Admissions Q&A

Recorded Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at 08:30 PM

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About this livestream


Yesh Datar will be hosting a 45-minute Q&A session to answer any and all of your questions related to college admissions, paying for college, the latest coronavirus impacts on testing, and more.

Video Transcript:


Perfect, so 430. So I think we can get started. Before I start, though, again, just a quick audio visual check. So if you can see and hear me, just let me know in the q&a box, and then I can get started answering your guys's questions.


Okay, awesome. Great. So I already see some questions, which is great. If you guys do have additional questions or anything like that, just feel free to put it in the same place the q&a box, and then I'll just kind of get through them. Yeah, so again, today's purpose is just to go through admissions questions that you guys have, and I could provide some insightful answers to you guys. Yeah, but that's really it. So maybe we'll take about 45 minutes to answer these questions. But if we don't kind of run out of questions, then you know, we kind of just stopped there.


Okay, first question is from Isabella. So she asks, besides excellent GPA and test results, what else is extremely important for candidate BSMD accelerated degrees? Yeah, so just to inform people who don't know what BSMD is, BSMD programs are a mix of Bachelor of Science and then a Doctor of Medicine degree. So essentially, you commit to seven, eight, or maybe even six years to a certain school, or a pair of schools. And then you're admitted to medical school as a high schooler. So as you can tell, as a high school, if you're getting admitted to medical school, it's pretty intense, pretty competitive, right? So outside of excellent GPA and test results. There are some other factors to consider and things to build in your profile. As you kind of go through the application process for these programs. One thing to think about, is that bs MD programs are essentially like applying to the Ivy's or other elite universities, with oftentimes the admissions percentage like below 5%. So things to keep in mind, yeah, to get the answer. extracurricular wise, getting involved in say research, as a high schooler would be valuable. Stem internships, so science, technology, engineering, math, stem internships, whether it be at a pharmaceutical company, or an industry, something revolving sort of around medicine to kind of convey the point that, hey, I'm interested in medicine, this one. Additionally, in extracurriculars, you would want things like shadowing physicians, volunteering at hospitals, doing a lot of community work, and let a recent events, we anticipate that social justice kind of initiatives are very important to a student. But yeah, so in your extracurriculars, you really want to stress that you are interested in medicine by showing that you've had experience in the medical field as a high school student, and that's kind of hard to do. Right. Um, yeah, so I would say extracurriculars, kind of like, just, well, probably even more important than, say, GPA and standardized test scores. And then in addition to that, you want your course rigor to be more stem oriented, and then also your GPA to be high in the STEM, not overall, but also in the STEM category as well. Yeah, so I think those are pretty important criteria for a strong dsmb application.


Okay, Cindy asked a very interesting question. So why do many colleges choose test score blind, so that test optional for standardized tests, such SAT or ACT, but they still want AP scores? Good point. So essentially, the weighting so when we look at kind of like the holistic admissions process, fullest degree process of profiles, incoming applicant profiles, we see that typically, the SAT, or ACT is sitting right around 25 to 30% of the entire weight of the application, while AP scores are really just 5% of the entire application. So immediately, we can see that SAT, ACT are much more important in determining who actually gets accepted to university rather than these submitted AP exams, right. So in there, there's a clear difference in the weightage. and importance of these values, right. And because of COVID, people anticipate that standardized tests, the ability to take those things, maybe improve your scores is much more inhibited than AP scores in general. ap scores are still offered online. People can take them virtually and most likely People did better on it because it was offered online, they could take it from the comfort of their home, etc. So in that ways SAT, ACT were much more effective. And because they're much more effective across the entire demographic kind of applicants or demographics of every applicant, we see that test optionality kind of almost like voids, that kind of barrier of entry into top programs, etc, just because awaits a bunch more. And so another pattern just to kind of continue on that line of thought about AP scores, is that in general, AP exams, they're only 5% of your entire application if that, so they're not as important. So submitting numbers and not submitting them. It's not a huge deal. But what is a big deal is taking those course rigorous classes, so taking eight classes, taking honors classes, etc.


