colleges

How To Write A Cover Letter When You Have No Experience

For students who have no fancy internships or summer jobs on their razor-thin résumés, here’s some advice:

1) The first paragraph should say who you are, where you go to school, what the job is that you’re applying for and how you came to apply. It helps a lot if you can include a name of someone with a personal connection.

2) The second paragraph has to connect the dots between you and the employer. Describe how your experiences meet the challenges presented in the job description.

3) In the third paragraph, further describe your personal traits and how they make you a great candidate for the job.

4) To wrap up, say when you’ll get in touch.

5) In most cases, send the letter as an attachment and format it like an old-fashioned business letter with your address at the top, then the date and then the address of the recipient.

6)  Proofread carefully and get someone you trust to check for spelling, grammar and word use.

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Cambridge

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College WordBank!

There are a lot of words that may seem new and weird throughout college applications, so here is a list of words that I defined in order to help you glide through the application process!

The Basics: Treat Yo Self! (and know the facts!)


1. Undergraduate: An undergraduate student is someone who is obtaining an undergraduate education or degree, such as a Bachelor’s degree.

2. Private University: A Private University is a college that is privately funded. They tend to be smaller than public universities as well.

3. Public University: A Public University is a college that is publicly funded, specifically through the national government. They tend to be larger than private universities.

4. Safety School: When applying to colleges, a safety school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is lower than your stats, which indicates that it may be easier for you to get in (since you have higher stats than the average).

5. Target School: A target school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is similar to your stats, which indicates that you are the same level as other applicants.

6. Reach School: A reach school is a college where the stats of a typical student admitted is higher than your stats, indicating that it is a more competitive college.

7. College Confidential: A website full of threads and information about college admissions. Although some of the pages found on College Confidential are helpful, there are some things found on this site that may discourage you for no apparent reason, such as “Chance Me” threads. Therefore, I advise you to steer clear of College Confidential and, by all means, do not let it get to your head!

8. “Chance Me’s”: “Chance Me” are threads found online where people write their stats and ask for others to see if they can get accepted to a specific college. I advise you NOT to trust these things, as people online do not know your chances of getting into a specific school.

9. Common App: Also known as the Common Application, the Common App is an application used for undergraduate admissions to a multitude of colleges. A majority of colleges accept the Common App, but I suggest looking in on the ones you want to apply to in order to know for sure.

10. Universal College Application: Similar to the Common App, the Universal College Application is also a site used by many people to send their college applications.

11. SAT II’s: Also known as SAT Subject Tests, the SAT II’s are exams that are taken in specific subject areas, such as Biology, Math I/II, and US History. Many colleges do not require SAT Subject Tests. However, it is important to check and see if some colleges require you to take an SAT Subject Test, or if it is optional. Although it may be optional for the college, it is still your decision if you would like to take this exam or not for admission purposes.

12. Transcript: A report of all the grades you have received in each class that you have taken during high school. Colleges require an official transcript to be sent to the admissions office.

13. Recommendation Letter: A letter that details why you are an excellent fit in said college. These letters usually come from teachers, faculty, coaches, mentors, etc. Recommendation letters should NOT be written by a family member.

14. Personal Statement: A Personal Statement is basically a college essay. Many colleges require you to write at least one, while others require more than one essay.

15. Need Blind Admissions: Need-Blind Admissions is when colleges will decide on your admissions decision without looking at your financial information. To clarify, this means that the college will decide on your admissions decision solely on your application and not on your financial information.

16. Waitlisted: Waitlisted is sort of the middle ground for colleges. When you are waitlisted, it does not mean that you are accepted or rejected. Instead, it means that you are put on a “waiting list” and, if the colleges enrollment numbers from their accepted students are lower than expected, they will accept more people from the waitlist.  

17. Deferred: Deferred is when a college pushes your application to the next filing period. This means that you have not been accepted or rejected yet. Instead, the college has pushed your application in order to review it again and make a final decision. A deferral only happens if you have applied Early Action or Early Decision.

18. Legacy (Applicant): A legacy applicant is someone who is applying to a college that a family member has went to, usually their parents.


Types of Applications (it’s “ED” as one, two, three! Get it!?)


