TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Andrew Belasco

Andrew Belasco is CEO of College Transitions LLC, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. In addition to his role as CEO, Andrew is a published higher education researcher and consultant to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admission and financial aid policy. For more information about Andrew and his team, please visit www.collegetransitions.com

Posted Nov. 28, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
depression on college application

Between the ages of 13 and 18, approximately 20% of American adolescents will deal with some form of mental illness. Under this umbrella falls anything from minor depression or anxiety all the way to potentially more serious conditions like pediatric schizophrenia or post traumatic stress disorder. For many, dealing with a mental health condition will negatively impact their high school career in some way, potentially impacting areas such as academic performance, school attendance, teacher relationships, and extracurricular involvement. Given the prevalence of mental illness among teenagers, a significant number of high school seniors are faced with a difficult choice each ...

Posted Oct. 29, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Mastering the “Why This College” Essay

Many colleges and universities require you to compose an essay on why you wish to attend their school. If you are using Common Application, chances are you will have to submit a version of this essay as a writing supplement to one of the prompts required by the Common App. While it is a relatively generic and rather dull question, do not be lulled into delivering an equally generic and dull answer. Download Refrain from offering superlatives without specific evidence to back up your praise. Imagine an admissions officer, at the end of a long day’s work, getting ready to ...

Posted Oct. 25, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Simple Truths About the College Essay

The basic rules for writing a stellar college essay vary little from the general guidelines for producing any strong piece of written work: be authentic, tell a story that is personal and compelling, and diligently edit, revise, and polish your product. Download Simple Ways to Write a Great College Essay Writing in an authentic voice does not mean scribbling down some stream-of-consciousness thoughts 24 hours before the application deadline. There is a popular myth that Abraham Lincoln jotted down the Gettysburg Address on a napkin on his way to the battlefield. In truth, he spent over two weeks crafting the ...

Posted Oct. 23, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Recommendations Matter

With the first month of the school calendar in the rearview mirror, teachers and students alike are still adjusting to the return of their alarm clock’s discordant daily greeting, hurried breakfasts, and long, regimented days. Soliciting college recommendation letters might be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind which is exactly why it is an ideal time to place them at the forefront of yours. In a couple of months, your favorite teachers (who are likely just about everyone’s favorite teacher) will be inundated with recommendation requests and will find themselves writing the phrase “It is with great pleasure” until carpal ...

Posted Sept. 11, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
expressing interest to colleges

As colleges move to data-driven means of tracking information on prospective students, they have become increasingly savvy about predicting enrollment behavior and gauging an applicant’s true level of interest. Schools often refer to this as the “interest quotient,” and admitting students with high scores on this measure can improve a college’s yield rate, and in turn, its ranking. Therefore, many colleges give consideration to this factor when making their final admissions decisions. If you’re considered a borderline applicant, your demonstrated level of interest may determine whether you ultimately earn an acceptance letter. By taking a few minutes to complete the ...

Posted Sept. 9, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Three Questions to Consider Before Applying Early Decision

Deciding whether to apply Early Decision (ED) or not to college is a huge dilemma that many high school students must face. While applying ED can increase your chances of admittance in many cases, there are some downfalls as well. 1. Can I afford to pay the bill? Early decision (ED) admission into a college means that you will be receiving only one financial aid offer, which may or may not be enough to sufficiently cover your college-related expenses. Remember, your ED college is not particularly inclined to award a generous package, given that they have already secured your commitment ...

Posted Aug. 23, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Earning Entry into an Elite College with Less than Elite Credentials

Two caveats, before we dish out the advice. First, as readers of our blog know, we do not advocate over-focusing on highly selective schools. Yet we also recognize that the allure of brand name universities is quite powerful and that, in some instances, those schools may represent a good “fit” for certain students. Second warning… there is no magic button to press or secret handshake to master, which results in an acceptance letter to a colleges that might be a bit out of your league (although if there was such a handshake it would look like this). There are, however, ...

Posted Aug. 22, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
Securing in-State Tuition as an out-of-State Student: Is It Possible?

To most of us, the concept of in-state tuition is a straightforward proposition—government subsidized public institutions offer a lower tuition price to residents of their state. Families can elect to take advantage of the in-state tuition or pay a sizable premium for an out-of-state public school. Pretty cut and dry, right? The Rules of in-State Tuition Not anymore. Some savvy parents have figured out how to exploit legal loopholes, allowing their children to enjoy an in-state discount at an out-of-state school. Gaming residency requirements can provide substantial returns, given that the four-year difference between out-of-state and home-state tuition has entered ...

Posted Aug. 2, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
getting accepted to college

When free agent Carmelo Anthony was being heavily recruited by the Los Angeles Lakers, the seven-time NBA all star entered the Staples Center to the ultimate red carpet treatment. A short film about Anthony’s life narrated by Tobey Maguire played on the Jumbotron, featuring computer-generated images of the high-scoring forward donning the Lakers’ purple and gold as Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson made a pleading sales pitch. While receiving a so-called “fast app” from a college or university might be slightly short of NBA free agent courting, seeing your name pre-populated into a college application with promises of special treatment ...

Posted Aug. 1, 2014, 10 a.m. by Andrew Belasco | View Comments
taking a standardized test

In the past few years, and increasing number of selective colleges and universities have adopted test-optional policies, no longer requiring students to submit their standardized test scores. Institutions eliminating or de-emphasizing standardized tests often cite a lack of confidence in the SAT’s and ACT’s ability to predict college success and/or a desire to improve campus diversity. Test-optional schools are still a minority in American higher education, but their numbers are growing and now include several highly desirable and ultra-competitive institutions. College Transitions recently published a complete list of selective, test-optional colleges. TeenLife also recently published the blog Test-Optional May Not ...

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