Recap: MEK’s College Admissions 101 Info Session

Recap: MEK’s College Admissions 101 Info Session

Recap: MEK’s College Admissions 101 Info Session

MEK hosted our 40-Month Project College Admissions 101 info session as part of our Build Your Dream Workshop, Saturday, April 20th at the Clinton Inn in Tenafly, NJ.

We were excited to share our wealth of information regarding college admissions with all of our participants. But in case you missed the workshop, we wanted to give you the detailed highlights to help you on your college admissions journey!

MEK’s Commitment to College Admissions

For almost three decades, MEK has been guiding students on their path to college admissions. Our MEK students are bright, ambitious, and dedicated to their dreams. And as part of the MEK family, we ensure that our students are using all of their abilities to create impressive admissions portfolios that make them shine.

Check out where our students have been accepted!

MEK’s 40-Month Project

What’s your dream college? And what would it take to gain admission?

A plan, of course!

MEK has a proven plan for college admissions success that takes you through every step and milestone you need to achieve during the 40 months that comprise your high school career, from the first day of freshman year to the day regular admissions applications are due senior year.

The 40-Month Project sets up a guide for each semester and school year, areas where you should be focusing your attention, and how to pull all of your work together to make your best admissions portfolio, including which courses you should be taking and when, the best time to get involved with extracurricular activities, and when to begin test prep and take the SAT or ACT.

School Transcript

Your school transcript is a running record of all of your grades and activities starting freshman year. This is also where you can find your GPA, both cumulative and for the year. Remember: every day and every grade counts! Your GPA is not reversible.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are an important part of your admissions portfolio because they show admissions officers your passions and interests as well as how you spend your time outside the classroom. It also shows admissions officers that you are interested in being involved in your school community and will likely contribute to the community of the college to which you will attend. 

Standardized Test Scores

Whether you choose to take the SAT or ACT, your standardized test scores quantify your reasoning and application skills as well as your ability to use what you’ve learned in different ways.

Passion Project/Accolades

Taking on passion projects or earning accolades in areas you are passionate about shows how you take action, initiative, and exhibit resilience. And shows that you are not afraid of hard work, that you have interests outside of school, and that you are willing to work on behalf of a cause.


Your college admissions essays put humanity to all the lists and numbers that comprise your academic resume. This is where you get to show college admissions officers who you really are, the experiences you’ve had, and how those experiences have shaped the person you’ve become.

Q: What makes for a successful college application?

In order for your college application to be successful, it needs to be cohesive and comprehensive. 

With more students applying to more schools, college admissions has become even more competitive. That’s why it’s important to be strategic about which schools you’ll plan on applying to and which major you plan on declaring.

Case Study: Meet Sarah

Sarah was a student who came to MEK with a lot of interesting experiences in research, internships, and other extracurricular activities. However, sometimes having so much to talk about can present a challenge because students end up glossing over everything to make sure they include it in their writing, instead of giving each topic the focused attention it deserves.

The game changer for Sarah was not what she wrote about, but how she wrote about it. The “how” really illuminated her passion and interest for these topics, thus setting her apart from someone who simply used their personal statement to list out their accomplishments.

Case Study: Meet Olivia

Unlike Sarah, Olivia had less on her list of application highlights, but all of her activities were more passion driven. The thought is always that more is good when it comes to internships, research opportunities, and extracurricular activities. However, what you can see from Olivia’s application highlights is that asserting a focused interest in a particular area or subject actually shows admissions officers an authentic passion in what you are pursuing, a potential path for the future, and even how you could best serve the school to which you are applying and vice versa

Case Study: Meet Eesha

When Eesha came to MEK, she was a jack of all trades so to speak, but didn’t really show a vested interest in any of the extracurricular avenues she was pursuing. The goal, of course, was to find the thing she was most passionate about, which ended up leading Eesha to start her own non-profit. Through the non-profit, she traveled to other countries and found a passion for local outreach in her own community. But with a focused passion, she was able to write a personal statement that spoke to a vested interest and a path she wanted to pursue in the future.

