Text to Text: John Milton’s ‘When I Consider How My Light Is Spent’ and ‘Today’s Exhausted Superkids’

Right now, many students are entering the final college-application sprint. They’re wondering Are they enough? about their lists of accomplishments. Some may even be wondering Is it worth it? about college at all.

Centuries ago, the poet John Milton wondered how best to live his life as he went blind. In his sonnet “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” he contemplates his condition. While for him, the “light” he spends is literal — he was completely blind by age 42 — he uses it metaphorically to meditate on what it means to really live.

In this Text-to-Text they pair Milton’s poem with Frank Bruni’s Op-Ed “Today’s Exhausted Superkids,” which discusses the high costs of following the narrowly defined and proscribed path to an elite college.

This a thoughtful read for parents and students alike, or really, anyone working with adolescents today. Check it out here!!!

Upcoming Early Application Decision Release Dates

It’s that time of year again!

TODAY (FRIDAY)
(12/9) Wiliams (PM), Bowdoin (PM), UPenn (3pm ET), Stanford (3pm PT)

SATURDAY
(12/10) Wesleyan, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon

SUNDAY
(12/11) Week of 12/11: Boston College

MONDAY
(12/12) Vassar (5pm ET), Columbia (6pm ET), Colgate (mailed)

TUESDAY
(12/13) Harvard

WEDNESDAY
(12/14) Brown (7pm ET), Dartmouth, Duke (7pm ET)

THURSDAY
(12/15) MIT (6:28pm ET), NYU (5pm ET), Yale (5pm ET)

You Just Took the PSAT—Now What?

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PSAT scores are now available online for counselors and will open to students on Monday. Compass Prep has prepared a number of resources that can help with interpretation, provide context, and illuminate where to go from here. I suggest checking them out!

Understanding Your Score Report

Using PSAT Scores to Compare SAT and ACT

National Merit Semifinalist Preview: Class of 2018

PSAT National Merit FAQ: The Road to Becoming a Finalist

 

 

Early Admission Plan Changes for the Class of 2021

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More insightful data from College Kickstart!

Many colleges and universities have begun updating their websites for the Class of 2021 (Fall 2017) admission cycle.  While we expect the activity to continue into the late summer, several of the changes we’ve observed are worth noting.

In particular, roughly 20 schools have introduced changes to the early admission plans available to you this fall.  Unsurprisingly, the vast majority have added binding early decision options, including the University of Chicago (Early Decision 1/2), Wake Forest and Wellesley (Early Decision 2) and Tulane (replaced Single Choice Early Action with Early Decision).  Several also introduced/refined their Early Action programs, including Texas A&M (a new Early Action option for engineering applicants) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (revamped).   On the flip side, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo eliminated Early Decision.

Be sure to check out this College Kickstart list as it may impact how you decide to apply this fall.

What Do College Counselors Do?

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Great post from the Princeton Review on college counselors—high school and independent. Give it a read to learn more about both!

College counselors—both school counselors and independent consultants—can play a huge role in your college search. And when it comes time to apply and evaluate schools, both can help you make that all-important decision.

High School Counselors

Your school counselor can help you:

  • Stay on top of class selection and graduation requirements
  • Navigate your high school’s processes for
    • Getting letters of recommendation from teachers
    • Completing the counselor letter of recommendation
    • Sending your official transcript to colleges
  • Select extracurricular activities
  • Research colleges and draft your college list
  • Answer your FAFSA questions
  • Find and apply for local scholarships
  • Complete and send your applications

Your school college counselor can be an invaluable resource! That said, the national average student-to-counselor ratio is 350:1. And if you go to a large high school with more than 2,000 students, your student-to-counselor ratio may be closer to 500:1 (Source: The College Board).

Depending on the amount of face time they get with their school counselor, some families decide to hire independent college counselors to guide them through the admissions process.

Independent College Counselors

An independent college counselor works alongside your school counselor to help you with all of the above, and in addition:

Whereas your school counselor can advise you on more than just college, independent counselors spend all their time on college counseling and tend to work with fewer students.

Are you looking for strategic college advice based on your personality and goals? Our College Counselors will help you find, apply, and get accepted to your dream school. Get a personalized college admissions plan today!

No College Talk Thanksgiving

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Great article yesterday in the New York Times. Parents of seniors give it a read!