Okay, Ethan asks, with this pandemic, how do I sign my son, incoming 10th grader for any volunteering work? Yeah, the local hospitals do not take any high schoolers. Any suggestions for biomed interest slash concentration? Yeah, it's kind of hard. Maybe your IDs BSMD program. So it'd be vital to have community service oriented, where one thing I would say to kind of come for you is that, because of all this that's happening, especially relevant for this year, admissions leaders don't have this huge expectation of students having to get out in the community do kind of volunteer and work etc, just because those opportunities are limited. But since your son is a 10th, grader, maybe even next year, or the year after, it will become vital to do continue to volunteer and work in the community. So I anticipate those things to kind of open up, those options open up even more. So your son should be able to at some point. But because it's closed, now, my suggestions are, don't force anything, don't kind of like put your self at risk in terms of safety or anything. You don't have to force anything, especially at hospitals, right. But as soon as they open up, hopefully you can get involved. In terms of suggestions, for like, virtual kind of volunteering work, it's kind of limited. Again, volunteer work by nature is like getting involved other people. But there could be online organizations that maybe you can like, write, or just reach out to just to offer your help. And they might need like virtual help. So it might be like writing emails, sending out emails to people, they might be writing an article for the certain website, nonprofit website or something. Right. So there's a lot of ways to get involved actually, in that way. Also, in terms of biomed interest, um, apart from volunteering, there's ways to kind of just express interest, virtually. And a lot of that sometimes comes from like things like content creation, so when they're starting a YouTube channel or tik tok channel, and like generating stuff based on biomed interests, and like, showing what you know, you could also offer zoom tutoring sessions, or zoom, kind of like, the free classes for biomed just to teach again, show what you know. And then also just take part in like individual projects, like, get involved in research, virtually, finding like a database online, and just kind of like, making cool graphs finding different associations between things. Yeah, so those kind of virtual things are definitely possible.


Okay, so follow up question for Ethan, his son sticking in AP class, AP chemistry 10th grade. And the question is, how can we increase the chance of being accepted into a university? Yeah, so definitely, one thing is, if you're thinking like, if you want to go for elite or selective universities, keep increasing that courseload. Right. So of course, otherwise. So there's something called a trend. So essentially, across the four years of high school, you should eventually start kind of increasing the amount of course rigor from freshman to senior years, you should start taking more honors and AP courses, as you kind of matriculate through the grades. So of course, there is a big thing. also maintaining a high GPA, performing well on standardized tests, performing well Subject Tests. Getting involved in extracurriculars, particularly biomed, like you mentioned, also volunteering, there's like a whole suite of things that you pay attention to. And if you're more interested about that, we do have another live stream, entitled Ultimate Guide to elite admissions, which kind of covers like, the criteria that admissions officers look at, especially at selective universities. But then you can also use as a metric or gauge for other universities that aren't as effective. So I think it'd be helpful anyway.


Okay, so real quick, I do see some questions, but we're actually kind of curious about this. So if you guys could just answer this question for us. What are your school districts plans for the fall for in person school? New definitely be interested in kind of knowing about that. Okay, next up. Um, yeah, so I'll give you guys like 10 seconds to fill that out.


Okay, and the next question is from Carla, how can I transduce my school's marks to GPA? I'm an international student? Okay. Yeah, great question. Um, so oftentimes online, there's actually kind of like GPA converters. So if your school ranks in terms of like percentiles, say, like, Oh, I got a 99 99% on the test, right? You can plug in that data into a GPA converter, you'll take that 99% converted to a score out of 4.0. And then across all of your classes, you can do the same exact thing, and you get an average cumulative GPA. And so out of 4.0, is what you're aiming for. That's what most us schools kind of looked for. And then CollegeVine likely does have a tool for GPA conversion. But yeah, it's probably on their website somewhere, maybe under features and then build your resume, potentially. Yeah.


Okay, another question. SAT or ACT. Any preference? Yeah. So there's a couple things to note about ACT and SAT. Okay, so SAT is primarily, it's split across math and reading, right? Well, ACT in terms of subsections. It's a mix of math, reading science, and a writing section. So there's a lot to it. So, specifically, what it's testing is a lot different. Um, also, ACT, has purely multiple choice kind of questions. So there's no, fill in the blank, there's no open ended math questions. While SAT does have that portion to it. So there are critical differences between the content on ACT, SAT. So I would suggest kind of reading through those ideas, and then assessing which one's your strength, right. So take at the end today, what I'm going to tell you is ACT or SAT. Question is, what are your strengths? And how does it play into the test and then take the test where your strength is favor. Another important thing to note is that ACT is oftentimes a graduation requirement for most southern state schools. So oftentimes, seniors in high school or juniors in high school will take the ACT, just as a graduation requirement, rather than as a standardized test to get into college. Right. And because of that, the ACT percentiles are kind of skewed in some ways, right? So it could be easier to score on higher percentile and the ACT, then SAT. So when you take the ACT, you're really just aiming for a higher kind of score out of 36, rather than a percentile score. Well, on the SAT, it's actually harder to score in a top percentile. And so for elite colleges, like for colleges, it's not the prefer SAT, but they find si tgb a better metric based on percentile to assess a student. Yeah. So for elite selective colleges, we recommend SAT over ACT, if you're kind of considering that path, just in terms of assessment, kind of seeing where you are. And yeah, and then any preference is really should be your preference. So like, which one do you find easier based on content?


