I’m often asked when to start planning for success in your College Applications. My answer may surprise some people-but there’s no better time than ASAP. In STEM — early planning takes on an even greater sense of urgency as admissions rates in many STEM majors demonstrate how selective the process has become. STEM applicants have to address some very specific points in their application- difficult to do without early STEM college planning.
As regular readers of my newsletters and blogs know, I’ve spoken about how College Admissions Officers want to know two things about every applicant:
1 Who are You ? What are you passionate about? What experiences shaped your character and define the person who will arrive on campus? So please live and enjoy yourself at school, at home and within your community. For STEM applicants, your problem-solving skills are of interest – and those of you with multi-disciplinary pursuits suggests a wider lens. It’s also important to demonstrate your collaborative/team-based experiences because STEM problem-solving involves this approach to learning and innovating.
2 What “Problem” do you want to solve- what do you want to learn with others on our college campus?
For STEM applicants- you will have a clear edge as a student and also in admissions if you can clarify your specific academic interests in your essays. I’ll talk more about this – please don’t write an essay about how you played with legos as a child! Also, you didn’t build a computer- you assembled it from pre-ordered parts. If you’ve shadowed a physician or volunteered at a hospital – relate that to the core concepts in biology and chemistry you observed in practice.
Today I will focus on how to build your STEM college plan. We will take a look at the steps to be taken to set and realize educational goals that involve learning about different STEM academic paths and how to compare and evaluate potential majors that may be a perfect “fit” for you!
MY STEM COLLEGE CLIENTS MAJOR IN TRADITIONAL AND CUTTING-AGE MAJORS including:
Our conversations focus on how your interests sparked in coursework could be further explored through extracurricular activities, collegiate summer programs and personal research projects and readings.
The single most important goal of high school is for each student to develop a love of learning both within and outside the classroom – often accomplished by creating meaningful connections with others — collaborating on projects at school, in community organizations, and in extracurricular pursuits.
Learning about the types of problems and innovations taking place in a variety of potential fields can be inspirational. Inspiration if you’re lucky happens at school- but more often than not it’s beyond a textbook or classroom.
Having an opportunity to intern, solve problems, take an EdX course or explore in a collegiate summer program can help to develop a very specific interest area – your niche!
Discovery is sparked within the classroom – but it’s nurtured in hands-on activities- sometimes this takes planning to find that opportunity.
I have so many ideas- let’s talk!
STEM COLLEGE PLANNING
In my college advising practice there’s an oddity that I haven’t yet been able to explain- and it’s this. While every young adult I meet is unique- I find it fascinating to observe a cycle– whereby some graduating classes are heavily STEM focused, and other years it’s the creative arts or business, etc. In my 2021 high school graduating class over a third of my clients submitted their college applications as aspiring Computer Scientists, Mathematicians and Electrical Engineers- with lots of overlap in their research interests or “niche”. And this year- I had several students in the visual and performing arts – some who were convinced at the outset of high school they were aspiring physicians. All of these students have a vision of the types of creative problems they might like to solve- discovered at courses, summer experiences, internships, research and extracurricular pursuits. Follow your heart! Follow your talent.
If the thought of taking an AP science or mathematics class in high school sounds ominous – you’re probably not an engineer or scientist- but I’m certain I can help you re-direct into a multi-disicplinary STEM-related field. But don’t stress-out- no one has to define their life or field at 16, 26 or even 36. Our path and our pace are highly individualistic – you’ll arrive at various destinations in your journey -!
Genetics excites you- tell your reader about where you discovered this emerging interest.
Think business is for you – how did you arrive at that conclusion?
WHAT’s YOUR NICHE?
What has inspired and sparked your attention? Please don’t misinterpret my enthusiasm for finding a passion as you MUST have a passion. In fact- colleges are really intrigued by students who have overlapping or multi-disciplinary interests – and there’s some colleges with custom-designed majors! PERFECT!
I often meet young adults who seem to think they have already decided their field of study as undergraduates and even as graduate students! Their enthusiasm is wonderful, but at times these early academic/career choices rest upon preconceived notions about their interests and misinformation about a given field of study. What students don’t know are the vast number of ways to leverage interests and strengths in educational plans that are multi-disciplinary and outside-the-box. Most universities have HUNDREDS of majors- many you may never have considered.
STEM COLLEGE ADMISSIONS –
IT’S UNIQUE AND MULTI-DISCIPLINARY
WHAT IS A STEM MAJOR?
Is there a GAMER in your house? The team of computer scientists, mathematicians, artists, musicians, and business majors that bring you TWITCH– LIVE GAMING STREAMING are incredibly passionate about what they do and are well educated team players who earn some very impressive starting salaries. Parents – if you don’t know about TWITCH– you’re dating yourselves! The marketing dollars collected on TWITCH – astounding- but does it all come together? Again- business analytics, computers science, mathematics, social media – all fields to consider.
I’m sure you are curious about how to live longer- what to eat or not to eat? A team of food scientists, bio-chemists, exercise scientists and marketing specialists deliver the latest information to your your social media newsfeed.
Clearly, in the last year, we’ve all become well versed on what an infectious disease specialist does and how these scientists/MDs are working closely with computational biologists and public relations specialists to track, treat, and communicate with the public regarding COVID-19. But it’s finance experts who are working closely with biologists to understand and model relevant information into investment and economic decision making. THE POINT – DECISIONS MAKING in nearly every imaginable situation has become COMPLETELY TEAM based and MULTI-DISCIPLINARY!
