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What is an LRAP?

Ardeo Education Solutions is a mission-driven company that partners with higher education institutions to provide loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) that are smart for students and smart for colleges.

LRAPs are a compelling safety-net for prospective students and their families. LRAPs provide a powerful promise: if income after graduation is below a certain amount, typically $43,000 the program will help repay federal student loans, parent PLUS loans and private alternative loans.

How do LRAPs help students and families?

  • Ardeo’s loan repayment assistance programs provide peace of mind – the promise of the LRAP reduces stress for cost-conscious students and their families during the college selection process.
  • LRAPs remove financial barriers – empowering students to take advantage of the opportunity that borrowing can unlock, and making the life-changing impact of higher education more financially accessible to more students.
  • They help overcome fear and uncertainty caused by borrowing, enabling students to enroll in the best-fit program – so they don’t have to settle for anything other than the right college or university for them.

How does it work?

To receive assistance, students must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a graduate from the institution where the student signed their offered LRAP award.
  • Be employed and work 30+ hours a week.
  • Begin making their loan payments.

Why are LRAPs important?

Loan repayment assistance programs are changing how colleges, students and families think about financial aid. College cost is a key concern for students and families when making their higher education choice – with taking on student and parent loans as a hefty deterrent to prospective students making the right choice for them.

More than 120 colleges and universities across the country have offered an Ardeo LRAP to their students. For institutions that market their LRAP broadly, 25.4% of their enrolled students say they would not have enrolled without the program.

How is LRAP assistance calculated?

  • First, Ardeo looks at a student’s eligible federal, private and parent PLUS loan payments, relative to their borrowing limits.
  • Then the student’s annualized income is compared with their LRAP’s specific income threshold, to find their income proportion.
  • Finally, Ardeo reviews their average time worked (out of 40 hours per week) to get the student’s hours-worked proportion.

Why do graduates love LRAPs?

  • On average, Ardeo pays LRAP graduates receiving assistance $703 per quarter.
  • 92% of graduates have said they are grateful to their alma mater for offering them an LRAP.
  • Ardeo responds to graduates’ requests for assistance within one business day
  • Ardeo will write a reimbursement check within one week of receiving documentation.
  • Reimburses 96.5% of assistance requests.

Want to learn more about loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) and how they help students and families? Ardeo has information available at

Letting go of that imperfect essay

I just finished working with a smart high school senior who has dreams of attending a Big 10 university next fall. In her Common App essay, she wanted to show admissions readers just how creative she is.

She succeeded, anchoring her story around a photo montage she crafted from her travels and hung on her bedroom wall. Looking at the photo display also helps keep her calm when she feels stressed from all the pressures from the outside world.

The story did everything colleges want in a Common App essay. It answered the prompt and showed in a genuine way that she is creative and knows how to relax. It was not the most complex essay I’ve read this year. For some reason, that started to bother me. Should we keep going? Could we improve it?

Even I knew the essay was finished, and even though she loved it, I started to doubt the work we had already done together. I wondered if I pushed her a little more, asked a few more questions, would she reflect more?

No. No. No.

That happens to me sometimes.  I have to remind myself to let go.

Do you ever catch yourself saying these things after reading what should be a final draft of a student’s essay?

  • He could have …
  • She should have …
  • I saw such potential …

Here are 3 things I do when I go to that place:

  1. Stop and Ask Myself: Whose essay is this, anyway?
  2. Reflect: Take my ego out of the equation and remember that the final essay reflects on the work we did together; it does not reflect on me.
  3. Remind myself: The student made choices along the way – about topic, about theme, about sentences and paragraphs. I might not agree with all of those choices, but I don’t need to.

It’s November, and the first deadlines have passed. It’s also crunch time, when counselors and other well-meaning adults tend to step in and help too much, which can result in over-edited student work. When that happens, the student’s voice gets lost, and the essays don’t sound genuine.

Breathe. Slow down before you get out that red pen. And please, remember to let go of that imperfect essay.

Our Gift to You: A Free Book for You and Every Parent in Your School

We’d like to give you a free electronic copy of our book: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents.  After you click on the link, you’ll find out how to get free books for every parent in your school, too. We also have companion books for professionals and for students.

