Chariot Learning Blog

If you’re wondering what factors matter in selective college admissions, I’m happy to summarize the list in a few words: ALL OF THEM. When you are applying to schools that accept 10% or less of applicants, nothing is really optional from test scores to supplemental essays. The good news is that not every factor in admissions carries equal weight. A few years back, we shared what really matters in college admissions, as assessed by the NACAC 2018 State of College Admissions report. Much has changed since then, but perhaps not as much as one would think. After all, the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) recently released the results of a 2020 nationwide survey of IECA member independent educational consultants that shared major similarities with the NACAC report. What matters? Grades still reign supreme, both qualitatively (honors, AP, IB) and quantitatively (the higher the better) to admissions officers. SAT and ACT…

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Is it hubris to want to be the best you can be, to scale the heights of accomplishment to reach its pinnacle? Our most audacious goals are driven by our most fervent desires. Embrace your aspirations in order to make them reality. Achievement results from work realizing AMBITION.

I recently had the pleasure and privilege of presenting an SAT and ACT strategy session to a group of young adults. This in itself is hardly unusual, as I’m basically always teaching teens, except for when I’m training adults. The particularly awesome aspect of this engagement was that these 75 students were located in Nigeria, as part of a week-long bootcamp organized by EducationUSA. This non-profit network supported by the U.S. Department of State promotes U.S. higher education to international students and supports those students through the application process. The globe-spanning distance separating Zoom participants was the only truly remarkable aspect of this seminar. In all other ways, the students asked the same questions and shared the same concerns as any U.S. high schooler, excepting, perhaps, the concerns about TOEFL/IELTS testing and passport concerns. Rest assured, teenagers everywhere struggle with timing on the reading sections of the tests and worry…

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Every ambitious or engaged high schooler knows the pain of trying to juggle academic, extracurricular, and social (especially social) commitments, while at the same time prepping for the big tests and working on college applications. Teens tempted to relent in any one area realize that competitive colleges care about more than just grades and test scores; those extracurricular activities matter. The good news from ACT, Inc. suggests that maybe you can have it all. According to ACT’s report on The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2019, involvement in high school activities is often associated with higher ACT Composite scores. ACT researchers cross-referenced average ACT Composite Score and number of activities for graduates of the high school class of 2019, distributing students by GPA. Based on the data, involvement in several high school activities is often associated with higher ACT Composite scores, no matter what a student’s GPA is. However,…

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Before, during, and after the school year, lots of students and parents recognize the need for amazing tutors. But once you start shopping around, you likely become a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options out there for academic tutoring and test prep. Should you go with a private agency? A fellow classmate? A retired teacher? After school, or only on weekends? One-on-one, or in groups? And what if you plan on taking both tests? Does it even really matter? If these are some of the questions rattling around in your head as you search for a tutor, maybe take a step back and ask some questions about yourself instead. You’re one-half of the student-tutor relationship, after all, and to know what to look for in a tutor, you should understand what you want out of tutoring. Consider the following: Have you ever taken the SAT or ACT? Just…

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Every year, millions of college applicants contend with billions (slight exaggeration) of questions about which schools to apply to and how to present the perfect applications. The question of when to apply hasn’t always felt pressing, but ignoring timing may be a big mistake this year. Early Decision and Early Action represent the primary options available to students who want to signal a strong intent to attend if accepted. Early Action is a less binding but also less influential indicator of intent. Early Decision, on the other hand, is an agreement with teeth to attend the single college that accepted you. In exchange for flexibility–and perhaps leverage in financial aid negotiations–applicants gain potentially significant admissions advantages. The power of enrolling Early Decision varies from school to school and year to year. To find out how beneficial ED was in last year’s cycle and what this year holds for applicants, I…

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