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Tag: College Admissions

Advice for Parents During the College Admissions Process

The Vow for Parents: I will remember that my child’s college experience begins with this process of applying, and will be supportive but will also let them take charge.

College admissions are stressful for everyone involved. The applicant of course but also, teachers, counselors and especially parents. So since its holiday time (and deadline time is approaching) we feel there is an immediate need to talk about the role of parents in college admissions.

1) Don’t take charge:

In many cases, college admissions will be the first time that your child is taking the lead on planning their own future by making mature, responsible decisions that will have an impact on their whole lives. They may be 18 years old, and talking about their future, but we recognize its difficult to think of them older than 18 months sometimes.

Recognize that this process is difficult but is also a learning experience for your child. They learn to plan, to make mistakes and to grow from them, all skills that are essential to their success in college.

Parents accompanied their children at their kindergarten interview but parents should not be attending their college admissions interview. Your child is going to college thousands of miles away, maybe in another country, you can let them go to an interview in the same city alone without accompanying therm. And it’s not just the interview, don’t write emails to admissions officers on their behalf and certainly don’t write essays.

Failing now, when they have a support system of family and mentors, is safer than failing later, so let them stumble, don’t take over the process. A good role may be stepping up as their assistant, helping them track dates on a calendar, organize their papers and reminding them about the big milestones coming up.

2) Talk to them, but also listen:

One of the best ways you can support your child is by communicating! So, set up a time to chat about college but don’t plague them about it every day. Don’t let college take over every conversation because you may overwhelm them and end up sabotaging them in the process.

You can help. In fact, you SHOULD help, you know your child best. You can get excited for them but when you drop them off at the college or at the airport, they will be the one making friends, taking classes, and growing up. Right now, this may be the best chance to listen.

Remember that your child is as stressed, if not more, as you are about college admissions. Choose a day and time every week to check in with them but spend the rest of week listening to what stresses them. Beyond those weekly discussions, you should listen to their concerns. But your own questions and concerns should be saved for your weekly check-in (and around deadlines). Remember, too much advice can be overwhelming.

3) Don’t compare

Every parent knows how amazing and gifted their child is. And as a parent, you want every person to know that. For that reason, we see parents fall prey to the comparing their children to others.

Don’t compare your child to Mrs. Sharma’s son Rahul who went to Harvard and get caught up in an arm’s race. Each college is unique and just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good for your child. You brought up your children with different values than Mrs. Sharma, each decision you made is slightly different, so why not let the college also be different instead of copying someone else? Help them find the place where they can make the most of their opportunities.

Which also means, don’t try to push your way into getting your child preferential treatment during the college admissions process. More times than not, this tends to backfire. Admissions committees do not appreciate anyone who tries to take advantage of the system, and they also frown upon parents who come across as “helicopter parents” because that often means the child isn’t ready for college. Instead, let your child, be a child while they are going through this difficult time. Help them relax so that they can focus when they need to. But more than anything, remember, it’s their college decision. Be your supportive self but let them take charge.

Rejected: Class of 2021

Rejection

Apr 1st, 2017. You wish someone would jump out and yell “April Fools Day!!!!” but they didn’t. #IvyDay has come and gone. Your dream school has crushed those elaborate castles of whimsy you had built in your head about your lives together. And life plain SUCKS. Like SUCKS!!

Rejection 2

They built you up with posts saying “COME TO US!” only to rip you right down to this stage.

Dealing with rejection is difficult. Most students take it personally that they were turned down. Some compare it to a break up. They feel like the “Sorry we can’t offer you a place in the Class of 2021…” really stands for “You Suck” but nothing could be further from that. And we aren’t just trying to make you feel better.

Hell, check out Frank Bruni’s awesome article on this from last year – College Admissions Shocker. 

Its not you, it really IS THEM! It becomes a game of Supply and Demand really – too many students are applying and there are only a handful of seats available.

So take a little time to feel upset – you worked hard for it. But then, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Accept that this may be the first big rejection but that life hasn’t come to a standstill. You may do incredibly well in the college you have been accepted to and that could set you on a path for success. You could perhaps even apply to your dream college for grad school (applications? AGAIN?) Really though, embrace the school that embraced you and move on.

In case you are stuck in Waitlist Limbo, check out our advice on working through the 5 stages of Grief.

College Applications: Writing about Extracurriculars

Yes, yes, we know you’re obsessing about essays and scoffing at the idea of thinking about extracurriculars at this stage (“If I haven’t done them by now, chances are I won’t…”) but READ ON.

While the posts about how to make the most of your summer stressed the importance of Extracurriculars, we realize that a lot of the time, students mess up when it comes to writing about extracurriculars.

Besides the essays, the Activity Section on the CommonApp needs the maximum attention from you. The University of California has a similar section and so does every major alternative to the CommonApp. So whether you are using this particular application or not, the rules still apply. Remember to give this plenty of time because this can’t be done in a hurry.

