱600 for Filipino citizens
$50 for Non-Filipino citizens

Semester

1st Trimester – August to December
2nd Trimester – January to April
3rd Trimester – April to August

Dates to Remember for Entry to SY 2018 – 2019

1st Term
Application Period: August 1 to November 20, 2017
Testing Dates: September 10, October 15, November 12, November 26, 2017
Release of Results (Online): December 15, 2017
Start of Classes: August 2018

FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact:

Benilde Admissions Center
De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde
2544 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila
Philippines 1004

Tel Nos.: (+63 2) 230 – 5100 local 1801 to 1803
Email: admissions@benilde.edu.ph
Website: www.benilde.edu.ph

University of the Philippines

Where to Obtain Forms?

  • For online application, to https://upcatonline.up.edu.ph
  • From your authorized school representative
  • Directly from the System Office of Admissions in UP Diliman
  • From the Office of the Registrar in a UP campus outside of UP Diliman

Where to File Forms?

  • UP Office of Admissions, University of the Philippines, 1101 Diliman, Q.C., either in person OR through the authorized school (not a bank) representative, OR by mail.
  • Selected regional UPCAT application filing centers in: UP Cebu, UP Iloilo, UP Los Banos, UP Mindanao, UP Pampanga and UP Tacloban.

Application Fee

PhP450 for Filipinos
PhP450 for resident foreign applicants studying in the Philippines
US$50 for non-resident foreign applicants

Scholarships and Grants

ST System (Socialized Tuition System) – Provides tuition discount at rates that are based on the assessment of the paying capacity of the household to which a student belongs. This assessment looks at the income as well as the socio-economic characteristics of the household.

Scholarships – The UP Scholarship Programs are envisioned to honor and encourage outstanding academic achievement or talent, help academically qualified but financially needy students, and encourage enrollment in particular academic programs which are needed by our country

List of available scholarships: http://osss.up.edu.ph/content/scholarships/list/

Student/Graduate Assistantship – Students may supplement their tuition, living and book subsidies as well as transportation and lodging allowances by working as student assistants. Research projects and similar academic activities may also require the services of student assistants. However, priority is given to students with the required academic background and qualifications such as specific course and skills. Graduate student assistantships are available to graduate students who show satisfactory academic work.

Students can avail of the benefits only after admission and enrollment in UP.

For additional information, please contact:

OFFICE OF SCHOLARSHIPS AND STUDENT SERVICES (OSSS)
Rooms 302-306, 3rd Floor, Vinzons Hall
UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City
1101 Metro Manila

Programs:

Socialized Tuition (ST) System – Diliman / Student and Graduate Assistantship
Room 303
UPD VoIP (632) 981-8500 local 4505
sts.diliman@up.edu.ph

Government and Private Funded Scholarships
Room 302
UPD VoIP (632) 981-8500 local 4506
updscholarships@gmail.com

Student Loans
Room 305
UPD VoIP (632) 981-8500 local 4504
loans@upd.edu.ph

Dates to Remember for Entry to SY 2017 – 2018

Start of Application Period: July 17, 2017

Deadline for Filing of Applications:

  • August 18, 2017 – Metro Manila Private Schools
  • August 25, 2017 – Metro Manila Public Schools
  • September 1, 2017 – Non – Metro Manila Schools & applications thru Regional Filing Centers

Exam Dates: October 21 and October 22, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the UPCAT, please contact:

Office of Admissions
University of the Philippines
Kalaw Corner Quirino Streets UP Diliman, Quezon City
1101 Philippines

Telefax: +63 2 9274561
Telephone: +63 2 981-8500 loc. 3287/3828/3830/3831
Email: oadms@up.edu.ph
Website: http://upcat.up.edu.ph/

University of Asia and the Pacific

Application Procedures for Freshmen

There are two ways by which you can apply for admission. You may now go online or you may download the forms.

Applying online:

  • Sign up for an account in the UA&P Online Application Once you’re given access to the application form, fill out all the necessary information. When you’re done, click Save. An applicant number will be generated for you.
  • Download and print the (1) Secondary School Record form and the (2) Guidance Counselor Recommendation.
  • Give the forms to the persons concerned and retrieve it from them (it should be enclosed in a sealed envelope) once it is accomplished.
  • Submit these two forms together with your applicant number to the Admissions Office.
  • Pay the application fee, you will be issued an exam permit.