Um, okay, Carolyn asks, do you have any ideas on keeping the student motivated to prep for SAT/ACT, when all test dates have been cancelled from March through July?Um, yeah, so I'm guessing like, okay, maybe you had an exam sometime between March and July. And like, Oh, crap, I should have taken the time, but whatever. So now you have to like force yourself to kind of continue studying all the way into August or September, then finally take your test. So you're almost like kind of waiting out, taking the test for another two months. And like, mentally, you might be exhausted from studying or just anxiety wise about taking the test, right. Um, so in terms of maintaining motivation, it just one thing is just coming to terms with the fact that your test is delayed, and it's delayed by two months, three months, whatever it might be. And because of that, you just have to kind of re strategize your test taking skills. So if you know you're testing in two or three months, it's okay to take a break because, you know, your plan wasn't to study for another two, three months, right? So take a break for maybe a week and then jump back in the material just continually review it maybe periodically, maybe like, every week, or every couple days, just so that the two and three months that you have extended deadline, before taking the test doesn't feel as drawn out. So yeah, that's what I would definitely suggest in terms of continuing the motivation. Yeah, but at the end of the day, you know, if you want to get into a really good school, then he this ACT, SAT kind of thing does matter. So in some ways, it should somewhat turn into intrinsic motivation to really succeed. To get it might be external to get into grad school. But yeah, maybe that should always be back in your mind. But since it's thrown out, just take your time. It's okay to take breaks.


Okay, so I'll wait for more questions. I'm sure there's some in the audience. But while that's going, maybe you guys answer this. And I'll give it about like 10 seconds or so. Okay, great.


Ahmad as what's SAT study strategies does CollegeVine recommend? Um, yeah, good point. So we actually do have eight tips to master the SAT on our CollegeVine website, right. So I definitely, like recommend looking through those eight tips to master the SAT, but then also the sad checklist. Right now I'll kind of like, just for the sake of kind of doing this, maybe I'll find that for you guys. And then answer directly. Just get a sec.


Oh, okay. Oh, I can't find it. But it's on the website if you guys log in. But okay, so I'll just speak from experience. So when I started studying for the SAT, I kind of was realistic with myself, like, I realized I had school. And I had to focus on my coursework in high school, while before taking the standardized test. And whilst waiting for that standardized test, great. So I was realistic about it. And I set aside probably eight months to study for the test. I know that's kind of like way out there. But that eight months is like very well paced. So pattern wise, like in the beginning of those eight months, you know, I just maybe take a diagnostic test, do some practice, maybe like every week or so. But then as I got closer and closer to the test date, maybe like a month out, I would actually start taking practice tests, probably twice a week, right. And so the common theme there is that practice almost like makes you SAT. At the end of the day, it is a standardized test. And most questions are pretty predictable. So if you're strong in math, for me, I was pretty strong in math. So like, all the questions came intuitively, all the answers just kind of like, at the end of day, like the answers on the page, you just have to like figure out which answer is most correct, right. So for math, like I just was good at finding the patterns I was good at like knowing which methods to apply to different questions. So it made sense, their reading was kind of like a different game in itself. Reading is where I kind of really concentrated my efforts, because I knew my strength is math, right. So I focused on my weakness. So for the writing reading kind of section, again, I took it out of the 2400 scale. But most of it, you know, pretty much the same. But for the writing reading passages were kind of my weakness. So I focused on passage based questions. And so what I end up doing is heavy practice on that. So I read a lot of passages that answer a lot of questions. And by the time I started, after I sort of started doing that, I would start reading the passage, and then start being able to kind of predict the questions that the test would ask me based on the passage. So after some point, I would start reading the passage, and I'd almost start underlining sections where I thought they could ask a possible question. And by doing that kind of actively thinking about what questions they would be asking on the passage. One, I digested the information in the passage better, but then two, because I sort of already predicted the questions. By the time I got to the questions. I already knew where that content was in each passage, and I could prove with evidence that certain answers were more correct than others. And then last thing that I had Nast about say that I hinted at before is that Again, the answer is on the page, you have four multiple choice answers. And one of them is the most correct. So even if you're kind of stuck between two, choose the one that's most correct. And you'll be right every single time if you choose the most correct one. So although two might sound very similar, again, there's only one that's the answer.