But first…What is The Activity Section?
A section of the CommonApp that condenses the hours of effort outside of class into 10 activities total

Out of the millions of students who use the Commonapp, how do you ensure that your application stands out?

So if you keep the super fun CommonApp essay away, the application has the regular questions that any application would, hardly intriguing if one can say that! But, if you have spent a major chunk of your high school years sweating it out on the field or actively participating in extra curricular events at every possible level, the CommonApp has a dedicated section called the Activity section, to showcase them and put forth a stronger application and personal profile that will help in setting you apart. But, the trickiest bit is to understand this section and be certain about the activities that you want to talk about and ensure you have managed to leave an impression on the reviewer.

So what are the activities that I can list out?

You can list everything that you have participated in from Grade 9 on. This includes summer activities, volunteer work, internships; both in and out of school and clubs and organizations like speech and debate, music, drama, art, sports and science. The more diverse your list is, the better it is, as you come across as an individual who is open to trying out new things and will continue doing so, if admitted.

How many activities can I list out?

There are ten spaces to fill in activities, however please remember Ten isn’t necessary! Your commitment to the activity needs to come through and not the number of activities. Signs of dedication include an activity participated in continuously or an activity where you have achieved a level of distinction, either as a founder, leader or member; made a significant contribution; or were publicly recognized or won an award.

PLEASE DON’T MAKE ACTIVITIES UP TO FILL THE BLANKS. It is better to show significant participation, leadership, and personal development in 3-4 activities than write about ten activities that you were hardly involved in.

I have more than 10 activities, what do I do?

If you have listed your top 10 and have more activities to add, or feel you want to talk more about a particular activity and were limited by the 150 character limit, then the CommonApp has an “Additional Information” section where you can list these out.

To do a good job:

1. Prioritize. There are 10 spots and they should start in the order of most important to the least. Spend some extra time figuring out which one you want where.

2. Use Space Well. You don’t have too much room so don’t waste it. Write the role and the Organization in the top box so you don’t waste characters and use bigger words. Rather than “Came up with…” say “Developed.” In short places like this, every character counts!

3. Give Quantities where you can. Instead of saying “Collected money for poor” tell us “Collected $40,000 to buy back-to-school supplies for 400 slum-children”

Note: You have a place to provide hours and years so do not repeat.

4. Provide Links. This can also come into the additional information section, but it’s always great to provide a link to something tangible – a blog, a website, a newspaper article or dropbox

5. Show Leadership.You may not be President or Head Girl, but rather than just saying “Member of Football team” tell us how you may have stepped up as a leader by saying “Led football practice and coached junior members of team”

And most of all, be honest and be specific. Don’t lie or exaggerate in an unbelievable way. Don’t over-estimate hours so that the total is actually more than 24 hours a day. We still don’t have time turners.

Hence proven the CommonApp is not just an application form. It needs you to exercise those brain cells, get creative and smart with your words and put forth the best self-brand that you can! So get typing!

 

5 Takeaways On Visiting Colleges

We may live on the other side of the world from universities in the US and UK, but some students take the opportunity to go visit in the summer.

College Visits

Why Visit?

Visiting colleges can help you realize if it is the right place for you. You get a chance to connect with Admissions Officers, the mysterious beings who will be reading your applications. Additionally, your experiences can make for some interesting, personalized tidbits in the dreaded Why University essays.
For those venturing out on college trips, here are a few tips!

1) Sign up: Don’t show up unannounced, especially if the college only does tours by reservation. Go to their website and check out what times the Information Session and Campus Tours are. Sign up if you can to make sure you have a spot. Also, sign up for other opportunities if they offer them – sit in on a class, have lunch with a current student or maybe do an overnight visit.

2) Stalk them on Facebook: In this day and age, chances are that the colleges you visit will have an excellent website and a social media presence. Before you visit, read up about the school to get the full experience! Figure out the questions you might have, what you’re interested in. Moreover, you should be ready with questions to impress the tour-guide! Ask them about their experiences their first year -“What is your favorite general education requirement…” or more specific than that “I heard that the business school is adding an entrepreneurship lab, have you had any experience working with it?” Remember, YOU = STUDENT and not mom and dad. Mom and dad should take a back seat, this is your application process, own it.

3) Take Notes & Pictures: College 1 might stand out, but slowly, the differences between colleges 3 through 5 will blur together. Take notes and pictures to remind yourself! This will help later when questions arise. Don’t just note facts either. Saying that you were fascinated by the “14.3% population of international students” is not as impactful as “Rory, our tour guide’s story about Max Hall…” Names of the tour guide, admissions officer, campus buildings is what will set you apart. Pro Tip: Take notes in a notebook instead of on your phone. The info session leader can’t tell if you’re texting or writing notes when you’re on your phone. And no one likes to see an audience member texting away instead of noticing them.

