Monthly Archives: October 2014

Why (insert college)?

Oh, the hardest essay supplement question of all: “why (insert college)?” If you’re anything like most teenagers, you don’t really know why for a lot of the colleges on your list. Your reasons (in your own head) may likely be somewhere along the lines of:

  • “The campus at the school is really pretty!”
  • “I think the school is an Ivy League, so it’d be cool to go there, I think”
  • “The school is in a city, and I’ve always wanted to live in a city”
  • “The school is my safety school and I just want to make sure I’ll end up going to college”
  • “I’ve heard from a couple of adults that this is a good school”

But here’s the thing: colleges want to really know why you want to go there, not just a list of qualities about the school that could be changed to fit any other school.

I got the idea for this blog post from another blog post that actually changed the way that I view these essay prompts now. Instead of plagiarizing someone else’s work, I am going to give you the link to the post here: The Bridge Blog

Hopefully this advice helps give you the strength you need to start and finish those pesky essays!

As always, shoot any questions you have about essays to

The Myth of Joining Clubs

Oh, clubs. What awesome and equally not that awesome programs we have at my public high school.

Clubs are really awesome because they are an opportunity to find other people in your school that have the same interests as you, or a place to try a new activity. Where else would I have learned to debate if I didn’t decide to join the Speech and Debate Team/Club? They are really awesome for experimenting with what you like and don’t like and beginning to develop a sense of who you are and what you like to do.

Now, I also don’t like clubs, and this isn’t because I don’t like what they stand for. I do not like clubs because people seem to think that in order to get into college, they need to be a member of fifty random clubs and President of twenty-five of them. Sorry, but no. Joining a gazillion clubs is definitely not a free pass to college, and it actually could hurt you.

You may have heard people say this to you over and over, but colleges want you to have a passion. By this, it means that colleges want to see that you have explored your interests in high school, and have found something to really grab a hold of and take to the next level.

I was like you at one point; I definitely thought that being a member of every “intellectual” club on campus was going to show my future college that I was a smart person and that I liked intellectual things. I tried to join a lot of clubs on my campus, but I had to learn the hard way that it was really a bad idea.

Why was it a bad idea? Well, let’s take the fact that I tried to join the Robotics and Red Cross Clubs.  I am not in any way interested in designing Robots, and blood freaks me out. Although they were both great organizations that are great experiences for their members, they weren’t the clubs for me. There were plenty of other clubs on campus that suited me and who I was much more.

Let’s also look at the idea of overloading on clubs. Sure, the idea of being in every club that sounds interesting is nice, but when you’re actually attending seven different club meetings per week, plus having to take all of your classes and sleep and do your other activities, it gets to be too much on you, and can drag you down.

What you should really do is find a couple of clubs that you really do enjoy, and take what they stand for to the next level. My passion, for example, resides in leadership and solving issues. Because I really really love leading others, I became the President of my school.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re saying to yourself right now, like every person is actually going to become President of the school.

No, of course not, but what I am saying is that you should find a way to take your passion to the next level. Are you passionate about the environment? Take the initiative to start a community campaign to keep the beaches clean. Do you love writing? Write a book! Do you see a problem in the world that you know needs to be fixed? Try to fix it! Take it beyond your high school club and into the world around you.

By doing this, not only will colleges get to see the real you and what you really stand for on your application, but you will benefit knowing that you have done something incredibly meaningful with your life.


Have more questions on extracurricular activities? Don’t hesitate to send your question to

Finding a College You Can Afford

The whole idea of paying for college is funny. We all know it’s expensive, and, although we are all looking forward to those great four years, we also dread the idea of being in debt after we graduate.

This idea has been a hot topic among my fellow senior friends recently. Most of my pals have they decided that they want to attend a state college simply because it’s cheaper. And then there are friends that aren’t even applying to a four-year because they know that their family can’t afford to pay that much at all for college and think that there aren’t any other options.

Well, let me tell you this: my family won’t be able to pay hardly anything for college, and I am applying only to four-year, private colleges.

What? Private colleges? Aren’t those the schools that cost $50,000 just for tuition?

Yes, those are the colleges with the sticker price of $50,000. But nobody actually pays that much. And, for me, schools like that are the reason why I am going to a four-year next year and not community college.

I was like the rest of my friends not too long ago. My family was freaking out because I wasn’t good enough in tennis to receive an athletic scholarship. And, with the crazy prices of four-year institutions haunting my dreams, community college seemed like a good option, even though I really wanted to go off to college and have that amazing 18-year-old year where you’re a freshman in college, newly liberated from the structure of high school life. It made me sad, but I knew that paying thousands upon thousands of dollars just wasn’t a possibility.

I found out about Questbridge when I was in my junior year. (If you’ve never heard of it, look it up: it’s an amazing resource for low-income students.) They are affiliated with 35 amazing, private colleges, and they have this program called the National College Match, in which, if you’re selected as a finalist, you can basically apply ED to up to 8 schools that you get to choose from the 35. If you are “matched” with one (accepted ED), you are GUARANTEED a full scholarship there.

To me, this program was an absolute miracle. If I could get this scholarship,  I thought, I could go to a four-year college after all!

Questbridge has another program for high-school juniors called the College Prep Scholarship, in which you can be considered to attend cool summer programs at some of the partner colleges, or go to one of Questbridge’s College Admissions Conferences. I applied to that, because “why not,” and I was selected to go to one of the College Admissions Conferences. So, the day of the conference, not really knowing what to expect, my stepmom and I hopped in our car and drove to Stanford University.

So, trying to make this as concise as possible, that conference was one of the most life-changing experiences of my life.

First off, the other students at this conference were amazing. There were teenagers of every color, from all different walks of life, and I had the opportunity to speak to some of them. It was just like my dream of college, being a part of so much diversity, and it made me so excited for the future.

But here is my main point: they did a big lecture on financial aid at private colleges, and, it turns out, tons of private colleges guarantee to meet 100% of your financial need, meaning you will not have to pay a dollar more than you can’t afford.

And this wasn’t just for Questbridge kids; this was the policy for everyone. There are dozens of private colleges in America that will pay your full college expenses if your family makes a very small amount of money.

My family could have always afforded to send me to a private college, even without outside or athletic scholarships.

This was some of the most amazing news, but I couldn’t believe that no one had ever told me this before. Seriously, no person had ever mentioned that private colleges were actually a possibility. These schools have amazing financial aid policies for not just families like mine, but for everyone, including the middle-class family that tends to get screwed over by the cost of public schools.

So now, because no one had ever told me this, I am now telling it to you: private colleges are a possibility for people of all economic backgrounds.

Now, the next step is finding out which colleges these are, because not all of them have the best policies. Here are the things you should look for on the school’s website if you absolutely need an amazing financial aid package:

  • The school should guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated need
  • The school should have a no-loans policy (if you are worried about this part)

Schools like this will cover everything that you need, meaning, every dollar that is more than your Estimated Family Contribution will be covered in some way by the school.

A good way to estimate how much you will have to pay at a private college is through their net-price calculator, available on their website. Every college has one because they are legally required to. By doing this, you may find that a college that you once found impossible to attend could actually be a reality.


If you have other questions about financial aid, don’t hesitate to ask a question! Shoot an email to