Common Application Essay Prompts 2018-2019

If you’re reading this blog then you’re most likely a rising senior (or parent of a rising senior) and you are in the process of deciding which prompt to choose.

stressed_laptop_student_5  Confused_Parent_with_Questions

The Common Application Essay is the most important essay that you will write as a high school student.  With a word limit of 650 words this means that every word, phrase and punctuation point will count, in addition to the tone and flow of your essay.

The 2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts are as follows:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

We spend hours brainstorming and deciding which prompt will best apply to our clients to help them stand out.  We assist our clients in organizing their thoughts.  Then, after our clients submit a draft, we discuss the draft and then spend hours, with up to 10 revisions, for a final version.  Yes, it takes that long for a masterpiece to be created and enhanced!

Most admissions officers tell me that an applicant’s personal statement is absolutely their favorite part of the application and that it’s really a chance for them to get to know who applicants are as well as a major opportunity for students to speak up about themselves.  Essentially, their view is that the rest of the application is about other people talking about the applicant, rather the applicant’s in-depth view of him or herself.

Admissions officers want a well-written essay in your own voice that emphasizes insight into your unique character and personality that is thoughtful and reflective.  Essays written by our clients lets the admissions committee get to know them well as a person and demonstrates how you think and why you think and what really matters to you.

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.

6-Year BS/MD Programs

BS/MD programs come in all sizes.  Six, seven and eight year programs.  What we have discovered is that six-year Combined BS/MD programs streamline the process of applying of becoming a doctor even faster!

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Here is a list of 6-year BS/MD Programs:

  • California Northstate University BS/MD
  • Howard University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Texas JAMP
  • Kent State University
  • University of Missouri Kansas City

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network. He and his team of admissions advisors, through the admissions affiliate, BS/MD Admissions Advisors, help high school students get accepted to BS/MD programs.  Many of Dr. Lowe’s BS/MD Admissions client are international students want to attend medical school from high school and then entire U.S. medical residency sub-specialties.  Application help only: BS/MD Application Tune-Up.

So You Think You Have What It Takes To Get Into An Ivy? Think Again!

You are a rising senior, it’s July and you have the following student profile:

  • GPA:  4.4/4.0 weighted
  • AP courses:  Multiple AP courses and 5’s on AP exams.
  • SAT I:  1590
  • SAT II:  Math 2: 800  Chemistry: 800  Biology: 800
  • Athletics:  Captain of the lacrosse team or co-Captain of the swim team.
  • Arts:  First place in piano, violin and dance competitions since middle school.
  • Extracirrcular activities include: Expensive summer camps and helping the poor.
  • Awards & Achievements: Science, art , music and/or community service awards.
  • Leadership: Created a non-profit with it’s own website.
  • Innovation:  Published a book or research paper or developed a startup or app.
  • Letters of recommendations:  Assumed to be all excellent and glowing.
  • Guidance/college counselor LOR: excellent.
  • Extras: You believe that you or your parents have a “connection” to get in.
  • For BS/MD Program applicants:  Shadowed doctors, volunteered in hospitals, completed medical research, attended mini-medical schools, earned EMT certification.

Assumption: You and your parents and your guidance counselor believe that you have all that it takes to get an acceptance letter from at least one of the Ivies and all of the highly competitive schools, additionally safety schools are a shoo-in……Not so!

Year after year, I hear the horror stories in December (Early Decision/Action) and in late March (Regular Decision) from parents (who were not our clients) who call us wanting to know what happened and why their wonderful kids were rejected.

These parents have not anticipated that college admissions officers can see through the hollow pretense of a packaged, perfect student.  And that their children sound just like every other “perfect” applicant.

Different_shoes_sneakers

Ivy League and highly selective colleges do not need perfection from a single candidate. What they seek is a diverse, dynamic, harmonious and perfect entering class.

Well-meaning sources (other educational consultants, family and friends) tell you what you should be doing.  In my practice, we help our clients discover what they are NOT and should NOT be doing!

And it’s what you are NOT DOING that makes you unique, standout and receive an acceptance letter not rejections!

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.