How do you approach the college essay? We’d love to hear how you talk to your students when they panic, and what your biggest college essay challenges are. Feel free to email me

About the Author

Kim Lifton, a 2018 Top Voice in Education, LinkedIn, is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

Suicide Prevention Information

We have covered the topic of suicide prevention regularly in our magazine and in this blog because it is a huge problem in our society and as a Counselor working closely with students you can see the signs when a student is depressed and possibly thinking about suicide. Recognizing and acting on those signs can make all the difference in the world.

Choice Mutual recently published a comprehensive post on the subject. On average, 112 Americans die by suicide each day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds and more than 9.4 million adults in the United States had serious thoughts of suicide within the past 12 months.

Here are some of the warning signs of suicide they outlined:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

Here are some ways you can support students who may be exhibiting some of the above signs:

Warning Signs of Suicide Risk
Most people who are feeling depressed or desperate enough to consider suicide give clues to how they’re feeling. You can be the first step towards help for someone you care about by learning to recognize these clues to suicide risk.

Verbal Signs

“I want to kill myself.”

“I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“No one understands me.”

“I can’t take it anymore.”

“Things will never get better.”

“I’m tired of being a burden to my friends and family.”

“No one would miss me if I were gone.”

Physical Changes

Acting Differently

  • Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed.
  • Not planning for the future
  • Hurting oneself on purpose
  • Thinking and talking about death a lot
  • Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure


  • Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job
  • Having money problems
  • Having questions or worries about being gay, bisexual or transgender
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Recent death of a loved one
  • Problems in an important relationship
  • Problems at work or school
  • Social isolation

Suicide Prevention Resources:

Check out the full post at Choice Mutual here:

Tips to prevent distracted driving

Distracted driving means the driver is doing something that takes their attention away from the road. There are three categories of distracted driving:

  • Cognitive distraction means you’re paying attention to something other than driving.
  • Visual distraction occurs when you take your eyes off the road.
  • Manual distraction is when you remove your hands from the steering wheel.

It may sound like it isn’t a big deal but the fact of the matter is that distracted driving accidents injure over 1,000 people every day in the U.S. and kills about nine more.

While reading and sending text messages is the biggest culprit for distracted driving there are other habits your students can identify and break in order to become a more focused driver. Here are some tips to help prevent distracted driving:

  • Plan ahead. Set your GPS, turn off your phone and any other electronics, and set your mind on your trip before you get on the road.
  • Make any needed adjustments to your mirrors, seat, heat or air conditioning, and any other vehicle systems before you put your car in gear.
  • Skip the food and drinks if at all possible; if you’re on a long trip and have to eat stick to neat snacks instead of messy meals.
  • Make sure others in the vehicle (baby brother or sister) and pets are secure before you leave. If you have to attend to them pull off the road first.
  • Do your personal grooming before you get into the car. If you have to brush your hair or remove your jacket pull over and park.
  • Stash any loose gear such as a handbag or briefcase before you leave the driveway. Check your vehicle for anything that might roll off a seat or console and secure it before you leave.
  • If you have passengers that tend to distract you feel free to politely tell them you need to focus on your driving.

Remember, anything that takes your attention from the role of driving is a distraction. It only takes a second to have an accident, so plan ahead and pay attention!

These tips come from which has put together a nice guide about distracted driving. Things that are covered in the guide are: laws by state, apps available, organizations, prevention (particularly for teens), effects of distracted driving (from 10 studies), FAQ and other resources. Check it out here:

Tips that can help your students save on their cell phone plans

Many of your students are on a tight budget and one of their largest expenses are their cell phone plans. There are some ways to save on these plans (through a little research they should be able to cut their bills in half).

Moneysavingpro published some great tips that your students can use:

Did you know your students can cut their wireless bill by over half just by going with a smaller carrier? These mobile providers are called MVNOs, which stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operators. You’ve probably already heard of a few of them, like Boost Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS).

These carriers buy up extra space on the four major networks: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint – and resell it at a discount. MVNOs can afford to give you better rates because most of them operate completely online and do not spend the big bucks on marketing as the major wireless carriers do. The best part is that college students can get service on the same great networks for half the cost.

Benefits of MVNOs

Your students need to save money and need a reliable wireless service. MVNOs are the ideal solution.

