Congrats to Our Students!!!

Not one of our students, but a photo we have not had time to share: Brittany visiting LSE last month. 

Our students rock—and we are so proud of them! Check out where our seniors have been admitted so far:

Cornell
UT Austin
Edinburgh
University College, London
Ohio State
Bard
South Carolina
Penn State
Binghamton
Minnesota
Arizona
Elon
Rollins
Indiana
Pitt
Michigan State

And more to come this week! We will update/repost as more results come in.

 

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Taming College Admissions Anxiety

This might be the third holiday season in a row that I blog about this post by Bari Walsh on Harvard GSE’s Usable Knowledge page, but I am fine with that because it’s a must-read. I also wanted to add a plug for Harvard’s Making Caring Common project, which is not the first on this blog. It’s Youth Advisory Board is a great opportunity for students committed to making schools more caring and respectful places through everyday interactions to gain leadership and advocacy experience. Members help devise solutions to the most pressing moral issues and social challenges of their peer groups, such as bullying and exclusion. They provide feedback on ideas, share their thoughts on current events, and make sure MCC is on the right track when communicating information to young people. A great opportunity for civically-minded, motivated high school students.

Now back to the article:

You’re at a holiday gathering in your neighborhood, and the parents, once again, are talking college — exchanging the vitals on where their kids are applying, or where they’ve already gotten in. When one father beams about the highly selective schools his daughter is targeting, you don’t immediately beam back. Your son is applying to some state schools and a few private colleges, but after a tough fall term, he’s also thinking about working for a year and taking classes at the community college.

You look around and notice that the kids are standing nearby, soaking up the very different moods each parent is conveying.

The Weight of College Pressure

In a highly competitive world, the college process feels fraught with pressure — for students and parents alike. For the vast majority of families in America, that pressure centers not on personal achievement or the bragging rights of a selective college but on affordability, access, and equal opportunity. Only about 4 percent of U.S. students go to colleges that accept less than 25 percent of their applicants, and most American kids either don’t attend or don’t graduate from four-year colleges, says developmental psychologist Richard Weissbourd, who studies the social and emotional lives of teens. The barriers confronting that majority need to be front and center in public conversations about college, he adds.

But a different and also serious problem is affecting students in middle- and upper-income communities, where debilitating academic and social pressure is fueling a public health crisis of anxiety in high-achieving schools and districts. Some research has shown that rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are higher among affluent teens than any other group of young people, and achievement pressure is a significant contributor. “But you can see this even without reading the research,” says Weissbourd. “You just need to spend some time in a high school where this is going on, and you can see how wound up kids are about college and where they’re going to get in.”

College admissions is an important rite of passage in America — a time for parents to engage their kids in deep conversations about their hopes and dreams, their values, and what kind of adults they imagine they’ll be.

All of which is too bad, he says, because the college admissions process is an important rite of passage for many in America. “It’s a wonderful time for parents to really listen to their kids — to hear about their hopes, their values, their expectations for college, and to learn what kind of adults they imagine they’ll be,” Weissbourd says.

With colleagues at his Making Caring Common project, Weissbourd produced a report called Turning the Tide, seeking to tame the excesses of the college admissions process and reframe it to prioritize ethical and intellectual engagement, not just long brag sheets of accomplishments. More than 175 admissions deans have signed on to the report’s recommendations. Some of those guidelines and other advice Weissbourd offers are summarized below.

Doing the Admissions Process Right

  • Listen to your child. Find out what she hopes for and expects from college.
  • Be a guide and a facilitator, connecting your child to information and to big-picture thinking about the purpose of college.
  • Put the focus on finding the right college for your child, not on applying to or getting into the “best” college.
  • Unclutter your own anxieties; make sure you’re hearing your child’s wishes and considering her best interests, not filtering them through your own hopes, your peer-driven status worries, or your own unmet college expectations.
  • Prioritize quality, not quantity, when it comes to extracurricular activities. Prioritize service opportunities that your child finds meaningful.
  • Make sure your kids are eating and sleeping well.
  • Encourage your child to be authentic, truthful, and reflective in the application process.
  • Make the process meaningful for you and your child. Use these conversation starters to talk to your teen.

Confronting Status Concerns

Magazine rankings and other rating systems fuel the idea that “one college is in some objective sense better than another college, or that there are 25 ‘best’ colleges in the country,” Weissbourd says. It’s a harmful idea, because “what you really want kids to be thinking about is not what’s the best college, but what’s the best college for them.” There are many hundreds of good colleges out there, and any one of them might be the right one for your child. Weissbourd encourages parents in high-achieving districts to visit some schools that aren’t highly selective, expanding everyone’s understanding of what a “good school” is.

Rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are higher among affluent teens than any other group of young people, and achievement pressure is a big contributor.

But status pressure is real, and kids experience it every day. “We have to have better conversations with kids about what status means and what it doesn’t mean, about the advantage of going to a high-status place and the disadvantages. We have to confront it more squarely,” he says. Students who go to a highly selective school may reap a reputational benefit or gain access to a strong alumni network, for example — but it’s also possible that the student body will be less diverse, or the campus culture more competitive and less nurturing. “As long as parents or students have this perception that there are 20 or 30 great colleges in this country, we’re going to have really stressed-out kids who are anxious about getting in. And many will end up feeling ashamed because they don’t,” Weissbourd says.

