Monday, September 16, 2019

Stand Out on College Apps with Personalized Essay

High school students in the midst of the college application process are most likely working on The Common Application that is accepted by more than 800 colleges, including the majority of institutions most popular with New Jersey students.  It requires one essay, and students can choose from a variety of topics or one of their own creation.  Due to the importance of writing an interesting, grammatically correct, essay most students get help from a variety of sources. In many schools, the writing of this essay is incorporated into the English IV curriculum with teachers editing their students’ rough drafts. Often parents, relatives or friends offer their input as well. At times, a private counselor is hired to insure that an impressive essay is submitted that is likely to garner the approval of college admissions officers.  The end result, according to colleges, is that most of the essays they receive are good enough to be published. The problem: they seldom reflect the students’ independent work.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Get Paperwork Ready For October 1st FAFSA Launch

Families of college-bound students can soon learn exactly how much the federal government thinks they can afford to contribute to their child’s college education.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, usually referred to as the FAFSA, will go live at 1:00 a.m. on October 1st at This is the one form that all parents must file if they hope to get any federal money for college. 

The newest FAFSA will use financial information from a family’s 2018 taxes.  Most people will be able to make use of a “shortcut” offered on the FAFSA, which is the I.R.S. Data Retrieval Tool.  As long as you have already filed your 2018 taxes, you can check off that you want the FAFSA to link into your previously filed taxes and automatically fill in the numbers on all of the financial questions.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Cut Time, Money and Stress on the Road to Success

College bound students who know what they want to do with their life can often cut years of education, a great deal of stress, and a substantial amount of money from their higher education experience.

Many colleges offer dual degree programs whereby students move right into a Masters or Doctorate degree program upon completing their undergraduate education.  They often do not have to take entrance exams, eliminating the need to repeat the stressful process of preparing for, and taking, standardized tests.  Basically, as long as they meet certain requirements during their undergraduate years, they move right into the advanced degree program in their chosen field.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Student Checklist for Early College Planning

Labor Day Weekend has arrived, and in many ways it’s similar to New Years Day.  It’s the start of a new year -- not the calendar year, but the academic year.  For students, it’s the perfect time to make mental (or paper) checklists to be sure that they’re on track to meet all of their future goals.

Students should carefully consider their schedule for the new school year, to be sure that the courses they will be taking will allow them to complete all of the courses they want to have under their belt by graduation day.  For example, students with dreams of attending a top college to major in engineering should be sure to get through calculus while in high school.  If they’re not on track to do so, perhaps they should double up on math this year.

Students who recognize that demonstrated leadership is an important quality to college admission officers may want to join a club or organization, of which they are particularly passionate, early in their high school years. Through dedicated involvement as freshmen and sophomores, the opportunity for leadership roles will be great in junior and senior years.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Strategies for Scoring High on the PSAT/SAT Exams

More than a million students nationwide, including almost every Sophomore and Junior in Montgomery, will anguish over the PSAT or SAT exam in October. What all of these high schoolers need to do is go into the test feeling confident and well versed on the strategies for success.

First of all, students should be sure to answer each and every question – whether they know the answer or not. They are not penalized for wrong answers so even random guessing will, according to the Laws of Probability, give students credit one out of four times. Intelligent guessing – eliminating poor choices and then taking an educated guess – results in even better odds!

On the Reading section, students should pay extra attention to the “duo” questions where two points are at stake.  Students are asked one question based on the passage, and then a second question asking in which of four lines the answer can be found.  It’s often easier to read the four lines first and identify which one answers the previous question. 

Students should likewise carefully consider the “vocabulary in context” questions.  For example, if asked to choose between “retire,” “evacuate,” “vacate,” or “depart,” students need to consider the context of the sentence as all of these words mean “to leave,” but are seldom interchangeable.

On the grammar section that is titled, “Writing and Language,” it’s vital that students recall the proper use of the comma, semi-colon, colon and hyphen.  It’s also important for students to examine each question for correct tense, structure and word choice. Students should think of themselves as journalists for this section, as the correct answer is usually the shortest, most succinct way of wording a sentence.

