Juniors: What’s Your Story?

Juniors: What’s Your Story?

The start of junior year is the perfect time to determine your story for applying to college. What majors are you considering? What have you done to explore those majors? Where will you add value in college both inside and outside of the classroom? Is your value add clear on your resume? 

It might seem early since you won’t be submitting apps until this time next year, but those apps are much easier to write if you’ve done some work ahead of time. 

Juniors, right now you can:

  • Create a testing plan and learn about test-optional admissions
  • Develop relationships with admissions officers and regional reps (the people who make key decisions on your application) as well as current students and faculty (we can fill you in on why these connections are so important and set you up with a peer guide)
  • Open up a Common App account to get familiar with the system
  • Craft a preliminary college list so you understand the many application plans colleges now use, and why this is a critical component of a smart application strategy
  • Make the best of virtual campus visits 
  • And of course, determine your academic narrative and “story” for your apps, and learn how this plays into one of our favorite parts of the college app process: essays!

Speaking of essays now would be a great time for juniors to grab a copy of our book, The Complete College Essay Handbook

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Harvard MCC Youth Advisory Board Opportunity

Harvard MCC Youth Advisory Board Opportunity

Making Caring Common’s Youth Advisory Board is a diverse group of high school students from across the country who are committed to making schools more caring and respectful places through everyday interactions. Members guide our understanding of and 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 our ideas, share their thoughts on current events, and make sure we’re on the right track when communicating information to young people.

We are looking for young people with the following characteristics:

  • Passion for making their school and community more kind and inclusive
  • Creativity about ways to connect with young people
  • Ability to inspire other youth and adults to action
  • Excellent communication and organization skills
  • Demonstrated commitment to the following values: caring, responsibility toward others, and justice

We are particularly interested in including young people who are not typically identified as leaders in their schools, those who may be socially marginalized, and those who represent minority groups within their school community.

The deadline to apply is October 4, and you can submit your application here.

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Shero’s Rise Virtual Summer Series

Shero’s Rise Virtual Summer Series

Shero’s Rise virtual Summer Series features fun and developmentally appropriate engagement opportunities for girls to strengthen their path to self-actualization.

Rooted in their 12 foundational pillars, participants will explore the cultivation of self, character and value development, self-sufficiency, personal wellness, and preparation for the future, so that she may become her own Shero!

 
 

 

Find out more here and please share! 

Summer Programs for Female Identifying High School Students

Summer Programs for Female Identifying High School Students

The best summer 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).

Below are some great options for female-identifying students!

CMU Computer Science Scholars

Participants will attend lectures by Carnegie Mellon faculty with expertise in various aspects of computing. They will also attend two academic seminars focused on programming and higher level mathematics. Project-based learning will supplement classroom experiences and offer students an opportunity to apply learned concepts to real-world challenges. Outside of the academic experience students will engage virtually with industry leaders to learn about the vast opportunities in the field of computing. Students will have an opportunity to be mentored by industry leaders throughout the country. At the conclusion of the program students will receive a comprehensive evaluation which can be integrated into their academic portfolios for college admission purposes.

Women’s Technology Program – MIT

The MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP) is a rigorous four-week summer academic experience to introduce high school students to engineering through hands-on classes, labs, and team-based projects in the summer after 11th grade. WTP is designed for students who are excited about learning, have demonstrated their ability to excel at math and science in their high school classes, and who have no prior background (or very little) in engineering or computer science, with few opportunities to explore these fields. WTP is a women-focused, collaborative community aimed at empowering students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in engineering. We especially encourage students to apply who will be the first family member to attend college, who come from high schools with limited access to STEM classes and activities, or who are African American, Hispanic, or Native American.

Barnard Pre-College

Experience Summer in New York City at Barnard. With distinct programs to choose from, ranging from entrepreneurship to STEM, you have the unique opportunity to explore an area of interest on a deeper level through both in-class discussions and city exploration. As part of the learning experience at Barnard, you will get a taste of both college life and the city that never sleeps!

