Thursday, December 5, 2013

Should You Come Out in Your College App Essay?

A very interesting Q/A-style article in the New York Times that offers more questions than answers on the issue of whether students should come out in their college application essays. Here's the question. To read the answer, and reader comments, click here.

""Q. Dear Civil Behavior: Our daughter is a senior in high school and quite comfortable with her lesbian identity. We support her 100 percent, but we know the world is not always so tolerant. As she’s writing her college application essays this fall, she’s “coming out” in them — and we think that’s a bad idea. You just never know who’s reading these essays, so why risk revealing your orientation to someone who might be biased against you? We’ve strongly suggested she think over the ramifications of what she’s doing, but she doesn’t seem to have any doubt about it. Deadlines are approaching and we are at an impasse. How can we persuade her to keep some things private if they might hurt her chances of admission?” — Anonymous  READ MORE

Sunday, December 1, 2013

JFK's Harvard College Application Essay

I guess it helped to be the son of the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, I mean, applying to Harvard in 1935, when John F. Kennedy applied. His grades at Choate were kind of grim - 62 and French and Latin - and his essay wasn't earth shattering. I can say with confidence that if you want to get into Harvard these days, you need something a little stronger than this. JFK's Harvard application and accompanying documents, including a priceless letter from his father, are now available on-line from the Kennedy Library right here. Fascinating stuff. 

This is his hand-written essay in its entirety:

"The reasons that I have for wishing to go Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definitive [cd be "definite"] to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a 'Harvard man' is an enviable destination, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain."  April 23, 1935

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Girls & Women Just Wanna Be Engineers

It's been thrilling for me to work with several young women this semester who are applying to college to become engineers. I thought of them when I watched this video and read this article in the New York Times. Take a read. Have a look at the delightful video when you click on the NYT link

"Who said girls want to dress in pink and play with dolls, especially when they could be building Rube Goldberg machines instead?
"That is the message of a video that has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube this week — an ad for GoldieBlox, a start-up toy company that sells games and books to encourage girls to become engineers.
"In the video, three girls are bored watching princesses in pink on TV. So they grab a tool kit, goggles and a hard hat and set to work building a Rube Goldberg machine that sends pink teacups and baby dolls flying through the house, using umbrellas, ladders and, of course, GoldieBlox toys." READ MORE-WATCH THE VIDEO

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tweeting & FB Posts Might Mess with Your College Chances....

If you have any kind of on-line presence and you're applying to college, read this piece in The New York Times, "They Loved Your GPA. Then They Saw Your Tweets."  Here are some highlights:
"In an effort to help high school students avoid self-sabotage online, guidance counselors are tutoring them in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses. One junior’s original email address was “bleedingjesus,” said Lenny Libenzon, the school’s guidance department chairman. That changed.
“They imagine admissions officers are old professors,” he said. “But we tell them a lot of admissions officers are very young and technology-savvy.”
"Likewise, high school students seem to be growing more shrewd, changing their searchable names on Facebook or untagging themselves in pictures to obscure their digital footprints during the college admission process.
“We know that some students maintain two Facebook accounts,” says Wes K. Waggoner, the dean of undergraduate admission at Southern Methodist University in Dallas." READ MORE 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Positive helicoptering" or the Twilight Zone?

Just when you thought it was time to leave home and be on your own, colleges - and parents - are finding new ways to keep parents in the loop. Some say it's using parents as cheap labor, to promote the colleges. One says it's "positive helicoptering." A shrink says it's a bad idea. An educator says it's a way to keep up a school's prestige. Your thoughts? From the New York Times article on Nov. 1.

"Colleges have long sought parents’ help with job placement and networking. But now many small and medium private colleges and some large public universities (West Virginia University, University of Pittsburgh) call on parents of enrolled students to volunteer with the admissions office. They promote the school at fairs, share their experiences on parent-to-parent panels, reach out to local parents and even conduct admissions interviews.
"With assistance from a generation of devoted P.T.A.-goers accustomed to playing an active part in their children’s education, smaller colleges can maintain a wider presence and cover more fairs, attracting more and better applicants. “It is a question of resource allocation,” Stephanie Balmer, dean of admissions at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., told me. “We can’t hire enough staff to expand our reach and be present in all those places.” READ MORE

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More Schools Extend Early Deadlines & The Continuing Mess...