On the two Math sections, one that allows the use of a calculator and one that does not, students should use their test booklet as scrap paper as none is provided.  Students should also refer to the box of math formulas that is provided on the direction page, but should memorize two important formulas that are not included: the center-radius form of the circle equation and the quadratic formula.  The highest level of math on the test is trig, and students usually just need to know that, in a right triangle, sin x = cos y.

The best strategy is to prepare, well in advance of the test day, with prior tests written by College Board, in order to be proficient in the material tested and knowledgeable of the directions for each section.

To download a free Strategy Guide, with detailed advice and examples for each test section, visit 

Susan Alaimo is the founder of SAT Smart. For the past 25 years, SAT Smart’s Ivy League educated tutors have prepared students for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP courses, and all high school subjects. Visit or call 908-369-5362.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Experience An Unbelievably Luxurious College Life

College living is not what it used to be.  In fact, students at many colleges and universities across the country may find themselves experiencing such a luxurious lifestyle that they will have a hard time replicating it any time soon after graduation.

While most colleges host a rec center, the one at University of Missouri was named the best in the country by Sports Illustrated.  It includes a gym that’s almost 300,000 square feet, and a palm-tree shaded lazy river complete with a waterfall.

Students who are avid skiers might look towards Dartmouth College, which has sent student skiers to the Winter Olympics in past years. They get plenty of practice right at school, as this Ivy League institution owns Dartmouth Skiway where students can get a season pass for only $99.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Most Beautiful College Campuses in the Country

If you want to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, why not do so during your college years? There are college campuses that are waterfront (Eckerd College in Florida, Texas A & M, University of California – San Diego, University of Hawaii at Manoa), others that are nestled in mountain ranges (Washington and Lee University in Virginia, University of North Carolina – Ashville, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Bates College in Maine), and still others that are center stage in the midst of thriving urban environments (New York University, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Georgetown in our nation’s capital).

Although beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, there are some college campuses that are universally considered to be among the most attractive in the country.  Princeton University in Central Jersey, the fourth oldest university in the country, is typically on every list of stunning college campuses due in part to its Gothic architecture.  This same architecture also graces the grounds of Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, another school with an extremely impressive campus.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Last Chance To Register for the August SAT Exam

The good news is that there’s still time to register for the August 24th SAT exam.  The bad news is that, if you’re living in Central NJ, taking the test will likely require a road trip as seats have already filled at most local high schools.  

The August SAT exam is being offered for the third consecutive year (replacing the March SAT) after being eliminated back in the 1970’s.  It’s extremely popular with students who view summer as the perfect opportunity to prepare for the exam without the pressures of school, homework and afterschool activities.  By taking the exam in August, students have the opportunity to put their newly acquired SAT strategies and skills to the test without waiting until October – which they had to do prior to recent years. But students interested in taking the summer test should sign-up soon as they are already in a “late registration” period with a final deadline of August 13th.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Cut 25% Off The Total Cost of a College Degree

Three million Americans over the age of 60 are still paying off student debt. Approximately 40,000 of them are having Social Security or other government payments garnished.  It shouldn’t be this way.  To avoid the likelihood of joining these ranks, parents and students need to do some careful planning well before deciding on their college of choice.

One of the best ways of reducing the total cost of a college education is reducing the number of years spent acquiring a college degree.  By taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school, taking an extra course (at no extra charge) during some college semesters, and/or taking courses at a college close to home in the summer, students can often complete their college requirements in three years, cutting 25% off what is typically a four-year college bill.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Latest Common App Will Go Live on August 1st

Back in 1975, administrators from fifteen colleges got together and decided to create one application that students could use to apply to any, or, all of their colleges. This was the birth of “The Common App,” which is now accepted by more than 800 colleges and universities across the United States as well as at more than 50 international universities in 18 countries. More than one million students are expected to use this year’s Common App – which will go live with its latest updates on August 1st – to file more than four million college applications.