  • Cheaper prices by up to 50% or more
  • Service on the same networks as the major carriers
  • Custom plans let you pay only for what you need
  • No credit checks and no contracts
  • Easy to bring your own phone and keep your number
  • Great customer service
  • Convenient and fast online signup

The Cheapest Cell Phone Plans for College Students

Here are a few examples of MVNOs that offer cheap cell phone plans that meet the high-usage needs of today’s college student – along with their budget.

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile saves you money by selling their plans in bulk. You can purchase three, six, or 12 months at a time. The more you buy at once, the lower your per month price will be. The highest plan gives you 10 GB of 4G LTE data, which is plenty for most smartphone users. You’ll get unlimited talk and text with any plan. This MVNO runs on the nationwide T-Mobile network.


Are you a heavy data user who needs a little more from your plan? TextNow, which operates on the T-Mobile and Sprint networks, offers an unlimited data plan option. They also feature a free Wi-Fi plan and 2 and 5 GB options. All plans include unlimited texting and calling.


For the college student who has to tighten those purse strings as much as possible, Tello is a great option. You pick and choose as much or as little calling and data as you want. Unlimited text messages are included. Tello runs on the Sprint network.

Here is a link to a comparison engine where your students can compare plans:

Save Even More: Buy a Refurbished Cell Phone

Buying a used or refurbished smartphone is a great deal, both financially and practically.

  • You’ll save more than 50% off the retail price of a brand-new phone (which can run as high as $1000!).
  • There are plenty of reputable sellers now, most of which even offer some kind of warranty on your purchase.
  • There are phone repair shops virtually everywhere now – getting your device fixed is easy and affordable.
  • Buying a used phone is environmentally responsible. Most people upgrade before their device is actually worn out or obsolete.

They Can Put More Cash in Their Pocket By Selling Their Old Phone

Not only do they need every penny they can get their hands on but they also don’t have much room in their dorm or apartment for extra stuff. If they are replacing their phone, take that old one and sell it for some cold hard cash.


There’s no reason for college students to pay premium prices for cell phone service or top-end smartphones.

  • Choose an MVNO and a discount cell phone plan.
  • Buy an old or refurbished phone at 50% or more off retail.
  • Sell their old phone for cash.

Two e-books available with some great information for your students

Nina Berber counsels at an independent school and also has her own private practice. She has put together two great e-books that are available for you and your students.

Supplementing the College Supplement While many books and articles provide college applicants with guidance on the personal statement, there are not many resources about the college supplement, which admissions officers use to determine fit and measure interest. In addition, some colleges are assessing candidates through popular social media channels and student-focused platforms. Supplementing the College Supplement contains active links and examples to help students conquer supplemental essays, use social media proactively, and create a ZeeMee profile. It also addresses the use of college-specific video supplements for the 2019-20 application year.

Mastering the College Interview This book will help students become proficient in preparing for the all-important college interview. They will learn about the types of interviews, including on-campus, alumni and virtual. They will become familiar with the many questions that might arise during their interviews. Finally, they will find out how to follow up with colleges after the interview has concluded.

Both these e-books are available for the low price of $3.99. They can be downloaded from Apple Books or from Nina’s website which is linked here:

An Open Letter to College-Bound Students and Their Parents

Inside Higher Ed recently put together a group of 24 Admissions professionals (see end of article for the list) to write a letter with tips for College-Bound Students and their Parents. Here is the letter they recently published:

There are few times more exciting to work on a college campus than the start of a new academic year. Across the country, thousands of new students descend on institutions of higher learning, each student with their own talents and aspirations, eager to share their understanding of the world, excited to discover more about who they are and what the world has to offer. Those of us working in college admissions offices are grateful and humbled to watch this happen every fall, as bright, able students begin a journey of discovery as strangers and emerge from the experience knowing more about themselves, each other and the possibilities that await after graduation.

To be sure, the process of starting college, and the application process that accompanies it, can have its moments of anxiety and uncertainty. Applying to college opens students to scrutiny in ways few other events in life do, and the uncertainty that accompanies the college application process can be rife with doubts. The same can occur in the initial few days of the first year of college, or even subsequent years, as students see the academic and social challenges awaiting them, many wondering if they are up to the tasks required of them.

Recent studies suggest more students are experiencing bouts of anxiety, doubt and depression over the transition to college, and life in general, than ever before. Increasing competition for limited spots at some colleges, concerns over the ability to meet the financial demands of college attendance and general concern if the student is heading in the right direction are just some of the factors contributing to this increase. Combined with what other reports see as rising personal and social pressures, it is easy to understand why more students than ever before are looking for reassurance at a time of transition that seems to offer so little of it.

