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What are different financial aid options now that my parents may have more reduced income?

What are different financial aid options now that my parents may have more reduced income?

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is going to hit everyone – hard. Some may even be feeling its effects already. And amidst all the uncertainty that is brewing, the question of college may fall to the side of the road. However, it is still important to be cognizant of the impact these trying times will have on the future of your academic career. 


You may be wondering what options are available to you moving forward, especially now that you or your parents may have had a substantial reduction in income due to COVID-19. Luckily enough, there are plenty of options for students looking to attend college with income constraints in the wake of the pandemic.


1. California’s Free Tuition Program for Community College


As of 2019, graduating seniors having attended a high school in California, and having been accepted into one of the 115 community colleges across the state, are eligible for two years of free tuition. How does one qualify you ask? They must be first-time, full-time students (taking at least 12 units per semester). This is becoming an increasingly popular option as students look to knock out their undergrad general education requirements for free before transferring into a four year university to finish up their bachelor’s. If you are asking about why community college, check out our blog piece Should I go to community college and then transfer to a university? 


2. Colleges with Free or Reduced Tuition


It sounds too good to be true, right? According to, there are currently 75 colleges offering free and/or reduced tuition across the United States. The list of schools runs the gamut, including top tier universities like Brown and Cornell, as well as college staples like Arizona State University and Miami University. These offerings have cropped up in light of the 44 million student debtors that collectively owe roughly $1.5 trillion in student loans. As college tuition costs continue to climb, student loan debt is skyrocketing alongside it. Many schools are offering “no-loan” financial aid packages, which aim to curtail the increasing pool of student debt, and instead seek to replace loans with grants and scholarships. Some universities require a minimum student or parental contribution (which can be met with loans), or part time employment of the student. 


Student Financial Aid

The light amidst the darkness in all of this is: your financial aid options will remain the same despite many schools closing their campuses and moving classes online. Scholarships and grants are still available; in fact, even though some schools and funds are finding their awards to be limited, other institutions are upping the ante and pouring out even more money to support their students with Student Relief Funds. Furthermore, loans will still be available, and perhaps more manageable as well. According to the office of Federal Student Aid, student loan borrowers can be placed in an administrative forbearance, allowing them to temporarily stop making their monthly loan payments. 

If you are still concerned about your ability to fund your higher education, contact us at, and we will put you on the path to success


Aly Hartman 

Communications Director – Write Track Admissions


Top Medical School Application Questions Answered

by Recent Admittee to Stanford, Harvard & UCLA Medical with $1,000,000 in Funding!

The average acceptance rate for U.S. medical school is 7% and the top 10 schools average 2.5%. Without a doubt, the process is tedious and incredibly challenging! Thankfully for you, our very own Director of College and Medical School Admissions, Nadine Jawad was recently admitted to Harvard Medical School (3.8%), UCLA Medical School (3%), and Stanford Medical School (2%) where she will start this fall. And she received over $1,000,000 including the prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholarship to fund her time as a medical school student at Stanford.   


As you start preparing for this long, arduous journey for medical school applications, there are some common mistakes and issues that many medical school applicants frequently face. To help, Nadine is providing responses to the most frequent questions that will help get you on the right track to a top U.S. medical school:


  • Where do you start with the application cycle? How do you figure it out all out?
    The first step is getting set-up on AMCAS and beginning a general application. This is known as your “primary.” You will need your primary statement, activities section, and letters of recommendation to complete this section. Start early! The earlier you submit your primary, the earlier you can get going on the school-specific secondaries.


  • What’s the key to a memorable Primary Statement?
    Don’t try to do too much. What we mean is this is a chance for you to build a comprehensive narrative; this is NOT a chance to regurgitate your resume. Rather, focus on who YOU are, spending time talking about your journey and pathway to medicine, and outline how your medical degree will help you complete your life’s mission. The key to a successful primary statement is nailing your narrative.


  • What’s the strategy for selecting medical schools?
    There is a tool offered via AAMC called “MSAR” that can help you select schools based on your GPA, MCAT, interests, location, etc. This is a great tool that will help you navigate through hundreds of schools and find the 15-20 schools that are a priority for you.