All of us can thank Nancy Griesemer and Tara Anne Dowling for keeping the list of schools extending their early application deadlines up to date and Nancy for her reporting on the ongoing mess with the Common Application. The takeaway seems to be that if you have successfully submitted your applications, do not assume they have been received at your schools. If you have submitted applications, wait several days to contact the schools and find out if they have been received. 

FOR THE UPDATED LIST OF COLLEGES CLICK HERE (and scroll down once you get to the article):

The opening of Nancy Griesemer's latest article:
"As the Common Application calls in a support team from Amazon to help sort out problems with server overloads and explain why the system isn’t working the way it should, member colleges are throwing in the towel and extending early admission deadlines. 
"From the college standpoint, the Common Application poses a complicated series of problemsAt the most basic level, colleges are worried about their continued inability to access and read submitted applications through online enrollment management systems.
"As of this writing, the Common App reports that about half of those colleges using a daily automated process to retrieve files are either testing or waiting to go live with a software fix rolled out just last Thursday. But for those with functioning retrieval systems, there are still reports of applications and documents showing up as empty files or blank pages." READ MORE 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10 Tips Before You Submit Common App

Take a look at this article just posted on the Student Advisor Blog:

Written by Purvi Mody for StudentAdvisor
There has been quite a bit of grumbling in the media about the new version of the Common Application, the main application system for more than 500 colleges and universities.

Admissions officers, high school counselors, and admissions experts around the country have all weighed in on the Common Application's improvements and the new bugs that it introduced. If you are a high school senior trying to use the Common App, don’t get distracted by the commotion.
Use these 10 Tips that I share with my students, and you too will be able to maneuver the Common Application like a pro:
    1.         Paste your essays into Notepad or TextEdit first and format them properly before pasting them into the actual application.
I recommend a format with line breaks and spaces between paragraphs and no paragraph indentations. I think it looks the cleanest. In the application, those line spaces will not appear, but they should appear when you view the PDF version of your application.

    2.         By far, the worst change to the Common Application is that you cannot Print Preview your Common Application and Writing Supplement together
Since there are no plans to change that functionality, you have to work around it. First, complete the Common Application and the questions specific to one school. Print out the PDF version of your application and scour it thoroughly for mistakes. Once you are happy with it, submit your Common Application to that one school. Do the same for the Common App Writing Supplement next. Skipping the PDF version may cause you to miss some errors. READ MORE 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Word or 3 about the Common App Crisis

This is a news story that just doesn't seem to end - the problems with the once-reliable, apple-pie-and-Mom Common Application. Six weeks ago, it was unthinkable to those of us on the outside that the system would still be so fragile, so bedeviled with every kind of problem. Now that more and more deadlines are being extended - today both Yale and William and Mary added themselves to the list - it seems increasingly unlikely that the problems will be "fixed" anytime soon. Still, the Common App folks assure us that they are being fixed, and that hundreds of thousands of applications are being submitted. 

Where can you get information about the current state of affairs? Where can you ask questions? What should you do in a crunch? I'm afraid there are no good answers, but here's what I know: 

  1. Facebook's Common Application page is Kvetch Central and a pretty good place to go for advice. Today I found this comment, presumably from a teacher, which I copy in its entirety from the FB page. The takeaway is that if you are having a problem, change browsers and/or change computers. Keep changing browsers, and changing. Sometimes relief comes with the second or third or fourth browser you try. There doesn't seem to be one that does the trick. Christiana Quinn from Rhode Island writes:   "Just tried to submit with a student and her essay repeatedly would only half paste in. We switched computers and browsers and got it to work, but I am not sure how students on their own are supposed to handle ALL THESE ISSUES. There is a different one every time I log in with a student. Yesterday cut and paste didn't work at all for one of my students. Different computers, different browsers, but always problems...."
  2. Occasionally people on Facebook ask: "How do I send an email to the Common App? It's not apparent on the website." Answer: On the Common App homepage, click on HELP CENTER, then click on the tab that says ASK A QUESTION and click through all the possible answers. That's the support. Many people report that they only get form responses, some report that they hear nothing, and occasionally people post when they get useful information.
  3. Post your question on the Facebook page and hope someone answers it.
  4. Submit your applications at off-hours. One family I work with could submit the application at 2am. 
  5. This coming weekend is the last week before the Nov. 1 early deadlines. Don't wait until the weekend to submit, and whatever you do, don't wait until the final days of October.
  6. Check in on Twitter's #CommonApp page to get the latest news. This is from earlier this hour:

  1. Is the "testing" section on the common app preview supposed to be blank?? Can someone confirm this
  2. Come on common app, generate!
  3. The common app lost my account😡😡 anyone know how to retrieve it??

