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The Difference Between Semester and Quarter System Schools

My daughter started college classes this Fall on Thursday, September 27. When I tell people that they usually ask, “Why so late? Most colleges began in August.” The reason is that my daughter’s school is on a quarter system, not a semester system. The Fall quarter or “term” begins late September.

The benefits to a quarter system that we have seen so far are that she was able to enjoy a longer summer. She had the whole month of August and most of September at home before heading off to college. In her case, this was a good thing. She was so burned out after high school I couldn’t imagine packing up the car and taking her to college in early August. She was also able to keep her summer job longer and save extra money. But the quarter system had a couple other surprises we needed to understand.

With the quarter system, the freshman are only allowed to take three academic classes. I remembered taking full loads of five to six classes per semester, so when I first heard this I was both concerned and confused.

My daughter explained that the quarter is shorter than a semester, so taking three classes makes sense. The total amount of time students spend in the classroom is the same as if they were taking more classes over more time. In the end, it evens out. My daughter will take fifteen credits three times a year. And if she decides, can add a fourth quarter and take summer classes. In the end of her freshman year, she will have completed nine classes. Her friends in semester schools will be completing eight to ten classes this first year.

Breaks between classes are different as well. The calendars look like this:

Semester System

Fall semester = 15 weeks
Winter break = 5 weeks
Spring semester = 16 weeks (includes 1 week Spring break)
Summer break = 16 weeks

The average student will take four classes with two midterms/per class. In the semester system, students are given an RRR (Reading/Review/Recitation) week – one week to study for finals. Quarter system students are not offered the RRR week

Quarter System

Fall quarter = 10 weeks
Winter break = 2 weeks
Winter quarter = 10 weeks
Spring break = 1 week
Spring quarter = 10 weeks
Summer = 19 weeks

The pros of a semester system appear to be fewer exams, longer winter break, the RRR week, and a break in between exams. The cons for the Semester system seem to be fewer classes per year.

In a quarter system, the student can explore more classes, usually 9-12. They have a real Spring break between quarters, they get a class done with less cumulative finals over ten weeks not fifteen weeks

The cons with the quarter system are that students are always in a go-go-go phase, midterms hit them over a short time, only a two week winter break, no RRR week, and more exams per year.

State schools tend to be quarter systems, but not all are. So keep these differences in mind when applying to colleges.

Remedies for Homesickness

It’s almost Columbus Day and I am learning some of my daughter’s friends who went to college across the country are flying home for the long weekend. I know they are also planning to come home for Thanksgiving, so why spend the money and take the long journey now? Homesickness is why.

My daughter who just moved into her dorm last week wants to come home next weekend to see her friends. She is already feeling homesick but I don’t think coming home next weekend would be a good idea.

I feel lucky to talk to my daughter almost every day since she has been gone and my son texts her most nights. I know she talks to her high school friends quite often. Her campus is amazing and there is so much to do and so many new friends to make. So why be homesick? I told her she is not missing anything here. “If you were home now you’d probably just be hanging out on the sofa reading.” “That’s what I want to do!” she said.

According to CNN, “… despite the way it’s coined, homesickness isn’t necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.
‘Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home’, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. ‘When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them — and hence home. You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive,’ Klapow said.”

“He offered another way of approaching homesickness: It’s merely an emotion that comes in waves. ‘Very few emotions stay with you all the time, they come and they go,’ he said. But when it strikes, both children and adults often get caught off guard by it, he added. ‘They think something’s terribly wrong. But it’s normal and adaptive to feel homesick for some period of time. It’s just your emotions and mind telling you you’re out of your element.’”

“‘It turns out, [homesickness is] the very thing that inoculates against a future bout of homesickness,’ Thurber said. ‘By living through a difficult separation, your mind forces itself to cope.’ It’s this reason why experts advise parents against helicoptering their children out of college if they complain about homesickness.”

Kaplow suggests parents stop emailing and texting their students every five minutes. Instead set up a time once a week when they talk. Students need to learn problem solving and suffering a bit can be the best way to learn.

How can you not love it when your college freshman calls you and wants to tell you about her day? It feels wrong to tell my daughter I can’t talk to her for another week. But I see his point, I get it.

The last thing you want to do is to watch your child suffer. And if homesickness is not missing your home but it stems from the instinctive need for love, then us parents are suffering from homesickness too with our kids gone. So maybe the once a week call is good for all of us. As hard as it is to admit.

How Does It Feel To Have a Half-Empty Nest?

My oldest recently left for college and I am definitely feeling her absence. I first noticed as my son who is a high school  junior was getting ready for school. We both realized how easy the morning routine had become since he wasn’t fighting with his sister for the bathroom. And since he is sixteen, I am no longer driving carpool! Last year my mornings were very stressful getting them both out of the house and making the long drive to school with a car full of grumpy teenagers. So after eighteen years, I now have my mornings back.

My house is now cleaner. My daughter tended to spread out throughout the house with her things everywhere including in my room. She liked to make smoothies and weird concoctions in the blender and never really cleaned up properly. The dishes and laundry have sized down, as has the amount of homework help I am lending in the evenings.

I feel a shift in the house with her being gone but also an absence. It feels like something is wrong, kind of like there is a storm cloud blocking the sunshine.
But I do talk to her once a day and it’s lovely to hear her voice and to hear of her new adventures. She sends me photos of her new friends and tells me details about them. I feel really lucky that she wants to share this info with me. During her high school years, she kept a lot of her friends’ info to herself.

My husband remarked that dropping her off at college was like leaving her at Kindergarten. He wasn’t sure she was ready then and he doesn’t feel ready now. But we did leave her then and we left her last week. It’s the tough part of parenting, the knowing when to leave.

My daughter living away from home is an adjustment for all of us, but it’s not forever. It’s until Thanksgiving and maybe another trip home before then to see her brother in his school play. In the meantime, I am going to catch my breath. It’s been a fast and furious eighteen years. I remember after she was born thinking, okay now I can rest after that long pregnancy. And then the nurse handed her to me and I have not put her down since. Not until last week when I left her at college.

How to Pack For College

My daughter Sydney leaves for college in five days. Currently, her room is full of boxes and containers. She’ll be sharing a small dorm room with two other girls and has been advised not to take too much. So what exactly is essential?

“I didn’t take anything to college,” Sydney’s dad said last night. “I think I brought a toothbrush and a clock and that was it.” He is not a fan of the two-inch natural latex bed topper that we purchased. A mattress topper is on the college suggestion list of what to bring. Her dad remembered tripping over his GE electric clock that plugged into the wall. He kicked it repeatedly across the dorm room because he had no side table and his mattress was on the floor so the clock was also on the floor. He didn’t even have furniture in his dorm room. He told us this story as Sydney was packing her essential oils.

Sydney found her roommates online through a Facebook group established by the college. She was able to pre-screen and interview her potential roommates. Once they agreed to live together, they put their names on their dorm preference list and the college agreed. They’ve met each other once during the summer registration and have been in constant communication since. They determined who should be on the top bunk, who should have the bottom bunk and who gets the top bunk with no bed underneath based on a roll the dice app. They have also discussed room decor and texted each other pics from Bed Bath and Beyond getting approvals on purchases from each other.

