Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine Karydes

Recent Posts

How to Decide Who to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/24/20 4:19 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Testing, transcripts, and even essays, can tell colleges a good deal about how you perform in academic settings and how you define yourself. What they lack, however, is the ability to combine this objectivity and personality testimony. This is where letters of recommendation come in. 

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Student Stories Spotlight

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/16/20 5:31 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Wondering what it's really like to work with the Empowerly community? Of course, we think our program is pretty spectacular... but that's just us. Hear from real students as they reflect on their experiences with Empowerly and advice they have to offer you.

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Back-to-School Advice: How Many AP Classes Are Enough?

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/6/20 8:08 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

One of the most common topics students ask about is their AP course load. For many students, AP classes are a badge of honor. “How many AP’s are you taking? Which ones? What scores did you get?” Questions like these abound before every school year, and after it ends for summer. Similar pressure to achieve surrounds IB and Honors courses. This leaves students and parents to wonder, how many AP classes are enough to be accepted to a good college? For some, the question is: will it ever be enough? 

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3 Scenarios When College Counselors Are Helpful

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/3/20 5:15 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

As new COVID-safety policies roll out and the future remains uncertain, standard curriculum provided to high schoolers facing college admissions just doesn't cut it anymore. Getting independent advice for your child in college admissions seems like a must.

In many ways, it is an arms race to help children prepare as much as possible for the decisive moment of receiving the long-awaited decision letter: accepted, rejected, or waitlisted. In fact, many parents start coaching their students in 8th or 9th grade with new activities, clubs,  SAT boot camps, and competitions. College counselors, or college admissions counselors, are useful in guiding students and parents in innumerable ways.

Today, we'll review three common scenarios we see at Empowerly when counseling makes the biggest impact:

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Creating Your College List Using Data

[fa icon="calendar'] 8/26/20 1:10 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Developing your college list is a challenging task. Many students who approach us at Empowerly aim to apply to 6 or 7 (or more) well-selected schools, and spread those across safety, target, and reach colleges. So how do most people create these lists today?

Some students create complicated spreadsheets. Some simply apply to colleges that are easily accessible—schools that are geographically close, or that they've heard about from friends. Other students just guess, based on a vague impression.

But there's a better strategy: one that will help you reduce your stress, find your best-fit campus, and put you on the road to success. Do those benefits sound good to you? Read on.

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Interview with a Princeton Alum and Science Fair Champ

[fa icon="calendar'] 8/24/20 2:43 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Ever wondered how top STEM students get their start?  Curious what sets them apart from the rest of the pack?

Empowerly sat down with Changxiao, our  CTO (Chief Technical Officer), to learn more about what extracurriculars in science helped him gain acceptance to Princeton. We asked all the questions you might want to know. Read our interview to understand his perspective on admissions and high school extracurricular activities!

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Online, Digital, or Virtual: Being Well-Rounded Still Helps Admissions

[fa icon="calendar'] 7/9/20 9:15 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

The competition for college admission has never been tougher than it is now. The National Center for Education Statistics recently estimated that approximately 20.2 million students were enrolled in college. Today, as school administrations are only beginning to announce their plans for the fall semester, those in-demand spots are suddenly uncertain.

What we do know is that college admissions’ personnel accepted these lucky students after careful consideration. The college or university board of admissions, with a weighting system unique to each school, determines the criteria for acceptance. Some criteria that are evident across the board at different colleges and universities are: good grades, well-written college essays, glowing recommendation letters, and of course, community and school extracurricular activity involvement.

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What to Do at a Virtual College Fair

[fa icon="calendar'] 7/3/20 9:30 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

If you’re a rising junior or senior, you’re probably starting to think about building and finalizing your college list. At this point, you may be wondering, “what do I do at a college fair?” or even asking yourself, “how do I network at a virtual college fair?” — and while this is unprecedented territory for all of us, luck for you, the experts know what to do.

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What If There Aren't Any AP Classes that Relate to My Major?

[fa icon="calendar'] 6/26/20 9:00 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

Want to understand how to optimize your high school course selection and get on track for your intended major in college? Wondering whether taking that extra AP class will even be worth it for you? Maybe you’re just unsure of how fall 2020 will impact your AP classes and tests, or what to do to prepare. It’s a common area of confusion for many students, and for good reason. Why take an academically rigorous, college-level course, if you aren’t sure how it will help you?

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Weighted vs Unweighted GPA and How Colleges View Them

[fa icon="calendar'] 6/6/20 8:30 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

COVID has brought grading schemes under the microscope, once again. You may well know that schools evaluate academic performance in two ways:

1) in the classroom through letter grades, and 2) through Grade Point Average, or GPA.

You’re likely familiar the grading from A-F, but colleges are interested in overall performance—with a quick glance of your unweighted GPA which will fall between 0.0 and 4.0. Colleges could also be interested in a weighted GPA which applies more proportional weight to more difficult classes.

However, more and more classes are also offering P and NP. Wondering what that means? Read on for a breakdown of how this plays out today.

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10 Most Common College Essay Editing Pitfalls

[fa icon="calendar'] 10/22/19 5:42 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Your college essays speak for you within your application. They tell your story and your dreams. They remain your best opportunity to really pull together your resume, transcripts, and letters of rec in order to create a complete picture of who you are as a student. And it’s your first and last chance to make an impression on the admissions officer who has never met you before but will eventually decide whether to accept or reject your application.

This pressure is no joke. But rather than paralyze you, it should serve to emphasize the importance of the final draft you submit! With stakes like these, you should absolutely edit your drafts to ensure you catch the little details. 

We know—the editing process proves difficult for lots of people. That’s why we’re here to explain the ten most common editing pitfalls so that as you’re combing over your essays one final time before you send them off, you’ll know what to avoid.

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Essay Scoop: How to Answer University of Washington Essays

[fa icon="calendar'] 10/18/19 9:35 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

The University of Washington application evaluates student candidates holistically, emphasizing more than grades and scores. That means that the essays you submit are absolutely critical! Your writing needs to effectively tell your story to reviewers and convince them that you should be at their school.

Let’s take a look at the prompts you’re working with to make sure your essays hit the right note.

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What Should I Write for Optional Essays?

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/27/19 1:34 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

Picture this: college app deadlines are looming and you’re hard at work on your applications. You’ve compiled and narrowed down a college list, made a strategy for presenting your extracurriculars, and started brainstorming and drafting your essays. Good for you! On top of all this work, you notice that a few of your applications allow for that perplexing, dark horse component: the optional essay. 

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Free College? It's More Likely Than You Might Think

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/24/19 2:00 PM / by Madeleine Karydes

For most students, college is expensive. 

Each year, the costs of attending rise, and show no signs of slowing. Between tuition, textbooks, lab materials, and room and board—the path to a diploma exacts a large price. Yet degrees remain highly in demand. Families are asking: how can we afford it? 

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Essay Scoop: How to Answer CalTech Essays

[fa icon="calendar'] 9/17/19 11:38 AM / by Madeleine Karydes

The California Institute of Technology—better known by the nickname CalTech—is widely regarded as one of the top ten universities in the United States. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently named CalTech for the coveted spot #5 on its 2020 list. Want to know how to crack the CalTech essay supplements and present your best self to the admissions committee? In this post, we’ll go through each of their school-specific prompts for you and discuss how to best ace each answer.

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