4) Explore the Campus: You’re there! So explore. First, take the tour. That will help you figure out the campus, see the highlights and get to know a lot about the lay of the land. Then, keep time to explore the campus on your own. Have lunch in the dining hall, go check out the library and maybe even see the dorms. Understand how your life as a student would be.

5) Meet the experts: Current Students, Tour Guides and Admissions Officers are the experts on the University, each in their own way. Stop by the admissions office and introduce yourself to the Admissions Officers. If they have a regional admissions officer (which most colleges do), email them before you go to tell them you’re visiting and ask to stop by and say hello. Ask them to connect you to a current student perhaps that you can meet with during your visit. Collect their contact information and send a thank you email after!

Bonus Tip: For Seniors – Don’t Forget to Interview
Interviews are far and few in between for international students, who often don’t get to interact with admissions officers because they don’t always come to India. You’re visiting them, so don’t forget to interview! There are two ways to request an interview

a) Online – while signing up for an information session

b) By emailing them – reach out on the admissions email or contact us email to request an interview when you’re visiting campus. Even if they can’t offer it, the college will make a note you asked and that will be valued when you apply. And, as always, don’t forget to prepare!

To AP or not to AP

A.P.

If Hamlet was applying to College today, he’d sure as hell be going through the dilemma. Of course, this contemplation would be in between visitations from his dearly departed ghost dad, his distracting depressed girlfriend, managing his kingdom and SAT / ACT prep classes and extracurriculars.

For the uninitiated, AP stands for Advanced Placement, an examination that takes place in May each year and is offered in a number of different subjects – 37 subjects as of 2016. It’s graded from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. The results of these exams are widely accepted and since they are considered “college-level” are used by colleges for college credit AFTER a student has been admitted.

“That’s awesome!” You say. Sounds all great. So why the question in the first place?

To quote, an Ivy League Admissions Officer in New Delhi in Fall 2015 “College Board has done a great job of convincing people that everyone NEEDS to take the AP Exams. Just so you know, we don’t consider just the exams for admissions!”

Wait, why?

A little History: Well, the reason these programs were created in the U.S. and Canada was to allow really high-performing students an opportunity to challenge themselves with difficult courses.

So colleges got super pumped seeing the results from students who took the courses because that told them that

1) the student spent a full year challenging himself

2) this was the grade this student got because they took an AP instead of regular class, so really, it was part of the transcript

“More good stuff. Right?”

Well… here is the thing. Schools in India (besides a few international schools), don’t offer AP classes, so taking the exam doesn’t have the same value for students who don’t take the course.

“This is confusing. Let’s do pros and cons now!”

Cool!

Pros:

1) College Credit: You know by now that strong performances on the AP exam allow you to bypass entirely some required college courses. (This assumes you have achieved a 4 or a 5.) This means you can take a lighter load, skip classes, do something else with the extra time like take a class on cave paintings.

2) Alternative Transcript: Not a COMPLETELY alternative transcript, but supposing you come from a school that is incredibly difficult and has very harsh grading (class topper gets a 70%) the AP can help mitigate that a little.

3) Exhibit Interest: SAT Subject Tests are available in 20 subjects (12 in languages) while, on the other hand, APs are offered in 37 subjects (6 in languages other than English). So if you’re interested in Economics or Psychology, you can show your understanding and expertise through an AP

Cons:

1) Time: May seems ideal, summer vacation time! You know what else is in May? SATs and SAT Subject Tests. With ACT quickly following in June. And those you actually REQUIRE for admission. AP Exams are frills at best. Repeat after me: AP Exams are Frills!

2) Time: Yeah, I used the same point because time is that vital in the college admissions process. Colleges want to see you use your time well. If you use the time studying for an exam that you could have used for an internship, an extracurricular or even a research project, Admissions Officers would find that far more valuable.

To quote another Top 10 College Admissions Officer “If you have the time to take the exam for kicks, for god sake, do something valuable like save the world instead!”

3) Value: Like I said before, one exam on one day is less valuable than a year’s worth of progress. Same reason why Admissions Officers value GPA more than the SAT is the same reason that the AP Exams alone hold almost no value compared to the AP classes and grades for a year.

4) Money: This may be more of a parental concern, but AP Exams don’t come cheap. At $92 per exam they are MUCH more expensive than $26 for each SAT Subject Test. This doesn’t include score reports and god knows what else for (repeat after me) frills.

5) Skipping the Intro Classes: You would think this was a pro, but subtly, it may be a con. You leave school thinking you’re at the top of the class and enter a college where EVERYONE is at the top of the class. The intro classes and simpler grades are a boon when you’re learning to adjust to a college curriculum and trying to maintain a good GPA.

So, AP or not AP? No, if you don’t have your basics in place – SAT, SAT Subject Tests, Extracurriculars etc. but Yes, if you’re all set with the necessities and can afford the steep cost of time and money.