Like Sydney’s dad, I had no mattress topper or pick of roommates or beds prior to my arrival at college. My roommates told me after I moved in, they snooped through my things and were confused when my record collection contained Broadway show tunes and Sex Pistols albums. Yes, I brought my stereo and record collection to college. We all did, so we had four stereos in our dorm room. I was relieved that my roommates didn’t have unicorns and rainbow posters on the walls, I didn’t really care what their music preferences were.

The important thing is that our children will sleep well. If the mattress topper and essential oils will help with that, then I am all for it. A touch of home doesn’t hurt, but starting fresh in a new place with new friends will be the true test of the freshman year. Fastweb has a pretty comprehensive list of what to bring to college, but be prepared, there is a lot more on it than a toothbrush and alarm clock!

The Difference Between Early Action, Early Decision and Instant Decision

My daughter Sydney starts college next week and after spending two years helping her get to this point I thought I knew everything about the admissions process, but I don’t. Last week something I had never heard of came to my attention: Instant Decision.

The CollegeBoard doesn’t talk about Instant Decision on it’s website but grownandflown.com writes, “Instant Decision Day (or, as some call it ID Day) is a chance for high school students to reduce the entire admissions process (including, in some cases, financial or merit aid) to one day.” Not all colleges and universities offer this option so look on their individual websites to find out. Bard College does and calls it Immediate Decision.

Bard’s Immediate Decision Plan (IDP) requires an online reservation for a November in-person interview and a completed Common Application. The student is also required to read several assigned texts and participate in a seminar on interview day. That evening faculty discuss the interviews and a decision will be sent out the following business day. So if your student’s Bard interview is November 3, they will know if they are excepted as early as November 5. Now that is instant!

Other options for sooner decisions include Early Action(EA) and Early Decision(ED). According to the CollegeBoard, “early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are non-binding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.”

Binding means that with an early decision, you agree to go to that school school no matter what the financial aid package , if any, has been offered. Non-binding means you agree to go to that school only if the financial aid package works for your family.

Before deciding on early decisions,  make sure the school is the right one for your student and your family before committing. We might have chosen Immediate Decision if Bard was the right school for Sydney.

Here is a breakdown of all the decision options:

Regular Decision
Apply to as many schools as you like
Application due January/February
Acceptance in March
Commitment by May 1
Non-binding
Early Decision I
Allows you to only apply to one school Early Decision
Application due early December
Acceptance in January
Commitment several weeks later
Withdraw offers from other schools
Binding
Early Decision II
Allows you to only apply to one school Early Decision
Application due in January
Acceptance in February
Commitment several weeks later
Withdraw offers from other schools
Binding
Early Action I
Apply to as many schools as students like
Application due December
Rolling acceptance
Commitment by May 1
Non-binding
Instant Decision /Early Action II
Decision based on interview in November
Decision made within 48 hours
Commitment date set by college
Binding/non-binding determined by college

College Plans for the High School Junior

Junior year is already off and running in the direction of college prep. On the first day of art class of eleventh grade my son’s art teacher passed out contact info for college art advisors. These advisors will look at portfolios and help get students in shape to apply to art school. They will also suggest which art schools are the best fit.

Next week on my parent’s calendar is a meet-and-greet with the high school college counselor. At this meeting parents will hear about the differences between private and state schools, liberal arts vs. universities. We will be introduced to FAFSA and the CSS and learn when our student needs to sign up for SAT and ACT testing. And we will be able to ask questions from a number of representatives from different local colleges and universities.

Our students will begin meeting with their college counselors mid-November. A weekly meeting will be built into their school schedule. During these meetings the students will become familiar with the Common App and start to work on their college essay. A first draft will be due by Spring break.

This spring my son has the option of taking a trip with the eleventh grade to visit colleges along the California coast. Not all students will sign up for this trip, but it will be available to those interested. It’s a great way to see the schools at an affordable price.

I am starting to think about spring break and if we need to do an east coast college tour with my son. From experience, I know it’s something to start planning early. When I took my daughter it was sometimes challenging to book tours, they filled up quickly. So if you are thinking about a spring college trip, start planning now!

My daughter still has not left for college, her school starts in a couple of weeks, so I was hoping for a bit of a breather before getting my son ready. But I know what planning lies ahead and the next two years will be filled with college talk. I’m looking forward to her return trips home so she can relay her wisdom to my son. And I dream of them both attending the same university just as they attended the same high school. But they are different individuals and there are over 3,000 colleges and universities in this country. The chance that they will end up in the same place is slim.

In the meantime, I am opening up my calendar and speckling it with college councilor meetings and college tours. Here we go again!

How to Balance SAT Test Prep With School Schedule

How do you add test prep into an already full schedule of academic classes and extracurriculars? Hopefully during the summer your student established a test prep routine. Maybe using phone apps, or an online test prep program, or even a test prep class. My son has a twenty-minutes-a-day routine. But those twenty minutes can get used up pretty quickly now that school is here.

I think the best test prep is self-motivation. When my daughter was a junior in high school she really didn’t get the urgency of test prep. By the end of junior year, she understood and stepped up her game. Suddenly test scores mattered to her as she was beginning to narrow down the colleges she wanted to attend and saw their minimum SAT score requirements. So perhaps start talking to your child early in the year about which colleges they are interested in. Look at the requirements of those colleges with them and let the reality sink in. If it’s something they want (getting into a specific school) instead of something you want (them to practice SAT) then they will become self-motivated and the test prep will take on an importance. With my own experience, this shift was necessary.

According to The Washington Post, “In June 2015, SAT administrator College Board partnered with Khan Academy, a nonprofit education organization, to launch Official SAT Practice.” The Khan site is free to use and allows the student to connect to their College Board PSAT scores. Khan will prepare practice questions designed to support the students’ needs based on their scores. The student can practice with Khan at any time of the day and get instant feedback.

Research shows that test prep will increase the student scores by an average of thirty points. Some people argue that’s not enough increase to warrant expensive tutors or take time away from academic studies. Others argue thirty points may make or break your student getting into a top college.

I would sit down early with your child. Evaluate which schools they want to get into and compare their SAT or ACT scores with the average score for that school. Then come up with a game plan. Get your child involved in their future as soon as possible. Taking responsibility for their own actions will only benefit them later. And help them balance their prep time with everything else.

The Best Places to Find School Supplies

One of my favorite childhood memories was going to S.S. Kresge Five and Dime for school supplies after the first day of school. The neighborhood kids would pile into a station wagon and one of the moms would take us all. I loved choosing a fresh pencil box and new oil cloth that would fit over my desk for art class.