Data, data and more data– the computer scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, informational scientists, computational finance majors and an array of related STEM/Business majors are exploring all sorts of interesting problems more accurately and efficiently than ever.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT UNIVERSITIES OFFER MAJORS in this field of study?
Finding Your Passion:
There’s a STEM field of study to match the unique strengths and interests of every young adult!
With nearly 4,000 colleges offering an impressive number of traditional and cutting edge majors and minors, it can indeed be overwhelming to navigate the maze of available degree options.
MY STEM COLLEGE CLIENTS MAJOR IN TRADITIONAL AND CUTTING-AGE MAJORS including:
As a former university professor, I’ve designed and approved accredited curriculum programs for several universities. Having spent thirty years advising thousands of students, I invite your family to leverage my knowledge of curriculum requirements and discover an academic area your student will be truly passionate about.
The more you know about your interests and your strengths, the more likely you’ll embark upon a path that is joyful and rewarding.
The subject areas introduced in high school are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Consider:
STEM: computational biology, robotics, nanotechnology, neuroscience, animal science, food science, viticulture and enology (the art of grape growing and winemaking)
BUSINESS: business analytics, information systems, f financial engineering are STEM majors!
HUMANITIES/SOCIAL SCIENCE blends including bio-molecular archaeology, cognitive science, technical writing are STEM majors!
FINE ARTS: scientific photography, costume technology, industrial design or even bakery science are STEM Majors
These are just a few examples of fields where great innovation is occurring in a multi-disciplinary way – Be Inspired!
Based on your academic strengths and personal interests, we will work together to create a personalized strategic STEM ADMISSIONS plan including:
Pre-college academic advising on coursework to not only increase your chances of admission, but ensure a seamless transition to your initial undergraduate experience. There’s more to STEM than “engineering”!
We’ll work together to identify and apply for highly competitive local and national STEM summer research programs. Our team has inside-knowledge of programs and faculty.
IF YOU INSIST:
It’s not really about rankings- but if I haven’t yet convinced you, lists of College Rankings provide a starting point for gathering information about a college’s academics, professors and post-graduates success. But buyer beware – overall rankings often differ drastically from rankings by major departments. Harvard would not be my top choice for an aspiring engineer. Likewise, if your intention is poetry– MIT isn’t the best fit (although they have a great dance and theater).
Some of the more popular rankings include US News and World Report’s Best Colleges, Forbes American’s Top Colleges, Business Insider Best Colleges in America, Money Magazine Best Colleges, New York Times Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges, Washington Monthly College Rankings and PayScale College Salary and ROI Reports.
University ranking lists can vary considerably because of the different methodologies. For example, Forbes America’s Top Colleges may return different results than US News and World Report because of Forbes’ emphasis on post-graduate success and student loan debt.
INCREASE YOUR CHANCES of ADMISSION: INFORMED INTEREST
The more you learn about potential areas of study, career paths and specific colleges, the easier it becomes to make informed decisions about where to apply and enroll. By selecting universities that meet both your academic and social needs you’re more likely to be happy and successful in pursing educational goals.
Do your research!
Speak with your guidance counselor, admissions officers, alumni, current and former students.
I invite you to leverage my extensive knowledge of university curricula and my experience advising thousands of high school, undergraduate and graduate students navigating curriculum choices to set and realize educational and career goals. Based on your academic strengths and personal interests, I welcome the opportunity to work together to create your personalized strategic educational plan.
HIGH SCHOOL COURSES
As noted many times in my blogs and newsletters, your student’s GPA and transcript are the most significant determinant of admissions and academic success. High school is a time for academic and personal discovery. Developing and sustaining a passion for learning cannot be overstated. Sometimes that discovery is sparked by coursework and other times it is through an extracurricular experience.
Every year, I meet no fewer than a dozen seniors who delayed their college planning until the fall of their senior year– sometimes they are very strong students arriving at their initial appointment with me with their short lists of highly selective colleges in hand. It’s not easy to share my assessment of “chances” – I need to be brutally honest. Chances that would have been higher if we had talked about STEM college plans much sooner than their senior year. A 4.0 GPA, and a pile of 5s on AP exams is insufficient to gain a spot at an Ivy League or other highly selective university. The single most glaring example is a lack of hands-on experience in the intended major field of study. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR STEM STUDENTS!
Discovery and joyful experiences occur within classrooms and in extracurricular experiences. Extracurricular opportunities take place
1) within high school clubs,
2) community organizations ,
3) summer collegiate programs and
4) self- directed participation in competitions and contests — available in every discipline
I can guarantee you that there’s no magic formula for being accepted into a selective university, and any college advisor two tells you otherwise is being less than authentic with you. I can guarantee you that building an Educational & College Admissions Plan as early as eighth grade will greatly increase the likelihood of a student who is intrinsically motivated and prepared for academic success. Students with goals and dreams are better students and live their high school years with greater ease than those who haven’t set some objectives.
Discover and Explore with College Advisor Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Guiding her clients to define and realize educational and career goals. With over thirty years experience as a university professor and admissions committee member, you’re invited to leverage her extensive knowledge of university curricula and career opportunities. Have a wonderful day!
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational and College Admissions Consultant Professor Emeritus – Cornell University Alumni Rep
All Majors- Virtually – Wherever You Are Florida: 561.509.0021 Colorado: 720.737.9944 Nationwide: 833.MY.ESSAY Learn more about ONLINE COLLEGE COUNSELING –
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READY TO WRITE YOUR OWN SUCCESS STORY?
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.