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Summer is the right time to tackle the Common Application and main essay

July 9th, 2019

We have officially entered into the “dog days of summer,” typically the most sweltering stretch of this season. For high school seniors, this is the perfect opportunity to spend a few hours in air conditioning and get a head start on college applications.

Don’t wait until school starts, when you’ll be overwhelmed with new classes and activities. Follow the steps below to get a jump start on college applications now.

  • If you haven’t yet done so, set up your account(s) at www.commonapp.org and/or http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/
    • Be generous with details as you list and describe activities, work experiences and academic honors.
    • If space in Activities and Honors sections seems insufficient to explain fully, the “Additional Information” portion of the writing section is a great place for supporting details.
    • Everything you’ve put time and energy into during your high school years, summers included, is worth describing.
  • Your main essay should provide insight into who you are and complement the balance of your application
    • Think of yourself as a Hollywood screenwriter telling a story packed with vivid details!  The story should help readers understand how you think, and what makes you tick.
    • Brainstorm topics and make notes about how best to develop ideas before beginning to draft prose.
  • Caution:  supplements currently showing up in Common App are for the admission cycle just completed, so should not be tackled; after the Common App refreshes August 1, new supplements for your application cycle will begin to appear
    • In the meantime, some college admission websites will feature their essay and short answer questions for the upcoming cycle’s supplement, so you may have a chance to begin work on these.
    • When responding to supplement questions asking, “Why this college?” respond with concrete details demonstrating your depth of knowledge and understanding about the institution.  Discuss areas of study, down to course names and faculty research interests.  Mention extracurricular organizations by name.  Show colleges where you’ll plug in, where you’ll make a difference.  One more tip: avoid references to reputation, beauty of campus, special shops nearby since these are widely understood as mere space-fillers.

Rising seniors will start the academic year right if their Common Application (and/or others they’re submitting) are largely complete by the start of fall term.  Use the summer to move application and essay work forward, and we promise you’ll be glad you did.

A summer job or internship can change your life

June 25th, 2019

Summer break lends the perfect opportunity to gain real world experience through an internship or summer job.  Teenagers who take on this responsibility can foster skills in organization, time management, and self-confidence.  And sometimes these opportunities can lead to a better understanding of their field of interest.  

In today’s blog post we share an article written for graduate students working on summer internships.  Why? 

Believe it or not, it’s equally relevant to high school and college students.  The most important thing you can do this summer is make the most of your time.  Use each opportunity as a learning experience whether it’s an internship, or paid or volunteer work.  This will lead to a proactive approach and can help you not only determine your future goals … but reach them!

Article linked below from Inside HigherEd, published June 12, 2019 by Andrew Bishop

For many grad students, summer is a chance to leave the classroom and have a new experience outside of the university environment. Some programs (like mine) require students to participate in a summer internship within their respective disciplines so that they can practice newly acquired skills, explore potential career paths, and build their resume. Internships can provide you with a new lens through which you can contextualize your work and see where you fit in the broader field. 

The problem with internships is that they can often be hit-or-miss. While some organizations have a robust program that allows interns to dive into engaging projects and receive mentorship, others are ill-equipped and barely have enough work to fill one’s time. As an undergraduate, I had internships across this spectrum. I remember the excitement of digging into research on education policy that came with one internship, but also the boredom that came with another.

Read more at Inside HigherEd>>

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Make summer break count!

June 11th, 2019

Summer is finally here! Go ahead, relax. Daydream. Enjoy some downtime, which you deserve after all your hard work this school year.

There is such a thing as too much downtime, though, so how can you find the right combination of constructive activities and relaxation? Balance is the key during summer months.

Students still looking for summer ideas can find many valuable experiences that can shape good workers, learners and people. Summer break is the perfect time to delve deeper into your passions, things you don’t necessarily have time to explore deeply during the school year.

Today, we share an article written by Lee Shulman Bierer, a fellow educational consultant. Her article may help you find wonderful ways to fill summer break openings with meaningful activities that can benefit you in the long run.

Article written by Lee Shulman Bierer for College Admissions Strategies

Perhaps you’re not one of those super-organized, type-A people who firmed up their summer plans last January. And, right about now you’re finding yourself with more than a little free time this summer. Don’t worry, you’re not alone and the best news is that there are still some good options out there.

What’s the best way for high school students to spend their summer?

You might be surprised when I tell you that relaxing and having some fun is near the top of my list. But, let’s be clear, it isn’t the only thing on my list. Students should dabble in some type of career experience; it could be job-shadowing at an orthodontist office, interning with a physical therapist, volunteering on a local political campaign or at an animal rescue shelter or tutoring neighborhood children in reading or math. Don’t wait until the summer before senior year to do this, this is great advice for rising sophomores and juniors too. One of the objectives of the summer break should be to test the waters and try to figure out what career fields or college majors might be of interest.

Read more at College Admissions Strategies>>

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Words of wisdom to all graduates

May 28th, 2019

Graduation season is in full swing! The sacred tradition of the graduation ceremony is an opportunity to honor each graduate and share one last bit of advice through a commencement speech. Colleges and universities with big name celebrities often garner the most attention for their commencement speeches, and this year is no different.

Time’s list of best commencement speeches in 2019 is full of inspiring and powerful commentary by notable celebrities. These speeches provide a valuable message to each person, not just the college graduate but also high school graduates, younger high school students and working professionals, too. We hope you’ll take a moment to read and get inspired, and we congratulate all of our graduates on reaching this significant milestone. What a pleasure it has been to see so much growth and accomplishment!

Article linked below from TIME, published on May 21, 2019 by Mahita Gajanan

Graduates at universities and colleges around the United States are wrapping up the academic year, preparing to face a new era of life. As part of that tradition, celebrities, politicians, athletes, CEOs and artists are offering a range of life advice in commencement addresses.

Here are some of the best moments and words of wisdom from commencement speeches in 2019.

Robert F. Smith: ‘We’re going to put a little fuel in your bus’

Read more at TIME>>

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