College Counseling versus College Coaching

Jim Jump does it again! I encourage you to read his latest in Inside Higher Ed, Ethical College Admissions: Counseling vs. Coaching. I started my career as an IEC as a “college counselor” and though that role does involve coaching, I love Jump’s distinction and that he raises questions that I also think a lot about: Do our students, parents, and schools want college counseling or do they want college coaching? Is the aspiration to transform young people’s lives unrealistic, even naïve, in a landscape that is increasingly transactional?

From his article:

What is the difference between college counseling and college coaching?

College counseling sees the college process as part of a larger quest to help young people figure out who they are and what they care about. Admission to college is the product of that process of discernment. College counseling is developmental, educational, relational and process-oriented. It is more about asking questions than providing answers.

College coaching, by contrast, is transactional and results-oriented. Admission to college is an end in itself rather than a means to self-discovery, and a coach serves as chief strategist for the student in the application process.

Of course, as Jump notes, it’s not that simple. All college counselors help students navigate a process that’s complex and confusing and not at all transparent, to say the least. So in that way, college counselors are college coaches. To me what is important is how much I counsel versus how much I coach, and more importantly, why I do what I do in the first place. Hint: it’s not to help kids who aren’t a fit for college X “win” admission to college X.

 

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Why to Reconsider Applying to Schools with Under 10% Admit Rates in RD

College admissions can be heartbreaking on many levels, but what’s “the worst” is the number of applicants who think they can get lucky in regular decision—especially at schools with ED II, and who report RD admit rates under 10%. Even for students with a strong resume and “great” numbers, the odds are against you. At the most selective schools, there is not much luck to be had.

You’ll need something special (or a special combination of things) to get a fair look at a top-top school in RD: be at the top of your class with perfect or near-perfect grades, have little/no competition from classmates, be a legacy, and often very important, attend a high school that has an already established pipeline to these schools. You’ll need some awesome essays, too.

It might help to see that a 5% admit rate = 95% rejection rate

I know this sounds negative, and anyone who knows me knows that I am a glass half full type of person, but it’s time to start seeing rejection rates for what they are, especially if your list is full of schools with admit rates under ~25% (meaning the RD rate could dip to under ~10%).

Sometimes [insert uber-selective school here] just needs a new library, or full-pays, or more women from Idaho, or a flute player. So…

Don’t take it personally if you don’t fall into that tiny, tiny pool; you are, I promise, still enough.

 

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Launch a startup this summer

The Early Application Round is open! The LaunchX early application deadline is December 15, and this is your opportunity to be compared with a smaller pool of applicants.

If you didn’t know already, LaunchX is a 4-week experience hosted at top universities around the United States. Students collaborate with other motivated and skilled peers to plan, design, and launch a real startup! In previous years, LaunchX has been held at the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania.  The locations and dates for summer 2020 will be announced in January, though please note, you are applying to LaunchX, and not to a specific university location.

Unlike many other business programs, LaunchX focuses on entrepreneurship and getting real, meaningful results. Throughout the program, students are provided advisory boards and mentors with real-world experience, plus students learn from and engage with many industry experts in fields from product design to marketing strategy. “Launchies”, as we like to call them, work together in an intensive and collaborative community to discover unique opportunities, conduct market research, prototype, user test, and more, finally culminating in Demo Day, where they showcase and demonstrate their hard work.

Wondering what the admissions committee looks for in a great applicant?  We’ve got you covered!  Check out this blog post where we’ve shared more about what matters to us.

Concerned about being able to afford the cost of the program if admitted?  We offer generous financial need to domestic admitted students!  Check out this post for more on last year’s financial need, plus note that we offer application fee waivers with proof of financial need, and waive application fees to students who have applied previously!

Don’t forget to check out our new Summer Program guide, filled with tons of super helpful information.

Additionally, make sure to follow and check the LaunchX Instagram page @launchxed. New this year, our interns will be hosting live Q and A sessions where you will be welcome to ask any questions you have about the LaunchX experience and application process.

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Cornell Winter Session Online – Open Now for High School Students

Get a head start on college by taking a course online during Cornell University’s Winter Session.

High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors can choose from a wide range of subjects, from economics to psychology—all taught by members of Cornell’s exceptional faculty.

Studying alongside Cornell undergraduates, you’ll earn from one to four transferable credits and receive a Cornell transcript.

See the Precollege Studies online courses page for the complete list of courses and to enroll.

Registration ends November 29.

Classes:

  • Anthropology: ANTHR 1300 Human Evolution: Genes, Behavior, and the Fossil Record
  • Classics: CLASS 2604 Greek Mythology
  • Economics: ECON 1120 Introductory Macroeconomics
  • Human Development: HD 2600 Introduction to Personality
  • ILR: Human Resource Studies: ILRHR 2600 Human Resource Management
  • Nutritional Science: NS 1150 Nutrition, Health, and Society
  • Plant Biology: PLBIO 2400 Green World/Blue Planet
  • Psychology: PSYCH 2750 Introduction to Personality

 

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November Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

  • Send official test scores to schools that require you to send official test scores. To submit official scores, you must pay and have them sent through either the ACT or College Board. Please do not send official AP score reports to colleges; colleges do not ask for official score reports from AP exams until you are admitted/you decide to attend a school.
  • Many schools require submission of RD apps by 12/1 for merit award consideration. Please do not press pause once ED/EA apps are submitted. Some of these schools include BU, USC, Wake, Vandy, UConn, Clemson, and Richmond. College Kickstart has a list here outlining schools with 2019-20 Merit Scholarship Deadlines, but you will need to check the admissions website of the schools on your list to be 100% sure.
  • Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, you often are provided a “portal” from each school. Track the status of your app 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. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools. If you have any questions about what you see on your portal, please reach out to the school directly and ASAP.
  • Work on your “interest letter” for your top choice school (or schools!) if you have decided to write one.
  • Prepare for interviews!

