Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Good Advice

Good advice from a 2013 Harvard rejection letter:

"Past experience suggests that the particular college a student attends is far less important than what the student does to develop his or her strengths and talents over the next four years."


High priced advice and my 2 cents in parenthesis
Source: http://www.hernandezcollegeconsulting.com/
1.  Create a printed list of all the schools to which you are applying. Give it to your guidance counselor so that he/she is sure to send the official school report to every college on your list. Your application is incomplete without the school’s documents even if your send in your part. (YES! And give me lots of notice, well before the deadline!)
2.  Keep in mind that there is a college for everyone. Sure, the Ivy Leagues are extremely tough to get into, but the truth is, once you get past the top 20 most competitive colleges most schools admit the majority of applicants. (Agree! Make a good list of 5-8 colleges that are not all reach schools.)
3.  Studies have shown that applying early decision increases your odds for acceptance dramatically.  So, get going.  Spend time the summer before your senior year discerning your clear first choice college, then prepare your application. (But only if you don't need to compare other possible financial aid offers. If you apply ED and get in, that's the only financial aid offer you'll get.)
4.  Keep it to yourself.  Don’t enter into the frenzy of talk about colleges.  This is your personal journey to finding the right college and getting crazy about everyone else’s opinions will only bring you down. (lunch table conversations stress out so many juniors and seniors!)
5.  Identify the teacher who is your strongest supporter, and then do everything you can to stand out in his or her class.  This is who you’ll go to first for that ever important recommendation. (But be sincere, and not phony or fake)
6.  Learn the fine art of saying “no” to activities that take you off course.  Focus on a few things that you love and become really good at them rather than frantically trying to do everything. (great advice!)
7.  Set up a specific schedule during the year to study for any upcoming standardized test:  For instance, Wednesday evenings from 9-10:00.
8. Make time to relax! High school shouldn’t be all SAT prep, hours of community service, and three different tutors in the name of “getting in.”  Get a life and you’ll be much happier.
9.  Let your academic passions guide your class choices.  No college likes a “cookie cutter” applicant who follows the prescribed path and nothing else.  The most interesting candidates follow their own interests and it shows.
10.  Don’t believe all you read – the best way to find out about a particular school is to visit in person, speak to students, observe a class and meet professors. Otherwise, you’re just responding to slick marketing rather than actual traits of a college
(Above all: be sincere! Some high-priced advice leans toward an inauthentic approach to college admissions, to "get in" at any cost. Be yourself, be open to lots of colleges)
A recent Boston Globe article reinforced what many colleges increasingly emphasize: a student's authenticity in the application process.
"In an age when applicants all seem to have volunteered, played sports and traveled abroad, colleges are wary of slick packaging. They're drawn to high grades and test scores, of course, but also to humility and to students who really got something out of their experiences, not just those trying to impress colleges with their resume.David Lesesne, dean of admission at Sewanee, a small Tennessee liberal arts college: "Students perhaps have become less authentic to themselves, trying to be what colleges want," Lesesne said. But colleges have done the same. Schools "are looking to draw more applicants and students are looking to gain acceptance," he said. "As those numbers grow I think that has caused both sides of the equation to lose a little focus on what should be most important: the match." "

source: Boston Globe 8/22/2007 "Colleges Seek Authenticity"
Top Ten List of Things I Wish I Had Known About College Admissions, by Ami Nash, soon to be a freshman at Harvard.Here's an excerpt:
"Instead of camp, consider getting a summer job."

"Quality not quantity counts, when you talk about things you are involved in like clubs."
My students are pretty savvy consumers, so they expect slick college brochures to be filled with happy people. It is sometimes hard to differentiate one campus from another according to viewbooks: they all have lovely trees, the greenest grass, smiling students. Here's a spoof from the college side:

How to Recruit Students

To: Publicity Department

From: Dean of Admissions

Re: Our college brochure

Please adhere to the following guidelines when compiling the brochure sent to prospective students.Remember, this will be going to high-school students. Your job is to convince them to apply here, or at the very least to visit the campus. Keep in mind that even if they tour the campus, they will still be groggy from napping in the car, so your brochure may well supersede anything they see with their own eyes.With that in mind, the following elements are mandatory:
  • Magnolias in bloom. Or cherry trees in bloom. Or crabapples or tulips or any random plant in bloom, even if you have to borrow it from the local gardening store for the photo shoot. If scheduling allows, autumn foliage always works.
  • Happy students. This can usually be achieved by the application of money, although don´t even think of taking photos before noon. Or 2 p.m., actually.
  • Ethnic diversity. This is a touchy subject, for we don´t want to show separate photos of separate ethnic or racial groups. We want to show one happy group of four or five "friends" who cross racial barriers with ease. Make it happen.
  • A kid in a lab wearing safety goggles. He could be using them to eat the hideous cafeteria oatmeal, for all we care. Just show a kid wearing goggles.
  • A kindly professor providing one-on-one instruction. No one need know he´s retired and can´t remember why we brought him in to visit. Bonus points if you can get him into a bow tie.
  • Please show some attractions from a nearby city (theater, museum, club scene), no matter how financially or public-transportationally inaccessible. Sure, we´re in the middle of nowhere, but remember, on a dreary Friday afternoon in January, a three-hour drive seems like nothing if it will bring a student in proximity to neon.
  • A celebrating sports team. No one need know they were celebrating the firing of the women´s lacrosse coach for his failure to appreciate "boundary issues" with his players. They´re in uniforms, they´re celebrating, end of story.
  • Something artistic - a ballerina, a tuba player, a pottery studio - so the artsy types won´t whine.
  • Find room for a photo of a boy stopping his bike to talk to a winsome blonde in a sundress. We´re selling hope here, remember?

Just as important as what we show is what we don´t show. The following should not appear:
  • Large lecture halls, no matter what topic or which professor.
  • Rain. Or precipitation of any kind. Note: It is permissible to show snow that has already fallen so long as it (a) is scenic and (b) appears in the context of student enjoyment, e.g., skiing, snowman-building, madcap coed sledding.
  • Crowded dorms with cheap furniture and a slob for a roommate. Architecturally pleasing (read "old") dorms may be shown from the outside, but avoid hinting at balky heating and plumbing.
  • If you must show reading, show it only in the context of friendship. Students will, of course, spend hours in solitary reading, but they´ll find that out soon enough. Let´s not kill their dreams just yet.

links verified 4/2013

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