Smart Tools And Tips To Sharpen The Mind And Increase Knowledge Quickly


It may not come as a surprise that presidents of private colleges in the United States are compensated well.  But just how well can make one think twice about a career in higher education.

According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, at the top of the heap sits Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who made 7.14 million dollars in 2012, the most recent year available.

Following Jackson are John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University at $3.75 million and Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University at $3.38 million.

Rounding out the top five are Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania at $2.47 million and Charles R. Middleton of Roosevelt University at $1.76 million.


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice by Dr. E. Droge Click Here


High school seniors who are U.S. citizens are eligible to compete for 4-year scholarships - some as high as $50,000 - sponsored by The Elks National Foundation.  Applicants are not required to be related to a member of the Elks.

The Most Valuable Student Competition awards a total of 500 scholarships, with $50,000 going to each of the top two students, $40,000 to two Second Place finishers, $30,000 to two third place finishers, $20,000 to 14 Fourth Place finishers, and $4,000 to 480 Runners Up.

The deadline is December 5, 2014.  Complete details may be found here.


If you are a tall student who will enter college in the fall, you may be eligible for a scholarship worth up to $1000.  Height requirements are 6'2" or taller for males and 5'10" or taller for females.

The scholarship is funded by Tall Clubs International .

Applicants satisfying the height requirement must also be under 21 years of age and entering their first year of college in the fall (2015).

Deadline for applying is February 15, 2015.
For full information about the college application process in general, see Dr. Droge's book, College Admission (click here).


If you can make a 30-second video with your smartphone or other equipment, you may win a scholarship.  Here's the information to follow-up on:

What: Make a 30-second video that might be used as a TV commercial to target the dangers of underage/teenage drinking.  Several scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 will be awarded to the best.

Who:  The competition is open to American and Canadian high school students in grades 9 to 12.  Entries may be from individuals or a team.

When:  The deadline is Thursday, February 12, 2015.  (Don't wait until the last minute.  Start now.)

Where:  To read the official rules and to find out more about the competition and sponsors, click here


Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, extols the benefits of a college education in an article for USA Today.

Though acknowledging the financial advantages in the job market offered by a college degree, Faust focuses in the piece on other benefits more difficult to measure:

"College takes students to places they've never been before."
"College introduces students to people they've never met before."
"College teaches students the virtue of slowing down."

Faust talks of how colleges help students to explore themselves and the world around them, to open their minds, find a passion, choose a field to work in.  Yes, salaries are important, Faust says, but the value of a college education involves so much more.

For information about Dr. Droge's helpful book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your ChoiceCLICK HERE.


Brighten Up: Smart Tools to Excel in Reading, Writing, Memory, Vocabulary, Spelling, Notes, and English Usage


--Register for SAT ( ) or ACT ( ), if necessary – last chance to take test that will get scores to admissions offices before they begin to review applications – SAT test date Dec. 6, 2014 (registration deadline Nov. 6); ACT test date Dec. 13, 2014 (registration deadline Nov. 7). Be sure to check online to confirm these dates and all deadlines, including late registration deadlines and fees.

--Attend “college night” events at school or in community.  Meet with admissions representatives that visit school.

--Finalize your list – Which colleges will you apply to?  What are their deadlines?  What is required for each?

--If you are applying “early” to any colleges, get all materials together ASAP.  Check deadlines – (many colleges have a November 1 deadline).  Do not wait until very last minute to apply, if possible.

--Check with each college to determine if any SAT Subject Tests are required – check registration deadlines for tests at .

--Check deadlines and apply for local and national scholarships.  (e.g. see sites like  or )

--Confirm with teachers about recommendations and with school counselors about school reports that will be sent to colleges on your final list.

--Complete application essays.

--Study hard and do your best work in every course.  The grades you earn this term are important to the college admissions offices.


According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal supplement, there are (at least) "10 Things College Admissions Won't Tell You".

The piece makes observations about several aspects of the college admissions process - for example: that colleges give more weight to grades in college-prep courses; that reviewers are aware that some essays they receive may be "ghost-written"; that a fair number of colleges are having second thoughts about requiring the SAT or ACT; that class rank is not as important as it used to be, with colleges preferring to take a "holistic" approach these days.

The piece also points out the importance of getting a good teacher recommendation and the weight colleges give to candidates who are children of alumni.  In addition, it cautions that the admissions office monitors the status of accepted candidates' grades and conduct through graduation and beyond.

