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Extracurricular activities: why should you be involved?

November 14th, 2018

The world of college admissions can be overwhelming, leaving many to wonder how they can stand out as college applicants.  Of course having a strong academic record (transcript and test scores) is top priority, but showing that you are invested in something outside the classroom has major advantages.  

Boarding schools figured out this secret to success generations ago; by requiring significant involvement in sports or arts and encouraging engagement in other extracurriculars, they help students become their best selves … and better college applicants. 

Many students have heard me say that becoming a great person, an accomplished person, leads to becoming a great applicant.  And it’s important to hold the priorities in that order.  Extracurricular activities provide many opportunities for growth.  Learning how to balance a school schedule with the demands of activities gives students structure and a sense of responsibility. Filling your time with things you are passionate about teaches many life lessons, including leadership and a sense of teamwork. 

Simply put, if you are involved in meaningful ways and can demonstrate that you’re having an impact on your school and community, you’ll be a stronger college applicant and a richer, more interesting individual.

If you want a great read on this topic, writer Linda Morgan for the Seattle Times breaks down what colleges are really looking for in an applicant. 

Article referenced below published on March 23, 2018 by The Seattle Times, written by Linda Morgan.

Remember when high school kids could count on their dazzling grades and brilliant scores to secure a spot at a respectable, if not top-notch college? Those days may be over. Schools now look beyond academic prowess when deciding whether to admit students, and attach sizable weight to the scope and breadth of an applicant’s extracurricular activities.

That’s why Roosevelt High School senior Tim Yeh considers the hours he spends engaged in after-school projects as time well spent. Yeh, who attends Shoreline Community College as part of Washington state’s Running Start program (students earn college credits along with their high school degrees), feels that committing to outside activities are a “big part” of getting into college.

Read more at The Seattle Times >>

Fall is admission recruitment season … for boarding schools, too!

October 30th, 2018
Each October Lexington has the good fortune of hosting admission officers from boarding schools around the country, thanks to The Lexington School’s annual secondary school fair.  I look forward to the event as quite a few of the school representatives take time to visit my office, as well.
School visitors this year included:
Baylor (TN)
Brehm (IL)
Brook Hill (TX)
Cushing (MA)
Darlington (GA)
Forman (CT)
Gow (NY)
Groton (MA)
Madeira (VA)
Marianapolis (CT)
McCallie (TN)
Millbrook (NY)
Ridley (Ontario, Canada)
Webb (TN)
Woodberry Forest (VA)

Just as with college admission, finding the right fit for boarding school is key.  Some of the schools are single-gender; some are for students with specialized learning needs; some are for “high flyers” and some can work successfully with students at a wide range of academic levels.  Their settings are varied and the feel of each campus environment is different.

I love to hear admission directors’ updates about students and faculty, campus life, facilities, successes and challenges.  We also discuss bigger-picture issues, and one that featured prominently this year was the increasing evidence in student anxiety and how schools are providing programming and counseling.  There are so many interesting parallels between boarding school and college life, and these discussions connect the dots in fascinating ways.

I have always felt that the two sides of my consulting practice, boarding school and college, compliment each other and these fall conversations with visiting admission directors reinforce the benefits.

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Freshman year blues: how a college freshman’s viral video helped others

October 16th, 2018

The first year of college, or any new school for that matter, can be a roller coaster of emotions.  You are finally living that independent life, making new friends, possibly even living in a new city, but it may be more difficult than you ever imagined.  People tell you that this will be the “best time of your life”, but is it?

Starting a new school may be exciting but is also a major adjustment.  That first semester is the most difficult and some people even consider transferring, yet if you allow yourself time and space for friendships to develop organically, you may be surprised at the changes by spring semester.  Making new friends doesn’t happen overnight although social media may make you believe otherwise. Give yourself time, and please understand that everyone is trying to navigate this new world around them.

In the New York Times article referenced below, Emery Bergmann shares her experience as a freshman at Cornell University.  I love how honest and open she is when it comes to her feelings of loneliness at the start of the school year. Bergmann’s viral video became an internet sensation as it resonates with so many people.  We all have these feelings of loneliness when we venture into uncharted territory; starting something new can be scary but the reward is much greater than we can imagine in the moment.  Stay focused and know that you are not alone.

Article referenced below published on October 9, 2018 by The New York Times, written by Emery Bergmann

Being known as “the girl with no friends” wasn’t my favorite part about having made a video that went viral — but you take what you can get.

About a year ago, as a college freshman at Cornell, I was assigned a short video project for my Intro to Digital Media course.

I decided to focus on my disappointment with the early weeks of college: How I couldn’t get past superficial conversation, how I couldn’t seem to enjoy parties, feel comfortable on campus, or just meet people who I wanted to spend more time around. I felt so lost and beyond confused.

Read more at The New York Times >>

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Does your social media presence help you or harm you?

October 2nd, 2018

Social media is a powerful platform and while it can be a great tool for networking, the disciplinary consequence of posting something inappropriate could be detrimental to your school or college admission prospects.  Some colleges are using your social media “brand” as fair game when evaluating you for admission; perhaps boarding schools are doing the same.  For that reason, application season is a great time to review your online presence.  Consider your profile as a way to show the world your best self, beyond your test scores and grades. 

In the article referenced below, Thao Nelson, a lecturer at Indiana University, writes an open letter to students discussing the importance of taking your future self into consideration when posting on social media.  Colleges and schools want to enroll people who strengthen their student body, so “when in doubt, leave it out” is a great motto to consider before liking or posting online.

Article referenced below published by World Economic Forum, written by Thao Nelson

Dear Student,

Harvard recently rescinded admission offers for some incoming freshmen who participated in a private Facebook group sharing offensive memes. The incident has sparked a lot of discussion: Was Harvard’s decision justified? What about the First Amendment? Do young people know the dangers of social media?

I’m a business school lecturer, career services counselor and former recruiter, and I’ve seen how social media becomes part of a person’s brand – a brand that can help you or hurt you.

Read more at World Economic Forum >>

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