The college admissions process can be daunting for many. Colleges,
“They’re realizing that many kids admitted into top schools are emotional wrecks or slavish adherents to soulless scripts that forbid the exploration of genuine passions. And they’re acknowledging the extent to which the admissions process has contributed to this (Frank Bruni, The New York Times, Jan. 19, 2016).”
Students are challenged everyday by the changing landscape of opportunities, the ever growing competition at top universities, and the support that they need to make important life changing decisions. While the rigours of testing can seem soulless, at Galvanize we hope to demystify difficult constructs to help you prepare for the inevitable aspects of college admissions, and, at the same time, we seek to unravel your innate zest and facilitate your self-discovery. This will help you make informed choices as you navigate the professional world of ever evolving expectations.
At Galvanize, we want to coach you through your college admissions experience. From the ideal time to start your college admissions preparation to information regarding financial readiness, in these pages, you will find some guidelines to make preliminary decisions, and we hope that we will join you in your higher education journey.
When is the ideal time to start preparing for undergraduate admissions?
You don’t have to wait until the very last year of high-school to buckle down and get serious about college admissions. In fact, we recommend that you DON’T do that. Use all four years of your time in high-school to gradually put together a profile colleges will be excited to read about. Here’s how you can do that.
1. When you’re in the 9th grade:
- Explore areas of interest to pursue a college major
- Choose the right classes and prepare for college
- Get involved in various community and leadership activities
- Consider enrichment and summer programs at home and abroad to make your summer count towards your application
- Work with your admissions counselor to plan and stay on track with your college preparation
2. When you’re in the 10th grade:
- Begin test prep for SAT/ACT and other tests you plan to take while keeping your grades up in school
- Begin exploring career options and try to work at a summer job/internship if possible
- Put together a professional resume and track your achievements, awards and honors
- Establish your target colleges and start working towards meeting admissions criteria
3. When you’re in the 11th grade:
- Plan to take the SAT early to get a preliminary score to understand if you will have to retake the SAT
- Plan to take the SAT subject tests and English proficiency test and any AP exams by the end of the academic year in Summer
- Contact your recommenders and ensure they are ready to submit reports and transcripts online
- Stay involved in your leadership and community activities
- Start your college essays
4. When you’re in the 12th grade:
- Application deadlines will be between October and January
- Admissions results will be released by March
- Decide on final college by April-May
- Make sure you have a succession plan for any activities that you started that require continuity after your graduation
- Graduate from High School
How early can I start and what are the advantages?
The earlier you start the stronger will be your candidacy, especially for the coveted IVYs, Oxbridge and other prestigious universities.
We recommend that students start planning for college in 9th grade giving them adequate opportunity to start considering career choices, courses, summer programs, activities and internships. Test prep will also require time. While your high school curriculum should prepare you to the tests, the nature and format of the questions require adequate practice and disciplined preparation. Depending on the number of tests you plan to take, you have to manage your time effectively. That said, your college application will be due between October and January of your 12th grade.
There are hundreds of universities in the USA and in other parts of the world that do not require the challenging SAT, APs, IBs etc., and you will be able to apply with minimal planning. To be a successful applicant, you should have all the application materials ready at least one month prior to your application deadlines, giving adequate time for your test scores and recommendations to reach the university.
How do Standardized test scores like SAT/ACT help and which countries can I use them for?
The SAT and ACT demonstrate college readiness and are widely accepted by US universities, along with Oxford, Cambridge and NUS. These exams are standardized and allow admissions committees to compare students from across cultures on standardized measures of verbal and quantitative aptitude and an essay.
You should know that colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Both the SAT and ACT are equally valid. However, there are a few differences in the structure of the two tests that might leave you preferring one over the other.
SAT Subject Tests are hour-long tests of students’ knowledge in specific academic areas. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science.
Are there any other tests I might be required to take?
As a student hoping to attend a college or university in an English-speaking country, you’re going to discover that part of the application process involves demonstrating your proficiency with the English language.
To do this, you’ll have to sit for one of two standardized tests: either the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
The TOEFL is a language test for non-native English speakers, and is commonly used as an entrance exam at universities and graduate schools. Because of this, the TOEFL offers only academic English. On the other hand, the IELTS offers an academic option as well as a general test; this is generally the preferred test for immigration purposes to the UK and Canada.
|Length of Exam||2 hours and 45 minutes long||~ 3 hours long|
|Testing Locations||Offered at over 1000 locations worldwide||Offered at over 4,500 locations worldwide|
|Cost of Exam||Varies widely even within the same country; usually ~200 USD||Cost is usually between 160 and 300 USD|
|Scoring||Score in any of 9 "bands," or levels||On a scale from 0 to 120|
|Can Galvanize help with the test?||Yes! Galvanize IELTS Test Prep||Yes! Galvanize TOEFL Test Prep|
Both tests are available to take at a variety of locations. When trying to decide between the TOEFL and the IELTS, first consult the programs you want to apply to and make sure that they accept both; after that, the most important factors are convenience and your particular skill set. With Galvanize TOEFL and IELTS prep, you can succeed on whichever test you decide to take!
Challenges that Indian students face from Galvanize Test Prep’s experience
The typical challenges faced by students from India involves juggling standardized tests required for Indian admissions as well as studies abroad. This puts a lot of pressure on students time and also constraints the type of extracurricular activities that students could become involved in thereby overemphasizing testing and diminishing the exploratory potential of the individual students. While this dilemma is inevitable for some, starting college admissions preparation early could help students manage their time and efforts more systematically.
What is the cost of tuition and living expenses at US universities as compared to other countries?
Is it possible for international students to get SAT fee waivers? What about application fee waivers.
International students are not eligible for SAT fee waivers. Likewise, unless the college offers a fee waiver to all applicants, international students are required to pay the application fee.
Colleges abroad are looking to admit a diverse student body to enrich their campus life. While students are expected to meet minimum admissions criteria, they are looking for candidates who can contribute to their campus community, are able to articulate their unique experiences, and have an insatiable excitement for any area of academic interest.
At Galvanize we will be able to help you explore, exercise and express your competitiveness for college admissions. We hope that the above information answered some of your most pressing concerns. For a more personalized guidance, contact us early to plan your college experience.
Other Useful Links:
- [Fall 2021] Get a customized action plan for your application to colleges in the USA now!
- [SAT App from Home] Learn online with high-quality practice questions and explanations, at no charge.
- [Vocab App] Staying home? Good. Stay safe and continue learning for your ‘study-abroad’ tests with the free Galvanize Vocabulary Builder App!