"This year I got into all 8 of my top choice schools—and it is all thanks to Yelena. My essay was a mess when she began working with me. I had no clue what I was going to write about, or how I was going to do it alone. I even received two personal compliments about it from two different admissions counselors at top colleges."Read More
The age-old debate about social media and how it affects college applications is finally over: yes, your social media presence can harm you. Particularly if you post racist, anti-Semitic and other offensive things in a public platform like Facebook. Especially if you just got into one of the most prestigious and competitive schools in the country.
Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat.
This year, Harvard's acceptance rate was just 5.2%. That type of exclusivity does not come easy—and it makes sense that Harvard would protect its community from this kind of behavior. This goes back to the kindness factor: admissions officers are looking for good people, most of all.
Also, it doesn't reflect too well on one's street smarts to be so obvious (and oblivious) about your bigotry. Let this be a lesson that there's no such thing as a "private" group online. The fact that this happened as a spin-off of the official Harvard 2021 Facebook group is all the more shocking. Even the description of the official group was a clear warning:
“As a reminder, Harvard College reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions including if an admitted student engages in behavior that brings into question his or her honesty, maturity, or moral character.”
And this is not your standard teenage dirty joke.
In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”
Thanks to a racial discrimination lawsuit against Princeton, Buzzfeed got its hands on some secret admissions documents—and boy, are they a doozy.
As a result of that lawsuit, civil rights investigators at the Education Department examined allegations of racial bias in the school’s admissions system. Though they came up short and no racial bias was found, the comments below are not exactly innocent.
I know you're supposed to “show don't tell.” How do I do that, exactly?
The best way to show is to use anecdotes, specific examples, and lots of detail. Telling is saying, “I am curious.” Showing is describing an anecdote where you got in trouble with your parents because you snuck into the cabinet and ate coffee beans just because you were curious. Picture your essay as a screenplay and that will help.
"I am a high school senior who will be attending UC Berkeley next fall. My academics and leaderships made me a competitive candidate, but my personal insight questions, edited and shaped by Yelena, is one of the top reasons I will be attending the #1 public university in the world next fall. In terms of my writing, I had strong arguments; however, they were not so coherent and well structured. Then, Yelena came along and took my writing from good to near perfect.
I definitely recommend Yelena to individuals who need feedback or additional support in the application process. You will not regret it. The results speak for themselves, the professionalism is on point, and the feedback is off the charts. I am really thankful for her service and I am keeping her in high consideration for future academic endeavors."
Fairy Godmother Nicki Minaj started paying off her fans’ student loans, laptops, current classes, equipment and tuition on Twitter—after daring them to show straight A's—and she's up to $18K so far. And this is not a one-time thing: she's planning to start an official charity soon. [Vulture]Read More
- Ring the alarm! Today's the last day to register for the June 3 SAT! Late registrations can still be made until May 24. You can register for the June 10 ACT with a late fee until May 19. [College Board] [ACT]
- While we're on the topic, here's how one first-generation student from Flint, Michigan learned to take the SAT "like a rich kid." To recap: "They approached studying for the SAT with a near-professional intensity that was alien to me. I realized that they didn’t just want to score exceptionally well on the SAT. They were gunning for a score on the Preliminary SAT exams that would put them in the top percentile of students in the United States and make them National Merit Scholars in the fall. As a result, all the drilling they did for an exam that is supposed to be an equalizer in ranking students according to raw test-taking skills was only widening the American achievement gap." [NYT] I agree. To check out my pro bono services, click here.
"I have to thank you for all your help! Ms. Shuster's techniques for helping students with their essays are astonishingly effective. She just doesn't limit herself to fix our essays, but rather to make us part of the essay's revision by asking us questions about us that can help, she also ensures we are comfortable with her suggestions. Without Ms. Shuster, I doubt I would have had been able to be as confident about both my personal statement and supplements. All of this is pro-bono."Read More
Applications have skyrocketed to Ivy League schools. Cornell got 47K+ apps and accepted only 12.5% (a record low). UPenn had 40K+ apps and admitted only 9.15%—the lowest in history. Brown had 32K+ apps and accepted a record low of 8.3%. Stanford got 44+ apps and admitted just 4.65% of that application pool, another historical lowest rate.Read More
Writing the admissions essay is so stressful that I don't blame students for reading about seemingly easy, out-of-the-box approaches and thinking, well, if it worked for this guy, why not me? The problem with such methods, though, is you're not the only one thinking that. Once an admissions trick becomes a trend (and a national news story), it's no longer out of the box. Translation: instead of looking creative, you look lazy.Read More
I worked with Marie last winter pro bono in partnership with a public school in NYC and I knew right away she was a force to be reckoned with. Her first draft was impressive and it was clear she knew the power of a creative narrative. Her first line started "in media res" (in the middle of the action), which draws the reader in right away and continued with evocative descriptions that helped me feel like I was right there with her throughout her narrative. We worked on clarifying timelines and context, cutting cliches and repetitions, reordering paragraphs for a smooth, easy-to-read flow, and digging deeper to get to the emotional root of the story.Read More
"Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community."Read More
- Oh boy...The University of Virginia allegedly kept track of applicants with wealthy relatives to offer them special admission. You assumed this kind of thing happens; well the Post's got the receipts. [Teen Vogue]
- Which may explain why Princeton is scrambling to block the release of its own admission records [BuzzFeed]
- And don't stress too much: all the blood, sweat & tears you put into your application only takes 4 minutes to read [HuffPo]
Yelena encouraged us to write freely and give a lot of examples to help our son come alive before the Admission Committees. She then skillfully edited our answers to highlight his strengths and show how he was working on his weaknesses. As we moved along, to ease the process, Yelena created a master file with all of our answers so that we could reuse them efficiently. She not only edited each application package, but also helped us ensure that we were consistent between the parent and the student essays, covered everything we needed to, and were not repeating ourselves—no small feat with such a volume of work! I am very happy to say that we completed all the applications several weeks before the deadline and feel very good about them. We could not have gotten this done without Yelena!"
—Regina, parent of Max, who was accepted to St. Ignacius College Preparatory & JCHS
"Yelena provided my essay with the perfect pair of fresh eyes. She shined a light on all of the blind spots, showing me which content I needed to highlight more or less. And the best part? The revision process was conveniently done online via a Google Doc. Yelena gave lengthy and straightforward comments that were 100% helpful. Without her guidance, I'm not sure if my essay would've had the same impact." —Dara, accepted to the USC School of Social Work
In this week's Admission News You Might Have Missed:
With college costing more than 14 illegal kidneys, more students are turning to GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for college costs. Over the past 3 years, more than 130,000 GoFundMe campaigns nationwide have raised $60 million from over 850,000 donations for college tuition and related expenses. [Chicago Tribune]
- Careful out there...35% of 365 college admissions officers in a Kaplan Test Prep survey said they check social media during the admissions process. 47% said what they found had a positive impact on prospective students versus 42% who said what they discovered had a negative impact. [CNN]
🚨 🚨 🚨 There are two new Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-18: one is literally a blank slate, reinforcing my advice to ignore them altogether when writing yours.
Describe a topic, idea or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]
Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.Read More
In addition to my one-on-one pro bono work with underserved students, I also love going back to school (#NERD) and hosting admissions essay seminars. Last fall, I led an essay workshop at a local New York public school where 73% of the students receive a free lunch. We discussed how admission essays are different from the academic essays they're taught at school, why the personal statement can influence your acceptance, and the secret things admissions officers look for (and don't want to see) in your answer.