When my kids were of school age I looked forward to picking out school supplies with them, but it was never the same. Instead of a five and dime, we headed off to Staples. The generic office supply store did not offer any charm or fun. I wanted a fun back-to-school ritual, so the day before school started we began heading to The Grove, an outdoor shopping mall in Los Angeles. There we’d check out American Girl Place, eat Sprinkles cupcakes and pick out first day of school outfits. This fun lasted up until my son started high school. Suddenly he didn’t want to spend his last day of summer with me and his sister. He now hated the idea of shopping for new school clothes and the American Girl Store. Online shopping was the only kind of shopping he’d do now. Sigh.

This year we will order school supplies from shoplet.com. They have sections for elementary, middle school, high school and college. Prices are reasonable and they offer free shipping on orders over $35.

My daughter starts college at the end of September, so we are starting to order her dorm and school supplies. I’ve found that dormify.com has the most stylish decor of all the dorm supply sites and she has been happy with their choices. Ikea.com also has a college section as does, universityhousewares.com. Bed, Bath and Beyond offers a cool service, where you order at their store and they ship the items directly to your child’s college or you can pick up the order at a store near the college. This is a great option for students traveling across the country.

So, goodbye to the days of oil cloths and pencil boxes, hello to the days of shopping cart icons and free shipping!

5 Must-Read Back to School Tips for Parents

Though it may seem like the kids just got out of school, it is never too early to start prepping for the back to school season. With school starting next month for some, it is smart to get ahead of the game, but where do you start?

 

1. First things first, start with their basic backpack needs

The best place to start when it comes to back to school shopping is the traditional school supplies. Think about what your child is going to need in the classroom, or at school on a daily basis. Always stock up on extra paper, pencils, folders, binders, and notebooks. Even if they don’t end up using the supplies this time around, you will have them ready for next year.

One basic item that always comes up as a surprise expense is a graphing calculator. If your kid is in middle or high school, they will most likely need one of these for their math courses. It is important to invest in one that will last several years to prevent having to purchase a new one every year. You can’t go wrong with ordering one online to avoid scrambling once classes are back in session.

Outside of the backpack, a locker is a student’s safe space meant to store whatever they need with easy access. The best way to keep everything in the locker in order is purchasing some locker organization kits, with magnet organizers, shelves and supply drawers. These tools allow for optimized storage space and an eased state-of-mind.

With the unexpected accidents that we all periodically encounter, it can’t hurt to leave the locker stocked with some precautionary items such as a spare change of clothes, deodorant, mouthwash, extra pencils, and a few dollars in the event they forgot to pack a lunch.

 

2. When it comes to lunches and snacks, don’t make things too difficult for yourself

It’s always been best to eat natural and stay healthy, but nowadays, it’s also trendy. From Kombucha Drinks to acai bowls, kids these days love posting pictures on instagram of their healthy, colorful foods. Keep it simple and always have fruit and vegetables ready to serve. Hummus and peanut butter go well with different crackers, or some vegetables. For example, you can always pack the traditional “ants on a log” (celery and peanut butter with raisins). Don’t go crazy trying to prepare anything too fancy or exotic, unless you have the time, in which case, go for it.

As far as packing these healthy lunches goes, consider investing in an insulated lunch box to ensure a fresh meal. Some schools don’t serve lunch until four or five hours after the students arrive, so you want to make sure their food isn’t too warm, soggy, or stale.

 

3. A good sense of style goes a long way

Your student’s daily cuisine isn’t the only thing you’ll want to keep fresh this back to school season. A good sense of style goes a long way in school. The first week of school is crucial when it comes to showcasing your fashion sense and making excellent first impressions, but you may not know what’s in and trending. It never hurts to take a look at Teen Vogue every once in awhile.

If you haven’t noticed, comfortable and athletic wear is what’s trending, which is perfect for long school days. You can’t go wrong with buying a comfortable pair of shoes and some track pants for the school day.

While athletic wear is currently in style, it is important to note that dressing for success does, in fact, help increase productivity. According to Brain Fodder, when a person wears a suit or formal wear, there is a psychological response that makes them feel more powerful than usual. Perhaps once a week, your child can have a day where they dress nicer to boost their self esteem and improve the quality of their work.

Shopping for clothes can also be very expensive, which is why shopping smart and being aware of the deals around you is key to a successful back to school season. During the summer and early fall, winter clothes are marked down and on sale. They are the same quality as what’s sold in the fall and winter, but with the demand on them being lower, retailers are forced to lower the sale price. For parents shopping, it would be beneficial to take advantage of these deals and shop in advance for the coming winter months.

 

4. Start planning for your child’s post-secondary future

Planning for the future, whether it is shopping for clothes or setting up a savings account, is the best way to build security for yourself and your family. That is why this back to school season you should consider planning for you child’s post-secondary future. While most public schools have an on-site counselor, on average there are 482 students per college counselor, which results in a lack of guidance for the majority of students. Not everyone has the means or resources to hire a private college counselor, which can end up costing parents thousands of dollars.

This is why myKlovr, the world’s first digital college counselor, is an investment you should be willing to make. The platform is powered by artificial intelligence and has several features that will prove to be useful in helping you achieve their academic goals including an extremely customizable college finder, a GPA calculator for every grading scale, a personalized student dashboard and a linked parent account to help hold the child accountable and provide mentorship.

Outside of myKlovr, there are several other tech products in the realm of back to school shopping that any student must have. While laptops and tablets are often not required in school, they do help students to stay organized and keep track of their assignments with ease. If you do end up buying one of these, they can be pretty expensive and you want to make sure they last.

Getting a protective case for you phone and laptop is a wise choice and will provide some insurance of your electronic devices’ safety. With these new devices, you can’t go wrong with purchasing a good pair of headphones. Listening to music is very popular amongst youth and is also important when it comes to helping to relieve stress with the day-to-day challenges kids face in school.

 

5. Invest in products and services that help alleviate their stress

Let’s face it, school isn’t as easy as it once was. With the technology emerging at a rapid pace, excessive news coverage of political topics and national tragedies, the ongoing pressure of maintaining a social presence on the internet, constant contact with their social network, and many other factors, being an adolescent has never entailed so much baggage.

That’s why investing in products and services that help alleviate stress is vital for this back to school season. Listening to music is one way to eliminate some stress, but there are other items you can buy to help reduce the amount of stress your child endures. Organizational tools like a planner or purposed storage always help to declutter. Lotions, candles and bath products with scents like lavender and vanilla are also found to be beneficial in relaxing many people. Don’t hesitate to provide your kid with tools allowing them to relax because it can prove to make them more productive in the rest of their lives.

Encourage your child to exercise more often by buying a gym membership or a pair of running shoes. We all know that exercising is good for your physical health, but according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), it also can help to greatly reduce stress levels. Acknowledging your child’s stress and anxiety and taking preventative action is important for the well-being of your child.

The most important part of the back to school process is to allow yourself time to make your list and get all of the shopping done. It is never a good idea to leave it all for the last minute. So start talking with your child now and get a head start on your back to school shopping.

What Looks Good on a College Application?

After attending multiple seminars with admissions directors and meeting with college counselors, it seems to be agreed upon that a well rounded college application is ideal. So what’s that look like for your high school freshman or sophomore?