To those students applying to college this fall, we say to you — we hear you, and we are here to help. Out of the thousands of higher education institutions in the United States — be it a four-year college or university, a two-year college, or a technical training program — not a single one runs an Office of Judgment. The purpose of an office of admission is to authentically represent our institution and the experience it can provide. We review each applicant and determine if that student’s talents, goals and interests will be best served by our school, without exceeding our capacity to serve all students who enroll.

It’s been said that no one goes into college admissions because they want to see how many students they can reject. This isn’t always easy for students to understand, especially when there are more qualified applicants than room to admit them. But that is a limitation of the college, not the students. There are many places where you can shine, and the application process give you the opportunity to explore all of them.

Our work with you is designed to nurture and encourage you in every step of the application process, to create a dialogue that allows you to bring forth the best, clearest picture of who you are, what you think about and what our institution can do to help you grow. If your work on an application finds you wondering where to turn for help, support or reassurance, contact us. Helping you is not our job; it is our privilege.

Recognizing that many of life’s challenges aren’t related to college, it is important to realize you also have local support to help you with any issues that may come up in your life. Understanding that teachers and school counselors are often faced with high numbers of students to serve, these professionals have a remarkable track record of stepping up and offering help to students who ask for it. From reviewing drafts of admissions essays, to listening to your plans for the future, to connecting you to other professionals who may offer greater help with other challenges, the educators and support teams of your local schools are here for you as well.

To those students starting their college careers this fall, we say welcome. Our work with your application for admission may be over, but our help in welcoming you to campus and assisting with a smooth adjustment to your new academic home is never over. Our colleagues in other parts of the college, including student services, academic support and the faculty, know there is more to a successful college transition than good grades and a strong classroom experience.

If asking for help feels uncomfortable, know that every student feels that way. It may look like everyone in college is walking around with great confidence, but nearly no one is. College is a new world, with a new language, culture and norms. It’s more than OK to acknowledge that you need some help making sense of this new world, and research shows that’s much more likely to happen if you find a peer or mentor to connect with. It’s also the No. 1 reason you’ll come back for the next semester, and the next year, and graduate. Start with the one person for whom asking feels the least awkward. People who work for colleges are there for one reason — your success — and they want to help.

To the parents looking for the best way to promote strong, healthy, autonomous life habits in their children who are college bound, we strongly urge you to play an active role that puts the student at the center of the application and transition processes. The skills needed to complete a college application require the same levels of judgment, organization, collaboration, leadership and initiative that make for a strong college experience. Now is the time for students to refine those skills by practicing them and receiving constructive feedback that allows them to reflect, regroup and try again if necessary.

A regularly scheduled weekly meeting to discuss college application issues in high school and transition issues in college, typically around 20 to 30 minutes, provides a healthy avenue of reliable support and structure your student can count on. There will be ample opportunities to take steps to support your child in this process, but as is the case with almost every parental duty, the vital steps are to listen more than speak and to love the child you have, not the child you want.

Cultural and technological advances have created opportunities for students that were difficult to imagine even a handful of years ago, yet this abundance of choice seems to have brought new levels of hesitation, doubt and stress for many young people. Our work as admissions professionals — as educators in our own right — is to do everything we can to clear the field of opportunity of as many of those doubts as possible, and provide each student with the opportunity to realize the very best in themselves, in others, and in the world they will help shape.

Bill Conley
Vice president for enrollment management
Bucknell University

Bob Herr
Vice president for enrollment management and dean of college admissions
Drew University

Jody Chycinski
Associate vice president and director of admissions
Grand Valley State University

Deren Finks
Dean of admissions emeritus
Harvey Mudd College

Laurie Koehler
Vice president, marketing and enrollment strategy
Ithaca College

Greg MacDonald
Vice president, enrollment management
Lafayette College

Ken Anselment
Dean of admissions and financial aid
Lawrence University

John Ambrose
Interim executive director of admissions and recruitment
Michigan State University

Robert Springall
Vice president for enrollment management
Muhlenberg College

Gregory Mitton
Associate dean of admission/director of financial aid
Muhlenberg College

Gerri Daniels
Executive director, admissions
Northern Michigan University

J. Carey Thompson
Vice president for enrollment and communications, dean of admission
Rhodes College

Heath Einstein
Director of admission
Texas Christian University

Angel Perez
Vice president, enrollment and student success
Trinity College

Matt Malatesta
Vice president for admissions financial aid and enrollment
Union College, N.Y.