  • How do you attack secondaries?
    Create a spreadsheet with the following fields: name of the school (prioritized in terms of dream school to safety), location, academic requirements (average GPA, MCAT), application requirements (including secondary question prompts), date secondary received, goal date for submission. I had a rule of thumb of attempting to submit the secondary with 7-10 days of receiving it from the medical school. Of course, life may happen. For Stanford (the school I ended up going to), it actually took me a few weeks to turn it around (so don’t stress!)


  • What timeline is appropriate for early bird/strong applicants?
    I submitted my primary the first week it opened up. However, with all that is happening in the world, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just remember, however, the earlier the better (especially for schools with rolling admissions).


  • Do you have any tips for the activities section?
    Remember to focus on the things that make you human. For example, I used one hobby in my section in addition to my other more volunteer and scientific activities. Also, you can group together activities if you need more space. For example, I merged all of my medical shadowing and volunteering experiences into one section and I explained that in the description. It then opened up the opportunity for me to describe my unique hobby.


  • How do you offset or mitigate a lack of research, publications or volunteer activities?
    Focus on the honest reality of what makes you, you. If there are other things you did like starting a business, taking care of someone in your family, or working two jobs, then these are all real-life examples that show your tenacity and work-ethic, so don’t be afraid to list them. It truly is a holistic process and not everyone has the ability to undertake those more typical medical school-oriented activities.


  • What’s the best approach for recommendation letters?
    Reach out to recommenders early, especially with the ongoing pandemic. They will appreciate it and you will feel less stressed. You may aggregate the letters on the platform Interfolio, but since the AMCAS is open, you might simply decide to go straight through the AMCAS website. However, Interfolio is a great way to store your letters for the long-term, so definitely look into it.


These are just some of the key questions you want to be well aware of so you can master the medical school application process. So please feel free to contact Write Track Admissions ( if you want more personalized help from Nadine and the team. We are ready to help you get into your top choice medical school with funding!

~ Write Track Admissions

5 ways to keep you competitive for college admissions while on COVID-19 lockdown

With COVID-19 (coronavirus) bringing lives to a grinding halt across the world, far-off goals like getting into your dream college can seem a bit out of picture at the moment. However, it is important now more than ever to maintain your scholastic resume to ensure your success when it inevitably comes time to apply to college


Here are 5 key things you can do while staying at home now and throughout the summer to ensure you remain competitive for college admissions, in light of the restrictions brought about by COVID-19:


1. Develop a hobby/passion: Nothing stands out more on a college application than a clearly developed passion. Use this time at home to really dedicate yourself to something: learn a new skill, cultivate an existing hobby, or develop tangibles according to your passions that, if need be, you can submit alongside your college applications to beef them up. Music, dance, stock trading, home-based exercise are just some examples.


2. Take a higher-level online course: Most schools are going online anyway, so adding an extra online AP or college-level course will blend in seamlessly with your regularly scheduled academics, and set you out from the competition. Check your local community college for their selection of online classes or at your high school.


3. Entrepreneurship: Now is the perfect time to enact that lightbulb idea you had way back when. Start taking the first steps to building your project or business – almost everything you need to do so can be found online. Maybe you can even tailor your idea towards helping people in this current crisis (see point 5 below).


4. Take on a remote internship or job: As businesses shift to better accommodate everyone staying in their homes, there will be no shortage of new online-based jobs cropping up. This can definitely help you bolster your resume as we approach the summer. Stay up to date on platforms like Handshake and LinkedIn to find one that best suits your talents.


5. Tackle something creative that will positively contribute to those affected by the pandemic:  Yoga instructors are offering live-streamed classes. Writers are publishing their own readings of their books for free. Educators are putting their courses online so anyone can use this down time to better themselves academically. And even creatives are putting their work into good use like stitching masks, spinning melodies for online concerts, offering other awesome freebies to communities locally and globally. You can even start a fundraiser or offer a service that ties in to your passions… Anything that helps or is poised to brighten someone’s day is a noteworthy contribution. Basically, there is no shortage of routes to take with this one! 


