Take out your camera!!
Look through the lens and what do you see? On August 15, 2016, my Facebook Newsfeed was filled with back-to-school pictures taken by proud parents of smiling, confident students. The posts below the pictures: "first day of senior year", "starting high school", "off to pre-school"! I admit, my coffee table displays a photo taken pre-Facebook of my daughter (now a successful engineer) carrying her 101 Dalmatians lunchbox to her first day of pre-school. The beaming faces last August were filled with anticipation.
It's time to take another picture. Go ahead and look through your lens. What do you see?
If your student is now a senior (class of 2018!), I'll have more to say below about
important changes in the Common Application, college essays and getting started on College Applications.
For students entering 6th to 11th grades in August 2017, take a picture this final week of school. Another year of academic, extracurricular and personal experiences with family and friends has further shaped each student's character, provided lasting memories, perhaps opened new windows into a student's strengths or interests (both personal and academic) and maybe, a teacher has impacted your student to solidify or introduce an emerging academic/career interest.
What does your latest picture reveal?
Maybe it was a great year. Your student stayed healthy, learned to drive, deepened friendships, discovered an unknown passion in a volunteer capacity, enjoyed classes, or simply kept their room clean!
Maybe it was challenging year. Your student was bullied, dealt with a nasty separation from a friend circle, your family lost a loved one or anxieties over the pressures of school were overwhelming and spilled over into your family harmony.
Perspective is important and the end of the school year is a time for introspection and reflection. Students and parents can seize the opportunity to dialogue about habits that that worked well both within and outside the classroom.
What academic subjects and extracurricular activities were joyful, which were stressful and which present opportunities to make adjustments to time management and learning strategies?
Whether your pictures are of students celebrating with family and friends, competing in sports, DECA, debate or FIRST Robotics or simply a wonderful family vacation - look at your pictures and connect the dotted lines. Be amazed by the engaging young adult who will very soon be off to college.
As an educational and college admissions consultant, I invite you to leverage my experience providing pre-college advising to thousands of young adults. Whether your student thinks they have a confirmed academic interest or they're still exploring,
please click to schedule
your Educational and College Admissions Assessment creating an individual Strategic Educational Plan.
Through guided reading, hands-on exercises and extracurricular activities, students at all grade levels should be focused on exploring a variety of academic/career paths that capitalize on their strengths and emerging interests.
Everyone should discover their passion!
I also invite you to
click to read Mark Zuckerberg's
inspiring message to Harvard's class of 2017 emphasizing the importance of the power of individual connections within our local and global communities.
SENIORS/Class of 2018:
What Should You Be Doing Now??
If you've been reading my newsletters, you've come to appreciate the importance of students developing an intrinsic motivation for learning. An intrinsically motivated student (as opposed to being rewarded by grades, trips, etc.), is secure and naturally seeks to explore academic and extracurricular interests.
For seniors, matching a student's interests to a specific major area of study is the initial step in the college admissions process.
My newsletters discuss how to research traditional and untraditional majors and the importance of "fit" for each student and the family budget.
As you begin work on your college applications, I encourage you to revisit newsletters shared the past few months. Here are links:
What's new in the Common Application?
Some, but not all of the information entered into the Common Application
before August 1 will automatically
rollover when the 2017-18 application launches on August 1.
As universities do change essay prompts from year to year,
any information entered for college-specific questions and writing supplements may not rollover on August 1. Please don't enter any information into the college specific sections - it has been known to disappear on August 1.
New features within the Common Application for 2017-18
- College Advisor Access
- Google Drive Integration
- Course and Grade Reporting (Very Similar to Coalition - Detailed self-report section)
- Enhanced Spanish Language Instructions
College Advisor Access:
This new feature modeled after the Coalition App provides students the option to assign an advisor to view their work and check on their progress. With
viewing access, college counselors can monitor your progress and provide guidance.
Viewers do not have
EDITING rights. If you want your counselor to make changes to errors in the proofreading stage, you'll need to share your password and have the third party login as the actual student.
Google Drive Integration
This new feature allows for direct uploading of your resumes, assignments, and other documents from Google Drive into the Common Application. It is similar to the "Locker" feature within the Coalition App. It should in theory make your life easier. Expect glitches.
Previously the Common App required student to report only senior year courses. In the new Courses and Grades section, students complete self-reported transcripts for the entirety of high school directly into the Common Application. This feature is not available before August 1, 2017 and is required.
Regardless, you're still responsible for ensuring that an official high school transcript is sent to colleges if required. Check with your high school on how to request transcripts. Beware - every year students learn of incomplete admissions files that delay review and decision making.
Spanish language Features
Parts of the Common App will be translated with the intent to make applying for college admissions easier for students and family members who speak Spanish as their first language. This new tool will also benefit guidance counselors working with Spanish speaking families.
Students Take the Lead!
The college application process has many moving parts. While students are indeed busy, I want to stress the importance of this being a student driven process. Students are encouraged to take the lead navigating, as it is excellent preparation for the undergraduate experience ahead (course registration, summer internship and study-abroad applications, paying bursar bills, etc.).
Parents and counselors are trusted partners. Rest assured, this time next year your student will be attending graduation parties wearing their college t-shirt!
COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS:
I recently spoke about the Myths of Acceptance Rates (link above). That said, I know many of you will be applying to several colleges leaving less time than you think to complete your core and college-specific supplemental essay prompts. Rising seniors should get started on their essay and applications before summer.
TIPS for College Essays:
UNIQUE PRESENTATION MATTERS
Your core admissions essay is a very critical component of your application as it allows you to distinguish yourself from your competitors and to introduce yourself to the admissions committee. It is how to share and highlight your unique strengths and experiences in a way that your transcript and test scores cannot fully illuminate.
I tell my clients to begin by thinking of experiences that may have brought humor, happiness or even sadness into their lives. The things you remember most are those that shape you - they make you laugh, cry, they are worth sharing because they tell a story that defines you and provides insights about where you want to go with an emphasis on how you will contribute to your college campus community as well as sharing what you hope to achieve during your undergraduate experience.
Your essay should not read as an annotated activities resume, nor is it meant to be a self-attestation of your virtues.
The essay is an opportunity to present a narrative of an interesting experience in a heartfelt and genuine manner allowing a reader to easily infer more about you and what you bring to the class of 2022!
Get started now!!
By brainstorming on potential essay topics and working on your essays before leaving for your summer programs, rising seniors will be well positioned to begin the 2017-18 school-year without the added stress that comes with balancing the demands of a challenging senior year and college applications.
Awesome college application essays don't appear on paper in one sitting. An essay can take multiple drafts to perfect the content and message. Writing a quality essay will enhance your chances of admission. Last minute essays run the risk of coming across as rushed and unpolished.
Whether you're ready to write your college essays or just beginning to research colleges and majors, or perhaps you want to create a customized summer reading plan to explore or deepen an academic/personal interest, I invite you to contact me to schedule
Educational and College Planning Assessment
available for rising seniors and all middle and high school students.
Best wishes for a restful and joyful summer!
Take great pictures to capture wonderful memories!