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How Colleges Read Your Application: A 4 Step Process

How selective colleges read your application.

Bonus Material: Behind-the-Scenes Look at College Admissions

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Do you know what happens after you submit your application?

In our post What College Admissions Officers Look For , we took a high-level look at what colleges look for in students.

In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into how they actually read and process your application.

We’ll focus mostly on the mechanics and structure of the admissions reading process at selective schools like Princeton, NYU, Stanford, and Vanderbilt.  

Plus, we give our readers free access to our Behind-the-Scenes Look at College Admissions, which examines two actual applications to Columbia College and their admission decisions. Grab this below.

Download Behind-the-Scenes Look

Here’s what we cover:

  • Where Did We Get Our Data?
  • Step 1: Screen and Sort
  • Step 2: Individual Reads
  • Step 3: Committee
  • Step 4: Final Decision

Major Takeaways

  • What About COVID-19 and College Admissions?

How I Got Into Princeton Series

  • Bonus: Behind-the-Scenes Look at College Admissions

What Data Did We Use?

Many parents are surprised when we explain that a lot of information about the admissions process is publicly available. Like burger chain In & Out’s “secret” menu, much of the process is not so secretive anymore!

For example:

  • Many former Ivy League admissions officers have written books and articles revealing the “secrets” of the college admissions process
  • NYU admissions officers share their experiences on an official school blog
  • New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg was given behind-the-scenes access of the admissions process at Wesleyan University and wrote a book about it
  • Lawsuits against schools like the University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University claiming discrimination in the admissions process have produced detailed, publicly available information about the admissions process at those schools

For this article, we reviewed the above sources (and many more) to dig into the admissions process at several schools, including:

  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvard University
  • New York University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wesleyan University

Note : These sources were published between 2002 to 2017. While certain details might now be different, the overall process should not have changed much.

The College Admissions Reading Process

The Admissions Reading Process

Each college has its own specific way of judging applicants. The general admissions process of the schools we researched, however, is remarkably similar!

Selective admissions processes typically follow these four steps:

  •  Screen & Sort – organizing the apps and sending them to the appropriate admissions officer
  •  Individual Reads – one, two, three, or more individual reads to form initial impressions
  •  Committee – deliberation of applications among a group
  •  Final Decision – the lucky few are selected, financial aid packages are created, and acceptance letters are mailed out

We’ll take a deep dive into each of these steps next.

Step #1: Screen and Sort

Screen & Sort

Selective schools can receive upwards of tens of thousands of applications! Take a look at this table to see the stats for 2020.

2020 Applications and Admittances

The first part of the admissions process is getting organized! This usually means sorting and sending applications to the appropriate regional team.

Admissions officers are often assigned to a geographic region. In addition to reading applications from their region, they are also responsible for recruiting students and getting to know the local high schools and guidance counselors.

Numerical Scoring

Numerical scores are sometimes calculated for each applicant. This is simply an attempt to incorporate some sort of organization and scientific rigor into a very qualitative process.

Numerical Ratings

  • Princeton assigns Academic and Non-Academic ratings  on a 5 point scale (1 is the highest rating, 5 is the lowest). They also have a rating for “Institutional Priority.”
  • Stanford gives scores in multiple categories : Tests, High School Records, Letters of Recommendation, Non-Academic, Support (Letters of Recommendation), Non-Academic, Self-Presentation and Intellectual Vitality

How are these scores generated?

Depending on the school, a staff member or regional coordinator may scan the application and apply the initial scores before the first read, initial readers may be responsible for generating this score, or the scores may be computed automatically by a computer system.

The Academic Index for Recruited Athletes

If you are a recruited athlete in the Ivy League (and increasingly in other schools as well), you are also assigned an Academic Index. This is calculated based on standardized test scores and high school GPA . Academic Indexes range from around 170 to 240.

The purpose of the Academic Index, or AI, is to ensure that:

  • Every recruited athlete meets a minimum AI of at least 176
  • The academic credentials of recruited athletes is no more than 1 standard deviation below that of the rest of the student body

Ivy League institutions have agreed to uphold these standards to keep the athletic playing field competitive while maintaining high academic standards. Just like the other ratings used in college admissions, a high AI is great, but it won’t guarantee admission.

Step #2: Individual Reads

1st Read

The main job of the first reader is to pass an initial, fair judgment on a new application.

First readers have varying levels of experience. Some are hired part-time to supplement the admissions team. Some are fresh out of college.

Immediately after graduation, my college roommate served as an admissions officer for Princeton University, responsible for first reads in his region. This was his first job, and he was 22 years old when he started.

After the first read, which often takes less than 10 minutes, an initial idea of how competitive the candidate is forms. In some cases, the first reader assigns a written recommendation of Accept, Deny, Likely, or Unlikely (or some other variation).

The first reader is sometimes responsible for creating an application summary card and creating detailed notes for each application.

Application Summary & Notes

Reader Card

The application summary card lists key details about the applicant. Admissions officers are responsible for reading thousands of applications over the course of several months and will often review an application file at various times, so summary cards are essential for allowing a quick scan of an application and refreshing their memories.

Note-taking is also essential. Admissions officers often take important notes on a card that follows the application from officer to officer and ultimately to committee. Nowadays, physical reader cards might be replaced with digitized versions, but the idea is the same.

If the application goes to committee, the first reader may be responsible for presenting/summarizing the application to the committee group and advocating for the applicant.

Second and Third Reads

2nd and 3rd Reads

Some schools (e.g. NYU) will go to committee after the first read. Many other selective schools have two or more reads before the next stage of the process.

Admissions readers and officers go through intensive training to provide standardized and objective judgements. However, they have varying levels of admissions experience and their assessments and opinions might be shaped by their individual backgrounds and preferences.

Or, perhaps the first reader was having a bad day and missed something. Maybe he has more knowledge about science achievements and extracurriculars, while a colleague has broader knowledge about music and athletic achievements.

The second and third read can be thought of as a validation or second opinion for the first read.

This additional perspective is especially helpful for more subjective and difficult to judge scenarios, like these:

  • How do you rate an underrepresented minority at an under-resourced school with a great essay, okay grades, and few extracurriculars because he was working after school?
  • How much do you value the impact of certain “hooks,” like alumni legacies, 1st generation students, exceptional talent, or departmental needs?
  • How do you make subjective judgments about character and personal qualities to determine “fit” for the class?

According to a Dartmouth admissions officer who kept her identity a secret,


“You expect it to be more numbers driven than it is, but the message we always got was to make sure we consider everything else in the application…There’s a high degree of subjectivity, at least in the first read, but that’s what the second and third read are for. The probability that you get two people in a bad mood is … lower than the probability that you get one person in a bad mood.”

Many schools make sure most applications receive at least two full reads before going to committee.

The second reader will add additional input and notes to the applicant’s file. The second reader often agrees with the comments and recommendations of the first reader but sometimes they will disagree.

The first and second reads (and third reads, etc.) are usually done individually and at home on the admissions officer’s own time.

Faced with an increasing number of applications, admissions teams from schools like the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore are implementing a team-based method of reading applications to further streamline the process.

According to the Daily Pennsylvanian :

UPenn Logo

“Under Penn’s new regimen, admissions officers split into teams of two and read one application at the same time in the office. Then they discuss the application together and come to a consensus before passing it along.

After the team of two screens the application, it is given to admission officers responsible for the geographic region where the applicant lives. An exceptional applicant may skip this step and be handed immediately to a selection committee that includes school-based representatives. This committee will make the final decision on a potential acceptance.”

Not Everybody Goes to Committee After Individual (or Team) Reads

Some schools can make a decision after the initial reading process without sending the application to committee.

Fast Track

  • Schools with very quantitative admissions processes (e.g. large state schools) can make decisions without significant group deliberation
  • A senior admissions officer may have ultimate discretion to make the final decision after reading the notes and scores from the initial reading process

In The Gatekeepers , which takes an in-depth, behind the scenes view of Wesleyan’s admissions process, New York Times journalist Jacques Steinberg shares his observations and research about the reading process at different schools.

He talks about Stanford’s committee process, or lack of it:

“At Stanford, for example, the officers rarely met as a committee, which meant that the odds of someone sympathetic being able to advocate to the group…are low.”

At Wesleyan, when readers arrived at a consensus on an application, the director of admissions would often endorse the choice, forgoing the need for committee deliberation.

“In the main round, in which there would be nearly six thousand applicants, each application would be read by two officers and then sent on to Greg Pyke, the interim director of admissions. If the two readers were in consensus on a decision, Greg would likely endorse the choice. But if there was a split recommendation, he would probably send that application to the committee for consideration during a series of meetings in early March.”

For many schools, however, final decisions are made in Committee, where a group of individuals discuss student applications and pass final judgment.

3. Committee


Every school has a slightly different committee process, but the overall idea behind committee judgement is similar.

A group of individuals gets together to discuss and decide the fate of your application. The group considers the notes, scores, and recommendations of the initial readers. A discussion ensues and each officer can share their opinion on the fit of the candidate for the school.

Hamilton’s Committee Process: Senior Officer Has Final Say

In Creating A Class , Mitchell L. Stevens describes the Committee process at Hamilton, a selective liberal arts school:

Hamilton College

“The primary form for evaluative storytelling in the office was committee, the weeks-long series of meetings during which officers consider and collectively determine the fate of applications. In contrast to the quiet solitude of reading and rating, storytelling was collaborative and often highly theatrical.”

Admissions officers from the initial reading process use their “pink sheet” (application summary form) and read off key details from the application (grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, essay comments, recommendation letter summaries, family information, initial recommendations for Admit/Defer/Wait List/Deny) to a committee of at least three officers. The Dean or Assistant Dean is present.

After the presentation and a discussion (sometimes debate) between committee members, the most senior officer has final authority over each decision.

At Hamilton, committee evaluations for easier decisions can take 5 minutes, but some cases can take 30 minutes or more.

Wesleyan’s Committee Process: Quick Discussion & Majority Vote

Wesleyan University

In The Gatekeepers , Jacques Steinberg describes the very fast committee process at Wesleyan:

“It was those committee hearings, coming just days before final decisions were due, that provided the most visible drama of the admissions process. In a form of sudden death, each applicant would be discussed by the committee for no more than five minutes, after which a vote would be called…the majority, again, would carry the day.”

NYU’s Committee Process: All Applications Debated in Committee


NYU admissions officer Rebecca Larson describes the committee and final judgment process in the official school admissions blog :

“Our team re-reviews the notes the first reader took on your application. The first reader will discuss your grades, the rigor of your curriculum, extra-curricular involvement, fit for NYU, quality of your essays, and what your teachers/counselor had to say about you. Once we read those notes, the committee discusses what to do with your application. We may vote to admit, deny, wait list, or refer a student to a different program at NYU–there are lots of different outcomes for each application.”

Sometimes committee goes smoothly and other times the group is split between a particular decision. While we all get along well, we will get into arguments over some students. The benefit of committee comes from the diverse perspective each admissions counselor brings to the group–one counselor may see something in an application that another counselor doesn’t, and that dialogue is really important as we build the class.

We do this 63,000 times! Then we go back and look at our admissions decisions one last time to make sure all students received an individualized and holistic review. Once our decisions are finalized, applications are sent over to the Office of Financial Aid where students are packaged with scholarships, loans, grants and work study opportunities.”

Harvard’s Committee Process: 2 Step-Process Involving Faculty

Harvard uses a two-step committee process that involves the faculty. A subcommittee discusses and votes on an applicant, and then they present their recommendations to the larger full committee. Harvard’s Dean Fitzsimmons describes the process in an interview with the New York Times :

Harvard Shield

“Each subcommittee normally includes four to five members, a senior admissions officer, and faculty readers.

Once all applications have been read and the subcommittee process begins, the area representative acts as an advocate, and summarizes to the subcommittee the strengths of each candidate. Subcommittee members discuss the application, and then vote to recommend an action to the full Committee. Majorities rule, but the degree of support expressed for applicants is always noted to allow for comparisons with other subcommittees.

Subcommittees then present and defend their recommendations to the full committee. While reading or hearing the summary of any case, any committee member may raise questions about the proposed decision and request a full review of the case.

Many candidates are re-presented in full committee. Discussions in subcommittee or in full committee on a single applicant can last up to an hour. The full Committee compares all candidates across all subcommittees, and therefore across geographic lines.”

4. Final Decision

Final Decision

By the end of committee, colleges will be close to the finish line.

Colleges must consider the size and selectivity of the various schools within their College (e.g. Engineering vs. Arts and Sciences). They also must consider their institutional priorities, like strong athletics and diversity, as they make their final decisions.

Typically, after the final decision, admitted applications get sent for consideration of scholarships, loans, grants, and work study opportunities before final decisions letters are mailed out.

To recap, in this post, we took a comprehensive look at the mechanics of the application reading process.

Here are some big takeaways:

1. The admissions reading process of selective schools is remarkably similar

The process will most likely resemble some version of these four steps:

  • Individual reads
  • Final decision

Larger, less selective schools will have a less “holistic” approach that make quicker decisions based mostly on academics.

There’s no need for you to spend an inordinate amount of time researching the reading process of all the schools on your list. Understand the general reading process (which you’ve already done if you’ve made it this far) and you’ll be set!

2. Your application is read quickly

Admissions officers will often average less than 15 minutes to assess your entire application. How long exactly? It varies by school. Check out former UVA Associate Dean of Admission Parke Muth’s interesting post about “fast and slow reads .”

What should you do with this information? Make a strong first impression! Quickly and effectively communicate your strengths in your application.

3. Admissions officers are real people!

For example, NYU admissions officers look like this:

NYU Admissions Officers

Rebecca Larson (the admissions officer in the middle) really likes One Direction, looks forward to the the snacks her colleagues bring in for their committee meetings, and genuinely seems like she’s having fun at work.

What should you do with this information? Put a face on the process to make things less intimidating and help you create a more personal application.

4. Quantitative scoring is often used, but the process is very qualitative and subjective

Numbers and guidelines are used to create a standardized, efficient sorting process. However, at the end of the day, your application is being judged by real people with emotions and feelings. What’s more, colleges have something very specific they’re looking for.

What does this mean you should do? Tell a story through your application that is personal and emotionally engaging and you might be able to convince an admissions officer to go to bat for you during committee!

It can be discouraging to hear that your application is read fairly quickly.

However, please do not confuse “quickly” with “not carefully.” Admissions officers are experts in digesting a lot of information in a short amount of time. They understand the impact their decisions have and are extremely deliberate in their decisions. Most admissions officers genuinely care about your prospects and are looking for ways to accept, not reject you.

COVID-19 and College Admissions

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly influenced the way that colleges look at applications.

It’s revealed a lot about equity and access, for one thing. It’s also made it difficult for students to zero in on certain aspects of applications, like extracurricular activities and standardized test scores.

COVID has definitely impacted what colleges look for in applications, especially from a judgment perspective. You can learn more about this in our post COVID and College Admissions .

