Five Activities You Can Do This Summer to Boost Your College Application

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You’ve turned in your last assignments, taken your last final, and bid farewell to the classmates you’ve spent all semester with. This can only mean one thing: summer is here! While it’s the perfect time to unwind and catch up on all the episodes of the latest Netflix crave you missed, summer is also a great time to boost your college application. Here are five activities that will help you stand out from the crowd:

Virtual college visits

One of the best ways to express your interest in a prospective college, and boost your college application, is to visit! While many colleges have temporarily suspended on-campus visits, several institutions are offering virtual tours, including Arizona State University.

Virtual Experience ASU visits are live sessions with ASU enrollment and academic team members held through Zoom. This gives students an opportunity to learn and ask questions about the admission and enrollment process. School visits, even virtual ones, give you a leg up on the competition by knowing exactly what to expect come application season, so be sure to schedule a few this summer!

Learn a second language

We’ve already talked about the top three benefits of learning a second language, so what are you waiting for? Summer is the perfect time to dive deep into a new language, whether it’s Spanish, French, or even German! In fact, ASU Prep Digital is offering world language courses this summer, and Arizona students can enroll at no cost. There are also fun apps you can use, such as Duolingo.

Volunteer your time

Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your community and show colleges the different causes you’re passionate about. As we continue to battle a global pandemic, there are plenty of ways to safely help the cause, including volunteering at food banks or offering to help make masks to donate. Volunteer Match is a great place to start and will show you available opportunities in your area.

Dive deep into your passion

Colleges like to see that applicants are well-rounded and passionate outside of the classroom, which means taking the time to develop new hobbies and skills. Whether it’s joining a sports team, learning how to code, or picking up an instrument, there are so many ways to explore your passions and show off your talents.

Prepare for the SAT/ACT 

It’s no secret that your  SAT and ACT test scores are vital to your college application, but did you know that scoring well also puts you in the running to earn scholarships? That’s why it’s never too soon to start prepping. There are plenty of resources at your disposal, including practice tests and study guides. And be sure to visit the official ACT and SAT websites for information on testing dates and registration.

 

Looking for more activities that will boost your college application this summer? Check out this post:

Top 10 Summer Activities to Boost Your College Resume

Three Important SAT Prep Tips for High School Students

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‘Tis the season for cooler weather, fall activities, and SAT prep! It may not be as fun as pumpkin patches or haunted attractions, but preparing for the SAT is important since your score is a crucial part of your college application. This may feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of great tips for preparing for the exam, and we’re going to share a few:

Enroll in a prep course.

It has been proven time and time again that taking an SAT prep course helps improve your score. Not only do these courses break down and help you familiarize yourself with the different exam sections, but they also provide strategies on how to physically take the test. 

ASU Prep Digital offers an ACT/SAT Test Preparation course, open to all students who have completed Algebra 2 and English 10. The course includes assignments using an online resource called Shmoop, a ‘one-stop learning shop’ offering homework help, learning guides, and, most importantly, test prep!

Work on your weaknesses.

This may seem like a given, but it’s easy to find yourself working on sections you’re comfortable with because it keeps your confidence up. However, working on your weak areas will benefit you in the long run by helping you improve your overall score.

How will you know what you should focus on? One of the best ways is to take a diagnostic test. Before you begin any lessons or activities in the ASU Prep Digital ACT/SAT Test Preparation course, the diagnostic exam will pinpoint your weakest areas so you can tackle them head-on.

Take as many practice exams as you can.

The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ exists for a reason! While you don’t want to burn yourself out before test day arrives, you also want to be prepared and familiar with the format before sitting for the exam. 

Experts recommend you complete at least three timed practice exams before taking the SAT, reviewing your results afterward to pinpoint areas that require more studying. If possible, you should take at least one test on paper to get comfortable filling out a scantron and writing by hand for 3-4 hours.

Ready to sign up for the SAT this semester? Here are the remaining test dates and their registration deadlines:

  • November 2 
    • Late registration ends October 22
  • December 7
    • Registration ends November 2
    • Late registration ends November 26

Looking ahead to the spring semester? Enroll in our SAT and ACT test prep course here to be ready by test day, then pick the exam date that best fits your schedule.

