Ten Valuable Take-Aways from The HECA Conference in Philadelphia June 2016

I met many knowledgeable and caring professionals including other IECs (Independent Educational Consultants), college presidents, college admissions representatives, vendors and authors at the HECA conference in Philadelphia last week.  I toured eight college campuses, attended nine workshops and listened to leaders in the field speak about college admissions, Liberal Arts Colleges, the current and future state of higher education and the Coalition for Access and Admission in Higher Education. The conference was extremely valuable and information rich. These ten valuable take-aways offer only a glimpse of what was offered.

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from the HECA conference in Philadelphia June 2016

(- not all new information, but information that I feel is valuable for my students and families to know)

  1. Checking the box indicating that you are applying for financial aid in the college application can cause your application to be considered incomplete to the college until all financial firms are submitted.
  2. It is important that after registering for any future SAT test, students check the email associated with their College Board account. The College Board implemented a new plan in June 2016. Selected students who register for the test will receive an email stating that they are required to submit a Verification Form by a given deadline. If the form is not submitted by this deadline, College Board will cancel the student’s registration and credit the registration fee back to the credit card. Avoid the surprise of showing up for the SAT only to find that you are not actually registered.  Students MUST check their email often.
  3. There are three different routes to the military: Service Academies, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and OCS (Officer Candidate School)  Each path has different requirements
  4. There is a company called New Frontiers in Learning that is full of trained professionals to help students with learning difficulties navigate the transition to college and learn to self advocate.
  5. HECA members as a whole are dedicated, collaborative, extremely caring and knowledgeable professionals in the field of college consulting.
  6. Liberal arts students are in demand: CIC Website For higher ed professionals - LiberalArtsPower For students and parents-  LiberalArtsLife Can you see yourself in this environment- @smartcolleges twitterfeed
  7. Purpose fuels GRIT and experiencing failure is essential to building resiliency
  8. Colleges want to admit students who will succeed there. If there is a concern about that, some colleges give the student a chance to try it out before committing. (Passport Program- St Joseph's University)
  9. Colleges and Universities have priorities in building their class each year. Their goal is to build a community of students who will help the university continue on its mission.
  10. Each college/university has special qualities just as each student does. The staff and faculty at those colleges really want their students to take advantage of all the school has to offer.
  • A pre-med student really can actively pursue the arts in college as well. Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College
  • A women's college can be made as coed as the student desires it to be.
  • Traditions are strong on most campuses (Bryn Mawr /Haverford/ Lehigh/Lafayette)
  • Engineering and business can be combined. (Lehigh IBE, Villanova SBI)
  • Pass fail evaluations require exceptional knowledge of a given subject and/or field. (Swarthmore College Honors Program)
  • Intellectual curiosity is very important - Haverford College
  • Jesuit colleges have the mission of developing students of giving character with a strong appreciation of differences. (Villanova University, Saint Josephs University)
  • Not every arts focused student needs to present a portfolio for admission. For schools that do require it, specific types of art are required and the admissions staff is there to help students through the process. (Muhlenberg College, Tyler School of Art at Temple University, University of the Arts in Philadelphia)
  • There are colleges who aim to provide both admission decisions and financial aid awards to early admission applicants by December 20. (Drew University)
  • Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC


    PSAT Scores are Back - Tips on Interpreting Scores -

    PSAT scores were released over the past week.  For those students who were able to access them, many are not clear on how to interpret them.

    Most common questions:

    Based on my PSAT results, how will I do on the SAT?

    Official concordance tables have not been released to predict how the 2015 PSAT scores would project to the SAT - A perfect score on the SAT is a 1600. A perfect score on the PSAT is a 1520. The PSAT perfect score is lower because the SAT is more difficult than the PSAT. The PSAT 1520 perfect score is shifted down to account for its differences in difficulty level. While a perfect score on the PSAT suggests you might earn a perfect score on the SAT, this is not certain because the additional questions on the SAT will be more difficult than those that were on the PSAT.  Many in the industry have also noticed somewhat inflated PSAT scores this year.

    Will I qualify for the National Merit Scholarship?

