Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Probably not. 

Great piece by Jim Jump if you are following the test-optional movement. A highlight:

There are, of course, some global reasons why test-optional policies will not go away. One is the decision by the University of California and Cal State systems to no longer use test scores in their admission processes. As a result, colleges that recruit heavily in California will have a hard time reinstating test score requirements. But students outside California may also rebel against colleges that return to requiring test scores. The Ivies may be able to get away with it, but two years ago, when the pandemic accelerated the number of colleges going the test-optional route, an admissions dean friend postulated that colleges farther down the food chain may find that students may simply refuse to apply to colleges that aren’t test optional.

Read it here in full!

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The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Science

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Science

There are tons of interesting and fun summer programs out there! However, the ones we most often suggest are those 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 science/science research.

Garcia Program, Stony Brook University

This is an intensive seven-week program for gifted high school students which combines formal instruction with independent research and allows students to design original research projects with guidance from Garcia Center faculty, students, and staff. Students can continue during the academic year in the Mentor Program, which allows them to plan a research schedule with a faculty mentor throughout the year. Pre-arranged transportation and class schedules are coordinated with local school boards to enable students from a large geographical area to enroll in the program. Almost three hundred high school students have participated in this program since its inception.

Research Science Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Each summer, 80 of the world’s most accomplished high school students gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Research Science Institute (RSI). RSI is the first cost-free to students, summer science & engineering program to combine on-campus course work in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. Participants experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. They read the most current literature in their field, draft and execute a detailed research plan, and deliver conference-style oral and written reports on their findings. RSI scholars first participate in a week of intensive STEM classes with accomplished professors. The heart of RSI is the five-week research internship where students conduct individual projects under the tutelage of mentors who are experienced scientists and researchers. During the final week of RSI, students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects.

COSMOS, University of California (Multiple Campuses)

COSMOS is an intensive four-week summer residential program for students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12 have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities, while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools. Through challenging curricula that are both hands-on and lab intensive, COSMOS fosters its students’ interests, skills, and awareness of educational and career options in STEM fields.

Simons Summer Research Program, Stony Brook University

Established in 1984 as an outreach program for local high school students, the Simons Summer Research program now attracts applicants from all across the country to the Stony Brook campus: Simons Fellows are matched with Stony Brook faculty mentors, join a research group or team, and assume responsibility for a project. The Simons Fellows conclude their apprenticeship by producing a written research abstract and a research poster. In addition to learning valuable techniques and experiencing life at a major research university, Simons Fellows attend weekly faculty research talks and participate in special workshops, tours and events. At the closing poster symposium, students are presented with a $1,000 stipend award. Learn more here.

The Summer Science Program

SSP is not a “camp.” It is a unique immersion experience with a strong culture that has evolved over more than half a century. It is talented young people discovering their limits, then overcoming them through collaboration. It is the shock of not being the smartest person in the room, followed by the joy of realizing that’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity. In high school, teenagers learn about science. At SSP, they do science. That’s different! (And why we refer to them as “participants,” not “students.”) SSP is research, not coursework. Participants collaborate in teams of three. Everyone learns from – and teaches – everyone else.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

Lab Internship/Shadow

  • Cold email! Ask your HS science teachers to help you connect with college labs!

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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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Class of 2023 Admission Results

Decisions are out, and many colleges and universities have released admit rates and final numbers for the class of 2023. Head to College Kickstart for a breakdown and comparison to last year’s numbers at some of the top tier schools in the US. As in years past, schools have seen record application numbers and admit rates are going down.

In our work with applicants, we focus on creating a list that makes sense and doesn’t leave students with an insane amount of apps to complete, or an insane amount of rejections. However, some students do not take our advice. During the last four admissions seasons, we have had multiple students apply to 15+ colleges, most in RD. We did not advise this, but my guess is against the advice of many counselors, students and parents are pressing submit on as many schools as they can. Why? Partly because of how competitive the RD round can be, and they took some risks early, and it did not work out; partly because they can afford it; partly because for some strange reason they think Hail Mary’ing it might just work out. There are probably other reasons, but these are the three we most frequently encounter.

We say this every year, but we hope families begin to realize that this approach does not work. It is a waste of time and money. What’s worse, it creates an insane amount of stress on the student and most often results in more rejections than acceptances, which make students feel terrible because it is very hard, at age 17, to comprehend that a college rejection is really not personal.

In addition to surging application numbers (thank you, Common Application!), the competition is fierce. There’s a chance the profile that might’ve gotten you into your dream school a few years ago won’t hold up in the current admissions landscape…but have hope. There are more colleges and universities in the US and abroad than the top 20-30 schools! And guess what? These schools accept a lot of students, and you might even get money from them, and you will likely be just as happy there as a top ~20 school.

It is time to think outside of the box. The landscape now requires it—even for students with perfect grades and test scores. Those things are commonplace; you need far more than numbers to get into a top tier school. And what you need is what our work with students focuses on. Students have control over a lot in this process but only if they start early to develop what will help them stand out while at the same time broadening their college-knowledge and looking carefully at schools that might not have been on their radar initially.

Another reason to have hope is there are ways to differentiate your profile that actually work. Our students engage in extended research and outreach. Beyond getting close with reps, current students, faculty, and young alumni, our students connect with schools where they are already spending time: online. Connecting with schools via social media, as well as having a strong online presence via LinkedIn, can be beneficial. We believe your digital footprint and the presence of a digital portfolio can help not hurt you in the college application process. The students who take our advice become savvy networkers with the colleges on their list, and it pays off big time.

Anyway, back to the news. Thanks always to College Kickstart for providing all of our admissions-related data needs.

 

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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: http://pwp.gatech.edu/admission-blog/
  • Dean J’s Notes from Peabody: http://uvaapplication.blogspot.com/
  • Jeff Schiffman, Tulane admissions: http://tuadmissionjeff.blogspot.com/
  • The entire team at MIT: https://mitadmissions.org/blogs/

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

 

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