For a simple, no-nonsense look at the college admissions process, and a guide to getting into the college of choice, see Dr. Droge's helpful book, College AdmissionCLICK HERE


In a recent study, researchers found that the use of laptops to take notes may be “harming academic performance.” 

According to the psychologists who conducted the study, college students who had written their notes in longhand were more successful in answering conceptual questions about the material than students who had taken their notes with a laptop.

According to the study’s authors, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of UCLA, using a laptop to take notes “results in shallower processing”.

The research was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science.

For tips about note-taking, see BRIGHTEN UP - CLICK HERE 



For more information - CLICK


WAKE FOREST  Winston-Salem, NC

Wake Forest does not think standardized testing is "evil", but it does feel that an interview in the admissions process can be more important than scores on the SAT or ACT in indicating who is a good fit for the college.  Thus, candidates are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores when applying.  If you think they would help, and you would like them considered, you are free to submit them.  Otherwise, it's fine if you do not.

Wake Forest, established in 1834, has an undergraduate enrollment just shy of 5,000 students.  The deadline for "Early Decision" applications in 2014-15 is November 15, and for "Regular Decision" applications, January 1.

For more information about Wake Forest deadlines and admission, click here .

For helpful information about getting into the college of your choice, see Dr. Droge's book, COLLEGE ADMISSIONCLICK HERE


US News, one of several journals and organizations that rank colleges. has released its latest list of top colleges and universities.  Princeton (NJ) takes Number 1 in the "National Universities" category, while Williams (MA) nabs the top spot in "National Liberal Arts Colleges".

Harvard (MA) is ranked 2nd-best university and Yale (CT), 3rd.  In a 3-way tie for 4th are Columbia (NY),Stanford (CA), and the University of Chicago (IL).  Rounding out the Top 10 are MIT (MA), Duke (NC), Penn (PA), and Cal Tech (CA).

Following Williams is Amherst (MA) and Swarthmore (PA).  Wellesley, a women's college in MA, is ranked 4th.  Others in the first 10 are: Bowdoin (ME), Pomona (CA), Middlebury (VT), Carleton (MN), Claremont McKenna (CA), and Haverford (PA).

For help in understanding and successfully completing the college admission process, see Dr. Droge's book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your ChoiceCLICK HERE



With 40 wooded acres just 30 minutes north of Manhattan, Sarah Lawrence offers the best of all settings.  A highly regarded, co-ed college, established in 1924, SLC has a test-optional policy for admission - that is, applicants are not required to submit scores from the SAT or ACT.   The admissions office "is committed to a holistic review process" and focuses on the candidate's transcript and essay, as well as the teacher and counselor recommendations.

Get all the details about admission to Sarah Lawrence College here .

For information about Dr. Droge’s helpful book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your ChoiceCLICK HERE .



Bryn Mawr is considered one of the most highly regarded colleges for women in the country.  Founded in 1885, it is the first women’s college to offer a Ph.D. program.  It accepts the Common Application, and submitting standardized test scores is optional for U.S. citizens and residents.

Get all the details about admission to Bryn Mawr College here .

For information about Dr. Droge’s helpful book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your ChoiceCLICK HERE .



Wesleyan has a “Test-Optional” Policy for admission.  It believes that the best predictor for success in college is the transcript – the academic record of the candidate – not the SAT or ACT score.  Thus, submitting standardized testing is optional – and if an applicant chooses to submit scores, only the best scores will be considered.  

Get all the details about admission to Wesleyan College here . 

For information about Dr. Droge’s helpful book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice, CLICK HERE .


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice  For information CLICK HERE




BARD COLLEGE Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

In an article in “Time Magazine”, Bard’s president called the SAT exam “part hoax” and “part fraud”.  It should come as no surprise then that Bard does not require standardized testing for admission.  In fact, applicants may “simply” write an online essay that the admissions office views as B+ or higher and, bingo – they get accepted to the college.  And, once admitted, students may spend part or all of their first year in Berlin.  How’s that for a different approach? 

Get all the details about admission to Bard College here .

For information about Dr. Droge’s helpful book, COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice, CLICK HERE .


Are you a motivated student?  Is higher education one of your goals? And are you currently in high school (Grades 10, 11, or 12) or college?  If so, you may want to consider applying for a $1,500 award called the College JumpStart Scholarship.  Financial need is not a requirement. The deadline is October 17, 2014.