    National Merit Scholarship Qualification is based on your NMSC Selection Index Score.  The selection index score can be found on the third page of your PSAT score report.  The Selection Index Score is calculated by weighting your Writing score ⅔ and your Math score ⅓ - More information about the PSAT/NMSQT can be found in the student guide.

    Official selection index score cut-offs have not yet been determined for the class of 2017, but the predicted scores by state can be found here.

    Should I take the ACT or the SAT?

    Rather than reinvent the wheel, I refer to this article and chart by Compass Prep with the reminder that the most difficult SAT questions were left off the PSAT, the scoring of the March SAT will be delayed and preparation for one test overlaps preparation for the other.

    If I decide to take the SAT, do I need to take it with writing?

    It depends. This link will provide some insight into that.

    Sandy Aprahamian, M.Ed.  EDNavigators LLC


    Five Essential Components for Success on the ACTScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.29.02 AM


    Attitude - Success requires a positive attitude.  Think, “If it can be done, I can do it!”.  You need to really WANT to do well and you must squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking) Eliminate all negative thinking during prep and during the actual test.  There is no room or time for negative self-talk during the ACT.  

    Application - Work through retired ACT questions and take retired ACT practice tests before sitting for the real test. Understand the correct answer to every question you miss as question types repeat themselves on standardized tests.


    Content - Fully understand the content that is being tested

    Commitment - Make the test a priority.  Commit yourself to dedicated preparation and focusing on areas of weakness.


    Time - Finding time for quality test preparation is usually the biggest challenge in the life of high school students today. ACT success requires quality focused preparation time:dedicated work on content and retired ACT questions, timed full length practice tests, time put into reading and studies. Testing time is tight on the ACT.  You must work at a fast pace. Pace increases when you know what to expect on the test and have confidence solving similar questions - practice questions from retired tests.  Pace increases with practice under timed conditions - time yourself when taking practice tests and working on practice test sections.  Read this post for suggestions specific to increasing reading speed.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    The 2015-2016 Common Application is Live - 3 Key Things to Do Before You Log In

    The Common ApplicationThe 2015-2016 Common Application, an online application system that allows students to input their undergraduate application information once and have it sent to all student selected member schools, went live today. This one-time input is a great time saver!  However, most schools require additional input which is unique to their institution (supplemental essays, portfolios, etc.)  With so many components to the college application process, things can still get quite confusing. Students should take their time setting up their Common Application accounts.  Errors made early on can make the process much more challenging than it needs to be. 3 Key Things Seniors Should Do Before Setting Up The Common App Account

    1. Gather the following items before you sit down at the computer to set up your account:  a copy of your transcript and your senior year courses, a list of your activities, dates and scores from standardized tests and parent information (address, employment information, education)
    2.  Set up a system for keeping track of login information.  ( EDNavigators students should record their usernames and passwords in their Guided Path account.) There will be many passwords to keep track of as you apply to college. Keep your Common App username and password recorded in a place where you will remember it (Your username will be your email. You'll need to use this exact email to link your family connection/naviance account to the common app so your transcript and recommendations can be sent from you high school. )  
    3. Bookmark these two sites for easy access over the next few months: The Common App Login Page  The Common App Training Resources Library (The resource library has a lot of valuable set up information and answers to many troubleshooting questions.)

    In addition to getting started with the basics of the Common App, seniors may want to get started on their Common Application essay.   The 2015-2016 Common Application Essay prompts can be found here.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    Improve Reading Speed and Comprehension for the ACT

    Read to SucceedReading is a learned skill that builds upon itself. Reading often is the best way to improve comprehension and reading speed. Reading connects people places and times. It builds on personal experiences and learned knowledge.

    A reader can improve reading comprehension by:

    • Selecting reading material of interest.
    • Reading with purpose - reading title page/ copyright and introduction and connecting time and place if given - getting any background available
    • Focusing - shuting out negative thinking and distractions
    • Looking up new vocabulary and concepts as they come up

    A reader can improve reading speed by:

    1. Understanding that Speed Reading is basically more focused reading.  The best way to increase reading speed is to read often with focus and concentration.  Continued practice is key.
    2. Gently trying to read faster than comfortable.
    3. Grouping Words
    4. Trying out these free apps/software programs:  

    Acceleread App - use the free version of this app for an introduction to the process of and skills needed for speed reading.