Turn the Pressure Down . . .

What’s the “right” amount of pressure for parents to apply? It depends on the child, the family, and the community.

Some kids aren’t thinking about college at all, and in those cases, parents should start talking generally about the importance of college-going in about ninth grade, helping kids develop a college identity and a pathway for work and career.

Other kids start worrying about college way too early, starting with test-prep tutors in middle school. In high-pressure communities, “the conversation about the application process really shouldn’t begin until 11th grade,” Weissbourd says. For parents in these communities, he offers a quick list of “don’ts”:

  • Don’t spend every dinner talking about college.
  • Don’t arrange every family vacation in high school around a college visit.
  • Don’t pop vocabulary cards at the dinner table to prepare for the SAT.
  • When it comes to applications and test prep, don’t over-coach your child. Think twice before hiring outside tutors.
  • Pause and reflect if you find yourself spending too much time worrying or thinking about your child’s achievements.
  • Discourage your child from overloading on AP and honors courses.

. . . And Get Real about the Source of the Pressure

“Our data show that when you ask parents what’s most important to them in child rearing, they prioritize raising a caring child over a high-achieving child,” Weissbourd says. But when you ask them what they think other parents in their community prioritize, they say other parents prioritize achievement.

“So you have a large majority of parents thinking that the problem is a large majority of other parents, and that doesn’t square,” he says. “We need parents to realize that when it comes to achievement pressure, the problem isn’t ‘them,’ it’s ‘us.’”

 

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Make The Best of It

I am “borrowing” this image from an email I received a while ago from Bulldog Drummond; I think I am on this listserv because I also closely follow The YouSchool.

Anyway, time for some real talk now that early application decision releases begin in a few short weeks or less.

In most cases, three things happen with early applications:

-You get in
-You get deferred
-You get denied

If you get in, congrats! Celebrate! For most of you, the process of applying to college is now over. If you get deferred, and I know this sounds negative, in most cases you need to consider this a denial. Very few students get admitted off deferral at top colleges. If you are denied, I actually think this is better than a deferral. Why? Because it makes it much easier to move on and focus on the schools that are next on your list whether that is an ED II school or a select group of RD schools.

Now back to the quote. A deferral or denial is not the end of the world. It simply is what it is. The best thing you can do if you fall into one of these two pools, and remember—you are one of many who do—is to look positively forward toward the other schools on your list and flip any negative feelings you have into energy that you can use to make those apps the best they can be if you are still working on them. There is really no time or need to wallow in a denial or deferral; you can’t change the outcome. What you can control is your reaction to it. Use this time wisely and don’t spend much if any time or energy on thinking about why things did not work out. Instead, think about how you can ensure they will for the schools left on your list!

 

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Class of 2023 Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

It is that time of year again! Early decision and early action decisions are already being released (we’ve had students admitted to Elon, Rollins, Penn State, Indiana and many more so far), though the majority of schools aim to send them out by mid-December, including the Ivies and other top tier schools.

College Kickstart keeps one of the most up to date lists on the web, here. Keep it bookmarked for quick access to checking early decision and early action release dates for the class of 2023.

With 12/15 falling on a Saturday, we might see many decisions released on 12/14 or even 12/13!

Update –> A few notable releases confirmed:

12/12 — Princeton, Barnard

12/13 — Harvard, NYU, Penn, UVM

 

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December Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Sorbonne Université

Seniors:

  • Once your applications have been submitted, be sure to track the status online to ensure schools received all of your application materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a school is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. Make sure you sent official test scores if required. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools.
  • Do the schools on your list require midterm grade reports? Check requirements online and talk to your school counselor about having them sent to colleges as needed. Also, re-share your RD list and make sure they know to send docs accordingly and far in advance of deadlines.
  • It can be very difficult to write your essays and complete your applications from December 15 through January 1 because of the holidays, and…
  • It’s always a good idea to submit apps two to four weeks ahead of RD/ED II deadlines as some schools have earlier than normal deadlines for scholarship or interview consideration.
  • Continue to prepare for interviews.

Juniors:

  • Grades from your junior year are incredibly important to college admissions officers. Study hard. If you need help, seek it out.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. They will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other. Talk about your plans for this year and next year. Let them know about your preliminary college list, any visits you have scheduled, and your testing plan.
  • Now is the time to build your story for college. Have you gotten more involved with any of your extracurricular activities? Look for leadership opportunities in school and consider activities outside of school as well.
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in. Explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think about your major of interest and how your activities support this interest. If you are unsure about your major, keep exploring options. Don’t forget: you should be exploring your interests outside of the classroom/school.
  • Some summer program applications will open over the next few months. Work on summer applications that are now open.
  • If you have not started compiling your resume, start drafting one over the holidays.
  • Think ahead to potentially starting your personal statement.

