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Advice from a mediocre student

November 27th, 2017

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”  This famous quote from Mark Twain had me thinking about the population I work with.  High school and college students are at an age where small choices can have a major impact on their future.  Choosing the right school, participating in class discussions, and building relationships with teachers and professors ultimately lead you to what lies ahead.

In today’s article, Susan Shapiro shares some of her regrets as she relives life as a mediocre college student.  In her honest and very telling piece she discusses things she missed out on due to some of her poor choices.  Much of her advice could also be applied to high school students as they wind down their first semester to maximize their success. This article, we think, is relevant to all.

Article below referenced from New York Times

I taught my first class at Columbia University’s M.F.A. program this month, and even though I’ve been teaching college writing since 1993, I initially felt a little intimidated by the school’s regal campus. That, and regretful.

I enjoyed going to college at the University of Michigan, an hour from home, but my secret humiliation is: I was the type of mediocre student I now disdain. As a freshman, I cared about my friends, my boyfriend and my poetry. Or, I cared about what my boyfriend thought of my friends, what my friends thought of him, and what they thought of my poetry about him. Here’s what I wish I’d known and done differently:

Read more at New York Times >>

You can do anything: The “surprising power” of a liberal arts education

November 13th, 2017

Many of you have heard me say that a liberal arts education is ideal for learning how to learn – in fact, you might have had trouble getting me to stop talking about it!

As a graduate of a liberal arts college myself, I have always stood behind the view that a liberal arts education develops analytical and creative thinking skills, oral and written communication skills, and equips students for a life of learning and adapting to new environments.  Although a liberal arts education isn’t the right path for everyone, it has tremendous value.

In today’s blog, we share Inside Higher Ed’s interview with author George Anders about his book, You Can Do Anything.  Anders shares useful data to support his opinion that a liberal arts degree is deepening in value, given major changes happening in the job market today.  The underlying theory is that those who have not simply acquired a finite knowledge set, but who know how to learn and pivot, have tremendous opportunities in the long run.  

Article below referenced from Inside Higher Ed

Robots are taking over the world (and the job market). Majoring in anything but a science or engineering discipline is foolhardy. A humanities or social science degree will get you a great job — as a barista.

Right?

Read enough internet headlines and all of those might seem not only feasible but inevitable. But like many sweeping, future-looking statements, those and other proclamations about the decline and fall of the liberal arts should be taken with a truckload of salt.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed >>

More on demonstrated interest

October 30th, 2017

You may have heard the term “demonstrated interest” in reference to college admissions – we’ve probably discussed it – but are you still wondering what it means and how important it is during the admissions process?  

You’re demonstrating interest when you show a school that you’re willing to engage and there’s a true possibility you’ll choose to enroll.  It can come in the form of campus visits, interviews, attending college meetings at school, communication with admissions counselors, and interaction on colleges’ social media sites.  Your demonstrated interest can be of great value to an admissions office when comparing two similar candidates.  

Not all colleges consider demonstrated interest, though.  Schools with minuscule acceptance rates and sky-high yield rates (Ivies, MIT, Stanford, etc.) don’t need to pay attention to this as they know just about everyone wants to enroll.  Most public universities do not use demonstrated interest as a way to evaluate students, either.  However, the vast majority of private colleges do pay attention to students’ engagement with them.  

The article linked below from Inside Higher Ed raises an important social/economic equity issue tied to demonstrated interest.  While we want our students to demonstrate interest in each college on their list to the best of their ability, our hope is that more colleges will help subsidize campus visits for students with limited means to make the trip.  Face to face interaction with college representatives is highly effective, but if travel isn’t feasible, other means of engagement can also go a long way toward serious demonstration of interest.  

Article referenced below from Inside Higher Ed

“Demonstrated interest” is one of the admissions criteria used by many competitive colleges — even though it may not have anything to do with an applicant’s intelligence or character. The term refers to ways that an applicant shows he or she is serious about enrolling at a given college. An applicant who calls with questions about a particular program is more valued than one who doesn’t communicate beyond applying. An applicant who visits shows more demonstrated interest than one who doesn’t, and so forth. Many colleges factor in demonstrated interest to admissions and aid decisions, wanting to admit applicants who will enroll. The idea is to have better planning and to improve the yield, the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll.

A new research paper suggests that demonstrated interest has become another way wealthy students have an extra edge — and recommends that colleges consider policy changes as a result.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed >>

The Purpose Challenge – scholarship competition and toolkit

October 16th, 2017

Have you ever thought about your purpose in life? Studies have shown that defining your purpose can lead to a happier and more thoughtful way of living.  What exactly does this mean?  Novelist/humorist Leo Rosten defined it like this:

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be ‘happy.’  I think the purpose of life is

  • To be useful
  • To be responsible
  • To be compassionate.

It is, above all

  • To matter
  • To count
  • To stand for something
  • To have made some difference that you lived at all.”

I recently came across The Purpose Challenge and thought it was worth sharing.  The essay portion of this challenge is meant specifically for seniors working on applications – you could earn a scholarship with your purpose-driven essay!  However, this is a good read for all and the site offers a toolkit that has value for high school students of all ages.  I think it can help you find that inner motivation to live each day to the fullest.

 

Read more at The Purpose Challenge >>

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