Test Optional Does Not Mean Test Blind

Test Optional Does Not Mean Test Blind

Important article via Applerouth on the move to test-optional at many schools. This mirrors what we have been discussing with clients. In short, test scores can and will still matter for most clients. Read the full article here–and some highlights:

While test scores are no longer required to complete an application, the vast majority of test-optional schools still welcome test scores and value strong scores in the admissions process

Test-optional admissions policies were already on the rise before COVID-19 led to test cancellations this spring. For many colleges, adopting a test-optional admissions policy can be beneficial. Test-optional schools tend to see the following changes in their admissions patterns:

These factors have been at work for years!

Whether you are looking at a school that is temporarily test-optional for the coming year or one that has a permanent test-optional policy in place, the same wisdom applies: test-optional does not mean test-blind. Sometimes students think that if a school is test-optional, test scores will no longer play a major role in admissions. This is a misconception. 

Test-optional admission opens a lane for students who do not test as well or have limited access to testing and supportive resources, like test prep, while continuing to value strong test scores. There are effectively two admissions tracks with slightly different criteria. Students who do not submit scores will be evaluated on the rest of their application, including grades and extracurricular involvement, but they lack the additional evidence that test scores can provide in a competitive admissions environment.

As we move toward a landscape with more test-optional schools, be careful not to conflate test-optional with test-blind. Testing continues to play an important role for many students applying to test-optional schools and will do so for the foreseeable future. It’s only natural: in the midst of heavy competition, applicants will take every opportunity to distinguish themselves.

 

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Why You Should Read the Georgia Tech Blog (Even if You Will Never Apply There)

Because Rick Clarke and the rest of the admissions team are magic. I don’t know any of them personally FYI — but I sure wish I did. If you don’t, please read the GTech Admissions blog — and this post by Katie Mattli!

BEING SEEN—THIS ONE IS FOR THE JUNIORS

As I was falling asleep last night, my head was buzzing with the conundrum of painting a picture of our campus for students in this new climate.  How do I make connections? How do I share a story without the campus backdrop that tells so much without words? How do I help them see us?

Then in the dark, staring at the ceiling, I remembered: we ask students to do this every year. Every time they begin a college application, they are essentially trying to make colleges see them through their only medium: words.  At my fingertips, I have social platforms, pictures, phones, websites, webinars… a whole slew of tools beyond the written word to paint the campus story for prospective and admitted students.  If I only had words, I would have to intentionally craft a careful and thoughtful message.

So, this blog is filled with application tips and thoughts, dedicated to all those soon-to-be seniors who will only be using words to be seen in the admission process.

Head to the GTech blog to read the rest!

 

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April Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

April Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Number one on the action plan this month is everyone’s health and wellness (and this amazing video by students at Berklee College of Music)!

We are available at your convenience to talk about testing timeline changes or anything else you might want to discuss. We are monitoring how changes may impact the upcoming application process and will be posting anything significant on the blog. Please let us know if you have any questions about researching and connecting with schools online, taking virtual tours, or thinking about alternate summer options if you were planning on attending an on-campus or travel program. Happy to answer questions via email (contact form)!

Seniors:

  • Waitlisted at your top choice school? Read our waitlist guidance, and reach out if you’d like us to help you craft your WL letter and a personalized waitlist strategy.
  • May 1 is the national decision day. However, many schools have pushed their deposit deadlines much later. You can find a comprehensive list here via ACCEPT Group.
  • If you are having trouble deciding where to deposit because you have not been able to visit campuses, attend admitted student events, or talk to current students, please reach out as we have resources to share (including student contacts) that might help!

Juniors:

  • Now is a good time for a social media audit. Connecting with colleges on social is a way to learn about them and it demonstrates interest. Before you tweet to any of your top schools or like them on FB, follow them on Instagram, etc., please make sure your accounts put you in the best light. If you have any questions, ask us!
  • It is also an excellent time to determine who you will ask for your two core teacher letters of recommendation.
  • If you find that you have some extra time on your hands, consider:
      • Creating a digital portfolio (LinkedIn, SoundCloud, personal website, and/or blog).
      • Opening a Common App account and filling out the base data.
      • Contacting your regional reps and asking them for suggestions on how to learn more about their school/programs from afar.
      • Contacting current students as part of your extended research/outreach (see attached).
      • Working on essays!