If you choose to download the forms:

Application process for undergraduates (incoming freshmen), Senior high School, foreign students and transferees

1. Download and submit the accomplished application form and other requirements to the Admissions Office. Secure and fill out the Applicant Information Slip. (Note: While inside the UA&P campus, please observe the proper dress code–no sleeveless shirts, shorts and skirts above the knee.)

2. Submit Applicant Information Slip to the cashier at the Financial Management and Reporting (FMR) group, 2nd floor, College of Arts and Sciences Building. Pay the admissions processing fee.

Applicants from public schools should present their student’s ID to the cashier

3. Go to the Admissions Office to present your Official Receipt and get your test permit. The College Entrance Exam (CEE) testing date and time will be indicated in your test permit.

 

Application Fee

  • For students from local private schools: Php 600.00
  • For students from local public schools: Php 250.00
  • For students from foreign schools: US $ 50.00

Criteria for Admissions

  • College Entrance Examination (CEE)
  • Academic performance in high school
  • Recommendation from the Guidance Counselor
  • Personal interview results

Notice of Decision

Letters of acceptance, non-acceptance, or inclusion in the waiting list are released by end of January or sent to the applicant by registered mail or courier service.

The names of those who qualify and those in the waiting list will be posted on the UA&P Admissions Bulletin Board located at the Ground Floor, CAS Building.

Semester
1st Semester: August to December
2nd Semester: January to May

FOR MORE INFORMATION regarding admissions, please contact:

Admissions Office
1/F APEC Communications Building
University of Asia and the Pacific
Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center
Pasig City 1605
Philippines

Telephone: (632) 637 0912 to 26 local 310 or 321
Fax: (632) 634 2809
Email: admissions@uap.asia
Home page: www.uap.asia

The research process is vital to your college search. Because your goal should be to find the college that is right for you, it is your responsibility to gather as much information as you can about those that you are interested in. The process of choice is yours. You will certainly want to decide your list of colleges based upon current and reliable information. Recently much of the focus in the research process has focused on the Internet. Spend some time doing some research through the various websites, which are linked to the BISM High School Guidance office website. There are many websites that will not only help you with your college search and research but will also offer information on all aspects of college admissions. You can also check:

  • College guidebooks and videos (available in the guidance office).
  • Your college counselor and teachers, BISM alumni
  • College tours and college reps, Campus visits.

You need to take a close look at your academic record as well as your strengths, weaknesses, needs, and goals as you try to select colleges to which to apply. What your friends say about the “best school for you” and what your parents’ friends say is “good” are not particularly good indicators as to what is really “good” for you. You need to research what schools offer and how that fits with your needs. Keep in mind that what is “good” for one person is not necessarily “good” for you.

The Prestige Factor – School “Brand Name”

Students and parents should be wary of selecting a college based upon its name and the perceived prestige of that name. It must be kept in mind that at the prestigious, big name research universities, professors concentrate more on graduate students and research than they do on undergraduate students. The designer-label college diploma can assist in getting one’s first job but after that, jobs, promotions, and raises are based upon one’s personal qualities and achievements.

Where Friends Go

Going to college where your high school friends go can be great or terrible. As a general rule, select a school that is right for you and if your friends end up there then great. But don’t base your college decision (and potentially the rest of your life) on where your friends are going to school. After all, there is a good chance you will grow apart anyway. And you’ll make more friends if you don’t have the old gang to fall back on. If you do end up going to the same college as a friend, you are better off not being roommates. Living with a person is a different story than simply being a friend and this scenario often leads to damaged friendships. And besides you’ll meet a lot more people and establish a larger circle of friends.

Selecting A College

When looking at schools within the U.S., there are many factors that must be considered before making the initial decisions as to determining schools that are of interest to you. The 3,200+ schools in the U.S. are spread throughout the 50 U.S. states and represent all the variety of elements of the United States. Not only is it important to know what you want to study but you also need too know “where” you want to study in terms of location, school size, climate, cost, and lots of other factors.