Inspiring Girls Expeditions

Leadership adventure programming! Tuition-free multi-day expeditions for high school girls that interweave science, art, and backcountry travel. Expeditions are led by professional women scientists, artists, and wilderness guides. Throughout each expedition, the team engages in scientific and artistic inquiry about the environment around them. In small groups, participants design and conduct scientific projects, which they present to the public on the last full day of their expeditions.

Smith Summer Science & Engineering

The Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) is designed for exceptional high school students with strong interests in science and engineering. Engage in hands-on research with Smith faculty in life and physical sciences and in engineering. Established in 1990, the program annually serves more than 100 students. Since its inception, nearly 1,800 students have participated, representing 46 states and 53 countries. After the program, participants return to high school better prepared to tackle tough science courses and understand what to expect in college.

Girls Who Code

Clubs, summer immersion programs, and college loops!

Girls Teaching Girls to Code

Events and programs vary from year to year. Check their site for more information.

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Register for 15th Annual Camp Pride Summer Leadership Academy

Register for 15th Annual Camp Pride Summer Leadership Academy

Premiere national training program for LGBTQ and ally young adults on college campuses will be conducted virtually July 16 – 18

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Today, Campus Pride, the national nonprofit dedicated to building future leaders and creating safer communities for LGBTQ college students, announced that registration is now open for the 15th Annual Camp Pride Summer Leadership Academy, held online for the second year on Friday July 16, Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18, 2021.

Since 2006, Camp Pride has been the premiere national training program for social justice and grassroots activism for LGBTQ and ally young adults on college campuses. Traditionally an in-person summer camp with about 50-75 LGBTQ and ally young people and advisors, this year’s digital camp will be conducted online over three days with more than a hundred participants from across the country.

“Not letting a global pandemic get in the way of achieving our mission, in 2020 we adapted and held the first-ever digital Camp Pride,” said Shane Windmeyer, Founder and Executive Director of Campus Pride. “We are returning to a digital camp this year because it prioritizes safety and still allows us to connect with an even larger network of LGBTQ activists at a time when fostering ways to  build community is vital for queer youth.”

Campus Pride Board Chair and 2007 Camp Pride alum Tom Elliott said, “Ask anyone who has gone to Camp Pride before to describe it, they’ll probably tell you they made lasting friendships with peers from across the country and experienced tremendous personal growth in a welcome, safe environment that is inclusive of all identities and expressions. Finding and building supportive, inclusive communities and connecting with other LGBTQ student leaders is more important than ever.”

Camp Pride will feature keynote speakers, panelists and entertainment geared toward teaching and training LGBTQ and ally young adults. Part of our program teaches students how to develop a “personal action plan” for their campus to become more LGBTQ-friendly. A new addition to Camp Pride 2021, Campus Pride will be funding a select number of action plans with Social Justice Mini-Grants of up to $600 for students to implement on their campus when they return from camp.

Registration is $265 per person to attend. Scholarship and fee waivers are available on a limited basis. Registration for the 2021 Digital Camp Pride is now open at www.campuspride.org/camppride. Registration closes on Wednesday, July 16, 2021.

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Sophomores and Juniors: Independent Study

Sophomores and Juniors: Independent Study

COVID is still hindering in-person learning, forcing clubs to meet online (if not canceling them outright), and may even throw a wrench in in-person educational and extracurricular planning for the spring and summer. A primary focus of our work with 10th and 11th graders is extracurricular planning, and there’s one that is almost never dependent on needing to be anywhere in person: the independent study. 

Independent studies (IS) can be done anywhere and work with almost any area of interest, which is why in such uncertain times, they are our go-to EC. Like the “purpose” or “passion” projects many of our students undertake, the IS is a create your own educational opportunity, so there’s no one size fits all model to follow or template you can use to just plug and play. Below are some of the details we suggest thinking through if you are interested in conceptualizing an IS.

Who

The IS requires the student to have an area of interest that they want to explore (or explore more), as well as the time, energy, and foresight to plan it on their own. However, students may want to seek out support from a teacher at their high school or a mentor from outside of school if they desire to formalize it or have some guidance or check-ins along the way. 

