high school

How to Make the Most of Summer to Prep for College Admissions

It’s late May, which means summer vacation is right around the corner for millions of high school students like you. As both a former student and teacher, I remember those days fondly. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel. Just hang on a little longer and I’d be rewarded with nine glorious weeks off.

Yes, I expect you to use this upcoming summer break to get a little R&R. However, if you’re a rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, I encourage you to spend a little time over the following weeks to prepare for college admissions.

That said, let’s dive into what you can do to make the most of this summer while still leaving you plenty of time to relax.   

If You’re a Rising Sophomore

Now that you’ve completed freshman year, you should have a decent understanding of your academic strengths and weaknesses. You also (hopefully) found at least one extracurricular activity that you enjoy. Let’s turn this new knowledge into an action plan.

What You Should Do

  • If struggled with English or math your freshman year, spend 2-3 hours a week reviewing lessons on Khan Academy. Using Khan Academy or a similar service will both improve your English/math skills and prevent you from forgetting what you learned.
    • If your parents can afford a tutor, that works, too. 🙂
  • Spend about 7-10 hours over the summer researching colleges online. Here are some potential Google searches:
    • Colleges that have strong [Insert the name of your favorite subject here] programs.
    • Community colleges in [your state].
    • Best public colleges in [your state].
    • Colleges that award scholarship for [your extracurricular activity/high GPAs/good test scores].
  • As you research potential schools, you’ll notice that a lot of them come with big price tags. Talk to your families about what the can/will contribute to your college education.

What You Could Do 

  • As you’ll take either the PLAN or PSAT test during your sophomore year, you need to decide whether you are going to prepare for either test. Many students take these tests ‘cold’ so they can understand their natural strengths and weaknesses. This is fine, but if you are aiming for a National Merit Scholarship, you’ll need to put in some PSAT prep.

If You’re a Rising Junior

Becoming a junior is a big deal. You’re an upperclassman now, and college is just two years away. This summer you’ll need to take a more active role in preparing for your future. 

What You Should Do

  • Go on at least two college tours.
    • By researching colleges online, you should know already have a few that interest you. It’s time to hit the road with the family and see these colleges up close.
  • Decide whether to prepare for the ACT or SAT.
    • You’ll likely take both of these tests during your college admissions journey. However, as many students discover that perform slightly better on one test over the other.
  • Curate scholarship opportunities.
    • Continue your research from last summer and select 5-10 scholarships that you can apply to now or when you become a senior.
          • Although application deadlines might not be for another year, researching now means that you still have time to improve your grades/increase your volunteer hours/etc.
  • Sign up for challenging classes.
    • No, I don’t mean ‘take all AP courses.’ Yes, for some students, that’s challenging. For others, it’s a recipe for burnout/failure/etc. You need to choose a curriculum that’s challenging for you.
    • In other words, if you made an A in a non-honors course, consider taking the honors course in that same subject area as a junior.
      • The same advice applies if you did well in honors courses as a sophomore. Maybe it’s time to take 1-2 APs your junior year. 

What You Could Do

  • Take an ACT or SAT prep course.
    • Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are a milestone for high school juniors. By preparing for these tests now, you might earn a good enough score that you do not have to retake them later.
  • Intern or volunteer.
    • There are plenty of internship or volunteer opportunities in your local community. Find one that represents a cause or issue you believe in and spend 5-10 hours each week interning or volunteering. 

If You’re a Rising Senior

College admissions season is coming up fast, which means that this summer you’ll decide which colleges you’ll apply to in the fall. The following advice should help you make up your mind and put the final touches on your application packets.

What You Should Do

  • Take additional college tours.
  • Prepare to retake the ACT or SAT.
    • You took one or both of these tests during the spring. Now that you have the results, you can create a study plan that involves tutors or free Khan Academy resources.
    • I’d recommend spending 1-2 hours a week on test prep. This way, you can retake the ACT or SAT in late August or early September. These test windows are excellent as you’ll have your results in hand before college applications are due. 

What You Could Do 

  • Start application essays.
    • It’s never too early to start your application essays. See my article on the topic for more information.
  • Keep interning or volunteering.
    • If you interned of volunteered last summer, keep up the good work by trying a new experience this summer.

Final Thoughts

Summer is a great time to relax. By all means, stay up late, sleep in, and have a good time with your friends. But remember that time is a resource like any other. This summer, invest some time in your future by preparing for life after high school. Future you will thank present you.

 

Are High School Students Over/Underworked? A Comparison

Far, far away from you is an island. This island –a bit smaller than New York City — is close to the equator, so it’s always hot and muggy. It’s crowded, too; about 5.5 million people live there. A lot of ethnic groups, customs, and languages mingle, so everyone learns English to get by. Why am I waxing on about an island a minimum 17-hour flight from any point in the U.S.? Well, it’s because that island, aka the Republic of Singapore, produces the best educated high school students in the world.

Yep, Singapore is just one of many countries where the high school students outperform Americans. Now, American high school students are pretty good compared to most of the world, but since we’re the wealthiest country on Earth, it’s a bit embarrassing that we’re lagging behind other countries. What’s the cause? Are American high school students lazy? Are schools underfunded?

Or do students not have enough to do?

In this article, we’ll be investigating how the high school students’ workload has changed in recent decades and how it compares to our Singaporean peers.

Trends in American Education

Long story short, what we know as ‘high school’ didn’t come into being until the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957. America suddenly developed an inferiority complex, and legislators pumped billions into education, while parents bought educational toys for their children. Today everything from foreign language instruction to AP courses can all thank their existence to a beeping metal sphere about twice the size of a basketball.

So how does Sputnik’s legacy continue to affect 21st-century students’ workload? From my experiences as a student and teacher, the smarter a student is, the more work and higher expectations are forced upon them. What this means is that high-achieving students like you can go toe-to-toe with your Singaporean counterparts any day of the week.