Colleges expect a schedule full of rigorous classes, but they also expect to see room on the student’s schedule for electives. And consistency is important with electives. For example, a college tends to be more impressed if they see a student take art all four years of high school rather than art one year, drama the next, music the next and then skip an elective the senior year. Colleges look for growth and commitment in electives.

Colleges also want to see that the student has participated in any extracurriculars the school has to offer, whether that be sports, orchestra, musical theater or the school newspaper. These extracurriculars are just as important as the academics and electives. Schools don’t want to see that the student went home at 2pm to play video games on a daily basis.

Student leadership and community service rank high with admissions directors as do participating in clubs. But again, they want to see the student attending these clubs for four years and perhaps growing into leadership positions within the clubs. Starting a club is often an option in high schools, so if you child has a good idea, encourage them to partition the school to begin a club. Make sure they follow through and grow the club over their four years. Usually a club will need a teacher advisor. If the club is successful, perhaps that teacher would write a stellar letter of recommendation for the student. Seeing that a student can balance academics, create something new and navigate through the schools administration will bound to impress a college admissions director.

Obviously grades are an important factor in getting into college, but being well rounded is as well. Just as in life, being well versed in different topics will only help to expand your child’s world.

Should Your Student Take Harder High School Classes, or Play It Safe?

High GPA’s are essential in today’s college admissions climate. Some student’s instincts might tell them to take easy classes, those they know they’ll do well in so they will end up with all A’s. Not a bad strategy except that the admissions directors would disagree.

Colleges want to see rigor. When reviewing an application, one of the first things college admissions directors do is check the courses offered in your student’s high school. They will want to see if your student is taking advantage of the courses offered. They can tell the difference between a straight A student who has taken an easy route and the B student who has loaded up their schedule with honors or AP classes. From what I hear, colleges would prefer the latter.

Not every school offers AP classes or honors classes. So how can the colleges fairly compare students from different types of schools? The colleges are familiar with high school honors programs in the different and can weigh them evenly. If your child wants to be a journalism major and the college sees they did not take an honors writing class that was offered in the school, they may determine that the student might not be as interested in journalism as they claim to be.

Suggest to your child when they select classes for the fall that they take the most advanced classes that are in sink with what they want to major in in college. But make sure they do not take on too many honors or AP classes that might overload their schedule and causes stress. Balance is important. If your student is stronger in science than in English, then an AP in science is a good idea, maybe not the AP in English.

Electives are important too. Colleges want to see a well rounded student and one that takes advantage of what the school has to offer. They’d like to see that the student can balance their academics with being on a sports team or in the high school musical. They’d also like to see that they participate in clubs or perhaps student government.

High school is the time for students to explore their interests as well as academics. So encourage both.  Besides, the student will perform better in their academics if they also have physical and creative outlets.

SPOTLIGHT: What It’s Like To Be a Division I Athlete From A Parent’s POV

Craig’s daughter Morgan played D1 lacrosse in college. After graduation in 2014, Morgan went on to get her masters degree and is now a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Hi Craig, thanks for sharing your story about Morgan. At what age did Morgan begin playing lacrosse and when did your family think she might play lacrosse in college?

Morgan began playing lacrosse around six years old and I think we all thought she’d play in college back when she was in middle school.

Was Morgan recruited? If so, what was the process like to be recruited as a D1 athlete?

She was pretty seriously recruited by about twelve to fifteen schools. Most coaches who were interested had seen her play in summer and fall “Showcase Tournaments.” She had invited the coaches prior to the events to watch her play. Luckily, she played for a Club Team that had a pretty good reputation, so a lot of coaches came to watch her team play.

Once a coach had contacted her, we made sure she emailed the coach back thanking them for their interest and then she’d stay in touch. Eventually, the list of schools got paired down due to a variety of reasons, some on Morgan’s account, others on the school’s account.

The recruiting game often comes down to numbers – the number of recruits the school desires and to a lesser degree, the amount of money they have to spend on scholarships. One school that was VERY interested in Morgan dropped off the face of the earth once they got the number of commitments they were looking for. Morgan had told them that although they were her first choice, she wanted to see some of the other schools who had expressed interest. I guess that once other players had verbally committed, there wasn’t any more room for Morgan.

Did you visit or tour multiple colleges?

For Morgan, it was very important to see as many schools as she could, not only to see what she liked, but equally as important, what she DIDN’T like. There were a lot of college visits, a ton of emails and some frustrations as well as smiles!! It was all worth it when Morgan received “the call” from a coach asking her to join thier team.  This call came when we were on vacation around July 4th (following her junior year of high school) and from that point on, as long as Morgan kept her grades up, her senior year would be smooth sailing.

Was she offered athletic scholarships?

She was offered a small scholarship ( most of the other money had been allocated to others) but that was quite a day!!

How much of her time at college was devoted to playing lacrosse?

Playing a sport at a Division 1 school is a full time job!! While lacrosse is a spring sport, there were practices in the fall as well as the spring and “self workouts” during the summer. An athlete MUST love the sport and be totally dedicated to play a D1 sport in college. 

Do you think lacrosse had ever taken away from Morgan’s academics?

Since there is so much time involved with practice, workouts and travel, time management becomes of utmost importance to balance academics and athletics. Luckily, Morgan learned this in high school and was very organized when it came to her studies.

Do you feel the balance of being an athlete was beneficial to her academic success?

There is no doubt in my mind that striking this balance helped her academically and why she did so well in both college and grad school.

Did being on a sports team in college help to give her an identity, or a group of friends to be with?

Being on a team in college becomes one’s family/sorority and those friendships often become lifelong. It certainly made the transition to college life easier having a built in support network.

What might you do differently if you had to do it all over?

I don’t think we’d do anything differently.

Any parting words for other parents just beginning their search with a D1 athlete?

For any parents entering in this “game” first and foremost, enjoy the ride!! There will be many ups and downs, but it WILL all work out for the best. Please be realistic about your child’s talent level and know how good  he or she is. 

Pick schools that if your child never steps on the field again, they will be happy attending. Remember, very few if any college athlete gets a job playing their sport so go to a school that has a major your child is interested in. Ultimately, your child will know which school is right for them, so let them make the decision without a lot of pressure from you.

The NCAA has some pretty stringent rules about how and when to contact coaches so make sure to be aware of those rules. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the coach where your child stands as far as the whole recruitment thing goes. The coaches should be honest with you and it is imperative that you are honest with them.

Thank you so much, Craig. And best of luck to Dr. Morgan!

Summer SAT/ACT Test Prep Progress

Two months ago my son agreed to do SAT test prep for twenty minutes a day. That plan went pretty well the first week, but we found that on weekends, his days were so packed he could barely find a minute to study. He’d been using an SAT test prep book at home and we were just about to go on a long road trip. I was worried his twenty-minutes-a-day plan would disappear. Then I discovered SAT and ACT practice apps I could download for free. I was elated. He was a bit bummed that he now had no excuse not to study on the road, but I convinced him the apps are game-like and might relieve some boredom on the long car ride.