Okay, so. Okay, Isabella, I think you asked the same question that I answered before. So maybe you miss kind of like the end of the session. But essentially, Isabel is asking, besides great test scores, GPA, what else is of extreme importance to get into BSMD programs? Um, yeah, so I think I gave you a good answer in the beginning of the session. So you'll get a recording of this. And you could just watch the beginning, but I'll just kind of abbreviate what I said before. Basically, I said, extracurriculars are probably the next phase of something that's important. extracurriculars relating to research, extracurriculars, maybe an internship in a pharmaceutical or medical industry related field. Also summer programs, likely non paid summer programs are more or better than paid for summer programs. also getting involved in STEM related clubs, science, technology, engineering, math, kind of clubs. And a volunteer for the community. Just showing that, you know, you're kind of serving other people. you're sacrificing your time for the aid of others. So extracurriculars is important. And then of course, rigor is the second thing I said before. So essentially, especially in those STEM classes, the science, technology, engineering, math kind of classes, focus on taking the highest coursework are there. So focusing on honors, AP classes, and those course works? And then performing well in those as well? Yeah, cool.


Great. So yeah, again, if you guys have questions or anything, just feel free to drop them in the q&a box, you know, answer.


Okay, yeah. Yeah, the logging in is kind of tricky. But yeah, um, I think I provide more like fleshed out answer in the beginning. So you'll get the recording in the next 24 hours or so. And then just feel free to watch. It's kind of yours as the first question. So the first minute or two?


Okay, Jonah asks, do you think a lot of extracurriculars are still important when applying to schools for the arts? Yeah, I would say so. So oftentimes, schools do value students who have broad exposure. But also, okay, well backtrack. schools do like students who are heavily involved in activities, not just kind of studying all the time. Right. So for that reason, extracurriculars are important. So say you are an art student, right? schools will value students who get heavily involved in the arts, through extracurriculars. So hopefully, you know, you don't just have the grades, but you also have the extracurricular or experience experiential background to show that you are very interested in the arts kind of field, right. And so that's where extra colors are valuable, because that helps you set you apart from other students in the arts field. Excuse me. Another thing I would say is that in terms of extracurriculars, if you're going into the arts or something, just in general, being involved in community kind of volunteer for the community is valuable in any application. especially in light of recent events, you know, admissions officers, look for students who are involved in kind of social justice initiatives, who care for other people who spend their devote their time to help other people, etc. So definitely be helpful to you to kind of get involved extracurriculars. specifically focusing in the arts, and how you've contributed to the arts to show that you have the experiential and passion for the arts. But then also, you know, maybe community volunteering can be something as well.


Okay, Carla asks, Can competitions like biology one adds be added to my application, these make any difference. Biology, Olympiad can definitely be added to your competent application. Most of the times, it'll end up being like an awards or an honors and that kind of section, the awards and honors section, not in the activity section. Biology Olympiad is usually just kind of a test that you've taken. And based on your achievement, it could actually be valuable and make a difference in your application. But one thing to note is, you know, you want to score in the top kind of percentiles, you want to have a notable presence in this biology Olympiad field. If not, it probably won't make a difference in your application, it won't be as valuable. Okay, prashanth asks, do things like Taekwondo black belt? Are they useful? Yeah, definitely, it shows that, you know, you're passionate about what you like, and you really excelled at it, you've gotten the black belt. Um, but what I would say is like, if there's 10 activities that you can list on your application, and say you have 11, and 10 of them are super relevant to your field of interest. And then you have Taekwondo, right? I would prefer that you put the time and not protect cuando. Because Taekwondo is an isolated connectivity, which really doesn't show specialization in your field. Right. But that being said, it is definitely something that you've committed, basically your life lifetime to maybe like 10 years to to get the black belt. So it's very valuable to put that in. So yeah, I definitely useful the application. But if you're kind of fighting for room and like Taekwondo, something you want to squeeze in, but might not be better compared to other things. You might have to leave it up.


