What your junior can do in December to prepare for college

If your teen is a junior, you are probably already overwhelmed with a lot of information coming from your teen’s school, neighbors, friends who have kids and maybe even your workplace. With that information overload, it can be hard sometimes to prioritize and stay on top of things. I want to make sure that you don’t get left behind in this process. 

Here are some things that you can do right now in the month of December. 

Researching Colleges 

The first action item would be researching colleges in order to learn whether or not that college is a good fit for them. When they find ones that are a good fit, they will likely thrive in terms of their years in college and that’s what we want for them. 

I’ve mentioned before the five areas of fit which are: academic, social, financial, vocational and cultural fit (You can refer to my previous article on fit here ). 

Decide Which Test They will Take 

The second thing they can be doing in the month of December is deciding which test they’re going to focus on –  the SAT or the ACT. Some states have one particular test as a graduation requirement, for example in Ohio, it is the ACT. However, many students still take the SAT because that’s the test that they favor. Taking both tests is actually no longer required. 

When students are taking both just for the sake of taking both, not only does it waste money, but it wastes time as well. I recommend that students focus on the one that’s best for them, which could even be based on the schedule or availability. Whatever it is, just focus on one test because colleges will take either one, there’s no need to do both. 

After they decide which test to focus on, they need to decide how they’re going to prepare. The month of December is a great time for them to prep for the test they’ll be taking. I usually recommend at least 6 to 12 weeks of prep time. 


      Read more about preparing the for test


Read a book for pleasure during winter break

There is plenty of research to support why teens should continue to read (and why they don’t do it, as well). Becoming a real reader can improve your teen’s vocabulary, make them a better writer, help them get into college, and enlarge their breadth of understanding of the world around them.  Click here to learn more

But did you know that one of the most commonly used prompts for college admissions essays is “Tell about a book you read for pleasure and why it should be required”?


So how can you get your teen to read during their “downtime?”


One resource I highly recommend is  Real Ballers Read – a popular Book-stagram with podcast interviews and other literary fun for teens from near-peer mentors. This is a great place to help your teen find a book to read during the winter break.

These are the important action steps that your junior can take during the month of December – researching colleges, determining which test they’re going to focus on (and how they will prepare for the test), and reading a book for pleasure over winter break. Starting this process now, as opposed to waiting until the new year, will make sure that your teen is on track and not feeling behind and rushed as we get into the spring. 


For more help with navigating junior year, sign up to receive my FREE College Prep Toolkit. This resource includes my Junior Year Roadmap, so you and your teen will know what they should be doing each month. 

Stressed about college application essays? Here’s the answer…

You can help them replace the stress with clarity and calm. 

Have you heard? A lot of colleges will be “test optional” for students in the Class of 2022. Good news, right? It is really good news if your teen struggles with test anxiety or just isn’t a good test taker. So then how will colleges decide which students to admit?

It is going to come down to their application essays

Listen up, families with a college-bound junior in the Class of 2022…

You do not want to miss this upcoming masterclass which is all about writing a college essay that will help your teen get into their top choice schools. COLLEGE ESSAYS MADE EASY is just the help you’ve been looking for.  

By coming to this 90-minute virtual event, you’ll leave with clarity, confidence and peace of mind because you’ll know what to expect and be ready for senior year. Learn how to prepare, how to start writing, how to write a compelling essay and more.

Here are some of the colleges where our students who attended last year’s masterclass were admitted:

  • Boston University
  • Brown
  • Claremont McKenna
  • Cornell College
  • College of Wooster
  • Drexel
  • Georgetown
  • Howard
  • Northwestern
  • Occidental
  • Santa Clara University
  • Spelman
  • Tulane
  • UC, Berkeley
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Yale 

I know what you’re probably thinking… Do I really need to be thinking about this now? I mean they have until the middle of next school year to apply, right? Let me ask you this: 

How good will it feel for your teen to be able to take some time to RELAX before the hectic pace of senior year sets in? 

