Category: Articles

Current Issue




Top Admits: Justice Wooden, USC Admit

"Because my family is a well-known Black family in the Black community here in Charleston, I sometimes am also trying to uphold a certain standard and not fall into the peer pressure and environments that people sometimes are pushing me into," says full-ride USC admit Justice Wooden who was raised by his grandma and seen as the "nerdy kid" of his community.

Dear Socrates, Feature


Teacher Columnist: Get great college recs with a low GPA and shy personality? Yes, it’s possible.

TEACHER COLUMNIST: "Just like how the fashion industry continues to perpetuate unrealistic beauty characteristics as the majority look, education often perpetuates a reality of a student with an excellent GPA, involved in sports, and involved in all the extracurricular activities as the norm." Teacher Columnist Daniel Lieu shares 3 ways students with low grades and shy personalities can still receive meaningful teacher recommendations for college.

The Skinny

College enrollment plummets in California

  • This state has the biggest drop in college enrollment in the U.S. Which one?
  • Which East Coast college is slashing tuition by 50% for everyone?
  • Here's another employee perk: free tuition for college employees. Where?


How Selective Colleges Determine Financial Aid, from a Northwestern financial aid officer

“The older parents are, the more things like income or assets are going to be what we call protected. It’s going to be removed from the calculation, says former Northwestern University financial aid officer, Morgan Purrier. A Northwestern alumnus, Morgan shares his insider insights from evaluating financial aid applications, calculating awards, and teaching financial literacy to students.

2021 Top Admits: Xavier Logan, Juilliard ’25

“In order for me to be dancing, I always had to have all As… A lot of people tell you that you can only focus on one thing, and I want to rip that narrative up and throw it away, says Xavier Logan, one of 24 dancers worldwide accepted to Juilliard’s dance program with a <5% acceptance rate and the first in his high school’s history. The only Black boy in the Top 30 of his class, a recipient of $1.3 million in scholarships, and the son of a basketball player mom and football player dad, Xavier shares this week:

Rare Job Profiles: Retired Latina Police Officer

RARE JOB PROFILES: “If a young person is interested in law enforcement, if they want to make a difference and help people, then yes, go into policing. But it’s going to be different. People are not happy when you take them to jail. You are reinforcing consequences, says Dr. Mari Kong, a USC criminal justice professor and 19-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. She gives students and parents a peek into the law enforcement career, especially as a woman of color.


The Skinny

Family income predicts college essay quality

  • Want to get a full scholarship just for getting 2.5 GPA? Here’s how.
  • Is there any way to get 4 years of college for the price of 3? Yes, there is.
  • We know SAT says more about family wealth than achievement. What about college essays?

UC schools to make room for more resident students

  • This state just banned one of the most unfair college admissions practices. Which one?
  • Cha-ching! Here’s one way any teen can qualify for a full ride scholarship to a New York public college.
  • UC schools need more seats. What’s their controversial solution to accommodate more California students?

Private college freshmen get big tuition discounts

  • This top tier school system will no longer consider ANY test scores. Which one?
  • What's the average tuition discount from private colleges 2020-2021?
  • With increased college apps this year, how did admissions officers get through them?

More families qualify for a scholarship at this Ivy League

  • Almost 20% of college grads expect to earn this starting salary. What is it?
  • Want to win 4 years of fully-funded college or a $1 million lottery? You only have to do one thing.
  • This Ivy increased the income limit for full tuition scholarships, increasing affordability. Which one?



Self-Study AP Tests: Should We Do It?

A parent in the audience of a recent college admissions presentation asked me this: “A lot of students at school self-study for AP tests. Should my student be worried about this and self-study for a few tests too?” Teens should not be worrying about what others do and don’t do in their free time. Let’s break down the types of students who SHOULD and SHOULDN’T self-study for AP tests.

Teacher Columnist: My Most Memorable Student

Teacher Columnist: “From an outsider’s standpoint, Jimmy isn’t amazing. He had a 1.8 GPA that semester,” says high school science teacher Daniel Lieu about his most memorable student. Daniel shares what impressed him about Jimmy and how he ultimately got into UCLA’s biochemistry major on a full ride.

To take or not to take: SAT and ACT

If your student is on the fence about taking the SAT or ACT, don’t be. There’s an easy way to figure out if taking the standardized tests is worth your student’s time. And it starts this: no admissions officer ever ran down the hallway to his coworker screaming “LOOK! An 36 ACT! We need to admit her now!”

Teacher Recommendations: The Importance of What’s NOT Written

TEACHER COLUMNIST: “We won’t lie and say things that you aren’t, but we also aren’t going to write you a bad letter of recommendation. Admissions representatives are looking for…what isn’t included,” says high school STEM teacher Daniel Lieu. This week, Daniel explains the effects of all the words left out of a one-page teacher recommendation.

Tried and True: 3 Evergreen and Tangible Tips for a Compelling College Essay

We want your application evaluator’s heart rate to go up, eyes to well up, jaw to drop — and run to their coworker yelling “stop everything and read this applicant’s essay now!” Covid turned college admissions wacky, but the steps to writing a well-crafted college essay haven’t changed. Here are the 3 tried and true, timeless tips that make a college essay memorable, compelling, and successful.

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.

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.