For more details, CLICK HERE

For information about Dr. Droge's helpful book COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting In To The College Of Your Choice CLICK HERE


Forbes is a major player in ranking colleges.  At its site you can find what Forbes considers the best “private” colleges, “public” colleges, “value” colleges, “business” schools, etc.   

On its overall “top colleges” list, Stanford ranked Number 1 last year and Number 2 this year, and that comes as no surprise to anyone in the world of academics.  Stanford is a superior institution, well endowed and highly regarded in virtually every discipline, from Engineering to English Literature, from Computer Science to the Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.

But what about this year?  With Stanford slipping to Number 2, who took the top ranking?  Hint: it’s not Yale, Harvard, MIT or Princeton.

It’s Williams College, a relatively small but highly respected liberal arts college in western Massachusetts, affectionately known as one of the “Little Ivies”. 

Williams, like several colleges in the upper echelon of the list, is a relatively small school in comparison to the giant universities that usually dominate many rankings – for example, it does not have comparable enrollment statistics or endowment resources.  But it certainly is not small in terms of “student satisfaction” or “post graduate success”, two of the criteria that Forbes uses to determine its list.  Rather than focusing on how difficult it is to get admitted – as many other rankings do – Forbes looks for “ROI” – return on investment, that is, “what are students getting out of college?”

In addition to the previously mentioned criteria, Forbes also looks primarily at student debt, graduation rate, and nationally competitive awards.

Last year’s #2 school – ranking behind Stanford – was Pomona, one of the five Claremont Colleges in California.  In size and scope, many may see it as a western version of Williams.

Harvard, no stranger to a Number 1 ranking on other lists, could muster only a Number 7 this year for Forbes, up one from Number 8 in 2013. 

For a look at the complete list go to .  For specifics, simply click on the name of college that interests you.

And for information about Dr. Droge's helpful book, College Admission: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice, CLICK HERE.


Are you a science buff?  Are you between the ages of 13 and 18?  Would you be interested in competing for numerous, amazing prizes, such as $50,000 in scholarship funding or a trip to the Galapagos Islands?  Then you may want to consider registering for the Google Science Fair.

The Google Science Fair is an online science competition - that is, a BIG-TIME online science competition. Details for the 2015 Fair should be released soon.  In the meantime, those interested may sign up to be notified by e-mail when the Fair is launched.

Get more details and all your questions answered at this FAQ CLICK HERE

For a helpful look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice by Dr. Edward Droge

For more information CLICK HERE.


If you are a high school senior in the class of 2015 and you are a vegetarian, or simply sympathetic to the cause, you may want to consider applying for a scholarship offered by an anonymous donor and sponsored by The Vegetarian Resource Group.  One scholarship of $10,000 and two of $5,000 will be awarded.  The deadline is February 20, 2015.

For complete details, CLICK HERE.

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


Most colleges these days have an early application program, with the idea being that a student applies earlier than the “regular” deadline and gets notified of the decision earlier as well.  Usually, the “early” deadline is sometime before November 1, as opposed to late December or early January for “regular”, and the “early” notification date is months before the “regular” April 15 notification date.

Note well: Some “early” programs specify that the applicant may not apply simultaneously in an “early” format to any other college, and some also require a BINDING commitment from the applicant to attend if accepted.  Students should be sure to check with each individual college for all the exact details before applying.

Aside from the differences in deadlines and notifications, and the binding commitment for certain programs, the application process for an “early” program is virtually the same as in a “regular decision” program. 

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of applying “early”?  Here is a quick view:


  1. You will find out as early as December if you are accepted or not.  This contrasts to the usual notification date for “regular” decisions, April 15.  If you are accepted, you will not have the added nail-biting months of not knowing.  If you are not accepted, you are disappointed, but at least you know early and you may adjust the remainder of your applications accordingly.

  1. You will compete with a smaller pool of candidates.

  1. The “admit rate” usually is slightly higher for early admission programs.  In other words, a higher percentage of applicants will be admitted in the “early” program, as opposed to the “regular” program.  (But, does this mean your chances are better to get admitted?  It depends.  See below.)


  1. If there is a binding agreement to attend if accepted, you should be absolutely confident –before you apply – that this particular college is your first choice.  If you cannot be certain that this is your number one choice, you might be wise to avoid applying early. (Of course, if it is not a binding commitment, you have much more flexibility here.)

