College Admissions

  • How to Handle Common College Interview Questions

    Barry Lenson

    On-campus college interviews are as scarce as dinosaurs in argyle sweaters these days. They’ve almost disappeared for a very simple reason: colleges are screening so many applications that they just don’t have the time to call you in for a traditional across-the-desk conversation. It’s more likely that any interviews you get will be with alumni of schools where you’ve applied. What’s the best way to handle an interview on a campus or with an alumni interviewer? Here are some common interview questions, with advice on how to answer them . . . 1. Did you enjoy your four years in high school?  The interviewer is really trying to figure out whether you are a positive or negative kind of character, so always say that you enjoye ...

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  • Grade Inflation is Rampant

    Barry Lenson

    Over the last few years, grade inflation has become a hot topic at American colleges and universities. In case you don’t know, grade inflation is the practice of raising students’ grades so that they all dowell in a class. Many colleges and universities have silently engaged in it because it helps more of their students get into top graduate schools and nab good jobs after they graduate. The subject came up again recently in relation to a cheating scandal at Harvard. Some students there said that as soon as one professor woke and stopped inflating grades unrealistically, it became necessary for them to share information and take other steps to keep their grades high.   It’s a complicated issue, right? But is grade inflation ...

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  • Can a College Coach Guarantee Admission to an Ivy League School?

    Barry Lenson

    There’s a very simple answer to the question that is posed in the title of today’s post. The answer is no. No college coach anywhere can guarantee admission to an Ivy League school. Some of the best independent college counselors canimprove your chances of getting into an elite school. But guarantee it? It just doesn’t work that way. There are some unscrupulous con artists, however, who will charge big fees and guarantee, or nearly guarantee, that they can get you (or your son or daughter) into an Ivy or ultra-elite college or university.  Last year, in fact, I was shocked when I got an email from one of these shysters, who wanted to contribute a post to this blog. She claimed to have attended a top Ivy institution (perhaps s ...

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  • Latest Standardized Testing Outrage

    Barry Lenson

    Latest Standardized Testing Outrage: The SAT Prepares to Use Computers to Grade Student Essay Section Up until now, the College Board has had a big problem with the essay section of its SAT exam. How could the company grade tens of thousands of handwritten SAT essays every year? In years past, the College Board has been forced to hire actual human beings to grade all those essays. But according to “Facing a Robo-Grader? Just Keep Obfuscating Mellifluously,” an article by Michael Winerip in The New York Times, that is about to change.  Winerip reports that the College Board has developed a computer program called e-Rater that can grade 16,000 essays in 20 seconds. That could save the College Board a ton of money every year. But W ...

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  • Universities Still Give Preferential Admissions Status to the Children of Alums

    Barry Lenson

    Universities Still Give Preferential Admissions Status to the Children of Alums “Affirmative action for the rich” hasn’t gone away, according to Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who writes on education for The New York Times. In a withering blog post, he has the courage to attack colleges’ longstanding tradition of giving special admissions consideration to “legacy applicants” who are the children of alumni. (In other words, if Mommy or Daddy went to Harvard, you are going to enjoy a competitive edge if you apply.) “Rewarding birth rather than merit is un-American and possibly illegal,” Kahlenberg correctly observes. Here are some other points that he makes in h ...

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