Has it changed the structure of admissions? Likely not. Officers might be changing how they look at aspects of applications, but the process probably remains the same.

college application review process

Interested in how other successful applicants have navigated the college admissions process?

We’ve created an entire series that takes a deep dive into the journeys of current and past Princeton students.

Check out Erica’s story , the first in this series.

“People telling me that I was worthless only drove me to study more, to work harder, to prove them wrong.”

You can find a summary of all of these stories here: How I Got Into Princeton Series .

So, now what? If you’re in 9th, 10th, or 11th grade, you’ll want to focus on the Golden Rule of Admissions and developing your Three Pillars .

As you put pen to paper and start working on your application and college essays (ideally in the summer before senior year), keep in mind how your application will be read to keep things in perspective.

We’d also like to give you access to our Behind-the-Scenes Look at College Admissions, which debriefs two real applications to Columbia College and their admission decisions.

college application review process

Greg Wong and Kevin Wong

Greg and Kevin are brothers and the co-founders of PrepMaven and Princeton Tutoring. They were engineering majors at Princeton and had successful careers in strategy consulting and finance. They now apply their data and research-backed problem solving skills to the college preparation process. Their unique approach places a heavy emphasis on personal development, character, and service as key components of college admissions success.


college application review process

How I Got Into Princeton – Erica (Story #1)

May 22, 2018

In our "How I got Into" series, we share the stories of successful applicants to Princeton and other great schools. In this article, we share Erica's story.


5 Things Asian Parents Get Wrong About College Admissions

November 5, 2017

We address common misconceptions about college admissions and provide tips for overcoming them, based on the insights we’ve developed over the past 12 years.

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A Complete Guide to the College Application Process

Find answers to common questions prospective college students have about deadlines, essays and more.

college application review process

Students should generally begin working on applications the summer between their junior and senior year of high school, experts say. (Getty Images)

The college application process can seem intimidating, especially if students don't have parents or siblings who have already been through it and can offer advice.

Since there are several steps, such as writing an essay and obtaining letters of recommendation , experts say a good way for students to get started is to create a to-do list during their junior year of high school.

"Once you can see it visually, the number of tasks and a schedule to do them, it simplifies a lot of things," says Christine Chu, a premier college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a New York-based education consulting company. "It will take away a lot of the anxiety."

Though there is often prep work, students generally begin working on college application tasks the summer between their junior and senior years of high school, experts say.

Here's what prospective undergraduates need to know about completing a college application.

What Are the Important College Application Deadlines?

High school seniors have multiple deadlines to choose from when applying to colleges.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Applying to College

Applying to college.

  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Fill Out the Common App
  • Write a Standout College Essay
  • Ask for Recommendation Letters
  • Learn the Ins and Outs of Financial Aid
  • Decipher College Tuition Costs
  • Find Scholarships to Pay for College

Early Decision

First are early decision deadlines, usually in November. Students who apply via early decision, or ED, hear back from a college sooner than their peers who turn in applications later. ED admissions decisions often come out by December.

However, students should be aware that ED acceptances are binding, meaning an applicant must enroll if offered admission.

Some schools also have a second early decision deadline, ED II, which is also binding. The difference is in the timelines. ED II deadlines are usually in January, and admissions decisions often come out in February.

Early Action

Early action is another type of application deadline that tends to be in November or December, though some schools set deadlines as early as Oct. 15. Similar to early decision, students who apply via early action hear back from schools sooner. The difference is EA acceptances aren't binding.

Restrictive early action , which is uncommon, allows students to apply early but only to a single school (though there are exceptions). It's also nonbinding.

Regular Decision

Students can also choose to apply by a school's regular decision deadline, which is typically Jan. 1. Students who apply regular decision generally hear back from schools in mid-to-late March or early April. This is the most common way students apply to schools.

One other admissions policy to be aware of is rolling admissions . Schools with rolling admissions evaluate applications as they receive them and release admissions decisions on an ongoing basis. These schools may have a priority filing date, but they generally don't have a hard cutoff date for applications. The institutions continue accepting them until all spots in the incoming class are filled.

Regardless of the type of decision students pursue, it's important to start the application process early, says Denard Jones, lead college counselor at Empowerly, a college admissions consulting company. Jones previously worked in college admissions at Elon University in North Carolina and Saint Joseph's University in Pennsylvania.

“If you chunk it up and break down these tasks and can get ahead and start early, you’re not stifling your creativity because you’re trying to rush through to get everything done by October or November deadlines," he says. “Time management is something you’re going to have to deal with the rest of your life, regardless of what you go into.”

In deciding when to apply, as well as how many colleges to apply to, students should consider financial aid implications . Experts say if money is a concern, as it is for most families of college-bound students, applicants should choose nonbinding deadlines – EA and regular decision. This will enable families to compare financial aid offers from multiple schools.

Experts also suggest students research applicable scholarships, like those related to their hobbies , to help offset costs.

For regular decision deadlines, students typically have until May 1 to decide which school they will attend and pay an enrollment deposit.

Which College Application Platform Should I Use?

Students have several options when it comes to college application platforms.

The Common Application

One popular choice is The Common Application , which is accepted by more than 1,000 colleges, including some outside the U.S. Students fill out the Common App once and can then submit it to multiple colleges.

However, in addition to the main application, Common App schools often have a supplemental section, Chu says. The supplement sometimes includes additional essay questions, so students may need to budget time for more writing.

Some schools do not accept the Common App, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Students have to fill out separate applications for these schools, generally through the school's website.

Coalition Application and Common Black College Application

Other application options include the Coalition Application, a newer platform accepted by 130 schools, and the Common Black College Application , accepted by most historically Black colleges and universities.

Additionally, some colleges have school-specific or university system-specific applications. For example, the University of California system has its own application – the only platform used by UC schools – and students can apply to multiple campuses with one application.

Students can visit a college's website to find out which application platforms are accepted. Also, the Common App , Coalition Application and CBCA websites list their partner schools.

What Do I Need to Know About the College Application Essay?

As part of the application process, most colleges require students to submit at least one writing sample: the college essay . This is sometimes referred to as a personal statement.

There's usually a word limit of around several hundred words for a personal statement. The main essay on the Common App should be around 650 words. The Coalition Application website says its essays should be between 500 and 650 words. Institution-specific supplemental essays typically have a word count of around 250 words.

Regardless of which application platform they use, students have multiple essay prompts from which to choose.

"The application essay prompts are broad and open-ended, and I think that's sometimes what challenges students the most," says Niki Barron, associate dean of admission at Hamilton College in New York. "But they're open-ended for a reason, and that's because we do really want to see what students choose to write about, what students feel is important."

Experts say students should try to tell a story about themselves in the essay, which doesn't necessarily mean writing about a big, impressive accomplishment.

Barron says the most memorable essays for her focus on more ordinary topics. "But they're done in such a self-reflective way that it gives me so much insight into who a student is as a person and gives me such a sense of the student's voice," she adds.

What Are the Other Key Components of a College Application?

Here are other parts of the college application that prospective students should be ready for.

Personal Information

In the first portion of a college application, students have to provide basic information about themselves, their school and their family.

High School Transcript

Colleges also ask for an official high school transcript, which is a record of the courses students have taken and the grades they have earned.

Admissions offices typically ask that a transcript be sent directly from the high school rather than from the student, says Geoff Heckman, school counselor and department chair at Platte County High School in Missouri. Students usually submit a transcript request to their high school's counseling office, but some schools use an online service, such as Parchment or SENDedu, that allows students to request the transcript be sent through a secure online provider, Heckman says.

Students can also send their transcript via a registrar if their school has one rather than through the counseling office.

Standardized Test Scores

Many schools require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, which are usually sent by the testing companies. The number of schools requiring standardized test scores has dropped dramatically as the coronavirus pandemic upended these exams.

Prospective students should know, however, that testing policies vary even when such exams are not required. Key terms to pay attention to include test-blind and test-optional . Test-blind means that scores will not be considered if submitted. By contrast, test-optional colleges do not require ACT or SAT scores but will consider them if submitted as part of an application.

Chu notes that "admissions officers still want to see test scores if possible" and that high marks will only help. Strong scores can lead to scholarships, in some cases, experts say. A good ACT or SAT score varies by college, and Chu encourages students to look at a college's first-year student profile to determine admission goals.

SAT-takers are allowed four free score reports each time they register for the exam. Students can select which schools they'd like their scores sent to before or up to nine days after the test, according to the College Board, which administers the standardized test. The fee for each additional score report is $12.

Similarly, students who sit for the ACT can send their score to up to four colleges at no cost, according to the ACT website . Additional score reports are $18 each. However, some students may qualify for a fee waiver , which allows test-takers to send additional score reports for free to colleges and scholarship agencies at any time during the college search process, according to the ACT website.

Letters of Recommendation

Colleges often ask students to submit two to three letters of recommendation .

Students should seek out recommenders – often they have to be teachers or counselors – who know them well and can comment not just on their academic abilities but also their personal qualities and achievements, Chu says.

It's a good idea for students to provide recommenders with a copy of their resume to help them cover all these bases, Heckman says.

Students should request letters of recommendation well before the application deadline. Chu advises at least two months in advance.

"The more time students can give the authors of those recommendations, I think the more thorough and helpful those recommendations are going to be for us," Barron says.

Information on Extracurricular Activities

College applications give students the chance to provide information on the extracurricular activities they participated in while in high school. In this section, students should detail all of the ways they spend their time outside of class, Barron says. This includes structured activities like sports or clubs, as well as family obligations such as caring for siblings or part-time employment, she says.

Some admissions officers spend significant time evaluating this section, Jones says, but he adds this is often the most overlooked part of the application. Many students rush through it and don't thoroughly explain the extent to which they were involved in an activity. Be sure to explain any leadership roles or accomplishments, he says.

"The extracurriculars are the things that they spend their entire high school career doing that lead up to these wonderful moments and accolades over time," he says. "So take the time and be detailed."

Do I Need to Submit a Resume?

On some college applications, it may be optional for students to upload a resume .

But much of the information generally contained in a resume – such as awards, work experience and extracurricular activities – is asked for in other parts of a college application, often in the activities section.

How Much Do College Application Fees Cost?

There's no set price for college application fees, which experts say typically range from $50 to $90 per application, though costs can stretch upward of $100 in some instances. Prospective students should check college websites to determine these individual fees.

How Can I Get a College Application Fee Waiver?

There are several ways students from low-income families can submit college applications for free .

Students who received SAT or ACT test fee waivers are eligible for college application fee waivers from the testing companies. The College Board sends such waivers automatically to students. Not all schools accept these waivers, but many do.

Similarly, the ACT has a fee waiver request form students and school counselors can fill out and send to colleges. The National Association for College Admission Counseling also offers a fee waiver request form .

In addition, eligible students can request a fee waiver within the body of some college applications, including the Common App.

There are other times schools waive application fees , and not just for low-income students. Students can sometimes get an application fee waived by participating in instant decision day events at their high school or on a college's campus. Applicants should also keep an eye out for free application periods in some states, when some colleges waive fees to apply.

Using a College Visit to Decide Where to Apply

A common piece of advice offered by admissions consultants and college officials alike is to tour a campus. Visiting a college can help prospective students get a sense of the culture and community and understand how they may or may not fit in. While it's not part of the formal application process, exploring a college can help students determine which schools to apply to.

Such visits, Chu says, offer a "glimpse into a day in the life" of students living and learning on those campuses. But in the absence of the opportunity to visit – say, due to cost restrictions or other travel limitations – students should consider virtual tours , which emerged as a popular option for applicants after the coronavirus pandemic began.

While virtual tours may offer fewer opportunities to make personal connections, students should still attempt to forge them.

"Virtual visits can be the next best thing" to an in-person tour, Barron notes. She also encourages applicants to "check college websites for offerings and opportunities to connect virtually with current students, admission staff, professors, coaches and others."

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The college admissions process can seem just as overwhelming as the college application process. Every year students pour themselves over their personal statements, supplemental essays , and extracurricular activities, but what do college admissions offices really want? 

Thousands of qualified students apply to top institutions every year, but colleges are becoming increasingly competitive. During the Class of 2026 admissions cycle, Harvard only admitted 3.9% of applicants; Darmouth accepted 6% of applicants; and Brown accepted 5%. Competitive liberal arts colleges in the East such as Amherst and Colby only accepted 7% of applicants and ​​ top public universities in the West , such as California Polytechnic State University (located in San Luis Obispo, California), accepted 29% of applicants. So what exactly do college admissions officers look for in an applicant and what does the decision-making process look like?

In this article, we will answer questions such as: How do college admissions work? How do colleges review applications? And what is an admissions committee? So if you’re curious about the inner workings of the college admissions process, especially as it relates to elite institutions, such as Ivy League colleges, read on for further insights. 

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How does college admissions work?

Although college admissions processes vary from school to school, schools will typically first review an application to ensure that the student has qualifying grades and test scores. If a student doesn’t meet the school’s basic criteria, their application may be disqualified. However, if the student has qualifying grades and test scores, their application will continue to be reviewed. In other words, a student will never be accepted to a selective institution simply because of their impressive grades and test scores, but they do need to have qualifying grades and test scores to get a shot at being admitted. 

After the initial vetting process, highly-selective institutions still have an overwhelming amount of applications to sort through. This is when holistic college admissions standards come into play. Holistic admission standards stress the importance of getting to know an applicant as a person, rather than just looking at standardized test scores and high school GPA . This is when a student’s college essay, supplemental essays, extracurricular activities , letters of recommendation, and college interview become key admissions factors. 

Who reviews college applications?

Before a college application reaches the “admissions committee” for a final decision, each application is assigned to an individual college admissions officer. At this point, you may be wondering who the admissions officers are. Admissions officers are college employees who are specifically trained to review student applications and make informed recommendations for who they believe would be best suited to attend. In essence, college admissions officers want to create the best incoming class they are capable of. 

In short, one of the key duties of the college admissions officer is to create compelling cases on behalf of their assigned students for why they should be admitted, who they are as a person, and how they could contribute to the college. Admissions officers thoroughly review the applications they’re assigned, take detailed notes, and create written summaries detailing student applications that they will later share during the committee review. This is a lengthy and involved process and it’s important to stress that no one admissions officer will have the final say as to whether a student is accepted or rejected. All admissions decisions are collaborative and must be approved by the Director of Admissions, Dean, or Vice President for Enrollment.

college application review process

So how does a school determine who your admissions officer is? Typically, this will depend on the region you are from. High school standards and opportunities vary dramatically. Colleges know this, so they do their best to assign applications to admissions officers who are the most likely to be familiar with your high school. This way, they can access your application accordingly. Tweet

What is an admissions committee?

Not all colleges use admissions committees — only the most selective colleges will use this model. That said, what is an admissions committee, and how does the review process work? What do admissions officers look for? 

After your college application is reviewed by your assigned admissions officer, your application will be presented to an admissions committee. The admissions committee is mostly composed of other college admissions officers. Depending on the college, however, the President and Vice President of Admissions, various academic deans, specific professors, and in some cases even students, may sit on the admissions committee. Admissions committees vary a lot between schools and can range from a handful of individuals to a crowded room. Regardless of what the committee looks like specifically, the job of the committee is to discuss how an applicant could contribute to the incoming class and whether or not they would be a good fit for the school. 