  1. You will need to get your act together sooner.  Most “early” programs have a deadline somewhere between August and November.  (Check with the college that interests you to be certain.)  That means you will have to write the essays, get the recommendations, fill out the paperwork, and provide all other requirements months before you would have to do it otherwise.

  1. Though the applicant pool generally will be smaller for “early” programs, and you will be competing against fewer candidates, and the “admit rate” is higher, your particular chances to get admitted are not necessarily better.  In fact, they may be worse.  Early programs usually attract a high percentage of very strong candidates.  So, though there are fewer competing applicants, they probably will be loaded with higher than average credentials – test scores, GPA, “legacy” status, rank, recs, essays, activities, etc.  With that said, admission at most selective colleges is quite unpredictable.  There is no way to be certain who will be admitted and who will not.  Your chances will depend on the standards, needs, and wants of the college and how those standards, needs, and wants match up with who you are, how you present yourself to the committee, and what credentials you bring.

Before deciding to apply early, candidates should evaluate their own applications.  How are your grades and test scores?  Will you be presenting a compelling essay and strong recs?  Are you a “legacy”, that is, did your father or siblings or other relatives graduate from the college?  Is there anything conspicuously noteworthy about you – are you a world-class athlete, a published author, a successful entrepreneur, etc.?  Note well – superstar status is NOT required for early application, and will not guarantee admission, but, of course, the stronger your profile, the better your chances.  Should you feel that your credentials are particularly strong or weak in these or other areas, it might help make your decision clearer.

At the very least, consideration of an early application will launch you into the overall process of applying to college, and motivate you to begin pulling together the required self-evaluation, research, materials, testing, and recommendations. 

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice

For more info CLICK HERE


The names are familiar - Harvard, Yale, MIT, and so on.  They represent some of the most famous and well-respected colleges on the planet.  Wouldn't it be nice to take a course at one of these premier institutions?  It would be especially nice for high school students seeking to complement or enrich their academic load, or simply wanting to take a course unavailable to them in their own schools.

But any willing learner might relish an opportunity like this, no?

Guess what - it is possible.

These days it is easier than ever to take a course from some of the most prestigious universities in the world - and attendance is not even required.  But wait, there's more - the course is free.

A course such as this is called a MOOC.

What's a MOOC?  The term stands for "Massive Open Online Course".  Major universities offer these courses online and they are open to all.  Participants may find traditional and non-traditional courses in virtually every discipline, including science, math, technology, business, arts and humanities.

Stanford, Yale, Harvard, MIT and numerous other institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America provide lectures, videos, feedback, and more at the university level and high school level.

Generally, the courses are free, but there may be a fee if participants seek certificates or degree credit. Those interested should check with the institutions about their fees, if any, and their requirements for specific courses.

A list of courses offered may be found at the following sites:

Coursera - 

MOOC List – 


Congratulations - your teenagers made it through another year of high school.  That was quick.  Before you know it, they will be applying to college.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  It’s summer.  Time for fun and relaxation and a whole lot of doing nothing – right? 


If college is in the future, the one thing teenagers should not be planning for the summer is doing nothing.  And this applies to all high schoolers, not just rising seniors.  Ninth graders, tenth graders, and eleventh graders should also be doing something productive this summer.

College admissions offices will look favorably at applications from students who spent their summers engaged in a meaningful activity.  And, in this context, sleeping until noon every day, going to the beach, playing video games, and watching cartoons would not be considered “meaningful”.

That is not to say that fun and relaxation should not be included in summer plans, but only that they should not be the primary focus. 

At this point, however, as summer is upon us, latching on to a meaningful activity – like a great job in a field related to a potential career – might be improbable, if not impossible.  Most or all of the great jobs are taken – filled by the teenagers who thought about this many months ago.  Then where does that leave others?

In addressing the teens directly, here are several activities that may be considered:

  1. Volunteer.  Choose an area that interests you and volunteer to help people or institutions in the field.  For example, hospitals and senior citizens homes are always appreciative of help.  Not only will you be contributing to a good cause, but you will be establishing an impressive entry for your resume.

