Greetings Students & Families!
Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday! Safe travels!
As I noted in my recent newsletters, one of the most important goals of high school isn’t about being accepted to college. Students can become overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of their classes, test preparation and extracurricular activities such that they quickly overlook the actual learning taking place! As a former university professor, and as a parent, I can tell you without qualification that the single most important goal of high school is for each student to develop a love of learning both within and outside the classroom.
Educational and College Admissions planning results in
Motivated, Self-Directed & Confident Young Adults Ready to Succeed!
Just in case you missed some of my recent newsletters, here are quick links:
REPEAT: Check This Box if You’re A Good Person
As part of my practice, I read a great deal about trends in education and college admissions as well as reading about issues impacting the emotional well-being of young adults. A few months ago, I shared an interesting article that resonated with me. But clearly the title of this article hit a chord with many others engaged in college admission as the same title has become the subject of several supplemental college essay prompts on the Common Application this year along with prestigious scholarship applications.
In CHECK THIS BOX if YOU’RE A GOOD PERSON, Dartmouth Admissions Officer Rebecca Sabky speaks about the admissions process. I encourage you to click on the link above and read the article.
I highlighted some points she made that reflect my own personal experiences as a university faculty member.
“The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper.”
“Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations,
one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness“
“Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous…. they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.
So here we are a half year after this article was written and you might ask why am I raising this point again? Very simply, because parenting, educating, coaching begins way before high school even begins. We all have the responsibility to (gently) guide our young adults to engage in discovery about themselves– their strengths, their interests and how they engage with others. Yes, all students need to reach their highest academic potential. But if the entirety of the message they hear and the conversations taking place are focused solely on maximizing their GPAs, we miss an opportunity to help each student lead fulfilling experiences to prepare them for personal and academic success.
Why is it important to be a “good person”?! Aside from personal fulfillment consistent with the values we instill in our children, we know that matter what profession they enter, your student will engage in problem solving and decision making within groups of diverse and inclusive communities (also the topic of many a college essay prompt).
In Want to Raise Well-Adjusted Kids?, John Write spoke about the benefits of hosting an exchange student. What the article shares in common with the seemingly unrelated NY Times piece on Dartmouth admissions is that both authors speak to the importance of young adults engaging in character-developing opportunities outside-of-the classroom ultimately raising their awareness of their connections with others within their communities.
So how does this all relate to college admissions and academic success at the high school and undergraduate levels?
While our goal as parents and educators is to help each young adult reach their academic potential, perhaps even more important is that each emerging adult be inspired to find their place within their community. This begins at home with guidance that directs each emerging young adult to find their passions and their strengths.
Through example, we can help the next generation recognize the important role each individual assumes in making connections with others to ultimately enrich the lives of many and make a lasting contribution.
What is your student passionate about? Now is the time for discovery!
SCHEDULE YOUR EDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENT and COLLEGE PLANNING SESSION
I can guarantee you that there’s no magic formula for being accepted into a selective university, but I can guide you to navigating the college application process as well as increase the likelihood that your student will be successful throughout high school and have a seamless transition to their undergraduate community.
A few new tips:
College Admissions – building the freshman class.
Admissions officers go way beyond seeking students with perfect GPAs and test scores. As I wrote in an earlier newsletter: “The Myth of College Acceptance Rates”, the class of 2022 well be balanced across majors, genders, location and a host of other factors. Your student has the intelligence to succeed at several colleges, but recognize that a freshman class cannot be comprised entirely of female Biology majors from your zip code. If rejected, it’s truly nothing personal nor necessarily a statement about a student’s inability to succeed.
A student’s GPA and the curriculum are still the most weighted factor in rendering an admissions decision.
Universities seek out students who have taken on leadership roles and who have a variety of genuine interests. That said, every student must reach a bar of academic accomplishments to be a viable candidate. Confused about whether to take AP, AICE, IB or even dual-enrolled classes? Once you recognize that there’s very limited curriculum choices across high schools in the US, your focus shifts to selecting electives taken beyond the core required curriculum (4 years English, 4 years Social Studies, etc.). Challenge and explore!
So Why YOU?
After universities select a huge pool of applicants that have the desired academic credentials, that is when the differences among students begin to matter. That’s what brings us back to the content of the first half of this newsletter. Admissions officers look to find the “real you” evidenced in your essays, your listing of extracurricular accomplishments, your recommendations and perhaps even your interview.
You cannot present someone you’re not, and most important-the someone you are-that someone has been shaped well before high school. What are your passions? How do you spend your time?
The experiences our young adults enjoy at home, at school, at extracurricular activities and within their communities are those defining each student. Those experiences allow admissions officers to build a balanced freshman class based on what you share about yourself including whether you’re a natural leader, risk-taker, or have a quest for learning (a popular essay prompt). Do the experiences you’ve had describe someone ready to engage? Do you demonstrate an innate empathy, curiosity, or discipline and commitment to “something”?
We are obligated as parents and educators to help young adults think beyond simply receiving an admissions acceptance letter. We can guide young adults to find their passions and strengths thru EXPERIENCE and DISCOVERY. This process begins way before the actual cycle of college applications and even before high school.
BE your authentic self!
A final note-for Sophomores (’20) and Juniors (’19):
Universities would like to be your first choice.
I’ve written about “demonstrated interest” which can be expressed sincerely by knowing what ignites your interests in Biochemistry or Politics, etc. so that you are an informed consumer. That’s right you’re a consumer. While there are a few thousand places you can study these and other traditional and unusual majors, it’s essential to do your research. Learn how to read curriculum maps to understand everything that distinguishes one university from another. Let me help you discover how to conduct the research that will allow you to find perfect fit academically, socially and that may even offer scholarships.
Have a wonderful day!
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.