The Common App is an online application that asks a series of questions in several categories, including: parents’ educational history and current employment, students’ SAT/ACT/AP test scores, senior year courses, high school activities, and intended college major.  There is also an essay of 250 to 650 words that is required by the majority of Common App colleges. Students have a choice of seven essay topics.  One of the long time favorites states, “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.  If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”  Another prompt says, “Share an essay on any topic of your choice.  It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.” So the topic options are truly limitless!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Universities That Produce Fortune 500 CEOs

If your goal is to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Fortune 500 company, you may be wondering exactly where you should go to college.  The truth is there are many options.

U.S. News & World Report recently looked into the educational backgrounds of the top CEOs following the release of Fortune 500’s list of companies with the highest revenue.  It turns out that there’s a great deal of diversity.  In fact, none of the CEOs among the top 10 companies on the Fortune 500 list attended the same college.  The President and CEO of Walmart, C. Douglas McMillon, earned his bachelors degree from the University of Arkansas, while Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO, Warren Buffett, graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Six of the other top executives also graduated from public universities, while one graduated from a school outside the U.S. and one, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, graduated from an Ivy League University – Princeton.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Benefits of Taking SAT Early in High School Years

Three weeks from today is the registration deadline for the August 24th SAT exam, and it’s not just rising high school seniors who are planning for that date.  Many teens who are preparing to start their sophomore or junior year are already registered for the summer SAT exam in order to reap the benefits of starting early.

Students know that they can take the SAT as many times as they want and (most) colleges will never know how many times they have taken the test.  When the time comes for students to submit their scores to colleges, they can choose their highest scores, often even “super-scoring” (mixing and matching) so colleges consider their best Math score from one test and their best Reading/Writing score from another test.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Is a College Degree Worth the Cost?

Is a college degree worth the cost?  Articles, studies and reports constantly highlight the high cost of a college education and the resulting debt with which so many college graduates find themselves encumbered. The question inevitably raised is whether the ends justify the means.  Do college graduates, despite their debt, find themselves better off than their peers who bypassed the college route?

While there are exceptions to every rule, statistics clearly show that, for most students, the more you learn the more you earn.  Analysis of U.S. Census data for 2019 indicated that, in every state, median weekly earnings was closely correlated with the level of the one’s education.  Nationwide, the median weekly salary of those with a high school diploma was $730, those with an associate’s degree was $862, those with a bachelor’s degree was $1,198, those with a master’s degree was $1,434, and those with a doctoral degree was $1,825 – two and half times the weekly salary of high school graduates with no further education.

Monday, June 17, 2019

College Internships May Be Key To Career Success

Some of the most intriguing companies to students preparing to enter the job market – Facebook, Amazon, Google and Microsoft – are offering internships with monthly salaries topping at $8,000. 

While it’s the experience, in the long run, that is the most valuable, it’s always a plus to students when they are paid for their internships and some companies are compensating students most generously.  The employment website Glassdoor recently listed the highest paying internships over the past year and found that tech companies comprised 44% of the list, with finance and consulting firms close behind.

The social media company, Facebook, paid interns at a median monthly rate of $8,000, while Amazon, Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Bloomberg LP, and Capital One all paid at a median monthly rate varying between $7,725 and $7,000.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Understanding College “Yield” Can Have Big Rewards

Virginia Tech, a highly regarded university most popular for its engineering programs, did an amazing job this year of successfully identifying which applicants would enroll if accepted.  It did too good of a job, in fact.  Virginia Tech is experiencing a historically high “yield rate” – which is the percent of accepted students who actually enroll.   About 8,000 students accepted offers to enroll for the fall of 2019 while the university was targeting an enrollment between 6,600 and 6,700 students. 

Virginia Tech addressed the situation by sending an email to the accepted students last week offering financial incentives to those who would agree to postpone their enrollment date.  It offered funding for community college classes, internships, gap years, and summer sessions at Virginia Tech to accepted students who would delay their arrival on campus by a semester or a year.