Why You Need a BS MD Admissions Advisor

I often receive phone calls from parents inquiring about our BS/MD admissions advisory services.  They subsequently decide to send their child’s high school transcripts and resumes.  On paper (two dimensionally), everything seems perfect: high grades and SAT scores, difficult courses, multiple awards, first place in music, art and/or dance competitions, amazing research projects, mini-medical school camps and shadowing doctors (and we a talking high school sophomores here).

What these parents fail to see is that they have encouraged their children to sound exactly the same (no matter how seemingly impressive) as every other BS/MD applicant.  My team and I ask ourselves: “Are these parents reviewing the same websites, talking with the same people and following the same playbook?”

I often follow up and call these parents who did not retain our services and discover that all their children were not accepted to BS/MD programs and worse, were accepted to second and third-tier colleges.  What’s amiss here?  Is there a correlation here?  Why is that?

Parents actually believe that high school guidance and college counselors and educational consultants who DO NOT specialize in BS/MD Admissions understand the nuances of BS/MD programs, visit BS/MD programs and are doctors who have been through the selective process of BS/MD programs or medical school admissions.  Additionally, they seek free resources.  I stand by the adage: “You get what you pay for.”

Many parents assume that they have the experience and knowledge to do BS/MD admissions on their own.  As a professional admissions advisor, I believe that it’s important to talk with someone who has the experience and know what he/she are doing, especially when it’s about your child’s future!  Studies show that mistakes are inevitable when people are convinced that they believe they know what they are doing when in fact they have no idea what they are doing.

Is hiring a BS/MD admissions advisor a worthwhile investment?

When your child has a GPA of 4.0 or higher, SAT I’s of 1550 or higher, SAT II’s of 800, and a 3 page resume, it’s logical to believe that he/she has everything necessary to be accepted into BS/MD programs.  However, statistically and unfortunately, that is not the case and many students end up being rejected from every BS/MD program to which they apply and attend second-tier or third tier colleges.  Therefore, to achieve the admissions goal, rather than play the odds, it is logical to engage an expert.

What I observe, is that parents play the odds and after all their children’s (and their) hard work, they bet incorrectly and LOSE BIG!

dice_lose

I guess the real question here is:  Why would highly educated parents knowingly bet and gamble on their children’s educational future and life, to have their children REJECTED, by not hiring an expert?

College-Application_Rejected_2

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.

Top U.S. Computer Science Colleges and Universities

Top Computer Science Colleges and Universities

Many of our international student-applicants-clients are interested in computer science degrees.  One of the main reasons is that computer science graduates do well in terms of getting full-time employment upon graduation.  In 2015, a national survey found that computer science majors were 35% more likely to have full-time jobs one year after graduation than graduates overall and 22% more likely than STEM graduates overall. They also had the highest starting salaries of all majors, with an average of $66,161 and some exceeding $100,000.

Year after year, our Dr. Lowe and his A-team visit top U.S. colleges and universities and have the opportunity to visit top colleges and universities with computer science departments.  Because of their rank as top universities they are, of course, highly competitive.  Our clients are, of course, very happy when they receive acceptance letters from these schools.

Here is a list of top universities with top computer science departments:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Yale University
  • Rice University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • University of California – Berkeley
  • Dartmouth College
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Cornell University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan – Ann Harbor
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Duke Univesity

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.

 

Who Are the Beneficiaries of Affirmative Action?

Students have been affirmatively admitted to Ivy League and elite colleges and universities based on different affirmative criteria for decades (affirmative criteria based on gender, athletics, state of origin, development, elite private high school attendance etc.).  This complex policy involving the previously mentioned affirmative criteria is not likely to change soon.

Ironically, the Executive Branch of the United States government has withdrawn its advocacy of utilizing race as one of the affirmative criteria in college admissions.  In a joint letter, the US Education and Justice Departments announced on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 that they will rescind seven guidance documents that encouraged colleges and other schools to consider race as a factor when making admission decisions.

There are many statistics regarding the racial breakdown of admitted freshman to Ivy League and top colleges and universities.  In general, the following documented trends have emerged.

