Greetings Students and Families!!
Sustaining Direction & Recharging — what’s your goal?
How are you realizing these objectives?
Regular readers of my newsletters know how often I stress the importance of students developing personal learning strategies that lead to intrinsically motivated young adults. Experiences both within and outside the classroom greatly impact the likelihood of a successful and seamless transition to the undergraduate experience. Confidence creates success! But none of this occurs unless our teens are filled with joy and have our support for all that they do to realize their unique dreams and goals.
Recently the NY Times ran a piece that echoed my thoughts – entitled: “How to Do School When Motivation Is Gone” (title is pretty dark I know) — the author wrote similar same points I’ve been shouting out for a decade in all my newsletters and blogs. It’s all about motivation! But now- this points take on new meaning as the ongoing pandemic placed quite a strain on our educational system and our teens. Most have HUGE goals and college dreams on the horizon – and as we see many traditional high school experiences return to our packed calendars– that transition has been somewhat challenging as well. Let’s continue to provide the support and encouragement enabling young adults to continue building their confidence and independence thru joyful experiences. High school is all about discovery. Let’s take a deeper look.
At back-to-school conferences my students set plans in motion to continue to explore and expand their involvement in extracurricular pursuits building upon current strengths and interests. We made plans filled with positivity!
Every academic year is an opportunity for further exploration into academic areas of interest and strength, as well as enhancing existing learning and time management strategies.
College Admissions- Passion projects – Extracurriculars
Parents can help students continue to find their passions both within and outside the classroom. Good grades are essential, but they don’t supplant the importance of having a fulfilling and connected life both at school and within “communities”. Please reach out to schedule your
Educational & College Admissions Assessment 833.MY.ESSAY CLICK to CONNECT
This past week I met three new seniors – yes seniors who had not yet begun the process of their college applications. One student had set his sights on highly selective universities. Although he had a very high GPA and great test scores (not so relevant in our year of TEST OPTIONAL College Admissions), he hadn’t done the planning to be able to hone in on a university major nor had as much content to answer a typical COLLEGE SPEICIFIC Supplemntal essay about his intended area of study. I was honest and suggested that he reshape his college list — reach schools are difficult enough- but even more so if the high school years aren’t filled with extracurricular pursuits that led to a discovery of a clear path or area of interest. The earlier a student can begin the conversation about interests and how to engage- the easier it is to complete college applications and more important- the more joyful high school can become!
Now of course, everyone know I also emphasize that students don’t have to set their plans at 16 – but if the only message is “Grades” — and no joy- there’s no way you’ll figure out what are your academic and personal passions. Colleges want to know about both!
ACADEMIC SUCCESS and College Admissions
Establishing a daily routine, reviewing class notes, connecting with teachers, using online support resources (see points below with some recommendations), interacting with peers and knowing when to ask for help are essential to ongoing academic success. Also, managing “stress” is essential to a student’s emotional and physical well-being. If your student is having trouble finding a personal rhythm, I can help!
How is your student’s Educational and College Admissions Plan unfolding?
College Admissions Planning: Benefits of Starting Early! How A College Advisor Can Assist You!
This past week my conversations with several intelligent & highly motivated young students studying at different high schools across the country were heart-warming. They have a variety of interests including engineering, songwriting, the environment, genetics & molecular biology, educational policy, and several students aspire to pursue an undergraduate career in “science” leading to a career in medicine. As a former admissions officer and Cornell Alumni representative, It was clear why each student would thrive as an undergraduate. It wasn’t because of an impressive GPA or test scores….
so why? Let’s talk about that!
Not only were these students intelligent, but I knew this group of young adults would be successful in their admissions and academic paths ahead because of their kindness, and they are all passionate about interests outside the classroom, connected to their community, and each has a clear vision. These students like many others are comfortable being themselves and their confidence is appropriately evident. Their activities resume isn’t forced nor planned– but had emerged from guided self-direction and a heartfelt desire to lead an impactful and joyful life. The STUDENTS had assumed responsibility for their own path. MOTIVATION is encouraged but it is the responsible of the student to look within.