The point is, don’t give up hope. Really try to maximize this one in a lifetime opportunity to step out of your normal routine to truly shine and become the best college applicant possible. 


Feel free to email us at with any questions, concerns or innovative ideas!


Aly Hartman

Communications Director – Write Track Admissions


Should I be deferring my acceptance?

There are plenty of reasons to want to defer your acceptance to a college, law school, or an MBA program, especially with the projected lasting effects of COVID-19. Perhaps your health or the health of a loved one depends on it. Maybe you did not receive enough scholarship funding and need the extra time to bolster your bank account. A career opportunity could arise that you need to undertake in order to become a better student or professional. Most of all, you might be experiencing extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19


Universities typically grant deferment on a case-by-case basis. For example at the University of Utah, such circumstances include illness, military/humanitarian/religious service, and financial restrictions. 


The Deferment Process works as follows: You receive your acceptance, pay your enrollment deposit, get in contact with the admissions office regarding deferring, gather supporting evidence, and receive the university’s decision after everything has been submitted. If you are granted a deferral, you must follow the university’s requirements


Deferring for a year is not uncommon, and there are definitely some ways of going about it that are better than others. Write Track Admissions has compiled some tips to help you successfully defer your acceptance with minimal consequence. 


1.Before deciding whether or not deferring is right for you, it is imperative that you explore all facets of your university’s deferring policies, such as:

    1. Is there a deadline for requesting deferment?
    2. What documentation do you need for your request?
    3. Do you need to document how you plan to spend your deferred time?
    4. What will you need to re-enter the program? 
    5. Are there re-entry deadlines? 
    6. How will the deferral affect your financial aid when you re-enter?


2. Timing is critical – write and send your letter of continued interest (LOCI) as soon as possible after receiving your acceptance letter and mention in the letter your request for deferment. Don’t wait until the last minute for this as there may only be a finite number of deferrals granted by the institution/program.


3. Craft the deferring essay with precision and care. It should include the following points (you may be asked for substantiating documentation for your deferral request): 

    1. Why you are seeking to defer
    2. Why you need to defer for the year (health, finances, career, COVID-19, etc.)
    3. What you will be doing during the deferred academic year
    4. How your deferrence will help you become a better student/candidate
    5. How the school/program will remain integral for your career and future


4. Uphold professional writing standards. Be concise, specific, and ensure that you address the “Why.” Prioritize quality over quantity, and stay away from composing a winded and emotional rendition awash with “Woe is me.” Be practical and calculated.


5. It is recommended that you try and visit the institution you are trying to defer, but due to the quarantine regulations, you can opt for a phone call or video conference. Adding this personal interaction to your deferment can help paint you in a better light to the one reviewing your request. You can also mention the discussion in your letter that will go to the program for review. You can also have a candid discussion about deferment with the name of the person on your admittance letter


6. You should have a Plan B in case the deferment is not granted. You may first try to appeal the decision but if that is not granted then you will have to make a judgment as to whether you attend despite why you sought the deferment or opt to let the acceptance lapse and reapply as a new candidate the following year. 


Deferring for a year is not the end of the world. In fact, according to the Gap Year Association, admissions departments anticipate and prepare for deferment every admissions cycle. The most important thing to do is tackle it in a professional and timely manner. And if you choose a Gap year make sure it is worthwhile so that you can come back even more prepared to excel as a student. In fact, we created a blog piece on how to best leverage your gap year to help guide you in your decision. 


If you need help deciding if deferring is right for you, or if you plan on deferring and would like help crafting your statement, contact Write Track Admissions for help!


Aly Hartman, 

Communications Director – Write Track Admissions

Attention at Home College Students: 6 ways to stay productive and healthy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic!

You may be reading this article from home, not because you are ditching classes, but because your university is one of the many that has asked their students not to return after spring break due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 


Now, if you have not heard about the coronavirus or COVID-19, then you have been hiding under a rock. Local and international news outlets are covering the novel (new) coronavirus as well social media and the outbreak has been affecting daily life as schools are shutting down, experts warn against travel and caution against large gatherings. 


