Category Archives: Published articles

Discussing Yourself in an Interview

One of the topics you can be sure to discuss in your college interview is yourself. Talking about yourself might sound easy, but in fact it can be quite difficult. Here are a few tips to decode the questions and make sure you are prepared:

“So, tell us about yourself…”

Often the interviewer will ask you just to talk a bit about yourself. If you’ve already written a good personal statement, make sure you review it beforehand. That way, you’ll remind yourself of any qualities or stories that you want to accentuate. This will also help you to stay true to your editorial line.

Keep in mind those things you should not include in your college essay. You will also generally want to avoid them in your interview.

The hidden meaning behind ‘so tell us about yourself’ is ‘tell us why this college is a good fit for you?

In order to respond appropriately, you’ll need to have done your research. What does the college have that you need?

EXAMPLE: “Although I am interested in engineering in general, I am also particularly interested in working for the defence industry. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to apply to this program is because I have read some of Professor Johnson’s work on radar systems, and I’m hoping to take a class with her.”

You want to show that your relationship with the school will be reciprocal.

In other words, you want to make it clear that not only you will benefit from the school, but the school will also benefit from you. Of course, this can be difficult to do if you don’t have a lot of experience. One good tactic, though, is to discuss how you plan to get involved on campus.

EXAMPLE: “I’m excited to join the Robotics Club! I like to tinker with robots at home.”

Read the rest of this blog post here

Dealing with a College Rejection

Hopefully you’ll be accepted to every school you apply to, but you might also receive a rejection or two.

If you applied mostly to top-notch Ivy Leagues, then you are very likely to get rejected. This can be hard to accept, and telling your friends and family the bad news can be a challenge.

Initially, you may be asking yourself if you even have to tell them at all! However, if you’ve been raving about how you’re certain to get your degree from Harvard, then it’s probably impossible to keep it a secret.

Read 5 simple tips to help break the news about a college rejection and help refocus your energy on what really matters.

What is a CLEP test, anyways?

Maybe you didn’t have AP/IB class options in high school. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t have really good teachers, and it certainly doesn’t mean you didn’t master some concepts at a college level.

Maybe you learned a skill outside of school. Perhaps you learned some French at home, or by spending summers in Paris. Maybe you read up on macroeconomics in your free time or took private lessons in English literature. If you’re looking for a way to validate your skills and get out of entry-level college classes — allowing you to skip straight to the hard stuff (or never take another literature class ever again) — then CLEP can help.

What is CLEP?

A CLEP test is a 90-120 minute long test that you can take for $80. If you pass, you can send your scores to your U.S. college and get college credit… without ever actually having to take the class!

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, and these tests are created by the College Board (the same company that’s responsible for the SAT).

If you earn enough CLEP credit, it’s possible to “CLEP out” of (or skip) enough classes to graduate a semester early!

What classes can I CLEP out of?

Of course, there aren’t CLEP tests for everything. You can’t skip all of your college classes (sorry). Available tests cover…

Read full article or learn more about CLEP from its official website.

College tuition in other countries

The cost of a college tuition varies greatly depending on the country. Since you can find excellent, English-only programs in multiple countries, it’s important to take a look at college costs around the world.

See table of college prices in various countries

Don’t be fooled by tuition averages

Of course, understand that the costs in the table (linked here) are simply tuition averages.
For example, $585 is the average cost of one year in a French university. Yet, tuition at Sciences Po in France — one of the world’s top schools for politics — is over $10,000 a year!

These numbers also don’t take into the account the price of housing, food or other expenses…. keeping reading

Never forget about scholarships

As an international applicant, some schools will be more likely to give you scholarships than others. Some of the top U.S. schools for international student financial aid are:

  • Williams College
  • Amherst College
  • Trinity College
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • Duke University

According to U.S. News data, all 6 of these schools offer an average of over $50,000 in aid to international students. That’s over the price of tuition and fees in all cases. In other words, many international students attend these schools for free. As it turns out… keep reading

Price isn’t everything

Education is much more than just a price tag. After all, no amount of money can account for the quality of an experience.

For example, while New Zealand may appear to be the cheapest option of the English-speaking countries, none of their universities are ranked within the top 100 worldwide… keep reading

Extracurricular Activities: How and why are they important?

How do you define extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities are things that you are involved in outside of your normal classes and high school curriculum.

Examples include clubs, band, sports, community art courses, and local internships or volunteering experiences. Family commitments are also great examples.

“There are many [students] who spend a great deal of time helping to run their household, preparing meals and caring for siblings or making money with a part-time job to help the household meet expenses.”
— William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean at Harvard University, NY Times

Why are extracurricular activities important?

Your grades and test scores show off your curricular abilities— your ability to study for an exam, be on time for classes and learn from your teachers.

In contrast, extra-curricular activities give insight into what you are interested in and… continue reading…

How much do extracurriculars matter for “top” universities?