SECOND QUARTER RECHARGE
Nearly all my students across the country have wrapped up their first quarter– most are enjoying classes and everyone has welcomed the return to in-person learning. The start of a new quarter is a time for reflection and adjustment. No student should assume that their first quarter grades dictate the path for the remainder of the year. Whether there’s a rhythm that may be working well or needing an adjustment, it’s time to cast a wider and/or deeper extracurricular net –both formal and informal to further explore emerging and existing interests and strengths.
Young adults have long days and they work hard at school. There should be opportunities to find joy and direction in their personal lives. It is my hope that your student’s passion for learning and involvement in activities outside the classroom continues throughout the school year.
Don’t Just Learn–
EXPLORE & ROAR!!
In addition to the many extracurricular organizations offered at your high school (DECA, FBLA, FIRST Robotics, Speech/Debate, NACLO, HOSA, Model UN, Math Competition, Young Arts, Band/Orchestra, Hackathon & yes,- even Gaming!), there are many ways for students to explore potential interests BEYOND FORMAL HIGH SCHOOL options. Even in our socially distanced time- connections are easy to make with a bit of added initiative.
EXPLORE YOUR PASSION – FIND YOUR NICHE THROUGH READING!!!
The best way to do so is through reading and subsequent hands-on experiences. When I was in high school and away at college, my dad used to share newspaper clippings related to my field of study (yes, pre-internet 1980s). These were always thought provoking and appreciated. Today, it’s really easy for parents and teachers to share articles of interest with young adults. My clients can tell you about some of the pieces I’ve shared via text aligning with their emerging interests bringing a balance of perspectives outside of their school assignments.
If a student has an emerging interest in business, economics or finance, learn more about the field and its core concepts through readings such as The Economist or Forbes. Or turn on the TV/internet to Bloomberg news to see how the economy is functioning. I’m often amazed that my aspiring business students tell me they don’t follow the news! So why exactly are you interested in “Business”?!
Likewise, apsiring scientists can follow the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, FDA, NASA etc to hear what research is taking place. Stay current!
Extracurricular pursuits might include assuming a treasurer role in a club for a business major.
Students interested in medicine or the sciences broadly defined might read Popular Science or Discover and perhaps try the monthly experiments at home. Again, Center for Disease Control and the FDA also have really informative pieces that are easy to digest. If you’re an aspiring physician- the pandemic and clinical practice issues should be on your radar!
Students interested in the arts or writing, or history might want to explore a variety of literary magazines and essay competitions. I have an exhaustive list and can help you find a perfect venue – and setting a goal. It’s not about winning- but participating -and stepping outside your comfort zone.
By reading, not only will learn more about potential areas of interest but you will become a better writer. Observe vocabulary, write styles, sentence construction and how writers convey a message.
Universities including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Wake Forest and Columbia to name a few are examples of colleges asking about readings outside of class on the college application. It’s fine to explore works of fiction and non-fiction alike. If you’re bilingual-read literature written in another language!
Another benefit of reading is that it can be a great way to relax and unwind. Keep in mind, reading on a blue-light device is not a way to unwind before sleep.
ADMISSIONS TIP: EXPLORE AND DISCOVER
If you want to minimize the stress associated with the college admissions process, build your Educational and College Admissions Plan as early as 8th grade! This will allow you to carefully select classes and extracurricular opportunities to encourage academic and personal exploration preparing you for success as a high school and undergraduate student.
Don’t follow the crowd nor march through high school without a smile ! BE INSPIRED!!
What is your student passionate about? Now is the time for discovery!
While my most recent few weeks have been focused on high school seniors working on their college applications, I’ve also spoken with parents of students just having started high school expressing concerns about taking too many or too few AP or AICE courses and wondering whether their GPAs should be boosted through Dual Enrollment. It’s never a great idea to enroll in 7 AP classes- the time spend on extracurricular involvement is more impactful in setting students apart in the admissions process.
A Strategic Educational plan not only includes a curriculum mapping of challenging, relevant and manageable courses. A plan that balances academic experiences with meaningful student selected extracurricular activities leads to confident, mature, self-directed and grounded young adults.
Admissions staff look favorably upon students with a sustained commitment to activities throughout all four years of high school.
There’s a project for everyone!
STEM students can consider Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects and ideas for potential entry into science fairs this year.
