Common App Essay Prompts 16-17 Cycle

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. New in the 2015-16 … Continue reading

4 Action Steps from PSAT Scores

The PSAT was completely overhauled for its debut in October 2015. Students who took it should access their online scores (here’s how!) in addition to paper reports distributed at school in February 2016.  There is a wealth of information contained in the score reports that will greatly assist on the college bound journey. Watch our video (slight audio problems, so we are rerecording soon!) to gain insight into: How to Read Your Report to Interpret Scores If Your Scores Might Qualify You for Scholarship Money How Scores predict success on the ACT – OR – the SAT (you don’t have to … Continue reading

Where Are My PSAT Scores & What Do They Mean?!

READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW TO LOCATE YOUR SCORES AND LEARN THE OTHER CHANGES! You’ve likely heard the SAT is redesigned (rSAT) and debuting in March 2016. What you may not know is the PSAT (a pre-SAT) taken by virtually every U.S. 11th grader (and many younger students) was also redesigned and debuted in October 2015.  It’s also the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Competition (NMSC). In previous years, juniors who took the PSAT in October received their paper score report in December right before winter break. If you know this, you may be left wondering where … Continue reading

The $75,000 Fifth Year of College

In Brian’s junior year of high school, he was determined to become a petroleum engineer, the highest paid field of engineering. This was fueled by his love of science and math as well as successfully navigating a college level first year engineering course while still in high school. His Midwest family set out on a whirlwind tour of Texas engineering schools. Not much later, he abandoned petroleum engineering that would take him far from home then set his sights on general engineering at schools closer to home. At the start of the senior year, he applied to selective schools in-state … Continue reading

Before You File For Financial Aid

January 1, 2016 the FAFSA will roll out. This application is required to utilize federal financial aid for which you or your student may qualify. This year the first step, logging into your account to apply, has changed. It affects the high school class of 2016 and even older students already in college who are applying for aid beyond the freshman year of college. Yes, the FAFSA must be completed every year you are in college and intend to use federal aid, including the Stafford Unsubsidized Loan which even students with no financial need can utilize. To obtain aid for … Continue reading

Redesigned ACT & SAT: How It Affects YOU!

The ACT had some minor changes starting with the reading portion in December 2014, then in February 2015 to the science portion, followed by an overhaul of the writing test in September 2015. That massive shift with the writing test left many seniors retesting in the fall of their senior year caught between two different versions of the writing test and frankly, dazed and confused. In April 2014, CollegeBoard announced a massive overhaul of the SAT test to “deliver opportunity” to underserved students, or was it to financially catch back up to the ACT who overtook them in 2012?  Regardless, … Continue reading

Will Super Scoring Help with College Admission?

As scores rolled in, students started asking us IF they should retest.  I wrote about this previously in our post Who Should take the ACT or SAT Again?  Since that article, ACT has updated their statistics on who actually improves on a second attempt.  Overall, 57% of students will improve. To see your odds, according to ACT data which differs from students who prep with LEAP, consult the chart on the ACT site. While considering whether to retest or not, the option of Super Scoring should be taken into consideration for students who already have two or more testing attempts on the same test. What is … Continue reading

Critical Deadlines on the College Bound Journey

If you plan to send your child to a four-year college living on campus, your investment will likely be over $100,000 without any gift aid in the form of scholarships and grants. This is based on the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015).  Private schools run higher than the $23,872 of all four-year institutes at $35,074. Educating your children could likely be your most expensive investment outside of owning a home. Because of this, it is worthy of planning a careful, thorough and measured as a home purchase or your own retirement and savings to garner an excellent return … Continue reading

White, Upper Middle Class and on a DIVERSITY Scholarship

How does a white, Catholic, upper middle class, Midwestern young lady achieve a full-tuition DIVERSITY scholarship at a highly selective university? It started with a 10th grade resume review. I’ve preached it to my college counseling students for over a decade, “Put your resume together early in high school.” Review it to identify opportunities to be Purposeful about your Pursuits while you focus on Longevity and Leadership. Not everyone takes me up on my advice, but those who do get the following benefits and an extra with a big bang possible! Assistance in thinking about future careers Brainstorming of topics for … Continue reading

Risky Business: The ACT-SAT Optional Writing Test

Given the opportunity what teenager wouldn’t rather skip writing a 40 or 50-minute essay? The adolescent me would have jumped at the chance. The college counselor I am today hopes someone would have stopped me. Much to the disappointment of teenagers, LEAP‘s recommendation is to take the optional writing test each and every time. Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The financial cost of doing so will increase your testing fees by $11.50 (SAT) or $17 (ACT – which is cheaper than the non-writing SAT). The potential opportunity cost of not opting in could be missing out on the college of your dreams. … Continue reading

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