  1. Research.  Choose a field that interests you, a field that may end up on your career path, and map out a plan to explore that field thoroughly during the summer.  Your goals might include finding out exactly what people in that field do on a day to day basis.  If, for example, you think you might like to be a lawyer, make it your business to find out what being a lawyer really means.  There are many kinds of law, and countless types of positions in the field.  Narrow it down for yourself.  What is required to be a lawyer?  How does one apply to law school?  What is required to be admitted?  How long does it take to get a degree?  What is law school like?  What is the bar exam like?  Build a list of contacts who might be willing to help you in your project – friends, relatives, friends of friends – anyone connected to the field itself or connected to someone else with pertinent information.  Call them and set up appointments to speak with them.  If possible, arrange to spend time with them on the job.  You might be surprised at how willing people are to share their experiences and their thoughts.  Be thorough.  Research online, visit the library, conduct interviews.  At summer’s end, you want to have all your questions answered and establish yourself as an “expert”.  The benefits of this summer activity are practical: it will look good on your resume and you will be well prepared when it’s actually time to step on to your career path.

  1. Profit.  So, you can’t find a job that makes sense.  Okay, start your own business.  This summer, be an entrepreneur.  Think big or small – just make it the best business it can possibly be.  Again, this will make a good entry on your resume and it will impress college admissions officers.  At the same time, it can put some money in your pocket.

  1. Work.  All the “top” jobs may be taken by now, but that doesn’t mean there are no jobs at all.  If you search, you may well find a minimum wage position locally.  Try the grocery store, the schools, the shops at the mall.  Ask around and look at all the bulletin boards in town.  You may have to “piecemeal” here and there – like mowing lawns one day and delivering pizza the next – but, at this point, that’s okay.  Even if the job does not fit into your career plans, it will provide some “spending money” and will show colleges that you worked hard during the summer.

  1. Create.  Write an article or a story, compose a song or piece of music, create a piece of software, invent something.  Put your creative, inventive talent to work, and then, when you have produced something, try to get it before the public.  For example, publish the article or story, if possible.  Send it to a magazine or newspaper or journal.  This certainly would be viewed favorably by an admissions committee.

  1. Give.  Organize an event or start an activity or charity.  Select a cause that you believe in and plan a one-time event or a long-term activity that will advance the cause or raise funds for it.       For example, organize a fundraiser like a walk-a-thon or a music concert with local talent. Start now, but consider scheduling it for the opening month of school in order to gather as much support as possible and to give yourself the time needed to make it a smashing success.  Colleges will take note of an effort and achievement like this.

Any single, productive activity during the summer would be a big plus on the resume.  More than one would make quite an impression on college admissions officers.  


Numerous colleges in US, UK, and Canada still have openings for Fall 2014.

CLICK HERE for an update.


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice

CLICK HERE for more information


College – Total Applications – Total Accepted – Admit Rate

Stanford – 42,167 – 2,138 – 5.07
Harvard – 34,295 – 2,023 – 5.9
Yale – 30,932 – 1,935 – 6.26
Columbia – 32,967 – 2,291 – 6.94
Princeton – 26,641 – 1,939 – 7.28
MIT – 18,357 – 1,419 – 7.7
Brown – 30,432 – 2,619 – 8.6
Penn – 35,868 – 3,551 – 9.9
Dartmouth – 19,296 – 2,220 – 11.5
Cornell – 43,041 – 6,025 - 14


Colleges open their admissions windows at different times to receive applications – the “early” window, the “regular” window, or the “rolling” window.  In an early decision or early action program they will entertain applications submitted early in the academic year, such as early fall, with a deadline usually set in or before the first week of November. In a regular decision program they will accept applications in the middle of the academic year, usually with a deadline in late December or early January.  And in a rolling program they will accept applications all year long, with rolling deadlines.

In turn, the dates when admissions decisions are rendered depend on the type of program the college uses and the application deadlines set in that program.

NOTE WELL:  No matter whether applying in a program that is “early” or “regular” or “rolling”, students should always check with the individual colleges involved for exact deadlines and application requirements.

Early Decision and Early Action
The two primary modes of “early” programs are known as Early Decision and Early Action.  Generally, if a college uses an early program, it employs either one or the other. 

Early Decision – An important stipulation connected to this type of application is that candidates agree that if they are accepted, they will attend.  And, upon acceptance, they must withdraw any outstanding applications to other colleges.  This is a binding commitment and often the candidate signs an official agreement.  Candidates usually apply before November 1 and get notified of the decision sometime in December.  Some colleges have two or more rounds of Early Decision, with the primary difference being different deadlines and notification dates. 

Early Action – Very similar to Early Decision in terms of deadlines and notification dates, with one major difference – candidates are not obliged to attend if accepted – there is no binding agreement. (But always check with the individual colleges to be certain.)