At your school consider: MU Alpha Theta (Math), NACLO (Computational Linguistics Competition), FIRST Robotics, Science Olympiad, TSA or the Google or Intel Science Fairs.
ARTISTS and MUSICIANS
should be working on developing their portfolio and honing skills in disciplined creative work thinking ahead to competitive local venues such as Young Arts.
BUSINESS/LIBERAL ARTS –
Keep an eye towards writing an essay you can enter into any number of local and national essay competitions (business, history, etc.) sponsored by a variety of organizations. Need suggestions? Start a blog on a topic you’re passionate about and share your best Blog pieces within school publications.
Another meaningful and joyful way to spend your time as well as demonstrating your passion about your interest is to become a volunteer mentor for younger students. It’s deeply rewarding to share a passion for an instrument, or to guide a student having difficulties with content. There are many opportunities to do so through tutoring, religious organizations, middle school clubs, sports teams and even starting your own business assisting others to learn more.
College Major Research: An Important and Ongoing Part of College Planning
For students in 10th-11th grades, this is also the time to start the process of research on a potential college major. My unique approach to academic discovery begins with guided exploration of an undergraduate curriculum in a few potential majors. The goal is for students to learn how to independently evaluate the unique features of an academic program. This process includes reading curriculum maps, course descriptions and learning about the faculty, and research opportunities within a department. NOTE, the process of discovery does NOT begin with college visits.
My goal is to build your student’s educational strategy to leave each student feeling empowered about their success!
In my series of back-to-school newsletters during August and early September (all the links are on the sidebar for easy reference), I remarked at the enthusiasm we witness in our students during the initial days of school. It is my hope that your student’s passion for learning continues well beyond the first quarter.
The realities of a challenging set of classes and a demanding extracurricular schedule may require proactive adjustments. For seniors, the intensity of your college applications can make a full plate overflow!
If your student’s “first-day-of-school” smile is starting to fade, please schedule an appointment to review approaches to time management and to create customized learning solutions to remain focused on the goals of your student’s educational and college admissions plan. Every student should develop a love of learning that is intrinsically motivated! What is your student most passionate about learning? Let’s complement the within classroom learning with meaningful and enriching extracurricular experiences and personal exploration.
STUDY GROUPS over TUTORS:
I continue students to engage in study groups– this is the collaborative learning taking place throughout college. Whether you’re succeeding or struggling, study groups are one of the most effective ways to learn in challenging AP/IB/AICE classes.
As my clients begin to call and request tutor recommendations for Pre-Calc, Calculus or AP Chemistry, I remind parents that the reliance on a weekly tutor is your LAST resort to fostering your student’s academic and social independence. A great tutor is worth every dollar spent. However, a standing weekly appointment with your tutor can undermine your student’s ability to learn how to learn and to learn how to absorb the concepts being taught by the teacher at the front of the classroom. High School is where we can experiment with workable self-motivated student led solutions.
Parents- encourage your student to look around their classroom(s) and reach out to form a study group for ongoing homework, test preparation and reinforcement of materials.
Here are some outstanding online resources that focus on self-reliance in challenging AP and STEM classes include:
An extra 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the day’s in-class lessons can reinforce concepts.
Your textbook and the College Board are also excellent resources. If your textbook isn’t over a decade old, find the ISBN # in the inside cover and you’ll be surprised to learn that many publishing companies offer online student support resources for specific textbooks including practice test questions and helpful explanations of complex concepts.
As an educational consultant, I can assist your student in creating a self-directed ongoing learning and time management strategy to not only feel confident about academic readiness in high school classes, but also proactively prepare throughout the academic year for spring AP exams. There is no reason for surprises nor stress in April when a student can realistically assume responsibility for learning and time management throughout the year.
Parents can help their students discover the joy of learning without pricey tutors and external rewards (Gifts for grades –not a good plan after 3rd grade! Paying for good grades is simply inappropriate in high school.) Asking: “Did you do your homework” isn’t the most motivational approach for your stressed or overwhelmed student. Asking a student to share what they are discussing in class or even sharing the challenges parents face in their workplace are great ways to have a conversation appropriate to fostering independence. These points are also clearly articulated in the article I referenced at the outset of my newsletter.
Our goal is to build your student’s educational strategy to leave each student feeling empowered about their success!