  • “…(A)t top tier universities, black undergraduate populations average 6 percent, a statistic that has remained largely flat for 20 years…(At Harvard, for example, 6.5 percent of undergraduates were black in 2013, down from 7.4 percent in 1994).” -The Atlantic, 11/23/15
  • According to a New York Times analysis (based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, “(e)ven after decades of affirmative action, Black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago…”- New York Times, 8/20/17.
  • A 2016 study from the Center for American Progress finds that despite the use of race-conscious affirmative criteria Black students have low levels of enrollment at top-tier public universities.
  • “There is no question that top-tier schools are becoming more diverse. White students made up 58 percent of the student body in 2013, down from 72 percent in 1994.” -The Atlantic, 11/23/15
  • A more recent study by the New York Times indicates the percentage of white students admitted to Ivy League schools have been dropping, ranging from 40 percent (Columbia) to 56 percent (Dartmouth).

So what are the numbers really saying here, as the percentage of black and latino students have been flat (and in some cases dropping) and the percentage of white students have been dropping, despite the use of the affirmative criterion of race?

If Ivy League and elite colleges have been using race-conscious criteria to affirmatively accept students over the past 35 years, who has really benefited from race-conscious affirmative action admissions policies?  To determine the answer, just follow the percentages at each Ivy League and elite college and university.

Additionally, if Ivy League schools and elite colleges and universities will now reverse these policies to comply with The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America for equal protection/access under the law, who will and who will not benefit from the change in the policy of using race as an affirmative criterion?

Perhaps to uphold, abide by and comply with The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America for equal protection/access under the law, colleges and universities will dismiss ALL affirmative criteria and accept students in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment.

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.

 

2018 Top Boarding Schools in New Jersey

Many parents who reside in New Jersey call our New Jersey offices in Fort Lee or Princeton seeking top boarding schools in New Jersey as an alternative educational environment to public schools and private day schools.

Boarding schools that we have listed below have 5 Things in Common that all top boarding schools have including but not limited to, college admissions placement, facilities, small classes and culture.

Here are the top boarding schools in New Jersey:

  1. The Lawrenceville School
  2. Blair Academy
  3. Peddie School
  4. Hun School at Princeton

Year after year, we have placed students in these boarding schools and they have provided positive feedback about their experiences!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe.

Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group’s  Boarding School Admissions Consultants, an affiliate of Private School Admissions Advisors.  Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive concierge-type admissions advisory services for U.S. and international students who are interested in applying to top U.S. boarding schools.  Dr. Lowe helps U.S. and international students gain admissions into top U.S. boarding schools even after they have been wait-listed and rejected.  Dr. Lowe and his team of admissions advisors also visit prestigious and elite private schools, where they have the unique opportunity of interacting one-on-one with heads of schools, directors of admissions and senior admissions personnel.

Why You Should Attend A Top Law School

Top US Law Schools Dr Paul Lowe
My team and I visited all of the T-14 law schools and also lesser tier schools. We conducted a survey with students from the T-14 schools and students from lower-tier law schools.

Here are four reasons why you should attend a top law school:

Career Choice: Some parts of the legal profession are virtually off-limits to graduates of lesser tier law schools.  These include the major corporate law firms and high-profile government jobs as well as public interest organizations.  The most desirable employers to work for, such as the major corporate firms, prefer to recruit from to law schools as they view that the best and the brightest are to be found at the world’s leading law schools.

Status:  This reason speaks for itself.  We live in a society where brand  (and status) matters! Whether for personal or business reasons, being a graduate of Yale or Harvard conjures up entirely different perceptions, impressions and reactions among people you encounter than does being a graduate of “Acme” Law.  Status reflects the fact that Yale or Harvard admits only people who are highly regarded to begin with.

Career Flexibility:  The top law schools offer substantial geographic mobility to their graduates. Whereas lesser schools place few of their graduates outside their city or region, the top schools invariably send many of their graduates to firms across the country (and the world).

Alumni Network:  The alumni network and your own personal network from law school will also be important determinants of your ability to switch  to other law firms or other industries. With a strong network willing to help you, your chances are automatically better.