    Spreeder:  a free online speed reading software where you can copy your own text and practice reading it with custom speed and grouping (set speed and grouping preference in “settings” under the passage) - I have no experience with the paid version of this program.  I think the free version should be fine for practicing. Copy and paste portions of  these Newspapers and Magazines The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Scientific American, The Atlantic Monthly, or The New Yorker into Spreeder and read them for speed and comprehension.  While reading, determine the purpose, main point and tone of each article. . (You may eventually want to copy and paste the article you select into Spreeder to practice reading it at the speed needed for the ACT.)  A reading speed of at least 300 wpm is needed to get through the ACT.  This reading speed is also important to get through the large amount of reading that is required in college.

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

    The Key to Higher Level Reading and Higher SAT and ACT Scores

    ReadingHaving taught hundreds of students how to read and having worked with students up to grade 12 on reading, I have found most high school students to be breaking down on reading at the same place in the process. Background on Reading:

    There are four cueing systems of reading:

    1. Graphophonic (Sound - the reader must be able to decode letter sounds)
    2. Syntactic (Structure - the reader must understand the rules of language)
    3. Semantic (Meaning - the reader must be able to relate material read to material already known)
    4. Pragmatic (Purpose -the reader must understand the culture and social purpose for which language is used)

    Early in elementary school, most students reach success with the first two components of the cueing system.  When given an appropriate leveled piece to read, they can “read” it.

    For higher level reading, students need to master the semantic and pragmatic cueing systems. This is where middle school and high school students often run in to trouble. These skills take time, practice and exposure to many topics and genres. The semantic cueing system requires background knowledge.  In order to find a logical place for the freshly read information in his/her brain, the reader must have a general idea about the topic being presented.  The pragmatic cueing system also requires life experience and strong mental processing. The purpose must be clear. Semantic and pragmatic cueing require higher level thinking and the ability to synthesize and evaluate material while reading. To master semantic cueing and pragmatic cueing, students need life experience, intellectual conversation and exposure to various topics.  It comes with time and practice.

    The best way to become proficient with the semantic and pragmatic cueing systems and to become a better reader in general is to read often.

    Middle and high school students, try these reading steps to improve your semantic and pragmatic cueing systems and get more out of your reading

    1. Understand that the book/article is assigned for a purpose.  There is something to be gained by reading it or it would not be assigned reading.  - Ask the teacher if the purpose is not clear.
    2. Look at the copyright page and read any introductory information available (back cover, front flap, introductory blurb…)
    3. Search the internet for information about the time period when the book or article was written and the time period when the story takes place.
    4. Do a quick internet search on the author.  Get a feel for where the author is coming from physically, mentally and intellectually.
    5. Download the audio version of the book if the book is a challenge to get through.  Try listening to the book while walking. (physical exercise improves brain function - and keeps you alert and awake)
    6. Pause and think about what is being read.  ask yourself… Can you relate to it?  Do you agree/disagree with concepts and characters?  Is it in line with something you read previously? Do you want to understand more about it?  Do you like the writers style?
    7. Look up unknown vocabulary words and concepts as they come up.  Just like in math, in reading missing one concept can lead to a misunderstanding of what lies ahead.

    The next challenge in mastering the reading sections of standardized tests (and college level reading) is reading speed.  Again, this takes practice.  The more someone reads, the faster they get. In my next blog post, I will provide suggestions for increasing reading speed.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    The Secret to Effective Time Management on the ACT

    ACTThe ACT is a test of content, speed, focus and time management.  Once the content is learned and preparation is complete, the test of time management remains.  A last-minute concern about running out of time on this test can quickly derail all preparation. To manage time during the ACT, I provide my students with an ACT watch.  This gives them the security of knowing that they will be able to pace themselves through the ACT and always know exactly how much time has lapsed and how much time remains in each section.  This video shows how this ACT approved watch works.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    Soccer - College Admissions - ESPN - A Connection

    Power of Social MediaI recently presented college admission information to a group of Penn Fusion Soccer Academy players and their parents at PFSA’s Fifth Annual College Night . PSFA players are fortunate to belong to a club that is led by such dedicated leaders as Mark Thomas and Tino Mueller who genuinely want the best for each and every one of their players.  At PFSA College Night, players and parents were provided valuable information about the college application process for students who would like to play soccer in college .  A panel of soccer coaches from D1, D2 and D3 schools presented recruiting and admissions information to the audience then candidly answered questions from the audience. 