Here’s the problem. When it comes to students who aren’t high achievers, they aren’t doing much in school and what they are doing isn’t helping them prepare for life’s challenges let alone a standardized test that researchers use to compare different countries’ students. In fact, when I started teaching at an alternative high school, I was shocked by how little work middle-of-the-road and low-achieving students did to graduate.

So, it makes sense then that when policymakers see how low U.S. high school students rank, their first reaction is “The kids are lazy! Pile on the work!”

That’s not the answer because you certainly don’t need more to do to be successful academically. Let’s see what makes a country’s students succeed.

Why Is Singapore so Successful?

Let’s examine a few key facts about the Singaporean education system:

  • The country spends only 3% of its GDP on education. (It’s almost 8% in the U.S.)
  • There is a central Ministry of Education. (Remember that in the U.S., each state controls its education system.)
  • Parents who don’t ensure that their children attend school are charged with a crime.
  • The government pays for preschool for children starting at age three.

Let me pause to say how important that last bullet is. Investing in preschool can prevent so many educational and behavioral problems later in life. Also, experienced preschool teachers can identify learning disabilities, ensuring that students receive access to appropriate interventions.

The Singaporean government is doing a lot of effective things to help their students succeed. What about the students? Do they work more, less, or about the same?

Let’s examine one statistic. Singaporean students spend more time on homework than Americans, approximately nine hours per week. You probably spend nine hours per week on homework, too. However, Singaporean high school students suffer from anxiety and feelings of overwork at much higher rates than American students.

Hmmm…

Takeaways

I think I see a trend, one that might apply to students in the U.S., Singapore, or any country.

[Amount of Schoolwork] x [Expectations to Succeed] = [Feelings of Overwork]

I’d wager that high achieving American and Singaporean students do the same amount of work, but Singaporean students feel higher stress because compared to the average U.S. student, their government and culture put much more emphasis on academic performance.

To put it another way, overwork can be more perception than actual reality. Did your teacher assign 50 math problems when 10 would be enough to master the content? That’s overwork, plain and simple. But do you have a lot of homework because the specialized honors/AP/IB curriculum moves at a fast pace? That’s necessary. The pressure you or others put on your academic success drains your energy, making something you’re capable of doing feel impossible.

Take it from someone who’s been on both sides of the teacher’s desk: though you may feel like it’s too much, you’re doing what you need to do.

Final Thoughts

You’re not overworked. In fact, many American high school students don’t do enough, and the work they need may not necessarily be what teachers in today’s classrooms would assign. Preschool and vocational training would go a long way to ensuring that every student works the same amount but performs the right work for them.

If it’s something that Singapore – a country that didn’t exist until 1965 – can achieve, it’s something we can achieve, and more importantly, something American students deserve.

Decisions, Decisions: Early Decision, Early Action, Instant Decision or Regular Decision

When it comes to your journey to college, you have to answer many important questions:

  • Public or private school?
  • Small or big school?
  • How much can I afford?
  • Which scholarships should I apply to?
  • And so on.

Answering each of these questions brings you one step closer to attending college. However, one of the final questions you must answer may have the most significant impact on where you go to school:

  • Should I apply early decision, early action, instant decision, or regular decision?

Yes, there are many choices of how you can apply to college, and each one comes with a unique set of rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll examine each type of application so you can choose those right for you.

Early Decision

 As the name implies, early decision requires you to decide where you want to go to college before most application deadlines. You apply to one school 1-2 months before regular decision, and you can expect a decision in about six weeks. You may already know the catch: if the school accepts you, you have to go there. No, they won’t drag you off to jail if you don’t attend, but when you send in your early decision application, you’re telling the college that, “Yes, I will 100% go here if you accept me.”

Students who apply early decision have a slightly higher chance of receiving an acceptance letter. Don’t be fooled; schools accept a higher percentage of early decision applicants because these applicants represent the cream of the crop. Finally, schools may decide to push some early decision applicants into the regular decision pile to review their applications again between January and April.

Who should apply early decision?

If you 100% know deep down – you feel it in your bones – that you want to attend a specific college, by all means, apply early decision. And if you get in, more power to you. With that significant weight off your shoulders, you can celebrate during winter break and have a less stressful spring semester.

And if you shouldn’t get in – it happened to me, too – take a moment to grieve before refocusing your energy on your remaining applications.  

Early Action

Want to know if a school will accept you early but not 100% sure you want to attend? Then early action is for you!

Schools that use early action typically have the same application deadlines as schools that use early decision. You receive a decision around the same time as if you had applied early decision, too. But unlike early decision, applying early action does not constitute an agreement to attend a school if it accepts you. Also, you have until May 1st to make your final decision.

Who should apply early action?

You should apply early action if there is a school you love, but you’re not entirely sure you want to attend. Also, consider early action if you want to see how your regular decision applications turn out.

Instant Decision

Don’t let the name fool you. Instant decision takes a little more time than a cup of instant ramen. It’s more like speed dating. Here’s how the process works for some schools:

  • You gather all application materials.
  • You take them to a college on its decision day, also known as D-Day.
  • The college makes an admission decision that same day.

Like with early action, you still have until May 1stto select a college or university. Compared to early decision, early action, and regular decision, instant decision is rare. None of the schools you apply to may use it.

Who should apply instant decision?

Consider instant decision a good choice you want to know your results as soon as possible. D-Day can feel like a gauntlet, however, especially for schools that use interviews, so be ready for the stress. 

Regular Decision

Regular decision represents the bulk of applications colleges and universities receive throughout December and into early January. Schools spend the spring curating their next year’s freshman class before sending out decisions around April 1st. Accepted students have until May 1stto accept an offer.  Schools put some regular decision applicants on a waitlist: these students may not find out until May or June if a school accepts them.