People are increasingly searching on Google about coronavirus with questions such as: 


  • What is the coronavirus?
  • How many people have died from coronavirus?
  • How to prepare for the coronavirus
  • How did the coronavirus get started? 
  • How is coronavirus spread?

Image from Google Trends

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

According to the CDC (2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Summary), the novel (new) coronavirus is a respiratory disease that was first detected in China, but has spread internationally. (Live updates: Coronavirus cases pass 115,000 worldwide

For frequent updates of confirmed locations of the coronavirus/COVID-19 cases, please check with the CDC website


Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Global Map


Up to the minute updates of the coronavirus outbreak can be found on CNN’S website. All major sporting events for the NBA, NHL, MLB are being cancelled, amusement parks are shuttering their doors, businesses are asking employees to work from home, and travel has been ground to a halt. With the number of coronavirus cases rising, the effects it is having on our communities is serious. You may have noticed a shortage of toilet paper, water and hand sanitizer at your local stores.


Trader Joe’s in Santa Monica, CA (3/12/2020)

Universities shutting their doors

In direct response to the CDC limiting large gatherings of people, Large universities such as Harvard, Northwestern, UCLA, Stanford, NYU, Yale and Columbia (among many others) have announced cancelled classes, shutting down campus and holding their courses online. (Major colleges and universities going remote over coronavirus fears & Harvard University is shutting down because of coronavirus). 

Indeed, for example in a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday; “It’s a question of when — not if — some California public schools will face closure because of COVID-19. School districts must prepare for these scenarios so that parents and children can plan for what would happen if their local school faced closure.”

What can I do to stay productive and healthy? 

With schools shutting down likely until the end of spring term, you have to find ways to stay healthy and productive! Why? Because at first it may seem like a dream, but after a few days without your regular routine, you may find yourself going stir crazy or unmotivated from lack of a strict schedule. 

So here are a few ways to stay active and productive during this time:

1. Self care. Your school may be putting your courses online, and while that may seem like a breeze, you may struggle with staying focused. Take a break. You don’t find yourself sitting in classes for hours on end, or sitting completing work without getting up for a few breaks here and there. Stand up and stretch, go for a walk or give a friend a call. Avoid being stagnant. 

2. Designate a work space. You may find yourself working remotely or studying from home, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be regimented. You may work best from a coffee shop or a local park bench. Find what works for you and reserve some areas of your home for work-free spaces (such as your bed or that cozy nook you like to read in).

3. Have a schedule. Working or studying from home may feel like freedom, but the key to success is having a little structure. Manage your time and structure time blocks for getting things done. Building a schedule instead of aimlessly floating around your home will help you continue to stay productive and happy.

4. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Don’t neglect your diet, workout routine or sleep habits. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables will continue to help you stay healthy and active.

“Eating well, getting plenty of sleep and taking regular breaks for 10-15 mins to stretch the arms and legs helps keep focus and avoids eye strain from computer monitors.” (21 Tips for Online Classes Success | How to Study)

(It is key to stay ahead of this virus by being informed. Here are some top ways to avoid being exposed to this virus: Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

5. Try new things! If you’re finding yourself with more free time in your hands, pick up a hobby or participate in something you haven’t done in awhile. Dance, read, listen to music, play games, draw, FaceTime your parents or start an online community.

6. Stay connected. If you find yourself quarantined or thrown off your regular schedule, it’s easy to feel alone or depressed. Make sure you utilize technology to stay connected to friends and family. If you are not sick, take the time to get coffee or grab a meal with a friend or colleague. 


To read more on how to prevent coronavirus, please visit the CDC’s website HERE



Keep yourself informed by doing your own research: 

*Direct link to case map:…


Stay busy, read, continue with any class assignments, study, workout, etc. While there are a ton of funny memes floating around, if you do have tests to prepare for or assignments due, make sure you’re mapping out a timeline and staying organized. Contact your professors for additional guidance for classwork. 


