University Bound believes that higher education should provide students the opportunity to explore, grow, and thrive. It was founded by people who have contended with a university admissions system that is complex, and even overwhelming, and who decided to combine their experience and expertise to help others navigate the process. Choosing the right school is a lifetime decision and investment. And the process should be positive, not painful! Let us help your student apply with knowledge and confidence to have good choices and admissions success.
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THE EARLY DECISION DECISION
Students applying to university in the U.S. for the 2022 academic year may grapple with the question of whether or not to apply early decision. It’s a high-stakes calculation: ED admission rates may be more favourable than for the regular application pool, but decisions are binding, so if you’re admitted, you must commit and enroll. Many highly selective colleges, including Vanderbilt, Pomona, Bates, Middlebury, Emory, Johns Hopkins, and Northwestern, fill more than half their classes using ED. Roughly 25 schools have modified their early admission options for this fall, including Princeton, which will resume Restrictive Early Action, and Carnegie Mellon, which is introducing Early Decision 2.
RETHINKING THE VOCATIONAL SCHOOL
The UK's research universities may get the lion's share of public funding, but vocational schools may be increasingly competitive regarding the market value of their degrees. Anthony Finkelstein, the UK's former scientific adviser for national security, who left government to become president of City, University of London, is intent on proving that vocational schools can be ambitious and innovative, and committed to professional excellence.
TEST-OPTIONAL POLICIES SET TO CONTINUE
More than 1,600 accredited 4-year U.S. colleges and universities will adhere to ACT/SAT test-optional policies for the fall 2022 admission cycle, according to FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. That's over 65% of all such schools. FairTest also reports that more than 1,350 colleges and universities—58% of all 4-year institutions—have declared they will continue the policies for 2023. International students, who may be subject to special admissions requirements, should consult this list.
WHAT DO THE RANKINGS REALLY TELL US?
What is the real financial benefit — or cost — of a university's reputation? And has a promotional gimmick from the 1980s turned into a fetish object for American higher education? A study of the U.S. News rankings conducted by a scholar at Reed College shows that a school’s reputation as reflected in the rankings doesn’t say anything about how good that school is at educating young people. Rather, it's based on how much money the school has, how expensive it is, and how effective it is at avoiding students from non-white backgrounds.
Our services are available by the hour or in customized packages to address the needs of every family. To discuss the possibilities, an initial consultation is free.
THE APPLICATION PACKAGE
Does the application process seem unwieldy and confusing? Beginning in junior year, this package provides tailored advising to help the student navigate the elements and apply competitively to a list of “right fit” schools. Individualized consultations, typically 12-15, will guide the student in defining educational and personal goals, aligning extra-curricular activities and recommendations, researching schools, building an effective university list, developing an application strategy, applying, and assessing admissions outcomes. It includes development and review of a personal statement and supplementary essays for a student’s first-choice school, and regular check-ins and communication.
SENIOR YEAR CHECKLIST
Starting in August of senior year, organization is everything. This package provides essential support and oversight to help the student stay on track and ahead of deadline throughout the application process. It starts with a checklist and assessment, and is followed by 4-6 consultations to produce a to-do list and timeline and provide guidance in the areas the student needs help most. These may include finalizing the university list and application strategy, preparing supporting materials, reviewing essays, and proof-reading applications.
JUNIOR YEAR PREP
By using junior year wisely, students can get a jump on the application process and reduce the stress ahead. There are priorities to set, extra-curricular interests and recommendations to pursue, schools to research and visit, tests to consider, a summer to plan, and essays to think about before senior year sets in. This package includes 4-6 consultations, planning tools, and research to help the student put junior year to optimal use.
THE UNIVERSITY LIST
University admissions are both competitive and unpredictable, and so having a smart university list is essential to ensuring good outcomes. There is so much more to choosing the right school than the name! Building the list usually starts in the spring of junior year in a process that involves self-appraisal, research, and also strategy, since application requirements change and student priorities shift. An effective list is a hedge against risk, and an important reminder that there are multiple pathways to achieve personal and educational goals.
ESSAY DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW
Whether it's 650 words or 50, the essay that is part of every university application challenges the student to write for distinction and impact. Choosing a topic, finding one's voice, and writing effectively are key. And every writer needs an editor.
WHAT WE DO
University Bound, with a focus on the U.S., offers advising and support to help students execute an effective admissions strategy that maximizes choices and results in a “right fit” school. In a university landscape that is competitive and constantly shifting, we are alert to the latest developments and equipped with insight and expertise on best practices. Our approach is individualized and student-centered, and our aim is to increase knowledge, manage risk, and reduce stress - for parents, too!
WHO WE ARE
Joanna Levison is an American expat living in the Czech Republic and the founder of University Bound. She launched the consultancy after helping her own children and friends navigate the university admissions process and discovering the knowledge gap facing students applying to U.S. schools from abroad. So many lessons learned! She has over 20 years of experience in international media and strategic communications, including as Director for Public Affairs for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She has managed mentoring programs for journalists in coordination with the Czech Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy, and worked in Washington, D.C. in the human rights bureau at the U.S. State Department. She has a B.A. from Swarthmore College and an M.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and will receive her certificate in Independent Educational Consulting from the University of California, Irvine, in 2021.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
”I want to thank University Bound for helping my family survive this. We found applying extremely stressful, and were relieved to be able to shift the burden to people who had the background and experience to oversee the process.” - Lattimore family
“The individual sessions took some of the fear out of applying. I felt like I had a lot of information and knew what to do, and that helped me and my parents a lot.” -Tomas
“I really benefited from your help with the list and planning. Your guidance was clear and it helped organise the admissions process for me and avoid mistakes.” - Kwan
“It takes a village. Thank you.” - Cynthia