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The Surprising Downsides of Popular STEM Majors

"Sometimes, I wish people were a little more honest if you're going into STEM," says Dr. Phil Gardner, the Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. Dr. Gardner is the foremost expert on workforce readiness, the college labor market, and the transition from college to the workplace. Previewing an upcoming 2021 Recruiting Trends Report, Dr. Gardner shares insights for college applicants and parents thinking about college ROI.

Dear Socrates, Feature


What do counselor recommendations actually look like?

We know what teacher recommendations for college look like, but what about the elusive "counselor recommendation"? We give you an insider peek into what the counselors are actually doing to advocate for your student's college app candidacy... and it's not what most people expect. Read our summary and tips on how to get the best counselor recs for college.

The Skinny

No SAT/ACT alternative for UC admissions

  • What happened to the UC's SAT and ACT replacement?
  • Almost 100% of Minnesota high schoolers took the ACT between 2016 and 2018. Now, it's only 60%. Why?
  • High schoolers from this state performed almost 2x better on the ACT than the nationwide average. Where?


Admissions officers advise future doctors to avoid a nursing degree

New interview! “We do not advise students to pursue nursing if their ultimate goal is another healthcare profession,” says an admissions rep from the University of Utah. This week, three admissions officers from highly selective and rigorous direct nursing programs answer one of the most commonly asked, yet uncommonly answered, questions: Should aspiring doctors or dentists major in nursing? After all, they're all healthcare professions and there must be some curriculum overlap, right? Nursing admissions reps from Seattle University, University of Utah, and University of Hawaii at Manoa weigh in.

From the Interviewer’s Desk: How to Nail a College Interview

“They don’t have to sound sophisticated,” says a Wesleyan University admissions interviewer. For high school seniors, it’s the season for college admissions interviews. Beyond the typical advice we read online like smile, arrive early, and thank the interviewer for their time, our seniors need some insider advice on what exactly admissions interviewers remember. Interviewers from Harvard, Wesleyan, and Denison share why your applicant shouldn’t worry about sophistication, awkward pauses, or saying something impressive.

Here’s How 4 Admissions Officers Feel About Test Scores

“My colleague would say they never go down the corridor to another colleague and say, ‘Look at this perfect test score,'” says American University admissions director, Jesse Tomczak. As SAT test centers close around the country, we’re left wondering if our students will ever take the SAT or ACT. But what will colleges think? For test optional colleges, I see too many parents and counselors scouring admissions websites for hints on how test scores affect admissions — to no avail. Websites are for PR, not for insider info. Here’s what four admissions officers think when they see — and don’t see — applicant test scores.


The Skinny

A newly need-blind college plus scholarships

  • This top university will no longer consider financial need in admissions. Which one?
  • This college in California just waived everyone’s tuition. Which college?
  • Hello ladies! This university is offering tuition-free benefits to qualified young women. Where?

Undeclared majors: Is it really that bad?

  • Applications are now open for these “best value” colleges. Which ones?
  • Want a $4,500 of free tuition per year? All you have to do is this.
  • Is it really a bad idea to apply to college as an “undecided” major? This college weighs in.

The vibe at Tufts described as “crunchy granola”

  • Tufts students summed up the vibe on campus, a.k.a. campus culture. What do they say?
  • From University of New Hampshire admissions: how do you choose a major?
  • Not submitting a test score? You’re not alone. Total SAT takers dropped by this number last year.



Priority Admissions Preference by Being in the Right City

In the world of college admissions, if you can’t be rich, famous, athletically outstanding, a veteran, or academically perfect, you might still get admissions preference for being average. How? By being local. This week, we show you how this works.

You can pay less to attend college out-of-state. Here’s how.

How in the world are all these people affording to send their kids to college out of state? Many people don’t know that we can qualify for cheaper tuition in a different state. While a student from California might pay $14,100 per year for in-state tuition at a UC, they can qualify for $11k per year tuition at the University of Hawaii or $7k per year tuition at Montana State University. If you want your student to get out there and explore during college without breaking the bank, read this.

Is your student making this Common App mistake?

While on the phone with an admissions officer this week, I heard her say, “Ugh, the Common App is so clunky and so hard to use.” This is especially true for the Activities section, where applicants brag about their extracurriculars. While students tend to have no problem accurately completing the position description and organization name, say “Varsity Team Captain” as the position description and “Main High School Swim Team” as the organization name, almost always they mess up the 150-character description section. Is your student making this mistake?

If your student hates tests and grades, college is still an option. Here’s one.

We often think that college is for those students with high GPAs, who care about report cards and transcripts, and who can somehow never get tricked by multiple choice tests. But does that mean curious young folks who love learning and hate obsessing over grades, tests, and lectures have no place in college? The answer is no. Here’s one option for those students.

A Legal and Fun “Side Door” To Getting into College

For all the talk about the “back door” or “side door” to college admissions that involve bribery and other illegal acts, many students don’t know about one that is actually legal and possibly fun. This one was tailor-made for seniors with lower GPA’s who wouldn’t qualify for admission — and who are ready for a bigger adventure.

Students Don’t Need More Time Management Tips

Your teenager stays up ’til 1 a.m. finishing homework, turns in assignments late, and hardly has time to eat. You suggest joining clubs, getting a job, or adding more activities to their schedule. When college applications are left until the last minute, we assume it’s those darned time management skills — or lack thereof — to blame. But what if time management simply isn’t the problem? A new idea proposes energy management as the key to high performance and success. Here’s how college applicants can manage their energy — not time — for personal happiness.

A Simple College Essay Writing Trick

I’ve seen a lot of online resources floating around on how to write college essays. From outlines to brainstorming journals to YouTube video tips to $85k hotel lobby bootcamps, the options for college essay writing prep are boundless. But among these endless options is one that I find simple and approachable (and you’ll address what admissions officers look for). It’s called the three-part college essay. The three-part college essay involves — yup, you guessed it — three parts. We can do anything when it’s only three little parts, right? Read details of the simple three-part college essay.