  • March 14, 2020
    • Registration ends February 24, 2020
    • Late registration ends March 3, 2020
  • May 2, 2020
    • Registration ends April 3, 2020
    • Late registration ends April 21, 2020
  • June 6, 2020
    • Registration ends May 8, 2020
    • Late registration ends May 27, 2020

Want more tips on navigating the college application process? Subscribe to our newsletter on our website and check out a few more posts here:

How To Set Yourself Up For Success – Senior Year

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You’ve made it to the end! One more year and you’re on to bigger and better things. While you begin preparing for college, here are a few things to focus on in your senior year of high school.

 

Apply to college in the fall semester.

The regular admission deadline for colleges is between January and February. However, you may have the opportunity to apply sooner than that. For example, ASU has a priority admission deadline of November 1. Your application will receive the most consideration when submitted by this date, which means you’ll get a decision sooner. If you wait until January, you may not hear back until March or April.

Don’t let your grades slip.

It’s tempting to reach the end with great grades and feel like you can slack a bit. However, even if you’ve been accepted by a college, they can rescind your acceptance if your GPA drops significantly. Don’t fall into this trap of false security. Continue to work hard and keep your grades up, especially if you’re taking college courses to earn credit. Above all else, enjoy the hard-earned feeling of success as you prepare for the next big step in your education!

Start getting acquainted with your new school.

As graduation quickly approaches, your mind might start skipping ahead to the college that awaits. Use your downtime to start getting familiar with your new home. ASU offers campus tours, on-campus events, and virtual tours for new students. Getting a head start can minimize the initial shock of freshman year and keep you on the path to achieving your goals.

While your senior year will be filled with fun activities and plenty of college preparation, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting a new journey. Don’t forget to ace your exams, complete all of your assignments, and get your applications in on time!

 

Ready to become a Sun Devil? Check out the admission dates and application requirements here.

5 Tips for High School Seniors During the College Application Season

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The last semester for high school seniors has begun, which means that the February 1 regular admission deadline for colleges is fast approaching. If you’re making last minute edits to your application or looking for ways to keep yourself in good standing as colleges make their decisions, we’ve rounded up the best tips for high school seniors who are hoping to gain entry to their top college choices for the fall 2019 semester:  

Send your transcript and test scores to colleges you’ve applied to.

The application for college is extensive, so it’s easy to feel like you’re done once you’ve sent it off. However, you have to make sure that your high school transcript and test scores from the SAT and/or ACT are sent to all of the colleges you’ve applied to as well. In many cases, your guidance counselor will be responsible for sending your transcript as long as you let them know where to send it to. Test scores must be sent directly from the College Board and can be done either before or after your test day.

Find ways to express interest in your top college choice.

Colleges want to know that you are serious about gaining admission and becoming part of their community. While scheduling an official tour of campus is a great option, sometimes that isn’t feasible. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to express your excitement about being accepted. Signing up for their mailing list, reaching out to admissions recruiters via email, or writing a well-thought-out supplemental essay are all great ways to show interest without stepping on campus.

Be mindful of what you’re posting on social media.

Before you hit ‘send,’ take a moment to think: “could posting this make me look bad?” In an age where everyone is connected, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that anything you post is out there for anyone to see—including admissions advisors at colleges. The same way you can be denied a job for what you post on social media, you can be denied admission to a college for the same thing. A good rule of thumb to follow is if your grandma wouldn’t approve, don’t post it!

Highlight volunteer experiences on your application.

Do you spend time giving back to your community? In addition to good grades and test scores, colleges want to see that you’ve made an impact on the world around you. They want to make sure that the students they offer admission to will be successful and make a difference both inside and outside of the classroom. Be sure to include any volunteer experience you have on your college applications!

Maintain your good grades.

The first half of senior year is officially over—how are your grades looking? It’s important to maintain good grades in your final semesters of high school because even if a college has offered you admission, they can retract their offer if your grades slip. It may seem like a good idea to succumb to ‘senioritis,’ but your future self will thank you for staying on track when you’re attending your dream school.

February 1 is the regular admission deadline for many colleges, including Arizona State University. If you plan on applying by that date, make sure everything is completed and sent to the colleges of your choice. Be sure to follow ASU Prep Digital on Instagram and Facebook and check out our previous college admission tips blog to get even more tips.

5 Tips For High School Students Applying to College

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Now that October is in full swing, it’s time for high school seniors to buckle down and get their college applications ready to submit. With the November 1 early admission deadline fast approaching, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips for high school students who are feeling stressed about the process and looking for guidance as they vie for a spot at their top college choices for the fall 2019 semester.

Create a calendar to keep track of application deadlines.