Time is of the essence. This masterclass will put your junior ahead of the curve and help you free up some time to do other important things, like capturing the right senior photo. 

To learn more about COLLEGE ESSAYS MADE EASY, including when it will be offered (seating is limited!), please go to: 


Can’t wait to see you in class!

How Will COVID-19 Affect The 2020 College Admissions Cycle?

How Will COVID-19 Affect The 2020 College Admissions Cycle?

Most of us have seen a change to our day to day lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the short-term changes are obvious, many people are wondering what the long-term impact will be. That includes prospective college students. Especially juniors in the Class of 2021 may be wondering how COVID-19 will affect the 2020 college admissions cycle.

The 2020 College Admissions Cycle

The good news is many schools have shared that they don’t expect COVID-19 to impact the college admissions cycle in a major way.

For example, Princeton undergrad admissions tweeted, in early March 2020, “Please note: The coronavirus outbreak and its effects have no impact on how we evaluate applicants to the University.”

That said, there are many ways COVID-19 has already affected students and schools.

Keep in mind, the situation is rapidly evolving. But here’s some of the other information that is currently available about how COVID-19 will (and will not) affect the 2020 college admissions cycle and other academic events.

Admissions Offices

Most post-secondary schools in the United States have closed their admissions offices for now. Be that as it may, they’re still operating virtually. Students can contact them via phone or email to get more information.

Admitted Students Days

If you’re still a year or two away from college visits, we have several resources to help you prepare for successful college campus visits. Click here for my top 5 tips for the best campus visit tips to save you time and money.

But things have been shaken up for students who were planning to visit campuses to learn about their new school this year. Most schools have canceled their admitted students’ days and weekends for students who were already accepted for the fall semester.

Some schools, including Harvard, have moved their admitted students events online. Instead of hosting “Visits” on campus, they’re moving to host “Virtual Visits” that will be available to admitted students for all of April rather than just a three-day period.

College-bound high school juniors should also take a look at this post where I discuss how they (and their parents) can make the most of the year as they prepare for college.

International Students

Many international students have already been accepted for the Fall 2020 semester. Most schools continue to accept and welcome these students. But many schools, including California Institute of Technology (Caltech), require all arrivals at the university to initially follow the same self-quarantine guidelines that apply to all travelers.


How Will COVID-19 Affect The 2020 College Admissions Cycle?
A photo from my trip to Caltech


Prospective international students could experience certain barriers to their education at American schools. Many schools require standardized testing before admission. In many parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, standardized test sites have closed. This is expected to seriously affect the number of international students that apply.

Tuition and Fees

Unfortunately, having fewer international students is also detrimental to the schools that rely on income from international students. International students are estimated to bring in more than $2.5 billion in tuition plus required fees to American schools.

With fewer admissions, tuition rates could rise for American students, particularly those at public colleges that could lose the most revenue.

Understandably, many prospective students are frustrated with the uncertainty surrounding their upcoming academic future. Prospective students should continue to monitor school websites for updates and information. At the same time, they can continue to do what they can to prepare for college.

Optimistically, most schools are expected to return to normal operation by this fall.

If you’re looking for the right college where you can get in and get money, click here to learn more.

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these:

How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Top Tips
Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors
7 ways to support your child during the college application process


Bowdoin has neuroscience, friendship and nature all in one small college

neuroscience major

Bowdoin College, nestled in the heart of pine grove and athletic fields in Brunswick, Maine, is a leading liberal arts college that focuses on the teaching and study of the environment across the disciplines. Though primarily a liberal arts college, their academic strengths include the sciences, especially neuroscience and environmental sciences.


A little known fact about Bowdoin is that student research is an important component of faculty tenure. This value leads to an abundance of research opportunities for students across disciplines.