Sophomores & Freshmen

  • Now is a good time for a social media audit. Connecting with colleges on social is a way to learn about them and it demonstrates interest. Before you tweet to any of your top schools or like them on FB, follow them on Instagram, etc., please make sure your accounts put you in the best light. If you have any questions, ask us!
  • It is helpful to understand how colleges view and define leadership! It is more than being the President of a club or the Captain of a sports team—these are just titles. Please read the PDF here to learn more.
  • Start a story journal. From big life events to small everyday situations, stories from your life drive your college application essays. If you start jotting them down now, as they happen or as you remember them, you will have a much easier time next spring when you start brainstorming to write your personal statement. No story is too big or too small!

 

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Why Did Yale Choose You

Why Did Yale Choose You

Although I did smirk reading the subtitle Embracing Average, I really enjoyed Alexandra Gers’ reflection in the Yale News on her application file and why Yale chose her. Anyway, what stood out to me was this:

When I flipped the page, it was kind of like being slapped in the face. “She didn’t strike me as thoughtful, introspective or determined.” Repeatedly. “I couldn’t figure out what she was passionate about.”

For high school students targeting (or preparing to target) selective colleges and universities, take note:

  • Thoughtful
  • Introspective
  • Determined
  • A clearly defined passion (I don’t love the word passion so let’s call this “interest”)

 

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Business

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Business

The best programs are the ones that help you explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, they help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in exploring business.

The University of Pennsylvania, Leadership in the Business World (LBW)

Supported by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Leadership in the Business World (LBW) is an intensive summer program for a select group of rising high school juniors and seniors who want an introduction to a top-notch undergraduate business education and the opportunity to hone their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Learn more here.

New York Univesity, Summer @ Stern

Summer @ Stern through NYU Precollege offers rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn fundamental concepts of business—including accounting, finance, economics, marketing, and psychology—from NYU Stern’s world-renowned faculty.  Summer @ Stern is a two-course program that will give high school students an introduction to business, college life, and the cultural vibrancy of New York City. Learn more here.

Cornell University, Fundamentals of Modern Marketing

In this rigorous program, you’ll gain an understanding of the forces at work in the buying and selling of goods, services, and ideas. You’ll learn about the principles and fundamentals of modern marketing by exploring real-world examples, such as the evolution of Tesla’s products and distribution, how Halo Top and other niche marketers compete with Unilever, and the communication approaches of Google’s Unskippable Labs (digital advertising) and Cheetos/USA Curling (sales promotion). Learn more here.

LEAD, Multiple College Campuses

The Summer Business Institute (SBI) program is LEAD’s longest running Summer Institute and is considered the “flagship” program. The SBI program exposes scholars to business principles and the skill sets needed for successful business careers. The program challenges them through applied learning experiences often facilitated by college professors, links scholars to corporate executives in business fields and peers with similar aspirations and abilities. During LEAD SBIs, scholars reside and attend classes on-campus at a select number of the nation’s top business schools for three or four weeks. SBIs provide diverse, high-achieving rising high school seniors the opportunity to explore finance, entrepreneurship, accounting and marketing, among other business sectors. Learn more here.

Fordham University, NYC Business Insider

It takes just one week—five days behind the scenes of Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Silicon Alley—to show you what a career in business looks like. Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business invites high school juniors and seniors to experience New York City as the commercial capital of the world. Network with new friends, and maybe even with your future college professors. Visit the boardrooms, showrooms, and stadiums where business gets done in New York. Learn more here.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

JUV Consulting

  • Gain experience with prototype testing and feedback, give your opinions and perspectives on trends, be a part of potential focus groups, contribute to school outreach programs, and participate in brand ambassadorship opportunities. Learn more here.

Internship

  • Ask us about this one!