What

Anything goes! But we suggest an area of academic interest related to what you may pursue in college. It might be a new topic, or it might be an extension of a topic you have already researched. The bottom line is, it should 1) be a topic/area you choose because you will need to be into it to make the work happen on your own and 2) if possible, it should work with your academic narrative (the academic story that unfolds in your college apps). 

Where

Planning the IS as a remote activity is a good call given the uncertainties around COVID. Doing so also provides the flexibility to add on other activities/formal programming or have time for a job if that suits you while still working on the IS, as well as plan something like travel (college visits?) if that becomes reality again! 

When

Winter break or early in the new year is the perfect time for students to start planning their independent study. As for an ideal start time? Many juniors are busy with testing so we suggest it as a summer activity, although students who may not have AP testing in May or who have finished or not yet started ACT/SAT testing could realistically start in the spring if their courseload allowed. The classes that appear on your transcript will always be the most important to colleges, so you don’t want your IS to get in the way of excelling in those courses. 

Why

Beyond how the restrictions that might be in place around COVID make it an ideal activity, an independent study helps demonstrate to colleges your commitment to learning, your intellectual focus and curiosity, and that you are a self-directed learner interested in charting your own course and not limiting yourself to what you can take in school (or afford to take outside of it). 

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10th and 11th Graders: College Planning Starts Now!

10th and 11th Graders: College Planning Starts Now!

By 10th and 11th-grade college talk should be fairly consistent—especially if you are, or have a student who is—aiming to attend a selective college or university. The majority of our work with students, which includes summer planning, narrative development (your “story” for college), compiling school lists, and completing the personal statement, app data, and a comprehensive resume—starts in 10th and early in 11th grade. If this is you (or your student!) there is no better time to start the process than right now.

Sophomores should consider the following:

  • Starting to prep for standardized exams early. Don’t wait until spring of your junior year to begin prep. We have a small list of tutors that we can highly recommend; don’t leave who you work with up to chance.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other.
  • Now is the time to build your story for college! Have you heavily involved with any of your extracurricular activities (other than sports)? Look for leadership opportunities in school and consider activities outside of school as well. Does your resume point toward a major? It should start to at this time, and if it does not, that should be a goal for your summer plans.

And juniors, it’s not too late to:

  • Prep for and take the ACT or SAT. Yes, schools are going to be test-optional this year, but high test scores always help!
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he 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 goal schools and your high school’s track record at those schools. Get their take on schools that are going to be a fit, and hash out a preliminary application plan.
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in, explore the admissions and academics pages, attend ALL of the virtual offerings offered, and sign up for a peer guide with us to really go above and beyond in your research. Now is the time to kick your college research into high gear.
  • Start your Common App essay brainstorming. Ask us how!
  • Plan your summer wisely. You’ll want to use this summer to round out your resume and make sure it’s pointed toward your intended major, and you’ll also want to finish most of your applications. Make a plan now because you don’t want to be playing catch-up in the fall.

Email us or fill out the contact form to schedule a consult and find out how we can support you in your college planning and application process!

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Why B Students Make Great Leaders

Why B Students Make Great Leaders

As a solid B student myself in high school, I love articles that normalize B’s. As a college counselor, of course I have to be transparent about the A expectation of top colleges and universities. However, many of my B students have gone on to do great things in college and in life—no Ivy-league or top-30 school required.

Two of my favorite takeaways from this old-ish article that I have seen be true for some of my favorite B students:

  • Leading rarely has anything to do with pure intellect alone.
  • B students flourish by using a combination of good-enough mental horsepower with a kind of emotional intelligence that gives them the ability to relate to people.

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Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Leadership

As part of your college application, extracurricular activities—including those over the summer— help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college). Some programs, however, are not purely academic, like those geared toward leadership development. The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in developing their leadership skills (and so much more!).

Please keep in mind that “programs” are not the only way to explore academic interests. In fact, many colleges like to see students go beyond canned programming (ask us about this directly). You can join clubs at your school or locally, take free online classes via edX and Coursera, shadow, or intern (aka volunteer for most students)—there are tons of options ranging from super formal (and pricey) to those as simple as reading in your free time.

