Test-Optional College Admissions

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at April 3

As things are moving quickly in the world of college admissions, we’re hearing a lot about colleges deciding to go test-optional, even if it’s just a temporary move.  What do colleges mean when they say they are test-optional, and who benefits from a test-optional admission process?

Why do colleges go test-optional?
Colleges decide to go test-optional for different reasons.  There are studies showing different data about what the SAT and ACT actually indicate, whether or not they correlate to students’ ability to succeed in college.  Additionally, some studies indicate that the tests discriminate against different types of students.   You may believe the tests show intelligence, and that a higher score means you’re smarter than someone who has a lower score, but that’s not necessarily how colleges interpret test scores.

When colleges announce a new test-optional policy, they may be attempting to level the playing field, to attract more students who don’t necessarily ...more

Categories: Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Featured  |  Test Prep
  • testing
  • test prep
  • test optional

Coronavirus Throws Colleges A Curveball

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at March 14

In between running to pick up your kids from what could have been their final day at school in person for the semester and dashing to the supermarket to grab the last package of TP, you might have a few questions about how coronavirus will impact your child’s college application process.

Hopefully this post will provide some answers.  Feel free to contact us if you have questions specific to your child’s college admission process.

Class of 2020

You’re probably right in the throes of receiving your college admission decisions.  Congrats!  A handful of colleges are still reviewing application files; most colleges have reviewed files remotely for years and can easily transition back to remote file review as they make their final admission decisions.  You’ll get your decisions soon!

However, if you didn’t visit all of the colleges to which you applied, and were planning to visit during spring break, you may find yourself in the strange position of having to make a decis...more

Categories: Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance

Quick Webinar: Three College Admission Tips for Parents

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at February 7

Happy to present our '3 College Admission Tips for Parents' webinar



Categories: Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Featured
  • captioned
  • parenting
  • college apps
  • college admissions
  • inclusion
  • access
  • Class of 2021
  • Class of 2022
  • Class of 2023

Communicating with teenagers a/k/a Do you speak English?

Michelle Humbach Michelle Humbach
Posted at 8/23/2018

As an Independent Education Consultant, my demographic is teens. Fortunately, I love and appreciate this age and often, my faith in humanity is literally restored by a one-hour college planning session with a high school student. Occasionally, I joke that they have a heavy burden of correcting many mistakes that my generation has made. I reassure them that I’m joking, even though I’m not, really.

Teenagers are a fascinating lot and I know from my work, as well as my personal life (my children are 25, 21 and 18), communicating with them can be a little tricky, if not downright exasperating. If I had a nickel for every time I nagged at my children, I’d have a ton of nickels. My logic stems from this: if they would just do as I say the first time, there would be no need to ask (nag) again. This factoid will make zero sense to them until they become parents.

I’m also keenly aware of the plight and suffering that can befall college freshmen. It’s not enough to be intellectually colleg...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance
  • teenagers
  • high school student
  • parents of high school students
  • communication
  • gen Z
  • successful launch
  • ready for college

What Kind of Prep Will Raise My 34 ACT Composite to a 36?

Lessa Scherrer Lessa Scherrer
Posted at 5/6/2018

Your prep should include deep analysis of what types of questions you’re missing and then practice of those, particularly in your “lower” sections. I find the ACT Black Book to be very helpful in this kind of analysis. It’s a companion to the Red Book, so you need to have them both.

That said, I have a question for you: why do you want to raise your 34? If you’re thinking a 36 will make you more competitive for college admissions, as others have mentioned, it won’t. Even those top 20 name brand colleges don’t make a distinction between 34, 35 and 36. You will not be more of an automatic admit anywhere, simply because you have a 36 instead of a 34.

However, spending several months prepping unnecessarily can give the colleges a bad impression, particularly at those name brand schools. A student who only cares about his numbers—grades and test scores—and not his development as a whole person is not going to impress an Ivy-type school. As listed on Big Future.o...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Test Prep
  • admissions
  • act
  • test prep
1 comment

New Year's Resolutions for High School Students - Alliteration Style

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 1/29/2018

Contribute to a Club
This comment typically results in a giant eye roll from high schoolers, but hear us out!  It is a small investment on time that could potentially reap great rewards.  If you haven’t participated in a club thus far, now’s the time to do some investigating and commit to participating in something new for the spring semester.  If you’ve already been participating in a club, take it to the next level by raising your hand for a leadership position or simply diving deeper into the club.  It’s important to realize that any type of participation is important and meaningful if you make it that way – you don’t have to have a title next to your name.  More importantly, it’s worthwhile if it speaks to who you are.  Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent or new best friend along the way!

Ramp up the Rigor
Now’s the time:  show colleges you can handle tough academic work!  Colleges are looking to see that you are challenging your...more

Categories: Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance
  • college advice
  • new year's resolutions

What's my GPA for College Admissions? Weighted or Unweighted?

Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP Evelyn Jerome-Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 1/8/2018

When a parent first calls us, they invariably report to us their child’s most recent semester GPA – in weighted format.  We usually have to break the bad news that the GPA for college admissions purposes is a student’s unweighted, academic, 9th grade through 11th grade GPA.  And it’s almost always lower than you think it is.

The problem is that there’s no ‘standard’ way for high schools to report GPAs, and there’s no ‘standard’ way for colleges to require them. So that leaves us in the horrible gray area where high schools can calculate students’ GPAs however they want – and report whatever numbers they choose to parents and students.  In some cases, high schools report multiple GPAs on a student’s transcript.  In the worst instances, some high schools report ONLY the weighted overall GPA.

On top of the weighting issue, many high schools include EVERY class a student has taken in high school in their GPA, such as athletics and non-academic electives.&n...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Application & Essay Guidance
  • GPA
  • weighted GPA
  • unweighted GPA
  • weighted vs. unweighted GPA

Why Was I Rejected From My Dream School When Less-Qualified People Got In?

Lessa Scherrer Lessa Scherrer
Posted at 1/5/2018

 First off, life isn’t fair. Second, unless you were in the room where the admission decision was made, you don't know that the other student was less qualified than you. Sure, he might have similar, or even lower, grades and test scores, but numbers aren't all there is in holistic admissions.

     Simply put, college admission has never been fair to the applicants. Admission to a particular college is not something you earn or deserve. If your abilities match their institutional priorities, then you will be admitted. One of those priorities might be “We need more students whose wealthy families will give us money.” C’est la vie. Those students’ families are paying for other students’ scholarships.

     But, if I’m correct in assuming that your “dream college” is one of those top 20 name-brand colleges, you need to face the facts that admission to those schools is not a given for anybody. There ar...more

Categories: College Selection & List Development  |  Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance
  • admissions