Clark Brigger
Executive director of admissions
University of Colorado Boulder

Don Bishop
Associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment
University of Notre Dame

Jim Rawlins
Director of admissions/assistant vice president for enrollment management
University of Oregon

Eric Furda
Dean of admissions
University of Pennsylvania

Gil Villanueva
Associate vice president and dean of admission
University of Richmond

Timothy Brunold
Dean of admission
University of Southern California

Andrew Wright
Vice president for enrollment management
University of Southern Indiana

Jeffery Gates
Senior vice president for student life and enrollment management
Utica College

Raymond Brown
Vice president for enrollment
Valparaiso University

The Truth About Extracurricular Activities and Highly Selective Colleges

The parents of today’s college applicants applied to college in the 1980s and early 1990s. Those were the days when being a well-rounded student was the ticket to a highly selective college. Two varsity sports, a summer job and participation in a few clubs were the activities of a successful applicant. Having a passion was not necessary.

Today’s well-rounded applicants are welcome at many colleges but the most selective schools prefer a different shape. They are prioritizing “pointy” students, those who have participated in several activities centered around a theme rather than a variety of disconnected activities. Elite colleges want students whose activities demonstrate commitment to a core interest, belief or pursuit. Students who have determined their passions and delve deeply into them are more likely to be admitted.

In their college applications, students applying to highly selective colleges should highlight groups of activities that align with and relate to their genuine, deep interests. Activities which are merely exploratory or things the student has dabbled in should be downplayed. For example, a student who is passionate about animals might create an application that highlights their volunteer work at an animal shelter, their commitment to fostering cats and dogs at their home and that the subject of their photography (another interest) is usually animals.

Use your high school years to explore, but if you do have a deep interest, pursue it wholeheartedly. A focus on one theme will not harm your chances of a successful college application. In fact, it is just the opposite.

Michelle McAnaney is Founder of the College Spy. She can be reached at 1-800-207-4305 or by e-mail at

Snowplow Parents Getting in the Way

I get it, I’m a few years past sending my kids off to college. But, have things really changed that much? It seems so when I hear stories about what some families are doing.

A neighbor’s daughter is about to be a freshman at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She is very excited about attending, although with some very understandable and normal apprehensions. A friend of hers will also be attending Wheaton and her friend’s mom has chosen to rent an apartment in the tiny town of Norton, Massachusetts for the first month of school, in case her daughter needs something. When I heard about this, my reaction was “are you serious?” Now my neighbor’s daughter wants her to rent an apartment as well! She told me that she’s even playing the “if you were a good mother card!” Thankfully my neighbor put her foot down and explained to her daughter that she would be just fine and there was no need for her to have her mother within spitting distance.

But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of parents taking extreme measures. I remember reading how one mom insisted on sleeping on an air mattress in her daughter’s room for the first week of college! Wouldn’t you like to be the other roommate in that dorm room?

We’ve all heard about the Tiger Moms and Helicopter Parents, but a new moniker seems to crowding the field  – “Snowplow Parents” – you guessed it – parents who are willing to plow down anything or anyone who gets in the way of their child obtaining success.

Yes, these are the parents who cause other parents, and even their own children, to roll their eyes in disgust, disdain and embarrassment. Snowplow parents terrify Parent Orientation leaders because they’ll hijack a discussion and drown out everyone else.

Kari Kampakis is the author of a great book called “Prepare the Child for the Road, Not the Road for the Child”  She is a proponent of letting kids experience failure. She says “it’s hard not to clear every obstacle in our children’s path so they can be happy now – getting what they want, when they want it – and buck the current trends. But when we clear the road for a child, we make their life too easy. We don’t allow them to build life-coping skills they’ll need down the road to handle life’s realities.” She goes on to say that right now our children face a “little league” age-appropriate stress but very soon they will be moving to the “big league”  – and if we don’t provide them with the tools to cope with the little league stresses, there’s not much of a chance they’ll survive the stress of the “big league.”