Often, colleges stipulate that students applying “early” may do so with only one college at a time.  In other words, students should not have two or more “early” applications of any form submitted to different colleges concurrently.   That is not to say, however, that students who apply “early” to one college may not apply at the same time to other colleges using a “regular” or “rolling” program.  (Again, check with individual colleges to be certain of specific requirements.)

Regular Decision
Candidates applying “regular decision” usually submit by a designated deadline before mid-January and are notified of the decision on or before April 1.  There are no obligations to attend if accepted with this application process.  Accepted students usually have until May 1 to tell the college if they will attend or not.

Rolling Admissions
Colleges that employ this type of program will accept applications on a “rolling” basis at any point during the year, consider them quickly, and render a decision in a matter of weeks.  Applications will be considered until all openings are filled.

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice by Dr. Edward Droge

CLICK HERE for more information

CLICK HERE for more information


If it's the end of March or beginning of April, one thing is sure - many colleges are sending decision letters or e-mails to applicants, signifying accept, reject, or wait-list.

With most colleges in the nation experiencing increased applications in recent years, it has been getting more and more difficult - statistically, at least - to get admitted.  Highly selective schools in particular have been receiving so many applications for a fixed number of openings that admit rates have sunken to record lows. Stanford applications, for example, jumped nearly nine percent this year, to a total of 42,167.  Of those, the college accepted 2,138.

Here are the admit rates (percentages) from some of the highly selective colleges for the Class of 2018:

Stanford:  5.07
Harvard:  5.9
Yale:  6.26
Columbia:  6.94
Princeton:  7.28
MIT:  7.7
Brown:  8.6
Penn:  9.9
Dartmouth:  11.5
Cornell:  14.0



You may have thought that there were only two things we can be certain of – death and taxes.  But you forgot to include rising college costs.  Despite softer increases in recent years, the total expense at some private colleges - including tuition, fees and expenses, room and board – is more than $60,000 a year.  Do the math – for those big-ticket institutions that’s almost a quarter of a million dollars for the 4-year degree.  Most other private colleges and virtually all public colleges are less expensive, but the overall cost still promises to be quite formidable.

Not surprisingly, most students and their parents apply for financial aid.  The types of aid available, and the requirements to obtain it, vary from college to college, but for those students and parents just starting to explore this area, here are the basics:

- Most colleges offer financial aid of some sort, and the amount offered may be based on the level of demonstrated need (need-based) or achievement (merit-based).  The aid may come in various forms, for example, grants, scholarships, loans, or work-study arrangements, and may derive from various sources (college, government, bank, etc.).

- The differences:
Grant – this is, essentially, a gift that does not have to be repaid.
Scholarship – this, too, is a gift, usually based on achievement or need.
Loan – funds backed by the government, the college, the bank, or some other resource, will be provided, but you will be required to pay it back – with interest.
Work-Study – the student gets a funded job, usually on campus and part-time, and the money earned may be used for school expenses.

-         Not surprisingly, there are forms to fill out.  Most often the work is done online, but paper forms may be provided upon request.  Applicants will be required to show need, based in no small part on the information recorded on their tax returns.

-         One of the primary forms to be filled out is a FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – along with other forms of the particular college. Some colleges may also require a form called a CSS/Profile, which provides additional need analysis.  For information about the FAFSA visit .  For information about the CSS/Profile visit .

-         The nuances and resources of financial aid may vary from college to college.  Students and parents should always check with the individual colleges to determine exactly what they require.

TIP#1 - NOTE WELL:  Some colleges, like the Ivies, have substantial endowments that permit offering significant financial aid, especially in the form of grants.  Students and their families should not shy away from applying to an Ivy League school simply because of the apparent high cost.  Often, the financial aid package will make the final expense lower in the end than many other colleges.

TIP#2 - Depending on the college, the initial financial aid offer may not be set in cement.  There may be some flexibility.  If you decide that you cannot attend the college because the financial aid package does not bring down the cost quite enough, do not hesitate to call the college to let them know that.  If possible, speak with the Director of Financial Aid directly.  Make it clear how much you want to enroll, how much you have been looking forward to it, how much it is such a good match – you and the college.  State your case politely but confidently, and ask if there is any way that the package can be improved in order to permit you to attend.