Friday, October 18, 2013

12 Colleges Postpone Early Deadline Dates

Please be sure to check with individual schools for confirmations and updates.

Thanks to the Tweeter who originally posted this (looking for but can't find the source, pls forgive!):

University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill  - October 21st

Georgia Tech - October 21

Roanoke College - October 21

Barnard College - ED Friday November 8

Columbia U just pushed their ED back by one week to 11/8.

U Chicago is extending the Early Action Deadline to November 8th, 2013

Northwestern University extends Early Decision deadline to November 8

Duke University - ED moved to 11/8 -

Marist - ED deadline extended to 11/8.

Tufts - ED deadline extended to November 8th

SUNY Geneseo - ED Deadline extended to December 1

Boston University - ED from November 1st to November 15th

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Latest News from Common App Org

After near silence yesterday, when the Common App website seemed to have crashed and panic spread across the country, moments ago, this message was posted on the Common App's Facebook page. This is the message in its entirety:

"We are aware that some users are experiencing problems with the PDF previews. We are investigating the cause and will report as soon as we have information to share. As frustrating as this problem is for those who encounter it, please know that it is not systemic and does not impact all users."

I will post more information as it becomes available. From what I can see, Twitter remains the best place to check the latest news on the Common App and now, the Universal Application, which several dozen schools have signed up with. For more on that, please click here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yale to Applicants: Don't Worry Abt Common App Problems

I write this on the night of the day the Common Application website essentially crashed and tens of thousands of students and their families are in full-blown panic mode because of this. Several schools - UNC and Georgia Tech - have early application deadlines tomorrow, and thousands of other students are trying to get a head start on sending in their applications. 

A client wrote me a panicked email yesterday morning about not being able to submit an application. Tonight, the student sent along this email communication from Yale, the relevant part of which I quote in full: 

"Thank you for beginning your application to Yale. My colleagues and I in New Haven look forward to reviewing your application in our Admissions Committee. Yale's first application deadline is coming up soon. Students who would like to apply for the Single-Choice Early Action Program should plan to have their application materials submitted by November 1st.

"As you may know, the Common Application has recently been experiencing some technical difficulties related to the uploading and processing of documents and application materials. I want to assure you that this is not a cause for concern. The Yale Admissions Office expects to receive and process all application materials submitted online within our usual time frame. If these delays continue or there are related problems in the future, we will need to make exceptions for late documents and are prepared to do so. If a document is missing or improperly processed, a member of our staff will reach out to you or your school counselor directly."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

8 helpful tips 4 dealing with the Common App!

8 Tips for Improving the Common App Experience

Here are 2! Please click on the article for 6 more. 

Avoid traffic jams
Try to work on your Common Application during less congested hours. After-school and Sunday afternoons are the Common Application equivalent of rush hour. The software grinds to a crawl and Print Previews are slow to emerge. More importantly, the software sometimes experiences mini-crashes as it tries to deal with heavy loads of applicants. Whatever you do, avoid the 24 hours immediately preceding major due dates (October 15, November 1, November 15, for early admission applications).

Conform to system requirements
The Common Application is very specific aboutsystem requirements, which are found in a nondescript, easy-to-miss link at the bottom of each page of the application website. Most applicants have found that Firefox and Chrome work well, although serous problems have recently been reported because of changes in Chrome, which appear as a loss of data entered into the application. Your first line of attack for any recurring problems should be to restart your computer. The second would be to review your system and change browsers if necessary. READ MORE

Common App Disaster Official--in NYTimes.

First thing this morning a client wrote to me about his difficulties submitting his Common Application. His mother paid the fee and then he couldn't submit the application. He was confused. Moments later, I happened to be reading the New York Times on-line, and the story is finally out for all to see. 

A week ago, using Chrome seemed to fix many problems. But Chrome recently did an upgrade which has caused even MORE problems. 

For the latest news you might be able to use if you are having difficulties, please consult the Common Application Facebook page. 