Who should apply regular decision? 

No matter who you are, you should plan to apply regular decision to at least three schools. It’s your best bet to receive one or more acceptances.

Final Thoughts

Applying to college has never been more competitive, and you may think that applying one way or another may give you an advantage. If I were you, I’d push these thoughts out of my mind. Apply early decision/action to your top choice and apply regular decision for the rest of the schools on your shortlist. After that, all you can do is sit back, wait, and continue doing your best in high school until graduation day.

Top 10 Private Colleges in The United States

Thinking about applying to college?  MyKlovr has provided a list of the top ten private colleges in the United States.

1. Harvard University

Medical School at Harvard University.

Location: Cambridge, MA

Total Enrollment: 20,324

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Harvard University was founded on September 8, 1636, and named after its first benefactor, John Harvard.

The first graduation ceremony for Harvard University was in 1642, honoring nine graduates.

2. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

3. Yale University

Harkness Tower at Yale University.

Location: New Haven, CT

Total Enrollment: 12,458

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Fun Facts

Yale University was established on October 9, 1701.

Yale is home to the oldest collegiate newspaper, the Yale Daily News.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Princeton UniversityUniversity8,181Princeton, NJ7%Suburban
5Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUniversity11,376Boston, MA8%Urban
6University of PennsylvaniaUniversity21,826Philidelphia, PA9%Urban
7Columbia UniversityUniversity25,084New York, NY6%Urban
8Brown UniversityUniversity9,781Providence, RI9%Urban
9California Institute of TechnologyUniversity2,240Pasadena, CA8%Suburban
10Duke UniversityUniversity15,928Durham, NC11%Suburban

 

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

How to Use the Thanksgiving Break as a Fresh Start to Set New Academic Goals if Things Aren’t Going Well

I always feel refreshed after a long nap. So I’m hoping the Thanksgiving break can be a long nap for my son. It’s been a tough junior year so far. He took on a big course load, a full plate of electives and two honors classes. He also performed in the school play and one outside play. I think a big meal and a long rest are necessary for him right now and Thanksgiving break is the perfect time for him to reset his battery and get ready for the rest of the semester and his impending final exams.

Not only is it important for your student to study and focus, but it’s equally important for them to have some downtime. Perhaps think of Thanksgiving break as that. Hold off on the college talk for a while. Get their mind off their studies and have them dive into family activities. Maybe an old fashioned game of Monopoly or a family hike. These are their last years of childhood so let them be a kid this week. The time for adulthood just around the corner.

Reading is essential for relaxing too. So in my son’s case, I am going to suggest now is a good time to catch up on his independent reading for school, or maybe get a jump start on that novel that is looming for his English class. He’s not the best one when it comes to independent reading, so we’ll take some reading time as a family this week. We can all use some downtime to curl up with a good book.

So after turkey day, a day of eating resting and family activity, then bring up your child’s academic year. Set some goals, maybe reassess their homework load and extra circulars. Is it important to be on the sports team for the Spring sport, or is that just too much to take on this year? Is it time for a tutor? Maybe the after school job is taking away too many homework hours. Be aware of their schedule, notice their concerns. Let them know you are on their side.

We decided as a family that this Thanksgiving we would decide if we are going to do college tours for Spring break. After reviewing my son’s Spring schedule, we think a trip would be too much and he should spend Spring break completing some extra projects he has signed up for. We all felt a big relief upon this decision and will now plan on some college tours this summer.

Just because our kids might be taller than we are and are driving, working and can do things themselves these days doesn’t mean they have the capacity to manage their time. It still is helpful if someone can access their schedule and look at it with fresh eyes. They may have bitten off more than they can chew and what could be a better time than Thanksgiving to learn how to manage just how much you can put on your plate without overloading it.

Enjoy your time with your students and family this Thanksgiving!

Stay Productive This Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break is soon upon us. Depending on your school or district’s policies, you may receive two days, three days, or a whole week off of school. Between stuffing your face and watching football, the week doesn’t lend itself to productivity.

When I was a teacher, district policy forbade teachers from assigning homework over Thanksgiving break. As such shackles no longer bind me, I’m going to assign you just a bit of homework for you to accomplish over break.

In this article, we’ll look at different things high school freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors can accomplish during their time off school. And because I want to make sure you have a chance to relax this Thanksgiving, none of my assignments should take more than two hours to complete.

If You’re a Freshman

As a high school freshman, you don’t have to worry about high-stakes standardized tests and applying to college just yet. Instead of research or test prep, I want you to spend your two hours performing some self-reflection that should help you with the big decisions you’ll face in the next few years.

For each of the following bullet points, I want you to journal a one-page reply:

  • Which subject is your favorite? What about it do you like the most?
  • In which class do you have the most trouble? Do you need extra help to succeed?
  • Do you work better by yourself or with others?
  • What careers (even if they’re pie-in-the-sky) do you think are interesting or would be worth pursuing one day?

What I want you to do is tuck these answers away. During Thanksgiving break for the next two years – when you’re a sophomore and junior — revisit these questions to identify how your preferences have changed. By the time you start seriously researching potential colleges during your junior year, you’ll be better prepared to select those that best match your interests and goals.

If You’re a Sophomore

Sophomore year is the time when you dip your toe into the college application pond. It can seem a bit overwhelming (that’s natural), but you can accomplish something this Thanksgiving break that’ll both reduce your stress and start your college journey off on the right foot.

For your two hours of homework, I want you to research potential colleges and select 2-3 to tour between now and the end of summer break before your junior year. Discuss options with your family, as they’ll likely come with you on these tours and play a significant role in your college decision-making process. 