Cohesion, Comprehensive, Consolidated

What do each of these words have to do with your college application? Well, a successful college application shows cohesion between the activities in which you participate, a comprehensive overview of your high school career, and consolidates your experiences in a way that shows hard work, passion, and humanity.

When a college admissions officer is looking at your application package, they should see your potential path, who you are as a person, and how you and the school community can benefit from one another.

How can you make a difference in the time you have left?

Students in 12th Grade

For Students in 9th, 10th, and 11th Grade

9th Grade

  • Make it your mission to work on your GPA
  • Explore your boundaries and curiosities to see what your interests are and start to research extracurricular opportunities 

10th Grade

  • Create tangible goals for SAT/ACT target score, GPA, and which extracurriculars to get involved with.
  • Hone in on your academic and personal interests and get involved in extracurriculars that speak to them

11th Grade

  • Build your college list and plan college visits – your college list should be comprised of reach, target, and safety schools that combine ambition, curiosity, and practicality.
  • Create a prioritized list of extracurricular activities that focuses on your individual interests and expresses your uniqueness
  • Design a passion project that exhibits the culmination of your extracurricular activities and your greatest academic passions

Establish High Academic Standing & Complete Standardized Testing

From the first day of freshman year, your goal is to establish a strong GPA. You can do this through the classes you take, like honors and AP, and the GPA you earn. This shows curiosity through academic rigor. When given a choice between harder classes but a potentially lower GPA or easier classes and a potentially higher GPA, always go for the harder classes. They will give you room to grow and see progress in your learning. And remember, your GPA is not reversible! 

When it comes to standardized testing, you want to start preparing for the SAT or ACT as early as possible and then take your chosen test before senior year. With the SAT and ACT, you can take the test more than once and combine your best scores. However, by the time you reach September of 12th grade, you really should aim to be finished with the SAT and ACT, so you can focus on writing your application essay(s) and compiling your academic portfolio for admissions.

Without a competitive SAT or ACT score and GPA, there is no magic extracurricular activity, passion project, or personal statement that will give you the edge you need to outshine your peers who are vying for the same spot as you.

Writing a Winning Personal Statement

What makes a personal statement good?

Every strong personal statement has two things: depth and substance.

These two aspects of the personal statement work together like a seesaw, you can’t have too much of one or the other. Balance is key.

Depth speaks to the level of focus with which you discuss your passions for a certain topic and how that topic has impacted your life. Substance is the experience itself. You might find that it’s easy to talk about what you’ve done during your high school years but a challenge to talk about how those experiences changed you as a person.

Brainstorm Questions for Writing

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a personal statement is coming up with a topic. Check out our list below to get some ideas about what you can discuss!

  1. What is the one thing that is an integral part of your life?
  2. Do you have a memory that you recall often?
  3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that changed?
  4. Do you have an object that you think represents you?
  5. Do you have something that you’ve been afraid to tell your parents about?

Once You Find Your Topic

Dig Deeper

Dig deeper into your topic by asking yourself, “Why?”

Find Significance

Look at what you’ve written down during your brainstorming session, and answer the question, “What does this topic or thought say about you?”

Practice Early

As early as you can, spend your time preparing for what you’ll write about when the time comes. Do that by reading about a variety of topics and genres, make a habit of self-reflection by keeping a journal, and try to expand your experiences as much as possible!

Get Started

No matter where you are on your 40 month journey, MEK has what you need to guide you on your path.

Get a head start or continue your prep with our Summer 2024 SAT Prep and High School Honors program for top scores and top grades.

Take advantage of our Early Bird Discount for Summer 2024 when you register for Exam Prep 8! Save 15% off when you put down a $300 deposit by May 4th. Pay in full by May 4th to receive an additional 5% discount. Click here to register!

Call us at 855-346-1410 to learn more! We look forward to hearing from you!

MEK Review

MEK Review is the top learning center in North Jersey, dedicated to helping students of all ages begin an incredible success story. With our guidance, students have gained acceptances into the best schools in the country, earned top test scores, prepared for difficult admission tests, and transformed into their best selves in the classroom. To find your perfect solution, explore our programs or book your free consultation with an expert counselor!


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