Here are excerpts from the Times article and a link so you can read the rest:
"A function that allows students to preview applications and print them sometimes just shows blank pages — a problem that may be linked to which Web browsers they use. And, as Ms. Geiger discovered, the system often does not properly format essays that are copied and pasted from another program, like Microsoft Word.
"When a user pays an application fee with a credit card, the system produces a “signature page,” where the card holder’s name must be typed to confirm the charge. But that page can take a day or more to show up, leading some users to try to pay multiple times. Worse yet, guidance and admissions counselors say that those who do not immediately see the signature page may be unaware of its existence and may never check back — in other words, they may think they have submitted college applications when they have not." READ MORE

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lacy Crawford Talks About Moms, Essays & Early Decision

Reporter Mary MacVean does a 39 minute interview with Lacy Crawford, former-essay-coach and author of the new novel, EARLY DECISION, in the LA Times.

"Lacy Crawford’s novel of college application frenzy, “Early Decision,” has plenty of rich people behaving badly. It also has plenty of young people trying to find their way in the fray of deciding the next chapter of their lives.
"The stories came from her life as a college application counselor, and she talked to us for a 4Moms chat about college applications, and the anxiety of the personal essay – just as the application season heats up.
"A former high school English teacher, Crawford found that her “brilliant” students had written college essays that were “not very good,” she says. The reason was straight-forward: They had never been taught to write personal essays." READ AND LISTEN ~ 

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Unusual Message for a College Essay Blog

I haven't ever posted anything like this on my blog, but I just saw the ad to take the pledge, and I think it's a good one. Click here. Make it to college. Make it through college. And beyond. Don't. Text. And. Drive. Ever. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Students and Parents Aren't the Only Ones Angry at the Common App Folks...

Even as we speak, a gathering in Toronto is taking place of member schools of the Common Application. I've recently been reading the Common App's Facebook page to get a sense of the problems plaguing students, parents, and recommenders, but this article, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, reveals how frustrated the colleges themselves are with a seemingly endless number of glitches in the Common App system, at all levels.

"On Thursday, Rob Killion, the Common Application’s executive director, acknowledged members’ concerns. Delays in the development process, he said, had “big ripple effects down the road.” The organization should have relayed those problems to member colleges more quickly, he said: “We fell down on communication in many respects.” Mr. Killion vowed that the organization would resolve the problems so that all member colleges, even those with November 1 deadlines, would be able to process all of their applications on time.
"That message didn’t seem to convince some people in the audience. One dean complained that she had waited more than two months for Common Application officials to answer her questions about the technical problems her office had experienced. “This goes beyond substandard communication,” she said. “The core issue, at least in my opinion, is responsiveness.” READ MORE

Teens Create Portrait of the US with Their Photos

Take a break from the rigors of writing your college essays and filling out the !@#$% Common App - courtesy of The New York Times.  UPDATE: I had a chance to look at all 145 photos posted, and they are really spectacular. You won't be disappointed.

What would happen if you asked high school students to help create a 21st-century portrait of the country by turning their cameras on their neighborhoods, families, friends and schools?
You would have “My Hometown” — a vibrant document of 4,289 images submitted by teenagers in school- or community-based photography programs across the United States, including rural villages and urban neighborhoods, wealthy suburbs and blue-collar Rust Belt towns.
While participants only photographed their own communities, together, the images create an important and lasting document of America today as seen by teenagers. They are published today in an interactive feature that opens with a selection of 145 photographs and is also searchable by state and by photographer. Many of the images will be archived at the Library of Congress in the Prints and Photographs Division.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Confessions of a College Application Essay Coach

My latest piece on Huffington Post just went up - my confessions. Here's an excerpt:

"Confession No. 1. No one has ever asked me to write an essay for her child. Nor has anyone even hinted that this is what she wanted. The students I work with want to write their own essays, and parents often want, not a ghostwriter, but a buffer, someone outside the family to impose some structure and discipline on the process of getting the essays done. You may have heard: children-on-the-verge-of-adulthood usually don't want to spend any more time with their parents than necessary, especially when there is a risk of "nagging."
"Parents often say to me, "There is absolutely no way I can work with my son/daughter on these essays." What follows is one of these lines: "Our relationship is frayed enough. This would be impossible." Or -- a brighter narrative: "My son and I have a great relationship, and I don't want to ruin it." READ MORE 

Friday, September 13, 2013

The YOLO Kerfuffle-What Does it Mean to YOU?

