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January 30, 2022

4 Minutes Read

👋Hi everyone,

Greetings from New York!

We got hit with a ton of snow here this weekend, so I'm staying in and completely focused on creating resources for you guys.

📫The Savvy Applicant is a biweekly email where I share important news and actionable guidance on the selective college admissions process—And I never pull any punches! 
If you have a question you'd like answered, just hit reply and let me know. If you want to to share this newsletter with others, use your unique link toward the bottom of this email and we'll send you an awesome reward. 



📅Time In - Key Words


🎓👶Class of 2023 and Underclassman - Choosing courses for next year is one of the key decisions on the horizon. When AOs review your transcript they're quickly judging your potential to be successful academically and elements of your character. 

❌Common Mistake: Dropping your foreign language. Every rule has exceptions, but this is a core subject area for good reason and dropping will raise serious concerns.

Think of it this way: imagine you want to be a physician in US. You need to know the science, but equally important is empathy for the patient. How much better does it feel to be cared for by someone who speaks your native language? 

⚡Admissions Insight: View fluency in a foreign language as a desire rather than a requirement, and, in addition to the richness it brings to your life, colleges (and grad schools) will appreciate your perspective. If it's true, let colleges know your plan to continue your language study while on campus. 

🔥Bold Moves: 1) Immersion is by far the best way to become fluent in a language. Look for opportunities (they don't necessarily have to be far away or expensive) to have immersive learning experiences. 2) Learn a second foreign language. Especially interesting would be choosing one western and one eastern or one Modern and one Ancient. 

AOs will be impressed AND jealous!

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🧠Psychology of Admissions 


For those of you who read the introduction to "The Genius Zone" in the previous Savvy Applicant, you may remember that while your Genius Zone gets expressed in a single sentence, it's also an overarching strategy for standing out in the college admissions process. 

It's both a desired reputation and an action plan. Importantly, however, neither the desired reputation nor the action plan is static. The Genius Zone creates a virtuous cycle that exponentially propels students forward.  


"The Genius Zone" is rooted in modern psychology and entrepreneurship. 


Humans are the storytelling animal and psychologically, we are the stories we tell ourselves. Over the course of our lives, we use our thoughts, feelings, and experiences to construct our stories— our sense of self.

Yet, our story doesn’t just follow after the fact of experience, it also precedes and helps create our experience. This thinking, “being in our heads”, works back and forth as art reflects life and life reflects art.   

Intuitively, we understand that some stories are more inspiring to us and compelling and memorable to others. And it seems that part of being human is that we have a tendency to forge stories that are less than ideal or downright counterproductive.

Psychotherapy is about gaining self-knowledge, then developing and telling ourselves a more empowering story. Renowned psychologist (and Holocaust survivor) Victor Frankl is more specific. 

📚In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl illuminates the virtue of developing lives with a deep sense of purpose. 

This concept is a key tenet of The Genius Zone; College applicants will stand out by determining, pursuing, and telling the story of what gives their, albeit young, life meaning and purpose.

Combine this with a few entrepreneurial tactics and you'll have the foundation for your Genius Zone. Stay tuned....


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✏️Pencils Down


The College Board is working hard to keep the SAT relevant in a post Covid world. This past week they announced their intent to make the test digital, adaptive and significantly shorter.

📅Changes will start in 2023 to the PSAT and international SAT. Nothing will happen on the SAT in the US until 2024, so these changes will primarily effect those of you in grade 9 and a little younger. The move may keep the test popular for a few more years, but I predict the end is near. 

😎🌿With the UC system already opted out of considering SAT scores, the next move will be by Harvard and other Ivy League universities that drive trends in admission policy. If the Ivies and other large state systems such as Texas, New York, and Illinois move away from the stress inducing “test optional” policy to one that is clearly “test blind”— it will be all over for the SAT (and ACT). 

📺For one best contemplations of all the issues surrounding standardized testing, I recommend checking out the documentary The Test and The Art of Thinking.


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A few more things...


  • 🏛️🌿Harvard / UNC on Trial: The SCOTUS has decided to hear the case against the holistic (affirmative action is a misnomer) admissions policy at the Ivy League and flagship state university. The argument is weak, but with the court tilted so far right, you never know what could happen. According to the New York Times, the case has divided Asian Americans.
  • ✍️Common Prompts: Not surprisingly the 2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts will remain the same as this year.  This is one reason reason for students applying to several highly selective colleges to start your personal statement now. Savvy applicants understand they'll probably have 20 or more unique supplemental essays to write over the next 9-10 months and they're not as easy as that critique of Macbeth you dashed off last week.
  • 💰Money Matters: Common App prompts stay the same, but there are big changes coming to the FAFSA (the primary form you fill out to apply for financial aid). Understand the new lingo and how the changes may effect the price you pay for school. I urge families have a frank conversation about finances earlier rather than later. 

And I'll leave you with a quote that's a good response to anyone who doubts you and a photo inspired by last week's National #Libraryshelfie Day

🗣️Quote: "Don't believe me, just watch"- Bruno Mars


📸Photo: Snapped a pic of the bookshelf right behind my desk. It's probably the part of my college admissions library that matters most.