New Program Announcement

We’ve got new programs launching in 2020!  To stay up-to-date on program announcements, please subscribe.

The first is a collaboration with Strategy Girl. Please reach out via email or the contact form for more info.

 

 

Not a girl in high school, or not located in NYC, but interested in pursuing a purpose project? Please email us!

For information about one-on-one college counseling, please visit this page.

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

What Colleges Want

The following was taken directly from the JHU website, but it’s so applicable to any selective college/university, that I wanted to share it:

Academic Character 

How do you demonstrate your academic passions? What is important to you? To get a good idea of where your academic spirit lies, we’ll look at your transcripts and testing, but also your teacher and counselor recommendations.

Impact and Initiative

Our undergraduates contribute to our campus and our community. We urge students to think about how they can make a difference through service, leadership, and innovation. The admissions committee looks closely at applicants’ extracurricular activities and recommendations to assess commitments outside the classroom.

Personal Contributions

How do you engage with your community—academically, personally, and socially? What personal qualities do you possess that would make you a good fit for our campus? We’re looking for students who are eager to follow their interests at the college level and are enthusiastic about joining the campus community.

So what does all of this boil down to? Colleges seek students who are actively engaged participants in life! Everyone has time to:

  • Pursue their academic/intellectual interests outside of classes
  • Make an impact by meaningfully engaging in and giving back to their community

You don’t need that much time to make it happen. Ask us how!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

FairTest List Updates

FairTest just updated the master database of test-optional schools. The list contains 1,050 accredited, bachelor degree-granting colleges and universities that will make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to test scores.

Check out just a few of the schools on the test-optional list:

3. University of Chicago (IL)
27. Wake Forest University (NC)
33. University of Rochester (NY)
35. Brandeis University (MA)
59. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
63. George Washington University (DC)
66. Clark University (MA)
78. American University (DC)
89. Marquette University
89. University of Delaware (DE)
96. University of Denver (CO)
96. University of San Francisco (CA)
102. Drexel University (PA) “Test Flexible”
106. Temple University (PA)
106. University of Arizona (AZ)
106. University of New Hampshire (NH)
115. Arizona State University (AZ)
119. DePaul University (IL)
119. Duquesne University (PA)
129. The Catholic University of America (DC)
136. George Mason University (VA)
140. Hofstra University (NY)
140. Washington State University (WA)
147. New School (NY)

Prepare Now for College Admissions Interviews

Not all colleges require interviews. In fact, many don’t offer them. At schools that do, they are not always evaluative or even considered in the admissions process. That said, we still suggest you interview if you can. Why? It is a way to demonstrate interest, learn more about the school, and help the school learn more about you. Seems like a no brainer!

Below, you will find some common interview questions. Practice with a parent, or a friend, or with us!. Never go to an interview (even those that are not evaluative) unprepared!

High School Experience

  • Tell me a little bit about your high school.
  • Tell me about the courses you are taking currently.
  • Tell me about your favorite class(s) you have taken. Why was it your favorite?
  • Which class has been your least favorite? Why?
  • Which classes have been the most difficult (or most challenging)?
  • What subjects do you plan on studying at [school]?
  • How have you pursued this interest in school, and outside of school?
  • What is your dream job?

Extracurricular Activities

  • What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
  • When you’re not in class, studying, or doing homework, what do you do with your time (organized activities or things for fun)?
  • How did you get involved/started with ____ activity?
  • Which activity is the most meaningful to you, and which one is the most fun?
  • What extracurricular activities do you hope to continue in college?
  • If you could only continue taking part in one EC, which one would it be and why?

College Expectations

  • What type of environment are you looking for in a college/university?
  • What matters most to you in a college setting?

School Specific

  • How did you become interested in [school]?
  • What do you find appealing about [school]?
  • Why do you think you [school] might be the right fit for you?
  • Do you know any students at [school]? Have you reached out to them to learn more about [school]?
  • If you had an opportunity to tell the Admissions Committee anything about yourself, what would it be? What would you want the Admissions Committee to know about you that may not come across on your application?
  • What have you learned about [school] that seems unusual or surprising?

Miscellaneous

  • Apart from looking at colleges, how have you spent your high school summers?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • How would your teachers describe you?
  • If you had a year to do anything you want, what would it be and why?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you wanted to discuss?

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

June Action Plan – By Grade

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

 

Juniors:

  • It might seem like a silly piece of advice, but many students are not aware that each school has a set of application instructions that are not located on the actual online application. I suggest you read them before tackling the application process.
  • As you begin your essay work, open a Common App account, and begin filling out the base data (Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities). Unlike in past years, if you open up an account now, it will not be deleted before August 1, 2019. There is no better time than now to get your CA base data underway.
  • If you’ve finished testing, it is time to review your college list and application strategy. Pinpointing your top 5 or so schools now can help you maximize your time over the summer doing research and outreach.
  • If you are not finished testing, continue to prep.
  • If you have summer college visits planned, take advantage of the summer slowdown, and prepare meetings with your department of interest ahead of time. Interview if possible, too. You should always prepare for interviews, even if a school states they are not evaluative. Extended research and outreach can make a big difference in your admissions outcomes.
  • Many colleges don’t proactively ask for online resources yet, but you may have an interest in creating a digital portfolio (LinkedIn, SoundCloud, personal website, and/or blog). If you do, aim to complete it over the summer.