The people in financial aid know that the college admits only those students it wants.  It knows that the admissions office would like you to enroll.  And, so, in most cases, the financial aid office will try its best to find some way to improve the package.  But, in the event that it is not able to do so, at least you know that you – and probably the financial aid office – tried hard to make it happen.  But, no matter the outcome, if you have been accepted, the effort will begin only if you make that initial phone call to the financial aid office to tell them about your difficulty.

 When building a list of colleges to apply to, consider the costs, but do not immediately eliminate any college because it appears to be too expensive.  With a good financial aid package, the annual cost may indeed be manageable.

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE



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January to May: What Juniors Should Be Doing

So, it is the middle of your Junior year and you are getting a bit nervous about college admissions.  You have done practically nothing to date.  Many of your classmates seem to have their acts together, and you feel lost.  What do you do?

First, take a deep breath.  You have enough time to do all that is necessary.  Going into shock certainly isn't going to help. 

Next, review the list below, and schedule time to work on each item.  The best way to approach the college admission process is to see it as made up of individual parts.  The big picture may seem overwhelming, but when you look at each part, you can easily see how manageable it is.  Engage one part at a time, and remember that some parts need not be complete before you engage other parts. 

Also – and this is important – see the fun in some of this.  You really will enjoy reading about some colleges and imagining yourself there on campus.  That’s all a part of the process – researching colleges and determining which ones appeal to you. 

So, knowing that there is enough time to accomplish everything, that the process is really very manageable when broken down into individual parts, and that some of this may even be fun, begin with the list that follows:

1. Research colleges online, in school, and in the library, and build a list of those that appeal to you.  At this point, it doesn't really matter if it is a long list.  You will refine it eventually.
2. Register for the SAT or ACT and take it in the spring.  And if the colleges you are interested in require SAT Subject Tests for courses you are taking currently, register for those tests as well. TIP - take the Subject Tests scheduled at the end of the academic year and at the end of your courses - in May or June.  (Try not to wait until the fall to take these tests - you might forget the material.) ( or )
3. Have regularly scheduled  conversations with your college counselor. 
4. Visit a few colleges on weekends or on break
5. Stay active at school – sports, clubs, other extra-curricular activities
6. Plan for summer activities or employment – intern, travel, job, enrichment course, etc.  This is your last summer before beginning the applications.  Give yourself something great to report to the colleges.
7. Obtain a Common Application and other specific applications of interest to survey exactly what will be required.  ( )

Build a List of Colleges:  These are the colleges you may apply to eventually.  Begin to think about what you may enjoy learning about in college.  Also, think about your preferences in terms of geography, size, and type (e.g. public or private).  You are not locking yourself in here;  you are simply trying to figure out what kind of college will make you happy. 

Begin to research colleges online or in the library to see which ones appeal to you.  Of each college, ask yourself if it offers what you are interested in?  Does it have the majors and programs that you want to take?  Will it prepare you for the next stage of your life after graduation – such as going to graduate school or getting a job? 

See Dr. Droge's book, College Admission - CLICK HERE


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The SAT test will be getting an overhaul.  The redesign is scheduled to debut in Spring 2016 and among the changes are the following:

- more relevant vocabulary
- increased concentration on evidence-based questions/answers
- in-depth focus on problem solving, analysis, algebra, and advanced math
- more real-world contexts
- keys on founding documents, such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence
- no penalty for wrong answers

In addition, the essay will now be optional, and the scoring will return to a scale of 200-800 for the two primary sections - Math and Reading/Writing - making the top combined score 1600, as opposed to the current 2400.

For a more detailed explanation, visit the College Board - CLICK HERE


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News Flash:  Not everyone is an academic star.  And colleges know that.  If you are not happy with your grades or standardized test scores, do not despair.  There is much more to an application than grades or scores. 

Though the transcript is important, the essay presents another wonderful opportunity to present yourself.  Take advantage of this.  Write an essay that knocks them off their feet from first word to last.  Tell them what your passion is, how you spend your time, why that pursuit is important to you.  They want to know about YOU.  They want to know what makes you tick.  If you are an amateur entomologist, describe how you spend most of your waking hours playing with bugs.  Tell them that you plan to make a career of it.  If you are a readaholic, tell them about the last six books you read this year, and why you read them, and how reading is important to you.  Do not waste the essay opportunity by merely regurgitating what already appears on other parts of the application, like lists of extracurricular activities.  Lists will put the readers to sleep.  They might be reading your essay at two o’clock in the morning, having already read fifty essays before yours.  You want to grab them by the collar with your first sentence and shake them awake.  You want them to know that you are more than grades and SATs.