1. ED/Early Decision: A type of application filing period where you are able to apply early, but it is binding. This means that if you are accepted to said college under Early Decision, you are required to go there upon acceptance. Usually, the application deadline is in November and admission decisions are in Mid-December. Something to note about this is that you can apply to only one school with an “Early Decision” (since it is binding), but you can apply to other schools with a different filing period, such as Early Action and Regular Decision.

2. EA/Early Action: A type of application filing period where you are able to apply early, but it is not binding. This means that you are applying earlier than the normal application period and you will NOT be required to go to said college upon acceptance. Similar to ED, Early Action’s deadline is around November, but the admissions decision’s date varies. Unlike the Early Decision, you can apply to as many Early Action’s as you want (unless Single Choice Early Action, more on that below)

3. Single Choice/Restrictive Early Action: This is a type of application filing period where you are only allowed to apply to one Early Action school. However, this means that Single Choice/Restrictive Early Action is still non-binding (not required to go upon acceptance), but you can only apply to one school under Early Action. Similar to ED, you are able to apply to colleges under other types of filing periods, such as Regular Decision.

4. RD/Regular Decision: This is the normal time when applications are due. Regular Decision is the time when most people apply to colleges. The applications are usually due in January and results typically come out in March (although, it may vary depending on the college). Regular Decisions are non-binding and you can apply to as many as you want.

5. Rolling Admissions: This is a type of application filing period when you apply to a college and the college admissions office reviews them as they receive the applications. Unlike ED/EA/RD, Rolling Admissions does not have a set date where you can go and look for your college admissions decision. Typically, the college will give you a time frame in which they will give you your admission decision, which is possibly around 2-8 weeks depending on the college. Something to note is that a lot of colleges with Rolling Admissions may not have a distinct deadline for the application, but they will have a “priority deadline” where, if you submit your application before that date, then they will get back to you sooner. Overall, the earlier you submit your application for Rolling Admissions, the quicker you will know your decision.

6. Open Admission: This is a type of application filing where colleges accept all students, as long as they have completed high school or have a GED.


Financial Aid: Dolla Dolla Bills Y'All!


1. Grant: A grant is money that you receive in your financial aid packet that you will NOT have to pay back.

2. Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back.

3. Scholarships: A scholarship is money earned due to certain achievements, such as academic, athletic, etc. Similar to a grant, it is money given to you that you do not need to pay back. However, for a scholarship, it may be awarded by the college or awarded separately by applying for one.

4. FAFSA: Also known as the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, the FAFSA is a website that most colleges will advise you to use in order to receive financial aid from colleges. The FAFSA application will ask for information on your household’s tax forms in order to determine how much grant and loan money you may receive. The FAFSA application opens on January 1st of every year, but deadlines for completing the application varies for every college. Something to note is that you will need to apply for Financial Aid every year in order to receive aid while you are in college.

5. CSS Profile: Also known as the “College Scholarship Service Profile”, the CSS Profile is found on the College Board website where you apply in order to receive more financial aid. Many colleges require the CSS Profile (and sometimes early on), so I advise you to see if it is required.

6. Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This is a number found on your FAFSA that provides an estimate of the amount of money your family will be expected to pay for your education. To note, this estimate is the amount of money you will be expected to pay after financial aid is accounted for.

7. Institutional Grant: An institutional grant is money given by the college that you do not have to pay back. This is different compared to the federal grant, since the federal grant is provided by the government instead of the college itself.

8. Merit-Based Grants: These are grants that are made due to academic achievement.

9. Need-Based Grants: These grants are given to students due to their level of income.

10. Federal Pell Grant: This grant is money that the federal government gives you that you will NOT pay back.

11. Institutional Loans: An institutional loan is money given by the college that you have to pay back. This is different than the federal loans, since the federal loans are provided by the government instead of the college itself.

12. Direct Subsidized Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back to the college. The Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan that pays the loan’s interest while you are in college. However, once your undergraduate education is completed, you will be required to start paying the Direct Subsidized Loan (Note: this loan allows a six month grace period before you starting paying).

13. Direct Unsubsidized Loan: A loan is money that you receive in your financial aid packet and, if you accept, will have to pay back to the college. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a federal loan that does not pay the loan’s interest while you are in college. This means that, as you continue through college, you are responsible for paying the loan’s interest. However, if you decide you don’t want to pay the loan’s interest while in college, then the interest will be added to the principal (or the original loan’s amount).

