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For many high school seniors around the U.S., the college admissions season is in full swing

SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Brandon Kyung For many high school seniors around the United States, the college admissions season is in full swing. With all the mystery, excitement and pressure surrounding admissions decisions, it can be hard not to feel anxious. That is where College Confidential comes in. This is a website where the most anxious and knowledgeable people come to talk about college. There are entire archives of conversations, with topics ranging from advice from an alumni interviewer to the latest admission statistics.

If you are feeling nervous about college applications, are wanting to find more information, or are simply looking for someone to commiserate with, College Confidential is the website to go to. However, be warned. This website has a lot of great information and can be a great tool, but it is also easy to get hooked on.

Let's start with the good side. This website brings together thousands of people looking to talk about college. Whether it is the admissions process, financial aid, student life, or other topics, there is a College Confidential thread for it. If I ever have a question about anything college, I can search College Confidential for an answer. For unique questions, I am able to write a post of my own. Students often write "chance me" posts. These are posts where one writes a brief description about their test scores, GPA and extra curricular activities. From there, members of College Confidential come by and evaluate the profile for their odds of admittance. Oftentimes the responses can be brutally honest. Nonetheless, the information is informative and valuable. There have been times when I have had misconceptions about my chances of being admitted to certain colleges, but the honest members of this website set me straight.

If you're lucky, you can find information that is not readily available elsewhere.

Sometimes a representative from a school or alumni interviewer decides to post things that students wouldn't typically know. This could be application advice from alumni, which can be a huge help, or fresh admission data from an administrator.

College Confidential has a lot of great information out there; it just takes some searching and background knowledge. However, to fully understand it, you need to understand the vocabulary.

An important part of understanding College Confidential is the lingo. There is a highly condensed and specific vocabulary that is used. Not all of it is intuitive, or entirely necessary, but the members of College Confidential seem to use them. For example, HYPSMC is an acronym for some

of the top universities: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology.

Other acronyms are a little more simple l— ike DD, which is daughter, and EA, which is early action. Without knowing some of the basic terminology, it can be difficult to decipher some posts.

Unfortunately, this tool is not without its faults. Long after college applications are sent, I still feel the need to check College Confidential. I find myself compulsively checking threads for new developments or trying to gauge my odds of acceptance.

Even though the entire admissions process is somewhat ambiguous, I seem to go back to this website. No matter what helpful tips you find, none of it will change admissions outcomes after they're sent. Once acceptance letters start to roll in around the country, it can be difficult to see everyone else celebrate their admittance if you were rejected.

Some people may sympathize with your rejection letter, but others may decide to flaunt their acceptance.

College Confidential has many positives, especially the unique information, knowledgeable members and other people in situations similar to yours. And despite the drawbacks, it remains a useful tool. In my experience, the best way to utilize this website is to completely limit using it after applications are sent. Leading up to and during the application process is a great time to use it, but there is less value in it after they're sent. To visit the website, go to www.collegeconfidential.com.

Brandon Kyung is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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