Class of 2020

Fall 2019 College Information Sessions, Fairs, and Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

Looking for some face time with admissions officers? Check out these upcoming events in our local area!

Exploring College Options Recruitment Program

When: Monday, September 9 from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM

Where: The Westin Richmond

6631 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23230

Event Description: Exploring College Options is a special recruitment program sponsored by the undergraduate admissions offices of five of the country's leading universities: Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University.

Click here for additional event details, including registration, arrival information, and directions.


Beyond the Numbers: Breaking Down Highly Selective Admissions (Tufts) - Washington, DC

When: Sunday, September 22, 2019 from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM

Where:  Washington Marriott at Metro Center

775 12th St NW

Washington, DC 20005

United States

Event Description: Please join Joseph Duck, Dean of Admissions and Sayaka Smith, Assistant Director of Admissions for a look inside a selective college admissions process.  Insight into how and why admissions decisions are made will be revealed during this interactive workshop. Please consider joining us! The event is open to students, parents and guidance counselors.

Click here for registration and directions.


The Oberlin Preview

When: Sunday, September 22, 2019 from 3:00 PM until 4:30 PM

Where: Bethesda Marriott

5151 Pooks Hill Rd

Bethesda, MD 20814

United States

Event Description: The Oberlin Preview is an opportunity to learn more about the distinctive features of our school.  Come and learn more about the academic community, the musical and artistic atmosphere, the commitment to sustainability, and the passion our students and alumni have for changing the world.

Click here for registration and directions.


Oxford University Information Session

When: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 from 6:30 PM until 10:30 PM

Where: Washington International School

3100 Macomb St NW

Washington, DC 20008

Event Description: This free information session for students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors will be delivered by Alice McCallum, Student Recruitment Officer (UK & North America) from the University of Oxford's Undergraduate Admissions Office.

In this session we will cover applying to Oxford, as well as outlining some of the distinctive features of the teaching and learning environment offered by the university. Oxford is the top university in the world according to the Times Higher Education World Rankings 2018-19 and therefore entry to this institution is competitive. This presentation will include detail on every aspect of the application process including, course choice, entrance requirements, admissions tests and interviews. This session will not cover graduate programs at the university.

The session is aimed at those considering undergraduate study at Oxford, and will be most relevant to those who intend to start their studies in Autumn 2020 or 2021, although younger years are welcome. We warmly welcome teachers, guidance counsellors, and parents/guardians to attend too.

Click here for registration and directions.


NYU Information Session

When: Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM

Where: NYU Washington, DC

1307 L St NW

Washington, DC 20005

United States

Event Description: Each year, NYU Admissions goes on a world tour. We visit dozens of cities so prospective students can learn more about what our three campuses have to offer. Join your regional admissions representative, Joal Chen, for a special presentation specific to NYU. At these receptions, you can talk with your admissions officer and staff and learn about academic programs, student life, and the benefits of living and learning at a truly global university. 

Click here for registration and directions.


VCUarts National Portfolio Day

When: Saturday, October 5, 2019 from 9 AM until 5 PM (Click here to view the event schedule)

Where: Fine Arts Building 

1000 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23284

 and

The Depot 

814 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23284

Event Description: If you are a high school or college student interested in applying to an art school for fine arts or design, then National Portfolio Day is for you! Representatives from the nation’s leading art colleges and universities accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design will travel to VCUarts to review your artwork, discuss your educational and professional goals, and share information on art programs, careers, admissions, and financial aid and scholarships. This event is free and open to the public.

Click here for additional event details, including the list of participating schools, contact information, and event schedule.


Harvard, Princeton, UVA, Wellesley, Yale Information Session in Washington, DC

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Where: Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

999 9th St NW

Washington, DC 20001

United States

Event Description: William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions at Harvard; Karen Richardson, Dean of Admissions at Princeton; Gregory Roberts, Dean of Admissions at UVA;  Joy St. John, Dean of Admissions at Wellesley; and Jeremiah Quinlan, Dean of Admissions at Yale will discuss academic programs, campus life, selective college admissions and financial aid. Please bring your friends and family.

Click here for registration and directions.

2019 Fairfax County Public Schools College Fair

When: Sunday, October 20, 2019 from 7:30 PM until 9:30 PM

Where: Fair Oaks Mall

Fairfax, VA 22033

Click here for directions.


2019 Fairfax County Public Schools College Night

When: Monday, October 21, 2019 from 7 PM until 9 PM

Where: Hayfield Secondary School

7630 Telegraph Rd.

Alexandria, VA 22315

Event Description: 2019 College Night Workshops, Hayfield Secondary School

The following list includes some of the workshops that might be available:

  • Considerations in the College Search Process and Beyond for Students with Disabilities

  • Dual Enrollment: Earning College Credits in High School

  • Earning a Degree Abroad

  • Funding College for Underclassmen

  • Helping Teens with Mental Health and Wellness as They Transition to College

  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

  • Scholarships 101

  • The Common Application and The Coalition

  • The SAT and ACT: Their Role in the College Application Process

Tulane University Tysons Corner Information Session

When: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM

Where: Tysons Corner Marriott

8028 Leesburg Pike

Tysons, VA 22182

Event Description: Meet Tulane admission counselors when they come to you! Tulane hosts several receptions in cities throughout the country for any interested students and their families each fall.

