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College Essay Announcement

A week ago, the folks at the Common Application announced that their essay prompts will be the same as last year's.

On a related note, Class of 2025 students will write the same crappy essays as last year's college applicants.   

One big error revolves around choice of prompt.   I'll share which one is the worst in a moment, but first let me give you a little overview if you're new to the wonderful world of college essays and applications.

The Common Application comes out August 1.  The overwhelming majority  of the colleges your son or daughter will apply to accept the Common App (Georgetown University is one notable exception that has its own application).

The Common App really isn't that big a deal.  A lot of it is rote - name, address, parent info, list of honors, etc. 

However, the areas that require thought and attention are 1. essay writing (the personal statement and supplemental essays) and 2. the Activities Section.

In my...

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How Did Northeastern Get So Hard to Get Into?

Tutoring | Webinar

Even though I've been a college advisor for 21+ years, I admit that I still have a hard time understanding how things got so topsy turvy.  

It's rare for a week to go by without a parent commenting to me, "When did things get so complicated?"

College costs are out of hand.  And college admissions are kah-ray-zee! 

There's no rhyme or reason. Yesterday's "Safety Schools" are today's Impossible Dreams.

Case in point:  Northeastern University.

When I was a wee lad growing up in the 1980's in the Boston suburbs, Northeastern admitted 90% of its applicants.  I hate to say it but here I go: 

That's where you went if you couldn't get into any other college!

Last year:  6.7% acceptance rate.

You read that right, it wasn't a typo.  How did this happen?

In a word, "marketing."  Northeastern gamed the system, specifically US News and World Report, to rush the charts and become...

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Less Than 5 Hours Left

In less than five hours -- midnight tonight -- we're pulling the plug on our last-minute, 11th hour college applications and essays "express" program, The November Sprint.

That means that, if you want help putting together a (nearly) perfect college application and a set of essays so compelling that admissions officers would (practically) crawl naked over broken glass to BEG your child to attend their college...

...In what looks like to be the most competitive, ridiculous college acceptance cycle ever (did you see last year's acceptance rates?  Brace yourself!)...

It's time to make your choice.

Either sign up with us, so that our years of specialized college essay and college advising expertise is in your corner -- expertise that has helped our clients get into every top college you can think of...

...or, let this chance slip through your fingers and "wing it." 

You've got an important decision to make.    If you chose us, we're ready to go to work for you...

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Only 16 Hours Left [Simplify Your College Apps]

College essays and applications don't have to be complicated.

I'd argue that the simpler, the better.  That's how you avoid stress, frustration and confusion.

That's exactly why we designed the November Sprint, an "express" college advising program for high school seniors who are still treading water with their college list, applications and essays.

It's time to dive in and rescue them.

If you (really, your kiddo) are ready to roll up your sleeves and put together a winning application that positions yourself as an "Incomparable Applicant"... that you give yourself the best shot at getting into your Dream School -- and winning tens of thousands of fat, juicy scholarships...

Then it's critically important that you take action right now, before we pull the rug out from under this offer.  

It's go time.



- Andy Lockwood

P.S.  If you're like most parents we know, you've done a LOT for your kid:  spent thousands of dollars and...

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Not a "college applicant?"

Sometimes, I'm not exactly tactful.

Case in point, last week I was sitting with an 11th grader, reviewing his grades, PSATs, extracurricular activities and preliminary, highly selective, college list.

I told him that his record was pretty strong. But..."Don't take this the wrong way," I offered.

When you throw your hat into the ring with thousands of kids with equal or better accomplishments, you become something else:

A Dime a Dozen

Colleges are businesses, they sort, exclude and choose kids for acceptance based on their own internal desires and guidelines, some of which have nothing to do with an applicant's qualifications.

A LOT of which, actually.

So if you agree that colleges are actually in business (despite their non-profit status - hah), you might see why I implore my clients to understand things a bit differently about themselves:  

They Too Are in Business 

They're in the business of getting into the colleges they want, and to win scholarships. 


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"Don't Write About Death"

This August, a Class of 2024 client, Sally (not her real name) told me that she had just met with her guidance counselor. They chatted about her essay topic. The counselor was alarmed.

“Don’t write about death, you’ll depress your admissions officer!”

Sally (still not her real name) and her mom asked me what I thought.

“STUPID!” I offered, tactfully.

"Oh this is fun," Sally's mom said. "I have to come to these meeting more often!"

The back story is that Sally had attended five funerals in a span of four months. Not only is that unusual for a high school senior, it seems like it might be kind of important in her young life, don't you think?

“If this was a big deal, it’s something to consider writing about. Actually, it might be weird to NOT write about it”, quoth the college advisor.

The essay doesn’t have to be about “death,” I said. 

I continued, "What if you used the services and eulogies as a lens...

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Announcing: 11th hour essays and applications help

For Frustrated, Worried Class of 2024 Parents...

I'll be quicker than Senator Fetterman's morning grooming routine, because the clock is a-tickin...

If your high school senior son or daughter hasn't made the progress on their essays and applications  you hoped for this summer, we might be able to help.

I say "might" because

  • We have only a tiny handful of spots currently open
  • We're pretty picky about whom we work with;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Here's the scoop -- my team and I are finishing up the application and essay writing process with a bunch of our 2024 private clients.  What that means for you is that we have limited capacity to help your kiddo bring the applications and essays over the goal line, if they have October, November and December deadlines.

We call this program The November Sprint, and it's designed exclusively to relieve the blood pressure of moms (and dads) who are ripping out their hair over their kids' looming Early Action, Early Decision and other...

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On Rankings

It's back to school time, which also means it's college ranking season. 

I think ranking colleges is a pretty silly exercise, but I understand that we humans are wired to compare A to B to C and so forth.  And I read them too.

To me, one of the most striking things about the various and sundry rankings is what they leave out.  Probably because it is unrankable:

Student effort

A couple of the Big Rankers measure average salaries, post-graduation, at each college.  Fine. But here's what does not go into those rankings, as far as I can tell:

  • Elite colleges generally get the highest marks.  But elite colleges are heavily populated by kids from wealthy families.  It's great that Chip graduated from Princeton (and Exeter/Andover/Choate/Fieldston) and is pulling down $125K in his first year in consulting, but is that really because he went to Princeton? Or that Chip's old man (also Chip) called in a favor for his boy.
  • The aforementioned effort.  What...
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Summer of Affirmative Essay Action

Something funny dawned on me the other day when I was preparing my notes for our upcoming bootcamp session.

A few months ago, the college advisor multiverse had their you-know-whats in a bunch over the upcoming, predicted use of Chat GPT for college essays. The sky was falling. But now it's like this never happened.

These days, all the buzz is about the Supreme Court's recent decision that the current practice of race-conscious admissions violates the Constitution. Current practice.

I want you to understand something: the Court did not shut the door on underrepresented minorities at the country's elite colleges. Instead, the majority suggested that colleges must recruit differently. Individually, not based on race.

One of the two obvious methods we all expect college admissions departments to implement has to do with supplemental essays. That likely means that there will be more opportunities for students to talk about their cultural and ethnic "lived experiences".

(I can't believe...

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