These are a few that he has tried:

Math Brain Booster Games is a free download in the Apple Store. This game helps to build speed and mental math skills. It’s fun to pick up and “play” and has a timed element which gives it a competitive edge. Their description notes, “it will improve ATTENTION, REACTION and VELOCITY.”

The Daily Practice for the SAT®, free app from The College Board, has several parts. One that my son found helpful was the Scan and Score feature which allows you to take a photo of your SAT practice worksheet and obtain instant test scores. They offer an SAT Question of the Day, or the chance to binge on specific SAT practice questions. Not the funnest interface, but definitely closet to the real thing given that it was created by The College Board.

Magoosh offers the free ACT Practice Flashcards app. This harmless interface allows the student to move through a series of flashcards and set their own practice pace. By logging in, your child can keep track of their progress and easily pick up where they left off. Practice sessions for English include: Punctuation and Grammar, and Structure and Style. For Math: Integer Properties, Fractions and Ratios, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Advanced Topics. For Science: Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

So no need to let the family summer road trip be an excuse for your child to stop SAT or ACT prep. And parents, you might want to try the app once in awhile. There’s nothing wrong with a little mental math practice in your adult years. And besides, children learn from example, right?

Top 50 Best Colleges in the United States: myKlovr 2018 Rankings

Your virtual college counselor has arranged a list of 2018’s 50 best colleges and universities in the U.S. MyKlovr arranged a ranking-scale by combining the average ranking and data of some of the most reliable college rankings, including sources such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Niche, and more.

 

1) Harvard University

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 29,652
  • College Type: Private

The oldest institute of higher learning in the country, Harvard is well known for its political science, social science, and law programs. With a beautiful campus and an 87% graduation rate in the standard four years, Harvard is the most prestigious and sought after university in the country.

 

2) Stanford

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 16,980
  • College Type: Private

Known for their Computer Science program, Stanford enrolls nearly 17,000 students with average ACT scores hovering between 31 – 36 points. Stanford’s location, close in proximity to Silicon Valley is a great incentive for living arrangements for many applicants.

 

3) Yale University

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Student Enrollment: 12,385
  • College Type: Private

Yale University is arguably the most selective Ivy League school with a rich history, tight community, and impressive alumni organization. Yale is also the alma mater of 5 U.S. presidents and 20 living billionaires.

 

4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,311
  • College Type: Private

Opened up to students in 1865 after the Civil War, MIT, is worldwide leader in physical sciences, engineering, economics, and biology.

 

5) California Institute of Technology

  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Student Enrollment: 2,255
  • College Type: Private

CalTech is best known for their prestigious engineering program, social life, sports teams, and famous beaver mascot. The extremely small student body can be extremely appealing or problematic to potential applicants depending upon their individual interests.

 

6) University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 24,876
  • College Type: Private

Upenn’s motto is “Leges sine moribus vanae,” meaning “Laws without morals are useless.” The competitive, yet respected reputation, as well as the city-feel location of this Ivy-League school is a huge reason why Upenn receives well over 37,000 applications each year.

 

7) Princeton University

  • Location: Princeton, NJ
  • Student Enrollment: 8,143
  • College Type: Private

Formerly known as the college of New Jersey in the 1800’s, Princeton is well known for their Econ concentration. It is no surprise that they also have a phenomenal financial aid program, graduating 83% of their students without student debt.

 

8) Duke University

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 15,984
  • College Type: Private

With a shockingly small faculty to student ratio of 7:1, The majority of Duke’s students are enrolled in the graduate school. With a wide variety of majors to choose from, Duke is known for their top-tier athletic teams and facilities, including their lacrosse team who has won 3 national championships.

 

9) University of Chicago

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Student Enrollment: 15,391
  • College Type: Private

The university is composed of the College, various graduate programs and committees organized into five academic research divisions and seven professional schools. The University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including sociology, literary criticism, religion, and more.

 

10) Dartmouth College

  • Location: Hanover, NH
  • Student Enrollment: 6,350
  • College Type: Private

Dartmouth provides 57 majors for their students throughout their quarter plan. The most popular of these majors are Economics and Political Science. Dartmouth also has a unique Center for Professional Development, in which faculty members work with students and employers to achieve post-graduate success.

 

11) Rice University

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Student Enrollment: 6,719
  • College Type: Private

With a competitive acceptance rate and 6:1 faculty to student ratio, Rice places great emphasis and support on academic achievement, as well as their sports teams, including their 14 Division one programs and wide variety of intramural sports.

 

12) Brown University

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Student Enrollment: 9,458
  • College Type: Private

With an incredibly long history, Brown was the first school in the Ivy League, 7th oldest college in the country, and the first to admit students regardless of their religious affiliation. The unique city of Providence is also another reason many students chose to apply here.

 

13) University of Notre Dame

  • Location: Notre Dame, IN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,292
  • College Type: Private

Most Notre Dame students live on campus, hovering around 80% of the student-body. This is huge factor in the incredible turn-outs of their sporting events at Notre Dame Stadium, specifically football games, seating over 80,000 fans. Popular majors include finance, marketing, and accounting.

 

14) Vanderbilt

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,567
  • College Type: Private

Located in the middle of Nashville, Vanderbilt is known for their strong curriculum and upstanding reputation. Vanderbilt accepts students with average SAT scores between 1,430-1,580 and ACT scores between 32-36.

 

15) Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: Lexington, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,172
  • College Type: Private

Named after George Washington and Robert E. Lee, W&L offers a wide variety of majors and minors. Their school motto is Non Incautus Futuri, meaning not unmindful of the future.

 

16) Amherst College

  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,849
  • College Type: Private

Amherst is often referred to as the best liberal arts college in the country. Their academic reputation, political engagement, and scenic campus is a large factor in why students choose this school over many Ivy-League schools.

 

17) Georgetown University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Student Enrollment: 18,459
  • College Type: Private

Offering around 50 majors, Georgetown is made up of 9 grad and under-grad schools. They are best known for their Economics, Political Science, and Finance programs. They are also regarded as having a very active student body, especially when it comes to their sports teams.

 

18) Harvey Mudd College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 800
  • College Type: Private

With an extremely small student body, Harvey Mudd’s mission is fairly simple and straight forward. As a liberal arts college, they aim to educate future mathematicians, engineers, and scientists. In fact, they have one of the best engineering programs in the nation.

 

19) University of California – Berkley

  • Location: Berkley, California
  • Student Enrollment: 40,154
  • College Type: Public

Often considered as the best public school in the country, UC Berkley specializes in Social Sciences, Engineering, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, and Mathematics and Statistics. Although the school has a massive student body, 52.3 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. It is also interesting to note that the average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 97 percent.

 

20) Swarthmore College

  • Location: Swarthmore, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,581
  • College Type: Private

Founded by Quakers in 1864, Swarthmore was one of the first coeducational schools in the U.S. It has an 89% four-year graduation rate. They also have a very small student-to-faculty ratio of roughly 8:1, giving students plenty of face to face exposure with their professors.

