November To-Dos

Seniors
  • Write thank you letters to the teachers and others who wrote recommendations on your behalf. Teachers spend a great deal of time writing your recommendation so showing your appreciation is essential.
  • Plan to submit all your applications prior to the December vacation so you can enjoy some well-deserved time off. This means you should be working on your supplemental essays this month.
  • Schedule and prepare for virtual interviews (instructions are on the college website,

Speed Dating Your Essay

To view an introductory video by Sarah M. McGinty, please click here.

Dear Writer,

Deadlines are approaching. So here we offer a word or two of advice about that essay you are about to submit. Please do embrace this opportunity to enrich your application. Yes, it’s an artificial exercise: there isn’t (I am hopeful) an irrevocably defining moment in your life yet—but you’re being asked to pitch one. So as you approach the finish line, look back not to your answer (or pile of possible…

Researching Colleges in Four Steps

Even as the seniors begin the agonizing wait for their college admissions letters, juniors are starting to think about the college process. In the absence of in-person campus visits, devoting  a couple of hours to researching colleges will help you evaluate which colleges meet your criteria for your colleges search, and, if live campus visits open up again, this research will help you decide which colleges to visit.

Get a Good Guidebook: Although a lot of information is readily…

Medical research for students

So You Want To Be A Doctor…?

High school students often imagine a career as a doctor. Maybe it’s because they or someone they love has been through a challenging medical experience; maybe they have always been interested in the human body and how it works; maybe they’ve spent a lot of time watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on Netflix. Whatever the reason, many students talk about being “premed” in college. What exactly does that mean and what are some ways to make that dream a reality?

Students hoping to go to medical…

anxious student sit beside tree

Helping High School Students Manage Anxiety

Anxiety continues to rise among both high school and college students. A study of adolescents that has been conducted since 1938 finds there are five times as many teens with anxiety as those the same age who were studied during the Great Depression—an era when families struggled to put food on the table. In our current time of change and uncertainty, what is going on and what can be done about it?

The reasons are complex, but researchers believe that factors such as an increased …

College building on campus

Early Decision and Early Action: What You Need to Know

If you are a senior in high school, you are most likely in the final stages of narrowing your college apply list. You may have noticed that some colleges offer early action and early decision deadlines. Before you decide on a decision plan, it is important to understand the benefits and disadvantages of early applications. Here are some frequently asked questions about early action and early decision:

What is the difference between early action and early decision?

Early action…

Science center with students

Navigating A College Website: 10 Tips for Getting the Answers You Seek

Most college websites are chock full of useful information if you know what to look for. Whether you are a junior just beginning your research or a senior starting to analyze admissions offers, these tips might help you get some answers.

1. News You Can Use – Look at the news on the home page to see if the college seems like a lively, active place. It’s a positive sign if faculty, alumni and student work and research are highlighted and if interesting guests are visiting campus (or doing…

UMass Amherst Campus

There’s A Lot To Appreciate At UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is our state’s flagship university, meaning it is our largest, most selective public institution with the greatest variety of programs. Academic options span the colleges of agriculture, education, engineering, humanities and fine arts, information and computer sciences, natural sciences, nursing, social and behavioral sciences, management, public health and health sciences, and an honors college. UMass Amherst is part…

essay writing

The Post Drop-Off Blues

The transition to college looks different this year for many families with some students learning remotely from home and others heading to campus. If you are among those parents who brought students to a college campus, you may be worried about their safety given Covid-19, and also just missing them.  Inevitably, some moms and dads shed a few tears while saying goodbye to their college matriculant—or on the long drive home. 

Some parents are surprised at the depth of the sadness…

open note book with pen

Five Tips for Generating College Essay Topics

The main college essay in the Common Application is often referred to as a personal statement. Why personal? Because the essay should help the reader gain insight into who the student is as a person. It’s an essay that should be introspective and reflect what is meaningful to you. 

Before you turn to the empty document on your computer screen to start writing, it is essential that you spend some time thinking—about your life, your values and the memories you hold dear. Keep in mind…

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