The Transition to College

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling
With Special Guest: Perri Kersh, Owner of Neat Freak Professional Organizing

Phew! You’ve made it. No more SATs or ACTs, no more college essays, and no more anxiety about getting in. Breathe a sigh of relief, and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve crossed the college-admissions finish line – CONGRATULATIONS! Of course, this is really only the beginning, the start of a crucial phase of your life–what all that work and anxiety was for. As you look forward and picture yourself at college, excitement will surely grow, and rightly so. But, be prepared to confront some fresh concerns–things you didn’t focus much on while applying to schools–as you turn your attention from admissions to attending. The sense of relief at being done with your application process often comes with a new stressor: the transition to college.

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Why Does it Seem so Hard to Get into College?

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

There’s a scene in the 2017 Greta Gerwig film Ladybird in which the title character receives her college admissions results on her clunky 2000s-era desktop. The University of California system page informs her that she was admitted to only one school: UC Davis. She curses and slaps the computer. When her older brother tries to comfort her, she accuses him of not understanding her situation. The scene is funny because it’s so relatable; it taps into the painful reality of skyrocketing application numbers and plummeting college admission rates, a situation that has only gotten more intense since the time in which the film is set. That reality must be confronted by prospective applicants, as they grapple with their chances for admission to schools that are determined to climb the rankings. Why is it so much tougher to get into college now? What shifts occurred, both within colleges and within the college applicant pool, to create this hyper-competitive environment? How can students today deal with the increased pressure of college admissions? Are Early Decision (ED) options good ways to navigate the daunting barriers that some universities construct? What is going on?

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Spring Tips for High School Students

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

No matter where you are in your high school career, the college admissions process often looms large. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the process has changed dramatically in the past twenty years, and this has caused a great deal of anxiety among high school students (and their parents). It is important to be informed of the nuances and expectations in advance and to start planning early, while remaining loyal to who you are, following your passions, and keeping perspective and a healthy life-balance. Spring is a critical time for many of you: on the one hand, you’re in the homestretch, and it’s tempting to simply ride out the remainder of the year and launch into summer; on the other hand, it is crucial to remain on track and not to lose sight of your goals. I have found that some basic pointers can be enormously empowering for students—a way to ensure that you’re maintaining focus so that you can manage the stress and stay on top of things.

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6 Pointers on Extracurricular Activities and College Admissions

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

With college admissions getting more and more competitive, extracurricular activities have become an increasingly important way to stand out from the pack. Colleges are paying close attention to what applicants do in their spare time–after school and during summers–and yet it’s not simply a matter of piling on the activities, playing as many sports as possible, and racking up the internships. Colleges value extracurriculars that show an applicant’s true passions; they should reflect who you are. What do you like to do? What sort of activities pique your interest? What is important to you? Whether you are in the marching band, Science Olympiad, or a varsity sport, whether you volunteer on weekends, work in a lab, or give tours in a local museum, extracurriculars help build and strengthen character. Colleges see your list of activities as a window into who you are as a person, your interests, commitments, and ethos. There are no shortcuts here. By starting early, focusing in, and really developing your interests, you can distinguish yourself in the applicant pool. And understanding how colleges judge extracurricular activities can ensue that you’re on the right track. Below are six fundamental pointers. You need not follow them all, but they’ll give you a good sense of how admissions officers think and how best to approach this crucial part of your college application.

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What Colleges Look for in Your Summer Experiences

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

It may not feel like it right now, but summer will be here soon. School will be out, and you’ll have a few short months before it starts up again. Of course, summer is for relaxing and unwinding, but it’s also a time for self-growth, for you to develop your passions and enrich your experiences. Your extracurricular activities make up a crucial part of your college applications. They are opportunities to stand out from the pack, and college admissions offices are always looking for students who spent their summers in productive ways. Yet, the world of summer plans and programs is vast, and there is a lot of variance in how schools value different types of activities. What kinds of things really make an impression? How can students focus and deepen their interests in authentic ways, showing initiative, independence, and leadership? Are established summer programs worth it, or is it better to design a more “homegrown” experience? What about internships, research, jobs, volunteer work, and “service”? Whether you’re interested in developing new skills through workshops and summer classes, want to gain experience through a job or internship, or would like to give back to your community through volunteering, there are many ways to have a wonderful summer while also distinguishing yourself for college admissions. Here are some tips on how to begin thinking about your upcoming summer:

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5 Ways to Stand Out When Applying to College

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

Every year, more than two million high school graduates apply to college. With so many students vying for a limited number of spots, it is crucial to find ways to shine. The college application is the means by which applicants introduce themselves to schools,  but applying to college involves so much more. It begins well before students submit their materials and involves many intangibles. With so much competition out there, admissions decisions often ride on the tiniest distinctions. This has caused a great deal of anxiety among high school students (and their parents), though alongside that stress there are some very real opportunities to be seized. Students can distinguish themselves by starting early, becoming informed about the nuances of the college application process, and taking some basic but important steps. Here are five tips to help you stand out from the pack:

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting a College Applicant

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

How did this happen? Your child is suddenly grown up and ready to start thinking about colleges. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was starting kindergarten? Now she’s ready to apply to college? She may be talking to you non-stop about how excited she is to visit different campuses in her junior year, how nervous she is for her ACT and AP exams, and how ready she is to leave high school behind. Or, she may be conspicuously quiet about it all, even refusing to talk about it, and you sense the anxiety levels creeping up. You know how stressful the college application process can be–on both parents and kids–and so much has changed since you went through it yourself all those years ago. Though you’re excited that your child is ready to take these first steps into adulthood, you’re also hesitant and scared about what’s in store. What if she doesn’t get into the school of her dreams? What if she decides she wants to attend college across the country–or even a different country?! What if she wants to take a gap year before starting a traditional four-year education? What if she doesn’t even know whether or not college is right for her? In any parenting situation like this, it’s important to think hard about what’s at stake, what’s best for your child and family, and how to most effectively approach the college application process. Remember: as much as they may talk about leaving, they still look to you for guidance, reassurance, love, and validation. They might not act like they care what you think, but trust me, they want to make you proud. Here are some important Do’s and Don’ts every parent should keep in mind:

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Blog College Student Has Individual Tuition From Teacher In Library

7 Reasons You Should Hire a College Counselor

By Alyse Levine, Founder & CEO of Premium Prep College Counseling

Applying for college can be an extremely stressful process. Selecting the right mix of schools, writing quality essays, visiting campuses, “demonstrating interest,” nailing an interview, exploring scholarships and financial aid: there are so many questions students and parents have regarding the process, what colleges are seeking, and how to stand out in a sea of applicants. This is a momentous life decision with enormous short- and long-term implications. A truly skilled private college counselor can provide the essential help students and parents need, often in more ways than most people realize. Here are seven reasons it’s a great idea to hire a private counselor and what to look for if you do:

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