Bowdoin is the alma mater of famous authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, so nature, art, and friendship are integral parts of the student experience. To emphasize this, before classes begin, the entire entering class takes pre-orientation hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or community service trips that teach them about the people and the landscape of Maine.

bowdoin liberal arts college

As part of the curriculum at Bowdoin, freshmen choose from a variety of seminars that stress reading and writing skills. Over the undergraduate years, students must complete 32 courses, including one each in natural sciences and math, social and behavioral sciences, and fine arts and humanities, in addition to a required course in the visual and performing arts. On their website, Bowdoin discusses its “Offer of the College” which is worth referencing here because it speaks volumes about the mission and quality of the educational experience for students:



– Adapted from the original “Offer of the College” by William DeWitt Hyde – President of Bowdoin College 1885 – 1917

To be at home in all lands and all ages;

To count Nature a familiar acquaintance,
And Art an intimate friend;

To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work
And the criticism of your own;

To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket.
And feel its resources behind you in whatever task
you undertake;

To make hosts of friends …
Who are to be leaders in all walks of life;

To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms
And cooperate with others for common ends –

This is the offer of the college for the
best four years of your life.


Wow . . . doesn’t that say so much about the community life at Bowdoin? I love that “Offer”!


Additional quick facts about Bowdoin:

Acceptance: 10%

Freshman retention: 98%

Freshmen from out of state: 89%

4-year Graduation rate: 88%

Most popular majors: government, economics, biology



Social: Bowdoin’s social life is centered around their social houses, which have replaced Greek life organizations on campus. The houses host all the events – academic, cultural, as well as parties – and are open to all students at the college. In the winter time, students take advantage of the nearby ski resorts, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing trips to enjoy Maine’s wintry landscape. Another big part of student life focuses on sports, especially Bowdoin’s ice hockey team, the Polar Bears. A strong 70% of the students participate in club sports, intramurals, and recreational activities.


Similar colleges to consider: Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan


Housing: 91% of students live either in Bowdoin’s renovated, historic halls or in the social houses on campus. Because Bowdoin prioritizes maintaining their inclusive and dynamic community, all freshman and sophomores are required to live on campus, with juniors and seniors rarely given the privilege to live off campus.


Financial aid: Bowdoin offers only need-based scholarships, with 100% of need met. Although the tuition and fees are $68,000, the average financial aid package is $44,000, with about 80% of students receiving scholarships. There is also an additional $1,000 to $2,000 that can be received from Bowdoin’s National Merit Scholarship, with $2,000 being given to those eligible and $1,000 as a recognition reward to those who are not eligible.


What do you think about Bowdoin? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.

Top 5 Tips for Best Campus Visits that Save Time and Money

how to make most of campus visit

Many college-bound sophomores and juniors are visiting campuses in March and April during Spring Break. Those campus visits are an important step in the college admissions process and can shape the application process in surprising ways. Given that many colleges will also have “Admitted Student” events in March and April, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for times when prospective students can visit.

These visits are informational so they offer a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about the admissions process and envision your college experience. Because you visit doesn’t mean you must apply. Again, you’re going to gather information. Once your schedule is set, use these tips for a successful visit:

1. Campus size doesn’t always matter

Visit colleges of varying sizes so that you understand whether size matters or not.  When you’re reading about campuses on-line, it’s sometimes difficult to get a feel for the size. Also, the physical space of the campus may attribute either a “small” or “big” feel moreso than the enrollment numbers suggest. Depending on the urban-ness or rural-ness of a campus, it can feel more “big” or “small” when you visit in person.


2. Watch your Attitude during the visit

Remember that you are being “interviewed” at all times when you tour a college campus. Even if you’re not in a formal, one-on-one meeting with an admissions officer or faculty member, when you set foot on the campus, consider it as a 2-3 hour interview. With that being said, it’s important to be on “good” behavior. For some colleges, these visits are recorded as “demonstrated interest” and may matter in the application process.


3. Not everyone should go

Tour the campus alone or with parents/siblings. Especially, do not visit with your high school sweetheart.  I have actually been on visits where students are there with a sweetheart hanging on to their every hip move. Think about how this looks. Not to mention that the visit can be short-changed by your sweetheart’s impression of the campus. 