The best advice is that preparing the child for the road means packing their suitcase with care; put all the good stuff in, while making sure to save room for resiliency and character.

Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;

What does an Admissions Officer look for when he/she is evaluating students?

Gradually, it’s been getting increasingly more difficult for B students to gain admission to Michigan State University, one of the state’s flagship institutions, and one school that has prided itself on not being moderately selective (71 percent acceptance rate this year.)

This year’s freshman class high school average GPA is 3.75 and average SAT score is 1,218; the mean ACT is 26.2. The grade point continues to increase steadily, too. Ten years ago, the average GPA for admitted freshman students was 3.60.

And last year, the first time MSU began accepting the Common App, the school saw applications jump by more than 11,000 students to a record  44,340.

 “Michigan State University uses rolling admission, but the number of qualified applicants has exceeded available space in recent years,” the website warns. “Depending on several factors –including space available in the entering class –  it may not be possible to submit an application for certain semesters.”

If students apply early action before Nov. 1, they will be guaranteed a decision within 12 weeks. As always, MSU will continue accepting students until all slots are filled.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat about admissions with John Ambrose, MSU’s Interim  Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment. We talked about what he looks for in an applicant, how to get into MSU, and the role of the college essay in the admissions process. He confirmed that as admissions becomes increasingly competitive  “the college essay is the one thing that can separate you from everyone else in the application pool.”

Here is some of Ambrose’s best advice for students who want to apply to MSU:

What’s your elevator pitch to prospective Spartans?
MSU is looking for people who care about making a difference in the world. The SPARTANS WILL speaks to the heart of who we are as SPARTANS and the attitude we have about developing world changers.

What is the secret to getting into MSU? 
Be your most authentic self! Students put a lot of effort into trying to convince admissions officers who they think we want to see. Authenticity is always appreciated.

Why do parent alumni believe MSU is becoming so competitive they would not be admitted today?
Each year the application pool changes from the size to the strength of the academic profile. MSU is no different we have watched our application counts grow along with the academic profile. A number of students in our entering class begin at MSU with college credits they earned while they were in high school and that’s one of the biggest changes from then to now.

What’s the typical GPA of an admitted MSU student?

Our freshman profile at the 50th percentile ranges from a 3.5 – 3.9 GPA, and 1130-1300 SAT Composite and a 23-29 ACT.

How important is AP and IB?

We encourage students to challenge themselves and take the highest level of preparatory coursework available. AP and IB students gain a wealth of academic texture and contextual rigor that provides them with a wonderful sense of preparedness prior to enrolling in college or university. I think it is very important to the academic experience that a high school student can choose from.

What are the four top factors you consider for admission to MSU? 
1. GPA
2. Test Score
3. Rigor
4. Grade trend

We also consider the personal statement, senior year schedule,  and extra-curricular activity as a part of our holistic review.

How can an application essay help an applicant? 

In the essay, take the opportunity to show us your authentic self and try really hard not repeat things that are already apart of your application. I wish students spent more time on their essay.

What do you look for in a college essay?
Genuineness of character, unique flair of personality, identifiable traits of a leader or follower, team player and someone who has the capacity to add to the rich diversity of our campus and our traditions as a SPARTAN Nation.

What advice would you give to a student whose grades and test scores are not a sure thing for MSU, but who really wants to attend MSU? 

If they want to be at MSU we want them to be here, too. Transferring into MSU is competitive but not at the same volume as entering with the freshman class. Students have a strong opportunity to transfer who have 28 earned college credits, completed college algebra and college writing, while maintaining a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average.

How do you respond to a student who thinks the MSU campus is too big? 

You can always make big things smaller, and we have done that by offering living and learning programs that give the student a small college feel in a large university setting. Additionally, we have compartmentalized the campus into geographic pockets we call neighborhoods by decentralizing some key support services, so you don’t have to travel across campus to go to tutoring or the health clinic. Those services are available in each neighborhood. Come see us, and we will be happy to show you around the campus!

Our Gift to You: A Free Book for You and Every Parent in Your School

We’d like to give you a free electronic copy of our book: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents.  After you click on the link, you’ll find out how to get free books for every parent in your school, too.

How do you approach the college essay? We’d love to hear how you talk to your students when they panic, and what your biggest college essay challenges are. Feel free to email me

About the Author

Kim Lifton, a 2018 Top Voice in Education, LinkedIn, is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

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