Ethan asked for the biomed concentration, is taking AP world history a good choice along with AP Chem, just to increase the rigor of course load. Yeah, good question. Um, so for context, when we're applying to like selective, really, colleges, try to aim for seven or more AP classes throughout all of high school, right, seven or more seven as like the lower limit, or Yeah. Um, so yeah, try to maximize the amount of APs. But also try to maximize the amount of APS in STEM, right? So you're applying for like biomed. So AP World History is sort of out of that context. So if you're able to switch that with something more relevant to the sciences, or math, that would definitely be more helpful. But if AP World History is kind of in your comfort zone, you think you can perform well. Yeah, it'll definitely help you. But it's kind of like one of the quote unquote, like easier AP classes, if I could say, so. In terms of increasing courseload, it'll give you another AP class, but it's not gonna really boost like your science, technology, engineering, math kind of presence in your coursework. So yeah, consider taking it if you can perform.


Okay, Isabella s says, I'm going for an IB Diploma at in Houston, they recommend I take three high level classes, and they don't offer AP level classes. Okay. As I'm interested in pre med, I'm taking HL biology, chemistry and math. Should I take some AP classes somewhere else? If so, which ones do you recommend? No, that's fair enough. Um, so if there's no AP classes available at your school, that's totally fine. You're taking IB HL, which is equivalent to AP classes. That's perfectly fine. So technically, you're taking biology, chemistry and math, which are technically three AP classes. So I think you're in a good spot there, especially for kind of pre med coursework. In terms of the sciences, if there's like IB, HL physics, or something like that, it'd be valuable. But I think you've kind of covered the broad expanse of advanced course river in terms of stuff. So I think you're fine there to be honest. So don't really have to reach out to take AP classes elsewhere. Because your school doesn't offer them. And your guidance counselor, your school will let the schools that you apply to know that your school didn't allow you to take AP exams or AP classes. But what I would recommend is just despite not having AP classes available, keep taking keep insisting on taking the highest level courses available to you.


Okay, Carla asks, What should I write about my essay? is a more academic or personal. Yeah, good question. So it kind of depends on the essay that you're writing, right. So there's multiple essays throughout the application process. One of the big ones is that Common App essay, which we recommend writing between 550 to 650 words, but there's also supplemental essays, which go to each individual school. And those could ask questions related to why you want to attend the school? Why do you want to pursue your major of choice? Have you impacted your community, etc. So supplemental essays are very specific. Well, Common App essay is more general based on seven prompts that you choose one out of. So for the Common App essay, usually we want to have more of a personal type essay, which maybe follows a storyline and talks about you and your character and your values, etc. For supplemental essays, it's a mix between personal academic based on the question, things like why school or why major kind of questions are more academic, because you have to provide examples of what school offers in terms of resources before answering, while questions like describe a time when he showed leadership or how the impacter community can be more personal.


Ethan asks, How important is a math course load for biomed? AP math, or just honors math, which includes AP calc, BC calculus grade sufficient. Also, AB and BC are both AP level math classes. So ideally, you can take those, but again, if you're not comfortable with it, no need to sacrifice your GPA, right? Yeah, so do what you're most capable of. But try to reach the highest math level possible. So I think you're intending on applying to biomedical engineering. So usually engineering, if you're applying for that you want a high kind of math course, are intense. But of course, though, in terms of Subject Tests, which is another question you have for biomedical engineering, or biomed, in general, physics, can biology also make sense? So schools, at most will look at three exams. One I would definitely recommend taking is math two. A lot of STEM majors end up taking math two. And then biology makes sense for biomed. Possibly physics. Yeah. But again, choose your strong suit, because that'll definitely help you in the application process. higher scores higher percentile scores is better. So math to biology and then something else.