If You’re a Junior

As a junior, this is the last full year of grades colleges will see when you apply next year. That makes your performance on mid-terms, which are only a few weeks away, more important than those you took in your freshman and sophomore years.

During the break, I want you to set aside two hours to study your most challenging subject. It doesn’t matter what it is. You need not only the practice but also the chance to identify the topics giving you the most trouble. Once you identify them, you can master them over the next few weeks with your teachers’ help and other resources (e.g., Khan Academy) they recommend.

If You’re a Senior

Your college application deadlines are coming up fast. For any remaining applications, here’s what I want you to do:

  • Reread all application requirements and make a checklist for each school.
  • Check off what you have completed.
    • Maintain these lists until you send off your last application.
  • Read all of your essays at least once. Make appropriate revisions.
    • If you’re going to visit relatives this Thanksgiving, it never hurts to ask an aunt or uncle to critique one of your essays.

Final Thoughts

I have one last piece of homework for everyone reading this to accomplish between now and the end of Thanksgiving break: find some quality time to relax. The three weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break are full to the brim with studying, tests, and anxiety. Recharge your batteries now so you can face these challenges successfully.

How to Help If Your Child is Struggling Academically in the Middle of a School Year?

We just had parent teacher conferences with our eleventh grader. It was the perfect time to review his grades since he still has time to improve before the first-semester report card comes out.

His science teacher, who was concerned that his grade wasn’t as good as it could be after the last test started the meeting by saying, “Don’t worry, your parents and I are your support team. We are rooting for you, not against you.”

After spending 11th grade with my daughter being angry at her if her grades slipped because I knew how crucial that year was, I decided it was important to take a different tactic with my son.

Instead of being upset with a bad test score, we talked to him about the root of the problem. He’s got good grades in everything else, so what was it about chemistry?

During the meeting, we asked his teacher to dissect his last test. During that time she determined he had froze on the first part of the test with the multiple choice problems. By the time he got to the short answers, he had lost his confidence and couldn’t even finish the test. Thus the poor grade.

So she introduced some test taking skills and told him to start with by reading the test through first and then start the short answers. She told him to write out the formulas before starting the math problems and then basically do what he would consider the “easy problems”. If he thought of those as a warm up, then he’d be ready to take on the word problems.

She also implemented a plan that he reviews his chemistry every night not just cram for the test. It had been okay to cram for the test last year, but in 11th grade, the tests are based on the progression of the year’s work, not just that past week. 

I truly believe we are his support team and I’m looking at things differently now. Generally, we are slowing things down at home. I’m trying to cook more substantial food for him and make sure he has eaten protein before school. We are trying to be quieter in the evenings and have asked him to pick one night a weekend to see friends.

He won’t get in trouble for a bad grade, I had to let him know that. I think he had been afraid he disappoint us which just made the pressure worse. These next two years are going to be hard enough for him. He doesn’t need our added stress. 

It’s too late to drop classes, so if your child is struggling, maybe it’s time to get a tutor. Nothing wrong with a little help. Often a local college student who is majoring in that subject is a good choice and more affordable than a tutoring center. Libraries offer tutoring programs for free as do after school facilities like Boys and Girls Clubs. 

Keep talking to your student and perhaps their teachers. Teachers love when students come to them. They really do like to see that the student is making an effort. If you have the chance to jump in now and help, you might relieve some stress all around. 

Top 15 Colleges in California

There is an overwhelming number of options for high school students to choose from when applying to college. In California alone, there are 264 4-year colleges.

For this reason, myKlovr has generated a list of the top 15 colleges in California. Take a look to learn more about these featured colleges.

 

1. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

2. California Institute of Technology

Robert A. Millikan Memorial Library at Caltech.

Location: Pasadena, CA

Total Enrollment: 2,240

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Fun Facts

California Institute of Technology was founded in 1891.

The mascot of Caltech is a beaver, to honor natures engineers.

 

3. Pomona College

Mason Hall, an academic building at Pomona College.

Location: Claremont, CA

Total Enrollment: 1,703

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Fun Facts

Pomona College was founded in 1887.

An alumnus of Pomona college is Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top fifteen list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Claremont McKenna CollegeLiberal Arts1,347Claremont, CA9%Suburban
5Harvey Mudd CollegeLiberal Arts829Claremont, CA13%Suburban
6University of California, BerkeleyUniversity40,174Berkeley, CA16%Urban
7University of California, Los AngelesUniversity44,497Los Angeles, CA18%Urban
8University of Southern CaliforniaUniversity43,871Los Angeles, CA17%Urban
9Scripps CollegeLiberal Arts1,057Claremont, CA30%Suburban
10Pitzer CollegeLiberal Arts1,089Claremont, CA14%Suburban
11University of California, DavisUniversity36,441David, CA42%Urban
12University of California, San DiegoUniversity34,979La Jolla, CA36%Urban
13University of California, Santa BarbaraUniversity24,346Santa Barbara, CA36%Suburban
14Santa Clara UniversityUniversity8,422Santa Clara, CA48%Urban
15Occidental CollegeLiberal Arts2,062Los Angeles, CA46%Urban

 

MyKlovr created this top fifteen list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

Demonstrated Interest: A Primer

Believe it or not, getting into your dream college has a lot in common with getting your future dream job. Yes, both have the word ‘dream’ in the title, but the similarities go deeper than that. You see, the people who get into their dream college/get their dream job show demonstrated interest. In other words, they do more than the bare minimum – applying.

In this article, we’ll take a look at demonstrated interested: what it is and how to use it to your advantage during next year’s college admission season.

So, What Is Demonstrated Interest?

As the name suggests, demonstrated interest is when you go the extra mile to show a college that it’s your first choice. The trick, however, is doing so without becoming annoying and making the college admission counselor think less of you. We’ll discuss how to not be annoying in a bit.