    This morning’s New York Times article reminded me of an important point that was made at Penn Fusion College Night:  Players (and parents), watch what you post on the Internet. A coach’s livelihood rests on your ability to make good decisions both on and off the field. If you come across as a risk, coaches will pass you by.  Your decisions can cost the coach his or her job.  Character and a history of good decision-making count.  As today’s article demonstrates, the consequences for social media decisions continue into adulthood. Think before you type…and again before you post.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for Recruited Athletes Graduating High School in 2017

    Standardized Testing and Test-Prep Timelines for Recruited Athletes Graduating High School in 2017Testing Timeline for Recruited Athletes

    In order to prevent unnecessary scheduling stress, know test dates and test-prep timelines in advance.  With sports, service trips, family commitments and school commitments, the timing can get challenging.

    1. Know the test dates for the ACT  and the  SAT
    2. Check your availability for those dates
    3. Schedule Practice Tests and Test Prep by backing into the test dates - Use charts below as guides for timing (EDNavigators Test Prep includes a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored SAT, a Full Retired and Diagnostically Scored ACT, and five private test prep sessions to prepare for the selected test of preference. If you choose to take both the ACT and the SAT, we recommend that you prep for the test of preference then schedule an additional test prep session with us to go over format/style/strategies of the other tests.  The content of the SAT and the ACT is very similar.)

    Schedule Practice Tests early enough so you will have 6 weeks between the second practice test and the first SAT or ACT you may want to sign up for.

    ACT Timeline

    If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the end of Sophomore Year, follow these dates

    ACT April 18, 2015 end of February 2015 beginning of March 2015
    ACT June 13, 2015 mid-April 2015 end of April 2015

    If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the middle of your Junior Year, follow these dates

    ACT Sept. 12, 2015 mid-July 2015 end of July 2015
    ACT Oct 24, 2015 end of August 2015 early September 2015
    ACT Dec 12, 2015 early October 2015 mid-October 2015

    If you want to try to improve your scores from before, these are the test dates available to the class of 2017.

    ACT February 6, 2016 mid-December 2016 end of Dec 2016
    ACT April 9, 2016 early February 2016 mid-February 2016
    ACT June 11, 2016 early April 2016 mid April 2016
    ACT September 10, 2016 mid July 2016 end of July 2016
    ACT October 22, 2016 end of August 2016 early Sept 2016
    ACT December 10, 2016 early Oct 2016 mid Oct 2016

    SAT Timeline

    If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the end of Sophomore Year, follow these dates

    SAT May 2, 2015** beginning of March 2015 end of March 2015
    SAT June 6, 2015** end of April 2015 beginning of May 2015

    If you need to give coaches/schools test scores by the middle of your Junior Year, follow these dates

    SAT (Anticipated) October 3, 2015 end of July 2015 mid August 2015
    SAT (Anticipated) November 7, 2015 end of August 2015 mid Sept 2015
    SAT (Anticipated) December 5, 2015 end of Sept 2015 early Oct 2015
    SAT (Anticipated) January 23, 2016 end of Nov 2015 early Dec 2015

    After January 23, 2016, the current SAT will no longer be offered.  A newly designed SAT will be given.  EDNavigators is recommending that, if recruited athletes choose the SAT as their test of choice, they should focus on the current SAT only.

    Should I complete the FAFSA? I don’t think I’ll qualify for financial aid.

    College - Just Ahead

    First: Use the FAFSA4Caster to see where you stand regarding financial aid eligibility.

    Then, as daunting as the process sounds, it is worth the effort to complete the FAFSA even if you don’t think you will qualify for aid for three reasons.

