The Biggest Application Essay Mistake [Video]

What is the very worst thing you could possibly do in your application essays? Watch Linda’s answer and add your own comments below:

USC Lets Students Fast Track to Law School

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The country’s second-largest legal market.

Last week USC announced the launch of its new 3+3 program which will allow select USC students to begin law school (at USC’s Gould School of Law) during their senior year. The program lasts a total of six years – three years of undergraduate studies and three years of law school. Students apply to the program during their junior year; if accepted they’ll enroll in law school the following year and then receive their bachelor’s degree upon completion of that year. Then, two years later, they’ll receive their law degree.

To apply to the program, students must have:

 • A minimum GPA of 3.8.
 • Completed the coursework for their majors by junior year.
 • Strong faculty recommendations, writing samples, and a personal statement.
 • An interview.

The LSAT is not required for admission to the program.

“The 3+3 program will enable the best USC undergraduates to stay at USC for law school and take advantage of being in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest legal market,” says USC Gould’s associate dean for admissions and financial aid, Chloe Reid. “It is a highly selective program for those students who can tackle the rigors of academic life at one of the country’s leading law schools. Students who are set on the legal profession will find these aspects very appealing.”

See the USC press release for more details.

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6 Ways to Save More Money Once School Starts

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If you don’t have a university debit card, don’t sign up for one.

If you’ve opted to attend an in-state school or get your core courses knocked out at a community college, you’re well on your way to cutting the cost of your education. Once the semester begins, however, expenses can really add up, and it’s easy to stray from a frugal mindset. Thankfully, there are plenty of money-saving opportunities at your disposal and taking advantage of all of them is in your best short- and long-term interest. To learn how to cut your costs after you crack open that first textbook, read on.

1. Resell Textbooks
If you bought your textbooks online from eBay or Amazon to save money, congrats. Once the semester is done, or even a few days before, be sure to list those textbooks for sale to get some of your money back. Check out eBay and Amazon for details on pricing, and if you don’t like what you see check a local storefront in your area where you may be able to get a better deal. Competition is high, so the sooner you get your textbooks listed the better off you’re going to be.

2. Make Full Use of Your Student ID Card
Your student ID card is good for free sporting events, lectures, and even concerts and discounts at local eateries and shops – so be sure to make full use of it. If you take in a hockey game for free one Friday night instead of bar-hopping with your friends, you could save yourself $50 or more. Anytime you reach for your wallet off-campus, be sure to ask if there’s a student discount for the purchase you’re about to make. Often, there is.

3. Get a Job
Most students don’t consider working during school because of the time commitment required for studies. If you manage your schedule well, though, you can certainly find the room to take on a part-time job. For all those hours you’re working, you won’t be out spending money. Check in with your campus employment office or do a targeted search on a career website like SimplyHired. Search using the keyword “part-time,” and include your location. There should be plenty of positions available either on or near campus, and you might be able to walk to work.

4. Get Stuff for Free
Did you know that there are plenty of computer software titles available for free download at the website CNET? You also don’t need to pay for antivirus software because the programs Avast and AVG give you all the protection you need. If you’re looking for a couch to round out your dorm room, skip the local furniture outlet and check out Freecycle or Craigslist. You can get countless items for free – you just have to know where to look.

5. Find Low-Cost Entertainment
Instead of heading to the movie theater where you might drop $30 or more, invite some friends over for Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, or another classic board game like Pictionary. You can find them at a local retailer like Target for about $15, or at thrift stores for just $1 or $2 – just make sure all the game cards and pieces are still in the box. Also, think about joining an intramural sports league where your out-of-pocket costs are low and you can improve your health at the same time.

6. Cut Up the University Debit Card
If you don’t have a university debit card, don’t sign up for one. If you do, cut it up. The pros are far outweighed by the cons. It typically comes with hefty withdrawal and transfer fees. Also, since these cards are often linked to your financial aid, it can be far too easy to blow that money on unimportant purchases. Avoid temptation entirely and rely on cash for your time in school.

Final Thoughts
College is typically a four-year stretch, and the money decisions you make during that time go a long way toward shaping your finances post-graduation. If you enter the workforce with a boatload of student loan debt, it becomes that much harder to start setting aside for other important financial considerations, like retirement savings, a down payment for a home, and an emergency fund. Do your best to shave costs during school and you’re going to thank yourself once that first paycheck comes in.

What are your plans for saving money during school?

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

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 Tom Bailey writes about money saving strategies, including ways to cut college expenses and survive as a student.