Sophomores & Freshmen:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. How are your classes going? Are there any that have you thinking about possible fields of study (major/minor) in college?
  • Now is the time to build your story for college! Have you gotten more involved with any of your extracurricular activities? Have you thought about what you might want to major in? A great place to start exploring is Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org.
  • One way that your “story” is conveyed in your app is through your resume, so start compiling one over the holidays.
  • Many 2019 summer program applications will open soon. Begin thinking about your plans for summer 2019 now so you can get ahead of deadlines and work on applications if needed.
  • Have a dream school? Check out their website to get a sense of what it takes to get admitted. For example, some schools require or highly recommend you take a language all four years of high school and, for certain majors, take a certain level of math. Some schools (although very few) require SAT Subject tests and depending on what classes you are currently taking, you might be able to take some as early as this June. In addition to looking into testing requirements, try to get a sense of what your target schools recommend your high school curriculum look like—then take a look at your curriculum to make sure you’re on track to fulfill these recommendations/requirements.

A few more snaps (credit: Jake) from our recent trip to Paris and Sorbonne Université:

Sorbonne Université
Sorbonne Université + Brittany (cold day!)

 

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Giving Thanks

If you recently applied to college, my guess is that you did not do it alone. When I work with a family, I often am not just working with the applicant, but her parents, other tutors, and sometimes (though not as common), another counselor! Show some gratitude this Thanksgiving holiday by sending a heartfelt thank you to the people that helped you make it happen. People you might want to consider giving thanks to are your parents, guidance counselor, teachers, letter of recommendation writers, anyone else who read your essays/app, and of course, your tutor if applicable, just to name a few!

Oh, and PS, keep working on your ED II or RD apps! Putting in a few hours over the break could be a gamechanger come mid- to end of December. Take my advice; you will thank yourself—and me—later!

 

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Win Free Tuition: Middlebury Interactive Languages™ Summer Academies

Middlebury Interactive Languages™ Summer Academies provides enriching summer language immersion programs for teens. They offer language and cultural immersion in Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and German in the U.S. and abroad. Programs are available for rising 8th grade to just graduated 12th-grade students.

The curricula is modeled on the world-famous immersion pedagogy first created by the Middlebury Language Schools. Our students, faculty, and staff all take the Language Pledge® together—a pledge to speak in the target language for the duration of the four-week program.

Want to win a free spot? All you have to do is submit your email on this page. The winning student will get free tuition to study Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, or German at one of their domestic Academies [$6,000 Value]. The winner will be announced on November 30th, 2018. Enter to win now!

*The contest is for tuition only and does not include books, materials or transportation costs.
To be eligible to attend, students must be rising 8th graders to just graduated 12th graders as of summer 2019. Entries must be received by 5 pm EST, November 30, 2018.

 

Duke Announces Gap Year Program

This week, the Duke Admissions Office announced the launch of the Duke Gap Year Program, allowing students to apply for up to $15,000 in funding for a gap year program of their choice.
Students will have the flexibility to apply to any gap year program that appeals to them; students approved for funding by the Duke Gap Year Program will receive between $5000 and $15,000 to help them participate in programs and opportunities that may not have otherwise been affordable. A brief application will be available in early 2019, where students can describe their gap year program, their personal goals for the year, and the benefit they will receive from the funding.Students admitted through the Early and Regular Decision processes will be eligible to apply.More information can be found at dukegapyear.duke.edu.

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Top-Tier, Test Optional Colleges & Universities

Nationwide, many colleges and universities are reexamining their admissions policies and de-emphasizing test scores. More than 1,000 accredited, four-year colleges and universities now make decisions about all or many applicants without considering ACT or SAT test scores. Half of the U.S. News “Top 100” liberal arts colleges are on FairTest’s list of test-optional schools.

Some of the most highly rated test-optional liberal arts colleges include Bates, Bowdoin, Furman, Holy Cross, Pitzer, Sewanee, Smith, Wesleyan, and Whitman. And among leading national universities, American, Brandeis, UChicago, GWU, and Wake Forest are all test-optional.

FairTest.org is the leading advocate of the test-optional movement. There are many reasons for the test-optional surge, according to FairTest. Schaeffer explained, “Studies show that an applicant’s high school record – grades plus course rigor – predicts undergraduate success better than any standardized exam. By going test-optional, colleges increase diversity without any loss in academic quality. Eliminating testing requirements is a ‘win-win’ for both students and schools.”

“College and university leaders are sending a clear message,” Schaeffer concluded. “Test scores are not needed to make sound educational decisions. It’s time for K-12 policymakers to pay attention and back off their testing obsession for public schools.”

You can find FairTest’s frequently updated directory of test-optional, 4-year schools list online at https://www.fairtest.org/university/optional.

A list of test-optional schools ranked in the top tiers by U.S. News & World Report is posted at http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Schools-in-U.S.News-Top-Tiers.pdf.

Every year, we help students apply to and gain admission to many of the top tier test-optional schools on these lists. Contact us to learn more about how to maximize your chance of admission to a selective test-optional college.

 

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