    1.  Some schools require that the FAFSA (and CSS Profile) be filed in order for the student to be considered for MERIT Aid. —It is worth a call to the Financial Aid office of the college/university to find out if the FAFSA/CSS Profile is required for students to be considered for Merit Aid AND the school’s deadline.

    2.  In order to get Federal Student Loans (some which are not based on financial need), the FAFSA must be filed.

    3.  In the unfortunate event that your financial position changes over the next 12 months, the FAFSA would already be on file and you would not have to wait until January of next year to file the new FAFSA.

    Related Content:

    Myths About Financial Aid

    The Dept. of Education source for answers about Federal Student Aid

    FAFSA:  Who Should Apply for Financial Aid? by Fred Amrein of College Affordability

    For more Resources relating to Financing College, visit the Software/Resources page of my website.

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

    C or T?

    BlankI heard the question "C or T?" at Ashley Merryman's Keynote Address at the IECA Conference earlier this month.  The more I thought about this question, the more relevant it became.  This simple question can be applied to many aspects of life, including standardized testing and the college process. C stands for Challenge and T stands for Threat.  These words can be applied to the way we approach almost anything in our lives.  The word we choose to follow has a proven impact on our performance.

    Is the task at hand a challenge or is it a threat?

    • If it is a challenge, the energy exerted is positive.  The task is approached with excitement.
    • If it is a threat, the energy exerted is negative.  This negative energy can lead to mistakes and panic.

    Whether you are sitting for a test, auditioning for a play, applying or interviewing for a job, school or college, playing an important game or match, or walking on stage for a presentation, think CHALLENGE, not threat.

    Sandy Aprahamian EDNavigators LLC

    Gap Year Information, College Affordability Information, Standardized Testing Updates, College Admission Represenatives ... all in one place

    Since the role of an Independent Educational Consultant is still unclear to many people, I thought I'd share some of the sessions that I attended at the IECA Fall Conference last week.  The conference included break-out educational sessions, two keynote addresses, hosted receptions, round table discussions, committee meetings, a vendor hall, a college fair and numerous other networking events.

    I attended the following Break-out Educational Sessions:

    • Gap Years:  What’s Out There, How to Structure One, and Simple Vetting Options
    • Testing College Readiness:   What are the Redesigned SAT and ACT Measuring and How Do We Best Prepare Our Students
    • Anatomy of a Financial Aid Award
    • The Fading of Facebook: the Evolution of Teenage Online Social Interactions

    I heard Keynote Addresses from:

    • Justin Bachman - 17 year-old high school senior with Tourette’s Syndrome, severe ADHD and dysgraphia
    • Ashely Merryman - Best-selling author and award-winning journalist (NurtureShock:  New Thinking About Children Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing)

    I attended Hosted Receptions/ Presentations from:

    • University of New Haven
    • Oak Meadow Independent Learning
    • Warren Wilson College

    I Visited the Following Booths at the Vendor Hall:

    • Colleges That Change Lives
    • American Gap Association
    • Summit Educational Group
    • YouScience
    • IECA Foundation
    • American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
    • College Affordability
    • College Cost Navigator
    • Guided Path
    • Wintergreen Orchard House
    • Human eSources, Ltd.

    I Met Representatives/Admissions Representatives from the following Colleges and Universities:

    • American University
    • Bucknell University
    • Eckerd College
    • Rollins College
    • University of Miami
    • University of Richmond
    • University of South Carolina
    • New York University
    • Quinnipiac University
    • Ursinus College
    • Susquehanna University
    • University of New Haven
    • Warren Wilson College

    It was an action-packed educational week.  I met great people and learned a lot.  In future posts, I will share, more specifically,  some of the key information I learned.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

    An Important Word to Remember When Leaving for (or sending your child off to) College


    Last week I participated in a webinar presented by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate.  In his presentation, Cohen reminded us that the transition to college WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE.  As counselors, parents, and teachers, we tell our students and children how lucky they are to get to go to college - that they are headed off to the best four years of their life - that they will be among people just like them - that they will have the opportunity to learn interesting material - that top-notch facilities will be at their fingertips…  Our students and children know that - BUT it doesn’t change the fact that UNCOMFORTABLE can not be avoided. UNCOMFORTABLE comes with the territory of change and newness.