And you don’t want that happening, do you?

Your goal, on the other hand, is to leave a positive impression on the admission department before (or during) the time when they consider your application portfolio. How do you do that? Let’s find out.

What Does Demonstrated Interest Look Like?

Let’s start with an easy one.

Take the Tour 

Taking the tour is one of the easiest things you can do to show demonstrated interest. No, you likely won’t come into contact with any higher-ups in the admission department, but the experience can benefit you in a few ways.

  • Your Personal Essay: The personal essay is a great way to bring up the fact you took the tour and “just fell in love” with the campus and what the student tour guide told you about the academic and social experience.
  • Write a Thank You Note: When you get back home from your tour, consider writing a brief thank you note to the head of the admission department. Talk about “how helpful” the guide was and that “your school is now one of my top picks.” In other words, it never hurts to butter them up.

If you can’t take the tour for whatever reason, it always pays to send a note to one of the admissions counselors. Ask a question or two and tell them a bit about yourself. Like any good cover letter, don’t let it go over 250 words.

Interview 

Not many colleges perform interviews these days, especially for undergraduates. If they do, that is an opportunity you need to jump on (if you can). If the school is hundreds or thousands of miles away, it doesn’t make sense to commit time and money to make the trip, especially if you’re on a budget. But if it’s a day trip in the car, don’t miss this critical opportunity. Here’s some specific advice, much of it applicable to the jobs interviews a few years in your future:

  • Dress for the school you want: When you go to your interview, it pays to dress up. How dressed up? Without going into too much detail, Google ‘business casual.’ That seems to be the sweet spot.
  • Have some questions ready: In all interviews, there always comes a point when the interviewer turns the tables and asks, “do you have any questions for me?” To leave an impression, you need to have a question or two up your sleeve. Fortunately for you, you can think up questions in advance, and if one should come to mind during the interview, that’s even better. Your questions show demonstrated interest and leave an impression in your interviewer’s mind. And who knows, your interviewer may be the person who has the final say over your application.

How to Not Be Annoying

This is going to be a relatively short section despite the topic’s importance. Again, let’s take a page out of the “how to get a job” playbook:

  • Be yourself: A truism if there ever was one, but be yourself is still the best advice there is. However, a better way to put it would be ‘be genuine.’ Sounds nicer, doesn’t it? In other words, the effort it takes to try to be someone else is exhausting, and if you mess it up, the person on the other end loses trust in you.
  • Don’t lie: Applying to college isn’t applying for a security clearance; plenty of people have fibbed about their accomplishments, like how long they participated in an extracurricular activity and gotten away with it. HOWEVER, lying is annoying and demonstrates an immaturity that no college admission counselor wants to see.
  • Avoid the Temptation to Pester: First off, there’s a big difference between pestering and asking relevant questions. For example, if a college says they will let you know when all of your application materials arrive and then you hear nothing, by all means, write them emails until you get a reply. But beyond that, avoid contacting admission counselors, especially if you think of something that would ‘enhance’ your application.
    • Your application is your one and only opportunity to shine. Sorry. That’s the way it is.

Final Thoughts

Demonstrated interest shows initiative and if done right, proves to a school that you’re committed. As long as you’re not annoying, whatever you do is sure to have a positive effect.

What Causes School Anxiety? (And What You Can Do)

Anxiety plagues just about every high school student. I could easily create an 800-item list of anxiety triggers you and your peers experience every day, but that would be TOO easy. You know, as I think about the innumerable anxiety culprits wandering your high school and the space between your ears (your brain), a few trends emerge. In this article, we’ll look at the big anxiety categories that plague high school students and what you can do to keep your anxiety at a low simmer.

Deadlines

The first thing that came to mind when I started brainstorming this article was deadlines. Just two feet away from my computer is a dry erase whiteboard calendar jam-packed full of them. Just looking at them gives me the jitters.

But unlike you, I have more than a decade of experience juggling multiple deadlines. Experience alone tells me that everything’s going to work out just fine. But alas, you lack such valuable experience. However, just like everything we’ll discuss in this article, there is something you can do TODAY to make deadline anxiety a thing of the past.

What You Can Do

Imagine a guy who pays $50 for a premium all-you-can-eat buffet. Everything looks great, but he only has so much stomach real estate. He decides to eat large portions of just 1-2 items that attract him. Yes, he has a great meal, but he goes home feeling anxious. Did he get his money’s worth? Maybe, just maybe, he should have sampled a little bit of everything.

Believe it or not, beating deadline anxiety has a lot to do with our gourmand.

As an ambitious high school student, you have a ‘buffet’ of deadlines in your future. When you have the option to either work on one assignment for two to three hours or three assignments for one hour each, always choose the latter. That way, you’ll make progress on every single thing. Yes, in both scenarios you’d do the same amount of work, but by ‘sampling’ everything you’ll actually feel that you accomplished more than if you left something untouched.

Assessments of All Shapes and Sizes

High school is full of assessments: ACT/SAT, AP, IB, pop quizzes, exit slips, unit tests, midterms, end-of-year tests, state tests, etc. That’s a lot of assessments to worry about.

Like with deadlines, you consciously know that you’ll do your best, but anxiety still has its talons in you. What to do? 

What You Can Do

Defeating texting anxiety has more to do with mindset rather than any particular action on your part. In a nutshell, you simply need to remember that for the majority of important high school tests, there are second chances, either retakes or the ability to learn from your mistakes and apply your new knowledge toward the next test. Keep this in mind before taking the ACT/SAT and just about every test you take in class.

Student-Teacher Relationships

I didn’t get along with all my teachers in high school, and when I became a teacher, I didn’t get along with all of my students. Let’s say you have a teacher that, for whatever reason, rubs you the wrong way. Going into his or her class feels like a nightmare. Maybe you’ve lost some sleep over it.

