As we head off into the summer, we asked our experts what rising seniors should be doing this summer. As usual, they've got some great advice about how to rest, recharge, and prepare for a couple of steps in the college application process so you'll hit the ground running -- and avoid feeling overwhelmed -- in the fall. And don't forget, two of the most important and best things you can do this summer are rest and read, read, read... Nothing will prepare you better for senior year. Enjoy all of it!
Mai Lien Nguyen
College and Career Center Coordinator
Mountain View High School
Mountain View, CA
“Having fun” and “preparing for college applications” aren’t phrases you normally hear in the same breath. But the summer before senior year could be the golden opportunity to make this happen. Let’s see how:
Located just north of the affluent town that is home to Stanford University, East Palo Alto has had a history of crime and violence and Silicon Valley's boom economy has largely bypassed the community and the families of the Latino, African American and Pacific Islander students who reside there. Today, the dropout rate for students from East Palo Alto is 65%.
In 1991, a Stanford student started an after-school basketball program for East Palo Alto kids in grades 4 through 8, linking participation with attendance at a daily study hall. But he soon realized it wasn't enough for these students, who, after eighth grade, would be bused 20 miles away to the nearest high school. So in 1996 that Stanford student, Chris Bischof, founded Eastside College Preparatory School, private school with an intensive, college-prep curriculum.
With an initial class of eight students, at one point, Bischof, who is today Eastside's principal, was using park benches in a muddy lot as a classroom. Today, more than 300 students enrolled in grades 6 through 12 attend school on a full built-out campus that includes boarding facilities for more than 100 students.
When College Admission was in high school, summers felt long and slow, a time to earn some extra money and hang out with friends. We worked as a neighborhood babysitter and a proof reader at the local newspaper. Earned a little extra high school credit with classes at the local community college -- one was a "typing course"! Polished short stories in the style of John Cheever that garnered a desk drawer full of rejection slips. On days off, we sprayed our hair with Sun-In and hit the deck at the pool. Every night, we met up with friends by the swings at Kilgore Park. There was so much time for everything.
Today, high school students -- particularly rising seniors -- may feel the need to fill their summer fuller. Terri Devine of Francis Parker School in San Diego, CA, joins us today to talk about summer plans -- particularly for any juniors stressing about their resumes. Read on for some good advice and great ideas…
What Should Juniors Be Doing This Summer?
The answer to this question is really quite simple…get some rest, read, and explore what you find truly interesting (and it would be fine with everyone if what you find truly interesting is a summer job…more on that later).
The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual “College Openings Update” -- formerly known as the "NACAC Space Availability Survey" -- is now live. More than 250 four-year colleges and universities still have space available for qualified freshman and/or transfer students. The list also includes information about financial aid and housing availability.
It should come as no surprise that The George Washington University is one of the most politically active campuses in the country. The private research university, located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of the District of Columbia, is bordered by the White House, Potomac River, the Watergate complex, and the State Department and within walking distance of the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the capital's preeminent cultural institutions from the Smithsonian Institution to the National Air and Space Museum.
Thank you to Dave Kelber, the morning host at WRNJ Radio, for a great interview, covering all things college admission -- from extracurriculars to what colleges want. You can listen to the entire segment here.
Please join College Admission on WGN Radio this Sunday, May 4th, at 1 p.m. CT! Christine VanDeVelde will be talking college admission -- essays, financial aid, visits, extracurriculars and more -- with host Bill Moller! And if you can't join us, tune back in here next week when we'll have a link to the program for you!
"It is not uncommon to read stories about college students who say, “I woke up one day and realized I had $50,000 in outstanding student loans and had no idea how I got there.” And yet nobody would accept at face value someone stating, “I woke up one day driving a Mercedes and had no idea how I was $50,000 in debt.”
Finally, some straight talk on the subject of student debt from Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University, via Valerie Strauss' The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post -- Is the $1 trillion student loan debt really a crisis? Right now, thousands of families are considering financial aid offers -- most of which include loans. Heller cuts through the media madness surrounding student debt with a look at the facts of the situation, the value of a college degree, and what the future will hold. It's a welcome reality check in the face of the hyperbole from the headlines to the White House hyperbole. If you and your family are looking at a financial aid award which requires some indebtedness, don't miss this! You can see the entire column here.
Now that you have your letters in hand and your decision made, take the time to inform all the people in your life who had a hand in your admission process about that decision. That includes the teachers who wrote recommendations, the high school college counselor who loaned you her College Board Handbook, the guidance counselor who advised you to take AP calculus, the English teacher who proofread your essays, the coach who wrote a letter to the athletic department, and the faculty advisor for the newspaper who encouraged you to write an editorial about the stress of applying to college. Let them know where you have decided to enroll and thank them for all they did to help you get there.
You can stop by their classroom or office to let them know in person, but a personal, hand-written thank you note is the most powerful and meaningful way to show your appreciation, according to Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy -- and we agree! "Like many counselors, I have a folder full of them in my desk," he told us, "on rougher days, it's where we go to remember why we do this rewarding work in the college application trenches with you!"
Oh, and don’t forget a big thank-you for the people who have helped you get to this point for the last eighteen years . . . your parents.
Last year, we asked psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child, to weigh in on what parents can do to constructively advise -- and motivate -- their junior students as they begin the application process. Good advice never goes out of style -- and Thompson is the best -- so we wanted to run these posts again for all of those out there who are wondering what to expect when your child applies to college. Please read on to learn how to avoid jumping at the bait of your teenager's negativity and how not to unwittingly crash into a seventeen-year-old psyche, as well as what Monty Python has to do with any of this!