Many, many students apply to “top” universities with perfect test scores and flawless grades, so applicants need to differentiate themselves. Extracurriculars can help… continue reading…

How many extra-curricular activities do you need?

The number is not really important. However, as they say, quality is better than quantity… continue reading…


SAT or ACT: Which one is right for you?

The United States uses two different exams for undergraduate school admissions: the SAT and the ACT. Both of these tests are equally accepted and respected by US colleges. However, one of the tests may do a better job of highlighting your skills. When deciding which one to study for– and ultimately send to college admissions boards– here are a couple of things to consider:

Time Management

There is no doubt that the ACT is more time intensive than the SAT. In fact, it gives an average of 20 seconds less per question.

Seconds per Question
English/language 36 seconds 48 seconds
Mathematics 60 seconds 83 seconds
Reading 52.5 seconds 75 seconds

The ACT also has a shorter writing section. As of 2016, the SAT gives you 50 minutes to complete the essay compared to only…

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Private and Public Colleges: How to Decide What’s Best for You

In nearly every country, private and public colleges are different. In the United States, deciding what’s best requires a dynamic look at issues of cost, prestige, and overall fit.

  1. Cost

On average, private colleges are more expensive than public ones. However, averages can be deceptive.

  Average Price Information
  Tuition and Fees* Debt per Borrower**
Public School $23,893 $26,872
Private School $32,405 $31,710

*2015-16 data from CollegeBoard. Public school statistics for out-of-state students.

**2016 data from

Private schools charge nearly $10,000 more per year. However, average debt per borrower is only about $5,000 more. In part, this is due to the misleading nature of sticker prices– scholarships and grants often make posted tuition rates irrelevant.

Prices also greatly depend on the individual school. Berea College in Kentucky, for example, is a private school that is completely tuition-free!

Before deciding that a private school is too expensive for you, research its actual price and investigate potential scholarships.

  1. Prestige

Students often make the mistake of thinking that private U.S. colleges are more prestigious. This is in part because of the fame of the “ivy leagues,” a group of private schools that include Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

You will find, however, that there are also many prestigious public colleges…

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Tough questions to ask about student life

As an international student, you want to pick the U.S. college that fits you best. There are hundreds of factors to consider: academics, scholarships, location, and more. In addition, you should also ask some really tough questions about student life.

Here are three important topics to ask about:

  1. Smoking

Smoking is much less popular in the U.S. than it is in other countries.

“For many international students who smoke, the habit stems from cultural norms in a country in which smoking may carry less of a stigma.”
— Sonali Seth, “Ban on Smoking is Ineffective, Ignores International Students”

Smoke-free and tobacco-free colleges fine students for smoking cigarettes. They can even fine you for electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Some school policies (like the one at the University of Illinois–Urbana) even encourage fellow students to call and report anyone they see smoking.

  • What is the punishment if I’m caught smoking on campus?
  • Do students report other students?

If you’re a smoker, these are some good some tough questions to ask about your college’s policy.

  1. Alcohol

Many U.S. schools have strict no-alcohol policies on campus. That means that you cannot drink even if you’re over the age of 21.

At other U.S. colleges, underage students can routinely get away with drinking…

Read all the tough questions to ask about student life in the full article at


5 Tips for Choosing an Engineering School

Class size, price, location, and student life are all factors that every college applicant should consider. If you are applying to engineering school, though, you may have a few additional questions.

How do you know if the program is really good? How can you be sure you will get a job after graduation? Here are a few tips to help with your search.

  1. Make sure it is ABET-accredited.

ABET stands for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. An accredited program meets global standards, ensuring minimum requirements to effectively train you in the engineering field.

It also increases your chances of finding a job. Employers want to know that your degree is accredited before hiring you. The ABET website keeps a list of of accredited schools.

  1. Check which degrees are offered.

Around 80% of students switch their major at least once in undergraduate school. That’s why many engineering schools teach general concepts the first year, with students declaring their majors as sophomores.

If you are waffling between two different engineering majors– or even engineering and another, unrelated degree– make sure your school has solid programs in both. 

  1. Ask about internships and research opportunities.

What can the school offer you outside of classes? A good internship, co-op…


Read the full article at

Does a self-introduction video add value to a college application?

Technology has changed the landscape of college admissions. Nowadays, many schools offer the option of including a self-introduction video to accompany a college or scholarship application. In some cases, you can even submit a video instead of a written essay! But does this really add value?

The answer depends on you. When deciding whether to include a self-introduction video in your application, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you comfortable on camera?

    The video format clearly values some candidates over others. If you come across as socially awkward, then a video might not be a good idea. You also want to be sure that your English is clear and fluent.

    Of course, you are not obligated to show your face in a self-introduction video. However, making a collage of images or video clips requires skill. If you have never made that kind of video before, don’t stress yourself out about it for your college application.

  2. Will you use the video format to show something meaningful?

    A video of yourself reading an essay adds little value. Rather, it’s best to show something visually appealing.

    For example…

Decide whether a self-introduction video is right for your application. Read the whole article on