What You Can Do 

As there are so many things that can sour a student-teacher relationship, I’m going to shy away from giving specific advice. However, in just about every case, finding a solution begins with asking yourself “Is it me or my teacher who’s at fault?” Be honest and own up to any mistakes that you might have made. In my experience on both sides of the teacher’s desk, you likely did SOMETHING at SOME POINT to widen the rift even if it wasn’t the original cause.

Once you look at things objectively, it’s time to talk to your teacher, preferably before or after school. That may sound scary, but look at it this way: in just about every kind of relationship, better communication leads to a better relationship. It’s as simple as that.

 Your Peers

Bullies, friends who drift away, mean girls, peer pressure…being around other teenagers 7-8 hours a day can sure raise your anxiety. Of course, if you’re anxious because you or someone you know is experiencing physical or psychological harm due to other students, it’s time to let a teacher know. But if your anxiety is more of the general variety, you can still nip peer anxiety in the bud

What You Can Do 

Like with test anxiety, the answer (mostly) involves perspective. First of all, if you’re worried what people other than your closest friends think of you, don’t. That statement should also apply to your friends, but since you’re at a self-conscious age, you might as well be self-conscious only in regards to people you can trust.

In other words, the opinions held by 99.99% of the people you see every day aren’t worth the powder to blow them to heck.

Final Thoughts

Anxiety is a monster, yes. It can’t ever be truly defeated, but if you take some proactive measures, it’ll spend most of its existence trapped in a cage of your own design. If you have a fall break coming up, use that time to evaluate your anxiety triggers and devise a customized plan.

Finally, nothing beats anxiety more than enjoying the fall weather. Happy Halloween!

Top 10 Colleges in New York

Interested in the top colleges in the state of New York? There are over 60 four year colleges to choose from in the state of New York.

MyKlovr has generated a list of the top 10 colleges in the state of New York.

 

1. Columbia University

Butler Library at Columbia University.

Location: New York, NY

Total Enrollment: 25,084

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Fun Facts

Columbia University was established in 1754.

The MGM Studio‘s Lion was inspired by Columbia’s Lion mascot.

 

2. Cornell University

Cornell University campus.

Location: Ithaca, NY

Total Enrollment: 22,319

Acceptance Rate: 15%

Fun Facts

Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865.

The chicken nugget was created at Cornell University by Robert C. Baker in the 1950s.

 

3. Colgate University

Colgate University hill panorama.

Location: Hamilton, NY

Total Enrollment: 2,890

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Fun Facts

Colgate University was founded in 1819.

The top three career fields of 2017 Colgate University graduates are Business/management, Communications/media, and Consulting.

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Barnard CollegeLiberal Arts2,588New York, NY17%Urban
5New York University University250,550New York, NY32%Urban
6Hamilton CollegeLiberal Arts1,879Clinton, NY26%Rural
7University of RochesterUniversity11,209Rochester, NY38%Suburban
8Vassar CollegeLiberal Arts2,424Poughkeepsie, NY27%Suburban
9Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtLiberal Arts964New York, NY13%Urban
10Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteUniversity7,442Troy, NY44%Suburban

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

Top 10 Colleges in the Midwest

Choosing a college can be very stressful for high school students. Being in high school is hard enough with a full class schedule, extracurriculars, friends, and family.

Luckily, myKlovr has generated a list of the top ten colleges in the Midwest to help narrow down the options.

1. University of Chicago

Harper Library at the University of Chicago.

Location: Chicago, IL

Total Enrollment: 13,322

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Fun Facts

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890.

Popular majors at the University of Chicago include Economics, Political Science and Government, Biology, Mathematics, and Public Policy Analysis.

2. University of Notre Dame

The main building at the University of Notre Dame.

Location: Notre Dame, IN

Total Enrollment: 12,393

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Fun Facts

The University of Notre Dame was founded on November 26, 1842.

The school colors of the University of Notre Dame are blue and gold, the mascot is an Irish Terrier dog.

3. Washington University in St. Louis

Location: St. Louis, MO

Seigle Hall at Washington University in St. Louis.

Total Enrollment: 15,032

Acceptance Rate: 17%

Fun Facts

Washington University in St. Louis was founded on February 22, 1853.

Washington University in St. Louis has students and faculty from all 50 U.S. states and more than 120 countries.

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4University of Michigan- Ann ArborUniversity44,718Ann Arbot, MI29%Urban
5Carleton College Liberal Arts2,105Northfield, MN16%Rural
6The University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUniversity46,951Champaign, IL60%Urban
7Grinnell CollegeLiberal Arts1,699Grinnel, IA20%Rural
8University of Wisconsin- MadisonUniversity43,336Madison, WI53%Urban
9Oberlin CollegeLiberal Arts2,912Oberlin, OH28%Suburban
10Case Western Reserve UniversityUniversity11,664Cleveland, OH35%Urban

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

Works Well with Others: Why Group Projects Matter

It happens every time: your teacher assigns a group project and puts you with someone who contributes little to nothing. “Oh yeah, just put my name on it.” Lazybones gets full credit for doing zilch. The experience makes you think that group projects should have no part of the modern high school experience.

Yes, group projects as we know them need some tweaks. (There are lots of things teachers can do to ensure that everyone participates, but that’s an article just for them.) At their core, though, group projects matter and can play a valuable role in the learning experience.

If you’ve had a few lousy group projects, don’t stop reading just yet. Let me show you how group project success can have some happy side effects for your present and future selves. 

Group Projects Prepare You for Real Life

No matter what you do for a living, your professional success rides on working well with other people. Even I, working from home, always interact with my clients through email and phone calls. Just like at an office, everyone’s success depends on, you guessed it, everyone being on the same page and working together.

Your career might be 8+ years down the road, so here are a few ways that participating in group projects can help you TODAY:

  • “Works well with others” is an excellent line that college admission counselors want to see in a recommendation letter. That’s why I put it in the title!
  • Group work plays a significant role in extracurricular activities and volunteering.
  • Working in groups exposes you to different viewpoints and personality types.

To expand a bit more on that last point, different personality types means that you’ll regularly come across people whose personality types don’t match yours. Though this difference can cause conflict, it’s also a valuable opportunity to build your interpersonal skills.

Group Projects Build Your Interpersonal Skills

Let’s get back to the group member who does nothing. How would you react to this situation? Would you tattle on him, ignore him, try to engage him, or something else entirely? Your first reaction plays a significant role in how that person approaches the rest of the project. Now, don’t blame yourself if that person won’t budge no matter what, but here are some things to do to show your group project meddle and encourage everyone to do their part:

  • Ask everyone what part of the project matches their strengths or interests.
  • Ask for everyone’s input/advice on how the group should accomplish its goal(s).
  • Split into smaller groups. For example, if your group has four people, pair up to divide the project’s responsibilities. That way, no one can ‘fall through the cracks.’

If someone still won’t participate, don’t escalate the situation, but document what each group member contributed (or didn’t) to the final product.

If you’re not a leader, that fine. As long as you’re a team player, you’ve done your part. After all, you still have plenty of time to hone your leadership skills throughout the rest of high school and college.

Before wrapping up, let’s discuss one final piece of the group project puzzle that should help you long after high school graduation. 

Organization

Group projects require more advanced organizational skills than you might need if you tackled the same project on your own. Although you may consider yourself a master organizer, finding yourself having to track others’ progress and keep up with your own work can challenge even the best students.

There’s an easy way to solve this problem, something that works just as well in the classroom as it will in your future work environment. Imagine your group has a project and that you have three class periods to complete it. At the beginning of the project, have everyone set a goal. Someone in the group writes down each goal. At the end of the period, everyone reports back. Just like before, someone writes down every person’s progress. Some people might have worked ahead, others right on target, and others behind. As you repeat this process for days two and three, you can refer back to these notes to suggest quick and effective solutions:

  • Have someone who worked ahead assist someone who’s behind at the beginning of the next class.
  • Ask the people who are behind to finish up their daily goal as homework.

More importantly, by keeping track of everyone’s progress, it’s impossible to be blindsided by someone not pulling their weight.

Final Thoughts

Group projects aren’t perfect, but they teach you plenty of valuable life skills that can both raise your chances of college admission success and prepare you for just about any work environment.

Top 10 Colleges in the West Coast

There are so many colleges available for students to choose from. It’s best for students to be aware of all their options for when applications come around.

For that reason, myKlovr has generated a list of the top ten colleges on the west coast.

 

1. Stanford University

Overview of Stanford University campus.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Total Enrollment: 16,914

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Fun Facts

Standford University was founded on November 11, 1885.

Stanford University has six schools, Business, Earth Energy and Environmental Sciences, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, and Medicine.

 

2. California Institute of Technology

Robert A. Millikan Memorial Library at Caltech.

Location: Pasadena, CA

Total Enrollment: 2,240

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Fun Facts

California Institute of Technology was founded in 1891.

The mascot of Caltech is a beaver, to honor natures engineers.

 

3. Pomona College

Mason Hall, an academic building at Pomona College.

Location: Claremont, CA

Total Enrollment: 1,703

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Fun Facts

Pomona College was founded in 1887.

An alumnus of Pomona college is Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby.

 

 

The table below shows the other schools on the top ten list.

RankingSchoolType of SchoolTotal EnrollmentLocationAcceptance RateSetting
4Claremont McKenna CollegeLiberal Arts1,347Claremont, CA9%Suburban
5Harvey Mudd CollegeLiberal Arts829Claremont, CA13%Suburban
6University of California, BerkeleyUniversity40,174Berkeley, CA16%Urban
7University of California, Los AngelesUniversity44,497Los Angeles, CA18%Urban
8University of Southern CaliforniaUniversity43,871Los Angeles, CA17%Urban
9Scripps CollegeLiberal Arts1,057Claremont, CA30%Suburban
10Reed CollegeLiberal Arts1,396Portland, OR35%Suburban

MyKlovr created this top ten list by taking the average of the rankings from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, College Raptor, Education Corner, and Niche.

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.

5 Tips for Finding Success in Group Projects

Group projects, some students like them and some do not! There are both advantages and disadvantages to group projects.

A disadvantage of group projects is if one member slacks, the whole group suffers. Sometimes, one person does most of the work, or the final product is not as complete as it could have been because everyone did not give 100%.

Advantages of group projects are seen most in the final results of the project. If all group members worked together and gave 100%, it will show in the final result, and most likely earn a high grade.

A survey was sent out to myKlovr users asking if they love or hate group projects. Out of 267 responses, 45% like group projects, 46% do not like group projects, and 9% are neutral.

 

Bar graph showing myKlovr survey results.

 

To make the most of group projects, no matter what the circumstances, myKlovr has come up with a list of five tips for students to find success when working in group projects.

1. Organization

  • Setting goals within your group will keep everyone on task and allow for the project to be broken up into smaller pieces.
  • Assigning tasks, give everyone something to do, making sure everything that needs to be done will get done.

2. Communication

  • Stay connected via text, e-mail, or group chats (GroupMe) to have a place where you can reach group members easily to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Listening is an important part of communication, quite literally. There is no point in talking to group members if they are not going to listen.
  • Don’t hesitate to speak up if something is not working or someone isn’t pulling their weight. Squashing the problem ASAP will only help the group in the long run.