We are all in this together, and Write Track is committed to being a resource for our students. Please feel free to contact us with any admissions questions:

Why regulating the College Prep industry is not the answer

Reading Time: 7 minutes


This past November, Enterprise Press, a Egyptian based news and trends media outlet, published a comprehensive article titled The rise of the college prep industry in Egypt (Nov. 25, 2019), which outlines the growing number of tutors, consultants, guidance counselors making up a cottage industry of “480 firms in Cairo advertising themselves on Facebook” and counting, that is highly unregulated and often misunderstood. The editors conclude by championing the need to regulate the industry least we end up with a lack of quality control that can negatively impact the chances of admissions for college-bound applicants. Yet, this is a concern not just in Egypt but across the world, including here in the U.S.


This issue is personal. I founded Write Track Admissions, a U.S.-based admissions consulting company in 2008. For over the past decade we have strived to maintain the highest levels of integrity and quality standards with our college and graduate applicants. Based on my experience, I will do my best to provide answers and guidance on how to navigate this burgeoning industry so as to help give college-bound applicants the most informed options possible. 


Why is the industry difficult to regulate?

In the U.S. for example, there are several organizations seeking to oversee the industry, including the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). However, despite their best efforts, the industry still remains highly unregulated. Why? Because the barriers to entry are low (anyone can claim they are admission gurus), no license is required to practice (entrants can ignore recommended quality/ethical guidelines), the global market of applicants is seemingly endless and inelastic (demand remains high regardless of economic swings), and competition to top universities as well as costs are increasing (so parents are becoming more desperate to give their child a competitive-edge).


What does this all mean? It is impossible to regulate an industry that is easy to join, high in demand, difficult to monitor, and so remote in geography (think gig economy). As a result, there are your fair share of charlatans that are selling pipe dreams at exuberant costs, and even committing fraud to get students admitted into top programs. Just look at Rick Singer and the recent college admissions scandal. However, it has to be said, these people are the exception rather than the norm.  


So what is the answer? While tackling the whole industry may be challenging, I can provide guidance, based on my experience, on how to overcome an unregulated market for admissions consultants. Ultimately, I highly recommend that you become as informed as possible when considering whether you need an admissions consultant. Then be prepared to ask these key questions to find the right one for your child.  



Do you need an admissions consultant?

In deciding this, ask yourself these questions. Is your child stressed out trying to desperately manage extra-curricular activities, coursework, volunteer experience, standardized test prep, academic tutoring etc.? Does your son or daughter feel lost and overwhelming trying to figure out the ‘right’ story to stand out, which standardized tests to take, when to apply, where to get letters of recommendation? Are you having difficulty figuring out the visa process, what documents are needed for financial support, what is a suitable list of schools that aligns with your child’s goals and interests? If this is the case, then you will stand to benefit immeasurably by having an admissions consultant who will act as your child’s personalized high school counselor, coach and admissions guide. 


From our experience here are just some of the pieces of advice we provided our clients in Egypt and around the world that may be relatable to you:


    • Start the application process far in advance to give yourself time to respond to various requirements by the different schools related to testing, grade verification, financial information, additional application materials, etc. 
    • Figure out when to apply (early action vs. early decision vs. regular admissions) and manage, through a strict calendaring system, the numerous deadlines. 
    • Keep in mind the differences between the application requirements and how to frame your story to match the various essay prompts.
    • Research standardized testing exams/strategies and take the exam early in the process in case of cancelations (we saw this happen numerous times in 2019).


How do I find the right consultant?

Now that you have decided your child needs an admissions consultant, how do you find the right one, and why is it important to have the “right one”? The consultant needs to earn the trust of both you and your child in terms of what they know, what they can deliver, and how well they can motivate/guide your child through the entire process. This is especially the case given the sheer number of demands and activities already on your child’s plate. 


So after many years of doing this work and through extensive research, we have found that it is imperative to ask the following questions to find the right consultant:


1.  How familiar are you with the testing, school system, cultural traditions, and unique narratives of the country and community?

This is critical especially for international students because the most important part of the application is the applicant’s story. Acute knowledge of the unique narratives that exist is critical to this process as well as knowing the various demands on the students by the academic systems of the country or community.  