Location

Urban? Suburban? Rural? Long, cold winters? Sunshine year-round? Near a city? Not a city within hours? One of the easiest ways to start narrowing your search is to consider where you want to be. You are not only selecting a school but a place to live. Campus settings range from places such as New York University and George Washington University blending right into urban setting with no identifiable campus at all to campuses of 10,000 acres of forests and hills several hours from a city of over 100,000 people. Your personal happiness for your four years of study is going to depend greatly upon the environment in which you study so you must consider the actual location of schools. If being near family or friends are important, fine, but then use that importance to pick out possible locations. Keep in mind that being in a small town does not mean “nothing to do” and being in a large city does not mean necessarily mean “lot to do”.

Types of Colleges

Colleges can broadly be divided into either liberal arts or comprehensive universities. Generally, a comprehensive university is large and has many different departments and degrees are generally professional training programs in areas such as law or medicine. Liberal arts colleges, by comparison, provide students with a breath of knowledge and majors are usually of a more general nature (English, psychology, and biology) and help student to become better thinkers, writers, and problem solvers. Students that know they will be going into graduate programs often find liberal arts colleges to be good preparation. Specialized Colleges – those that offer majors in one particular area. Examples of these are generally in the fields of the arts (Juliard), business (Bentley), or engineering (Harvey Mudd). Women’s Colleges – are those that are totally committed to the personal, social, and academic development of women. They provide extensive opportunities for leadership and independence.

Size

Colleges in the U.S. range from 24 students to 55,000 and the school size is very important as you evaluate what you want. Consider: Will you feel comfortable in a lecture class of 700 students? Do you prefer taking notes rather than discussing issues? Is it important for you to have a teacher know your name? If a more personalized education is your preference, then you should be looking at the smaller liberal arts colleges where a student is a name as well as face. Pre-med programs can make a liberal arts college an excellent choice in terms of working with and getting to personally know professors. Small colleges are those generally referred as those having fewer than 3000 students while Mid-size refer to those with between 3,000-10,000 students, and large are those that have over 10,000 students. Not only do you have to consider the size of the school population but you must also consider the size of the community it is as well as the typical class size.

Cost

You and your family must take a close look at the cost of a college education. As the annual cost of private education in the U.S. can now exceed $35,000, it is likely that a private institution will cost your family at least $150,000 over four years. Is this a cost that is affordable? Public institutions currently range from $10-18,000, which will still amount to possibly $80-90,000 for a four-year education. If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible for institutional-based financial aid in a combination of grant, work-study, and loan monies. Most financial aid is Need-Based which means a family has to demonstrate financial need. The financial aid for foreign national is severely limited and very, very competitive to be granted. Non-U.S. citizens must select schools for which the family can provide complete financial support as documentation of complete support is required for getting a student visa.

Programs of Study

If you have a specific major in mind, make sure that the schools to which you apply have that program. If you are undecided about a major, it might be a good idea to apply to schools that have a range of majors so that you can pick a major later and have some choice about what to study. If you decide to apply to a “specialty” school (i.e., a school that specializes in just one area such as business), make sure that your interest to study that subject is strong. If you enroll in a school that specializes in business, for example, and decide that you don’t like business, you will probably have to transfer to another college to study “something else”.

Student Diversity

Schools vary greatly in terms of percentages of international students and/or American students of color. Generally speaking, an international student might feel more comfortable in a school in which there are other international students. A college that has 90+% or more of in-state students and 1% foreign nationals is not going to offer the diversity of students that you might prefer. If a school has 3% or more international population and at least 10% American students of color, you can consider that school as having a relatively diverse population.

On-Campus Housing

It is important to consider the percentage of students who live on-campus. The personal growth and learning that goes on in the residential arena on a campus is important as in an international student feeling “at home” away from home. If fewer than 50% of the students live on campus, weekend activities could be limited.

Pre-Professionalism vs. A Liberal Arts Education

Pre-professional programs of study are ones that are designed specifically toward certain career goals. Pre-med, pre-law, engineering, and business are good examples of pre-professional majors. Majors that do not lead directly to a specific career goal fall into the Liberal Arts category. The goal of a liberal arts education is to teach students how to think creatively and analytically, thus preparing them to pursue any career. There are pros and cons for both. If you really know what you want in terms of a career, then a pre-professional course of study might be most comfortable for you. However, if you are not sure, a liberal arts education is an alternative route into a professional career track.