This may also apply if your teen has a sibling who will be tired or annoyed during the visit. When I took my son on campus visits, his sister stayed at home. Her interests were so different that she would have been bored and distracting.


4. Check out the neighbors

Many college campuses are shaped by the neighborhoods surrounding them. Some neighborhoods are good and some . . . not so good. Check out the neighborhood surrounding the college campus. If you’re not comfortable there, perhaps that’s a sign! Prospective students should feel comfortable with the surrounding area because the on-campus life is often intertwined with off-campus life.

If you are concerned about security, I would suggest that you get an on-campus (and off-campus) police report of recent incidents.


5. Have questions ready
brown university campus

Researching the college prior to your visit almost always generates more questions than it answers. Information from the website and viewbooks can be confirmed during your campus visit. For example, you can ask about parking conditions, security, food quality, dorm life, etc. There are a number of other topics or concerns that will occur in the moment as you’re listening to a tour guide or interviewer.

Always ask questions during your visit and any interview. Asking questions demonstrates your interest and intellectual curiosity


Throughout the year, I visit dozens of college campuses and learn something new every time. With each visit, it’s important for me to write notes so that I keep track of all that I learned. Please download our Campus Visit Checklist so that your teen remembers what they learned and keep track of how each college would be a fit for their interests and needs.

Where are you visiting this spring? What additional tips do you have for making the most of your campus visits?

Top 5 Checklist for college-bound 10th graders

Sophomore year is a great time to jumpstart the college admissions process. If you have taken any standardized test by this point or submitted your contact information online, then it’s highly likely that you have started receiving college brochures. Yes, those glossy brochures can be very enticing. However before you get too excited about those beautiful campus pics, follow this top 5 checklist to get into your top colleges that are a good fit for you!



1. Take courses that challenge you.

Don’t worry about what your friends are taking or the rumors about a teacher to avoid. Colleges will consider how well you took advantage of the curriculum that your high school offers. Your success in these courses can also lead to merit scholarships from colleges.


Blue lights are everywhere on college campuses.
Blue lights are everywhere on college campuses.

2. Get involved in extra-curricular activities that interest you.

If there’s a club that you can see yourself leading, consider getting involved during sophomore year. Perhaps you could see yourself as yearbook editor, student council president, or secretary of 4-H. Then, sophomore year can be the time to learn more about those roles, as well as whether you enjoy participating. Please remember depth, instead of breadth. Focus on the few activities that you enjoy and excel in, rather than participating in 10 different clubs just for the sake of including on your resume.


3. Get to know your teachers and let them get to know you.

Your teacher recommendations will be an important aspect of your college applications. Set a goal to meet with 1-2 teachers on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Be sincere in your efforts by meeting with those teachers that you want to know better and/or have an interest in their subject area.


4. Read outside of school assignments.

Believe it or not, your local library has some fun ways for you to enjoy reading! If you have a library card, use it regularly and get involved with the teen events. If you don’t have a library card, get one right away . . . it’s free and easy to use. You can also take advantage of winter and spring breaks to read a book that you enjoy. Now, how does this relate to college?? Reading for pleasure will help with getting higher test scores, developing your intellectual curiosity, and writing your college application essays.


5. Own your online persona.

If you have any social media accounts, make sure that they are updated to protect your privacy and represent you well. Delete any questionable or unfavorable comments. (Do the “grandma check”: if you would be embarrassed by your grandmother seeing it, then delete.) More and more colleges are reviewing prospective students’ social media presence, so be careful!


Which of these action items is at the top of your to-do list?


Rolling Admissions: Benefits and Drawbacks

How Do Rolling Admissions Work? Here’s What You Need to Know

Did you catch one of our recent blogs where we discussed the difference between early action vs. early decision? Today, we’re going to talk about another important admissions process known as rolling admission.

First, let’s recap about early action and early decision applications. 