Hmm. Okay, Michelle, does if you don't mind, can you talk about your background? A bit? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, great. I'm sorry, I'm new and introduced myself before. Yeah, but essentially, um, I played High School. Three years ago, I was admitted into a seven year medical program at Boston University. And now I'm attending medical school in August as a first year medical student. I've been working with CollegeVine for three years now. And I've helped kind of parents, students all kind of navigate this academic process or application process. Um, in terms of my background, in high school, I was heavily involved in a lot of STEM related clubs, whether it be Red Cross, like science, not science will be something called academically, kind of just go around to different states, but not different states, different counties within the state, do academic trivia. I was president of a science club. In terms of community volunteering, American Red Cross again, then also as a emergency medical technician, EMT. Yeah, I did a research it research internship in Boston. Yeah, when I took a lot of STEM classes, etc.


Okay, um, Ethan clarified, so he wants to apply for pre med, not biomedical engineering. But yeah, everything I said kind of stands there. For Subject Tests. Take math too, for sure. If you want to kind of go into pre med or stem in general. And then between biology, chemistry, physics, just take your strong suit, and just choose that. But yeah, in terms of course, rigor, kind of everything I said before, it still applies. Great. These are great questions, then yeah, so if you guys have more, just feel free to ask


Okay, so maybe you guys ran out of questions. Maybe I did a good job answering them. Who knows? Yeah, I'll give it about like maybe another two minutes or so. And if there's no more questions, kind of just end this session. Yeah. Again, great questions.


Okay, Ethan asks, How important are sports? Yeah. So it really depends on your involvement in sports. So say you got to like the varsity level, say you were like team captain or something. Right? That would definitely be valuable in terms of activity section and writing about sports, right? But say you were involved in JV. Maybe you did it for two or three years, and I kind of stopped doing sports. It's not as valuable in the application. So you might just consider kind of leaving it off. Right. So depending on your involvement, sports could be another valuable activity. Right. Yeah, so yeah, it's just another thing that's nice to put on application, because it shows like aspects of teamwork, leadership, commitment, passion, etc. So if you can, might as well, thanks to note, yeah, so you mentioned that, in the fall, sports are kind of canceled in some ways, because of COVID. The competition levels are off. But again, just putting on the application, if you're really involved, and it's your passion would definitely be helpful.


Yeah, okay. Prashant s, degenerated college list through our website. And then recently, it's kind of changes. It's changed in terms of its admissions difficulty for each school, I'm assuming. Yeah. So every time you kind of get new data, school policies change, or maybe test optionality kind of comes out, those kind of things do affect our chancing algorithm. And kind of like the parameters that we assess, right. So it's not changed in real time, like every day, but when new things are updated, kind of like in the realm of admissions or anything, we'll definitely put those updates into our algorithm. So you will see the chancing and then kind of change weights and change admissions, likelihoods and things like that.


Okay, Carla asked is completing our first year in another college, while in high school, make me a transfer student. In my country, I'll be graduating at the end of the year, and I'm one subject away from putting my first year of college, but I've not yet applied for that. So if I'm interpreting this, right, you are a high school student, like you're going through four years of high school, but you've elected to take some college level courses. So it doesn't make you a transfer student, just because you're taking college level courses. Um, if you've taken enough courses to essentially complete a first year at another college, it still doesn't make you a college student. The only thing that would make you a transfer student in this case, would be if you were actually enrolled as a student at that college, and we're working towards a certain major at college. But likelihood is that you're still in high school, and you're just taking college level courses. So you're not a transfer applicant.


Okay, Ethan asked, we're just playing with a local league and not in a school team matter. Again, local League, like depends how long you've played, how competitive it is, could be valuable to application. If you don't have other activities that kind of show this aspect of team leadership. leisure in some way. Yeah, I definitely find it valuable. But if there's again, other things that could supplant it that are maybe more valuable. I would include those other things before you include something like a local league sport.


Cindy asks, How important is the National Merit semifinalist or finalist awards? Good question. Um, so yeah, National Merit finalists, more valuable semifinalist. But in some ways, having that on the award section is oftentimes pretty common now amongst applicants that say selective or elite colleges. So it's actually not as important. But it would be worthy having anyway. It's also important oftentimes, because when you're applying to school, you can get some merit aid based on your National Merit scholar status, and then get a National Merit Scholarship, which would be helpful. So it's definitely worth pursuing. Regardless, regardless of the application.