 

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The Best Summer Programs for High School Students

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students

Guess what? There is no such thing as a “best” summer program.

The best programs are the ones that help you explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, they help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

That said, the best way to spend your summers, if you have these aims in mind, might not be a summer “program” at all. There are a few very competitive and highly-regarded summer programs for high school students, but most pre-college programs are not selective. In future posts, I will be sharing some of my favorite summer programs for students with specific academic interests (business, engineering, computer science, etc.) as well as some ways to explore interests that are not formal pre-college programs (for the most part, free options!). These other options will include activities that you can participate in all year.

Stay tuned…and if you want an email alert when these lists are posted, please subscribe!

 

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March Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

March Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

 

Seniors:

  • Many of you will be waiting on final admissions decisions, and then finalizing your college plans this month into next. Happy deciding, and don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you along the way.

Juniors:

  • Please make sure you are engaging in extended research/outreach with the schools on your list. Are you going to sit in on a class? Do you want to try to meet with someone in your intended department of interest (major, minor, etc.)? Have you been reaching out to and talking to students or alumni? Not all schools offer formal pathways to these opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them happen.
  • Continue prepping for and taking standardized tests, as well as updating your resume. Now is also the time to confirm your summer plans.
  • Are you curious about which schools super score the ACT? SAT? Some schools super-score one test but not the other! Read more here: https://www.compassprep.com/superscore-and-score-choice/
  • Interested in seeing some schools? Take a tour via CampusReel. Visiting campus in person is great, but you won’t be able to tour all of the schools on your list. Plus, formal campus tours can be a bit limiting! CampusReel is one of my favorite ways to get a real insider look at colleges.

Sophomores and Freshmen:

  • Have you thought about what major(s) you will mark on your application? Most schools don’t hold you to it (you declare a major by the end of sophomore year at most schools), but they do want to better understand your academic interests and potential major path. Does your resume/activity sheet speak to your academic interests? Now is the time to start thinking about this!
  • Next summer is a wonderful time to do something meaningful, perhaps even fun, that will help you explore your interests and tell your story for college! Keep in mind: you don’t need to take a class for credit or attend a formal summer program. There are many ways to spend your summer that are beneficial.
  • Continue working on your resume/activity sheet. Some summer programs and internships may ask for this, so it’s useful to have it handy.
  • Interested in seeing some schools? Take a tour via CampusReel
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Call for Applications: Experimental Study Program for Teens

Call for Applications: Experimental Study Program for Teens

Cool program alert!

Experimental Study Program
Spring 2020 Season
February 26–April 29
Applications due February 9

This spring, the New Museum offers its free semester-long program for young people aged fifteen to nineteen. Participants will meet from 4 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday from February 26 to April 29 (excluding April 15). Now in its fourteenth season, this program provides youth the chance to learn about contemporary art and engage in intimate, critical discussions about culture.

Through a series of workshops, young people will have the opportunity to collaborate meaningfully with peers and guest artists. This season, the Experimental Study Program (ESP) will explore contemporary portraiture and figuration. The program will take as its starting point the work of Jordan Casteel, whose exhibition “Within Reach” includes large-scale paintings of people she encounters in various settings, including individuals from her neighborhood of Harlem and, more recently, her students at Rutgers University-Newark. Participants will meet Casteel and discuss ideas and approaches to portraiture with her. Throughout the remainder of the season, we will consider the variety of ways that she and other artists use the figure—from expressive and intimate to wildly satirical, abstract, and surreal depictions of the human form—experiment with their own, and reflect on how these choices intersect with identity, representation, social histories, and imaginations.

The Museum seeks applications from people between ages fifteen and nineteen who are curious about contemporary art and enthusiastic about connecting with their peers.

The Experimental Study Program is free.How to Apply:

  • Click here to apply
  • Fill out the application and respond to the prompts
  • Include the contact information of a teacher, counselor, or supervisor who can provide a reference
  • Submit the completed application by February 9, 2020

 

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Know A Girl Who Wants To Change The World?

Know A Girl Who Wants To Change The World?

