"It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.' So it's not just parents going, 'You need to get good grades, you need to do this, you need to do that.' You’re helping the [students] figure out what they want to do and how to get there."
-Bhree R., parent of Emma F., 11th grader at West Anchorage High School
Emma F., a junior at West Anchorage High School, is one of my current college admissions consulting (CAC) students at Frontier Tutoring. In this post, I share excerpts from an interview with Emma and her mom, Bhree, about why they chose to start college admissions consulting during Emma's junior year, rather than waiting until senior year. Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Use the links below to jump to the questions you're curious about.
-Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting
Topics: College Admissions, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage
"Starting DURING junior year allows you to improve your COMPETITIVENESS. Starting AFTER junior year limits you to improving your NARRATIVE."
-Kimberly Hewitt, Business Unit Manager - College Admissions Consulting
Many high school students and families I meet with wait until fall of senior year to think critically about their college list or applications—but for best results, students should begin planning for college admissions during junior year—the earlier, the better. Why? If you start planning for college admissions during 11th grade, you will have time to improve your profile and competitiveness (for example, by adjusting your coursework selection, improving your grades and test scores, initiating or enhancing your involvement in specific extracurriculars, identifying and deepening relationships with potential recommendation writers, etc.). On the other hand, if you wait until after junior year to begin thinking about college admissions in earnest, you will be limited to expressing the most compelling narrative about the profile you already have. To be clear, optimizing the way you tell your story and express your goals on college applications is critical—but you'll be even better positioned if your profile is more competitive to begin with. In this post, I'll walk you through six specific, high-leverage areas I work with on students when they start a college admissions consulting (CAC) program during their junior year.
- Developing and refining an optimized college list
- Getting to know your story—and translating it into your essay strategy
- Choosing coursework strategically and maintaining an excellent GPA
- Selecting, scheduling, and preparing for standardized tests
- Optimizing your extracurricular profile
- Identifying letter of recommendation writers and equipping them to advocate strongly on your behalf
"It's nice to have a third party saying, 'What are your goals? What are your objectives? Okay, then this is what you have to do to get there.'
Also, I like the structure and the timing [of your CAC program]. For example, are we on time, or are we behind, and do I need to be stressing? I like not having to worry about that piece in particular."
-Bhree R., parent of 11th grader at West Anchorage High School
Topics: College Admissions, AP® Exams, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage
If you took the PSAT in October as either a 10th or 11th grader, you should have received your scores on December 12. What do your scores mean? How do they relate to the SAT/ACT? How does the National Merit Scholarship Program work, and what are the Alaska qualifying scores? And now that you have your scores, what should you do next?
At Frontier Tutoring, we encourage every college-bound high school student in Anchorage to take advantage of our free practice SAT/ACT testing at the right time as part of their test prep strategy. And many do—last year, over 40% of Anchorage School District students who took the SAT/ACT electively signed up for a Frontier Tutoring practice test first. But why, when, and how, exactly, should you sign up for practice tests? We’ve put together a few tips to help you get the most out of this important resource and navigate the standardized testing and college admissions process.Read More
After three grueling years of academics, senior year has finally arrived! Of course, there's important work still to be done. Now is time for rising seniors to roll up their sleeves and lay the foundation for a successful college application season. In this post, we’ll run through a checklist of four college admissions priorities for rising seniors to work on starting now. Specifically, we’ll discuss how to:
- Finalize your college list—the single most important factor upon which nearly all of your other decisions over the next four months will depend
- Identify and achieve your target SAT/ACT score before application deadlines
- Begin essays and applications
- Identify financial aid and scholarships
- Determine whether you need to take SAT Subject Tests
The checklist includes two essay planning exercises which many of our students have used as the basis for highly successful college application essays. Let’s get to work!
Topics: Financial Aid & Scholarships, ACT, SAT, College Admissions: Explore Early, College Admissions: Excel Academically, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 12th Grade - Seniors, College Admissions: Apply Right, College Admissions: Test Well, Anchorage
Updated to reflect 2018-19 Common App essay prompts
Of everything you include in your college applications, the essays are the single element over which you have the most control—make the most of this opportunity to define your narrative. You know that you’ll need to write a variety of essays for your college applications—and if you're a senior, deadlines are quickly approaching. How will you craft effective messaging that demonstrates your talent and character in order to maximize your chances of admission? In this post, we will provide an overview of the college application essay planning and writing process, including:
- What kinds of college application essays you will need to write
- The Frontier Tutoring essay planning approach for strategizing your topic and planning your structure, regardless of the prompt
- When you should start planning and writing—including how to get a head start during junior year
- Keys to success for essay planning and writing
- An actual draft essay with feedback that T.D., a Frontier Tutoring college admissions consulting student, finalized for her successful application to the United States Air Force Academy, where fewer than 1 in 6 students is accepted. T.D. successfully adopted the Frontier Tutoring essay planning approach we introduce in this post.
Ready to write? Let's begin!
Of everything you do in high school, the activities you undertake during your junior year will have the among most significant impact on your competitiveness for college admissions and scholarships. As a rising junior, how can you set yourself up for success? In this post, we’ll walk through a checklist for rising juniors to review before school starts. Specifically, we’ll show you how to tackle each of the following five priorities with free tools and resources developed specifically for Alaska students:
- Determine whether you should prepare for the PSAT—something you should do during August)
- Craft your SAT/ACT strategy to maximize your scores and efficiency
- Get serious about your GPA: Depending on when you submit applications, the next two semesters will comprise the final grades colleges see.
- Start developing your college list—the single most important factor upon which nearly all of your other decisions over the next 12-18 months will depend
- Determine whether and when you will need to take SAT Subject Tests
Let’s get to work!
Updated September 10, 2018 - Over the last few months, high-profile colleges including Yale, Harvard, and Dartmouth have announced that the SAT/ACT essay will now be optional for applicants to their schools, citing the inability of a single essay to reliably predict a student’s college writing capabilities. As of this posting, only about 15 colleges still require the SAT/ACT essay—but those colleges include popular powerhouses such as all University of California schools. Furthermore, an additional 20+ colleges, including competitive schools like Stanford and Amherst, recommend that applicants submit an SAT/ACT essay score (Stanford "strongly recommends" the essay). Finally, Princeton, in a move recently mimicked by Brown (and likely other colleges soon), has made the SAT/ACT essay optional, but instead requires all applicants to submit a graded writing sample. Should YOU plan to take the SAT/ACT essay? Here’s how to decide.
10th and 11th graders: If you’re like many students, your SAT or ACT scores will play a significant role in your competitiveness when applying to colleges, with 88% of colleges placing considerable or moderate importance on students’ standardized test scores for admissions purposes.1 Given the importance of your SAT/ACT scores, how should you develop your testing calendar and plans? In this article, we’ll explore the best time to prepare for and take the official SAT or ACT—including whether juniors should consider the July ACT or August SAT dates, plus what sophomores should do over the summer to determine whether they may be competitive for National Merit recognition on their junior year PSAT. But first, let’s start with a high-level overview of SAT/ACT testing strategy.