Early action means a student is notified of their acceptance under a non-binding agreement, and they don’t have to make a decision right away. The deadline is typically May 1 but this can vary.

On the other hand, early decision means a student’s acceptance signifies a binding decision to attend that institution. This agreement is usually made once a student reviews and accepts a financial aid offer (if there is one).

Learn more about early action vs. early decision college applications here

What are rolling admissions? 

Early action and early decision admissions have hard deadlines. Rolling admissions, on the other hand, typically don’t. 

Instead, students can usually submit their application between September and May of senior year, which is a much larger window than most admission processes utilize—but that doesn’t make colleges with rolling admissions any less competitive. 

A Rolling admission applicant tends to hear back about their application within a few weeks. Usually, rolling admissions operate on a first-come, first-served basis. That means colleges will continue to review applications until their class sizes have been met. 

You should keep in mind that although the application window is larger, there are still important deadlines to be aware of for applying to colleges who use rolling admissions. 

That’s just another reason it’s so important to be aware of college application deadlines. 

They can also impact your student and financial aid—here’s how.

To many students, this large window is incredibly appealing. But like anything else, it comes with its advantages and disadvantages. 

To help you decide if a school with a rolling admission program might be right for you, let’s talk more about the benefits and drawbacks.

Are you struggling to find the right college? Sign up for my FREE upcoming master class!


There are plenty of good reasons to apply to a school with rolling admissions. Here are some qualities that make it the right decision for some students: 

  • For colleges without rolling admissions, you’re out of luck once you’ve missed the application deadline. But thanks to their larger window, rolling admissions can be a great option for last-minute applicants.
  • You tend to hear back sooner.
  • Applications are judged upon receipt which can mean less competition but only for early applicants.
  • Applications are non-binding (unlike early decision applications) so you’re able to weigh your options. 


On the other hand, rolling admissions aren’t right for everyone: 

  • Available spots can fill up quickly. Even though the application window is larger, this can mean if you don’t apply early, you’re out of luck. 
  • The longer you wait to apply, the more competitive the admissions process gets.
  • You might be forced to make a decision sooner than you’d like to.

The admissions process isn’t the only thing to consider when applying for post-secondary. 

Things like free laundry can matter too! Here’s more on that.

Colleges with rolling admissions.

Currently, there are no Ivy league schools that utilize rolling admissions, but plenty of other great schools do. A Rolling admission option is also popular for many law schools. Some schools might accept rolling admissions applications for certain programs, while others have firm deadlines.

Some colleges with a rolling admission program include: 

  1. Alaska Pacific University
  2. Barclay College
  3. Daemen College
  4. Goshen College
  5. Kent State University
  6. King College
  7. Minot State University
  8. Montana State University
  9. North Park University
  10. Notre Dame College
  11. Ohio State University
  12. Penn State York
  13. Rivier University
  14. Simpson University
  15. Stillman College
  16. University of Baltimore
  17. University of Central Florida
  18. University of West Alabama
  19. Xavier University
  20. York College

Whether you’re applying with rolling admission, early action, or early decision, there’s help available for the college admissions process! 

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here for help. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

Living off-campus: pros and cons
College application checklist
7 ways to support your child during the college application process

Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference? And Important Dates You Need to Know

Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between early action vs. early decision when it comes to college acceptance?

With decision release and application deadline dates fast approaching for early action (EA) and early decision (ED) plans, a lot of questions have come up about what makes the two different. On the same note, prospective students are curious about exactly when they’ll be notified about their acceptance.

Before we get to some important early decision and early action decision release dates, let’s go over exactly what each term means. 

Are you struggling to find the right college? Sign up for my FREE upcoming master class!

What is early action?

Early action plans mean a student is notified of their acceptance, but under a non-binding agreement. That means a student doesn’t have to formally commit to a school or make their decision until the typical date (usually May 1). 

Early action applications are typically sent in around November, and students tend to hear back sometime in January or February. 

What is early decision? 

