Greetings from Princeton!
The Savvy Applicant is a weekly email where we share important news and actionable guidance on the selective college admissions process. Thank you to everyone who's been peppering us with questions—and sharing this email with friends!
If you have a question you'd like answered, fire away in a reply to this email. If this was forwarded to you and you'd like to join our community of over 5,000 readers, you can sign-up here.
College Admissions Launchpad (9th and 10th Graders + Parents)
This intensive 5-hour workshop will give the whole family a behind-the-scenes understanding of admissions decisions at highly selective colleges and the confidence to begin making strategic academic and extra-curricular decisions.
Date: Saturday, May 15 at 10 AM ET. Schedule a call to learn more
Mayday - Leaders Wanted
April is winding down. Last week marked the 51st Earth Day which reminds us that, even during a pandemic, ecological collapse is one of the biggest threats to humanity.
It's a problem that's going to take massive political will, behavioral change, and cooperation. And we all have a role to play. I continue to be inspired by Greta Thunburg's activism. She became one of the loudest voices for serious reforms when she was just 15.
You don't have to become the voice of your generation on an important issue, but selective colleges are looking for student leaders who can answer— as Amanda Gorman, the first youth poet laureate and performer at Biden's inauguration, asks students—these two important questions:
1. Whose shoulders do you stand on?
2. What do you stand for?
In her fierce TED Talk and performance, Amanda explains why poetry is inherently political, pays homage to her honorary ancestors and stresses the value of speaking out despite your fears.
What are you knowledgeable and passionate about that could be a TED(x) Talk? If you take action, colleges will take notice (and the world may be a better place!).
Mayday - Relaxed Superstars
April is also stress awareness month. During the pandemic we have all had the challenge of maintaining our mental health, but it's been especially difficult for high school students.
Selective colleges are looking for students that demonstrate they value their mental health. Savvy applicants practice self-care in a number of ways, including getting regular exercise and eating healthy, but two others stand out:
The first is sleep. It's so good for your creativity, memory and immune system. It's what allows you to be your best self and colleges respect this—a lot.
Question: How many of you would consider highlighting sleep on your college application?
A second key to self-care is mindfulness. A mindfulness practice can take many different forms, but learning to observe, name, control, and use your emotions intentionally is truly a superpower!
For me, it's a combination of yoga and meditation that helps. If you're interested, there are many yoga classes available online including this free series of beginners classes. For meditation, I have long been a daily user of the app, Headspace. I encourage everyone to check out their explanation of the neuroscience on Netflix.
While it shouldn't be the main motivation, this type of activity could definitely be a strong part of your college application.
May 1st is the National Candidate Reply Date (some colleges have extended to May 3). If you have not already done so, this is the day you must actually make a decision and put down a deposit at one of the colleges that offered you admission. The matrix of the decision is not always easy.
Before you commit however, especially during the last week in April, you have some negotiating power. If finances are an important part of your decision calculus, there is still time to ask for more financial aid. Here's advice on how to go about it.
Looking for a gift to say congratulations on a college decision? Try our friend Harlan Cohen's classic book The Naked Roommate. Once students have chosen where to go, it's time to learn more about what to really expect once they get there. Besides the catchy title, Cohen's book helps students navigate many aspects of the transition to college life.
May 2nd is the NACAC Virtual College Fair. This is a great opportunity for those looking to explore college options and begin to "demonstrate interest." Register here for the live event that will feature over 600 colleges including some of the most selective in the country.
May 3rd will begin the AP Exam period. Scoring well on these tests can earn college credits, but now, given the discontinuation of SAT Subject Tests, they may take on more importance for admissions as well. Good luck to all of you taking an AP and / or the regular SAT this spring!
We are so proud of the work of all our seniors that are getting ready to start the next chapter of their life's journey. Cheers to all your success!