Social Media Break, Graduation & Summer Reading/Listening

Social Media Break, Graduation & Summer Reading/Listening

From June 1-8 we took a break from posting on social media. During that time, we continued to think about and act on ways to support our community.

This is the time of year that we are sending congratulations to our high school grads, the class of 2020. In lieu of graduation gifts, we’ve made a donation in their honor to Rock The Vote. Rock the Vote aims to register and educate millions of young voters, be a trusted source of information, and ultimately empower young people to use their voices and create the political and social change that they believe in. We support their dynamic programming, including high school civic education, voter protection work, and election efforts. We have also supported Mutual Aid NYC, a community of volunteers supporting mutual aid organizing across the city, including the Brooklyn Bail Fund.

June is also Pride Month, and this year is the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Our friends at the podcast Footnoting History put together a wonderful list of resources. I welcome you to listen to their episodes on Black HistoryUS History, and LGBT History. You might also want to check out:

One of the most powerful ways to speak is to amplify the voices of those with deeper understanding and broader data; accordingly, Adam Grant suggests the following books:

When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. Let’s all be part of the change.

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4 ‘Must Follow’ College Admissions Office Blogs

I read a lot about college admissions and what I love reading most are the blogs run by actual college admissions offices. Here’s why:

  • They provide insightful from-the-source information that you often can’t get elsewhere
  • They tend to tell it like it is; not a lot of BS
  • Many posts provide much-needed perspective, and some are even inspiring, not fear-inducing
  • Surprisingly many are funny and give a sense of the school’s character (or at least the admissions office’s)

They also provide insights into the culture of each of these schools. Although college is a business at its core, I believe the writers of these blogs are educators at heart, and their writings are not at all marketing efforts. By reading them, you will get not only pertinent application information but also a glimpse into the types of people that attend these schools. A school’s culture or vibe is a factor that I feel strongly should be evaluated in all students college searches.

So here they are in no particular order:

  • Rick Clark and the rest of the Georgia Tech team:
  • Dean J’s Notes from Peabody:
  • Jeff Schiffman, Tulane admissions:
  • The entire team at MIT:

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do—happy reading!


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Reading for the Win

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” So with this in mind, Brennan Bernard (director of college counseling at the Derryfield School in Manchester, N.H.) asks his colleagues in high school counseling and college admission to recommend their favorite books from the year, and every year, the recommendations are amazing.

Right now I am reading:

“iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, and What That Means for the Rest of Us” by Jean M. Twenge

There are some older ones here that I can personally recommend, for example:

“Colleges That Change Lives” by Loren Pope, revised by Hilary Masell Oswald

And a few I just read recently that I really liked:

“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover

“The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds” by Michael Lewis

“How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Read the full list here.  I have already put these on hold at my local library:

“Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives”by Rachel Simmons

“At What Cost?: Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools” by David L. Gleason


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The best advice from 2018 commencement speeches

One reason I love graduation time so much is that I enjoy listening to all of the inspiring speeches! Fast Company posted on some of the most motivational and there are a few snippets I want to share here:

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, congratulated the MBA graduates at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and then told them this: “It’s great that you are a Wharton MBA. But please, don’t act like it.”

While earned, titles can turn into a burden: “Don’t let it get in the way of seeing people as people and all they have to offer you, regardless of their title or position . . . If you want to fly high, in business or in life, you’ve got to keep your feet on the ground, and stay rooted to see what matters most,” he said.

USA Soccer player Abby Wambach encouraged the graduating class at Barnard College to look at each other as part of a pack, and to create one collective heartbeat with rules for your team to live by. One of those is to turn failure into fuel. “Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be powered by.”

As the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer addressed the graduating class at Syracuse University and encouraged them to pay attention to the “flash moments” that can change the course of your life. “. . . If you can recognize them, you can be ready for them and act on them for your own life, but more importantly, perhaps for community and even world change,” she said. “Often it’s the adversity in your life that gives you the greatest ideas. Sometimes the worst things in your life become the best.”

If you love listening to graduation speeches as much as I do, check out Inc.’s top 15 of all time — R.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech will always be one of my favs!


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Summer Reading to Gear Up for Applying to College

Who doesn’t love summer reading?! Check out these articles as you work on college applications this summer—or if you’re a 9th or 10th-grade student or parent—as you think ahead!

College Application Essays

Top College Officials Share Notes on Great Application Essays

Crafting Standout College Application Essays

4 Standout College Application Essays on Work, Money and Class

College Choice/Strategy

Why Choosing Wisely Early is Critical to a Successful Admissions Process

Tips and Tricks

Common Application Video Tutorials by Brittany Maschal Consulting

10 Social Media Tips for Students to Improve Their College Admission Chances

8 Things to Know When You Visit Colleges During the Summer


Who Cares Where Your Kid Goes to College (Part I)

Who Cares Where Your Kid Goes to College (Part II)

Don’t Romanticize College

My Weekly Reads: Top 5

College Kickstart is one of my favorite “college admissions” websites. They are my go-to resource for all things data related to admit rates, decision deadlines, etc.. Recently, they have been updating their Class of 2021 Regular Decision Notification Dates page, which I am now checking daily. (College Kickstart)

As Atticus Finch famously said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” how do we get our students to do that? Powerful videos that I suggest watching. (New York Times)

Adam Grant talks with Angela Duckworth about the science of creativity, purpose, and motivation. This is a must read, especially if you are interested in learning more about developing passions (yes, developing, not magically finding them!). Make sure you read to the end so you can get Duckworth’s feedback on a question I often get, “How do I get my kids into Harvard.” (Heleo)

Getting into college does not mean a student is ready to go. I wrote a short post on this, here! (New York Times)

The Science and Politics of the GMO is a course stumbled upon on Coursera being offered by Cornell, so not a typical “read” I would post, but this class looks so cool I am adding it here anyway. Description: Learn the basics of genetic engineering and biotechnology and examine why the GMO is politically contentious. Participants will gain an understanding of how science works, its limits, and how the interaction of these factors leads to decision making. (Coursera)