2.  How much and what kind of experience do you have?

Does the consultant have formal training? Have they themselves applied and gained admission to top programs? How long have they been working with applicants? It is important to research not just the company but the consultant that your child will be working with. One of the most important parts of this process is engendering inspiration and confidence between the consultant and your child. This comes from experience, compassion, and the consultant being “in-touch”, basically not removed from the life experiences and cultural trends of today.


3.  How do you distinguish yourself from others offering a similar service?

What separates them from other competitors? Do they provide one-on-one consulting? Do they specialize in the country or programs your child is applying to? What is their track record for success? How international is their scope? How plugged in are they compared to others in terms of the dynamic field of admissions?


4.  How does your process work? 

It is key to get a better understanding of how the consultant will work with your child, in terms of time commitment, means of communication (phone, video-conference, in-person or remote), actual brainstorming and editing processes etc. Also you need to get clarity on how long will the process take, payment structure (hourly or per service), and end product.


5.  Are you making any unrealistic guarantees?

Is the consultant providing guarantees of admission? If so, this is a false statement and borderline fraud since no one should be able to guarantee admissions given the multitude of factors that go into the decision-making process (standardized scores, academic record, applicant experiences, diversity, time of submission, number of applicants etc.). 


6.  Do you have any references we can contact based on past work?

While often the work is confidential, sometimes former clients are willing to act as a reference. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to ask so that you have a better idea of the experience of the former client with the company. That being said, each experience can be different so it should help inform but not be the deciding factor for you.



If I had to guess, the admissions consulting industry is not going to go away. Top universities will only get more competitive, higher education will only cost more money, and post-college job opportunities will only become harder. Receiving that competitive edge is therefore key to getting into a top university, attaining a scholarship, and putting your child on the best career path possible. So be vigilant and informed about your options and how best to support your child through one of the most difficult yet critical junctures in their lives.  


~ Hamada Zahawi, Esq. | Founder, Write Track Admissions

What are your options and next steps if you have been denied by your top choice colleges?

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Don’t think your life is over because you have been denied admissions. While this is certainly a dilemma that some people will face or are facing, there is a plan of action you can take that will help set you back on track.


So I will break this down into three parts to better outline next steps in the process:


  1. Why did you get denied.
  2. What you can do better next time.
  3. What you can do TODAY!




  1. Qualifications: Your SAT/ACT/SAT IIs were not competitive enough for that year OR your GPA was on the borderline.
  2. Application Materials: Your essays, resume, application questions etc. did not help you stand out as a unique/must-have candidate.
  3. Timing: You may have applied too late in the admissions season (for example I first applied to LSE in late January so I was denied by mid-Feb. The second time I applied was in October and was admitted with the scholarship less than a month later).
  4. Oversubscribed: The major you applied to was oversubscribed (many many people applied) so while you had a great application, when push came to shove you didn’t make it through the final cut.




  1. Re-take your Standardized Test: If you take a year out (like a gap year) then you can retake the SAT. Even if you do marginally better you still show the school that you are trying (FYI – I took the SAT three times, the LSAT three times and the GRE twice…in each case I represented to the school that I was so keen to gain admissions to their school that I bothered to do the exam again and again (but there is a point of overkill and after 3 times its not worth it anymore (aka diminishing returns)).
  2. College Credit Courses: If you want to take a year out (not do community college) then take some college credit courses and if you do well you can submit those to the schools and that may help (in case your GPA was on the lower side). 
  3. Get Admissions Guidance: I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with someone who was denied the year before because they applied on their own and were blind to so many issues that could have otherwise made their applications amazing. An admissions expert or at least someone very familiar with the admissions process and ready to give you their time, will help you find the ideal story, make sure you properly surface your qualifications, and ensure you have a unique application to truly stand out. 
  4. Start EARLY!: I cant emphasize this enough. Even if you are applying for programs that do not have rolling admissions, you need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application materials. And for those programs that do have rolling admissions then your chances of admissions when you apply early are 2–3 times greater then if you wait until the last minute. Moreover, the earlier you apply the higher the chances of admissions (I received a lot funding when I applied early to Cambridge and Harvard). 
  5. Diversify: Make sure you apply broadly to reach, attainable and safety schools so you can give yourself the highest chances of admissions. 