    Navigating the UNCOMFORTABLE in the college transition is an important hurdle.  The skills students learn and use in this transition go into their toolkit for the future.  The fact is, we are faced with uncomfortable situations throughout life.

    I felt the freshman uncomfortable feeling just this week when I attend the IECA  (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Orlando, Florida.  At the happiest place on earth, amongst people whom I knew I had a lot in common with, presented with a candy shop full of information and learning opportunities, I felt uncomfortable.

    Business travel uncomfortable parallels college freshman uncomfortable in many ways.  I entered a new and exciting environment, which I chose, but where I did not know the lay of the land or a single person.  I had no safety net to turn to, no wing-man by my side, no familiar paths or comforts.  I had to pull out my toolkit and manage the uncomfortable.  I’m thankful that I had this experience because it reminded what my students feel when they head off for freshman year. As a counselor and parent, it's easy to forget.

    As I navigated the uncomfortable this week, these were some tools I used - the same tools I recommend for students transitioning into college.

    Tools to Navigate the UNCOMFORTABLE

    Have the Right  Attitude:

    • Feel confident in the decision you made to attend this particular school.
    • Plan to succeed there.
    • Expect it to be uncomfortable at first and plan to step out of your comfort zone.

    Practice Self-care:  Do what you need to maintain your personal balance.

    • Exercise daily
    • Eat healthy meals.
    • Get enough sleep.
    • Find quiet safe places to retreat when time alone is needed.
    • Be there to learn about what interests you. Do not feel pressure to get good grades right off the bat.  Interest in soaking up as much knowledge as possible, makes grades came naturally.

    Practice Controlled Caution:

    • Before going out think about possible scenarios and have a plan... it takes time to learn who you can trust in a new environment - the one person you can truly trust is yourself. Remain in control of your decisions.

    Make Connections and Initiate Conversations:

    • Introduce yourself and make connections - other people are feeling uncomfortable too.
    • Attend ice breakers and freshman activities.
    • Take advantage of the programs offered to acclimate.
    • Join a small group where you will be among people who share your interests (sports team, band, chorus, prayer group, action committee, poetry club, service organization, book club…there are many groups and clubs )

    Know yourself - Be yourself - Expect the Unexpected - Be Patient - Remember, it WILL be UNCOMFORTABLE at first.

    As a follow-up to this article, the IECA Conference was a huge success.  I learned a lot and made great new friends.  I will be sharing my new knowledge with you in future posts.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

    Some October 2014 SAT Scores are Delayed

    Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.03.23 PMSome high school students recently learned that the reporting of their October SAT scores is being delayed.  This Washington Post article provides an overview of the situation.  With many Early Action and Early Decision deadlines only three days away, seniors who were counting on these scores to complete their application may not make the application deadlines.  The score delays affect students who took the SAT in China, South Korea and, possibly Singapore.  Students who find themselves in this situation should call or email each school directly to ask how the delay will be handled.  Some colleges will give a grace period due to the circumstances - some will not.  This is frustrating all-around.  At EDNaviagotors  we encourage students to complete their testing by the end of their junior year of high school.  For high school seniors, this removes the testing burden, the uncertainty of where test scores will fall and whether or not scores will arrive in time.  High school seniors are busy enough focusing on grades, essays and applications in the fall.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

    Practice Test Date for ACT Added

    Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 9.03.31 PMEDNavigators will be offering a practice ACT in Malvern, PA on Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 8AM-12PM.  Test details and registration information can be found here.  

    Basic overview of the ACT.

    The New SAT vs the Current SAT vs the ACT -A Preliminary Look

    More information on the ACT

    It's Essay Season - The Three Types of Essays Required of College Applicants

    overwhelmedHigh school students are asked to write three types of essaysthroughout the college application process.  Each essay type is unique and requires a unique approach.

    Know the essay purpose.  Know the reader/audience.  Know the format.  Have a plan.