The specifics of the decision-making process depend on the school, but members of the admissions committee vote to decide whether an application is accepted, rejected, or needs further review.

What does the committee review process look like?

During the committee review process, your assigned officer will verbally relay your application to the rest of the group, making sure to highlight your character traits, accomplishments, interests, and anything else that stood out about your application. This takes a fair amount of passion and storytelling. Just as you’ve invested a lot of time completing your application, your assigned admissions officer spends a lot of time studying and analyzing your college application. 

Although your college application will likely be read by several individuals, typically, applications are not read verbatim during the committee review process. Rather, your assigned admissions officer will share highlights, analyzing your academic trends and course rigor, as well as sharing quotes from your essays and letters of recommendation. 

During this process, it is likely that your application will be assigned specific scores. These scores are college-specific and are meant to be a shared reference point for other members of the admissions committee. For example, an admissions officer may share that a student “scored a 5 on their academic scale and a 4 on their testing scale.”

Admissions officers are passionate about creating a diverse and vibrant incoming student body. Discourse during the committee review is thoughtful and thorough, featuring lots of questions. For example, during the review process at Harvard, some of the specific questions that are asked are as follows:

  • Have you been stretching yourself academically and personally?
  • How have you used your time?
  • Do you have initiative? Are you a self-starter?
  • How open are you to new ideas and people?
  • Do you care deeply about anything – intellectual? Extracurricular? Personal?
  • Will you contribute something to Harvard and to your classmates? Will you benefit from your Harvard experience?

Source: https://blog.prepscholar.com/college-admissions-committee  

How to stand out to an admissions committee

As previously mentioned, it’s not enough to simply have good grades and test scores. Prestigious colleges are interested in admitting passionate, capable students with a demonstrated history of high achievements. Therefore, to complete a compelling college application, you will need to have a clear application strategy. In other words, you will need to craft a clear narrative about who you are as a person and as a student.

The best ways to accomplish this are to focus on writing successful college essays , engaging in meaningful extracurricular activities, and knowing who and how to ask for a letter of recommendation . These are important college application factors because they help communicate who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what motivates and inspires you. These are the questions that will be asked during the admissions review process, so make sure you give everyone plenty to talk about.

Key takeaways and moving forward

College application season is a busy time of year. If you have aspirations to attend an Ivy League college or another highly-selective college, you will need to assemble a competitive and compelling application. College admissions are incredibly competitive so it’s imperative to have a detailed college application strategy moving forward. 

Thankfully, there are college counselors who can help you reach your full potential and assemble the best college application that you are capable of creating. Here at Prepory, we have the resources to help you reach your college goals. One of the aspects that distinguish our services from other college counseling companies is that we vet student applications through a committee, similar to how admissions decisions are made at elite institutions. That said, if you’re interested in having your college application carefully reviewed by a room full of professionals before its submission, reach out to learn more about our services .

  • October 14, 2022

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College admissions is all about finding a school that fits you. As an applicant, you are looking for an environment where you can thrive academically and personally, and it is the job of an admission officer to identify students who will make great additions to a unique campus community.

Learn what you can expect from each stage of the college admissions process, and find out what students on our College Hopes & Worries Survey have to say about applying to college.

A view down a corridor on UCLA’s campus

1. College Planning

Your path to college begins your first year in high school as you make yourself college ready. Grades and test scores are important factors in college admission, but admissions officers are also looking for curious and engaged candidates who will round out a diverse first-year class.

Most admissions officers report that, along with your GPA , the rigor of your high school curriculum is the most important element of your college application.

  • Choose your high school classes carefully. Make sure to challenge yourself with honors classes, AP classes, and IB classes when they are available.
  • Grades matter for all 4 years. When colleges review your transcript, they typically focus on your sophomore and junior year grades but will still see the others.
  • “Start early,” advise the respondents to our College Hopes & Worries Survey. Focus on getting good grades, and get homework help when you need it to stay on track.
  • Even if you had a rough first year, there’s still time to turn your grades around. Many schools will reward your upward trajectory.

Read More: Get Homework Help

Test Scores

SAT and/or ACT scores take the lead, but admissions officers consider your performance on other standardized tests as well.

  • The PSAT is optional your sophomore year, but your junior year PSAT scores can qualify you for scholarship programs such as the National Merit ® Scholarship, which can help cover the cost of tuition and get you into a great college.  The best way to prep for the PSAT is to prep for the SAT.  
  • Good performances on AP exams are one indicator for admissions officers of your potential for achieving in college. More than 1,400 colleges and universities accept high scores on AP exams for course credits.
  • Schools accept both the SAT/ACT equally, so it’s completely up to you which test you take (you can even take both!). The essay sections of both tests are optional, but some colleges may require it.
  • Test optional schools: Schools that are test optional do not require standardized test scores as part of a complete application. Since your test scores could qualify you for merit scholarships (even at test optional schools), it’s still a smart idea to take—and prep for!—at least one standardized test.


What you do with your time outside the classroom shows colleges who you are and what qualities you’ll bring to campus.

  • Commitment to a sport, hobby, religious organization, or job over four years of high school is key. Colleges would much rather see you excited about a few worthwhile endeavors than marginally involved with a ton of clubs.
  • If an after-school job is cutting into your extracurricular time, don’t worry! Work experience demonstrates maturity and responsibility on your college application.
  • Summer counts, too! Some students enroll in university programs to start earning college credits. Others volunteer or find a summer job. Whatever you do, your summer activities can make your college application rise to the top of a competitive applicant pool.

2. College Search

No two students are exactly alike, and no two schools are exactly alike. What are the features of your best-fit college ?

  • Conversations with your college counselor about what’s important to you in terms of academics, campus culture, and financial aid will help guide your overall college search.
  • Research is a must. Attend college fairs, consult our college profiles , and visit campuses to find and compare potential schools. Check out majors, dorms, clubs, career services, and other key features.
  • You’ll end up with a list of dream, match, and safety schools —any of which i s a great fit for your specific personality and interests .
  • How many colleges do students apply to? According to our 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 40% of students plan to apply to 5-8 schools, while 32% will apply to 9 or more colleges.

Read More: Browse College Profiles

3. College Applications

When it comes time to apply, you’ll have some decisions to make.

  • Will you apply early? Many colleges allow applicants to submit their materials for an early deadline (sometime in the fall) that falls before the regular deadline (usually sometime in January or February). Learn about early action vs early decision .
  • The key components of the college application are your transcript, score reports, letters of recommendation, and application essay. Colleges will also ask you to list your extracurricular activities. Learn everything you need to know about college application .
  • Always check admissions requirements with each individual school. 
  • The Common Application makes it easy to apply to multiple schools, but schools will typically have different supplemental essay topics or test score requirements.
  • You may decide to interview with an admissions representative or college alumni member to learn more about schools—and to help schools learn more about you.

Read More: 24-Hour College Essay Review

4. Applying for Financial Aid

Debt has been the biggest concern among respondents to our College Hopes & Worries survey for the past three years. Educate yourself on how financial aid works , so you can make the right choices for you and your family.

  • Schools usually have their own net-price calculators so that families can get a sense of what their out-of-pocket costs would look like. Check out each prospective school's financial aid website as you research your college list.
  • Be aware that applying to college and applying for financial aid are two separate processes.
  • You’ll start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA ), which is released on October 1 of every year. The form asks for information about your income and the size of your household to determine your expected family contribution (EFC) toward your college tuition.
  • Schools may also use their own forms, or use the CSS Profile for non-federal aid.
  • grants and scholarships
  • federal work-study
  • student loans
  • Plenty of outside organizations offer  scholarships tailored to academic interests, talents, extracurricular activities, career goals, geographic location, and many more factors. Keep an eye on deadlines which could fall as early as the summer before senior year.

Read More: FAFSA Deadlines, Dates, and FAQs

5. Choosing Your School

Once the notifications start rolling in, celebrate your acceptances with your college counselor, and make your final decision (typically by May 1, “Decision Day”).

  • How to decide? 40% of respondents told us they’d choose the college that's the "best for their career interests" and another 40% said they'd choose the college that’s the "best overall fit."
  • Get excited about the schools that accepted you by talking to real students on campus, learning more about key programs and on-campus activities, and touring dorms and other facilities.
  • Compare financial aid packages to determine which one makes the most financial sense for you.
  • If your dream college waitlisted you, don’t despair! You could still be accepted from the waitlist, as students notify the college whether they accept or decline. Check out our college waitlist strategies .
  • Students may be deferred (their application held to be evaluated at another time) if a college decides they need more information (like senior year grades or test scores) before making their decision.
  • You may also decide to defer your acceptance for a year to work, travel, or volunteer. Learn more about taking a gap year .
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college application review process

What is the College Application Review Process Like? What Goes On Behind Closed Doors

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You’ve hit all the submit buttons, gotten the confirmation emails, and finished the application process. Or maybe you’re not quite done yet, but you will be soon (remember,   it’s better not to wait until the very end to submit all your applications! ). Your application seemingly disappears into a black hole for several months, gets evaluated via a secretive process unique to each school, and pops out in March with a decision. The decisions result in joy and excitement in some cases, but unfortunately—especially for top tier schools—this isn’t usually the case. Rejections from schools often result in anger and frustration, with applicants and their parents wondering what went wrong. Why was a rejection letter handed to them? Why wasn’t their application seen more favorably? What process was used to make the decision?

Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the admissions officers who made the decision, it can seem impossible to figure out what the specific reasons for a decision are. However, there does exist a general process that colleges use for reading applications. Here at CollegeVine, we want to provide you with some insight on what goes into a college decision. 

Note: Every college has its own application review process. There’s no one process that’s universally used—every school has its own priorities, and as a result, schools all have slightly varying processes used for evaluating applications. What follows is not intended to be an authoritative guide that details what every review process is like; rather, it is simply intended to shed some light on what the process is generally like. What’s stated here won’t necessarily be exactly how things work at the schools you applied to, but overall it will help you better understand what goes on behind closed doors after you submit your application.

After all applications are submitted, the first step for admissions committees is to sort through all the applications. Due to the volume of applications typically received, it usually takes colleges a week or two to get all of the applications sorted. You might think that applications are read as soon as they get sorted, but this is not typically the case. Because many schools use a holistic review process, schools usually wait until all application materials are received before reviewing your application. Many of the application materials are not things that you submit (school report, midyear grades, etc.), and some will not reach the admissions office until later. As a result, application reading generally does not begin until February. If, however, a school uses a screening process, applications may be filtered here for applications that don’t meet the minimum GPA or test score requirements, though the actual reading of applications won’t take place until later. Schools that screen applications are usually very large colleges that need a way to control the number of applications they have to read.

When it’s time for applications to be read, they are typically categorized by location—this gives readers for each region better context when evaluating the applications. Each application goes to a first reader who reads it from front to back and provides a rating. In some cases, the rating is a simple yes or no; in other cases, it’s based on the rating system of the school (some schools have rating systems where each component of an application is given a numerical rating from an arbitrary range, like 1-10).

After the first reader completes the evaluation, the application is then read by a second reader. In some cases, the second reader is a regional specialist, who is very knowledgeable about a specific region and its high schools. If a school uses a simple yes or no evaluation system, if the second reader agrees with the first reader, oftentimes there is no further evaluation—the agreed-upon decision becomes the final decision. If the second reader disagrees, the admissions committee may have a third reader evaluate the application and make a decision, or the application may be brought to a committee that will take a vote and make the decision. In the case where a rating system is used, a second reader will provide an additional rating, and applications with the highest ratings will get reviewed by a committee which will then make a decision.

This process might seem very mechanistic and unemotional, with admissions officers not feeling the slightest bit of emotion as they make decisions that shape applicants’ lives, but this is hardly the case. If an application reaches a point where it is being evaluated by a committee, there are often heated debates, with admissions officers doing their best to defend their favorite applications. The vote for acceptance or denial is seldom unanimous—it’s rare that every member of the committee comes out of a vote satisfied with the decision.

With all this talk about readers simply coming up with a yes or no, or a rating for each application, you might be wondering what exactly goes into a yes, no, or a rating. The answer is something you’ve probably heard many times before—readers look at your transcript, test scores, extracurriculars, essays, and recommendations, as well as   supplementary materials if you submitted them . Readers have a general idea of the profile of a typical student at their school, and they use this knowledge to determine whether an applicant is a fit or not.

Ultimately, once you hit the submit button, there’s not much you can do to affect your admissions chances. You can send update letters in some cases (if you were deferred EA/ED), but usually the best thing to do is to focus on keeping your grades up, staying involved in your extracurriculars, and enjoying your senior year. While it might seem like there must be something you can do to influence the reading process, there really is not. The best way to maximize your admissions chances is still to have the best transcript you can, be passionate about your extracurriculars, and have high  test scores , glowing recommendations, and   engaging essays . If you’ve done all of these things, you’re well on your way to putting together an application that will garner serious consideration in front of the admissions committee.

Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

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  • What's the point of making texting while driving illegal?
  • Have social conservatives captured the Republican Party?
  • Why are Republicans (or those who favor capitalism) called the right" or "right-wing" and Democrats (or those who favor social issues) called the "left?""
  • Who were the War Hawks?
  • What are the differences in the ways the House and the Senate conduct debates on a bill?
  • What is WikiLeaks?
  • How long do oral arguments last in Supreme Court cases?
  • What do you think are some reasons why the President was given almost unlimited military powers? What are some possible positive and negative effects resulting from the scope of the President's military power?
  • Why is the United States government so worried about North Korea?
  • Did Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation actually free any slaves?
  • How were U.S. Senators originally chosen?
  • What changes in American society have created new issues for the government to address?
  • What was the Tweed Ring?
  • What do you think secret service for the Obama girls is like? Is there a dude with a gun and stuff sitting next to them in class? Wouldn't that make it hard for them to concentrate?
  • How many representatives does each state have in the House of Representatives?
  • What is the difference between the Senate Majority/Minority leaders and the Senate Whip?
  • How are justices to the U.S. Supreme Court elected? Is this a good or a bad thing?
  • What type of education do you need to become Speaker of the House?
  • I heard a rumor that if you modify the photo by at least 10%, it doesn't matter if it's copyrighted and you can use it however. Is that true?
  • What do security and infringed mean in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
  • What did Abraham Lincoln mean by A house divided against itself cannot stand"?"
  • Who is the only U.S. President who never won a nationwide election?
  • What is the current law on compulsory vaccinations in the U.S.? Are there any exceptions for people who don't want to get vaccinated?
  • After the stock market crash, how did President Hoover try to help the economy?
  • My economics teacher said something about stagflation , what is that, exactly?
  • How do interest groups play a role in American government?
  • Has Thanksgiving always been on the same day?
  • Can someone who's not a Republican or Democrat win an election?
  • What can you tell me about the 1976 presidential election?
  • The Electoral College — can anyone apply?
  • How do lobbyists influence public policy decisions?
  • What happens if the president doesn't like a piece of legislation?
  • What are the legal elements of a crime?
  • How did the Whiskey Rebellion change people's perception of federal laws in the United States?
  • How do federal judges get their jobs?
  • If you are dressed to conform to an informal, verbal dress code but a different, written dress code is enforced and you get in trouble, do you have a First Amendment right to challenge it? My teachers enforce the dress code inconsistently.
  • How does the CIA recruit people? What types of majors do they typically target?
  • What is the importance of the Declaration of Independence? Why would the founders of our country need to declare" their freedom? Why is it so important today?"
  • What is Presidential Veto Power?
  • What is the purpose of government, and how does a bill become law?
  • Is there a way, other than retiring, to get out of the Supreme Court (such as being dismissed)?
  • When did the pocket veto start?
  • Who would serve as the new president if both the president and vice president resigned?
  • What was the difference in history between the Middle Ages (Medieval Times) and the Renaissance?
  • What's a Congressional Page and how do you become one?
  • Differences Between Public Universities and Private Schools
  • Entering College Without a Major in Mind
  • Figure Out Your College Preference
  • Freshman Dorm Life: Choosing a Roommate
  • Gain an Edge with Community Service
  • Apply to College Online
  • Approach AP Essay Questions with Ease
  • Choose the Right Dorm
  • Choosing a College: The Importance of the Campus Tour
  • Choosing Between a Large or Small College
  • Get a Clue about Community College
  • The College Admissions Interview
  • Get College Info from People around You
  • Getting Into College: Letters of Recommendation
  • Getting the Most from Your High School Guidance Counselor
  • Going to College When You Have a Disability
  • How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?
  • Keep Track of Test Time: Exam Calendar
  • Know What Colleges Are Looking For
  • Know Which Exam's Right for You
  • Pack Your Bags for SAT* Exam Day
  • Plan Wisely for Campus Visits
  • Planning High School Summers with an Eye toward College Admissions
  • Prepare for the Revised SAT*
  • Put Together a College Admission Timeline
  • Read the Right Stuff for the AP* English Literature Exam
  • Save Yourself from Senioritis
  • Start Earning College Credit Early
  • Student Diversity as an Important Factor in Considering Colleges
  • Taking a Year Off between High School and College
  • Take the Right High School Classes to Get into College
  • Technology and the College Application Process
  • Understanding Subject Tests and College Admissions
  • Understanding Your Academic Average and Class Rank
  • Weighing One College's Degree Program against Another
  • Write a College Admissions Essay
  • What Are College Early Action Admissions Plans?
  • What Are College Early Decision and Regular Decision Admissions Plans?
  • What Are College Rolling Admissions Plans?
  • Where Can I Find Info to Compare Colleges?
  • Find Out about Federal Student Aid
  • Filling Out the FAFSA
  • Get to Know the CSS Profile Form
  • Getting Financial Aid Information at School
  • How to Consolidate Private Student Loans
  • Avoid Negotiating with Financial Aid Offers
  • Avoid Scholarship Scams
  • Borrow for College without Going Bust
  • Building a Budget after College with a Financial Diary
  • Consider the Federal Work-Study Program
  • Considering a PLUS Loan
  • Deal with the FAFSA
  • Dealing with Private Student Loans during Financial Hardship
  • Debunking Some Common Myths about Financial Aid
  • How to Gather Information on Your Private Student Loans
  • The Differences between Scholarship and Student Loan Payouts
  • The Federal Pell Grant System
  • Loan Forgiveness of Your Student Loans
  • Negotiating Rent on an Apartment
  • Organize Student Loans with a Private Loans Chart
  • Overpaying on Student Loans for Quicker Payoff
  • Places You Might Not Think to Look for Scholarships
  • Put "Sticker Price" in Perspective
  • Student Loan Deferments and Forbearance
  • Try to Sweeten Your Financial Aid Package
  • Transfer Private Student Loan Debt to Low-Rate Credit Cards
  • Understanding Repayment Periods on Private Student Loans
  • What Happens If You Miss a Student Loan Payment?
  • After the Rush: Pledging a Sorority
  • Avoid Alcohol and Drug Temptations
  • Back to School Considerations for Adult Learners
  • College Professors Appreciate Good Behavior
  • Consider Studying Abroad
  • Deal with the Roommate Experience
  • Decide if the Greek Life Is for You
  • Decide on a Major
  • Find Yourself a Used Car for College
  • Fit Sleep into Student Life
  • Freshman Year Extracurricular Goals
  • Get By on a Limited Cash Flow
  • Get Creative for Summer after College Freshman Year
  • Get the Hang of the Add/Drop Process
  • Get with the Program: Internships, Work-Study, and Service Learning
  • How to Evaluate Campus Life during a College Visit
  • Job Shadow to Explore Careers
  • Key In to Effective Study Habits
  • Maintain Your Mental Health
  • Make the Most of Taking Lecture Notes
  • Pack Up for College
  • Prepare for College Instructor/Student Expectations
  • Put Together a Bibliography or Works Cited
  • Research on the Internet
  • Rule Out Academic Dishonesty
  • Say No to Dating College Friends' Siblings or Exes
  • Student Teaching: Test Drive Your Career in Education
  • Taking a Gamble: Gaming on Campus
  • Transferring from Community College to Four-Year Institution
  • Understand Types of Research Material
  • What to Expect from Sorority Rush
  • Work at a Part-Time Job
  • Write a Top-Notch Research Paper
  • Why do some critics want the 22nd Amendment repealed?
  • What is guerrilla warfare?
  • Years ago I learned that our national highway system has built-in runways for emergency landing strips. Is this still true?
  • What newspapers did Frederick Douglass write for?
  • I know that the days of the week are all named after Norse or Roman gods or the sun and moon, but I can't figure out what Tuesday is named for. Do you know?
  • Can you give me a brief history of Prussia?
  • Who were the Ottomans?
  • Who discovered oxygen?
  • What have been the major Israel and Arab conflicts since World War II?
  • 1What does the cormorant (bird) symbolize in mythology?
  • How did Peter I of Russia come to power?
  • What can you tell me about Kwanzaa?
  • What is the Alma-Ata declaration?
  • I've heard that in some countries, everyone has to sign up for the military between high school and college. Is that true?
  • How were women treated in Ancient Rome?
  • What is the history and meaning of Turkey's flag?
  • How are justices to the US Supreme Court elected Is this a good or a bad thing
  • How did ounce come to be abbreviated as oz.?
  • Why did Cromwell dissolve the first Protectorate parliament?
  • Why does The Great Depression end when the United States enters World War II?
  • What place did the underworld have in Egyptian mythology?
  • Can you explain Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in words that a teen can understand?
  • Who was the most famous mathematician?
  • Where did Christopher Columbus land when he reached the Americas?
  • Who had control of more states during the American Civil War, the North or the South?
  • How did Zeus become ruler of the Greek gods?
  • Why does Santa Claus have so many names — Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, and Kris Kringle?
  • What is antidisestablishmentarianism?
  • What is Leningrad known as today?
  • Who were the leading figures in the Classical period of music?
  • Why didn't the Pope allow Henry VIII a divorce, and who was Catherine of Aragon's relative who came and held siege?
  • Who wrote, A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"?"
  • Was the Spanish Armada large, and did its crews have notable sailing skill?
  • What was the cause of the War of Spanish Succession?
  • What is the song Yankee Doodle Dandy" really about?"
  • What's the story of the Roanoke colony?
  • How does history reflect what people were thinking at the time?
  • My teacher says there's more than one kind of history. How can that be?
  • What were the turning points in World War II?
  • We just started studying Spanish exploration in North America. What makes it so important today?
  • What was it like for women in the 1920s?
  • Have Americans always been big on sports?
  • Who invented baseball?
  • What did American Indians have to give up for pioneers?
  • How did imperialism spread around the world?
  • How did Imperialism in India come about?
  • What's the big deal about Manifest Destiny?
  • How did the Tet Offensive affect public opinion about the Vietnam War?
  • Why did Christian Lous Lange deserve the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921?
  • Where do the four suits in a deck of cards originate? What do they represent?
  • What was the Roe v. Wade trial?
  • Who is Constantine?
  • I need to know some info on the Monroe Doctrine. I have looked everywhere but I still can't find any information. Can you PLEASE help?
  • Where did the chair originate from? I was sitting on one the other day and it said Made in China," but where did it first come from?"
  • What kind of cash crops did they grow in the South in early America?
  • Everyone talks about how enlightened the Mayans were, but what did they really do?
  • What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Did Christianity play a role?
  • What was the reason for the downfall of the Russian Empire in 1917?
  • What prompted slavery? Why were the Africans chosen for enslavement?
  • How did World War I start and end?
  • What is The Palestinian Conflict?
  • I don't really understand the French Revolution. What started it, and what stopped it?
  • What was the doctor's diagnosis of Helen Keller when she was a baby?
  • What is the Trail of Tears?
  • When speaking about Native Americans, what is the difference between an Indian tribe and an Indian Nation?
  • What happened during the Boston Massacre?
  • What was sectionalism in America before the Civil War?
  • How did the U.S. attempt to avoid involvement in World War II?
  • What is Ronald Reagan's Tear down this wall" speech about?"
  • Can you describe the United States policy of containment and show an example of an event when the policy was used and why?
  • How many countries are there in the world?
  • What did Columbus do besides sail to the New World?
  • My history teacher said that if your religious denomination isn't Catholic, than you are a Protestant. Is she right?
  • Do you think that Mormons are Christians? What is the full name of the Mormon Church?
  • What principles of the Belmont Report were violated in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study?
  • What is the size of Europe in square miles?
  • The United States was given the right to establish naval bases in the British West Indies during World War II by the British Government in exchange for what?
  • How were the Crusades a turning point in Western history?
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  • What does impertinent mean (from The American )?
  • I know that the verb pluck means to pull out or pull at, but what's the definition when used as a noun?
  • Which novels would you recommend to 15-year-olds on the theme of places and forms of power?
  • In The Pearl, why didn't John Steinbeck give the pearl buyers identifying names?
  • In the play, The Crucible , why would Arthur Miller include the Note on Historical Accuracy?
  • What is perfidy (from Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser)?
  • Is being pedantic a good or bad thing?
  • Is a termagant a type of seabird?
  • What is ichor (from The Iliad )?
  • In The Hunger Games, why did Cinna choose to be the designer for District 12?
  • Is a rivulet really a river, only smaller?
  • Charles Dickens has this person called the beadle" in lots of his books. Is that like a nickname for a man with buggy eyes or something?"
  • In Brave New World, why are family words like father and mother viewed as obscene?
  • What is the main tenet of stoicism?
  • What's the meaning of obsequious (from Theodore Dreiser's urban novel Sister Carrie )?
  • Where are the Antipodes (from Much Ado about Nothing )?
  • What is a truckle bed (from Romeo and Juliet )?
  • What does truculent (from Great Expectations ) mean?
  • If someone inculcates you, should you feel insulted?
  • What does the phrase Ethiop words" mean in Shakespeare's As You Like It ?"
  • I was chatting with a neighbor who said I was quite garrulous . Nice or mean?
  • What does laconic mean?
  • At a restaurant famous for its rude servers, a waitress told me to lump it" when I asked for another napkin. Can you tell me about that phrase?"
  • What does urbane (from Daisy Miller ) mean?
  • I thought necro had something to do with being dead. So, what's a necromancer ? Sounds creepy.
  • In The House of Mirth, this guy named Gus Trenor is eating a jellied plover." Is that some kind of doughnut?"
  • What are some well-known novels whose titles are quotations from Shakespeare?
  • In Orwell's 1984, what does the opening sentence suggest about the book?
  • Understanding the literary genre Magical Realism
  • What's a prig?
  • I asked my granddad if he liked his new apartment and he said, It's all hunky-dory, kiddo." What did he mean?"
  • What does mephitic (from Man and Superman ) mean?
  • I hate finding typos in books. Here's one I've seen several times: jalousies instead of jealousies.
  • On the second week of my summer job at a bookstore, my boss handed me an envelope with what she called my emoluments. Looked like a paycheck to me, though.
  • In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some examples of the characters having courage?
  • What's cud? I was once told to stop chewing my cud and get back to work.
  • What can you tell me about the word patois from The Awakening ?
  • What are thews (from Ivanhoe )?
  • What does pot-shop (from The Pickwick Papers ) mean?
  • Are all dowagers women?
  • If someone is the titular head of a political party, does it mean they have all the power?
  • The word flummox confuses me. What does it mean?
  • Somebody told me I looked pasty. Does that mean I've eaten too many sweets?
  • I started taking private bassoon lessons. When I arrived at my teacher’s house, he told me to wait in the anteroom. I wasn’t sure where to go.
  • Is anomalous the same as anonymous ?
  • I know that a fathom is a unit of measure used by sailors, but how long is a fathom?
  • What is a joss (from Victory, by Joseph Conrad)?
  • What does eschew (from The Pickwick Papers ) mean?
  • What does excrescence (from The Call of the Wild ) mean?
  • What does the word covert mean?
  • In Shakespeare's Sonnet 125, what is an oblation ?
  • In Moby-Dick , what does vitiate mean?
  • In War and Peace , what does bane mean?
  • In Jane Eyre , what are chilblains ?
  • Does mendacious refer to something that is fixable (mendable)?
  • Is kickshawses one of those weird words that Shakespeare coined? What does it mean?
  • You say in CliffsNotes that In Cold Blood was Truman Capote's undoing. How?
  • What is renege , in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra ?
  • What is maxim ? I think it's a female name but I'm not sure.
  • Last Valentine's Day, this guy I barely know gave me a rose and said something about ardent love. What does ardent mean?
  • In Act I, Scene 1, of King Lear, what does benison mean?
  • What kind of literature is a picaresque novel?
  • What does culpable mean?
  • What's a cenotaph ? Every Veterans Day, I hear about the Queen of England laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London.
  • What does gallimaufry mean in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ? My vocabulary is pretty good, but that one has me stumped!
  • What does it mean to genuflect ?
  • Someone told me I was looking wistful. What is wistful ?
  • In David Copperfield, what does superannuated mean?
  • Does the word syllogism have something to do with biology?
  • I see the word benefactor a lot in my reading assignments. Is that somebody who benefits from something?