Click here for registration and directions.


Greater Washington, DC National College Fair

When: Sunday, October 27, 2019 from 1:00 PM until  4:00 PM

Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Exhibit Hall C

801 Mt Vernon Pl NW

Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 202-249-3000

Click here for registration, list of participating schools, and directions.


DC National Portfolio Day

When: Saturday, November 2, 2019 from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM

Where: The Art & Design Building

4515 Patriot Circle

Fairfax, VA 22030

Event Description: If you are a high school or college student interested in applying to an art school for fine arts or design, then National Portfolio Day is a great resource for you. Representatives from the nation’s leading art colleges and universities accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design will travel to the George Mason University School of Art to review your artwork, discuss your educational and professional goals, and share information on art programs, careers, admissions, and financial aid and scholarships. This event is free and open to the public.

Please note: Admissions decisions and scholarship awards will not be offered at National Portfolio Day. Some colleges may accept your portfolio as the visual portion of your application while others have policies which prohibit making an admissions decision at the time of your review. We recommend speaking to and having your work reviewed by as many representatives as possible.

Click here for additional event details, including pre-registration, list of participating schools, contact information, and event schedule.

Smarter Supplements: Digging Deeper

Last week, I shared our approach to supplemental essays and discussed a specific example of the way that one general answer could be modified to fit four separate schools’ prompts. Today, I’m going to dig a little deeper to model the DC College Counseling approach to the entire supplemental essay writing process.

Let’s pretend I’m the student.

STEP ONE: Outline a plan of attack during an essay coaching meeting.

College Essay Help Northern Virginia

My essay coach would work with me to complete the tasks in the last post, mapping out common themes between supplements and helping me select an appropriate text. This may involve needing to read a new book if I hadn’t read anything appropriate (but we try to avoid extra work as much as we can!).

If students want (or need!) to start fresh with a new book, we often recommend the New York Times bestseller list to choose something that’s not too fluffy (but that also sounds like a piece of fiction they might actually read in their spare time). It’s better to pick something recent because it sounds like the student reads on a regular basis and isn’t digging up the one book he read on vacation three years ago.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to have to use a book from 2016 because… I’m digging up the one novel I read on vacation three years ago :) Don’t judge - I read a lot, but it’s all non-fiction! I am choosing to write about “Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld. I was an English major in college so this isn’t too out of left field for me. An admissions officer would see that it fits with the rest of my imaginary profile. It was also a New York Times bestseller as well as a “Best Book of the Year” from NPR, so it’s not quite as random as it seems.

STEP TWO: Free-write some general thoughts on the book without responding to any of the specific prompts.

Note: I wrote these as myself as if I was actually completing the assignment. So, if this sounds like the voice of a 35-year-old instead of a high school student - that’s why! As we have covered before, we work very hard to help our students maintain their own unique voices.

Here’s my stream-of-consciousness free-write: In addition to being a fun book for me to read, this book also pushed me to think critically about myself as a reader. I chose to major in English in college because I really enjoyed writing (and I knew that I was good at it). I also absolutely loved to read, but not obscure texts from centuries ago. What I didn’t realize at the time is that English majors don’t read or write any more than other humanities majors - they just stick to English literature rather than history, politics, or other subjects. Eventually, I got really sick of analyzing decades or centuries-old literature that actually didn’t interest me all that much. I spent a lot of time skimming and reading Spark Notes (are Spark Notes still a thing?).

Eligible showed me that a “boring” or “outdated” read can actually be exciting if one gives it a chance. I was able to step back and think about how centuries-old language can mask relevant themes, and I wondered about how much I had missed over the years because I was turned off to various texts for superficial reasons.

I also thought about how our struggles as individuals persist over the generations. Pride and Prejudice was written more than 200 years ago, but women are still thinking about the same kinds of social and economic issues - just in a different context.

STEP THREE: Use information from the free-write to craft a RESPONSE TO EACH PROMPT.

NOTE: I’m not going to write out a full essay for each prompt in this blog post the way a student would, but I’ll give a general idea of the approach I’d take.

Boston College Supplement Essay #1 (400 w): Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?

I have always been an avid reader, but Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible gave me important insight into the value of broadening my literary horizons to include classic works of literature. I used to avoid these books, believing them to be outdated and difficult to read; yet, as I tore through the pages of this re-imagined version of Pride and Prejudice and acknowledged the present-day relevance of Austen’s original themes from the 19th century, I realized that social and political issues are often timeless, persisting from generation to generation. Moreover, I recognized that I had likely missed important lessons by always reaching for the latest best-sellers. With Eligible in mind, I felt inspired to read some of the texts that I had avoided over the years: 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451.

UVA College of Arts and Sciences Supplemental Essay (250 w): What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible challenged me to push beyond my natural inclination for modern literature. As I tore through the pages of this re-imagined version of Pride and Prejudice and acknowledged the present-day relevance of Austen’s original themes from the 19th century, I realized that social and political issues are often timeless, persisting from generation to generation. Moreover, I recognized that I was likely missing important lessons by always reaching for the latest best-sellers. With Eligible in mind, I resolved to read some of the texts that had intimidated me over the years: 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451.