Unlike early action plans, early decision plans do signify a binding agreement between a student and a college. That means the student must attend that college if they’re accepted. This comes after reviewing and accepting an offer of financial aid for that school if there is one. 

Because of what early decision plans entail, a student can only apply to one school for early decision, but can still apply to other schools with regular admission. 

Early decision applications are usually sent in around mid-November, and students usually hear back by December. But we’ll get to some more specific dates later.

Which schools have early action and early decision plans?

In the United States, there are around 450 schools with EA or ED plans, and some with both. 

Some schools have what’s known as single-choice early action. This means a student must not apply for either EA or ED to any other school. 

When should students apply for early admission?

Early admissions aren’t right for every student. But in some cases, it can pose significant advantages. 

A student must have researched colleges extensively, and made a list of schools that are a good fit socially, academically, vocationally, and financially. 

Without doing the proper research before applying for early decision to a college, a student risks committing themselves to a school that really isn’t the right choice for them. To help you make sure a school is the right fit, click here. 

But now, back to those advantages of EA and ED plans…

The college application and admissions process is notoriously stressful for students and parents alike. (Though it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ways to help your child through the college application process). 

One great thing about early admissions and early decision plans is you can get some of that stress out of the way sooner and enjoy the rest of your senior year. It also means you have more time to secure housing and figure out some of the logistics of attending college. 

These application dates can impact your student and financial aid. You can read more about that right here. 

Early action and early decision release dates for the class of 2024.

Now, let’s get to some important dates for early action and early decision schools. These are just a few examples of the schools with EA and ED plans and their decision release dates.

ED application decision release dates

  • Amherst College: December 15
  • Boston College: December 25
  • Brown University: Mid-December
  • Columbia University: Mid-December
  • Cornell University: Mid-December
  • Duke University: December 15
  • Harvard University: Mid-December
  • New York University: December 15
  • Yale University: Mid-December

EA application decision release dates: 

  • Babson College: January 1
  • Berklee College of Music: January 31
  • Tulane University: December 15
  • University of Chicago: Mid-December 
  • University of Michigan: December 24
  • University of Notre Dame: December 24
  • Wheaton College: January 15

Which schools are you planning to apply for early decision or early application? Let me know in the comments below. 

Are you looking for one-on-one guidance for how to get into (or pay for) college? Click here for help. 

If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss these either: 

Living Off Campus: Pros and Cons
College Application Checklist
Colleges with Free Laundry: A Time and Money Saving Consideration 

How to improve your chances of getting in to Yale

Beyond its Ivy League brand and selective admissions, there’s more to know about Yale to understand whether it’s a fit. Given how competitive it is to be admitted to Yale, it’s worth it for students to get to know the university beyond the surface of its New Haven location.


Admittedly, I love the artsy feel of the town itself. The prolific arts and culture scene are well-matched with the arts and entertainment figures who call Yale their alma mater. Two of my favorite actresses, Angela Bassett and Jodie Foster, graduated from Yale and there are several others.


Yale is a major research university with a historic commitment to undergraduate teaching. Research is a big component of academics. The curriculum across the undergraduate years is 1/3 distribution courses, 1/3 major courses, and 1/3 electives. Distribution course requirements cover the humanities and arts, social sciences, and natural sciences plus two courses that emphasize writing and another two that emphasize quantitative reasoning. Foreign language mastery is also a requirement. Interestingly, there are no minors at Yale, only majors. Juniors and seniors can take classes in any of the thirteen distinguished graduate schools.


Last year, Yale received over 36,000 applications for a class of approximately 1,300 students. The majority of the applicants are highly qualified which makes the admissions decisions very difficult. Students seeking admission to Yale are weighed according to these ABCs of getting in:

A- Academics [school context, teacher recommendations (from 11th or 12th), SAT/ACT testing, with subject tests]


B- Breadth and depth for extracurricular activities (i.e. stop doing a lot of activities for the sake of resume building)


C- Character (evidenced in essays)


Given the vibe of Yale and New Haven, arts supplements are even welcomed!