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re juggling classes, extracurricular activities, and college applications. However, one missed deadline during this process can have a negative impact on your chance to gain admission to the school of your choice or financial aid opportunities. Be sure to have all of your deadlines written out on your calendar and check them on a daily basis to stay on top of everything.

Use the Common Application for a stress-free process.

There’s nothing worse than having to remember multiple usernames and passwords to access your multiple college applications. If you’re looking to streamline the process, the Common Application is the best way to go. You can enter your general information, such as name, address, education, and extracurricular activities, one time and have it sent to multiple colleges at once. The best part is that more than 750 colleges accept it, including Arizona State University!

Complete the “optional” portions of the application.

It may be tempting to skip out on parts of the college application that say “optional,” especially if it’s the essay, but completing those sections will set you apart from the other applicants. If colleges are asking for additional information, it means they want to learn more about YOU and what you will offer to their university and community. They also want to see that you’re dedicated to gaining admission, so put in the extra effort!

Reach out to your teachers for letters of recommendation.

You’ve got the grades, the extracurricular activities, and the killer college admission essay—what are you forgetting? Help your application stand out by asking a few teachers to write recommendation letters for you. Choose teachers that you’ve built a relationship with, whether it’s through classes or clubs you’re part of.

Ask a teacher to proofread your college admissions essay.

First impressions are everything—and your college admissions essay is how you’ll be formally introducing yourself to every college you apply to. To ensure it’s free of any errors and accurately represents you as a student and member of the community, ask one of your teachers to proofread it before attaching it to your application.

 

November 1 is the early admission deadline for many colleges. If you plan on applying by that date, make sure everything is completed and sent to the colleges of your choice. Be sure to follow ASU Prep Digital on Instagram and Facebook to get even more college admission tips.

Top 10 Summer Activities to Boost Your College Resume

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The Ultimate List Every High Schooler Should Use to Plan Their Summer

You know what it means when that last bell of the school year rings. You grab your backpack, throw up a peace sign, and run out the door. It’s time for summer! Before you reach for your bathing suit, remember that colleges care about how you use this free time to further yourself. Demonstrating a commitment to personal growth can be the deciding factor that gets you into the college of your choice, and can even score you scholarships.

These 10 summer activities will give your college resume the boost it needs to stand out from the rest.

1. Hone Your Passion

Who says building your college resume has to center around grades and classrooms? The summer months provide a perfect opportunity to explore something that intrigues you. Colleges are looking for multi-dimensional students who pursue a passion outside of the school’s four walls. Have you been thinking about learning guitar? Do you want to try your hand at knitting or even learning to code? Hobbies like these add a splash of personality to your college resume, and may even help you find your future career.

2. Take an Online Course

It’s tough to get back into the swing of things after months away from active learning. Continuing your education during this time away from school often means getting a head start to graduation, growing your academic ability and improving your GPA. Plus, there are loads of courses to choose from that go far beyond an average curriculum, especially at institutions known for innovation like Arizona State University. The best part: online courses don’t require an early wake-up! Learn more about how online classes work here.

3. Work It

In addition to earning some cash, work experience reads well on a college application (and IRL). Even bagging groceries part-time shows colleges you are a responsible person. In maintaining a job, you demonstrate time management, teamwork and listening skills. This article from ThoughtCo points out, “Experiences at work can provide excellent material for your college application essay, and if you’ve maintained a strong academic record, colleges will be impressed by the discipline required to balance work and school.”

4. Pack Your Bags

While recreational travel is personally rewarding, colleges appreciate travel opportunities that exhibit commitment, curiosity and/or productivity. One great way to explore a new culture while improving your college resume is studying abroad. There are ample programs for high schoolers that allow you to safely leave your comfort zone while engaging in a new level of cultural discovery. With only 10 percent of students participating in study abroad programs in their academic career, this kind of experience helps your college resume stand out significantly.

5. Pick Up a Second Language

Almost 7,000 languages are spoken across the world. Unfortunately, the U.S. is dramatically falling behind in foreign-language skills. With the nearly endless resources available through smartphones, book systems and tutoring programs, learning another language is just a matter of commitment. Not only does a second (or third) language add something special to your college resume, learning a language also stimulates the brain and increases overall intelligence. Pro tip: While you’re at it, take a concurrent enrollment language course with ASU Prep Digital to satisfy college prerequisites.

