Scholarship Saturday – August 2, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

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UC application for admission opens Aug. 1

The University of California is opening the application for undergraduate admissions on Aug. 1 for the 2015-2016 academic year. This is two months earlier than previous years. However, students will not be able to submit the application until the official submission period of Nov. 1-30. While some students may think this change is insignificant, students should use the extra time to perfect their application.

Senior year for most students is going to be busy. In addition to academics, seniors will be continuing extra-curricular activities, volunteer and community service work and part-time jobs. There will also be the fun senior year activities that no one should miss. Lastly, students will be working on and submitting college and scholarship applications and essays. As college admissions becomes more competitive at all colleges, including all of the University of California campuses, students should use any extra time they are given to make their applications stand out from the crowd.

As students are filling out the University of California admissions applications, students should take into account the items the UC admissions offices will use to make an admissions decision. According to the University of California website, there are fourteen points that will come into play during the admissions process.

  1. Grade-point average
  2. Test scores
  3. Performance in and number of courses beyond minimum a-g requirements
  4. UC-approved honors courses and advanced courses
  5. Eligibility in Local Context (ELC) – California residents only
  6. Quality of senior-year program of study
  7. Academic opportunities in California high schools
  8. Outstanding performance in one or more academic subject areas
  9. Achievement in special projects
  10. Improvement in academic performance
  11. Special talents, achievements and awards
  12. Participate in educational preparation programs
  13. Academic accomplishments in light of life experiences
  14. Geographic location

Some of the factors UC admissions offices use will be explained through the high school transcript and test scores. However, others items, such as awards, must be explained by the student through the application. Students will have the opportunity to share with the admissions committees about their coursework other than a-g requirements, educational preparation programs, volunteer and community service, work experience, awards and honors and extracurricular activities. The UC application allows students to share five entries in each category using only 160 characters for each entry. Explaining each activity in only 160 characters will be difficult and the extra time provided should be used to determine how to effectively explain activities.

The University of California application also requires two personal statements totaling 1,000 words. In addition to making sure the essay prompts are fully answered, students should highlight items that need more than 160 characters to explain. A common myth in college admissions is that the essays do not play a significant role in the decision process. However, if written well, the essay can add depth and clarity to application files and help the chances of being admitted to a university.

The college application should not be something that is rushed. Therefore, students should use the extra time that the University of California is giving students to work on their applications. Most importantly, students should not forget to submit the application during the submission period of Nov. 1-30.

8 tips for a great college admissions essay

Tell Me... by Gaby Av licensed under CC BY 2.0

Tell Me… by Gaby Av licensed under CC BY 2.0

The college admissions essay can play a very large role in the admissions process. The essay is what can set students apart from other students with similar backgrounds, test scores and grades. To ensure you submit the best essay to the admissions committees, here are some tips:

Do not rely on spell check alone. Spell check is a great tool to point out spelling and grammar errors. However, spell check is not intuitive and will not catch errors such as using the wrong word.

Answer the entire essay question. This seems like something that should go without saying, but it happens all the time. Students are so caught up in telling a story that they forget about answering the entire question. Most college admissions prompts will have a “what” and a “why.” Make sure the essay answers both questions.

Tell a unique story. Thousands of students will choose the same essay prompt. It is very easy for students to choose the same topic for the essay. When essays are similar, they will not stand out to the admissions committee. Before submitting the essay, ask the question, “Could someone else send in the same essay?” If the answer is yes, add something to the story that makes it unique to writer.

Do not use big words to impress. While knowing big words is important on the SAT, it is not very important in the college admissions essay. The most important thing in the college admissions essay is sending in a well-written, unique essay. When students use big words for the specific purpose of impressing the reader, the reader can usually tell. Write an essay that flows smoothly, and some times big words are not the right choice for essay flow.

Be yourself. Many students think they have to write about a specific topic because it will impress the admissions committee. However, many times, admissions readers can see right through this practice. Admissions committees want to read authentic essays about the student. Students should be themselves when writing the essay.

Be proud of yourself. Many students do not think there is anything that makes them unique. They think that being themselves in the admissions essay will not impress the readers. However, everyone has something to be proud of and the college admissions process is the best time to not be humble. Every student is unique. Students should take the time to get to know themselves and what makes them unique.

Make the essay specific to the college. Many colleges will have an essay that asks, “Why us?” While it is encouraged to recycle college admissions essays, essays must be edited to reflect interested in that particular college.

Proofread and edit your essays. Students should read the essay they wrote many times before submitting it to their college of choice. Take a few days away from the essay and read it again. Students should also ask people they trust to read and provide recommendations for the essay. Sometimes others can see a mistake the writer will continue to miss.

As college admissions becomes more competitive, the admissions essay will continue to grow in importance. Before submitting the college admissions essay, make sure the essay follows the tips above.

Scholarship Saturday – July 26, 2014

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

Mistakes in the college search process

Choosing a college is one the most important decisions in life. It is a huge investment in time and money. However, many students make mistakes in the college selection process that can be easily avoided.

Following prestige
The top colleges in the country provide excellent academic opportunities. However, colleges with less well-known names also offer unique opportunities with outstanding outcomes for alumni. A recent Gallup poll concluded the experience a student has in college is more important than the type of college attended.

Not visiting
Colleges spend huge amounts of money to market to prospective students. The pictures in the view books and websites are beautiful and are meant to make students want to attend. However, pictures cannot capture the feeling one will have on campus.

Following others
Just because a college is a good fit for a sibling or friend, it does not mean it is a good fit for everyone. College is the place for one to grow as a person and discover passions. However, attending an institution that is not the right fit can be detrimental to the college experience.

Believing “sticker price” is actual price
Sticker price is the published price to attend a college. However, millions of dollars in financial aid is awarded to college students every year by these colleges. Before taking a college off the list, students should review the net price calculator at all of the colleges they are considering and see how much financial aid could potentially be offered. There is even a chance a private college could be less expensive than a public institution.

Letting family dictate college choice
Parents want the best for their children and sometimes take the driver’s seat in the college process. However, parents are not the ones attending college. Therefore, while it is okay to listen to the thoughts and opinions of parents, students should consider colleges that feel right for them.

Going away to get away
Teenagers are notorious for wanting to move out of their home after graduating from high school. Many think they have to go far away to college to get away. However, living on campus is an option for all students at most colleges, even if the student lives a block away from campus.

Being hasty
The college search process is very time consuming when done properly. When the search process is left until the last minute, students cannot truly research and discover the wonderful opportunities colleges can offer. Instead, students choose colleges based on other criteria that are not helpful in finding the right fit.

The college a student ultimately attends will be a place they will spend four years of their lives. This is why students should avoid these mistakes, research and find the colleges that are the right fit for them.