The Edge Prep Blog
Our founder and Asia's premier admissions consultant, Duc Luu, gives his advice on college admissions during this challenging time.
College Admissions - A Message From Our Founder, Duc Luu
College Admissions Advice
Given the current worldwide lockdown, I've been asked about what steps I think need to be taken to mitigate COVID-19's impact on the college admissions process. Let me give you a checklist and themes to consider:
GPA - Some high schools are moving to pass/fail to not penalize students during this difficult time. Keep track of what would have been your grade so that you can either self report or ask your high school counselor to report on your teacher's behalf.
SAT/ACT/AP - With the cancellation of the SAT/ACT/AP until further notice, you should continue to study for those exams as if they were going to resume in the summer or fall, and concentrate on improving your GPA since that will get even higher weighting as the academic portion of your application.
Extracurricular Activities - ECAs are being canceled since schools are not in physical session. Last and this semester is dead, but the summer may be salvageable. Search and plan to upskill yourself in your ECAs through community organizations, summer programs, etc.
Summer Activities - In the likelihood that summer programs are canceled, look for online replacements for your summer programs. Were you planning on learning a skill or course at Harvard or UCLA summer school? Do they have a summer alternative? Do other programs have an alternative? Go hunting and welcome to online learning!
Online Learning - Yes, its here. It's been here for a while. At The Edge, we installed our online system The Edge Prep a couple years ago to facilitate our courses online. Right now all our students are learning on that system during the Hong Kong/China quarantines. I'm grateful that we planned ahead. You should too! Are there AP courses you planned to take in the fall that you could pre-study online? Are there test prep courses (at The Edge!) that you can take online rather than going to a physical center? Are there sports training apps or online courses you can take to improve your skill set within the safety of your home? Enroll now!
College Application Season & College Essays - Since we expect to lose some GPA semesters and ECA activities in our college profile by fall, we should expect that college will need to de-weight those and weight more heavily towards other factors such as college essays and possibly interviews. So its time to sharpen up your essay writing skills and collect your life stories to make sure you're ready to share the real you! Also, you may want to avoid the "My Life under COVID" as a main essay as I'm sure we're going to have a TON of those essays!
Need more advice? Contact me for an Initial Meeting!
CEO/Admissions Consultant - The Edge Learning Centers
CSO - RISE Education
I walk on old train tracks while the city sleeps. The Boston skyline greets me.
College is a whirlwind of both stress and excitement, a hectic canvas splashed with jarring contrasts. Academics pull my limbs one way as ever-changing social dynamics yank them another; current events and family concerns join in to bind and quarter me on a butcher’s block.
My bones feel like coiled springs, searching for release and relief. I need to shout; I need to be still.
It took a bit over a year for me to figure out what exactly I needed to release and relieve stress. College frayed the knotted ends of my wits, in ways both good and bad. Between attending classes, studying for tests, and pulling my hair out over homework deadlines, school was draining my mental energy by the second. Suddenly dropped into the deep end of the social pool, I could also barely keep my introverted head above water. I needed to find outlets of not-worrying, beyond the endlessly repetitive Netflix binges and Instagram scrolling that filled my spare time. I needed a place to feel alive and energized, but also a place to feel alive and calm.
In the end, kendo became my energy; train tracks became my calm.
“When you enter the gym,” the BU kendo club’s coach said to the team, “you leave everything else outside. I know you have classes and other things to worry about. But when we mokuso at the beginning and end of practice, we clear our minds.” We left our worries at the door, or at least tried our best to. And perhaps my mind was not completely clear; but for a few hours a week, concerns about grades and GPA requirements momentarily forgotten, the tension in my spirit unwound into the energy with which I fought. The pressures of exams and assignments, friends and classmates, global humanitarian disasters and family troubles, manifested into fuel that drove my strikes. I kiai’d, shouted, with all the energy of my frustration. The catharsis radiated through my entirety.
In search of catharsis of a different kind, I found my way to the train tracks on a walk with my roommate on a wintry day during sophomore year. The tracks were seldom used and crossed the length of Boston’s Charles River, disappearing northwards towards Cambridge and southwards into Boston. I returned to them many times after, sometimes to watch the sky burst with color as the sun set, but more often to air out my mind in the middle of the night. Far from the crowded lecture halls and cramped seminar rooms that filled my daytime hours, away from my small, dimly lit dorm, I could finally breathe peace. Cars would pass on the road above me. The water would lap at the pillars below me. The occasional quack or honk of waterfowl would break the monotony.
These places filled my need to let go of stress and feel alive in opposite ways— a balance of complementing flavors. If kendo cleared my mind like the release of a spring, the train tracks cleared it like the relief of stillness post-release.
I swing my legs over rusted railings and stare at the twinkling city lights.
During kendo practice, my worries burn away with aggression as I kiai and swing my bamboo sword. But here, at 3 in the morning, standing 20 feet above the rushing black waves of the Charles, they dissipate gently in the breeze. I found my release with the swing of a shinai; I found my relief in an old rail bridge.
To the Parents in Hong Kong who are hesitating on whether to send their kids abroad for University, or think that Zoom University can replace in-person college experiences, think again. Sure, the learning might be comparable in some fields, and in the midst of a global pandemic, it was probably the right move. But as vaccination rates climb and the world begins to reopen, it’s important to consider the multitude of experiences that can just happen that cannot be replaced by Zoom. To help explain why, I’ll tell you about one of my most memorable experiences during my first semester of college at NYU before the world shut down––and then let you decide for yourself.