If you have a high school senior, and your child has decided to apply somewhere early decision (or early action or early something or other), the application is most likely in and done by now. And with Thanksgiving approaching, my first piece of advice is that you shelter your high school senior from her or his loving family this Thanksgiving by absolutely prohibiting any talk of college and applications.

Believe me, your senior does not want to discuss this. Not with uncles, aunts, cousins or loving grandparents. The right thing to do under these circumstances is for the parents to tell everyone that college is a forbidden subject — and the best way to explain that is to say, we are all sick of it, and we have promised ourselves and our child a respite. Let’s all find another subject.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Interpret New ACT Score Reports

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The redesigned ACT student score reports aim to contextualize students’ scores and offer details about students’ individual strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, these goals are impeded by the overwhelming volume of information included on score reports.

This excellent post from Compass breaks down the exact contents of the student score report and explores how both students and parents can benefit from the information.

Why You Need a College Counselor

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Most high schools have at least one on-site college counselor to advise students on finding and applying to colleges. As the point person for your applications, college counselors keep you on top of deadlines and graduation requirements and ultimately send your official transcript to colleges. They can also help you find schools that fit you, identify dream/match/safety schools, complete your FAFSA, craft strong school-specific application essays, and help manage anxiety and stress.

Depending on how much one-on-one time they get with their schools’ college counselors, some families decide to hire independent college counselors to guide them through the admissions process. I always tell parents who are thinking about hiring an independent college counselor to make sure that person is a member of a professional organization, like IECA or NACAC. Why? Because not all IEC’s are created equal. For example, IECA members have met the highest standards of the profession. IECA’s required qualifications include a master’s degree; at least three years of admissions counseling experience; and experience working with scores of students. IECA also requires extensive member undertake campus visits—members, on average, have visited over 150 campuses each—and continue to visit an average of 35 campuses annually.

Whichever route you go, check out this Princeton Review article that outlines five (accurate) reasons you need your college counselor. You can also read more about IECs from IECA here, or from me directly during a consultation!

A Guide to Getting a Bachelor’s Abroad

University College London
University College London

There was a time when the self-confident undergraduate took a semester or two abroad to taste an unfamiliar culture and dip a toe into the waters of higher education on a foreign shore. Today, tasting is timid stuff.

While graduate programs have long attracted international students, undergraduates are seizing upon the vast opportunities to enroll in foreign colleges for a complete bachelor’s degree. The number of options to do so is growing by the year. The online platform StudyPortals reports an estimated 5,670 English-language degrees in non-Anglophone countries. In Europe alone, 300 colleges and universities offer more than 1,500 English-taught bachelor’s degrees, according to Beyond the States, an international college adviser.

The benefits of a thoroughly international education in the age of globalization are conspicuous. But the game-changer is that college abroad can save parents tens of thousands of dollars. In many countries, including Turkey, Thailand, Brazil, Iceland and some in continental Europe, college is either free or virtually so, with tuition less than a couple thousand dollars. Many other universities offer a bachelor’s degree for under $7,000 a year.

Icing on the cake: It’s possible to obtain financial aid, both need- and merit-based, from universities outside the United States, as well as government aid from home. (The Department of Education website lists nearly 900 foreign colleges and universities where Americans can use federal financial aid.)

A bachelor’s abroad isn’t for everybody. Students must be prepared to immerse themselves in the customs of an unfamiliar habitat far from home. It’s an endeavor for the intensely curious and resourceful, those who can adapt to systems that do grading, testing and instruction quite differently. Forget intercollegiate sports, frats and clubs. Even partying is not the same — less binge drinking, for example — and campus life, when there is any, isn’t as cozy. But the rewards are great, say graduates and educators, and recognized by employers seeking go-getters.

Giovanni Hashimoto, a 23-year-old out of Washington, D.C., transferred to the University of Milan after two years at Pacific Union College in California. Though it took some digging online and follow-up emails, Mr. Hashimoto, who speaks no Italian, found what he wanted in the university’s English-language political science and economics program. With tuition at $4,000, he calculates he saves $20,000 a year studying in Italy.

But, more critically, acquaintances in Washington’s world of public policy and politics, where he wants to eventually work, told him that a foreign degree “connotes a willingness to try things outside one’s comfort zone” and would work in his favor.

Read about college options abroad in the UK, Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia, and Singapore here.