Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Safe travels!
In my practice, I meet many wonderful families and consistently speak with young adults who have become overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of their classes, standardized test preparation and extracurricular activities. When I ask students what's their favorite class, it's disheartening at times that there aren't any positive responses.
Is your student so busy to have overlooked the joy of the actual learning taking place!? As a former university professor, and as a parent of two STEM millenials, I can tell you without qualification that the single most important goal of high school is for each student to develop a love of learning both within and outside the classroom.
Creating an Educational and College Admissions plan results in
Motivated, Self-Directed & Confident Young Adults Ready to Succeed!
Just in case you missed some of my recent newsletters,
here are quick links:
REPEAT: Check This Box if You're A Good Person
As part of my practice, I read a great deal about trends in education and college admissions as well as reading about issues impacting the emotional well-being of young adults. A few months ago, I shared an interesting article that resonated with me. But clearly the title of the article hit a chord with many others engaged in college admission as the same title has now become the essay prompt of several supplemental college essay prompts within the Common Application this season as well as being found on a few scholarship applications.
I highlighted some points she made that reflect my own personal experiences as a university faculty member reading hundreds of admission files.
"The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper."
"Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations,
one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness"
"Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous.... they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.
So here we are a half year after this article was written and you might ask why am I raising this point again? Very simply, because parenting, educating, college admissions advising begins way before high school even starts. We all have the responsibility to (gently) guide our young adults to engage in discovery about themselves-- their strengths, their interests and how they engage with others. Yes, all students need to reach their highest academic potential. But if the entirety of the message they hear from us, and the conversations taking place are focused solely on maximizing their GPA, we miss an opportunity to help each student lead fulfilling experiences to prepare them for personal and academic success now and in the future.
Why is it important to be a "good person"?! Aside from personal fulfillment consistent with the values we instill in our children, we know that whatever profession they enter, your student will creatively engage in problem solving and decision making within groups of diverse and inclusive communities (also the topic of many a college essay prompt).
Experience gives each young adult the power and confidence to be themselves!!
In Want to Raise Well-Adjusted Kids?,
John Write spoke about the benefits of hosting an exchange student. What the article shares in common with the seemingly unrelated NY Times piece on Dartmouth admissions is that
both authors speak to the importance of young adults engaging in character-developing opportunities outside-of-the classroom ultimately raising their awareness of their connections with others within their communities.
So how does this all relate to college admissions and academic success at the high school and undergraduate levels?
While our goal as parents and educators is to help each young adult reach their academic potential, perhaps even more important is that each emerging adult be
inspired to find their place within their community. This begins at home with guidance to
seek out opportunities to discover and enrich their passions and their strengths.
What is your student passionate about? Now is the time for discovery!
SCHEDULE YOUR EDUCATIONAL and COLLEGE ADMISSIONS ASSESSMENT
I can guarantee you that there's no magic formula for being accepted into a selective university, but I can guide you to navigating the college application process as well as increase the likelihood that your student will be successful throughout high school and have a seamless transition to their undergraduate community.
A few new tips:
College Admissions - building the freshman class.
Admissions officers go way beyond seeking students with perfect GPAs and test scores. As I wrote in an earlier newsletter: "The Myth of College Acceptance Rates", the class of 2022 will be balanced across intended majors, gender, location and a host of other factors. Your student has the intelligence to succeed at several colleges, but recognize that a freshman class cannot be comprised entirely of female Biology majors from your zip code. If rejected, it's truly nothing personal nor necessarily a statement about a student's inability to succeed.
A student's GPA and the curriculum are still the most weighted factor in rendering an admissions decision.
Universities seek out students who have taken on leadership roles and who have a variety of genuine interests. That said, every student must reach a bar of academic accomplishments to be a viable candidate. Confused about whether to take AP, AICE, IB or even dual-enrolled classes? Once you recognize that there's very little difference in curriculum choices across high schools across the US, your focus shifts to selecting electives taken beyond the core required curriculum (4 years English, 4 years Social Studies, etc.). Challenge and explore!
So Why YOU?
After universities select a huge pool of applicants that have the desired academic credentials, that is when the differences among students begin to matter.
That's what brings us back to the content of the first half of this newsletter. Admissions officers look to find the "real you" evidenced in your essays, your listing of extracurricular accomplishments, your recommendations and perhaps even your interview.
You cannot present someone you're not, and most important-the someone you are-that someone has been shaped well before high school. What ignites your curiosity? How do you spend your time?
The experiences our young adults enjoy at home, at school, at extracurricular activities and within their communities are in fact "defining". Those experiences allow admissions officers to build a balanced freshman class. Are you a natural leader, risk-taker, or have a quest for learning (a popular essay prompt). Do the experiences you've had describe someone ready to engage? Do you demonstrate an innate empathy, curiosity, or discipline and commitment to "something"?
BE your authentic self!
A final note-for Sophomores ('20) and Juniors ('19):
Universities would like to be your first choice.
I've written about "demonstrated interest" which can be expressed sincerely by knowing what ignites your interests in Biochemistry or Politics, etc. so that you are an informed consumer. That's right ....you're a consumer!! While there are a few thousand places you can study these and other traditional and unusual majors, it's essential to do your research. Learn how to read curriculum maps to understand everything that distinguishes one university from another. Let me help you discover how to conduct the research that will allow you to find a perfect fit academically, socially and even within your your financial means.