Dartmouth College Supplemental Essay D (250 w): “Yes, books are dangerous,” young people’s novelist Pete Hautman proclaimed. “They should be dangerous—they contain ideas.” What book or story captured your imagination through the ideas it revealed to you? Share how those ideas influenced you.

Through Eligible, her re-imagined adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Sittenfeld helped provide new meaning to the old adage: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Eligible captured my imagination with the idea that the core challenges of modern life are not so different from those with which Jane Austen’s 19th-century characters also struggled. I realized that social and political themes are often timeless, persisting from generation to generation, and that I was likely missing important lessons by always reaching for the latest best-sellers over classic works of literature. As I tore through Sittenfeld’s pages, I resolved to use her influence to choose to read some of the texts that had intimidated me over the years: 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451.

Emory University “Tell Us About You” Essay 1 (150 w): Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?

Reading has always been my guilty pleasure. For as long as I can remember, I got my fix wherever I could: under the covers with a flashlight as a child, slipped between textbooks in high school math class, or by the dim light of my iPad while feeding my newborns more than a decade later. Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld’s re-imagined modern-day version of Pride and Prejudice, represents me in that it mirrors my long-standing ability to find relevant meaning in text, regardless of setting. My love for reading has always aligned with my ability to grasp themes and connect them to my own experiences, hopes, and dreams, despite superficial differences.

Points to notice:

  • Even though my responses didn’t require me to be all that specific, this would have been really difficult to write if I hadn’t read the book.

  • I was able to cut and paste a lot between the first three answers, giving myself a solid base from which to approach each of these prompts.

  • None of these answers are exactly the same: I had to modify each individual answer to bring language from the prompt into my response. In order to do this, I had to constantly ask myself: are you answering each question that the prompt asks?

  • The last response was ultimately very different and I had to take some creative liberties with the actual content: that’s fine. Remember, colleges will only see the essays submitted to their own school: they won’t see what is sent elsewhere. It’s okay if the various answers don’t perfectly align with one another when they are all on the same page together.

STEP FOUR: Bring drafts to essay coach meeting.

After receiving TONS of reminders about completing the step three drafts in a timely manner, I would then bring my drafts to my next scheduled essay coach meeting. During the session, essay coaches would help me to further develop and edit these initial pieces.

STEP FIVE: Look for follow-up edits from Colleen.

Okay, this is getting confusing now with “Colleen-as-student” and “Colleen-as-Colleen,” but hang in there with me. If I were a student, I would wait a day or so for the actual Colleen (me!) to follow up with an additional level of edits above and beyond those completed at the essay coaching meeting. I do this for all of our students without charging them for any additional time beyond their essay coaching appointment, because I think that it’s helpful to have another layer of review.

STEP SIX: Finalize edits at home before next essay coaching meeting.

After “Colleen-as-student” receives her additional edits and suggestions from “Colleen-as-Colleen,” “Colleen-as-student” would then finalize them at home before bringing them back to the essay coach meeting for final approval.

STEP SEVEN: Make additional changes with essay coach during the meeting and begin to plan out the next round of essays.

I would go back to meet with the essay coach to put the finishing touches on everything and we’d begin Step One again with our next round of essays.

STEP EIGHT: Approve any additional post-meeting “finishing touch” edits from colleen, confirm with Rebeccah that the essays are considered complete, and write the second round of drafts for the new essays.

As of mid-July, we have extremely limited availability for ongoing work with seniors in the Class of 2020. If you’re interested in grabbing one of the very last first-round slots or having first priority for the second-round waitlist, don’t wait to book your Meet & Greet session.

Supplemental Essays 2019-2020: First Round

And they begin!

Northern Virginia College Counselor DC College Advisor 2019-2020 Supplemental Essays Common Application

In the past week, three schools have released supplemental essay topics:

University of Georgia

University of Chicago - boy are these rough, as per usual!

University of Texas - Austin - scroll down to “essay” and “short answers”

These join the personal insight questions (otherwise known as essays) from the University of California system, which have been out for a little while now.

In our office, all of our clients are either finished or nearly-finished with their main essays, so we try to knock these supplemental essays out when we can to avoid scrambling during the month of August after they are officially released. To do this, we stay on top of everything in advance to make sure we have the most up-to-date information on which essays are released and when. This way, we can plug away at them with our students a little bit at a time, all summer long.

We have family meetings in June or July, after we have final junior year grades and all standardized test scores are in. At that point, we try to finalize the college list. We keep a very large master list with each student’s name on the x-axis and every college you can imagine on the y-axis. As schools begin to release their prompts, Rebeccah keeps track everything on the master list and will notify students accordingly.

Some more recent news: there will be a variety of updates to The Common Application® that will be rolled out in July. I’m a little nervous about what this will mean for the activity section, because it sounds like that part has the potential to result in substantive changes. This part of the application hasn’t been updated in any meaningful way for a very, very long time, and I’m crossing my fingers that the changes won’t be too dramatic!

Happy writing!