Sophomores:

  • Continue working on your resume.
  • Come up with a plan for test prep. Summer before junior year is a great time to begin test prep! Here are a few resources to get you started if you are not quite ready to work with a tutor 1:1: = PSAT, ACT, SAT, SAT on Khan.
  • Thinking about how to explore your academic interests this summer? I hope so! There are tons of options, and you should be doing something “academic” this summer if possible. Please note: something “academic” is not limited to a class or formal academic program. Examples of ways you can explore your interests at any time of the year = Khan Academy, Coursera or edX, Ted Talks or Ted-Ed.
  • Volunteer work is also always beneficial. It can be helpful to choose a few volunteer engagements and stick with them through high school/12th grade, so try to pinpoint something you will enjoy and plan to stick with it.

Freshmen:

  • Continue working on your resume.
  • Explore your academic interests this summer! If you are unsure what they are, that’s even more reason to get out there and do some exploring. Figuring out what you do not like is often just as important as figuring out what you do like. Please note: something “academic” is not limited to a class or formal academic program. Examples of ways you can explore your interests at any time of the year = Khan Academy, Coursera or edX, Ted Talks or Ted-Ed.
  • Volunteer work is also always beneficial. It can be helpful to choose a few volunteer engagements and stick with them through high school/12th grade, so try to pinpoint something you will enjoy and plan to stick with it.

 

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe for news, tips, and advice*

Degrees via Coursera? Yes!!!

Any student who works with me knows that I love Coursera and edX. I love the content on both platforms, and I love that it is FREE. I encourage high school students to sign up for classes on both sites; it’s an excellent way to learn more about a specific school and what classes/faculty are like there, as well as take a deeper dive into potential fields of study/majors.

Given my love of MOOCs, I was excited to read about some big news today from Coursera:  it’s championing degree programs!!!

Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed here, and some highlights below:

If you dig through the ancient (circa 2011) archives of everything written about the high-octane brand of massive open online courses, you actually won’t find the founders of Coursera doubting the value of traditional degrees or the colleges and universities that created them (unlike some of their peers — yes, you, Sebastian Thrun). That would have been foolhardy since Coursera worked closely with and depended on universities to produce the content that the technology platform spread far and wide.

But plenty of prognosticators, futurists and journalists who should have known better disparaged higher education by trumpeting Coursera and the other MOOC providers, saying that by making course material freely available to anyone, anywhere, anytime, the platforms heralded the beginning of the end of higher education’s stranglehold over credentialing and, in due time, the institutions themselves.

Coursera is linked closely enough to the deepening meme about the digital “disruption” of traditional higher education that the company’s pivot back to higher education — underscored by today’s announcement that it is more than doubling, to 10, the number of degree programs it is creating with university partners, including its first bachelor’s degree — may seem surprising.

The company has its hands in many parts of the learning landscape, working closely with companies that want to train their workers and continuing to provide individual learners with thousands of courses they can take freely (or at low cost if they want to prove they completed successfully).

But Coursera is now putting much of its energy into — and staking much of its future on — academic programs launched in conjunction with some of the world’s leading universities, with Arizona State University, Imperial College London and the Universities of London and Michigan joining its degree-program ranks today.

The company and its campus partners believe these new credentials can take advantage of the platform’s extensive reach of 31 million users to drive down the costs of recruiting students (and hence the tuitions they charge) and help the universities begin to slice their degree programs into shorter-term credentials.

“We are squarely betting on universities — and on the continued relevance, even dominance, of the degree as the master credential,” says Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera’s CEO since June.

At the same time, he says, the company and its university partners are focused on “redesigning the degree to make it extremely compelling to learners around the world, and a formidable answer to any emerging credentials that might challenge the degree.”

Coursera’s Soon-to-Be 10 Degree Programs

Current Programs

New Programs:

  • Bachelor of computer science, University of London
  • Master of applied data science, University of Michigan
  • Master of computer science, Arizona State University
  • Master of computer science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Master of public health, Imperial College London
  • Master of public health, University of Michigan

 

TUTORIAL: COMPLETING THE TESTING SECTION OF THE COMMON APPLICATION

 

Video number four just posted on filling out the Testing section of the Common Application. If you have specific questions as you watch it/fill out your Common App, feel free to shoot me an email or reach out via the link at the end of the video.