    SAT/ACT Essays (1-3 handwritten pages written under time constraints)

    The Standardized test essays are persuasive essays.  They measure:

    • how clearly a student can express and defend an opinion
    • a student’s ability to write a traditional 5-6 paragraph essay
    • grammar, usage and mechanics
    • the ability to write under time constraints

    Scores are not base upon accuracy of facts. Students are not judged on their opinion, but their ability to express and defend it.

    The Personal Statement Essay ("your story" usually 650 words or less)college essay rescue

    • This is, essentially, a personal story or autobiography. It is the student’s way to set himself apart from the other students who present similar transcripts and test scores.
    • It is a way for the college to get to know the student.
    • It requires the student to dig deeply inside himself and reflect upon his life, who he is, and what he values.

    The Supplemental Essays ("why us?"  "tell us more" usually 250 words or less)

    • These short essays tend to be either fact based or creative.
    • The fact based prompts require the student to research and explain or defend something.  They should contain accurate information.
    • The creative prompts are ways for the admissions readers to dig deeper into who the student is.

    The three essay types above are very different and need to be approached differently.

     EDNavigators offers assistance with all of these essay types.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    Related Articles:

    Essential information about the SAT Writing Score and the Essay

    The New SAT vs the Current SAT vs the ACT - A Preliminary Look

    EDNavigators Introduces Guided Path for Comprehensive Management of the College Process

    Common Application Essay Prompts for 2014-15

    Attention High School Athletes: The Academic Index

    Ivy League Pennants What is the Academic Index (AI)? - The Academic Index is a tool used by the Ivy League Schools to measure a high school athlete's academic performance and to determine whether or not the student has the academic credentials necessary to be admitted to the school.

    Why is the Academic Index Important? - In order to be accepted by the admissions office of an Ivy League School, high school athletes who plan to play their sport in college must meet the school's Academic Index.  It has become more important to understand the AI early in high school as high school athletes are being offered early verbal commitments from coaches as early as freshman year of high school.  If a student has his/her heart set on any Ivy League school, it is essential that the student knows whether or not he/she can meet the Ivy League's AI before making a decision on the early verbal offer from another school.

    Two New York Times articles by Bill Pennington are great resources on the topic of the Academic Index (AI) -

    Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math The Graphic on the left of the article show sample calculations.

    A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

    To Get a General Idea of your AI:

    Add the results of 1, 2 and 3 below together:

    1.  SAT or ACT Index Number:

    • If using SAT scores to calculate AI, add reading and math scores and divide by 20
    • If using ACT scores to calculate AI, multiply the ACT Composite Score by 2.23

    2.  The GPA Index Number (this index number used to be based on class rank)

    The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:

    • 3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
    • 3.7 weighted is 71 points
    • 3.3 unweighted is 70 points
    • 3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points

    3.  SAT or ACT Index Number from step one or SAT II Subject Tests:  Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20.

    Another article with valuable information about affording an Ivy League education:

    Financial Aid Changes Game as Ivy Sports Teams Flourish by Bill Pennington

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal- EDNavigators LLC


    Another College Application Question With Varying Answers

    Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.24.14 AMRising Seniors are encouraged to begin their college applications over the summer between Junior and Senior Year.  This sounds like a simple task, but considering that colleges work with different applications and on different timelines, it gets complicated quickly.  The first question students must find the answer to is:

    When Do College Applications Go Live?

    For schools that accept the Common Application and the Universal Application, these dates apply:

    • The Universal Application opens on July 1, 2014
    • The Common Application opens on August 1, 2014

    At some schools, like The University of Chicago, you can start and submit your supplement before you complete the Universal or Common App.

    Some schools with rolling admission, like Delaware Valley College, accept applications anytime after the student completes his/her junior year of high school. Others with rolling admission, like Pennsylvania State University make the application available September 1.

    Bottom Line:

    Check the website or call each school to which you plan to apply to get its specific application timeline.

    Use a system to keep track of what is due when.

    If you are planning to apply to colleges that accept the Universal Application or Common Application, start the main essay as soon as you can and supplemental essays (common app prompts are here) as soon as they are released by the school.  Early Decision/Early Action Dates of Nov. 1 and Nov 15 come quickly.