Freshman Satisfaction

One statistic provided in most guidebooks is the percent of freshmen who come back after their first year. If this is a high number, it indicates that most freshmen were satisfied with the school and were successful. If this statistic is low, it would be good to find out why. However, keep in mind that not all schools are suitable for everyone and that you should focus on finding a school that is right for you.

Academic Atmosphere and Campus “Culture”

Each college has a different “Culture” or feel. Some offer a large variety of intramural and extracurricular activities while others are more limited. Some have large international populations while at others the international percentage is small. The degrees of stress, competition, and intensity are also all different and will impact on the overall quality of personal life at any college. A stress-filled environment does not necessarily indicate a high-quality education. The analogy of “the big fish in a small pond / small fish in a big pond” merits some consideration.

Applications should be completed with care and caution. Application are a reflection of individual students and and students want to make a good impression.

Top 6 Tips When Completing the Application

  1. Read and follow the instructions.
  2. Establish a separate file folder for each college to which the student is applying and keep copies of all of the work and correspondence from that school.
  3. Spelling must be correct – proofread before submitting.
  4. If declaring an intended major, make sure that the college has that major. “Undecided” can be an appropriate major.
  5. Think about the activities that are important to list on the application. Keep in mind that the quality of an activity is more important than quantity.
  6. Be honest – don’t exaggerate.

The Completed Application Checklist

When students have completed an application, they should be able to check off each of the following items:

  • Aware of the deadline for submission.
  • All parts of the application are completed.
  • Made copies of applications and all letters sent.
  • Teacher recommendations are on file in the Guidance Office.
  • The counselor form and recommendation are completed.
  • A request to send official test scores has been made to College Board, ACT, ETS and/or TOEFL.
  • Official transcripts of grades 9-12 high school work have been sent.
  • Application fee has been paid.
  • Essay has been given to your counselor.
  • Financial aid forms have been included.

Once the checklist has been completed, relax and focus on school work. Applicants can expect a letter of acknowledgement when the admissions file is completed and applicants will be informed of any items that are missing.

Can you pay?

For non-US citizens, most colleges in the US go so far as to say that if you can’t pay your own way, then you needn’t apply. However most colleges do offer financial assistance to some students but their funds are limited. For some schools it is easier to get in if you can pay your own way because that means they will have funds to entice other students who would be good additions to their student body but who may not be able to afford the full cost.

Financial Aid

Issues around paying for college or university are varied and complex.  And, each family’s financial situation is unique.  Therefore, please speak with the student’s counselor for more information about financial aid.

Essays

This is the one part of the application that students can control; try to do a good job. An essay permits students the opportunity to express themselves so take advantage of it. The essay is a chance to personalize the application in a way that isn’t possible in the rest of the application. Students at Brent are very different from the typical U.S. high school applicant, and the essay can be used to convey this difference. Even more important than what is written is how it is written. Have parents, teachers, counselor, or friends proofread and help edit essays. However, make sure that the student is doing the writing.

3 Steps to an Outstanding College Essay

From Shah. J. Chaudhry Guide to College Admissions:U.S. http://collegeapps.about.com

Planning the College Essay

A lot has been written about how the college essay is one of the most important parts of your application. There is also a great deal of material about the components of the ideal college essay and about how the college essay is your “one-way dialogue” with the admission officer(s). Now that’s all very good, but what about actually writing the essay? Very few articles get around to help you actually start composing the essay – and that is just what we’ve tried to do here.

Your approach to writing the college essay should not be particularly different from how you have gone about writing essays for class. The steps are the same, the stages are the same, and the process is the same – the only difference is that this time you’ll be writing about yourself (and not about how Edison invented the light bulb) and never before has an essay about “you” been so instrumental in deciding the future course of your life. In many ways, your education, your career and basically the rest of your life depends on this one essay about yourself (that was just to scare you into getting serious!).

Now that we’ve established that this essay is your last ray of hope of a successful life, let’s get down to business.

The college essay will be written in 3 distinct steps:

During this step, you must start collecting ideas, which will form the core of your essay. Remember, the college essay is usually asked for so the admission officer(s) can learn about you – so that should be the focus of most of your ideas.

Brainstorm About Your Qualities.