6. Prep for the SAT or ACT

SAT and ACT standardized test scores are critically important aspects of your college resume. Colleges see these scores as a gauge for how you might fare academically at their institution. The reasoning is that they are more likely to invest in students who they believe will reflect well on their programs and honor their alma mater as alumni. While the tests may seem tedious, the College Board announced that SAT coaching can significantly improve scores. So, take advantage of those summer months and get to prepping.

7. Break Out of Your Shell

It’s easy to get into a comfortable routine with friends and family while you’re in high school. During the summer, find a way to explore outside your usual circles. The more conversations you have with people who maintain a different point of view, the further you can expand your own worldview. The teenage years are rife with self discovery, and you may meet some of the most influential characters in your life’s story by pushing yourself outside your social comforts. Who knows? Those new characters and stories could set the stage for a compelling and deeply personal college essay.

8. Find Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

Distinguish yourself from other applicants by investing in your entrepreneurial dreams. Today’s business world is bustling with fresh attitudes and innovative ideas. And, believe it or not, teens are at the helm of burgeoning businesses now more than ever. By flexing your entrepreneurial muscle, colleges will know you are ready to bring innovation, dedication and determination to their campuses. Check out these 13 teen business ideas to get your gears grinding.

9. Visit Prospective Colleges

As much as you are auditioning for colleges during the application process, don’t forget that they should also be auditioning for you. By visiting the institutions that spark your interest, you get a real sense for the school’s points of pride, student culture and daily pace. The interactions you witness and information you glean on a tour can also help you tailor your application materials to that school. During your visit, get to know students who are enrolled and ask them what they love or dislike about their school. Every interaction of this kind will prove to be invaluable.

10. Find Opportunities to Do Good

Whether you are volunteering with a nonprofit or helping to tutor your classmates on a subject you’re strong in, colleges place a high value on the opportunities taken to demonstrate kindness. Yale recently added an essay question on their application asking applicants to “reflect on engagement with and contribution to their family, community, and/or the public good,” to assess the goodwill students will add to their community. While a great GPA and packed extracurriculars enhance a college resume, personal examples of compassion will make it (and you) shine.

 

For more information about summer activities and ways to boost your college resume, follow ASU Prep Digital on Facebook

How the College Application Process is Changing in Big Ways

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Less than 50 years ago, only a quarter of young adults enrolled in postsecondary institutions. By 2014, that number had climbed to 40 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds. As a result of this steady climb in enrollment, colleges and universities are not only becoming more selective, but they’re also changing what they look for in their next class of students.

Jessica Yeager graduated from Harvard and MIT, and racked up an exemplary accomplishment during her college application efforts: she was accepted to Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Northwestern, and Washington University in St. Louis. Inspired by Yeager’s roundup of college application tips, ASU Digital Prep pored over first-person accounts from college admissions professionals to see if—and how—the college application process is changing.

And, rest assured, what college admissions committees look for in students is certainly evolving.

“Being in 10 clubs, playing three sports, and volunteering at your local food kitchen an hour a week does not help you get into Harvard. In fact, it makes you look like you don’t really know yourself or what you want to do,” says Yeager. She goes on to give valuable advice about the college essay; namely, that this process should take months of brainstorming, several drafts and hefty reworks.

Whereas 10 years ago a college application may have served as a laundry list of accolades and achievements, today’s application should be a reflection of your passions, desires, interests and, most importantly, your character.

“About a decade ago, schools changed their focus from well-rounded students to those with a hyper-developed interest in one or two subjects,” says education writer Valerie Strauss in her myth-busting article for The Washington Post. “The best way to impress admissions counselors, as always, is to authentically pursue what interests you.”

Rebecca Sabky agrees in her New York Times piece about the value of kindness: “In the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness.”

In this CBS morning segment, author and New York Times columnist Frank Bruni dives into a groundbreaking report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that’s driving changes in the way postsecondary institutions evaluate and admit students. In the words of the report itself, this “marks the first time in history that a broad coalition of college admissions offices have joined forces to collectively encourage high school students to focus on meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement.”

The bottom line: use your high school years to get to know yourself, develop care for others, and foster strong relationships that teach you the value of kindness. When it comes time to complete your college applications, put on your storytelling hat and tell those admissions committees about your personal evolution. What matters most, according to the pros, is that your values are as strong as your ambition.

Additional resources:

  • Read this article written by a former Ivy League admissions officer for tips on standing out “in a sea of excellent grades and test scores”
  • Listen to the Getting In: A College Coach Conversation podcast, which offers nearly 150 episodes that demystify the college application process and all of its nuances.