Extracurricular activities

What HS Juniors Should Be Doing about College

Independent college counselor Lee Bierer has some great advice for HS juniors on the college application process. You don't need to know which college you want to attend or what you want to study in order to prepare well -- from planning for testing to a first campus visit. Check out all her recommendations here.

Juniors: Breaking Down the Common App

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.)

Focusing Freshmen on the "Big Picture"

In a guest post today, Jennifer Karan, Executive Director of the SAT Program at The College Board, discusses the steps high school freshmen can take to plan ahead for a college education -- a key to success. This article originally appeared on The College Board website.

 

As a former English teacher and high school dean of students, I know that there are few things as daunting, mysterious and exciting to a teenager than freshman year of high school. It’s a whole new world: the hallways are foreign and at larger schools, students sometimes feel as though they need a GPS to get from class to class; the upperclassmen seem so much older and are brimming with a glowing confidence; teacher expectations and homework may require substantial adjustment. And college seems like a distant point on the horizon.

Part of the trepidation may be what adults understand as not being able to see the forest for the trees. However, when students are able to envision how the various academic courses and opportunities in arts, athletics and other programs that develop interests (the school paper, community service or a part-time job) form the "Big Picture," they are able to navigate this terrain successfully, with greater purpose and enjoyment.

Walking the Talk

We wanted to bring to your attention an excellent piece from Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that appeared in Inside Higher Ed. In "More to Life than AP," Schmill addresses the messages that colleges send to students about how they make their decisions and the role colleges play in shaping students' behavior. He addresses the "holistic" process; what MIT is looking for; and why parents and counselors should give students the confidence to pursue their true interests instead of ignoring them in favor of what they think a college wants.  Candid and reassuring, Schmill's commentary is a must-read.

Thank you, thank you

Thank you to the students, parents, and counseling staff of Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School in northern California! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with all of you about everything from college visits and extracurriculars to AP's and financial aid. And it's great to hear what is on the minds of students and parents when it comes to college admission!

Juniors: Just Do It

 

Just do it! There is no list of activities that will guarantee admission to college – you can be involved in soccer, band, debate, student government, hold a part-time job, or have a consuming hobby like cooking.  But colleges do expect you to continue to commit time and effort to an activity or activities that interest you.  Colleges are looking at what you do outside the classroom to understand who you are, but also to understand what you will contribute to the community once you’re on campus. So continue your involvement in extracurricular activities. Start new ones if something excites you. And take the initiative and consider a leadership position.

For more on extracurricular activities, check out Chapter 6, “Extracurricular Activities,” in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step where you’ll find a broad discussion of what colleges are looking for when they look at students’ activities outside the classroom, including what they mean when they talk about depth versus breadth, passion, leadership and hooks.

 

Who fares best in applying to college?

Earlier this week, a student from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, wrote a column for Patch.com with a refrain familiar to many—a lament for the more carefree days before the pressure and stress of preparing to apply to college seemed to take over her life.

"It seems like everything I do, sign up for, and participate in is because it somehow will look good on my college application. I volunteer for just about as much as I can muster. I am trying to find my ‘angle’…" Dearborn wrote.

Alice Kleeman, who heads the College and Career Center at Menlo-Atherton High School in neighboring Atherton, California, was struck by the column and emailed us her thoughts. We couldn't have said it better, so we wanted to share her response with you:

In case you missed it...

We have three terrific experts featured here this month and we wanted to take one more opportunity to bring them to your attention! In case you missed them, take the time to read our Q & A's with Kenyon Dean of Admissions Jennifer Delahunty and Pine Crest School college counselor Marcia Hunt, as well as the post featuring Vanderbilt Admissions Dean Doug Christiansen on the role of volunteer work in an admission decision. These are  consummate experts with advice helpful to all students and families going through the application process.

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