The keys to getting in to Yale is 1) knowing yourself, 2) being your authentic self in academics and outside interests, 3) researching Yale thoroughly and 4) applying to Yale only if there’s a sincere fit with their campus academically, socially, financially and vocationally.



Additional quick facts about Yale:

Acceptance: less than 5%

Freshmen retention: 99%

Freshmen from out of state: 93%

4-year Graduation rate: 86%

Most popular majors: economics, political science and government, history, psychology, molecular biology


Social: There are 32 Division 1 teams with several championships in men’s ice hockey, basketball, women’s volleyball and sailing. In addition to athletics, there are 500 active clubs including 50 performance groups and 60 cultural associations. Only 20% of students are involved in Greek life. Yale’s proximity to downtown New Haven affords students a vibrant artistic and cultural life, countless restaurants (I had the best Cuban meal ever at a local spot), and a myriad of academic and service opportunities within 15 minutes of campus.


Housing: There are 12 Residential colleges at Yale which are smaller communities where students live, eat, socialize, and pursue academic and extracurricular activities. Although undergraduates are required to live in the residential college for 2 years, most choose to live all 4 years there.


Similar colleges to consider: Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania


Financial aid: Yale offers only need-based scholarships, with 100% of need met. Although the cost of attendance is $76,000, the average need-based financial aid package is $60K. About 80% of students receive scholarships/financial aid. Yale covers financial aid for one summer, in addition to all academic terms.


What do you think about Yale? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.

Vassar College: For the Creative Teen with lots of Interests

college for teens with lots of interests

When I recently discussed the merits of Vassar with a family, the first response from parents was “Isn’t that a women’s college?” Over 50 years ago, indeed Vassar was a women’s college but since then has been coed.

Vassar students and academics

Vassar is known for its innovative curriculum across multiple disciplines and was the first college to offer an undergraduate degree in cognitive science.


The typical Vassar student is creative, proud of individuality, and has an independent spirit. Likewise, those natural inclinations match well with Vassar’s open curriculum. This “open curriculum” means that there are no core or required courses that all students must take. Instead, Vassar students must fulfill a language requirement, take a writing course during freshman year, and complete 1 quantitative course before graduation.


This type of program of study then frees students to design the plan of study that best matches their unique interests. The flexibility of an open curriculum allows over half of Vassar students to graduate with two majors. Upon graduation, a strong 70% of Vassar undergrads go to graduate school, with most of them going on to medical school.


Given its 2,500 student body, introductory courses, often taken in freshman year have an average class size of 21 students. All classes are small seminars. When it’s time to do research or simply get help with a project, each student is matched with his/her own librarian. Art majors get their own studio in senior year which can be a huge time-saving perk.


In terms of freshman year, a unique offering at Vassar is that freshmen are assigned to a group of 10 fellow classmates, which is led by an upperclassman leader to help with the transition.


Additional quick facts about Vassar:

Acceptance: 25%

Freshmen retention: 95%

Freshmen from out of state: 73%

4-year Graduation rate: 88%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 8 to 1

Most popular majors: economics, political science, biology


Social: There are 23 Division 3 teams at Vassar with about a quarter of the student body participating. There are over 50 theatre productions during the year and 100+ student clubs. With over 1,000 events held on campus each year, there is plenty for students to do and enjoy outside of class. There is no Greek life at Vassar.


Housing: On-campus student housing is guaranteed for 4 years. Interestingly, 70% of faculty also live on campus. Each residence hall has 1 or 2 faculty as house fellows.


Similar colleges to consider: Amherst, Brown, Columbia, Pomona, Swarthmore, Tufts, Wesleyan


Financial aid: Vassar meets 100% of need for domestic and international students for all 4 years. In addition, theres a low or no-loan policy for lower income families.  The cost of attendance is $73,000, with 60% of students receiving a range of scholarships from $1,200 to $60,000. The average aid package is $52,000.


What do you think about Vassar? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.