Thank you to CBS anchor Marissa Bailey for a great interview! Christine VanDeVelde appeared on the Sunday morning news to talk all things college admission -- applying early, making a list that's just right, essays, and more. You can see the whole segment here.
If experience has taught me anything about these waning years of hands-on parenting it is that there is very much a time and a place for parents to help. The area where parents can do their kids the greatest service is in time management. Even the most mature teens would be hard pressed to recognize at the outset the huge demands on their time as the wind through the final years of high school. Our role, I believe is not to do things for them, but to help them envision the process, its demands and how they will squeeze it all into their busy lives.
Here are some suggestions to help them on their way:
1. Help your child plan out their academic life
Sit down with your 9th grader or 10th grader and their high school course catalogue and plan backward from 12th grade. Together, think about what they hope to accomplish academically over their high school years. Help them pick the most challenging classes they hope to take in the subject areas they enjoy. Have them look at the prerequisites for these classes and the paths they are going to take to reach their goals. Granted interests change and so do school schedules, but but kids with a plan have goals for themselves.
2. Ask your child to select one activity in which they will try to excel.
College Admission will be a guest on WGN Midday News on Monday! Christine VanDeVelde will be talking about strategies for students and parents to keep calm and carry on in college application season, as well as the college essay, applying early, and why it's important to read the fine print in the application form.
High School Counselor Week has a good post up at their Counselors' Corner blog about the new Common Application -- including advice about signing the FERPA release, the Common App and Naviance and coping with the glitch that occurs when cutting and pasting essays from Microsoft Word. Read the whole post here.
Gimmicks in essays, the "perfect school' fixation, testing, and show 'em the money... Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, talks all things college admission with the Boston Globe. One of the great takeaways: "There is a disconnect between this current worry that somehow being an English major is a disadvantage. In reality, what employers are looking for is great employees — employees with communication skills, who are critical thinkers, problem solvers, able to work with others, and good leaders. And that’s exactly at the heart of a liberal arts education." Read all of his terrific advice here.
Valerie Velhagen thought she would be a professor or a lawyer like her father. But some time off before graduate school -- working in her father's law office and studying for the LSAT -- lead her to take a different path. Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a long way from Brooklyn, New York, where Velhagen was born and raised. But after graduating from Massachusetts' Brandeis University with a BA in English and Pennsylvania's Duquesne University with a Masters in a program centered on existential/phenomenological psychology, Velhagen, now the College and Career Readiness Counselor at Albuquerque's Eldorado High School, made her way from New York's largest borough to the city on the banks of the Rio Grande.
The University of California prompts are available here, as well as a great tip sheet for freshman and transfer applicants. Plus good advice for all essay writers from the Admissions office of University of California, Santa Barbara.
As you head off into the summer, here's one last checklist. If you get some of these things done, you will be off to a good start when you return in the fall. And as a little added incentive, we've included links to prior posts with advice on each subject. Have a great vacation and make sure that in addition to researching colleges and writing your essays this summer, you rest, relax and recharge, as well.
Applying to college is like any big project that gets completed over time: it simply needs to be broken down into separate tasks. So in addition to continuing to research and refine the list of colleges to which they will apply and working on their essays, rising seniors also need to take a look at the Common Application when it comes available on August 1st. By starting now, you'll avoid feeling overwhelmed in fall semester of senior year.
Don't underestimate how important it is to understand and accurately complete the Common Application -- or any other college's unique form. The information colleges ask for in the application form serves as the foundation of your admission file.
Jane Kulow, a parent who blogs at Dr. StrangeCollege or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey, recently posted some strategies for applications and agreed to let us share her excellent advice here. (We've added a few notes of our own, as well.)
1. Print out the application form as soon as it’s available and complete the easy parts. (Common Application essay prompts are available now, but the actual form and supplements for the individual colleges will not be available until the Common App goes live on August 1st.)
First, let me tell you what you already know: start the essay early. (Like, now.) Revise it often. Be open to topics and possibilities. Ask people you trust (parents, teachers, friends) for feedback.
I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake, because you already know that too. And you probably also know that starting what Anne Lamott calls the “#$%*& first draft” is hard too, and so is revising that @#$&* first draft. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it; it means try not to listen to the Greek chorus of prohibition and foreboding in your head. You know, the one that’s intoning “This is a stupid idea. Nobody cares. I can’t come up with anything except clichés. Nothing interesting ever happened to me. Thousands of people have already written about this topic.”
Thousands of people probably have written about this topic, and thousands more probably will. There are no new stories under the sun, but there are new ways of telling them. Let me tell you something else: there’s no “right” topic. You don’t have to write about leadership or persistence or overcoming adversity, unless you want to. Write what you know, no matter how humble or unspectacular-seeming. You may find in so doing that the qualities you’re seeking to communicate in the essay (persistence, creativity, talent, passion, humor, kindness, curiosity) will announce themselves without fanfare between the lines.