Monday, June 3, 2019

College Job Can Result in Long Term Financial Gain

Students who work during their college years earn, on average, $20,000 more each year for their first 15 years after graduation than do students who did not hold a job while attending college. That’s the findings of a study recently published by the Education and Employment Research Center at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.  It reportedly didn’t matter whether the student had worked part time or full time.  

There are several reasons for the wage premium, according to the report.  Some employers value on-the-job experience more than a student’s major or GPA. Also, a job in college can provide students with valuable references and networking connections.  And students who learn early to successfully balance academic and work responsibilities often have valuable time management skills to bring to their professional career.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Six Strategies for Filing Successful Applications

(Part 2 of Column Series)

In last week’s column, the first three strategies were enumerated on how to construct impressive college applications.  The advice was to write an impressive essay, personalize each application, and be sure to cover the basics (such as a solid GPA and notable SAT scores).  This week’s column continues with three additional strategies for increasing the likelihood of getting a “You’re Accepted” letter or email from your colleges of choice.

4) Start constructing a resume early in your high school years so you will have time to fill in the gaps that become evident when you put your life experiences in writing.  You’ll want to be sure to have a category for volunteer work.  Colleges offer limitless opportunities for students to engage in volunteer work, and they know that students who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to helping others during their high school years are much more likely to be altruists during their college years. It’s also ideal to have a “passion project” to highlight on your resume.  Have you launched a business, initiated a profitable charitable drive, written and published a book, hosted an art exhibition, or developed an impressive skill or talent?  Colleges are seeking a well-rounded student body comprised of students who have varying attributes.  Students who develop an impressive resume over the course of their high school years have a powerful tool to include on their college applications.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Six Strategies for Filing Successful Applications

(Part 1 of 2 Column Series)

It’s not a secret that it takes considerable time and effort to compose effective college applications, so there’s no better time than the present for college bound students to embark on the journey. Here are some tips to get started:

1) Write an impressive essay.  Most students start out with the Common Application, which is accepted by more than 700 colleges.  It requires one essay (that can be used for all of the college applications) between 250-650 words.  Students need to think of something they want to share with the college admission people that wouldn’t otherwise come across in their application.  The goal of an effective college essay is to show insight into one’s admirable character, a sense of direction for the future, and a thirst for knowledge and opportunities in the next stage of life. It has already been announced that the Common Application questions for 2019-20 will be the exact same as those offered for the current year.  So students can get to work early, writing and fine-tuning an essay that they are proud of.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Any Student Can Study with a Princeton Professor

Students who dream of taking courses with professors from the most elite universities around the world can make their dreams come true – at no cost.  The most prestigious universities in our country -- including M.I.T., Georgetown, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, and every Ivy League institution -- offer online courses for free.  So, too, do many prominent international institutions including the Sorbonne in France, Oxford in England, and the University of Hong Kong.

Two of the most notable sites for online education are edX and Coursera.  Seven years ago, was founded by Harvard University and M.I.T. as an online learning destination to offer high-quality courses from the world’s top universities. It now offers more than 1,300 courses, offered for free, and has students from every country in the world. Those seeking a certificate (to boost college applications or resumes) are charged a fee ranging from $40 to $160.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Still Time to Apply to College for Fall of 2019

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) releases a list, in early May of each year, of colleges that still have room for students seeking admission for the upcoming fall semester. May 1st is the national response deadline for most colleges in the U.S.  By that date, students must choose the college they will be attending in the fall and send in a deposit to reserve their seat (and room and board, if they are planning to live on campus).  Since most students apply to a multitude of colleges, it’s impossible for colleges to know for sure how many students will actually enroll until the reply deadline rolls around.  After May 1st, colleges that have not met their target enrollment are anxious to accept additional students in order to bring in the tuition money necessary to keep on budget. 