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC



    Rising Seniors - Summer Timeline for College Applications

    College Application Checklist for Rising SeniorsFirst semester senior year is busy.  Class rigor and grades for senior year count toward college admissions. EDNavigators encourages students to remove some of the senior year stress by beginning applications over the summer. What can a rising senior do over the summer in preparation for college applications?

    June and July: 1. Plan and adjust college by researching and visiting colleges. 2. Prepare for the SAT or ACT if taking it in the fall. 3. Go to the website of or call the college of interest to find out: • If it accepts The Common Application - If yes, are supplements required? Are they available yet? Supplements to the Common Application become available on a school-by-school basis. Princeton University’s Supplement to the Common Application for the Class of 2015 is available now as well as Purdue, Amherst and Penn. • If it accepts The Universal College Application - If yes, are supplements required and are they available yet? • If it has its own application - If yes, is it available? For schools with rolling admission, the sooner you complete and submit the application, the better your chances of getting in. Penn State's application becomes available September 1. There are different application requirements and different timelines for each school. The only way to get the information you need specific to each school is to go to the school’s website or call the school’s admissions office. 4. Write the common Application Essay. The Common Application Essay prompts will remain the same as they were last year. They are available now. 5. Take time to do things you enjoy

    August: 1. On August 1, The Common Application and The Universal College Application go live for the next school year. Complete the core sections during the month of August. The Common Application and The Universal College Application for Fall 2015 will be available August 1, 2014 2. Continue to adjust and revise the college list 3. Continue with test-prep 4. Take time to do things you enjoy.

     Specifics for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

    Important Information for College Bound High School Students with ADD/ADHD or any Learning Disability

    education-labyrinth1.jpgKnow your standardized testing accommodation options and deadlines early - as early as freshman year of high school.

    SAT and ACT Testing Accommodations - Frequently Asked Questions

    When should accommodations be requested?

    • For accommodation for sophomore PSAT or PLAN, requests should be made spring of freshman year.
    • If accommodations are not needed for tests given in the fall of sophomore year of high school, accommodation requests should be made in the spring of sophomore year.

    Who submits the request?

    • The school disability coordinator or guidance counselor - When making the request, the counselor should be specific about what the student needs.

    What must be included in the request?

    • Evidence of a professionally diagnosed disability and documentation proving how the student’s limitation impacts both daily functioning and the ability to take standardized tests Formal psychological testing for the ACT must be no more than 3 years old.  Formal psychological testing for the SAT must be no more than 5 years old.  Generally, testing should be repeated for students when they are 16 as the tests are then given on the adult scale.

    What are the differences between the extended time accommodations for the SAT and the ACT?

    50% Extended Time:

    • SAT: Time and a half is given per section. The student must wait for the time to expire for each section before moving on to the next - The full-time spent on the test is 1.5 times as long as it would be without accommodations.
    • ACT: Student self-paces through the test, going on to the next section at his or her own pace. The test ends when he student finishes OR when the 1.5 time has expired.

    100% Extended Time / Special Testing at school (typically for students with more severe deficiencies than ADHD)

    • ACT - The student takes one section per day. He/she is given double the standard time for each section. For example, English would be 90 minutes, Math would be 2 hours etc.

    When will I hear if the accommodation has been granted?

    • ACT Response Time: about 4 weeks
    • SAT Response Time: about 7 weeks

    Who grants a higher percentage of accommodation requests - ACT or College Board (SAT)?

    • ACT

    When accommodations are approved, what tests do they include?

    • College Board Accommodations Include: SAT, PSAT, AP Exams
    • ACT Accommodations Include: ACT, PLAN

    EDNaviagators suggests that students with disabilities get the wheels in motion for accommodations spring of freshman year of high school. Have the request submitted before the end of freshman year. Submit requests to both College Board and ACT since the only way to know which test is better for the student is for the student to take full practice tests of each.

    Since these guidelines and procedures are subject to change, it is always best to confirm with the official websites: Services for Students with Disabilities: The College Board Services for Students with Disabilities: ACT

    Sandy Aprahamian, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators