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College essays aren’t journal entries, says ex-Northwestern admissions officer

"Let's say what happened in Atlanta is transforming you to want to major in history or even ethnic studies. You have to go a little deeper than that...This is also not a journal entry," says former Northwestern University admissions officer Elaine Kuo about college essays. Northwestern accepted 6.8% of applicants this year. This week:

Dear Socrates, Feature


Teacher Columnist: 3 Things I Wish Parents Knew About College Admissions

"Many parents pressure their child into only aiming for 4-year colleges, however for some students, 4-year colleges are not the best fit." Our newest columnist, Daniel Lieu, a Los Angeles-based high school science teacher, has helped countless students get into college. This week, he shares the 3 things parents should know about college admissions, from a teacher's perspective.

The Skinny

These lucky high schoolers may soon be exempt from college apps

  • Need to take college classes this summer? This college is offering 75% off tuition.
  • High school residents of this state might soon get into college without applying. Which one?
  • While overall college enrollment dropped, this college's enrollment ticked up. Where?


Expert Advice: How to Raise Anti-Racist Teens in a Racist World

“Conversations of race should be normalized. For families, it’s less about: ‘let’s sit down and talk about race,’ but we need to normalize in the way that you see some representation on TV, and you make a comment about it,” says Elaine Kuo, former Northwestern admissions officer who now works at a California community college. With Esther Hurh, national diversity & inclusion trainer and Asian American advocate, the two experts delve into how to raise teens who not only fight against anti-Asian crime, but also stand by Asian Americans. Why does this matter to you? Selective colleges will not risk accepting racist applicants.

2021 Top Admits: Rachel Goldberg, Emory University ’25

“People will put on a nice face in public then relax at home, so maybe you’re not as kind or polite or grateful to the people in your own house because you spend all day being kind and polite for your friends and your teachers… We need to take care of the people that we love,” says Rachel Goldberg, a Class of 2025 admit to Emory University with a theater scholarship. One of the 11% of applicants admitted Regular Decision to the top Atlanta private college, Rachel is a role model to her 3 younger sisters and successful web entrepreneur.

2021 Top Admits: Alhassan Bangura, Cornell ’25

“Due to all my involvement on the county and state level, I was able to give her connections with officials in the county,” Alhassan Bangura, admit to Cornell University, says about his impact on his teacher recommender. The incoming premed student who wrote his personal statement about Papa John’s pizza shares his journey to getting into Cornell, the Ithaca, N.Y. Ivy League school that accepted about 8.5% of applicants this year.


The Skinny

Don’t play the game: Just buy your own college

  • Forget about financial aid. Free college for all might be on the horizon. Why?
  • Didn’t get into college? Don’t sweat it. Buy your own college here and make your own rules.
  • Berkeley, UCLA, and Cal Poly have something controversial in common. What is it?

Bad news for college-bound anti-vaxxers

  • Are you an anti-vaxxer hoping to go to an Ivy League? Bad news for you.
  • Apps skyrocketed at a ton of colleges, but enrollment here plummeted this year. Where?
  • Tuition seems to be climbing like crazy. Except here, where 14 universities have frozen tuition for the 3rd year straight.

Get a scholarship for studying this uncommon science

  • This major U.S. company is offering employees free college tuition. Which one?
  • Ivy Day: These popular colleges accepted around 4% of applicants. Which ones?
  • Want a scholarship? This college is offering students money to study cannabis chemistry.

Emory admissions: Never seen this before

  • Dean of Admissions at Emory has never seen anything like this. What was the acceptance rate this year?
  • This elite NYC college only accepted 10% of applicants this year. Which one?
  • This top college is expanding enrollment over the next 4 years. Which university?



10 Things to Consider When Choosing Teen Summer Programs

Are you looking for the best summer program for your teen? Summer activities matter to colleges, and just playing at home won’t cut it for elite admissions. From our guest writer, here are the 10 things to consider when choosing summer programs.

When to Hire a College Consultant

Here’s a misconception: College consultants only help high school seniors with their college apps. We apply for college in senior year, so we hire consultants also in senior year, right? Nope. In every high school grade, college consulting expertise can come in handy, though in different ways. Here’s our 9th to 12th grade guide.

Teacher Tell All: “Will you write me a rec letter for college?”

SAT scores might be a relic of the past, but high quality letters of recommendation matter even more now than in pre-pandemic times. This week, a high school social science teacher gives us the inside scoop on 4 things to consider as you’re requesting letters of recommendation.

What do college admissions consultants cost?

$1.5 million for a college consulting package. Guaranteed admission to Yale. That’s normal, right? No. If you’re considering hiring a college admissions consultant, please don’t get ready to sell your house and liquidate your retirement. Here’s what you need to know about college consultant fee structures, average costs, hidden costs, and benefits.

How can I find a college consultant near me?

Here’s a little-known option: Your PTA. Most schools’ PTA groups closely vet the college admissions experts before giving them an unpaid speaking slot. Plus 4 other avenues to find gem consultants who may not appear on Google.

Duolingo English Test versus TOEFL iBTS

I’m a native English speaker (and professional writer, hello), but I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t even get a perfect score on the practice Duolingo English Test. I scoped it out to see how TOEFL’s new competitor compares to the traditional English proficiency test for U.S. College admissions.

What Do College Consultants Do? What You May Not Know

Most people don’t learn what college consultants do from their list of services. People learn what college consultants do after having worked with them. From an insider, here’s what you may not know college consultants do.