 

21) Williams College

  • Location: Williamstown, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,171
  • College Type: Private

Known as being one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the U.S., Williams was founded in 1793. They are also known for meeting 100% of admitted students’ financial needs.

 

22) University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Student Enrollment: 43,651
  • College Type: Public

Michigan has an extremely unique curriculum when it comes to choosing fields of interests. Their most popular majors include more general studies such as Business, Economics, Psychology, and Computer Sciences. They also have a flourishing social scene that revolves around their top-notch sports programs including football, hockey, and basketball.

 

23) Johns Hopkins University

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Student Enrollment: 22,686
  • College Type: Private

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is known for their incredible medical school. It is no wonder that their most popular undergraduate majors are Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedical Engineering. Many students here have a lot of pride in their school and sports teams, specifically the lacrosse team.

 

24) Carnegie Mellon University

  • Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Student Enrollment: 13,503
  • College Type: Private

Carnegie Mellon is known for its programs in science and technology, but its seven schools and colleges include the College of Fine Arts and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. They are also known for their acclaimed grad-programs.

 

25) Tufts University

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,137
  • College Type: Private

Tufts has a slim 16.1% acceptance rate. There is also a 9:1 student to faculty ratio at this university, creating a small, yet close culture. Their mascot, Jumbo the Elephant is very popular among their student-body and athletic programs.

 

26) Pomona College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,663
  • College Type: Private

The top 4 most popular majors at Pomona are Economics, Mathematics, Biology, and Neuroscience. As you would guess, the student to faculty ratio and the class sizes are extremely small. It is also interesting to note that the average SAT and ACT scores for admitted students fall around the 95th percentile.

 

27) Claremont Mckenna College

  • Location: Claremont, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,349
  • College Type: Private

With a huge emphasis on academic achievement and athletic support, Claremont McKenna College was originally an all-boys college, but opened their doors to women in in the 70’s. For whatever reason, their men’s sports teams play as the Stags, while the women play as the Athenas.

 

28) University of California – Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 41,908
  • College Type: Public

At UCLA, the two most popular majors are Political Science and Psychology. They also have a phenomenal Economics program which is very popular among under-grads. The LA location is also a large factor in why students chose this University.

 

29) United States Military Academy

  • Location: West Point, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 4,348
  • College Type: Public

Students come to Army from all over the country to follow their code “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” interestingly, the Cadets have a 93% first-year retention rate and an extremely small faculty to student ration, allowing for plenty of hands-on learning and engagement with USMA educators.

 

30) Carleton College

  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Student Enrollment: 2,105
  • College Type: Private

Carleton has a rural setting with a campus size of 955 acres. It utilizes a trimester-based academic calendar and ranks as the 8th best Liberal Arts College in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges. Tuition and fees hover around $52,782 a year.

 

31) United States Naval Academy

  • Location: Annapolis, MD
  • Student Enrollment: 4,525
  • College Type: Public

Located a little over 30 miles away from Washington D.C., Navy has an incredible 98% first-year retention rate and an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students love to support the blue and gold at their division one sporting events, including football and basketball.

 

32) University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 23,883
  • College Type: Public

UVA specializes in liberal arts studies and business as their students’ most preferred majors. They also have an amazing alumni association. Olympians, astronauts, and U.S. political leaders have all graduated from the University of Virginia.

 

33) Haverford College

  • Location: Haverford, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 1,233
  • College Type: Private

Haverford offers a wide variety of majors. The most popular include Psychology, Biology, Economics, and English. The average SAT scores range between 1,350-1,530.

 

34) Emory University

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Student Enrollment: 13,788
  • College Type: Private
  • year or above

Heavily affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Emory is one of the oldest private Universities in the country. Emory specializes in Business Administration and Management.

 

35) Middlebury College

  • Location: Middlebury, VT
  • Student Enrollment: 2,558
  • College Type: Private

This liberal arts school has a competitive 17.4% acceptance rate and has an 8:1 student to faculty ratio. With a beautiful north eastern campus and close-knit community, Middlebury has a 97% first year retention rate, a great indicator of freshmen satisfaction.

 

36) United States Air Force Academy

  • Location: USAFA, CO
  • Student Enrollment: 4,111
  • College Type: Public

All cadets at Air Force participate in intercollegiate or intramural athletics, a specialized leadership curriculum, and an intense training program. The Academy’s mission is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become leaders of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”

 

37) University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 29,084
  • College Type: Public

UNC is tied with two other colleges as the oldest public university in the United States, dating back to 1795. Students can participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations and are known for their talented sports teams, beautiful facilities, and strong social scenes and events.

 

38) Wellesley College

  • Location: Wellesley, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 2,510
  • College Type: Private

One of the original Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley is arguably one of the most famous women’s colleges in the world. Notable alumni include Katharine Lee Bates, Diane Sawyer, and Hillary Clinton. Their most preferred major is Economics.

 

39) New York University

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 50,027
  • College Type: Private

NYU is an extremely culturally diverse and international university that offers a wide variety of majors. They have campuses in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, New York City, Sydney, and Washington D.C. NYU also has an impressive list of notable alumni, including CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Olympians, heads of state, astronauts, and more.

 

40) Davidson College

  • Location: Davidson, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 1,784
  • College Type: Private

Known as the Wildcats, Davidson students have an average SAT score of 1,280–1,430. Their motto is “Let learning be cherished where liberty has arisen,” which is instilled among their high-achieving students and strong reputation.

 

41) Wake Forest University

  • Location: Winston-Salem, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 7,591
  • College Type: Private

Located just a few hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains and beaches of South Carolina, Wake Forest has a beautiful campus that offers intramural sports and plenty of outdoor trips.  Of the 6 schools that make up Wake Forest, the School of Law, School of Business, and School of Medicine are extremely competitive. Undergraduates are enrolled in either Wake Forest College or the business school.

 

42) College of William and Mary

  • Location: Williamsburg, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 8,484
  • College Type: Public

William and Mary has more than 30 undergraduate programs and more than 10 graduate and professional degree programs. Of their highly ranked grad schools, the first law school in the U.S. is one of them. William and Mary is also responsible for the nation’s first academic Greek society, Phi Betta Kappa.

 

43) Colgate University

  • Location: Hamilton, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,882
  • College Type: Private

Colgate’s academic departments and majors fall into one of four general divisions: humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences and university studies. Greek life plays a significant role in student life, representing nearly half of sophomores, juniors and seniors.

 

44) Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 14,354
  • College Type: Private

Boston College, founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus is a Jesuit Catholic school that has been classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with high research activity. BC is made up of nine schools, including grad-programs, and competes in nearly 30 NCAA Division I varsity sports.

 

45) Lehigh University

  • Location: Bethlehem, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 7,119
  • College Type: Private

Lehigh is considered one of the twenty-four Hidden Ivies in the Northeastern U.S. They have four colleges: the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics, and the College of Education. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest, which roughly consists of 40% of their students.

 

46) Santa Clara University

  • Location: Santa Clara, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 8,680
  • College Type: Private

Santa Clara is the oldest currently operating institution of higher education in California and offers a wide variety of majors, as well as 17 varsity athletic programs competing at the division one program. Students at this highly selective school tend to have ACT scores between 27–32 and SAT scores between 1,220–1,410.

