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.

*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*

10 Things to Know About Getting Into College

As juniors are now getting their college applications together, I’d like to share and encourage all students and parents of those nearing the process to give Eric Hoover’s 10 takeaways (all of which I have also seen be true) a close read.

Admissions decisions aren’t all about you.

When colleges choose applicants, they’re juggling competing goals, like increasing diversity and bringing in more revenue. Admissions officers aren’t looking for students who fit just one description — say, those who’ve earned all A’s or won the most awards. So don’t take rejection personally.

Grades and test scores still carry the most weight.

Colleges often say they want to get to know the real you, but that’s probably true only if your academic accomplishments (and the rigor of courses you’ve taken) pass muster.

You’re more than a number.

After colleges identify a big batch of students with outstanding credentials, differences among them become more important, admissions deans say. Among some of the attributes they tell me they would like to see evidence of (in essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations) are: leadership, risk-taking, emotional intelligence, fire for learning, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, optimism, grit, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles.

Express your authentic self.

Overwhelmed by slick, boastful essays, colleges are eager for what they call “authentic” glimpses of applicants — their experiences, passions and goals. Some deans believe they’ll get deeper insight through alternative formats like videos, pictures, audio files or documents (an Advanced Placement English paper, maybe). A handful of prestigious schools, including Yale, the University of Chicago, Pomona College, Reed College and the University of Rochester, recently introduced this option. As with essays, too much polish is no good, deans say, so you might think twice about hiring a professional videographer. At Yale, about 400 applicants (out of nearly 33,000) for this year’s freshman class sent in something in an alternative format. In at least one case, the submission — a video showing leadership and impact on others — was, the dean told me, a “difference maker.”

Diversity counts.

Are you a first-generation or low-income student? Many colleges are trying to increase access, so it can help to emphasize your background — and how your personal story relates to your achievements — in essays and interviews. Admissions officers are thinking harder about socioeconomic context, such as the quality of an applicant’s high school, to better understand the opportunities they’ve had and the challenges they’ve faced.

But money does matter.

At many colleges, financial circumstances come into play. Being able to pay all or some of the freight is a bonus. And some qualified students of limited means might get rejected for no reason other than lack of money.

Geography is (partly) destiny.

Many selective colleges want students from all over, ideally from all 50 states. Last year’s presidential election illuminated the urban-rural divide, which some colleges have been trying to bridge by paying closer attention to promising applicants from less-populous areas. Generally, a Northeastern college will look more favorably on an applicant from Montana than an equally strong one from the Northeast.

Legacies aren’t a shoo-in.

Legacy status certainly helps, but big-name colleges reject plenty of these applicants. Don’t assume Mom or Dad’s connections alone will get you in.

Do (real) good.

Turning the Tide” urges admissions offices to reward applicants for sustained community service. And some colleges, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are taking a closer look at what applicants have done to help others, be they neighbors or family members. You don’t have to fly to Belize to do good (admissions officers are often skeptical of these fleeting trips). Showing up to tutor someone at the library each week might be even more impressive, and rewarding.

Colleges want to be your first choice.

About one in five colleges allot “considerable importance” to “demonstrated interest,” whereby applicants convey their willingness to attend the college they’re applying to. Open those emails. Connect with admissions officers. Let them know when you visit campus. Only those who are sure about their first choice and don’t need to compare financial aid packages should choose the strongest expression of demonstrated interest: applying early decision, which is binding.

Full article here.

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

College Planning Tips – Counselor Connection

I opted in to receive emails from the College Board via their Counselor Connection listserv. The newsletters (emails) typically include links to upcoming webinars and other online resources for high school counselors. Right now, I am in China, so only had time to skim the most recent email, but I saved it because the College Planning Tips section caught my attention. I was a bit surprised that the first set of tips was for students grades 6-8. I was also surprised to see them promoting both volunteer and summer enrichment activities, in addition to the use of Khan Academy.

I honestly wonder how many high school counselors are pushing any of these activities (service, summer enrichment, and pre-college planning) in grades 6-8. I fear many of my students (even those at elite private high schools in NYC) are not hearing much of this messaging or at least consistent messaging of this nature this early on (middle school). Some come to me with little or no summer enrichment activities related to academic interests, very light service history, and no knowledge of Khan Academy (a resource I am a fan of, but have no formal affiliation with). I guess they could be hearing it and just not acting on it?

I would love for more students to place an emphasis on service early on in their high school careers, as well as begin exploring their academic interests via summer enrichment programs and modules via Khan Academy. So, I support this message from the College Board and hope more high school counselors pass these resources along to their students and their student’s families.