The interview is another part of the application process that presents an opportunity to show the college who you really are.  While some colleges do not require an interview, most will arrange one if you request it.  Request it.  Let the admissions office attach a face and a personality to the application.  As you did in the essay, let them know in person how passionate you are about something, how you spend so much time pursuing it, and why it is important.  Stay positive and upbeat.  Leave a good impression.  You want them to remember you.  You want them to refer to you in their meetings as “that sincere guy who loves to play with bugs and wants to be an entomologist down the road,” or “that passionate girl who spends most of her afternoons and evenings at the dance studio because she’s committed to joining the American Ballet Theater one of these days,” or “that earnest, articulate candidate with a good sense of humor who likes to read and who – this year alone – has read everything that Jane Austen ever wrote.”

Yet another part of the application that invites you to describe yourself is the supplemental materials section.  This presents you with an opportunity to submit an extra paper or report you have written, or a CD or DVD or other media that exhibits your talent in depth.  Use this chance to showcase the side of you that the admissions office will find appealing.  Are you a singer or a cellist or a dancer or a football player?  Send a disk of yourself performing.  Have you written a great report that the teacher raved about or a great article that appeared in the newspaper?  Have you had a poem published in a magazine?  Send it and let the admissions officers see your accomplishments first hand.  Give them something to offset the transcript.  Let them know how special you are. 

Yes, grades and standardized test scores are important.  But, by design, applications are multi-faceted.  The admissions office wants to know who you are beyond the transcript.  They want to know what you can contribute to the college.  Use every chance you can find to tell them what they will gain if they admit you.  In particular, seize the opportunities presented by the essay, the interview, and the supplemental materials sections.

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


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If you would like to hear what the students at a particular college have to say about it, you might want to check out The Insider's Guide.


Is 7th Grade too early to be thinking about getting into college?  Yes and no.

Middle school students have plenty on their plates.  And kids should be allowed to be kids.

Yet, one particular item on that plate should be of interest to both the students and their parents:  the courses in the immediate academic future, that is, 7th, 8th and 9th Grades - and sometimes even earlier.  In many schools, especially private schools, students may take full-credit, high school math, science, and foreign language courses in the 7th or 8th Grade (or a year-course spread out over two grade levels, such as a half year covered in 7th Grade and the other half in 8th Grade).  These are usually courses like Algebra, Biology, or a first-year in foreign languages like Spanish, French, Latin, German, or, increasingly these days, Chinese.  This means that parents of 6th Graders, for example, should be aware of the offerings available to their children in the following year and should determine if taking high school courses in the 7th or 8th Grade is a viable option.  Sometimes the matter is compounded by the student's having to be placed into advanced classes in even earlier years (like 5th Grade) in order to prepare for, or satisfy, requirements for courses slated for later middle school years.

So, questions arise:  are the students qualified?  Is it up to the school or the family to place the child?  And what is the timing for preparing and placing?

A potential advantage here is getting a good jump on the curriculum so that later in high school, the student will have some flexibility to take more advanced courses, such as "advanced placement" offerings, “AP” courses.  For example, a student interested in math who takes Algebra in the 9th Grade may not have an opportunity to take AP Calculus in the 12th Grade because the prerequisites generally include Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre Calculus – courses that would be slated for the 10th, 11th, and 12th Grades, thus leaving out AP Calculus.  If, however, Algebra were completed in the 8th Grade instead of the 9th Grade, the sequence would permit AP Calculus in the 12th Grade.  A similar scenario could play out for science and a foreign language.

College admissions officers look very carefully at the transcript of a candidate and they will notice if the student has exhausted a particular discipline – like math, science, or foreign language.  One of the first questions that college admissions readers ask when reviewing an applicant’s folder is:  has this student challenged himself or herself?  The applicant who has a transcript full of AP courses and who has a 12th Grade schedule of high-level courses in each discipline, will stand out in a very positive way.  The admissions office would likely have little doubt that the student not only has embraced an academic challenge already, but also will be able to manage college level work in the year to come.

So, middle school students and their parents would be well advised to look ahead to the curriculum available in 7th, 8th and 9th Grade – and beyond.  The course selections in 7th and 8th Grades, especially in math, science, and foreign language, may affect significantly the available options in high school and college.  

For a more complete look at the college admission process, see COLLEGE ADMISSION: A Simple, No-Nonsense Guide To Getting Into The College Of Your Choice. CLICK HERE


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