Bank of America Student Leaders Program

Student Leaders participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization where you learn first-hand about the needs of the community and the critical role nonprofits play. In addition, you will learn valuable civic, social and business leadership skills. Each Student Leader will attend the Student Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. where you will learn how government, business and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs. Note: in-person events will be in line with local and national guidelines around gatherings and travel and may be subject to change.

The LEAP Young Adult Leadership Program

LEAP Week is a highly-immersive week-long leadership program for high school and college students held annually at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, California. Each year, 400 students from around the globe travel to attend LEAP Week, a full week dedicated to helping young adults uncover the “real-life” skills needed to achieve great success. Another major focus of LEAPweek is developing young adults’ networking skills. Especially in this modern age of social media, most teens already have strong networking capabilities, they just need some guidance to maximize these abilities. Networking will be tremendously important when you begin your career, and it also helps develop lasting friendships in every phase of life.

Notre Dame Leadership Seminars

Leadership Seminars is for current high school juniors who are academically gifted leaders in their school, church, local community, or other social organizations. Students participate in one of three seminars (sample topic: Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age). Around 90 students are admitted each year—usually ranking in the top 10 percent of their class—and are eligible to receive one college credit.

Annual Camp Pride Summer Leadership Academy

Camp Pride is the premiere national training program for social justice and grassroots activism for LGBTQ and ally young adults on college campuses.

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February Action Plan – By Grade

February Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

  • Once your applications have been submitted, track the status of each app online to ensure all of your application materials were received. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a college is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. Check your junk email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from colleges.
  • Interviews! Sign up for interviews for all of your RD schools as soon as possible (where available/and if still open), if you have not done so already.
  • For RD schools, consider writing interest letters to schools that welcome additional information. It might even be beneficial to have an extra LOR sent if you did not send one within the Common App. 

Juniors:

  • Keep prepping for standardized tests (ACT, SAT) and working hard in all of your classes; your grades this year are very important.
  • Do you know what major(s) you will mark on your application? Do you have a clearly defined academic interest or set of interests for your college apps? This is a critical part of your application that should be determined now.
  • Continue working on your resume. Some summer programs, internships, and interviewers may ask for this, so it’s useful to have it handy.
  • Next summer is a wonderful opportunity to do something really meaningful, perhaps even fun, that will help you tell your story for college! Get those plans in place now.; there is still a lot of uncertainty because of COVID, so having multiple plans/irons in the fire is a good idea. 
  • Meet with your school counselor about your preliminary college list and go over your goals and plans for college visits/outreach.
  • Take a college tour via CampusReel. Visiting campus in person is great, but you won’t be able to tour all of the schools on your initial 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.
  • Tired of online tours? Sign up with one of our Peer Guides!!! 
  • Start to think about your senior year schedule. Do you know what you will be taking? Your senior classes should be the most challenging of your four years.
  • If you’d like to start your Common App essay early, now is the time. If you are not working with us and would like to on your essays, reach out via the contact form. We help quite a few juniors finish their CA essays over the winter/spring, especially those with busy summer/fall schedules. 

Sophomores and Freshmen:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. Work on creating smart study habits this year.
  • Will you be starting your SAT or ACT prep this spring/summer? Begin to decide on a testing schedule and plan for how you will prepare for these exams.
  • Many 2021 summer program applications are now open. Please begin thinking about your plans for summer and work on applications if needed.
  • Start to think about next year’s course schedule. Do you know what you will be taking? Your classes next year should be more challenging than this year.
  • Now is the time to build your academic profile for college, and this means pursuing what interests you academically and intellectually outside of your classes. Have you gotten more involved with any academic extracurricular activities? Have you thought about what you might want to major in? Think about ideas for new and different activities or how to get more involved in your favorite activity (academic and non-academic); exploration now will help you begin determining what you might want to study in college. A great place to start exploring your academic interests is Khan Academy or TedX.
  • One way that your “story” is conveyed in your app is through your resume. Keep working on yours this month.

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