  • I found a funny word in The Glass Castle. Where did skedaddle come from and what does it mean?
  • Does sinuous mean something like full of sin"? I saw the word in The Devil in the White City ."
  • In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, what is the meaning of the word propaganda ?
  • What are characteristics of Modernist literature, fiction in particular?
  • What does my brother mean when he says he's too ensconced in his studies to look for a girlfriend?
  • My grandpa complained about a bunch of politicians making what he called chin music . Did he mean they were in a loud band?
  • What is melodrama?
  • In Dracula, what's a missal ?
  • In the terms abject poverty and abject misery, what does abject mean?
  • In Moby-Dick, what does craven mean?
  • What does cicatrize mean?
  • What is a noisome smell" in Tolstoy's War and Peace ?"
  • What is an apostasy, from the George Bernard Shaw play, Man and Superman ?
  • In Jane Eyre, what's syncope ?
  • I just read Dracula. What's the forcemeat in Jonathan Harker's journal?
  • Can the word stern mean more than one thing?
  • Where is Yoknapatawpha county?
  • What does smouch mean?
  • I'm supposed to write a comparison of Hektor and Achilles from Homer's The Iliad, but I don't know where to start.
  • How do you pronounce quay ? And what does it mean, anyway?
  • What are some examples of paradox in the novel Frankenstein ?
  • In Ivanhoe, what does mammock mean?
  • What does rummage mean?
  • Is a mummer some type of religious person?
  • Some guy I don't like told his friend I was acting all demure. What does that mean?
  • When I complained about our cafeteria food, my biology teacher told me he wished they'd serve agarics. Was he talking about some kind of dessert?
  • Where did the name Of Mice and Men come from?
  • What genre would you consider the book, The Outsiders ?
  • In Fahrenheit 451, why would a society make being a pedestrian a crime?
  • What does the phrase, a worn-out man of fashion" mean from Jane Eyre ?"
  • Is sagacity a medical condition?
  • My teacher told me I was being obdurate. Was that a compliment?
  • What motives inspired Iago to plot revenge against Othello?
  • Who was the first king of Rome?
  • What does enervate mean?
  • What is a parvenu ? I saw the word in William Makepeace Thackeray's book Vanity Fair.
  • Is salubrity somehow related to being famous?
  • Do capers have something to do with cops?
  • What's the difference between a soliloquy and a monologue?
  • In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce uses the word pandybat . What's a pandybat?
  • Does the word inexorable have something to do with driving demons out of a person?
  • Do people who prognosticate have some sort of special power?
  • What is a hegemony, from James Joyce's Ulysses ?
  • What are fallow fields ? I'm a city gal who heard the term at a 4-H fair and just read it in Anna Karenina.
  • What's the difference between parody and satire?
  • Lord of the Flies uses the word inimical. What does it mean?
  • What does dreadnaught mean, as it’s used in Bleak House?
  • I saw vertiginous in Madame Bovary. What does mean the word mean?
  • What does overweening mean, in Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes?
  • Can you hear a dirge anyplace but a funeral?
  • Does imperturbable refer to something you can't break through?
  • What are the seven ages of man?
  • What is a chimera , in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë?
  • What's dross ?
  • What is an injunction ?
  • For school I had to make a Napoleon hat, which called for a cockade. What is that?
  • If someone studies assiduously, does it mean they're working really hard or really slowly?
  • Define mood as it relates to a work of fiction. Distinguish mood from effect.
  • My sister calls me the Princess of Prevarication." What's prevarication ?"
  • What's turpitude, as in moral turpitude"?"
  • What's the definition of tenebrous ?
  • This biography I'm reading about Queen Victoria says that she refused to remove the hatchment she had for her husband Prince Albert. What does that word mean?
  • What does sine qua non mean?
  • What's lugubrious mean?
  • What's impugn mean, from Ivanhoe?
  • What does postprandial mean?
  • I love reading fashion magazines and occasionally come across the word atelier. What is that?
  • What does King Lear mean when he says that ingratitude is a marble-hearted fiend"?"
  • What is celerity , from Ivanhoe ?
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , what are disquisitions ?
  • What's shrive ? My neighbor said she's been unshriven for years, but I think her skin looks quite shriveled.
  • What's a dobbin ?
  • What's polemic ? Over winter break, my uncle told me I was polemic and asked if I was on the debate team at school.
  • I came across a list of homonyms: mu, moo, moue . I know mu is Greek for the letter m , and moo is the sound cows make, but what's a moue ?
  • What does trow mean?
  • In Far from the Madding Crowd , what does cavil mean?
  • What does Charles Dickens mean when he says “toadies and humbugs” in his book, Great Expectations ?
  • Where can I find the word naught in The Scarlet Letter ?
  • I found an old diary from the 1800s where the writer describes how he almost died but was saved by a sinapism . What is that?
  • I know what mulch is, but what's mulct ?
  • When our teacher was introducing the next reading assignment, he said we'll be using the unexpurgated version. What did he mean?
  • For some reason, the word dingle sticks in my head after having read Treasure Island years ago. I never did discover what it meant. How about it, Cliff?
  • In Dracula , what's stertorous breathing?
  • What does philippic mean?
  • I'm usually pretty good at guessing what words mean, but have no clue about exigence . What is it?
  • What's doughty ? How do you pronounce it?
  • What's sharecropping? I'm kind of embarrassed to ask, because it's one of those words everyone assumes you know what it means.
  • I'm working on my summer reading list with Kafka's The Trial. The very first sentence uses traduce , and I don't know what that means.
  • What does the cormorant (bird) symbolize in mythology?
  • I saw the word badinage in the book Uncle Tom's Cabin . Do you think that's a typo that really should be bandage ?
  • On a TV modeling contest, a judge said, Her simian walk is unbelievable." Was that a good thing?"
  • What is the definition of adverbiously , from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • In Oliver Twist , Dodger refers to Oliver as flash companion . Can't find a definition of this anywhere. What does it mean?
  • Do elocutionists kill people?
  • For my English homework, I have to write a love poem. I'm only 13 and I haven't had my first love yet. How would I go about writing about feelings that I haven't felt yet?
  • Where on the body would I find my sarcophagus ?
  • What's stolid ? It sounds like someone who's stupid and built solid like a wall.
  • What's a wonton person?
  • In which play did William Shakespeare state that misery loves company?
  • What's comfit ? Is it a different way of saying comfort?
  • Where did the story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley take place?
  • What kind of person would a shallow-pate be?
  • What are myrmidons of Justice" in Great Expectations ?"
  • Faseeshis … no clue on the spelling, but I kind of got yelled at in school today for being that. What did I do?
  • In The Red Badge of Courage , what's an imprecation ?
  • The word portmanteau shows up in a lot of the literature I read for school assignments. It sounds French. What does it mean?
  • I did something really stupid yesterday, and my grandfather told me I was hoist with my own petard." What does that mean? And what's a petard ?"
  • How do you pronounce Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare's early comedies?
  • What's a bourse ? I read it in my finance class.
  • In The House of Mirth, what are oubliettes ?
  • In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, what are thimble-riggers ?
  • In Wuthering Heights , what's a thible ?
  • Which Hemingway story references the running of the bulls" in Spain?"
  • What's a clink? My dad mentioned that his granddad was there for a long time during World War I.
  • If somebody is toady," does it mean they're ugly?"
  • Who said all's fair in love and war" and where?"
  • Why is there so much talk about baseball, especially Joe DiMaggio, in The Old Man and the Sea ?
  • In the movie Failure to Launch , there's a line that goes, Well, she certainly is yar," in reference to a yacht. What's yar ?"
  • What does mangle mean in Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • I got detention because a teacher said I was being contumacious . What's that?
  • What are encomiums?
  • What are billets in The Three Musketeers ?
  • In Orwell's 1984 , what is doublethink ?
  • What are orts ? That's a weird word that reminds me of orcs from The Lord of the Rings .
  • What are alliteration and assonance?
  • How is John the Savage's name ironic in Brave New World ?
  • What's quinsy?
  • What is a doppelgänger?
  • What is New Historicism?
  • I found the word unwonted in a book I'm reading. Is that a typo, you think?
  • In Heart of Darkness , what does cipher mean?
  • In the play The Glass Menagerie, would you describe Tom as selfish?
  • What does Kantian mean, from a philosophical perspective?
  • What's a colonnade ? My girlfriend is freaking me out with stories of her dream wedding where she walks down a colonnade. I know this is the least of my problems, but I'm curious.
  • My grandma says she knows how I feel when I knit my brows. Is she crazy?
  • Why is Shakespeare's play titled Julius Caesar , even though he is dead by Act III and plays a relatively small role?
  • I know bier has something to do with dead people, but what is it exactly?
  • My brainy brother owns a Harley and says his girlfriend is the pillion . Is he insulting her or just showing off?
  • I ran across the word mien in a book. Is it a typo?
  • Is a younker a person or a place?
  • Does precipitancy have something to do with the weather?
  • I'm writing a grade 12 comparative essay, and I need a book that I could compare with All Quiet on the Western Front. Any suggestions?
  • A friend says she suffers from ineffable sadness. What's ineffable ?
  • What's a scow ?
  • Is a maelstrom some kind of dangerous weather?
  • What is the meaning of this saying, The cat will mew and dog will have his day"?"
  • What is a paradox ?
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray mentions a panegyric on youth. What does that mean?
  • In Madame Bovary , what's a mairie?
  • In The Kite Runner, what's palliative mean?
  • So what's oligarchy ? In government class, my teacher mentioned that word when we were talking about the Blagojevich scandal in Illinois.
  • Is intrepidity a good thing or a bad thing?
  • My grandmother told me that she thinks grandpa should see an alienist. Does she think he's from another planet or what?
  • Do you have to have licentiousness to get your driver's license?
  • I ran across the word hardihood in something I read the other day. Is it some kind of clothing?
  • I saw mention of haversack in my history book. What does that word mean?
  • I'm guessing the word quadroon is four of something. But what's a roon?
  • I'm trying to understand Shakespeare's play, King Lear . Can you explain these quotes from Act 1, Scene 1?
  • In Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment , what's a samovar ?
  • I came across a music channel that featured tejano," and then I saw the same word when I was reading Bless Me, Ultima. What does it mean?"
  • In The Awakening , there's a term prunella gaiter." I'm guessing that gaiters are a type of covering for your legs, like the gaiters I use on my ski boots to keep snow out. But what the heck is prunella? Is it a purplish color like prunes?"
  • What's sedulous mean?
  • In Chapter 2 of Jane Eyre , what are divers parchments ?
  • A friend of mine said she hopes to get a counterpane for Christmas. What's that?
  • In Wuthering Heights, what does munificent mean?
  • The other day, my dad called my friends a motley crew. Is that his way of saying I should hang out with a different crowd?
  • Why is there an authorship problem with Shakespeare?
  • What is it called when something is out of place in time, like a jet stream in a movie about ancient Rome?
  • In 1984 , does Winston die from a bullet at the end of the book or is he in a dream-state?
  • I saw some old guy in a soldier's uniform selling fake red flowers. He said it was for Veterans Day. What's the connection?
  • I was kind of flirting with this really cute boy when my teacher told me to stop palavering. Did she want me to stop flirting or stop talking?
  • My grandmother says when she was a kid in China, she became Catholic because of the Mary Knows nuns. I tried to look that up on the Internet but couldn't find anything. Can you help?
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo , does cupidity mean love? I'm guessing that because of, you know, Cupid . . . Valentine's Day.
  • My theater teacher called me a name the other day. I don't think it was supposed to be a compliment. What's a somnambulist, anyway?
  • Why was Tartuffe such a jerk?
  • To Kill a Mockingbird has this word fey in it, but I don't know what it means. Does it mean short lived or fleeting?
  • In Pride and Prejudice , what's probity" &mdash
  • I never met my grandma, who my mom says lives in a hovel and wants her to move in with us. Then I saw that word in Frankenstein . What's a hovel? I thought it was like a place that had room service.
  • I have a friend who said something about phantasmagoric. That's not real, is it?
  • Which of the following literary devices is used in these poetic lines by John Milton?
  • In Faulkner's A Rose for Emily," what does noblesse oblige mean?"
  • What is love?
  • What is suggested by the coin image in Book II of A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • Why does Satan rebel against God?
  • I'm reading Candide, by Voltaire, and one of the dudes is an Anabaptist. What's that?
  • What does the poem Summer Sun" by Robert Louis Stevenson really mean?"
  • What did Shakespeare want to say about his beloved in Sonnet 18?
  • In Romeo and Juliet , who was the last person to see Juliet alive?
  • What is the Catechism?
  • What is the overall meaning of the poem Before The Sun," by Charles Mungoshi?"
  • What does ague mean?
  • Is there a reference to venereal disease in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • What is fantasy fiction?
  • What is the exposition in Othello ?
  • Who is the character Susan in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • What is a found poem?
  • What did Alice Walker mean in the essay Beauty"?"
  • Why did Dr. Frankenstein create his monster?
  • What is the name of the surgeon and the English ship he's on in Moby-Dick ?
  • What are the differences between an epic hero and a Romantic hero?
  • In Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, does Gail Wynand commit suicide or only close The Banner at the end of the novel? I'm in a literary dispute over this!
  • What did W.E.B. Du Bois mean when he wrote of second-sight?
  • What is nihilism, and what should I read to get a better understanding of it?
  • What is the difference between an atheist and an agnostic?
  • What are intelligent design and creationism and how are they related?
  • What is misanthropy ?
  • I would like to understand the poem Blight" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Please help."
  • Can you explain the significance of the question, Which came first, the chicken or the egg?""
  • In Little Lost Robot," by Isaac Asimov, why have some robots been impressioned with only part of the First Law of Robotics?"
  • Can you explain Cartesian Dualism and how Descartes' philosophical endeavors led him to dualism?
  • When reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice , what does entailment mean?
  • What does ignominy mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What does pecuniary mean? (From Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities )
  • How do I analyze Kant's philosophy?
  • What is an apostrophe in Macbeth ?
  • Is music a language?
  • Why should literature be studied?
  • In the book The Scarlet Letter , what is a vigil ?
  • The first week of school isn't even over yet and I'm already in trouble — I forgot my textbook at school and can't do my homework! What should I do now?!
  • What are the renaissance features/characteristics in Hamlet ?
  • What is the exact quote in Hamlet about something being wrong in Denmark? Something smells? Something is amiss?
  • What does Utilitarianism mean, from a philosophical perspective?
  • What was the form of English that Shakespeare used?
  • At the beginning of Act V, Scene 2 of Much Ado About Nothing, does Shakespeare insinuate that anything is going on between Margaret and Benedick?
  • What was the "final solution" in the book Night by Elie Wiesel?
  • With the many novels out there, is there a database of some sort that can narrow down your choices to a specific book of interest for pleasure reading? And if not, why hasn't there been?
  • How do you pronounce Houyhnhnms ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • I just took the quiz on The Great Gatsby on this site. How can Jordan Baker be described as a professional golfer? To my knowledge, the LPGA did not form until the mid-1950s. Shouldn't she be referred to as an amateur golfer instead?
  • What are the humanities?
  • If Father, Son, and Holy Ghost aren't names, what is God's name?
  • What classic novels take place in Florida?
  • In which Hemingway short story is the saying, "Children's shoes for sale"?
  • Who is the "lady" that Robert Plant speaks of in the song "Stairway to Heaven"?
  • Was Odysseus the one who planned the Trojan horse, in the Trojan War?
  • How do I get my smart-but-hates-to-read son interested in reading?
  • Poetry gives me problems. How can I figure out what poems are about?
  • How do you analyze a novel?
  • What does it mean to ululate ? (From Golding's Lord of the Flies )
  • Is ambrosia a salad? (From Homer's The Odyssey )
  • What is a harbinger ? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be refractory ? (From Dickens' Great Expectations )
  • What is a querulous kid? (From Wharton's Ethan Frome )
  • What does the word runagate mean? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What is the word, imprimis ? (From Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew )
  • What does the word alchemy mean? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What is an estuary ? (From Conrad's Heart of Darkness )
  • What or who is a scullion ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is a schism ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • What does it mean to be salubrious ? (From Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights )
  • What is a replication ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is vicissitude ? (From Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables )
  • Can you define indolent ? (From Wharton's House of Mirth )
  • What does the word replete mean? (From Shakespeare's Henry V )
  • What are orisons ? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What does it mean to be ephemeral ?
  • What does it mean to be placid ? (From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre )
  • What is a paroxysm ? (From Stoker's Dracula )
  • My English teacher got really mad when I said I was nauseous . Why?
  • What does it mean to be farinaceous ? (From Tolstoy's Anna Karenina )
  • What does dejection mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What is animadversion ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What does it mean to be timorous ? (From Shakespeare's Othello )
  • Someone called me erudite . Is that good?
  • What is a mountebank ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What does incarnadine mean? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be puissant? (From Shakespeare's Julius Caesar)
  • What is a purloiner? (From Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities)
  • What does it mean to be affable ? (From Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment )
  • What does it mean to be ostensible ? (From Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court )
  • What does compunction mean? (From Dickens's Bleak House )
  • What is behoveful ? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What is a precentor ? (From Golding's Lord of the Flies )
  • What does it mean to be loquacious ? (From Cervantes's Don Quixote )
  • What does imprudence mean? (From Ibsen's A Doll's House )
  • What is a conflagration ? (From Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde )
  • What does it mean to be spurious ? (From James' Daisy Miller )
  • What is a retinue ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • What does the word forsworn mean? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What does the word hauteur mean? (From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby )
  • What are vituperations ? (From Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl )
  • What are ostents ? (From Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice )
  • What is a sockdolager ? (From Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn )
  • What does insuperable mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What is calumny ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is an augury ? (From Sophocles' Antigone )
  • What does squally mean? (From Dickens' Great Expectations )
  • What does corporal mean? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be plausible ? (From Sinclair's The Jungle )
  • What is a dearth ? (From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre )
  • What does it mean to vacillate ? (From Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest )
  • What does it mean to obtrude someone? (From Dickens's Great Expectations )
  • What is a heterodox ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What is felicity ? (From Austen's Emma )
  • What does it mean to be effacing ? (From Adams's The Education of Henry Adams )
  • What is a repast ? (From Chan Tsao's Dream of the Red Chamber )
  • What does insouciance mean? (From Sinclair's The Jungle )
  • What is a soliloquy ? (From Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn )
  • I was reading The Iliad and there's this word in it: greaves . What's that?
  • What does the word prodigality mean? (From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby )
  • Is there an easy way to understand The Canterbury Tales ?
  • What does the scarlet letter symbolize?
  • What is the significance of Grendel's cave in Beowulf ?
  • How did Hawthorne show that Hester Prynne was a strong woman in The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What purpose do the three witches serve at the beginning of Macbeth ?
  • What can you tell me about Grendel from Beowulf ?
  • What figurative language does Stephen Crane use in The Red Badge of Courage ?
  • Why is Roger so mean in Lord of the Flies ?
  • How do Gene and Finny mirror each other in A Separate Peace ?
  • The old man and the young wife — what's up with story plots like this?
  • What part does vengeance play in The Odyssey ?
  • What kind of a woman is Penelope in The Odyssey ?
  • Do fate and fortune guide the actions in Macbeth ?
  • How does Frankenstein relate to Paradise Lost ?
  • How has the way people view Othello changed over time?
  • How does Henry change throughout The Red Badge of Courage ?
  • What's so great about Gatsby?
  • How is To Kill a Mockingbird a coming-of-age story?
  • Why did Ophelia commit suicide in Hamlet ?
  • What is the setting of The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What is a slave narrative?
  • What's an anachronism ?
  • Doesn't Raskolnikov contradict himself in Crime and Punishment ?
  • What is the main theme of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What does Shakespeare mean by memento mori ?
  • What are inductive and deductive arguments?
  • How does Alice Walker break the rules" of literature with The Color Purple ?"
  • What role does Friar Laurence play in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Why did Elie Wiesel call his autobiography Night ?
  • How does Shakespeare play with gender roles in Macbeth ?
  • Where did Dickens get the idea to write A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • What's the purpose of the preface to The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What role do women play in A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • Who are the heroes and villains in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
  • What are the ides of March?
  • Was Kate really a shrew in The Taming of the Shrew ?
  • What role does innocence play in The Catcher in the Rye ?
  • How are Tom and Huck different from each other in Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What is blank verse and how does Shakespeare use it?
  • How do the book and film versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest differ?
  • What is a satirical novel?
  • What is the role of censorship in Fahrenheit 451 ?
  • How can I keep myself on track to get through my summer reading list?
  • How does Jim fit into the overall theme of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What is a major theme of The Great Gatsby ?
  • How does Shakespeare use light and darkness in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Who is the narrator in Faulkner's A Rose for Emily"?"
  • In Lord of the Flies , what statement is William Golding making about evil?
  • How is The Catcher in the Rye different from other coming-of-age novels?
  • How does Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird show two sides?
  • Was there supposed to be a nuclear war in The Handmaid's Tale ? I couldn't tell.
  • What is experimental theater"?"
  • Does Jonas die at the end of The Giver ?
  • What is an inciting incident, and how do I find one in Lord of the Flies ?
  • How does King Arthur die?
  • In Julius Caesar , what does this mean: Cowards die many times before their deaths
  • How do you write a paper on comparing a movie with the book?
  • Please explain this Kipling quote: Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.""
  • What is a tragic flaw?
  • What is a motif, and how can I find them in Macbeth ?
  • Why didn't Socrates write any books? After all, he was supposed to be so intelligent and wise.
  • Why are there blanks in place of people's names and places in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice ?
  • Was Othello a king? A prince? He's referred to as My Lord" but I'm not sure of his actual title."
  • I need to download some pictures of Juliet. Where would I find these?
  • Why does Odysseus decide to listen to the Sirens, in The Odyssey , by Homer?
  • What does prose and poetry mean? What's the difference?
  • In The Scarlet Letter, why is the scaffold important and how does it change over the course of the novel?
  • Why does the legend of King Arthur hold such a powerful grip over us?
  • Do you like to read books?
  • What are the metrical features in poetry?
  • What are the riddles that Gollum asked Bilbo in The Hobbit ?
  • Can you tell me what these two quotes from Much Ado About Nothing mean?
  • What is connotation, and how do you find it in a poem?
  • What is a dramatic monologue?
  • What is formal fallacy?
  • In the movie Dead Poets Society, what are some themes and values that are relevant to Transcendentalism. What is Transcendentalism?
  • Why didn't Mina Harker realize she was under Dracula's spell when she witnessed her friend fall prey to him, too? Wasn't it obvious?
  • In The Three Musketeers by Dumas, Cardinal Richelieu is labeled as the villain. How could he be presented as a hero instead?
  • In Romeo and Juliet , what are the different types of irony used? Um, what's irony?
  • What is the main theme in Fahrenheit 451 ?
  • In Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities , what fact in Book the Second: Chapters 1-6, confirms Darnay's release?
  • Why is Invisible Man considered a bildungsroman?
  • In A Doll's House , what risqué item does Nora reveal to Dr. Rank that eventually prompts him to disclose his own secret?
  • What is a definition of short story?
  • What percentage of people are considered geniuses?
  • How do I write and publish my own novel?
  • Do I use the past or present tense to answer this question: What is this poem about?" "
  • A Closer Look at Internships
  • Consider Working for a Nonprofit Organization
  • Create a Top-Quality Cover Letter
  • Deciding Whether to Go for Your MBA
  • Dress the Part for a Job Interview
  • Appropriate Attire: Defining Business Casual
  • Famous Americans Who Started Out in the Military
  • The Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization
  • Five Job Interview Mistakes
  • Getting Good References for Your Job Hunt
  • Lying on Your Resume
  • Make the Most of Days between Jobs
  • Military Career Opportunity: Translators and Interpreters
  • Network Your Way into a Job
  • Prepare for a Job Interview
  • Preparing for Job Interview Questions
  • Putting Your English Degree to Work
  • Putting Your Education Degree to Work
  • Take Advantage of Job and Career Fairs
  • Tips for a Better Resume
  • Understand Negotiable Elements of a Job Offer
  • Visit the College Career Office
  • Write a Resume That Will Get Noticed
  • Write a Thank You Note after an Interview
  • Writing a Follow-Up Letter after Submitting Your Resume
  • Your Military Career: Basics of Officer Candidate School
  • Your Military Career: Requirements for Officer Candidate School
  • Know What to Expect in Graduate School
  • Paying for Graduate School
  • Plan for Graduate Education
  • Tackle the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • What Does School Accreditation Mean?
  • Writing Essays for Your Business School Application
  • Apply to Graduate School
  • Basic Requirements for Grad School
  • Choose a Graduate School
  • Decide if Graduate School Is Right for You
  • English Majors: Selecting a Graduate School or Program
  • Getting Letters of Recommendation for Your Business School Application
  • Graduate School Application: Tips, Advice, and Warnings
  • Graduate School: Applying as a Returning Student
  • How to Find a Mentor for Graduate School
  • How to Prepare for Grad School as an Undergrad
  • How Work Experience Affects Your MBA Application
  • Master's Degree in Biology: Choosing a Grad School
  • In what countries does Toyota produce and market cars?
  • How would you use the PDSA cycle in your personal life?
  • I am confused about adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing negative numbers.
  • Who are some famous female mathematicians?
  • Given the set of numbers [7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42], find a subset of these numbers that sums to 100.
  • The speed limit on a certain part of the highway is 65 miles per hour. What is this in feet per minute?
  • What is the sum of the angles of an octagon?
  • In math, what does reciprocal mean?
  • How many grams in an ounce?
  • A number is 20 less than its square. Find all answers.
  • How much is 1,000 thousands?
  • How do I find the angles of an isosceles triangle whose two base angles are equal and whose third angle is 10 less than three times a base angle?
  • Explain with words and an example how any number raised to the zero power is 1?
  • If I had 550 coins in a machine worth $456.25, what would be the denomination of each coin?
  • What three consecutive numbers add up to 417?
  • How many 100,000,000s in 50 billion?
  • Of 100 students asked if they like rock and roll or country music, 7 said they like neither, 90 said they like rock and roll, and 57 said they like country music. How many students like both?
  • What's the formula to convert square feet into square meters?
  • In math, what is the definition of order of operations?
  • What's the difference between digital and analog?
  • What is the square root of 523,457?
  • What are all of the prime numbers?
  • Our teacher told us to look for clues in math word problems. What did she mean?
  • How do I figure out math word problems (without going crazy)?
  • What good is geometry going to do me after I get out of school?
  • I keep forgetting how to add fractions. Can you remind me?
  • My teacher talks about the Greatest Common Factor. What's so great about it?
  • Got any tips on finding percentages of a number?
  • What does associative property mean when you’re talking about adding numbers?
  • How do I use domain and range in functions?
  • How do I change percents to decimals and fractions? How about decimals and fractions to percents?
  • What should I do if my teacher wants me to solve an inequality on a number line?
  • What is a fast and easy way to work word problems?
  • How do you combine numbers and symbols in an algebraic equation?
  • How do I go about rounding off a number?
  • What is the First Derivative Test for Local Extrema?
  • Can you describe a prism for me?
  • How can I double-check my answers to math equations?
  • How do you factor a binomial?
  • I get the words mean , mode , median , and range mixed up in math. What do they all mean?
  • How do you combine like terms in algebra?
  • Can you make it easier for me to understand what makes a number a prime number?
  • Explain probability to me (and how about some examples)?
  • Solving story problems is, well, a problem for me. Can you help?
  • What's inferential statistics all about?
  • Finding percentages confuses me. Do you have any tips to make it simpler?
  • What's a quadratic equation, and how do I solve one?
  • How do you figure out probability?
  • How do you add integers?
  • How do you use factoring in quadratic equations?
  • What are limits in calculus?
  • I've looked everywhere to find the meaning of this word and I can't find it. What's the definition of tesseract ?
  • In geometry, how do you get the perimeters of a square and a rectangle?
  • What is the absolute value of a negative number?
  • A rectangle swimming pool is 24m longer than it is wide and is surrounded by a deck 3m wide. Find the area of the pool if the area of the deck is 324m 2 . Where do I even start to solve this problem?
  • How do you classify numbers, as in rational numbers, integers, whole numbers, natural numbers, and irrational numbers? I am mostly stuck on classifying fractions.
  • How do you convert a fraction to a decimal or change a decimal to a fraction?
  • I am trying to find all solutions to this algebra (factoring) problem, x 3 – 3x 2 – x + 3 = 0, and I keep getting the wrong answer. Please help!
  • Sometimes when I'm doing my pre-calculus homework I need help on some of the problems. Do you know where I can find help on the weekends or whenever?
  • How do you convert metric measurements?
  • I'm curious about converting Celsius to Fahrenheit, or Fahrenheit to Celsius. How do I convert from one to the other?
  • In basic math, the fraction bar shows division. So why does this equation show multiplication instead of division? 9/9 = 1 because 1 x 9 = 9.
  • I'm taking geometry and I'm having problem with the angles and the degree. Is there a way you can help me out?
  • The perimeter of a rectangle is 66m. The width is 9m less than the length. What is the length and width of the rectangle?
  • How many dollars are in 5,000 pesos?
  • How many ounces in a pound?
  • I'm having a hard time remembering percent of change. All I have is P (percent) = amount of change over original amount. Is there a better way of understanding it?
  • How do I figure out tangrams?
  • What are quadrilaterals?
  • What is the least common multiple of 8, 6, and 12?
  • How do you convert decimals to fractions?
  • How did the planet" Pluto get its name? I know it's named after the mythical god of the underworld, but why?"
  • What is the difference between the earth's core and its crust?
  • What does gender really mean?
  • What does plum pudding have to do with physics?
  • What is the functionalist perspective in sociology?
  • What does pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis mean?
  • Why aren't viruses considered living things?
  • Why does your breathing rate increase when you exercise?
  • Everyone says you shouldn't clean your ears with cotton swabs because you could break an eardrum. But if you do break your eardrum, will it grow back?
  • What is a mole?
  • How, and why, is body fat stored?
  • Where on the body do you find ciliated pseudostratified columnar epithelium?
  • Since she was only married for 72 days, does Kim Kardashian have to give back her wedding gifts?
  • In the United States, how can you get buried at sea?
  • What exactly is Salvia divinorum , and is it legal?
  • What is the composition and volume of whole blood?
  • Should I refer to a widow as Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
  • Is it possible to catch more than one cold at a time?
  • Why does the Earth have more gravitational force than the moon or some other planet?
  • Did humans evolve from monkeys or apes?
  • What is the largest organ in the human body?
  • How did we end up with both Fahrenheit and Celsius scales?
  • What is absolute zero?
  • What is cell theory?
  • How come when humans flatulate, it smells bad?
  • How do I convert mL into µL, and vice versa?
  • What is the most abundant element in the earth's crust?
  • Is global warming man-made?
  • What exactly is wind? And why does it blow?
  • This sounds really disgusting, but I'm curious: Can humans drink animal blood, or any other kind of blood?
  • Why is space exploration important?
  • How is photosynthesis essential to life on earth?
  • What is the highest mountain in New Mexico?