14. Perkins Loan: The Perkins Loan is given to students depending on their school, as some schools do not participate in the Perkins Loan. Similar to all loans, it is money borrowed now that must be paid back later. However, unlike the other loans stated here, this loan is a college issued loan instead of a federal loan, meaning that the money is paid back to the college not the government.

15. (Parent) PLUS Loan: A PLUS Loan is a loan taken out on the parents name for an undergraduate student. This means that parents with undergraduate students may use this money for college expenses. PLUS Loans are to be paid back to the federal government.

16. Work Study Program: The Work Study Program is one in which a student may hold a job on campus while earning their degree/education. You can apply for the Work Study Program through the FAFSA application. The money you earn from this job can be used on anything, from tuition to food, etc.


You’re In College! Now what… (Everything you need to know while in college)


1. Major: A specific area that an undergraduate student focuses on during college. The student must follow and complete the courses stated in their specified major in order to receive their degree.  

2. Minor: Although it is not required, some undergraduate students choose a minor in order to have a secondary focus. If you choose to minor, you do not receive another degree. Instead, minoring in something during college is solely for your own personal interest and to expand your knowledge.

3. Double Major: When you double major in something it means that you are following two specified areas. Double Majors receive two degrees for the areas in which they studied.

4. Undeclared: To be undeclared in college is to not choose a major/degree. Many people go into college undeclared, while some are even undeclared up until their second year of college. However, depending on your college, there may be a specific time or deadline to declare a major, since you will eventually be required to have one in order to obtain a degree.

5. Placement Test: A placement test is a preliminary test in order to see what level you are in specific subjects. These are normally taken when you have selected a college to attend (as an entering college freshman) and must register for classes. Also, something to note, all colleges do not have placement tests.

6. Bursar Office: The Bursar Office is the branch of the college that takes care of payments and billing statements for the student.

7. Financial Aid Office: The Financial Aid Office is the branch of the college that takes care of the financial aid aspect for the student, such as determining grant money.

8. Registrar: The Registrar Office is where they handle student records and scheduling for the college.

9. Commuting/Commuter: A commuter is a student who travels to college from where they reside. This is a longer distance than the typical five minutes off campus.

10. Transfer Student: A transfer student is someone who is changing from one college to another. Most people who change colleges decide once they know that their credits will transfer to the next college.

First things first, I’m the realist, I’d like to point out that you do not in any way have to set up your college list like mine. I just wanted to provide my own personal view on how I narrowed down colleges and how I did my research. Feel free to use this as a template. In this post, I’ll break down exactly what I did.

This was created through google docs (form), but can be applicable to an excel spreadsheet as well. What I started off with at the top were my current stats, meaning GPA, class rank, SAT and/or ACT scores. These are all general, just for reference on where you stand in terms of colleges. 

The next part is the fun part (and by fun part, I mean the part I spent two weeks creating and editing). On the top are the names of the colleges that you want to research. I categorized them by color: red is for colleges that will definitely be applied to, blue is reconsidering whether to apply or not, green is for my definite safeties, and purple is for whether or I should still apply or not. Now these are all according to my personal preferences, so you don’t have to use this for your list. I do recommend having a color for safeties, reaches, and matches.

The different rows on the left are also based on what I look for in a college and information that I should know:

  • Ranking: Whether it’s a match, reach, or safety school.
  • Size:  The number of undergraduates that they have on campus.
  • Public or Private
  • Location
  • Admit Rate: Acceptance rate
  • Freshman Housing: Is freshman housing guaranteed?
  • Overall Cost: Cost per semester/year-round
  • Average Financial Age Package
  • Setting:  Urban, Suburban, or Rural
  • Mid 50% SAT CR: Average score out of 800 for critical reading section of the SAT
  • Mid 50% SAT M:  Average score out of 800 for math section of the SAT
  • Mid 50% SAT W:  Average score out of 800 for writing section of the SAT
  • Mid 50% ACT: Average ACT score
  • Avg. GPA: Average GPA of incoming freshman
  • Music Programs Available: Whether they have a band and orchestra
  • Minority %: Percentage of Asian population
  • Intended Majors: Whether it had the majors that I wanted to pursue (in my case, computer science and graphic design)
  • Early Action/Early Decision: Whether they had an early action or decision option when applying.
  • Campus Rating: How much I loved their campus when I visited.
  • SAT II: Whether subject tests are recommended or required, and how many you need if it’s the case of the latter.
  • AP Credit: Whether their offer AP credit an/or placement
  • Supplements: What else is needed to apply.
  • Application Fee: How much is the application fee.