  1. Feedback: Find out from some of the schools why you got rejected. Not all schools will give you candid feedback but some will and this will help you better understand what to do and improve.
  2. For College Applicants – Community College: If you are in the U.S. I would definitely advise applying and attending a local community college that can feed directly into the one or more of your desire universities. Here is a great article on how to maximize the community college to university transition: Tips for Transferring from Community College (U.S. News). Additionally this will give you guidance on why Community College to University route: Should I go to community college and then transfer to a university?


Hope this helps!


Read more helpful tips on our Quora account and stay tuned to other blogs on our Write Track Admissions Page.


~ Hamada | Write Track Founder

What happens if you apply early decision to a university, get accepted, and don’t go?

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Early Decision, Early Action and Regular Admissions can be very confusing and stressful when making the decision to choose which path to take for which schools. So I will break it down in simple parts to help you with the decision and outcome.


Difference Between Early Decision & Early Action


In brief, ED is binding while EA is Not. It is said that ED gives you a better chance of admissions. I read that some legacy and influential parents encourage their children to apply ED since acceptance rates can be as high as 50%+. For example at Duke, ED acceptance is 20% where normally its closer to 6%. On the other, EA acceptance rates may only be slightly better than regular admissions, but require that you submit your application early, which requires better time management to submit in time.


Also some schools offer ED and others don’t, and others will allow you to ONLY apply ED to their schools but not others.


Here is an example from Vanderbilt:

Consequences for Reneging on Early Decisions:


ED is binding but not legally binding. From my readings and knowledge it seems that the worst that can happen (which actually would really suck!) would be if the student applied to several schools through ED, and selected one over the others. Then the rejected school(s) can call the one you accepted and inform them prompting a withdrawal of the acceptance (this may be tricker for AdComms to do if you accept a decision for a university abroad like in England or even Canada).


In the end, many put it at honor and say if you pull-out of a ED then it would tarnish your reputation at your high school and likely with that college. So its not something you want to do!


But there are reasons to justify why you would not be able to uphold a ED acceptance. Here are some examples from a great U.S. News Article on the topic:


Most colleges will release students from early decision offers without penalty if applicants receive a financial aid package that doesn’t make it feasible economically for the student to attend.


There may be other compelling reasons that would sway an admissions officer to release an accepted student from an early decision offer without consequence – a sick parent, for instance – admissions officers say.


Considerations & Next Steps


So when deciding whether to apply ED v. EA or Regular Admissions you should ask yourself these questions (some questions derived from a U.S. News Article on the topic):


  1. Is there a significant statistical advantage to applying ED?


Make sure to look at historical acceptance rates of ED v. EA v. Regular admissions from the school you are applying to so you can figure out the advantage.


  1. Would a midyear addition to your application such as a completed internship or first semester grades enhance your overall profile?


If you expect to have an advantage in your application (better grades, retaken SAT, completed internship, personal feat etc.) by December/January, then applying regular admissions may be better so that can be included in your application.


  1. Have you thoroughly vetted the school, including sitting in on a class and staying on campus overnight?


Basically are you 100% sure this is your top choice no matter what? If not then you should check it out, do all your due diligence and then make that final decision so you don’t reverse course and reject the ED acceptance.


  1. Are you willing to part with financial aid options?


If you accept at an ED school and the financial aid package is not great, then you may not be able to compare the package with other schools as you have to accept the aid they give you. This would not be the case with EA or regular admissions.


So think hard about this process and don’t jump the gun unless you have financial backing and know the ED school is your TOP choice (no matter what)!


Hope this helps!


Read more helpful tips on our Quora account and stay tuned to other blogs on our Write Track Admissions Page.


~ Hamada | Write Track Founder

Should I go to community college and then transfer to a university?

One of the most frequently asked questions to us as admissions experts relates to community college as a segue into university. Here are our thoughts and some major key tips for those of you considering this option.