  • What's the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
  • Who are the unbelievers" referred to in The Koran? What is it that they do not believe?"
  • What is the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites?
  • What happens when you die?
  • Why is it important to memorize where the 50 states are on a map?
  • What kind of endangered species are there? Can you give me some examples, please?
  • It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open, so when you drive a car, is it against the law to sneeze?
  • What are tectonic plates?
  • I have boy trouble. I want to ask out my friend, but I am not sure he is going to say yes. Plus, he said he had a girlfriend when we talked during school. Plus, my parents don't want me to date.
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Do you really shrink at the end of the day and then grow in the morning?
  • What is the difference between matter" and "mass"?"
  • What does "nature versus nurture" mean?
  • What are closed contour lines?
  • What is homeostasis ?
  • What does the periodic table look like?
  • Do you know anything about the law of conservation of energy? Is it really a law?
  • I thought I knew what work means, but my physics teacher defines it differently. What's up with that?
  • How do plants know when to drop their leaves?
  • What's the surface of the moon like?
  • How does the number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom differentiate it from another atom?
  • How do big rocks wear down over time?
  • What does genetic recombination mean?
  • How has DNA matching really made big difference in finding out who committed a crime?
  • What's the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems?
  • What is incomplete dominance?
  • Can hydrocarbons be considered compounds?
  • Can you explain what molar mass is?
  • Aren't fungi really plants?
  • What information is contained in a chemical equation?
  • What are the endocrine and exocrine systems?
  • How do electrical charges interact?
  • Are there more than three kingdoms of life? I can never remember.
  • What are the characteristics of electrically charged objects?
  • How does anomie theory explain deviant behavior?
  • Why would anybody think there might be life on another planet?
  • What are chemical solutions?
  • Do you know of any way to simplify the overall subject of biochemical genetics?
  • Can a loud noise really shatter glass?
  • How do magnetic fields work?
  • Did Clarence Darrow really call an animal in to testify at the famous monkey trial?
  • What role does the thyroid gland play in the human body?
  • What did Mendel discover about heredity when he was playing around with plants?
  • How many laws of motion did Newton come up with, and what are they?
  • What in the world is constructive and destructive interference?
  • How do viruses do their dirty work?
  • What do bones do, except give us a skeletal structure?
  • Do all viruses look alike?
  • My teacher keeps talking about solubility. What does that mean, anyway?
  • How do positive and negative reinforcement work?
  • How does nondisjunction relate to birth defects?
  • With all the germs in the world today, how come everybody's not sick all the time?
  • What is thermal equilibrium?
  • How are sound waves created?
  • What do taste buds look like — up-close?
  • How often does an eclipse happen?
  • What is the chemical composition of saltwater?
  • I was told to write a 15-sentence answer to this question: When in life do you learn to expect the unexpected? I don't really know of an answer. Can you help me figure it out?
  • My school is having a blood drive and I am considering donating blood. Can you tell me more about the whole process and if it is painful?
  • Where can I download music for free? And if I do, is it illegal?
  • How do I convince my parents to give me ten bucks?
  • How should I deal with being a perfectionist?
  • How do I convince my little brother and sisters to stay out of my room?
  • Can you eat a rooster?
  • How do I work out a problem with a teacher who loses the assignments I turn in and then accuses me of not doing the homework?
  • Could a Tyrannosaurus rex kill King Kong?
  • How would you describe a rainbow to a person who has been blind their ENTIRE life and doesn't understand colors?
  • Will a tattoo inhibit hair growth?
  • When did gays come about?
  • I was wondering if the tilt on the earth's axis is important to animal life on earth. Could you explain?
  • What are the four types of tissue found in the human body?
  • Is there any easy" way to understand the Krebs Cycle?"
  • Why are prostaglandins sometimes called tissue hormones?
  • What is cell death? And what is the difference between apoptosis and necrosis?
  • How do I find the molar mass of the elements on the periodic table?
  • What do the symbols on the Periodic Table mean? For example, Gold-Au, Silver-Ag, Lead-Pb, Potassium-K, Tin-Sn, Iron-Fe, and Mercury-Hg, where did these symbols come from?
  • How is your mind connected to your dreams? Does this have anything to do with psychology?
  • What are the three main functions of the skeletal system?
  • What are the characteristics of a moneran, protist, and fungus?
  • Why does a placebo work? And who does it work for?
  • What are two properties of metals, nonmetals, and metalloids?
  • What is lymph? Is it part of the circulatory system in our bodies?
  • Can there be life on Mars?
  • How much of the ozone layer is left?
  • Is it possible for a marine mammal to be infected with rabies?
  • What exactly does the RNA do?
  • What is the sperm travel process?
  • What is a bacterial colony?
  • Dealing with the myth of Cinderella, written by the Grimm brothers, how could you analyze it in terms of archetypes that Carl Jung used?
  • What exactly is blood clotting and what are the processes involved?
  • What is the difference between nuclear fusion and nuclear fission?
  • Does a person have to have the same blood type as his or her brothers and sisters?
  • My teacher said that eating poisonous mushrooms can make you sick or even kill you, but that they're not the only fungus that can. What is she talking about?
  • What is the chemical equation for orange juice?
  • What kind of structures are opposable toes?
  • What is an oral groove?
  • Dogs are spayed, but humans have hysterectomies. Isn't it all the same surgery?
  • What does the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) do?
  • What is the angle formed by a horizontal line and a line of sight to a point below?
  • After I take the ASVAB, what is my obligation to the military?
  • If I choose to take the computerized version of the GRE, will I be typing or writing my analytical and issue essays?
  • Are there any MBA programs that don't require the GMAT?
  • Can you use a calculator on the GMAT? What are you allowed to take in with you to the test?
  • Should I keep taking the GMAT until I get a good score?
  • How is the ASVAB scored?
  • I canceled my GMAT score right after I took the test. Now I'm wondering if I did the right thing.
  • What is the ASVAB AFQT?
  • Where can I take the ASVAB?
  • Is it better to guess on GMAT answers or would that count against me?
  • How is my GMAT score used by grad schools?
  • Is it true that the writing assessment sections of the GMAT are graded by a computer?
  • What kinds of scores are reported on the GRE, and how long will it take for me to get my scores?
  • What do I need to bring with me to the GRE testing center?
  • How are GRE scores used?
  • How do I learn stuff for in-class exams?
  • How do I get ready for a math test?
  • Can I take a calculator to my ACT exam?
  • Do you have any tips for doing well on the AP Chemistry test?
  • What can I expect in the math part of the SAT?
  • How can I prepare for the SAT essay?
  • What is the Critical Reasoning section of the SAT like?
  • Is there a fun way to learn SAT vocabulary?
  • What books should I read for the AP English Literature exam?
  • How can I make sure I finish the AP essay question in time?
  • Since I made the soccer team, I don't feel like I have enough time to study. Do you have any study tips so I can use my time better and make sure I don't get kicked off the team for my grades?
  • I'm a huge procrastinator. How can I manage my time effectively to catch up on my assignments?
  • What kind or amount of note-taking is optimal? I get lost while making a notation and miss other parts of the lecture.
  • I study so hard for my tests that I know I know the material, but then I always panic and bomb. How can I reduce my test anxiety?
  • I do really bad on quizzes. I'm okay with tests and homework, but I do horribly on quizzes. What can I do to prepare for quizzes?
  • I've screwed up horribly this semester. I always say I'm going to change my habits, but I always end up getting lazy and doing something else. I want to succeed, but how can I get rid of my own laziness?
  • If you have any music or audio notes playing on tape, CD, or whatever and you fall asleep, is it true that you'll have whatever was played memorized by the time you wake up?
  • I have trouble understanding a book when I read. I try to read so that I can finish the book quickly but still understand what's going on. Could you give me a few tips on how to understand a book while reading at a quick pace?
  • What is the best study method when trying to cram three chapters all at once?
  • What if I have a really bad memory? When I read a page of a book, I can't go back and remember it.
  • Why do some teachers say light a peppermint candle? I mean, I don't think it helps you concentrate.
  • I really suck at taking multiple choice tests. Do you have any suggestions for not psyching myself out before a big test?
  • Is there a WRONG way to study?
  • Are the math questions on the GMAT extremely difficult and complex?
  • Does it matter whether I take the SAT or ACT in my junior year or my senior year of high school?
  • What does AP mean?
  • How can I explain to my friend what I mean when I call him tedious ?
  • Does the word privations has something to do with the government?
  • What's the difference between goulash and galoshes?
  • What exactly is a parallel structure?
  • I have a bet on this: Learnt is a real word, right?
  • Is a boor somebody who boos or somebody who bores?
  • Somebody in my drama club used the word ostentation the other day. What does that mean, anyway?
  • Define paraphrasing.
  • What's another word that means the same thing as malevolence ?
  • I find the same typo in a lot of books I read. Shouldn't connexion be connection ?
  • What do you call a word that only ever appears as a plural?
  • What s the difference between like and such as
  • Can you show an easy way to remember when to use I" or "me" in a sentence? (And please skip the technical grammar rules.)"
  • Should I say, “Can I have a banana?” or “May I have a banana?”
  • Is the proper capitalization Atlantic ocean or Atlantic Ocean ?
  • What does the word supercilious mean?
  • Is grippe something that makes you sick?
  • Does the word elucidation have something to do with drugs?
  • How would you use fervid and fervent in a sentence?
  • How can someone become a good writer?
  • How do you cite CliffsNotes in APA, MLA, and CMS styles?
  • What period in history does histrionics cover?
  • People used to die from consumption. Does that mean they ate too much?
  • Is it ever okay to start a sentence with the word but?
  • What is the longest word in the English language?
  • I'm learning English now, so I gave myself an English name — Vivi." However, an American told me that "Vivi" is not suitable for a name. There are some local reasons. So I want to know if "Vivi" really can't be used as a name."
  • When writing a paper, what do I do to the title of a book? Do I underline it or italicize it?
  • Please look at this sentence: Both Peter and John like soccer. Should it be: Both Peter and John likes soccer.
  • What are the four genders of noun?
  • What is it called when a word is the same both forward and backward?
  • Do swans really sing when they die
  • What does indignation mean?
  • What is a pundit ?
  • What is a cleft sentence
  • What is the difference between narration and first person?
  • Is it grammatically correct to say take some shots"?"
  • My teacher thinks I plagiarized an essay; what should I tell him?
  • Why do some authors use the word an before all words that start with an H? Is this form of writing correct?
  • My school newspaper claimed that I am. is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. Isn't Go. a complete sentence?
  • How did people make up the lb. abbreviation for pounds?
  • Which is correct: "if I was" or "if I were"? And why?
  • How would you use the word antecede in a sentence?
  • Could you please explain the difference between affect and effect ?
  • How do I write a good thesis statement?
  • What do people mean when they talk about information in the public domain?
  • What's the big deal about plagiarism, anyway?
  • Is there a difference between envy and jealousy ?
  • Can you define the words prostate and prostrate ?
  • What does it mean to be threadbare ?
  • Is there a difference between the words ignorant and stupid ?
  • I used the word reoccur in a paper and my teacher said it should have been recur . Can you tell me the difference?
  • What does it mean to be flabbergasted ?
  • When should I write the word lose and when should I write loose ?
  • What does ad infinitum mean? (From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre )
  • Do loath and loathe have different meanings?
  • I got marked down on a paper for using the word irregardless . Why?
  • What does it mean to be fastidious ? (From Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo )
  • Do stationary and stationery mean the same thing?
  • How is the word among different than the word between ?
  • What is a hierarchy ?
  • What is the difference between tortuous and torturous ?
  • Can you help me understand the difference between the words censor and censure ?
  • I get farther and further confused. Can you help?
  • I can t keep principal and principle clear Can you help
  • My teacher lowered my grade on a paper because I described a scene as grizzly . I thought that was a word.
  • Are the words gamut and gauntlet interchangeable?
  • When do I write some time instead of sometime and sometimes ?
  • Can you help me figure out when to use the word lay instead of lie ?
  • Can you tell me when to use faze instead of phase ?
  • What is the difference between avenge and revenge ?
  • What is the difference between the words precede and proceed ?
  • How do I fix a run-on sentence?
  • How useful are automatic spell-checkers?
  • Is it okay to begin a sentence with and ?
  • When is it okay to use sentence fragments?
  • What is future perfect tense?
  • Is it okay to split infinitives?
  • Why do people often confuse than and then in writing?
  • When do I use commas with clauses?
  • How do I decide which type of pronoun to use when I have multiple pronouns?
  • What types of words or phrases should I avoid in my writing?
  • What is parallel structure in writing?
  • When should I use apostrophe-S?
  • What is a clause?
  • I have to write an essay, and I'm having a hard time getting started. Do you have any tips?
  • How can I make the most out of my first draft?
  • What should I avoid when writing the conclusion of a research paper?
  • Are can and may interchangeable?
  • What is passive voice?
  • What does it mean to be quixotic ?
  • What are linking verbs?
  • What does it mean to use redundant adverbs?
  • How do I organize a comparison essay?
  • How do I decide between who and whom ?
  • How do you use possessives in front of gerunds?
  • Can I end a sentence with a preposition?
  • How do I decide on the scope of my essay?
  • What are participles?
  • What's the difference between will and shall ?
  • Which adjectives can't be modified with more and most ?
  • What are indirect objects?
  • Should I use his , his or her , or their ?
  • What's the difference between farther and further ?
  • What is a storyboard?
  • What exactly is a theme of a story, and how can I recognize it?
  • Why is English class called English in school? English is a language, so I don't think it should be a class. Please help me understand.
  • What is tone exactly and how do you find it in stories?
  • Where do you start when writing a character analysis?
  • What is a dynamic character? What is a static character? How are they different?
  • What's the difference between description and narration?
  • I don't get onomatopoeias! It's as hard to spell as it is to understand!
  • What is a gothic tale?
  • What is the author's style" of a book?"
  • What is a one-word sentence called?
  • What word class would the word Novembery fit in to?
  • My instructor wrote on my paper to be careful about using passive voice. What does that mean?
  • Is it grammatically correct to say, She went missing"? What is the rule?"
  • I need information on the social roles of language. How are individuals judged based on their use of language?
  • What is the origin of the word promotion ?
  • What's a preposition?
  • What are some examples of homographic terms?
  • I have to write an essay for my AP world history class and my teacher said to use direct comparison, but I'm confused on what he means by that. Please Help!
  • I'm reading The Scarlet Letter in my Honors AP English class and my teacher wants us to do a 5 paragraph essay. What's the best way to start the introduction?
  • What are some examples of transitions that I can use in my writing assignment?
  • What does APA stand for?
  • In typing a term paper, what is the proper spacing after a period? I think I've read that one space is now acceptable.
  • What is meant by argue your own thesis?
  • How do I write an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph?
  • What are easy ways to identify figurative language?
  • When writing a persuasive essay, what words can take place of being verbs," such as is, are, has, be, were, and was? My teacher crossed all of those out of my paper? What words should I use to replace those?"
  • I have to write a dialogue that might take place between the speakers of The World Is Not a Pleasant Place to Be" and "Where Have You Gone." What exactly is a dialogue?"
  • What is the literary device of writing exactly as a character speaks, even if words are misspelled and the grammar is non-standard?
  • What are the types of tones/attitudes in writing?
  • What are the first-person, second-person, and third-person points of view? Which is used for formal essays?
  • What is a good sentence for the word plinth ?
  • What are footnotes and endnotes? How do I start off a title page?
  • Why can't you be rude or sarcastic in your thesis statement?
  • How do you write a paper, when the topic is yourself? How do you research that kind of thing?
  • What would a raging river be like?

