Category: Inside Higher Ed

On September 14, 2015, important new changes were announced regarding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for students applying to college for the 2017-2018 school year and beyond. The FAFSA is one of the two financial aid forms that students and parents must fill out while applying to college or trade schools; the other required financial aid form, which is mostly requested by private schools, is the College Board’s CSS Profile.  The FAFSA is widely used to determine eligibility for federal aid, as well as for some state and  private student aid, including grants and scholarships, loans and work study opportunities. If you are, or have, a high school junior or younger, read on!

For the 2017-2018 school year, students will be able to access and submit the FAFSA as early as October 1st, 2016! Previously, this form was not available until January 1st of the application year, which led to some delays in finalizing student aid packages. Families first had to complete an estimated FAFSA in the fall of the student’s senior year, and submit completed tax forms from prior years, which then needed to be replaced with more current forms. Now, families will be able to finalize their submitted FAFSAs with their most recently completed tax forms right away.  The earlier date will simplify the filing of the FAFSA by reducing or eliminating the need for verification with more current tax data submitted later on. It will also enable students to submit their FAFSA, along with the CSS Profile, to their Early Decision and Early Action schools in order to get a more accurate and realistic picture of their federal aid options along with their early application responses.  These changes should help to reduce some of the stress associated with applying for financial aid in order to go to college.
For more need-to-know information for college-bound students, contact us at Sandweiss Test Prep!  We have been helping students in the local Seattle and Greater Eastside area with college planning and testing resources since 2005!  

Getting ready for college is a big task, and certainly important—but getting into grad school can be equally as important and much more difficult. Depending on the type of program you’re pursuing, there’s likely a test you’ll need to take as part of the admission process. Whether it’s the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT, Sandweiss Test Prep can help you get ready for the entrance exam. The farther in advance you start preparing for grad school, the better off you’ll be. Here are a few tips on getting ready for grad school:

Applying for Graduate School

Research schools in depth

The school you choose is a huge next step in life—and can play a big part in helping you get off on the right foot for your future career. Go beyond the program’s website. Visit the school, talk to professors, talk to students and graduates, if possible. Learn what others, including potential future employers, think of the program you’re considering.

Gather your recommendations

As we move farther down the life path, recommendations bear more and more weight. Getting into grad school is perhaps one of the first steps in life where it’s crucial to have solid, non-familial, professional recommendations. Most graduate programs want recommendations from professors, but letters from internship advisors and workplace supervisors can also be helpful.

Know your deadlines!

We can’t reiterate how important this is. The process can take upwards of six months, so your research should be started at LEAST a year away from when you’re intending to start grad school. Set calendar reminders in advance just to be sure you don’t miss anything.

Present yourself for the task at hand

If you’re applying for law school, present yourself as someone who would make a good lawyer—and leave out the stuff that doesn’t relate. Admissions officers go through a LOT of applications—and don’t have time for fluff. Get down to business, explain and show why you’re a good fit—and leave the rest out.

Be prepared for your entrance exam

Just because a task is difficult doesn’t mean it needs to be stressful. By preparing as much as possible, your entrance exam doesn’t need to cause anxiety or add stress to your life! Sandweiss Test Prep can provide you with free diagnostic testing, full length prep courses, and private tutoring  to help you prepare for your exam and put a little sanity back in the craziness of the grad school application process.

After Acceptance

Once you are accepted to graduate school, there is still plenty to do before classes begin. Here are a few tips to help you excel, whether you are fresh from undergrad or going back to school after spending time in the workforce:

Have all of your documents prepared ahead of time

Financial aid and student forms all need to  be ready to file before the semester begins. Play it safe by making an appointment with your advisor to go over your scholarship and/or loan agreement forms. Failing to have any one of these complete before the semester begins can create serious problems when starting grad school.

Review ahead of time

As an incoming student, you should be able to access the syllabi and textbooks before classes begin. Use this time to get ahead of the curve. Familiarize yourself with the major themes you’ll be studying, read over the table of contents in your textbooks and review the professor evaluations from previous students to learn what your instructors will be expecting of you.

Get organized

Organization is key both to survive grad school to use the materials you create later on in your portfolio. You will need to get your act in triple-A shape right away to stay on top of your workload and manage priorities. And in the long run, you’ll want to have everything organized in such a way that you can easily pull out your prior work when updating your portfolio or resume.

Study to learn

The point here is not to cram for the highest grade possible and then forget everything as you move on, but to learn and retain information that you will be using for the rest of your professional life. If cramming helps you to retain information, great; but remember that you are no longer studying just to ace the next test, but to prepare yourself for a career.

Whether you are wrapping up undergrad or going back to school after some time in the workforce, best of luck on your search for graduate school. We’ll be here for you when it’s time to prep for your entrance exam!

Featured photo from here.

Now no one panic; this won’t be happening for years, 2015 at the earliest. But it’s an interesting prospect. Inside Higher Ed reports that a special panel has proposed the following changes to the MCAT:

  • Eliminating the writing section, which medical schools tend not to consider closely
  • Adding a behavioral and social sciences section to reflect “the evolving nature of medicine”
  • Increasing the length of the test (5.5 hours)  by 90 minutes
  • Changing the current verbal section to “Critical Analysis and Reading Skills”

The chair of the committee that drafted the plan explains the recommendation for a social sciences section:

It’s very clear that in this country a large proportion of illness is related to behavior and social and cultural problems. So we want to encourage the applicant to medical school to be thinking about those and reading about those early … you do need a solid foundation in the sciences, but you need more than that. You need to think critically and reason, and understand the differences in our society and the patients you see as a physician. We need people who are critical thinkers and people who have sensitivity and understanding of different cultures.