 

47) Vassar College

  • Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,436
  • College Type: Private

Vassar college is a top-tier liberal arts college that offers over 100 clubs and organizations for students to get involved with. Almost all students live on campus in 1 of 12 resident halls. Vassar has a solid 90% four-year graduation rate, and a 94% first year retention rate.

 

48) Barnard College

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 2,573
  • College Type: Private

Barnard College is comprised of two schools, offering a small, yet strong liberal arts school and a large, coeducational Ivy League institution, both in NYC. Barnard is an all-female college in Manhattan with a co-ed partnership with Columbia University, across the street.

 

49) Bucknell University

  • Location: Lewisburg, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 3,625
  • College Type: Private

Bucknell, being a very diverse institution offers nearly 50 majors and over 60 minors. Bucknell’s most popular are Economics, Political Science, Accounting, Finance, and Biology. They have an impressive first year retention rate of 93%.

 

50) Colby College

  • Location: Waterville, ME
  • Student Enrollment: 1815
  • College Type: Private

Colby’s campus encompasses a wildlife refuge and is close in proximity to a preserved lakefront property for environmental studies. There are approximately 100 student-run clubs and organizations on campus, ranging from the Colby Ballroom Dance Club to the Society Organized Against Racism. More than one-third of students are members of Colby’s intercollegiate varsity sports teams, the Mules.

 

So there you have it, top 50 colleges and universities in the U.S. ranked by myKlovr. If you are still not sure what schools to apply to, check out our college finder to find your perfect match today!

 

Sources:

 

Do Scholarship Programs Like FastWeb Really Pay Off?

With college prices soaring into the $70K range any bit of scholarship money can help. I’ve been exploring several online scholarship programs and wondering if they work. About a year ago I signed up for FastWeb.com. By plugging in a series of details about my daughter’s interest and talents, an algorithm generated a list of matches for independent scholarships. Many were state or city related and they ranged between $250- $10,000. Every day for a year I have received an email from Fastweb informing me about the many scholarship programs my daughter may qualify for.

In most cases, the scholarships required some work from my daughter in terms of an essay or short paragraph. For example, there is a National Rice Scholarship contest that is given to a student who resides in a state where rice is produced, California being one of them so my daughter qualified. In order for her to win, she’d have to write an essay about how rice was important to her life. She laughed at me when I suggested she write about her Japanese class in middle school making omusubi weekly for school lunches. She had no desire to write that essay, but more to the point, she really didn’t have time. She’d spent the year writing essays and supplemental essays for college applications plus all the essays for school. The last thing she felt she could do, was write about rice.

I was overwhelmed as well with the college application process and found myself ignoring these emails. I learned that thousands of kids would be applying for each scholarship so her chances were slim. Many of the scholarships were from corporations like Coca-Cola. Local Rotary clubs offered sponsorships too, but she had no direct connection to them. I did get my daughter to apply to one scholarship from a car company that offered $1000 for a photo with a car and a story. Since my daughter’s middle name is Lark, after the Lark Studebaker, we took a shot at that and sent in a photo and story. We never heard back, not even a generic reply.

Now that it’s summer and exams and essays are over, I am starting to open those emails from FastWeb and encourage her to apply for some small scholarships. Any bit will help to buy books or towards trips home. I’ve also learned about myscholly.com, another scholarship search tool.

It all comes down to time and money. The more time we put into seeking out scholarships, the more they might pay out. For parents with younger students, I’d suggest familiarizing yourself with scholarship searches and maybe prep your child for a couple. Have them start thinking now about how rice is important in their life.

Round Two: Planning Ahead for College Tours With Your Second Child

I found myself in NYC this past week with my family and as I walked by New York University it dawned on me that it was time to take my sixteen-year-old on college tours. He attended all the tours with his sister two years ago, but since his interests are different from hers, he wants his own college experience.

So I quickly got online and booked a couple of college tours in the city. His sister was a good sport and attended the tours with us. She explained to him that he needed to check in with the tour director, showing demonstrated interest was important and the college starts a file for you the minute you register for the tour. I noticed her nudging him to ask questions or to pay attention when he was drifting off.

Dinner conversation that night shifted from my daughter’s college talk to his. It was kind of surreal for all of us since we had just spent the last two years talking about my daughter’s college journey. It was fun to watch him think about his future and he had some serious ideas of where he wants to attend after touring all the schools with his sister.

So even if he toured with his sister, does he need to tour the same schools again for himself? I think so since the colleges do want to see demonstrated interest. And in the case of some schools, his sister toured a different department then he would be majoring in. Does this mean we need to repeat the same college tour vacation we had two springs ago? Do we take his sister with us who will then be deep into college herself by then? All these decisions are creeping up quickly. My short answer is to take him on a tour next Spring to a city that has a bunch of schools he wanted to see that his sister didn’t. And next summer we can regroup and narrow down his choices. He needs to figure out if he wants to go to art school, theater school or a liberal arts college where he can do both art and theatre. I am hoping he won’t need to do all the auditions our friend Anne did. But thrilled we have some good art school portfolio prep from our friend Edie.

We are back home now and the first thing Jasper did was come into my room this morning and ask if he could use my computer to look up some colleges he’d been thinking about. When I picked up the computer later in the day, I noticed all the schools he had looked at were in England. Looks like we will be heading across the pond for next summer’s college tour vacation.

A Tour of Freshman Summer Reading from Various Colleges and Universities

Since my kids were in middle school, I made a point to read each book that their teachers assigned. I liked to discuss the books at dinner and I was always curious about a book I hadn’t read. Julie of the Wolves byJean Craighead George was a surprise to me and sticks with me to this day. Learning about wolf packs from the POV of the wolf was something I could only get from this middle grade reader. Once in a while I’d read a book that seemed inappropriate like when Sold by Patricia McCormick was assigned to my sixth grader. Luckily, some of the other parents in the class felt the same way and we were able to discuss our concerns with the teacher before the students took it on themselves.

Summer reading in high school introduced me to some great reads like the tenth grade assignment of Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which my son is reading now. And everyone should have the pleasure of reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon  that was assigned to both my kids the summer before ninth grade.

A year ago I read a NYT article about summer reading for college freshman around the country. I was excited to see that summer reading would not go away once college began. I don’t remember being assigned books in summer. Keeping up with the books on this NYT article was a way for me to find books of interest that were contemporary and I was excited to find my daughter assigned two books this summer by her college: Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera and Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. Sydney is loving Island of a Thousand Mirrors and I recently learned that Nayomi Munaweera tours hundred of colleges and will do a reading at my daughter’s school in the fall.

Among the schools asking students to read specific books this summer, I’ve found the following:  UC Berkeley – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (because she will be there in person at her keynote event on August 23); Bard College – Bacchae by Euripides; Wesleyan University – A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain by Christina Crosby; Lafayette College – Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.