I also suggest joining our new Facebook group, Conquer the Common Application!!! We hope this group becomes a place where students, parents, and counselors can ask questions, share advice, and ultimately, get filling out the Common App right. Not everyone’s Testing section will look the same because not everyone takes the same tests or reports test scores at all, but it can be nice to see a sample. If you join the group, you can also access a PDF of a completed Testing section.

Please share this post with students or that helps students fill out the Common Application. Enjoy!

*Stay in the know! Subscribe for college admissions news, tips, and advice*

Reflections on taking a gap year

New York Times readers who’ve taken a year off from their education, what many now call a gap year, were asked what they learned and what tips they have for those who are considering the same. Some of the responses included in this Education Life article were edited for length and clarity, and I’m posting some below. I do not think a gap year is right for everyone, but students who it is right for know how to conceptualize the time, outline their goals for it, plan it (for the most part) themselves, and have indicated a way to measure their success. Gap years are not years off. In fact, they are very much the opposite. Here’s what some gap-year-takers had to say about it:

By taking a gap year, you are making the brave decision to slow down. I deferred my admission to Claremont McKenna College for a year. I made a few plans, but ultimately left my gap year full of gaps. I worked as a salesperson. I took a class at a community college. I road-tripped with my best friend. The one thing I scheduled was a three-month-long trip to the South Pacific, a gift from my parents that I combined with some of the money I made in the fall.

For my gap year I lived with my parents and siblings. I worked a variety of jobs: for a land surveyor, nights at a convenience store and as an inventory checker. I hated them all, but they got me out of the house and put some money in my pocket. I felt lost. My friends were gone and I didn’t fit in with my family dynamic. The highlights of my months were my military service weekends. I made close connections with my fellow soldiers and looked forward to the challenges and camaraderie of our training time. Recognize that the gap year is a time of transition. When you feel alone and like your life is stuck while your friends are away on their own adventures, remember you are experiencing a challenge few accept. You will learn more about yourself during your gap year than most of your friends will learn during their first year of college. In addition, you’ll develop skills that will serve you in life: resilience, self-reliance, courage and patience. Your gap year will be the furnace that will temper your steely resolve to achieve when you arrive at college.

I decided a gap year would be the best choice for me because I felt exhausted after going through high school. Even though I come from a low-income family, there are programs like Global Citizen Year that provide scholarships for students of all backgrounds. (I paid $5,000 through outside scholarships and my own fund-raising.) Though there are many struggles at times with limited resources to take care of mental and physical health, the experience over all has been very meaningful. I am learning three languages here: French, Pulaar and Malinke. I even decided on what I want to study in college: linguistics. For work, I teach English at the local high school two days a week, and on the other days I work at my host family’s community garden. Since my host father works for the Peace Corps and Trees for the Future, I get to learn a lot about sustainability and foreign aid. Mostly, the trip is worthwhile because I got to meet my host family, who have guided me through Senegalese life as a Vietnamese kid who doesn’t know a lot about what he’s doing.

My experience with a gap year was not without its challenges. I went to northern Thailand, taught in a rural school and did community work with a monastery. The school, community and people were amazing. It was the other students in the gap year program that made it especially challenging. The majority of the people I was with picked Thailand so they could party. My weekends became party central, which was not what I signed up for. But all in all, I learned much more than I would in first-year university, about myself, rural education, public health and other cultures. I was forced out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions, and it served me well in the long run. I recommend doing your research. I fell for the company with the great promotional videos and website, and I paid for that, and my experience wasn’t as great, as far as gap years go.

If you are considering a gap year, we can help walk you through planning considerations. Feel free to reach out to us!

*Stay in the know! Subscribe for college admissions news, tips, and advice*

MOOCs for Potential Psychology Majors

MOOCs are a no-brainer for high school students who want to explore their academics interests and possible college majors. And for those of you who have not started exploring your interests outside of school, you should; it is not terribly time-consuming, I promise 🙂

The two below are via edX and both available to audit, for free. I’ll be checking out the first one myself since I am all about leading a happy and meaningful life.

The Science of Happiness

The first MOOC to teach positive psychology. Learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.

AP® Psychology – Course 5: Health and Behavior

Learn about the relationship between stress and physical and mental health and the treatment of abnormal behavior, including psychological disorders.

Using the Modern Love Podcast to Teach Narrative Writing

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, but applicable all year ’round, here is an idea from Kinana Qaddour for using the popular Times podcast to encourage narrative writing.

Modern Love is a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love. Each week, an actor also reads one of the essays in a podcast. Though the stories are often about romantic love, they also take on love of family, friends, and even pets. This teacher finds their themes universal and the range of essays engaging models to help her students find their own voices.

In my work, I have found that most students have little or no experience writing personal narratives, which they need to write for the personal statement/Common Application essay requirement when applying to college. Naturally, I love this idea—so give it a read and share with a teacher who may find it useful!