Each college has its own method of reviewing your application and deciding if you will be admitted. Some city and state universities set minimum GPAs and standardized test scores (in some cases, a computer determines whether you have met the minimum qualifications for admission). More selective universities have multistep processes.

Many colleges have a two-reader process. Applicants who are not clear-cut for admission or rejection may not go before a committee for a final review.

Here's what a few admissions counselors and directors say about how their college reviews an application:

  • "Each applicant is reviewed on the basis of academic talent and contributions to our pluralistic campus community. An initial review is done by the recruiter for the geographic area within which the student resides, and then the committee reviews each application holistically." -  Cheryl Brown, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Binghamton University, State University of New York
  • "The faculties from both the schools of art and architecture made the creative decisions. The admissions office had a say about the academic strengths of the applicants. For engineering, the admissions office made the decision. Often, the school the applicant applied from played a role in the decision as well. An 'A' in one school is not an 'A' in another. And gender, race, ethnicity, geography, and extracurricular activities played an important role in making a positive decision." -  Mitchell Thompson, Dean of Students, Scarsdale HS, former Associate Dean of Admissions and Records, The Cooper Union
  • "They review each applicant individually and we make decisions based on each student's merits, regardless of the student's major, geographic area, or high school. If each student from a particular high school is admissible, we'll admit all of them! We don't cap the number of students we'll admit from each school." -  Lauren Kay, Assistant Director, Indiana University
  • "The review looks at academic preparation/level of success in the secondary school program, standardized test scores, and for other evidence (talents/interests/extra or co-curricular activities) that suggest an applicant can be successful and happy. Readers review applications by region which correlates with their recruitment travel. This brings a personal knowledge of the applicants' schools/programs into the review process. After first review, a second review is done by someone who typically does not know the region. If both readers evaluate the application similarly, the review is finished. If the first and second reviews produce disparate evaluations, applications get a third review by a selection committee. One final review is done to shape the entering class. If there are multiple applicants from the same school, the group's results are collected and reviewed to make sure that an applicant has not been under- or overrated vis-à-vis the peer group." -  Nancy J. Maly, Director of Admission, Grinnell College
  • "Rensselaer reads applications electronically via committee. We do indicate whether other students from a particular high school have applied, along with demographic data." -  Raymond Lutzky, Director of Outreach, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Like many other colleges, the University of Michigan has two people review each applicant. The two initial readers make a determination to admit or reject. Then an assistant director reviews your application, and if she does not agree with the first two readers, she can bring your file to a committee for the final decision. The University of Michigan's rating system targets seven areas, which should give you an idea of how many complex factors some colleges take into account when evaluating applicants:

  • Secondary school academic performance:  GPA, quality of high school curriculum, academic interests, class rank, and more
  • Educational environment:   Strength of curriculum (honors, AP, IB courses offered), average SAT/ACT scores, percent attending four-year colleges, grading system, academically disadvantaged school
  • Counselor and teacher recommendations
  • Personal background:   Cultural experiences, socioeconomic and educational background (including first generation to attend college), awards/honors, extracurricular activities, scholarship athlete, work experience
  • Evaluative measures:  Grasp of world events, intellectual curiosity, artistic talent, writing quality
  • Extenuating circumstances : Overcoming hardships, language spoken at home, frequent moves/ attending many different schools
  • Other considerations:   Demonstrated interest in college/good match, strong personal statement

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Application Review

College application preparation and review.

When you fill out your application, you must convey who you are beyond your academic record and test scores.

After working hard during high school, when it is time to fill out your college applications, the process can seem daunting. Your application is your opportunity to convince admissions committees that they want you at their school, so understanding the best way to complete it is vital. You might benefit from getting help, not just to keep your organized and presenting your best self, but to push the submit button with confidence.

Going Ivy offers help from our team of highly knowledgeable educational counselors and tutors who know what types of words, checkboxes and choices stand out to admissions committees, as well as what students should avoid on their applications. We have assisted students with securing admission into their top-choice schools, and we are dedicated to helping you work toward your goals. Below are some basic tips about your college applications that we think might be helpful to you.

college application review process

Manage Your Time and Your Applications

You need to know how you’ll apply to your dream schools. While many schools do accept the Common Application, it is important that you check each school to know what applications and supplemental material they require, and in what form they want you to submit them. Some schools, including those in the University of California system, have their own applications and do not accept the Common Application .

With Going Ivy, we recommend beginning the work on your applications as early as possible. If you wait until the last minute, your application will be less likely to get you past the no pile. If you have top grades and test scores, you may want to decide whether or not it is in your interest to apply to your top-choice schools through their Early Decision or Early Action process. If you do, then you will need to meet deadlines that are substantially earlier. Learn more about applying either Early Decision or Early Action here. In addition, don’t forget to give the people who are writing recommendations for you plenty of advance notice.

Going Ivy will help you keep all your deadlines organized in an application calendar. It is a very good idea for you to break down the different tasks involved with your application into manageable steps. Once you have done so, write them in your daily planner for easy reference. When you break all of the tasks down into pieces that aren’t so overwhelming, completing your application well and in plenty of time will be much easier. Trust us, the development of these strong organizational skills will serve you now and well into the future.

Don’t Miss Opportunities in Your Application

When you are filling out your application, understand that you must convey who you are beyond your academic record and test scores. Your goal should be to make yourself come alive to your readers, and make them see you as vital to their college class. You can do this by including some of the fundamental details of your background and your life so that you can be viewed in the proper context. At the same time, avoid appearing narcissistic, and leave out the types of information about yourself that can only hurt your application. The key is to give enough rich, meaningful information in your application that your first and second readers will see you as an interesting person. Make them picture you on campus.

You might not know exactly what these vital pieces of information about yourself are, or how to communicate so much in such a little space. At Going Ivy, our counselors are skilled at interviewing you and getting to the core of what you want to communicate. We show you how to make every word count.

Know Your Audience

Remember that admissions officers want to build a community, with students they truly believe will contribute and succeed in their school. When you are filling in your application, you will want to present information about yourself in a strong order so that you can demonstrate your interest in attending the schools and that you are ambitious. A good way to convince admissions committees that you are a good fit for their schools is to write tailored essays. If you include some details about the schools that you have gleaned from prior visits or in-depth research, you can do this more effectively. Students who submit generic essays to all of the schools on their list are transparent to admissions officers.

college application review process

Don’t Take the Word Optional at Face Value

Some elite schools will state that certain parts of their application are optional. If a school states that submitting a third SAT subject test or a supplementary essay is optional, go ahead and submit that test and write that extra essay. When you complete everything that is available to you, it shows that you are dedicated and interested in attending the school. It also gives additional information about you for the admissions officers to consider.

Contact Going Ivy

At Going Ivy, our goal is to help you to shine through your application materials so that your target schools want you to attend as badly as you want to attend. We can help you present the information in your applications in the best way while also helping you to address any weaknesses in a manner that minimizes their impact. Once you’ve completed your application and essays, we will then review them with you, making suggestions about areas that could benefit from improvement. By giving yourself plenty of time, being organized and getting our help, you might have a better chance of opening that acceptance letter about which you’ve dreamed. Schedule your consultation with Going Ivy today.

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It takes hard work to guarantee your college application stands out. Make it rise to the top of the pile by becoming familiar with the application process and getting organized. A lot of moving parts go into applying to college— tests, essays, recommendation letters, transcripts—and each element has a deadline attached. Make careful note of deadlines for each school you're applying to so you don't miss them!

Jump to Section

  • How many schools to apply to
  • Early decision and early action
  • Completing your application
  • Nailing your college interview
  • Making your final decision

college application review process

How Many Schools to Apply To

There are a ton of schools out there, but applying to too many colleges is a common mistake. Submitting your application to between five and eight colleges is suggested. Of that list, you should include a variety of dream schools, safety schools and possible schools:

  • Dream schools are colleges you know will be a challenge to get into.
  • Safety schools are colleges you know are very likely to accept you.
  • Possible schools are the colleges you have a good chance of getting into.

Applying to colleges in each of these categories will increase the chance that you get accepted into at least one, or ideally more than one, giving you the ability to choose.

Early Decision and Early Action

Early Decision and Early Action are options that allow you to apply to a college early and receive the admissions department's decision in advance of traditional applicants. Many colleges now offer early admission programs because they present significant advantages; applicants can receive increased consideration since colleges tend to admit a higher percentage of early applicants than they do normal applicants. There's also the obvious benefit of advanced peace of mind if accepted and more time to plan for the move to the school. Colleges enjoy the benefit of enrolling students who really want to go to their school and meeting enrollment goals early.

In addition to the benefits of early admission, there are also restrictions that are important to understand. Early Decision, for example, is binding; if you submit Early Decision to a college and they accept, you must attend that college. You will also not be able to apply for more financial aid after this point. Early Action, on the other hand, is not binding; you can submit Early Action to a college, get accepted and have until the following spring to decide whether or not you want to attend.

Completing Your Application

The common application.

Accepted by more than 900 colleges and universities, the common application is a convenient option that allows you to complete a single application to send to a number of schools.

The Common Application (official site)

Application Fees

For just about every college application you submit, you'll be required to pay a nonrefundable application fee which ranges from $44 to $100. It's important to keep this in mind as it may affect the number of colleges to which you want to apply. Students from low-income families may also request application-fee waivers which are available through most college admissions offices.

A good college essay is a critical part of the application process. The essay can often be a distinguishing factor for an applicant, so you want it to be well-written. However, don't be intimidated; the most important element of a college essay is that it's about you. Even if a topic is chosen for you already, a college essay is really just a way for admissions advisors to get to know you more intimately, hear your perspective and relate to you on a personal level. This is one area you know a lot about, so just remember to infuse as much of "you" as possible into your essay.

college application review process

Nailing Your College Interview

A college interview is an opportunity for you to make a personal impression on an admissions officer and increase your chances of acceptance into a college. Most colleges don't require an interview; however, having that face-to-face interaction with an admissions officer can prove invaluable come application review time. It's a way for you to differentiate yourself from others and show your personality in a way that you can't on a piece of paper. Practice and preparation will help you do well during your college interview.

Making Your Final Decision

After all the hard work that goes into the application process, receiving your admission notifications can be exciting. Most colleges start notifying students in early spring, either by email, or traditional letter, or both. Upon receiving your notifications, you only have a few weeks to decide which school you will attend, since most colleges set May 1 as the deadline for committing to a school.

The difficulty of your final decision depends on how many schools you got into and whether you were accepted to your dream school, possible schools or safety schools. If you have been accepted by ALL of the colleges you applied to, ironically, your decision could be more difficult. To help, review the research you did on each school and your priorities. By re-evaluating what's most important to you, you will find the right fit. If you have been accepted to only some of the colleges you applied to, your decision will actually be a bit easier. Use the same criteria to find the school best suited to you.

If you have not been accepted to any of the schools you applied to, you still have options. Though colleges rarely reverse an admission decision, you can try calling the admissions department to see what their policy is on an appeal. Appeals are usually only considered when you can prove there was information missing, overlooked, or that something was entered incorrectly on your application materials, such as your school counselor submitting the wrong grades.

Another option is applying to a two-year community or junior college. Such schools typically have fewer admission requirements, often have rolling admissions (applications are accepted for a longer period of time), are less expensive and can help get you into a four-year school in the future by way of a transfer.

Lastly, if you're willing to wait a little bit, you could try to improve your application by retaking the ACT/SAT for a higher score and then reapply next semester. Just make sure to check the schools' reapplication rules.

Related Resources

Break the process down into easy steps so you can put your best self into your work.

Find out what to do before, during and after your interview.


What happens after i’ve applied.

Your application will be evaluated by the Office of Admissions, who will conduct a thorough admissions review based on many factors including, but not limited to, course completion, grades, extracurricular activities, and more.

It typically takes two to three weeks to review your application. Request undergraduate information, get updates on your application status, and see your admission decision via Future Wildcat .

Assured Admission for Residents & Non-Residents

You are assured admission to the University of Arizona if you attended a regionally accredited high school and:

  • Rank in the top 25% of your graduating class, OR
  • Have a 3.0 unweighted GPA through your sixth semester in the core competency requirements

*Applicants who have graduated from high school 1 year or more before enrolling at the University of Arizona and did not attend any higher education institutions after high school will be evaluated for admission based on their 8th semester unweighted core GPA.

Comprehensive Review

The University of Arizona admissions team welcomes students – even those who don’t meet assured admission requirements – who will bring unique life experiences and personal achievements to our campus community. Your application is evaluated based on the following:

Academic Factors

Our application review is designed to get to know every student. Every application is reviewed by up to two different reviewers before a final decision is made. There are a few things the admissions team takes into consideration for admission, such as:

  • Strength of curriculum
  • Performance in curriculum
  • Grade point average in required core coursework
  • Optional materials (SAT/ACT scores, resumé, and personal statement)

During the review process, students may be asked to provide additional information, such as test scores or seventh semester transcripts.

Please note: Official test scores must be sent directly from the testing agency.

Extracurricular Factors

We are interested in learning much more about your preparedness, motivation, and potential in the unique context of your experience. What we look for in future Wildcats includes:

  • Leadership, service, work experience and extracurricular activities
  • Personal characteristics, attributes, and talents
  • The ability to benefit from and contribute to a diverse and challenging learning environment

Your Personal Statement

The personal statement is 100% optional and gives you the opportunity to share your unique life experiences and personal achievements that may not otherwise show up in your application. Through this process, we get to know you better and can make more informed admissions decisions.

Franke Honors College Application Process

Enhance your education as a member of the W.A. Franke Honors College. In fall 2020, students were typically admitted to the Franke Honors College if they had a 3.91 unweighted core high school GPA, and had a 1391 SAT score (math and critical reading) or 31 ACT composite score.

Franke honors Application Process

Students in class outside

Learn more about how to apply to the University of Arizona.


Non-degree seeking, certification programs.


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