3 Mistakes Successful College Applicants Don’t Make

Successful college applicants don't blow off senior year!

Successful college applicants don’t blow off senior year!

The preparation for successful college application does not happen overnight. In fact, it is the culmination of years of work throughout high school. The most successful college applicants take a number of components into consideration as they approach the application process. Here are three mistakes they don’t make:

1. Blow off essay responses. They know a strong GPA and test scores are not enough. They invest time and thought in their essay responses and they don’t wait until the last minute to submit their applications. They keep deadlines in mind. They request letters of recommendation in a timely manner to allow a teacher/counselor time to reflect before writing a recommendation. They use their essays as an opportunity to demonstrate their specific interests, life experience, and aspirations not just to repeat information found elsewhere in their application. They share something that helps fill in the overall picture of who they are and how they can contribute to the overall college environment.

2. Neglect to consider appropriate college fit. Their initial list might begin with colleges that family members or friends recommend but it doesn’t stop there. They apply to a range of schools that are a good fit for them- they include fallback and dream school options. They invest time to research which schools are the best fits for them on many levels (consider: size of student population, distance from home, financial obligations, academic interests, special programs, alumni ties). They use on-line resources to provide information and insight into the sorts of programs and activities available at a college. They schedule campus tours and reach out to college counselors whenever possible. They speak with current students and recent graduates. They ask their tour guides/hosts questions about how they selected a specific college and about experiences at the college that matched their expectations, as well as, what they might do anything differently in hindsight. Successful applicants can articulate why each school they apply to is a good fit for them.

3. Take it easy in senior year. They take a rigorous curriculum throughout high school, demonstrate an upward trend in academic demands, and maintain extracurricular involvement with increasing leadership responsibility. They don’t blow off senior year. Yes, of course they have fun but they keep future goals in mind as well. They make sure to stay on top of assignments and prepare well for exams.

Although this discussion seems logical, nonetheless, these are common oversights. Successful college applicants don’t make these mistakes.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.
Marie Todd By Accepted college admissions consultant who has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. She is available to assist your child with his or her applications.

What if I Need to Retake the SAT?

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SAT: Take 2 (or 3 or 4)

Some treat taking the SAT over again as though it were the same thing as walking down the aisle to take one’s marriage vows for the second time. If stigma should be attached anywhere, it should be on not re-taking the SAT—a second time, third time, and a fourth time. I’m not saying become an SAT test-taking junkie. Rather, you should feel utterly at ease with retaking the SAT. Here’s why!

1. Colleges only see the scores you decide to send them

The colleges aren’t like Big Brother (the all-knowing presence from Orwell’s 1984). That is, they won’t know your scores unless you submit them. You have the option of doing so, for free, during the test. However, you can also send them any time after the test (for a small fee). Unless, you send a specific college your score report, it will never know what you got.

2. You can send your best score in any one section

You can pick and choose your best performance, section-wise, from any test. So your total score can come from as many as three different tests.

Let’s say you scored 750 in math and were surprised at how well you did. However, you bombed the verbal because you didn’t study vocab. For the next test, you go into agro vocab mode and you end up with an amazing 680 on verbal (but you end up doing not so well on math and writing). On a third take you could just focus on the writing section and essay so as to get your best score. If you don’t do so well on the third test, take it again.

3. Knowing that you can retake the SAT multiple times should make it less stressful

All of this is good news because it makes taking the SAT much less stressful. So even if you think taking the test four times is ludicrous, because, hey, you have better things to do with your Saturday, that’s fine. Knowing that you can retake the test will, if nothing else, make the experience a little less stressful.

4. Just because you take the SAT again doesn’t mean you’ll do better

It’s important to note that taking the SAT again doesn’t mean you’re going to score better. Only retake the test if you feel you’ve prepped more than before and are going into the test with more knowledge and better strategies. You might also want to use different prep materials than you did the first time around. For suggestions, check out the Magoosh book reviews in our SAT eBook.

5. There is more to life than taking the SAT

For those of you at the very other end of the spectrum—those who know you can and should retake the test—don’t keep doing so just for those extra few points. There are other things that colleges look at—things you could be doing instead of learning more esoteric SAT vocabulary (do you really need to know the difference between the words “venal” and “venial”?). Volunteering at a hospital, working on that special talent, or studying for one of the SAT subject tests (I know—it’s hard to truly get away from the SAT) might make you seem a little more well-rounded.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

Magoosh SAT This post was written by Chris Lele, resident SAT expert at Magoosh. For more advice on SAT prep, check out Magoosh’s SAT blog.