On this Friday the 13th, here's some news on the lighter side: What's now become Tufts University's' "YOLO" kerfuffle, kerfuffle being "chiefly British" and meaning "a noisy disturbance or commotion." 

The YOLO question on Tufts' supplementary application - in which students are asked what #YOLO means to them - has been in the news since the essay topic was revealed this summer. For those not in the know, YOLO = You Only Live Once, and it's from a song, "The Motto," by the hip-hop artist Drake. The idea itself goes back to two Latin words -- carpe diem (trans. seize the day) -- that used to trip off the tongues of the cognescenti. 

Seems the prompt has created ripples, and those ripples have created ripples. To some the prompt seems like pandering to the applicants. To others it's evidence of the decline of the academy. And some are ticked off about what they feel is the University's attitude about race matters once students get there. It's certainly brought attention to Tufts this fall! It'll be interesting to see whether their applicant pool expands this year. Stay tuned. And READ MORE.  

Some Advice for International Students - and Others

This article by Mai-Linh Bui, a Vietnamese student now at Drexel University, has a tip or two specifically for those whose first language isn't English, and several tips for anyone writing a college application essay
"Take a break from writing the application essay and refresh your brain by looking at an English-language children's book or by translating a short journal paragraph from English to your native language. 
"You can also try translating the piece of the application essay you have so far to your native tongue. I did that and then discussed it with my sister, who always makes funny comments about what I write. The ultimate goal is for you to feel comfortable writing and to allow yourself to think creatively. 
"Remember that the first sentence does not have to be written first: Students are often taught to make an outline, with the introduction first, then the body of the essay and the conclusion last, step by step. 
"Sometimes, the first sentence of the essay can block your inspiration, no matter how fantastic your outline. If this is where you struggle, just leave the first sentence or paragraph blank. 
"Start from anywhere in the essay. Do not be afraid to ramble about a small idea that just popped up in your head. You never know where a small idea could lead you, or more importantly, how it will inspire the flow of your writing. READ MORE 

Don't Hit the SEND Button So Fast

After all the feverish excitement of the Aug. 1st Common Application launch, at least one college counselor is urging students to wait a bit before pushing the SEND button on the whole shebang. Make that two counselors - I second her suggestion. Take a look: 

"The Common Application went live Aug. 1, and some very eager students have already submitted their applications.
"Not so fast. Early may not be better. There is applying before the deadline and then there is the crazed family, most typically a parent, who is intent on submitting all the college applications in August.
"While students can make changes once applications are submitted, it can be anxiety-provoking and time-consuming. It is far better to complete the applications, wait a bit and let the whole process marinate just a little. Ideally, students have worked on their essay(s) over the summer. Their best bet would be to finalize them, put them away for a few weeks, then reread them and perhaps make a final edit. READ MORE 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"How I Got Into College" on This American Life

I can't wait to hear Ira Glass's This American Life report called "How I Got into College," which includes a piece from the great journalist Michael Lewis. Here's the link and here's a teaser: 

"Students all over are starting college this month, and some of them still have a nagging question: what, exactly, got me in? An admissions officer tells us the most wrongheaded things applicants try. And Michael Lewis has the incredible story of how a stolen library book got one man — Emir Kamenica — into his dream school."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hidden Essays at Cornell, Emory, UVa and Other Schools

This just in: a number of universities have supplementary essays that students don't find out about until they are far along in completing the Common Application. For most schools, there are no "hidden" essays but, according to the article, students need to click through the entire application for an individual school in order to learn about these "stealth" essays. For example:

"Cornell is one of many Common Application member colleges with 'stealth' essays that don’t appear until college-specific questions have been fully completed. And 'undecided' is not an option when it comes to selecting one of Cornell’s colleges or schools. You have to answer all the questions to submit the application. And once you answer the college/school question, an essay will be “unlocked.” READ MORE 

If you come upon surprising new essays as you apply, please post here and let us know the schools where special attention must be paid. Thanks! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Who Gets Into Harvard, Princeton & Everywhere Else?

The publication of Lacy Crawford's new novel, EARLY DECISION, has been a public benefit to all who are applying to college this fall and to those of us who help the applicants. The novel is a vivid dramatization of the process, the passions, and the problems students, parents, and coaches encounter. Just as valuable (and almost as much fun to read!) are her many essays and blogs about her past life as a high-end college coach. In these posts, she's offering a wealth of great advice and insights based on years of experience -- at no charge.

