The CollegeVine Blog

The CollegeVine (formerly Admissions Hero) Blog is your go-to source for all things academics, applications, and extracurriculars, straight from our team of top-tier admissions experts.

  • Will A Perfect Score on the SAT/ACT Get Me into a Good College?

    If you’re a high school student applying to college, chances are you’re thinking about how your SAT/ACT scores will affect whether or not your are accepted to the school of your choice. Although you get the chance to show admissions committees some of your personality through the Common Application, writing supplements, interview, etc. the numerical scores on standardized tests are often much more unforgiving. As admissions rates to top colleges get lower each year and applicant pools get increasingly more competitive, it’s totally understandable that you might assume colleges are looking for perfection. Luckily, this is not the case.

    To make a long story short, while SAT and ACT scores play a big role in your admissions decision, they are not the only thing that matters on your application. Many other factors come into play, and while it’s important to study and do your best on your standardized tests, the world certainly won’t end if you don’t get a perfect score. Read on to figure out how having (or not having) a perfect score on your standardized tests can affect your college applications.

  • How (And Why) To Get Into the National Honor Society

    The National Honor Society (NHS) is an organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging outstanding high school students in grades 10-12. Founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, it was the first nationwide honor society and now has chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and many other US territories. The National Honor Society estimates that today, more than one million students participate in their activities.

    You are probably wondering what qualifies you as an “outstanding high school student” eligible for membership. And beyond that, you may question what sorts of services and activities are required of and provided to members.

  • How Do Colleges Evaluate Transfer Students?

    If you are thinking about transferring to another school, odds are that the decision to transfer has been stressful enough on its own. Perhaps you’ve been steadily building your grades and experiences in hopes of getting into a more competitive college. Maybe you’ve had a change in finances, or maybe you need to relocate geographically. Or you could be done with a two-year program and ready to transfer to a four-year. Whatever the reason, the decision alone is enough to worry about without the additional stress of an unfamiliar admissions process. You may have been a pro at the admissions process the first time around, but now everything is new again. You are probably wondering what exactly it is that the admissions committee is looking for this time around.

  • Should I Drop an AP, IB, or Honors Class?

    The decision to drop an AP, IB, or honors class is a complex one. There’s no doubt that a high school transcript showing success in rigorous coursework is a necessity for acceptance at the nation’s top schools, so it comes as no surprise that some students load up on AP, IB, and honors classes to meet this high standard. But what if you suddenly find yourself in over your head? What if one of your courses is too rigorous or too demanding? What if you simply don’t find it very interesting? Are there any options available to you, or do you just have to grin and bear it?

    If you’re trying to decide if you should drop an AP, IB, or Honors Class, you’ll need to consider the greater context of your college applications. To do that, make sure you ask yourself these five questions first.

  • Are All APs Created Equal In Admissions?

    If you’re an ambitious prospective college student who’s working to get the most out of your high-school experience, you know that APs are generally considered to be among the most intellectually rigorous courses an American high-school student can take. But are all the different AP options considered equal in the eyes of colleges considering you for admission?

    Obviously, there’s a great deal of variation among the available APs, and both the inherent rigorousness of certain AP tests and the relationship of their subject matter to your intended field of study. Read on for more information about the differences between APs and how to pick the courses and tests that will be most beneficial to your application.

  • A Guide to Extracurriculars for Homeschooled Students

    College applicants come from many different backgrounds, and one that presents a notably different set of challenges is that of homeschooling. If you’re a student who has been homeschooled and you’re thinking about attending college, it may be difficult to figure out which of your activities count as extracurriculars, how to get involved in activities outside of a traditional high-school context, and what colleges will think about your unique educational situation.

    Since it’s still important to be involved, it’s best to get started early with planning a slate of extracurriculars that will make your applications shine. Read on for advice from the experienced advisors at CollegeVine!

  • Harvard College Sample Essay 2016-2017

    In keeping with CollegeVine’s goal of democratizing the admissions process, we’ll be sharing real essays, sourced from our consultants’ applications, that demonstrate effective storytelling strategies, major mistakes to avoid, and compelling essay topics. You’ll learn the difference between the essay of a rejected student and that of an admitted student, and you can pick up some valuable tricks that you can use in your own essays along the way.

    This essay is a response to Harvard’s open essay prompt by a student who was ultimately rejected. Since this essay is optional, and there is no specific topic to which applicants may respond, the essay can be fairly open ended. (If you are planning on applying to Harvard, check out our guide to writing the optional supplemental essay.)

  • Should I Send My Test Scores to Colleges Before I Know Them?

    It’s no secret that standardized testing is a huge part of the college process. Some students consider their ACT or SAT test date one of the most stressful days of the entire college process, second only to the day they find out their test scores. How well you do on these exams can play a major role in your admissions decision from many selective colleges and universities. This being said, many students are left wondering if they should send their test scores to schools before they actually find out how they scored on the exam.

    There are a lot of things to think about when making this decision. Some factors include cost, superscoring, and how many times you plan on taking the exam. Regardless, there’s no need to fret. Like many other parts of the college process, the decision you make regarding your test scores and whether or not to send them can help get you the acceptance letters you’re looking for–you simply need to make a critical, informed decision about what will be right for you and your application. Read on to figure out which score-sending strategy will be the best for you!

  • Which Section of the SAT/ACT is the Most Important?

    The SAT and ACT standardized tests are a key component of your college applications, so it’s only natural to wonder how your scores will be interpreted and which, if any, section is most important. You may be wondering which is most important because you want to know what you should focus on while studying. Maybe you want to know which is most important so you can decide if it’s worth retaking your test just to improve on one section. Or perhaps you are curious if your scores on one section will exclude you from certain programs. Whatever your reason, the answer is not a simple one, and it depends on a variety of factors that will differ from one candidate to the next.

  • Does a Declining GPA Look Bad on My College Applications?

    While your GPA is certainly not the only thing that admissions committees consider on your college application, it is a very important part of it. For that reason, unless there is a specific reason that you can clearly explain in the additional information section of your application, declining grades on your transcript are not viewed favorably by an admissions committee. Other than the simple reason that colleges want to accept high-performing students, declining grades may suggest that a student is not dedicated to their schoolwork, and in a greater sense, their education. So, even if it may seem like “just” a grade drop to you, to serious colleges and universities it could be the sign of an attitude that is incompatible with their modus operandi – education. Find out what to do if you have a declining GPA here!