Juniors:

  • Keep updating your resume and preparing for standardized tests.
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in. Explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think about your major (or majors!) of interest and how your activities support this interest. Don’t forget: you should be exploring your interests outside of the classroom/school. But what if I do not know what my interests are?!
    • Interests are not necessarily inherent, waiting to be found—they need to be cultivated. We believe this is why it is important to start exploring early in high school. Explore through after-school programs, clubs at your school, a summer job, free classes online, by reading books, academic journals, or even watching Ted Talks. What we are getting at is, to really determine your interests, which might someday turn into your focus of study in college—or who knows, maybe even your passions later in life—you have to put some thought into it and do the work!
  • Visit colleges in person. Fall is a great time to visit colleges. Please note, there are not many students on college campuses during December/January, so plan accordingly.
  • Some summer program applications will open over the next few months. If you plan on applying to an application-based summer program, check deadlines now so you can plan ahead.

Sophomores and Freshmen:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. How are your classes going?
  • Beyond academics, colleges also look to admit students who take part in meaningful extracurricular activities. You don’t need to join every single club at school (that is a bad idea, actually, please do not do this!), but if you are not involved in any ECs in or out of school, let’s discuss what might make the most sense for you at this time. You want to take part in a few things and try to continue with those activities (if you enjoy them) throughout high school. One definite “must” is something that allows you to serve others and give back to your community.
  • As we excitedly approach the holiday season, think about how you might be able to help out those in need. The holidays can be a tough time for many families, and high schools and community centers often have food drives, toy drives, coat drives, etc. where you could give some of your time (or food or coats or toys!). Get involved, give back!
  • Some summer program applications will open over the next few months. If you plan on applying to an application-based summer program, check deadlines now so you can plan ahead.
  • Independent reading can play into how well you do on the SAT or ACT. Enhancing your skills during high school will not only help you perform better on college entrance exams but also prepare you for success in college and beyond. Regular reading of articles and editorials (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist) in addition to studying vocabulary lists and signing up for “Word/Article/SAT Question of the Day” can have an impact.

 

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Events in Tech – Upcoming, Deadlines Soon

From our friends at Upperline Code in NYC:

  • Scribble NYC (November 2): Scribble NYC is a design forum and design-a-thon aimed at teaching middle and high school students about the world of product design.
  • hackMCST (November 9-10): The first 24-hour high school hackathon in the suburbs of Morris County founded by high school students to empower high school students. Students have the opportunities to build apps, video games, network, and expand their skills and grow as developers. No matter what age, skill, interest, everyone is invited.
  • Congressional App Challenge: If you have already developed an app for a previous project, there is a good chance that the app is eligible to be entered into this year’s challenge. Students currently enrolled in middle or high school who reside or attend school in a participating district can submit an app coded in any language on any platform as long as it was completed after November 1st, 2018. With over 300 Members of Congress hosting App Challenges in their local districts, and with each district winner receiving an invitation to be honored at the United States Capitol, there’s no better opportunity for your students to be recognized for their hard work. (Deadline: 11/1/19)

 

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Choosing Classes in High School

UVA’s Dean J always has it right. 9-11th graders listen up! This advice applies beyond UVA.

1. All of your core classes are important.

A lot of people focus on the core areas that correspond to their current academic interest. I’ve even had people wave off certain subjects because they aren’t interested in them or they don’t come “naturally” to them. I wish they’d stop this. High school is the time to get a broad foundation in several areas and college is the time to specialize. We are most concerned with a student’s work in five core areas (in alpha order, not order of importance): English, Math, Science, Social Science, and World Language.

2. The number of APs or the IB Diploma don’t drive a decision.

Plenty of people want to know how many AP courses a student should take to be competitive in our process. We don’t approach applications this way. First of all, not everyone goes to a school with APs as an option. Second, some schools limit how many AP courses a student may take. Third, with the number of AP courses offered these days, you can rack up a lot of APs in just one subject. There could be students with big AP numbers who also haven’t take an advanced course in other core areas.
Similarly, students sometimes assume that full diploma candidates at IB schools (which are pretty common in Virginia) get in and everyone else is denied. If you are working on the full IB diploma, that’s fantastic. We will also be very interested in your grades and review which subjects you opted to take as your HLs. The full diploma isn’t the only route to an offer, though. There are students who weren’t able to get the full diploma done while still having some impressive HL work to show. We can admit them, too!

3. Doubling up in one subject at the expense of the core doesn’t “look good.”

There are some students who are so excited about a certain subject that they want to double or even triple up on courses in that area. I don’t think it’s smart to drop core subjects to load up classes in one area. Cover the core and use your electives to explore your interests.

Source.

 

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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!

 

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ACT Announces “Section Retesting” & Other Changes

From Compass Education Group:

“ACT has a reputation for stodginess. Its eponymous test hasn’t had any substantial changes since 1989. Today, ACT just blew up that reputation. It announced superscore reporting, online testing on national test dates, and most radically, section retesting. The changes would go into effect starting in September 2020. EdWeek has been first to share reactions and ACT has provided a detailed FAQ, but a wide range of questions remain unanswered and we will have to wait and see how colleges respond.”

Head to the Compass website for their full (and very informative) take!

 

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Colleges That Allow Self-Reported Test Scores

Applying to college is expensive! There’s application fees, test registration fees, official score reporting fees. Some students are eligible to have these fees waived, but most students don’t qualify for waivers.

Colleges in the list compiled by Compass have stipulated that students may self-report their test scores in their applications. From Compass’ page, click on the name of the college to visit the school’s website where the policy is explained. Note: only colleges that have written policies on their websites or application materials are included in their list.

 

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