Read the novel, read her essays and blogs here (with her media appearances), and check out her latest blog post, on the Girl Who Got in Everywhere - including Harvard, Princeton, and Amherst. Best of all, she includes the young woman's Common App and Princeton essays.

Monday, August 26, 2013

College App Essay Coach to the Super Rich - on College Admissions Madness

Former college tutor-to-the-rich Lacy Crawford has just published a novel inspired by her 15 years helping these children write their college application essays. Her novel, Early Decision, is being published this week by William Morrow. I can't wait to read it. Take a look at her terrific essay in the New York Post. Here's an excerpt: 
"You’ll know how this story ends. She got into Yale, of course, early decision. But her real success was in giving the admissions officers the kind of honesty that is harder and harder to find in these days of tiger parenting. And, I like to think, in clearing a path to her own life, she graduated and became an apprentice gardener with the city Parks Service. She’ll have to work her way up to Central Park, her own front lawn, but she is finally doing what she wants to do.
"This is the biggest secret to success in the college applications madness: It’s not about getting kids in. It’s about allowing them to grow up." READ MORE 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What an Essay Coach Can Do

My webmaster is unavailable, so I can't put this new testimonial on my official website, but I was thrilled yesterday to hear from the mother of a rising high school senior. We had just finished her son's essay (Topic #5: Describe an accomplishment or event ... which marked your transition from childhood to adulthood...) She wrote: "I am, frankly, stunned by how smoothly this went. I thought he might procrastinate more but he really had such a commitment to meet your expectations. You must have a real gift for connecting with teenagers! (in the summer, no less)."

I worked with her son on brainstorming an idea for his essay. We met in person for this, and the remainder of the work we did was via Skype, using Google Docs, to review his essay together. Once he wrote his 1st draft, getting the essay into great shape took 3 sessions. The 4th session was trimming it to 650 words. (I think we got it to 645 words.) In answer to critics and the curious: I DO NOT write essays for clients. I help them find a topic that will enable them to write their best essay, and then I give them a mini-course in writing essays, so that they LEARN how to write these essays as they refine and polish their own work. There are usually a few grammar lessons involved.

This summer, I've also worked with a good number of students strictly by phone or Skype, with no personal meetings.

Few if any students are versed in writing essays like these, since most of their school lives, they've had to write academic essays. These are personal essays. A whole different set of rules and expectations applies.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Consider a Women's College, Even if You Hadn't Before...

I just came across this wonderful Huff Po piece by Diane Propsner about the ongoing value of attending a women's college. For those wanting a top-notch education, many fine women's colleges have much higher acceptance rates than the more selective co-ed schools. Keep these on your radar: Barnard College (part of Columbia University), Bryn Mawr (in alliances with Haverford and Swarthmore), Smith and Mount Holyoke (part of the 5-college consortium in Western MA). After reading a comment on Huff Po, I want to add Spelman College, in Atlanta, at which Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have spoken in the last few years. READ MORE

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Is a parent, counselor, or teacher nagging you about writing your essay? Make them stop!"

Wellesley College has a wonderful page about the essay and what it means to them. Take a look, even if Wellesley isn't on your list. You might even put it on your list once you read this. 

"At Wellesley, typically three members of the Board of Admission read your application. The Board includes faculty members, administrators, admission professionals, and current students. We’re music lovers, artists, cyclists, baseball fans, professors, guitar heroes, runners, scientists, poets, beaders, computer techies, and more, thus bringing many perspectives to the admission process.
"For all of us, reading your essay is one of the most enjoyable parts of the admission process. Your goal should be to make members of the Board of Admission feel as though we’re sitting down at the table together to discuss your interests and aspirations. We’re keen to know your story." READ MORE 

Friday, August 9, 2013

I HEART the New Common Application Essay Prompts

My thoughts about the new essay questions on Huffington Post's College Page.

"When the new prompts were posted last spring, I liked them right away. They seemed more personal, more probing, and more direct -- capable of eliciting better stories, information, and insights from students. Having spent the last two months working with students on essays using the new prompts, I feel even more enthusiastic about them now." READ MORE ...