Often, even well-qualified students are not accepted to the colleges of their dreams.  Other times, students change their minds.  As the time to leave home for college approaches, students sometimes wish they had chosen a school closer to home.  For these reasons, and others (basic procrastination!), students may find themselves approaching high school graduation without a plan for the fall.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Summer is Ideal Time for Student Volunteerism

Volunteerism is alive and well among young people in New Jersey, which comes in very handy when it’s time to apply for college admission.  Students who have not yet become engaged in “giving back” have a perfect opportunity this summer to find an activity that suits their interests and provides a needed service. 

The Jersey Cares website features activities to suit almost any personality.  For example, “Earth Keepers” is seeking volunteers at Island Beach State Park, the Watchung Reservation in Mountainside, and Liberty State Park. “NJ Seeds” offers tutoring opportunities in Martinsville, Madison, Livingston, West Orange and Morristown. Pet therapy volunteers are in need at “Care One” in Hamilton Township, Morristown, Hanover, and Wayne.

Students’ commitment to volunteerism is not only good for their communities, but it is also a great boost to their college applications.  Although SAT scores and G.P.A. are still the two most important criteria impacting college acceptances and scholarship awards, community service is of growing importance.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Valuable Role of a Private College Counselor

High school guidance counselors are the first resource of college bound students who need advice on so many topics:  how to prepare for the PSAT and SAT, when to take theses standardized tests, how to identify best-fit colleges, how to assess the likelihood of being accepted by a particular college, how to write an effective essay, and how to file successful college applications. 

While high school guidance counselors typically address all of these issues with college bound students, they are often stretched very thin. An article in this month’s “Education Week” cited that, in high schools nationwide, the average student-to-counselor ratio is 482 to 1. To make matters worse, public high school counselors, with a multitude of other responsibilities, reportedly spend only 23% of their time on college admission counseling.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The True Value of Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

High school students throughout New Jersey are preparing for the high-stakes Advanced Placement (AP) exams that will be offered from May 6th through May 17th.  These tests are offered at the culmination of AP courses – which are college level courses with curriculums written by The College Board – that often allow students to earn college credits while still in high school.

AP courses are offered in more than 30 subjects in Foreign Languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin and Spanish), Math (including Computer Science), History & Social Sciences (including Macro and Micro Economics), Art (including Music Theory), and Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Science). College Board statistics from 2017 cited that close to three million high school students took nearly five million AP exams, and the number reportedly rises each year.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How Many Times Should a Student Take the SAT exam?

By the time students reach high school they are tired of taking standardized tests. But this is just the time when students need to be most diligent.

Standardized tests in students’ earlier years are most important for their school and school district, to determine if educational goals are being met and to rank how the school/district compares to others in the state and nation.  But when it comes to the SAT exam, things get personal.  

The SAT is a standardized test that is marked on a curve, placing college bound students in competition with each other.  Students get two scores, each in the range of 200 to 800.  One is for “Evidence-based Reading and Writing,” and the other is for “Math.”  (There is also an optional essay, scored in the range of 6 to 24 points.)  In order to get a median score of 500 on either of the two main categories, a student needs to correctly answer approximately half of the questions.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Six Years is the New Four, Students Sadly Find Out

“What is your four-year graduation rate?” This may be one of the most important questions that college-bound students and their parents can ask when considering a potential college.  The failure to graduate students in four years has become so commonplace that even U.S. News & World Report, in its highly regarded 2019 “Best Colleges” guide, reports the six-year graduation rate of colleges throughout the country.

Sometimes there’s a good reason for students to take six years to earn a diploma.  Perhaps they switched majors and many of their credits did not carry over to their new course of study. On the other hand, perhaps it was out of their control.  Maybe some of their required courses were not readily available, requiring a longer than expected college stay in order to meet graduation requirements.  Either way, students and parents who are budgeting for a college diploma need to know, in advance, whether to multiply the annual cost of attendance (including tuition, room, board, books and fees) by four or by six!