Brainstorming is the process of coming up with ideas spontaneously from free flowing writing or talking. To brainstorm, you can simply sit down with a pen and jot down every idea that comes into your head. Another approach is to simply start writing and see where you end up. Record as much information as you can recall, such as schools attended, courses taken, jobs held, research projects undertaken. Work on taking yourself deeper into the introspection process by tackling more specific topics. Here are some questions you might want to consider:

What am I like? How do my friends characterize me? What are my personality traits? Have I ever experienced a moment of epiphany? Why is (some color) my favorite color? Why is (some movie) my favorite movie? How have my favorites influenced my life?

Make a list of the qualities (positive and negative) which you would use to describe yourself. This first list includes all your strengths, weaknesses, and any other exceptionally strong characteristics. Remember the emphasis of this list should be broad and conceptual in nature – try to list your personality characteristics and traits, not specific events or happenings. For example, you may have “exceptional communication skills” (not “I can make good speeches”).

After this, make a second list of specific events, achievements and happenings of which you are particularly proud. This is a more operational level list of things you’ve done and activities you’ve participated in. Now you have 2 lists, a list of “broad” qualities and a list of “specific” events and achievements.

What have I done? What are my major accomplishments? Why do I consider them accomplishments? What extra curricular activities have I participated in? Have I strived hard for something and achieved it? Why did I succeed? Have I strived hard for something and failed to achieve it? Why did I fail? What was the most difficult time of my life? How did my perspective of life change due to that difficult time? Where do I want to go? What would I most like to be doing right now? Where would I like to be? Who would I most like to be with? What are my dreams for the future? What do I intend to do to achieve these dreams? What will I be doing ten years from now? How does this university fit in my plans for the future?

You can also brainstorm using the following questions:

What might help the evaluating committee in understanding me better? What distinguishes me from other applicants? What are my career aims? What skills do I possess that would improve your chances for success in this field? What has stimulated my interest in this field of study? Why should an admissions committee be interested in me? Why am I interested in this field?

Some other topics are suggested below to stimulate your thinking:

The most memorable experiences. The most influential ideas, people and events in your life. Your likes and dislikes. Your academic, career and personal goals. Your favorite written work, quotations, intellectual activities. The attributes you most respect in others. Times when you have shown leadership, creativity and ingenuity. Times when you have helped others.

You don’t have to cover all the topics stated above. All you have to do is try going from topic to topic and write around three to five items for each question or topic then move on to the next one. You can skip any topic you want to; there is no compulsion. The whole point of this exercise is to generate a mass of information that will help you in selecting your topic for the essay. Try to make your topic focused and broad at the same time, it sounds paradoxical but it’s not.

Research Yourself.

Repeat the process above, but this time ask your family members, friends and relatives for input and feedback. More often than not, they will be able to show you qualities (good and bad!) about yourself, which you never thought you had.

Link Qualities to Evidence.

Now try to create links between the 2 lists you’ve developed. With the help of these 2 lists, when you start writing the essay you’ll be able to provide “real-world” examples to support and backup the skills and qualities you have laid claim to. Using the previous example, when you claim that you have good “communication skills”, you’ll quickly be able to verify the authenticity of that claim by mentioning how you effectively used those skills to win the state debating championships.

Find Connections & Create an Outline.

Try to group similar ideas together and find further connections between your qualities and achievements. How did you win the state debating championship? Was it really because of your superior communication skills, or did the fact that you are quickly able to analyze and respond to arguments play a more important role? Or was it because you’re a good researcher and have a great ability to absorb information?

Once you have completed the brainstorming process, you’ll have a rough idea of what you actually want to write about. You should now also have the idea of what impression you are seeking to make on the admissions committee. Now, you must confront the problem of selecting the topic that will allow you to synthesize your important personal characteristics and experiences in a coherent whole while simultaneously addressing your desire to attend that particular college.

Selecting the Essay Topic

The key to a strong essay is a good topic. When selecting a topic, you should keep in mind to choose a topic that allows you to demonstrate your skills and individuality, a topic that answers the essay question while telling the reviewers what they really want to know. To begin with, you should first read the essay question carefully and try to understand what the reviewers want to know, keep in mind that essay questions are designed to let the reviewers judge why you should be admitted to that particular college.

