College Admissions Resolutions for 2017

December 27, 2016
Russell Schaffer

Here are a few tips to help you with college admissions in 2017.

While you’re making New Year’s resolutions, consider college admissions.

Kaplan surveys PSAT students on why they studied. Students who apply early sometimes have a strong college admissions advantage over those who don’t. Colleges may turn to social media to tell applicants if they’ve been admitted. Fill out your FAFSA…ASAP. We’re bringing the latest news on the college admissions front right to you, right here, right now. We wish you a joyous healthy rest of the holiday season…and a prosperous and healthy 2017! And thanks so much for your loyal readership.

Resolution #1: Take the PSAT

Were you among the millions of students who took the PSAT this past October? If so, you by now have received your scores and we hope that they were what you aimed for and higher.  Kaplan Test Prep recently surveyed 1,000 students who too this past administration of the exam to find out exactly why they put so much effort into doing well. Here are some the top reasons:

  • The SAT: A plurality (34%) say the main reason for why they prepared for the PSAT was to get ready for the SAT—one of two college admissions exams used by the the vast majority of college and universities (including almost all the most competitive ones). With highly parallel content, the PSAT has traditionally functioned as a practice test for the SAT, but in recent years also for the ACT®, as the recent changes to the SAT made it more similar to the ACT.
  • Scholarships: Earning scholarship money for college was the second most cited reason for prepping for the PSAT, given by 28% of students. $180 million in National Merit scholarships are awarded to top-scoring PSAT takers and doing well on the exam can go a long way in making sure affordability is less of an issue when deciding where to enroll.
  • Required: Some high schools across the country require that their sophomores take the PSAT as a way to make them more open to the idea of applying to college. Usually, these high schools even cover the costs. Of the students surveyed, 19% said the main reason they took it was because it was required by their high school.

Resolution #2: Apply early

Not every college or university in the United States has an early college admissions process—be it the binding one or non-binding one—but if they do, it might makes sense to take advantage of it. Statistics show that students who apply early have a significantly higher chance of getting in and those who apply during regular college admissions: 63% v 50%, respectively, on average.

But at some colleges, including some top ranked ones, that gap is much wider. At American University, for example, the percentage of early applicants who are admitted is 87%; while just 32% of applicants who won’t apply early get in. And at SUNY Albany, 95% of early applicants are admitted, compared to just 48% who don’t apply early.

Resolution #3: Get on Snapchat

If you speak with your parents, they’ll tell you the way they found out if they got into college was through snail mail. They can explain to you what it felt like to get a fat enveloped compare to thin envelope. Nowadays, students usually hear about their college admissions fate through email. But now some schools are notifying applicants through even more modern forms of communication: social media.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay applicants are getting the word via Snapchat.  While they still get the traditional welcome packages in the regular email, this new features adds an element of technology. “They would definitely get a snap before they’d get their mail packet. Students get the snaps pretty immediately because it’s a place where they are they spend a lot of time there,” says Katelyn Santy, of UWGB’s college admissions office.

Resolution #4: Apply for FAFSA

If are high school senior who hasn’t submitted their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form yet, what are you waiting for? Not only does neglecting this step guarantee that you won’t receive single penny of the millions of dollars available in national aid, but it means you are less likely to go directly onto to college: 90% v 55%. This is probably because without FAFSA aid, you are less likely to be able to afford tuition and fees.

This study also notes which cities have the highest rate of FAFSA completion for high schoolers. At the top of the list if Memphis, TN, at nearly 70%. Lagging in last place is North Las Vegas, Nevada, at just 25%.

As always, we’d like to thank you for coming to Kaplan for your SAT/ACT prep. Keep visiting our site to take advantage of big savings on test prep heading into the New Year!

Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer Russell Schaffer is Kaplan Test Prep's senior communications manager. Russell is responsible for helping lead our external media relations efforts, including speaking with reporters and bloggers on a regular basis about Kaplan's proprietary research and products. Russell also helps craft the surveys we regularly administer of students, advisers​,​ and admissions officers. The data collected helps guide the hundreds of thousands of students and parents Kaplan works with every year by giving them accurate and up-to-date information ​about​ the landscape. Russell is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where he received his BA in political science and MA in communications.

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