Monday, March 25, 2019

What’s Most Important in Choosing Ideal College

With close to 4,000 colleges and universities throughout the United States, students and parents may wonder how to come up with a realistic list of schools to consider.  The key is to think about a student’s priorities. If the plan is to attend a four-year college, the number of options reduces to about 2,300 schools.  If a student wants to attend college within 300 miles of Central Jersey, as most local students do, then the number of options diminishes to 561.  If campus housing must be available for all freshmen, there are some 343 possibilities, while the number whittles down to 171 if campus housing must be available to students for all four years.

Monday, March 18, 2019

How to Get a “Your Accepted” Letter (or Email)

The best way to get a “Your Accepted” letter (or email) is to present yourself as an ideal candidate for each college to which you apply.  If you’re a legacy, let them know.  Many colleges favor applicants whose parents are alumni – especially if they’ve been donating over the years.  If you are the first in your family to seek a college education, let them know.  Most colleges favor students whose parents are not college educated.  If your family can afford to pay the full sticker price and not seek financial aid, let them know.  Some colleges are “need blind,” and admit students regardless of whether or not they are applying for financial aid.  Other colleges are “need-aware” or “need-sensitive,” and may consider financial need when deciding whether or not to admit an applicant.  This category includes American and George Washington universities in Washington D.C., Tufts, Boston, and Northeastern universities and Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges in Massachusetts, and many others.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Colleges To Consider If Your Goal is a High Salary

Students in search of the ideal college often consider a host of criteria: geographic location, average class size, academic reputation, school spirit, cost of tuition.  What they often overlook is the data indicating the likelihood that they will earn a high salary soon after graduation and later on in their career.

“Payscale,” a salary comparison site, analyzed more than 2,000 institutions granting bachelor degrees and identified ten colleges that produced students with the highest salaries, both five and ten years into their careers.

The college that ranked number one is a small, liberal arts school in California with a total enrollment of 844 students, shattering the myth that liberal arts graduates can’t earn big money.  Graduates of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont report an early career salary of $85,600 and a mid-career salary of $157,400.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Start Planning Now for a Productive Spring Break

Spring break is highly anticipated by all students. It’s an escape from the academic pressures of the school year.  It’s also the ideal time to visit colleges and start to identify which schools may, or may not, be potential “good fit” colleges.

Typically, colleges schedule their spring break in early-to-mid March.  With most high schools holding their spring break in mid-to-late April this year, college-bound students have the perfect opportunity to tour college campuses while classes, activities, and college life are in full swing.  By doing so, they can get a good feel for a college and assess whether it meets their academic, social, and lifestyle preferences.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Opportunities Abound To Have A Productive Summer

Students looking to have an academically productive summer have limitless opportunities.  They can apply to programs at any of the Ivy League colleges and universities, immerse themselves in educationally oriented volunteer programs worldwide, or attend courses at local colleges that focus on specific subjects that they may want to pursue in college.

Choosing to attend a New Jersey based program is often less costly for students, as travel costs are minimal and students can often live at home. The range of NJ colleges hosting academic programs is large, as is the choice of subject matter.

The College of New Jersey offers several summer programs, including “Create Your Business – Business Simulation Academy for Business and Entrepreneurship,” “Natural Science Investigations Academy for Science, Career and Research Exploration,” and “Vitalities: A Summer Academy for the Exploration of Health Professions.” Students interact with college faculty and explore a variety of career opportunities.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Networking at Upcoming New Jersey College Fairs

Where should students start the information gathering process in their search to find the perfect college? The answer may be very close to home. 

Hillsborough High School is hosting its 13th Annual College Fair on Wednesday, March 20th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.  Representatives from over 100 colleges, universities, technical schools and the military will be hosting tables filled with materials, and will be available to answer individual questions on any college-related topic.  Preceding the College Fair will be a Financial Aid Presentation from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.

Two weeks later, on Tuesday, April 2nd, Mercer County Community College will hold a similar fair from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The True Story about College Board’s SAT “Curve

On the national news this past summer, students were televised protesting their SAT scores. They didn’t feel they had been graded fairly on the June 2018 SAT exam and they called on everyone from Donald Trump to Ellen DeGeneres to intercede on their behalf. In looking back on their scores, in comparison to those of students who performed in a similar manner on other SAT exams, the power of the SAT curve is undeniable.

Twins who took different SAT exams reported that one sibling got five math questions wrong on the March 2018 exam and earned a score of 760.  Her sister missed six math questions on the June 2018 exam and earned a score of 670.  The question raised was, “How can one wrong answer result in a score 90 points lower?”

Monday, February 4, 2019

College Majors Prepare Students for Dream Careers

College-bound students, envisioning their future careers, might want to think beyond the traditional jobs of doctor, engineer, lawyer, teacher, and business executive.  A bit of research will reveal some college majors that students may truly find enticing.

“Computer Integrated Surgery,” offered at John Hopkins University, prepares students to utilize computer science to aid surgeons in meeting the growing demand for minimally invasive surgical procedures.

The nation’s first bachelor’s degree in “Artificial Intelligence” is in its very first year at Carnegie Mellon University and includes courses in computational biology, speech recognition and machine learning.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Colleges Know More About You Than You Can Imagine!

In the highly competitive race to get accepted to top colleges, local students know what they need to do: attain top grades, take a competitive course load (preferable full of AP courses) and earn impressive SAT scores.  But students often overlook a subtle, but significant factor that can make or break their likelihood of meeting with success.

High school students – masters of social media – probably have no idea that colleges and universities have turned the tables and are themselves utilizing social media to mine data on their applicants.  

“Enrollment officers at institutions including Seton Hall University, Quinnipiac University and Dickinson College know down to the second when prospective students opened an email from the school, how long they spent reading it and whether they clicked through to any links,” according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Be Sure To Ask The Questions You’re Wondering About

With more than 3,000 colleges across the country, the options are seemingly endless for students searching for their ideal school.  But by seeking the answers to key questions, it’s easy to start narrowing down the choices.

First of all, students who know what major they want to pursue should limit their college list to schools with a strong program in their desired field. College Board’s “Book of Majors” is a great resource for securing this information. For example, students seeking a major in Bioengineering/biomedical engineering would find a bachelors degree program available at four New Jersey schools: College of New Jersey, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Strategies to Score High on Upcoming March SAT Exam

Students planning to take the March 9th SAT – the first one of the 2019 calendar year – have just three weeks to register to take the exam (without incurring a late fee) and two months to prepare to earn an impressive score.  Many top public high schools in Central New Jersey report average SAT scores above 600 in both Evidence-based Reading & Writing and Math. These high schools include: Hillsborough, Montgomery, Princeton, Hopewell Valley Central, West Windsor/Plainsboro North and South, South Brunswick, East Brunswick, Watchung Hills, John P. Stevens, and North Hunterdon. A couple of high schools even reached or topped 1500 for combined scores. So the bar is set high for local students.

The latest SAT exam, introduced in March of 2016, focuses on three areas: critical reading, grammar and math. A key strategy, that is relevant on all areas of the test, is for students to answer each and every question (whether or not they know the correct answer) as there is no longer a penalty for wrong answers.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Plan Ahead to Guarantee a Productive Spring Break

This is the time of year – with the winter holidays a fond memory and mid-term exams looming in the near future – that students start dreaming about spring break.  While spring break is a much-needed respite to escape the academic pressures of the school year, it’s also the ideal time to visit colleges and start to identify which schools may, or may not, be potential “good fit” colleges.

Typically, colleges schedule their spring breaks in early March, while high schools hold them a little later.  This year, most local high schools have scheduled their spring break for mid to late April to coincide with the Easter and Passover holidays.  High school students therefore have the perfect opportunity to tour college campuses while classes, activities, and college life are in full swing.  By doing so, college bound students can get a good feel for a college and assess whether it meets their academic, social, and lifestyle preferences.