There are several different kinds of essay questions. Some of the most common types of essay questions and the purposes behind them are given below:

  • Key Influence Questions:Definition: Key influence questions require you to write about something that has a certain influence on your life. This influence can be in form of a person, a movie, an event, some world issue, a work of literature – anything.Ideal response: While responding to this question, you should keep in mind that the influence you decide to write about is just as important as what you intend to write about it. You have to make sure that the influence you choose something valued and casts light on your strengths. Write about how that certain thing has influenced your thoughts, ideas and goals and how it has made an impact on you and made you a better person.

 

  • Goal Questions:Definition: This kind of question can take two forms: it can ask you to directly write about your goals, or it can ask you to write a personal statement that will include your goals and your qualifications. The question usually focuses on academic, career and personal goals.Ideal response: Firstly, you should state your goals clearly. Let the reader know that you have a clearly defined set of goals that you are directed by and that hold utmost importance to you. You may also distinguish between your short and long term goals in the process. Secondly, you should write about how this specific college fits in your plans for achieving your goals.

 

  • Open-ended Questions:Definition: Open-ended questions are non-specific, they do not require you to write about a specific thing rather they can be something like, “Please provide any additional information about you that you would like us to know”. If the open-ended question is optional, don’t feel an obligation to answer, only try to answer it if you really have something important to share with the review committee.Ideal response: If an open-ended question is the only essay question your application includes, you are left with a wide variety of options, you can write anything you wish to. But the most ideal thing to do would be to treat them as key influence or goal questions because these two are the most common types of specific essay questions. You may want to write about more than one thing in the essay, but it is recommended that you decide to write in depth about one certain thing.
  • Growth questions:Definition: Personal growth type questions ask you to write about specific things that have been milestones in your growth and how they have helped you grow into the person you are. Some of these questions include: “What is the greatest obstacle you have overcome?” and “What has been your greatest accomplishment?”Ideal response: While responding to a personal growth question, you should be careful not to dwell on the event itself, rather focus on how it has made a difference in your life and turned you in the person you are right now.
  • Creative Questions:Definition: Creative questions allow you to express your thoughts and feelings about something – they give you the freedom of expression. Some creative questions can “Choose an issue of international concern and discuss its importance to you” or “Why have you chosen this career?”Ideal response: While responding to creative questions, again, as mentioned before, you should not focus on the issues; rather try to write about how they make a difference to you or why they hold importance for you. Also make sure that you demonstrate within the essay how you can succeed in a competitive college setting without actually mentioning it.Sometimes the topics you choose can be impossible to write about even though they may seem easy at first, and sometimes even boring topics can be made interesting creatively approached. If the answer to any of the following questions is “no” then you really need to rethink your topic and select a new one.Can you offer supporting material in relevance with your essay topic? Will your topic include material different from that already mentioned in the application? Will the admissions officer still remember your topic after having read hundreds of essays? Can you fully answer the question asked of you? Can you keep the reader interested right from the very first word? Can you give personal examples?Never try to write about something that has already been mentioned in your application such as your GPA or your test scores. It is also a very bad idea to write something that you do not feel comfortable with and that does not let your thoughts move in a flow. Also, you should watch out for topics you cannot give concrete personal examples of.While deciding on the topic of your application, keep in mind that you have to keep the reader interested while at the same time, revealing something about yourself in a way that makes you an ideal applicant. It is therefore much more practical to write something about yourself rather than choosing heavy topics such as peace in the Middle East or Life and Death. Watch out for national and international issues because it is very difficult to be well informed. You should focus more on your personal concerns and talk about things that hold meaning for you, rather than just write about what “they want to hear”.If you are planning to make your essay funny and writing it in a humorous way, you have to be very, very careful. It is strongly recommended that you should not try to make your essay funny. Almost always, this is done poorly and not appreciated by the admissions committee. There is nothing worse than not laughing at something that was meant to be funny or amusing.A good essay tells a story about the applicant – it’s not a life history; rather it is a glimpse into the life of the applicant. Treat your essay as a snapshot, each of us has different selves at different times: sometimes we are clowning about, while other times we are demonstrating wisdom. Pick one of your better selves, one that seems interesting, rich with meaning and alive with imagery and write an essay about it. There, doesn’t that sound easy? After you have gathered your thoughts and research and come up with a topic to write about, you are ready to write the first draft of your essay. You may want to break up your essay into different parts by creating an outline before you start writing your essay.

Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. The first and foremost task you are now facing is to decide what you want write in the essay, the essay is very short so you have to be highly selective. You should remember the nature of the audience and decide on two or three main points that you wish to tell the reader. Decide which aspect of yourself do you want to present to the readers and stick to that impression, do not be inconsistent. Each of your paragraphs should deal with one main idea and the essay should be in a logical flow, because the organization of your essay reflects the organization of your mind. It has been repeated over and over again, you should be very careful of using one main idea as the basis of your essay. If you keep on hitting your reader with lots of information, it’s going to end up in information overload – and no admissions officer likes that. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should try to make that one central idea different because if you use one of the hundred most frequent used ideas, you will not be doing anything to help yourself.

The first draft is a preliminary version of your essay and it will always be rough and imperfect and in need of revision. But this essay will contain the ideas that you will carry on till your final draft. To make the task of writing the essay easier, constantly keep in mind the audience it is intended for and what the audience will be looking for. Each essay has four very basic parts:

Title: This is a very vital part of your essay and the first impression the reader gets of you is through the title. Often, most students forget this small, but very important part of the essay that leaves a bad impression on the reader and the essay looks as if it is carelessly written – which of course, does nothing to help your cause.

Thesis: Your thesis is the main idea you are intending to carry throughout the essay. It is the guiding theme that sets your essay tone. In a way, the thesis is a one-sentence answer to your question. You make a claim in your thesis statement and spend the rest of the essay supporting this claim.

How do you come up with a thesis?

Coming up with your thesis requires a great deal of thinking on your part. You should carefully focus on your topic and try to find an angle, which makes it interesting and probably different from what the others will be writing. The thesis statement should be something that people do not usually think about and when they read that line, they are automatically drawn towards the essay to see what it really holds. The thesis statement is the central orienting concept of your essay.

Body: As mentioned before, you write your essay providing evidence supporting your thesis statement. All the evidence and supporting paragraphs you write after your thesis statement are collectively known as the body of your essay.

What should the body contain?

Firstly, your body should support your thesis statement. An essay whose body contradicts its thesis statement is indeed a very bad essay. Start with describing your thesis statement in detail, then go on to provide evidence supporting the claim made in your thesis. Describe how what you are writing about and how it influenced you changed your perception and behavior. While writing the first draft, you do not need to worry about the order you’ll be providing the evidence in: just make sure you know what you’ll be writing about.

Conclusion: Finally, the closing paragraph of your essay is known as the conclusion. The conclusion of your essay provides a link between the thesis statement and the body. Keep in mind that you should never summarize your essay in your conclusion; try to introduce a new idea in the conclusion – an idea that will leave your readers thinking.

How to decide what to write in the conclusion?

Connect your thesis statement with the body of your essay, then go ahead and describe how this turn of events or whatever you have written about relates to you being an ideal applicant, and how does it relate to your decision to apply for college admission. It is a good idea to use rhetorical devices in the conclusion as long as it’s not very overdone. The main point is to connect your changes to your current plans.

Essay Styles

There are several types of essays format, which you can use while composing your college essay.

Standard: Traditional and safe, this is the essay style used by most college applicants. Use the important points from your outline and write one paragraph on each point, making sure that you provide plenty of “real world” evidence based upon actual events. Remember, this is your one-way dialogue and you should try to promote qualities or characteristics, which would appeal to the admission officer(s), but are not particularly obvious from the rest of your application.

Focused: In this approach, you focus on a single, powerful, interesting event or characteristic. This works especially well if you’re supposed to write an extremely small essay. A slightly more imaginative approach than the standard essay, this will work well if the single event or topic you write about is exceptionally interesting.

Story: In this type of essay, you employ the narration technique to pen down a short story and dramatic story. Remember to conclude the story with a short explanation of how the story or tale is related to you or has affected you. This approach could be particularly useful is the admission officer(s) are looking for creativity and absorbing writing skills.

Recipe for a Draft – How to kick-start your College Essay

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a college admission essay is just getting started. Here’s a quick exercise to get pen to paper (or keyboard to computer).

Step 1: Think about yourself.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your best qualities? Are you a plugger? An intellectual? A creative type? Curious? Passionate? Determined?

Step 2: Choose a positive quality you’d like to convey to the admission committee.

Don’t pick an event or something you’ve done. President of the Nuclear Awareness Club is not a personal quality. Focus on a quality of your mind or of your character. Complete this sentence: “I am a very _________ person.”

Step 3: Tell a story.

Set a timer for 20 minutes. Pretend you’re taking an exam at high school and the question is; “Tell a story about an experience or time when you showed you were a very _________ person.” Use the characteristic you identified in Step 2. Write or type non-stop for 20 minutes; force yourself to keep telling the story and what it reveals until the timer goes DING.

Okay. That’s it. You’ve got a rough draft for your college application essay. Look at the college application forms and see what questions they ask. No matter what the questions are, you’ve already identified the important characteristic you want to convey to each college.

When you’ve composed the first draft of your essay, it’s time to go over it, correct errors, fix omissions, make improvements, and share it with a third party for independent feedback and suggestions. Even though you should bring others’ opinions into consideration, remember that it’s your life, your essay, your career, and you are the best judge of what to include (or not include) in the essay. Keep the following points in mind during the tweaking period:

Give it Some Time.

As mentioned before, development of the essay is an exercise which takes days, if not weeks. Don’t try to complete tweaking in a day or two – give it some time and return to the task after a few days to see if your main idea is what you want it to be. Most probably in the “rest period” you will come up with a couple of points or arguments which you would like to add to your essay or use as a replacement to other ideas.

Similarly, when you share your essay with someone else, don’t expect immediate feedback. Give them a few days to think about what you’ve written (remember to give it to someone who actually give it some thought!) and come to your with suggestions.

Simplify.

After making tons of term papers and reports, most students are used to using big words and sentences to explain theoretical concepts. That will not do. This is a personal essay, so try to simplify and straighten words out as much as possible. Instead of, “One of the greatest issues threatening modern society is the emergence and excessive use of narcotics.” You may write, “Drugs are one of biggest problems facing society”.

Proofread a Million Times.

Come on, I don’t need to explain the significance behind that one, do I? PLEASE proofread a million times and make sure there are no grammatical, typographical, or writing style mistakes.

Students are often asked what advice they would give to the next class or classes. They are very good at verbalizing the things that CAN and WILL make a difference. All of the following statements are direct quotes from students.

  • “Take SAT I/II and TOEFL in Grade 11 so that they are out of the way.”
  • “Don’t take it easy in Grade 11, thinking that there’s plenty of time to get sorted out in Grade 12 – there isn’t!”
  • “Socialize with a wide variety of people. If you speak a language other than English, try not to hang around with others with the same language all the time. It cuts you off socially and doesn’t do your English any good either.”
  • “Start thinking about and planning your Extended Essay early (IB folks).”
  • “Try to participate in extra-curricular activities – they’re fun and you need them.”
  • “If you don’t understand something in a lesson, ask the teacher because, if you don’t, you probably won’t understand the next point either.”
  • “Don’t let work pile up. It will only make you feel guilty and miserable.”
  • “Use private study periods constructively – you don’t get back time you waste.”
  • “If you don’t like a course, speak to the teacher and get advice.”
  • “Don’t make hasty judgments about teachers. They know what they’re talking about and the best way to learn is to cooperate with them.”
  • “Make sure YOU know what YOU need for your IB and academic diploma courses – it avoids problems later.”
  • “Don’t moan about something if you haven’t tried to do anything about it.”

Test Information

Many universities in the USA, and some universities internationally, require students to take either the SAT or ACT standardized exams.  Students create their own accounts on the Collegeboard or ACT website, where they can manage and send scores to universities.  The test dates for the 2017-2018 academic year are:

SATSAT Subject TestsACT
October 7th, 2017October 7th, 2017September 9, 2017
December 2nd, 2017November 4th, 2017October 28, 2017
March 10th, 2018December 2nd, 2017December 9, 2017
May 5th, 2018May 5th, 2018April 14, 2018
June 2nd, 2018June 9, 2018

Students can register at these links:

ACT:  http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration.html
SAT:  https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/international