Are your high school grades and/or SAT low? Then Community College gives you a second bite at the apple in that you can reinvent yourself in Community College. You just need to get great grades and your chances of transferring from a Community College to a university is higher than from a university to a university. And you won’t even need to SAT!


Are finances a major issue for you? Community College is a great backdoor, saving you thousands of dollars as you will be able to skip the first two years of university tuition. ALSO, for those trying to get in-state status at a state school (i.e. University of California), then community college can buy you the time you need to establish in-state residency. You can then apply to a state school, which will save you not only money but will also increase your chances of admissions. This is because gaining in-state status will favor those applying to state schools who are mandated to admit a far higher number of in-state residents then students who are applying out of state.


Are you still confused as to your intended major? If so this is a great way to test out different classes and then apply to your intended major at college with a high GPA and thereby hit the ground running.


Are you going to be focused and take Community College seriously? If not, then don’t take this path because you’ll be stuck in a time warp struggling year after year, losing confidence and never graduating with more than an Associate’s Degree. Basically, you HAVE to think about this as a pass-through and the only way to pass-through is to achieve high grades; without them you won’t go really anywhere.




(1) Make sure to work with a college counselor as soon as you start Community College so you know exactly which classes you need, the GPA you should attain etc. to ensure your admissions to your university of choice;


(2) If possible, go to a Community College that is a traditional feeder to your university of choice (i.e. SMC to UCLA, De Anza to Berkeley, Saddleback to UCI);


(3) Some Community Colleges may not have all the required classes you need to transfer or they are heavily over-enrolled. So make sure you figure the exact classes you need, apply to get into them early, and if you need outline how you will go between 2-3 different community colleges to get all your required classes (see point 1 for help).


Hope this helps!


Read more helpful tips on our Quora account and stay tuned to other blogs on our Write Track Admissions Page.


~ Hamada | Write Track Founder

What length/scope MBA Program would a 30+ year old be best suited and gain the best chance of admissions?

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Finding the right length and scope of MBA program that is suited for you based on years of experience is as critical as selecting the ideal Business School. 


Let’s take a look at the MBA options: (1) 1-year Full-Time MBA Program (Europe i.e. INSEAD or U.S. i.e. Cornell-Johnson), (2) 2-year Full-Time MBA Program (U.S. i.e. HBS), (3) 2-Year Executive MBA Program (U.S. i.e. Columbia), (4) 2+ year Part-Time MBA Program (U.S. i.e. NYU-Stern).


Typically, 30-year old candidates have 6-8 years of professional experience and would therefore flourish and excel in a program that is part-time, executive or even 1 year MBA (the average age for a full-time 2 year MBA is typically 25-26 and that is the age the school is looking to recruit). As such, the best available options would be the Executive MBA (EMBA), Part-Time MBAs (both for working professionals) and the One-year MBA which all historically have higher average age.


Nonetheless, for those 30+ year old candidates that are eager to still pursue a traditional Two year MBA, then below is a great list complied by MBACrystalBall, which highlights the average age and number of years of work experience for those applying to the Full-Time MBA in the U.S.:



You will see that for the 2 year programs you are just outside the age range for all the schools. Of course exceptions are often made but that should give you a good idea of other programs to explore instead of a Full-Time 2-year MBA. 


I also wanted to point out the differences between a 2-year MBA and EMBA (as noted by MBA vs. Executive MBA: Which Is for You?):



  • The trade-off between an MBA and Executive MBA is often cited as the lack of an immersive experience in the Executive MBA since the bulk of the time is spent away from the campus.
  • Full-time MBA students have full-day, intensive schedules, with social obligations making it tough to maintain a job outside the program. Therefore, often these MBA programs are more expensive since there is the loss of income to factor into the overall price.
  • Executive MBA students keep their full-time jobs and typically attend classes on Fridays and on the weekends (some programs have students fly in every few months for 1 week intensive classes and then do the rest of the classes remotely).


Finally to summarize here is a great article on the topic: Getting Into B-School When You’re 30+


Hope this helps!


Read more helpful tips on our Quora account and stay tuned to other blogs on our Write Track Admissions Page.


~ Hamada | Write Track Founder

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