But like I said guys, this is all unique to my preferences. I just hoped that it inspired you guys on how to set up your college list, or at least helped you figure some things out on where you want to apply. Making a college list has really helped me narrow down decisions on where I want my future to be. My list right now does not hold my final college choices on where I want to apply, but it’s really helping me get there. I hope this post helps you guys too!

-Aliyah

We live in a world where college admissions can either make or break us. There is no in between. Isn’t it sad? How we are raised solely for this moment? Years of education, all for this moment of disappointment. The moment we get rejected, there are no words that can console the heartache we feel. My question is: how did we come to create such a terrible system? How can we just accept it when students cry their heart and soul after reading a simple, “We regret to inform you,” followed by sentences about how competitive admissions are this year and how each application is carefully read and how there’s always spring quarter. Then they start going back and wondering what it is they possibly did wrong. Was it the topic? Grammar? A misunderstanding? To those who don’t understand, they’ll think it’s because those rejected students weren’t up to par with the “standards”. I’ll only say this: how can you tell a student who has poured their aspirations and struggles and life into a college application that they just weren’t good enough to be accepted into ABC college and that student XYZ is much more superior? It’s complete bullshit to me. How can we accept such generic phrases after writing so passionately that our blood meddled with the words of our personal statements? I hate this system of test scores and GPAs. There’s more to the fucking world than numbers. There’s more beyond a damn essay that probably only gets skimmed over. How can college admissions officers look for qualified students based on such limited information that may even be complete fabrications. Tell me how. How can we accept that students are tearing themselves apart over a rejection letter? Tell me why. Why is it deemed “normal” that I have friends bawling because of an education system that builds them up only to throw them overboard?

Confession: I feel like black people on both sides need to chill the fuck out when it comes to HBCU vs. PWI debates. Both experiences are distinct and can be valuable and it’s such an unnecessary beef.

To HBCU goers: going to a HBCU doesn’t make you more authentically black. We are all black. We were born black, we were black when we decided where to go to school, we are all ~definitely black~ when entering this white-ass workforce, and we all black until the day we die. Also, going to a HBCU doesn’t make you “extra woke.”  Your shared blackness has fuckall to do with sexism, colorism, homophobia, classism, etc etc. hell, at an HBCU, mysogynoir and homophobia especially can be shrouded in black patriarchal bullshit that won’t necessarily exist at a PWI. 

To PWI goers: you’re “black” experience will never be exactly equivalent to someone who is going to a whole school of black people. Sorry. Also, a lot of y'all talk about how PWIs are “inherently more prestigious” than HBCUs. 1.) Where you get your degree is not the only or even the most important, contributing factor your success in life. 2.) Prestige is largely subjective 3.) There are only a handful of schools that are objectively “more prestigious” than HBCUs, and I’m talking about the Harvards and the Stanfords. Yeah, these schools are more prestigious than HBCUs, but they’re also more prestigious than basically every other PWI, and no shade, but the chances are that you probably aren’t going to one. Like damn. Just be secure in the choice that you made for yourself without feeling like you gotta drag down half the race for it. 

Rejection pt. 3... AND ACCEPTANCE

Today I got rejected from every Ivy League school I applied to… and it’s okay! I told myself so frequently throughout the process that the odds were just against me and it’s nothing I had done or could do. I’m still a straight, middle class, white female who wants to go into humanities. And that’s okay! So that’s rejection from: Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, and UPenn (in addition to my previous rejections at Georgetown, UChicago, and USC, and waitlist at Northwestern).

More excitingly… Accepted to George Washington University in the Honors Program and with a presidential scholarship of $25000/year! AND accepted to UC Berkeley! Which is spectacular and actually totally affordable with in-state tuition. Plus, the Bay Area is far enough away from SoCal for me to feel like I’m out of state :)

Now I’m just waiting on Stanford tomorrow (expecting rejection, but fingers crossed!), then I’ll be done with the whole process and onto deciding!

I’m also writing a post of what I wish I knew before this whole process, so that’ll be coming soon. Ah I’m so happy that I have options I love!! Thank you all for your love and support through the whole thing. ❤️