3. There is no “I” in “team”

  • Work together, one person can not and should not do all the work. A team or group works best when everyone is giving 100%.
  • Everyone has different perspectives and opinions, use this to your group’s advantage.

4. Accountability

  • Taking ownership when you personally have done something wrong can show your respect to your group members and that you are trying to make it better for the future.
  • Showing responsibility for your work/actions will make the group dynamic run smoother.
  • Don’t be afraid to hold your group members responsible for their deadlines and tasks.

5. Learn

  • Always learn something in whatever you do, either from the topic of the assignment or about how you personally work best in groups.
  • Take note of what has worked and what hasn’t, will make your next group project better than the last.
  • Learning skills from group projects will help you in the professional world later on in life.

 

Group projects are important not only for school assignments but for your future as well. If they seem like a burden now, think about what you will learn in the long run, such as communication, teamwork, and accountability.

Participating in group projects prepare students for the working world/college. Similarly, the assignment may not be interesting or someone in the group may not be your favorite person.

The struggles students face when doing group projects do happen in the real world, but never the less, the project must get done.

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!

Most Unusual Clubs in High School

Colleges look at more than just grades and test scores. Getting involved in extracurriculars and clubs is a good way to boost a college resume.

Clubs and extracurriculars add depth to a college application and can showcase students’ individual interests and experiences. Colleges appreciate when students are passionate about something and take action to pursue their interests in a developmental and valuable way.

Sometimes, joining a club that is out of your comfort zone, might spark interests that you did not know you had.

MyKlovr asked users to fill out a one question survey about the most unusual clubs and extracurriculars at their high schools.

Below is a list (in no particular order) of the most unusual user submissions myKlovr received from high school students. Descriptions are provided for some.

Lettuce Eating Club

Once a year, club members race to see who can eat a head of lettuce the fastest. The winner becomes the new club president and plans the competition for the next year.

The Gentlemen’s Club

Young men in this club, dress up in suits and sip tea during club meetings.

Ghost Club

This club was formed because students believed that the school was haunted.  Haunted houses are organized every year for club members and the rest of the student body to attend.

Toast Club

Members of this club have a discussion while eating different types of toast.

Other Clubs Submitted

Waffle Eating Club
Buttons Club
Go Kart Club
Glassblowing Club
Chapstick of The Month Club
Rock, Paper, Scissors Club
Free Hugs Club
Cloud Watching Club
Ant Lovers United Club

Some additional unique club submissions myKlovr received were Lego Club, Biking Club, Culinary Club, and Line Dancing Club.

No matter the focus of the club, it is important to get involved in clubs or extracurriculars that you are interested in. It shows colleges that you have passions and you are willing to go out into the world and pursue what you love.

How Important Are Extracurricular Activities to College Admissions?

I’ve been around this great big world, and it seems that of all the cultures I’ve come across, the good ole’ U.S. of A. puts the most emphasis on high school students participating in extracurricular activities. Oh sure, high school students in other countries play sports and participate in clubs, but doing so doesn’t have much of an effect on college admissions.

For you see, in the rest of the world a high school student’s chances of getting into a good college rest entirely on grades and test scores, especially the latter. Seriously, being a high school student in some countries is just like that ham-fisted YouTube movie The Thinning, except without the threat of euthanasia because you scored lower than the mean.

So before we dive into the world of extracurricular activities, let us take a moment to appreciate the fact that your academic future isn’t 100% riding on standardized test scores.

*Moment of Appreciation*

That was nice. Now let’s talk extracurriculars, and how you can use any one of them to work for YOU during college admission season.

So which one should I do?

Simple Answer: Something that interests you.

Complex Answer: No matter which extracurricular or two that you pick, doing two things will help set you apart from the bulk of the competition. First, stick with an extracurricular for at least two years. Second, take on a leadership role where you get to show off your responsible/organized side. Consistency and leadership experience under your belt, you’re already a step ahead of the majority of college applicants.

Just the majority? How do I stand out from high achievers like me?

Simple Answer: Apply a personal touch, even if it means creating your own activity.

Complex Answer: If you’re aiming for a top tier school, you’re right to assume that most applicants will have both consistent track records with extracurriculars and hold leadership positions within them. Here’s how you can go a step above:

  • Create a new club, preferably one that does some good for the community. (College admission counselors love applicants who create volunteer organizations.)
  • Take a creative hobby to the next level.
    • Submit a short story for publication. (And get it published somewhere)
    • Submit your photography or artwork to contests.
    • Start your own company. (Think Shark Tank)
    • Take your band on tour over the summer. (But don’t skip school if you should become famous 😉 )

In other words, apply yourself to your passion, whatever it is. Even if you don’t succeed before college application time rolls around, your journey can make for an excellent personal essay.

Okay, my extracurriculars are great. What difference will they make?

Short Answer: They’re a tiebreaker.

Long Answer: Everyone loves a good story, and for college admissions counselors, an engaging story about an extracurricular activity can act as the tiebreaker between two highly qualified applicants. So, at the end of the day, you need extracurriculars just in case. Doesn’t matter if it’s the French club or your second studio album.

What you’re telling me is that extracurriculars are like an insurance policy?

Short Answer: Yep.

Long Answer: With college admissions getting more competitive seemingly by the minute, there’s a good chance that your extracurriculars will come in handy when the admissions counselor at Your Dream School reviews your application. You’ll never know if they were the deciding factor, but you wouldn’t want to be without them.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it matters less what extracurricular activity you choose than how you approach it. Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the more it’ll give back. You’ll make some friends, have fun, and hopefully do a little good in the process.

Let me leave you with some sage advice in the vein of homemaking guru Martha Stewart. “An extracurricular activity: it’s a good thing.”

 

 

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

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