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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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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