The HERlead Fellowship is designed to equip young women with the leadership skills they need to effect global progress, invest in their communities – to date, more than 246 social impact projects received funding through HERlead Fellowship Grants – and continue their journeys as the next generation of leaders.  Here’s how it works:

WHAT IT IS:
A fellowship to provide leadership training to young women, empowering them to become the next generation of global trailblazers.

WHY PARTICIPATE:
Learn from inspiring women leaders from around the world and participate in Vital Voices’ signature leadership model training program. Attend the HERlead Leadership Forum and become eligible to win a HERlead Grant to put your ideas into action.

WHO SHOULD APPLY:
Girls in the 10th or 11th grade at a high school in the United States, Puerto Rico or Canada.

DATES & DEADLINES:
The HERlead Fellowship Application is now open and will close Wednesday, February 5th, 2020. The 2020 Leadership Forum will take place on June 22-25, 2020 in New York City.

DETAILS:
We are searching the country for young women leaders who are committed to reshaping the world and making positive and sustainable change. We will select 30 applicants to be the 2020 Fellows. If you are selected, you will join an elite group of rising stars, where you will be given the skills, tools and training needed to realize your full leadership potential. All costs to attend the HERlead Leadership Forum are covered by the fellowship (including transportation, accommodation, and meals) so there are no costs to the Fellow.

AS A HERLEAD FELLOW, YOU WILL:
• Participate in the HERlead Leadership Forum, a four-day leadership training program in New York City, from June 22-25, 2020.
• Obtain skills and networks to take on leadership roles in your schools and companies.
• Be mentored by global women leaders who are part of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network, as well as AnnTaylor Retail Inc. Representatives.

For more information, an Overview of the Program, a Sample Application, Grant Information and HERlead Social Media Tips, see the HERlead TOOL KIT.

After completing the leadership training program, you will return to your community and have the opportunity to use what you learned at the Forum to create a project that will effect change. You are also eligible to receive a HERlead Grant that will further help you turn your ideas into action.

To be considered, you must demonstrate a strong commitment to leadership and potential for creating innovative solutions to problems in your community. You must have a proven track record in your academic work and interest in extracurricular activities. Are you up for the challenge?

For questions about the application, please see APPLICATION FAQS

Weekend Workshops for High School Students

Weekend Workshops for High School Students

The NYU School of Professional Studies High School Academy offers Weekend Workshops that provide high school students with programs of study that allow them to explore their professional options and enhance their college portfolio. Although I do not usually recommend formal pre-college type programs, I do think this is a great way for underclassmen to explore areas of academic interest. The deadline to apply is January 22, and classes start on February 8. The cost is $450 for 4 sessions. Read more here.

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

The first is a purpose project collaboration with Strategy Girl. A purpose project is a project that draws on your interests and talents—the things you love, that bring you joy, that excite you academically—that you feel would fill a need in your school, community, or the world. Participants will:

  • Conceptualize a Purpose project—a project that students design and implement on their own, which taps into the students’ talents—the things they love, that bring them joy, that they want to study in college, or how they feel they could best help their school, community, or the world. They’re connected to your deeper meaning and purpose and they have tangible outcomes. Anyone can do them. What is most important is inspiration, commitment, and support!
  • Learn about the importance of collaboration over competition, seeking out support from others, and understanding that leadership is not a path walked alone. 
  • Gain insights on goal-setting, strategy, learning from hurdles and setbacks, and how to stay sane in today’s highly competitive high school scene (including the craziness around college admissions!).
  • Draft a resume/activity sheet and learn about how their work in this program might be utilized when applying to college.

Past projects include writing a book, completing a literature review or book challenge, creating a trailer for a documentary, prototyping an app, spearheading an innovative volunteer event, creating a club at school, fundraising for an organization of your choice in a creative way (selling artwork, an Etsy shop, etc), and hosting a yearly beach clean-up. 

This program meets online once weekly for 1.5 hours, for 5 weeks, with the option to meet other local participants in-person in the NYC-area. The deadline to apply is January 31, and classes start on February 15. The cost is $750, and scholarships are available.

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