It all started during one of my more interesting classes of the day––Film and TV Production. Being a Global Studies major, it was an elective––but out of all my classes, it was the one of the few classes that could drag yours truly out of bed at 8 in the morning. It was certainly more interesting than a riveting lecture about global shipping lanes. My professor was a bald eccentric man in his 50s, and would never stick to the syllabus. He’d always end up lecturing about the time he directed some famous actor, or about how “parents kill more dreams than anybody”. However, his classes were extremely popular––because, well, the man had multiple Oscars. Having Alec Baldwin as a recurring guest lecturer probably helped a ton, too. And of course, his name was Spike Lee. Google him. You’ll see why.
The film nerds who are reading this are probably salivating at this point. But to everyone else (including myself at the time), you might ask yourself, now why does this matter? I can listen to all his lectures online! They’re probably recorded too, so I don’t even have to get up at 8 in the morning. Sure. You might have a point. But then again, you’d probably never get a chance to understand what Professor Spike would say, “how you actually make a f**king Hollywood movie”. So, after talking about framing techniques and some further ranting about Donald Trump, Professor Lee informed us that we were going on a field trip the next day––and instructed us to “put our acting shoes on”.
We assembled in front of a nondescript building outside Chelsea Piers at the ungodly (for college students, anyway) hour of 6 in the morning. Even so, we were all visibly wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. We had all heard the crazy escapades from upperclassmen from past classes. A lady with a walkie talkie ran out from one of the trailers to greet us. “Oh, good. You all are here on time. Come on in––there’s not a moment to lose”. We were all handed clipboards that had “NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT––NBC CORPORATION” emblazoned on top, and told to sign them. An audible silence descended on the group as we realized that we, in fact, were being thrown headfirst into the world of TV production.
After we made our (signed) pinky-promises not to tell anyone about our experiences until whatever was to be filmed was publicly released, we were ushered into another building, where our professor was waiting. “Welcome!”, he exclaimed, “to a TV Set!” He pointed to a man standing to his right, who was clutching a megaphone. “This is Jon Bokencamp. Please listen to him, as he’ll tell you what to do”.
We were then ushered onto what looked like the lobby of a bank. There were three massive sized IMAX cameras that were positioned around the lobby floor. “Pretend like they don’t exist”, Jon said. “There will be gunfire. Act as you would normally”. With that, he stepped behind the camera.
“Bang!” Everyone instinctively hit the floor as the sound of a gunshot and broken glass ricocheted around the room. A car door slammed. Tires Chriped. Seconds later, the wail of sirens echoed throughout the lobby. Men in navy jackets with the words “FBI” emblazoned in big yellow letters stormed in, along with half a dozen NYPD officers, guns drawn. One of the agents displayed a picture of a balding man to the crowd. “Have you seen him?” he barked. Still discombobulated from the gunfire, we all shook our heads no. “Okay. Everyone out!” he ordered, and whirled back out the door.
“CUT! Great job everyone. Let’s wrap it up.”
Try replacing that with Zoom.
By Dylan Yen, NYU Class of 2023
The upcomong 2021-2022 International SAT test dates have been confirmed.
The dates are the same as the anticipated ones released before summer, so there shouldn't be any surprises here. To register, please click the link below the table and register via college board.
2021-22 International SAT Administration Dates
|Fall SAT||August 28, 2021|
|Fall SAT||October 2, 2021|
|Winter SAT||December 4, 2021|
|Spring SAT||March 12, 2022|
|Spring SAT||May 7, 2022|
Source: College Board
If you're planning on taking the test this Fall, its not too late to prep. Our Edge Prep SAT courses are a great way to review.
College Board, the makers of the SAT exam used in US university admissions, has announced some drastic changes to their SAT exam. The exam, which has seen its takers diminish to near zero amidst the pandemic has cited the need to be more flexible and less demanding for its students.
In their announcement, they stated they will make 3 profound changes to the way they handle and administer tests. All of which will have a great impact on students who are currently preparing to take the exam, as well as those who will take it in the future.
- Discontinuing SAT Subject Tests - Many universities have required these to supplement the SAT or even ACT scores, particularly the top 50 universities. College board has stated they feel the current SAT and academic profiles of students currently provides enough info to show achievements. The bad news here is that this appears to only impact US based students, so international students will need to keep taking the subject tests. Admissions requirements may change though, so keep checking with us to see if things change for international students.
- Removing the Optional SAT Essay - In the past 5 years the SAT has transformed from being the only exam to require an essay, to not even offering one. While we are sure this will make a lot of students happy, there is a good chance that we will see a more comprehensive replacement on a per university basis in the future. For now, though, this will considerably cut prep time for students.
- Changing the delivery mode of the exams - They do not have a lot of information on this one, but as far as we can tell it means they will be providing a digital format of the exam. If these means testing centers will receive a digital copy, if you will go to a prometric center, or if you will just take it at home, we are unsure. College board has promised more info to come this spring.
For more information, please see the official press release from College Board.
Find out why The Edge Prep is perfectly suited for these changes by starting a Free Trial(Freemium).