I’m hoping my daughter will continue to share her reading list with me once she goes to college. It will give me some great reads as well as allowing me to have fun and intellectual discussions with her when she returns home. A shared interest in books can help keep us connected in a familiar way while she’s tucked away at in her new school and I am getting used to my empty nest.

SPOTLIGHT: Mary Shares Insight Into Her Daughter’s Acceptance Into A STEM Program

Mary and I have known each other since our daughters were in Kindergarten together. As always it’s fun for me to watch these little ones grow up and then see where they are headed for their careers. When I think back on Grace, vet school makes sense, but I also her remembered her being a talented actress and wondered if she needed to pick between acting and science. Grace has figured out a way to do both with a Liberal Arts Education.

Hi Mary, I understand Grace has chosen a liberal arts college with a STEM major. How did she narrow her interests down to pre-vet?

Grace has been interested in Veterinary Medicine for many years.  When she had the opportunity to take a research class in high school, she used it to further her interest in the field of captive animal breeding.  Her school supported her interest.

I know Grace has many talents and interests. How did she narrow down her study to science? Was it hard for her to decide to go into science vs. acting?

That is the great thing about the liberal arts college she chose, she will do both. 

When looking at schools, what were the most important aspects for her?

That the school would offer research positions to first-year underclassmen and that they have a strong pre-vet program.

Were universities or smaller liberal arts colleges more open to her continuing her research?    

Grace was very interested in a liberal arts college/university that valued her as a research student with an interest in her project.

Did she talk to the colleges/universities about her research?

Yes.  Since her research class was a big part of her senior year in high school and the proposal was submitted in her junior year, it was a major topic at most of her interviews.

Do you think her specific research helped her get into her top school?

Yes, mostly because they were aware that she was interested in their pre-vet track.  The fact that she would also be considered for her training/experience in theater/acting was a strong selling point.

Did she receive grants or merit aid related to her research?

Not as yet.  She will apply when she gets to school in the fall.

Can you explain about applying for grants that she will hear more about in the fall. This is the first I have heard about something like that.

There are places that the college will recommend, but if she doesn’t get a grant right away, she has looked into some outside sources. Such as,  http://sws.org/Awards-and-Grants/student-research-grants.html  and https://www.fastweb.com/financial-aid/articles/research-grants-for-grad-students

How much time will Grace devote to research while in her undergraduate program?

At this point, she is unsure. She has passed along the findings from her research to the San Diego Zoo and she will wait to hear back.

How involved were you in guiding her through this decision

I just listened to her as she worked out the pros-cons of each school.  I kept notes about what she and I discussed.  She was a very independent student and that theme continued through the application process.

Did she do an internship related to this field?

She did and does work with her Aunt and Uncle in Idaho.  Her Aunt has a practice and her Uncle is on staff at WSU Vet school. She shadowed the Vet at Adopt and Shop when she worked there. She does the same at the Annenberg Petspace.

Any final advice for other parents with children interested in pursuing a major in science?

Many high schools sponsor STEM symposiums and conferences.  Preparing and participating in several of those was beneficial to Grace.  The trend right now to promote girls interest in STEM, so that worked to her advantage.

Thank you, Mary! It was fun catching up with you and best of luck to Grace!

Summer SAT and ACT Test Prep

School has been out for a week and my son turns sixteen tomorrow. Talking about SAT and ACT prep is not a popular subject right now. For him his SATs are far in the future, the reality is that they are five months away.

We decided as a family not to get him an SAT tutor and he’s not keen on a test prep class. The options remaining are self-motivated online test prep or the old-fashioned test prep book. I know the last thing he wants to do this summer is to self-motivate and look through a giant paperback full of word problems and reading comprehension. But still, he needs to prep.

I started thinking about ways to get him to study that would be effective, efficient and not ruin his summer. The twenty-minute rule came to mind the other day. When my kids were toddlers I read that if you were trying to get work done but the little ones kept interrupting,  just sit down with them for twenty minutes. Give them your undivided attention either by reading to them, snuggling or playing, and then after the twenty minutes they would play by themselves for a chunk of time. That idea worked repeatedly for me, the best parenting advice I’d ever gotten.

I then recalled when my kids were in middle school and had to practice the cello, the assignment was: twenty minutes a night. And then when they started reading for school, they were instructed to read for twenty minutes a day. It seems like twenty minutes is a magic number. That’s when I came up with the Twenty Minute A Day Test Prep Practice Plan.

I was explaining this idea to my friend Lisa who is a therapist and she thought it was a great idea. Her daughter had just graduated high school and she was familiar with the struggles to motivate for test prep. “It’s proven that twenty minutes of intense concentration is a great way to retain information. We use that with kids with ADHD.” She suggested setting a timer, clearing the room of any media, study for twenty minutes and then take a four-minute break. The break should be stretching or restorative breathing. The break should be nothing mental, no looking at media! Then the student can decide if they can study for twenty more minutes. At the end of their study time reward them with a piece of chocolate or a look at their phone. She said time of day is not important, being flexible is. But doing it everyday will create good habits and eventually it will become routine.

I talked to my son about this plan. At first he thought twenty minutes a day sounded deadly, but then he remembered cello practice and decided it made sense. He agreed to do it, but asked if he could start on Wednesday, the day after his birthday.

I’ll check back next month, reporting on his Twenty Minute A Day Test Prep Practice Plan progress. Hopefully it will work for your student too.

Are Summer Programs Important for College Admissions?

My son’s college advisor told the sophomore class that what they do this summer will be looked at seriously by college admissions directors. Admissions directors see summer as a continuation of your student’s learning and expect them to take advantage of this time. So no lazy summers!

Colleges want to see that your student is either taking a summer course, doing an internship or has a summer job. I am happy to see three choices because summer courses can be expensive and not available to everyone. Most colleges and universities offer courses to high school students and allow them to stay in the dorms. NYU, for example, has a great selection of very appealing courses for high schoolers but they range from $3,000-$7,000 per student plus airfare and expenses. Sometimes junior colleges offer classes to high school students. The local JC in our area offer these classes for free.

Internships are a wonderful way for students to gain job experience as well as work in a field they are interested in. My daughter did an internship the summer before her senior year and her supervisor wound up writing a letter of recommendation for her college application. My daughter also found that on college interviews discussing her internships was a comfortable way to talk about herself and interests.

One thing I keep hearing from college counselors is that colleges want to see consistency. If your child goes the summer job route, then perhaps going back to that same place of employment each summer and maybe advancing in responsibilities or hours will show rigor and commitment.

If none of these options work for your child, if it’s too late to sign up for a course or maybe you are spending the summer with family out of state, then perhaps your student could write about their summer experience. Maybe they could blog about their experiences and their new environment. Or offer to write an article for the local newspaper. Even create a photography portfolio. Just see that they follow up the following summer, so when it comes time to apply to college, they will have a body of work to show.

Teenagers have lots of energy and when used wisely, they can produce a lot of great content. Sure they need to study for SAT’s but summer doesn’t have to be all about test prep, nor should it be. And a lazy afternoon once in awhile is probably a good idea too.

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