Application Bootcamp Helps Low-Income Students

A wonderful community effort from outside Chicago ... READ ABOUT IT

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Value of a College Education

If you're reading this blog, you or your child are probably in the midst of applying to college - so you don't need to be convinced of the value of education. But I just came across this article by the President of St. John's College in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and wanted to share it with you, as it makes the case in a particularly persuasive way. 

"But the value of a college education goes far beyond earning power and the contribution to the economy. It is more than a simple return on investment... College graduates have more stable families, volunteer at higher levels, and support charities and other philanthropic endeavors at greater rates and levels. They participate in public and community affairs and vote at a greater rate than those without a college degree. In short, a college education prepares graduates for citizenship, which requires a deeper and broader education than job training can, or means, to provide. The big ideas encountered and engaged at liberal arts colleges provide that depth and breadth." READ MORE

How to Make a College Application Stand Out

This article hits the main points and, I hope, might diminish the fear factor for some. Take a look.

“The good news is that most colleges accept the majority of applicants, and thus the well-publicized scare tactics apply only to a small handful of the most sought-after schools,” says Sally Rubenstone at College Confidential. “Even students who are disappointed in a quest for an Ivy League school can find well respected institutions where they will be happy and engaged.” READ MORE

Sunday, August 4, 2013

College Testing Anxiety Sends Kids to Therapy~

An article about the trend for high school students to take both the SAT and the ACT in today's New York Times has some disturbing news about what I call College Admissions Mania Syndrome. One New York City student ended up in therapy because her anxiety was so serious. The article fails to mention that there are 800 colleges that do not require standardized tests. The Washington Post has a 2012 article about that trend, which you can read here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What?! Stanford is Number 1, Princeton Number 3, Harvard Number 8?

"NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - California schools bested East Coast universities in Forbes' annual ranking of top U.S. colleges on Wednesday, with Stanford University and Pomona College capturing the top two spots.

"Stanford, a research and teaching university in Northern California's Silicon Valley, ranked No. 1, jumping from third place last year after scoring high marks for retention rates and high graduate starting salaries. It has 19,945 students and annual costs are $58,846.

"Princeton University in New Jersey, which was No. 1 last year, slipped to third place, followed by Yale University in Connecticut in fourth place and Columbia University in New York City at No. 5." READ MORE

Monday, July 29, 2013

Families Rejecting Top School Because of Cost

While tuition, room and board have always been considerations in deciding which college to attend, the exponential rise in costs is preventing a slew of talented people from attending America’s top universities.   A study released this week by Sallie Mae found that 67 percent of families eliminated colleges based on cost, up from 56 percent of students in 2009.

Read more ...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stanford U. Staff on College Admissions Consultants

A startling statistic from Huffington Post: 'In 2013, 26 percent of all college applicants -- three times as many as in 2003, hired a "private admissions consultant" or an "independent educational consultant (IEC)" to assist with their college applications.' READ MORE...

If this seems like a luxury that's beyond your means, please consider: I give discounts to military families and low-income families with verification. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mocking #YOLO and Tufts' Trendy New College Essay Admissions Prompts

It was only a matter of time before someone did a send up of Tufts' new #YOLO prompt for the college application essay section. I mean, YOLO. I might also mean, "What does #YOLO mean to you?" Reading this list, you might mistake it for real at first, but probably not by the time to get to this mock-prompt:

 • You have been tasked with naming a celebrity baby, but you can't use a name that has been registered in the United States since 1945, colors, or food items (even organic ones). What do you name the baby and why?


Countdown to Aug. 1st for Common App Essays & Supplements

What to do between now and August 1st and beyond - my latest article on Huffington Post's College page.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Thought or Two on How to Pick a School

I just came across this advice from students on the Columbia University website. If it's useful to you as you consider where to apply to college, take it to heart and pass it on.

Advice from Students

I would advise students going through the college application process to trust themselves. I remember when I was applying to schools that everyone had a strong opinion: my parents' friends, my teachers, even my hairdresser. Ultimately, you know best what is right for you. Listen to what people are saying, but if you have a gut feeling that you know what you want, it's okay to ignore everyone else and follow your dreams.”
It is important to find the college that best suits you, academically and socially. You should try and figure out what you are looking for, and what different schools have to offer (size, setting, majors available, student-faculty ratio, emphasis given to undergraduate education, and so forth). Although it seems daunting trying to find your home for the next four years, anywhere you go there will be some positives and negatives, it’s all about finding the place that has the most positives for you.”