Samarra are asked what courses do colleges include when calculating and GPA? Is it just the core courses math, science, history, English, foreign language, or other courses, including to in the calculation? Yeah, so it's actually a couple things on that. So when you're submitting to a college, you'll give your unweighted GPA, and the colleges will assess based on unweighted. So everything like course, rigor doesn't matter. And the colleges will re wait your grades based on the course rater based on their own scales, right. Um, another thing of note is that there's sometimes two separate GPAs that colleges will look at. So say you're applying for one of those STEM majors, so science, technology, engineering math, that was applying for biology. schools would one look at my unweighted cumulative GPA, which is actually all the courses I've taken, including other courses outside, like you mentioned, but then they'll also look at my science GPA, which is strictly things like my science and math classes. So that's how they kind of like, filter out the other classes and just can just assess my competitiveness and my abilities in science and math, specifically. So in some ways, of course, this foreign language or history, for example, might not boost the science GPA could boost your cumulative GPA might help you look good. But in terms of science, and might not be as useful, it's not as useful.


Okay, Jonah asks, how influential is the personal essay when it comes to acceptance? Do you think it holds the same value as test scores? Yeah, good question. So to answer that question, I'm going to kind of walk through the process of admissions at most selective elite colleges. So when an applicant applies, they'll kind of go through this first filtering process called the cut off process. The cut off process specifically looks at things like your academics, we look at GPA, test scores, test scores, including standardized test, AP exams, and Subject Tests. based off of that, if you kind of meet their criteria, you kind of meet their threshold scores, and you exceed them, you move on to the next page with this holistic review process. So in the holistic review process, that's when essays, letters, recommendation, resume, CV, all these other criteria kind of come into picture. During the holistic review process. essays, especially in the COVID kind of world, we would say wait about 30% of your entire book is 30 to 35% of your entire application. Well, things like SAT test scores will be around 25%. So in the holistic review, process essays are actually more important, especially in a COVID. World, pre COVID, it's about the same. So essays, essays matter just about the same much. But in the holistic review process, because admissions readers are reading it as more of a human element to it. So we'd actually say that personal essays are a lot more or have more weight than standardized tests, past the cutoff kind of stage. So definitely work on the personal essay, it'll, it's sort of like a make or break because a lot of students if you look strictly at GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, have the same metrics. They have the same, same performance across hundreds, thousands of students, things that will differentiate students will be this personal essay aspect.


Okay, Cindy asked are the average GPA data reported on the college admission statistics, usually weighted up or unweighted. For example, Harvard has 4.15. Princeton chose 3.9. Yeah, so if it's above four, it's going to be weighted. So that's weighted GPA. But colleges will specifically look at your unweighted and then re wait based on your course of rigor to get a weighted GPA on their own. Yeah. But that being said, I'm just looking at GPA kind of cut offs to assess your competitiveness, your school is kind of flawed methodology not recommended, because so many other aspects of your application kind of go into gauging your competitiveness for school.


So, yeah. Okay, great. Um, I'll give you another minute. There's more questions, but it seems 45 minutes are good. flops. So we'll probably end for today. And then I'll see you guys next time. Again, if there's any last minute questions, feel free to ask.


Okay, Ethan asked how to prepare for writing essays and prep for 10th grade. Yeah, for now, don't worry too much about it. Um, we actually do have resources for 10th graders. So if you go on the CollegeVine, website, under Resources, look at guides. And under 10th grade, it'll give some prep, or pointers for things to kind of look out for as a 10th grader. But in terms of writing essays, there's no need to prepare, or no need to start writing them now, right? Let's go to three year, two years to do it. Recommendation, though, is like, find cool stories around you start thinking of things analytically. So like, if you experience something in the classroom, or experience something cool, and one of your extracurriculars, maybe jot it down in a journal, and then maybe two years from now you can reflect on that experience, see how you've grown from that past experience? Or use that experience as kind of like, a springboard start talking about messy that you'll write in two years. So, yeah, so when I say like, start thinking things analytically, start thinking about your experiences, but then think about how it works in the context for your own growth, how it works in the context of your passion for that certain activity that you're involved in, etc.


Yeah. Cool. Yeah. So thanks for showing up today. Hopefully, I was pretty informative. And then you guys asked really good questions. So yeah, I'll see you guys next time. Bye.

Your host

Undergrad College: Boston University '20

Major: Medical Science

Graduate College: Boston University School of Medicine

Work Experience: I've been working at CollegeVine for 6 years mentoring students through BS/MD and undergraduate admissions. I have held many roles on the advising and livestream teams. I am currently a medical student at Boston University and actively pursuing research at Boston University, Mass General Brigham and the Broad Institute.


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