In a Forbes article entitled:  Why Law School Rankings Matter More Than Any Other Education Rankings:  “The T14’s dominance has created a year-after-year, self-fulfilling prophecy, where students covet these top institutions, the best professors desire to teach at these institutions, and law firms choose to hire from these institutions, essentially ensuring that the same group will remain the T14 for years to come.  Employers admit that JDs from the T14 will be welcomed at law firms across the nation, while graduates of even the next best schools (like UCLA or Texas, perennially ranked between 15-20) will be much better off sticking to local markets.”

Blog:  College Admissions is a Competitive Sport – How to Win Your Personal Admissions Game!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   He and his team of advisors, through the admissions affiliate, Law School Admissions Advisors, help applicants gain admissions to top U.S. law schools.

Elite Boarding Schools – Feeders to the Ivy Leagues

Top U.S. Private High Schools with the Highest Percentage Graduates of Accepted To Ivy League Universities Dr Paul Lowe

Each year, my team and I visit top U.S. boarding schools.  The admissions bar is pretty high to get accepted.  For example, Phillips Academy receives 3,000 applications each year but only accepts about 13%, St. Paul’s acceptance rate is 16%, Cate School’s acceptance rate is 14%, Phillips Exeter’s acceptance rate is 18%.  The annual tuition to these schools are on average $55,000 per year.

With these low acceptance rates, the competitive admissions process and relatively high tuition why do parents continue to strive to have their children admitted to these schools?  The answer is quite simple:  Elite boarding schools are feeder schools to the Ivies!

For the past three years, more than 20 Andover students have gotten into each of the following top schools: Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

With that type of track record, and the life-long relationships and contacts student make, its no wonder parents are more than willing to go through the competitive admissions process and invest over $225,000 in an elite boarding school education for their children.

When parents call us to retain our services for admissions to top boarding schools they often ask us what is value or return on investment of our fee.  Our response:  Your investment at minimum, admissions to top boarding schools ($225,000), the eventual increased probability of admissions to the Ivy leagues ($250,000) and the life time value of an Ivy League degree!

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe.

Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group’s  Boarding School Admissions Consultants, an affiliate of Private School Admissions Advisors.  Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive concierge-type admissions advisory services for U.S. and international students who are interested in applying to top U.S. boarding schools.  Dr. Lowe helps U.S. and international students gain admissions into top U.S. boarding schools even after they have been wait-listed and rejected.  Dr. Lowe and his team of admissions advisors also visit prestigious and elite private schools, where they have the unique opportunity of interacting one-on-one with heads of schools, directors of admissions and senior admissions personnel. 

2018 Summer Checklist for Rising Seniors

college planning checklist

Summer started a week ago.  For rising seniors, this should not really be a summer break.  There is lots to during the college admissions process.

Here is a concise list of my recommendations:

  1. Work, volunteer, attend programs—your choice. What you do matters less than how your activities fit into the bigger picture of who you are.
  2. Continue to explore colleges and to fine-tune your college list.
  3. Review the admissions requirements for each college on your list.
  4. If you are applying to BS/MD programs, you should be planning to visit your target schools for a second time.
  5. Consider seeking interviews at colleges that offer them.
  6. Fill out the Common Application and begin drafting your main Common App essay.
  7. Review your Common App short answer essays.
  8. Decide whom you will ask for letters of recommendation.
  9. Review your social media profile to ensure that it is admission-ready.
  10. Make a list of fall deadlines and refer back to it often.

If you are applying to Ivy League and highly selective colleges be aware that “It’s Getting Tougher To Get Into the Ivies” and you need to develop a “Personal WOW-Factor” so that you can stand out amongst the thousands of other qualified and admissible applicants.

Just note as you are preparing for the last rung of your college admissions journey: A recent study showed 26% of high-achieving students used a private college admissions consultant to assist them with their college admissions process.  Additional research has indicated that many international students, who applied to Ivy League and top-tier colleges and who were accepted, hired admissions advisors.

“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college:  College Transfer Admissions AdvisorsSummer Camps:  BS/MD Application Boot Camp and Ivy League Application Boot Camp.