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Last Tips on U.S. College Admissions Cycle 2019-2020

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By Hubert Ho | Head of Admissions Consulting Services, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions

Just like all college-bound students, you have been working so hard on the Early Decision (ED) application and UC application in November. Now, you should be moving on to finalize your Regular Decision applications. I am sure that you have a lot of questions or doubts after the ED and UC submissions. Therefore, let us clear some mists for you to increase your chance in RD in the January deadlines. 

Myth #1: Getting all A’s and Your Standardized Test Scores can help you getting in. 

There is no doubt that your grades in your 4-year high school life matter to the admissions officers, however, it is not just about your academic excellence. It also demonstrates your demonstrated interests and tradeoffs for your passion. Therefore, it will be a good time for you to think about further boost up your grades before the release of the 1st term of your Grade 12 result. 

As well as the school grades, standardized test score also plays an important role to your application. A lot of students believe that they need to get perfect score in order to get in some selective colleges, like Ivy League. On the contrary, standardized test score is just one little element of your application. SAT or ACT score will not be reflect the whole person of you. If your SAT or ACT score is already good enough, I will suggest you not to chase for the perfect score but focus on other elements of your application. 

Myth #2: All-rounded profile is the best. 

The quality of your activities is more important than the quantity of your activities. Joining a lot of clubs or activities will not be able to help you to stand out from the crowd. Therefore, you need to be careful on filing in your common app activity list. You need to consider whether the activities can help you to demonstrate your key interests and show your passion towards it. If those activities cannot serve this purpose, you should step back and think whether you still want to include it in your list. However, a lot of students will have more than 6 activities or even 10 during their high school life. In case, you also want to highlight 10 activities to show that you are not less competitive than the others. You might want to consider doing some meaningful ad-hoc project to boost up your profile in order to look good. 

Myth #3: Asking for a recommendation from your Grade A subject teacher only.

It is not always right as grade A subject teacher may not be able to help you write an attractive recommendation. On the contrary, a teacher from a subject that you cannot handle well might be able to help you to write a good recommendation since s/he knows you well and witness how you tried your best to overcome the academic struggling. This is the thing that admissions officers want to see. Finding the right recommendation is extremely important as it can be a solid evidence to prove your improvements over the past 4 years of high school life. 

Myth #4: There should be a model structure for “sure-win” admissions essays.

Remember! Essay prompts are just a general guideline for you. It is not a question for you to answer. Never, never and never try to just answer the essay prompt. You need to react and response to it. How? Use your creativity to showcase your fantastic 4-year high school life. The only thing that admissions committee would like to know or understand is “who you are”. The essay is the only place for you to tell them more about yourself and let them know the in-depth of you. So, be creative to show them who you are! 

Hope that the above few tips can help you conquer your upcoming RD applications. If you need any help, you are always welcome to look for us! Good luck to your upcoming applications! 

hubert-protrait

Mr. Hubert Ho
Head of Admissions Consulting Services, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
Associate Member of IECA, Member of NACAC and AEE
MCom (Finance), UNSW
BCom (Management & Marketing), University of Wollongong

• 10 years+ of experience in education industry
• Proven track record helping students gain admission to US prestigious colleges including Yale University, Stanford University, Cornell University, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, New York University, Boston University

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