Calvin & Hobbes, Gary Clark Jr., and the Authentic Narrative of Your College Essay

It's that time of year... Sam Bigelow, Associate Director of College Counselor at Middlesex School, joins us today to talk college essays.

This is a piece about some things that are very important to me—music, Calvin and Hobbes and your college essays.

Taking my dog for a post-lunch, afternoon walk through Estabrook Woods behind the Middlesex School campus recently, I was listening to the new Gary Clark Jr. live album and appreciating the wonderful authenticity of this young Texas blues hero’s singing and guitar playing. He’s taken on the mantle of today's “it” blues guy, and I think I know why. When he sings, you believe every word and note he let’s leave his body. When he rips into a guitar solo midway through a song, there’s intensity, there’s insistence, and there’s soul. He is, as we like to say, “the real deal.” There are plenty of guitarists out there that can play faster, plenty of singers that have more impressive vocal range, but if you can’t sing or play with real feeling like he does, you likely won’t resonate with an audience in the same way. I always tried with my own music to dial back the fireworks and play piano and sing more simply and more authentically in my own voice. I am certainly not saying I was successful in that venture, but I always tried to do that.

When "Going Greek" is Part of Your College Research...

Thank you to Mary Dell Harrington of Grown and Flown for including our advice in her excellent post today,  When Joining a Sorority is Part of the College Decision. Harrington looks at where to begin and important factors -- like time and money -- to consider, interviews National Panhellenic Conference Chair Jean Mrasek, provides some great research resources and takes us inside her own sisterhood experience. Whether or not you want to follow in Elle Woods' footsteps, it's a great read that will give you some great info about evaluating the social aspect of college campuses.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing the FAFSA!

The biggest mistake families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid. The most recent study from the American Council on Education found that 1.8 million students who would have qualified for Federal financial aid failed to apply for aid. Last year, the federal government had more than $150 billion in federal aid for students who qualify. 

So even if you think you won't qualify, it may be worth it to apply. You're not alone. 85% of full-time students at four-year colleges receive some form of federal aid.

Yet applying for financial aid can be one of the most confusing and daunting steps in the college application process. Well, here's help! Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz and his coauthor David Levy have made their bestselling 250-page book, Filing the FAFSA, The Edvisors Guide to Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, available for free download at http://www.edvisors.com/fafsa/book/direct/

Prestige is Not a Synonym for Fit: Beyond the Rankings

It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there. Over at Teen Life, we're talking getting beyond the rankings to find schools that are the right fit -- and what you'll do when you get there. Check out Why You Should Look Beyond College Rankings...  Thanks for having us, Randi Mazzella!

 

It's Decision Time for Early Applicants

We're pleased today to host Ingrid Hayes, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, to talk about applying early! Read on for Hayes' advice about what students should consider in applying early and her thoughts about whether or not applying early creates an advantage for students.

 

Attention seniors:  Early admission deadlines are fast-approaching, and it’s time for you to make one of the first major decisions in the admissions process.

 

Applying early is a great option if you’re sure about which college you want to attend, but it’s critical for you to do your due diligence in researching colleges and visiting campuses before deciding to apply early. 

 

Does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?

 

In my 20 years of experience in admissions, I’ve noticed a lot of students assume an early plan will give them an advantage, especially if they feel that they’re closer to the lower end of the competitive profile for a school. Many national statistics show higher early acceptance rates and that may pique your interest to apply early. The question of “does applying early increase my chances of getting accepted?” is one that I get often, and the answer is yes and no depending on the school. Students should ask the school directly what might be the benefits of applying early.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Applying to College

Colleges aren't asking 17-year-olds to do anything 17-year-olds are not 
capable of doing. College Admission is on the Siena College blog talking maintaining calm in the face of college admission -- Quick Tips for Staying Calm During the College Application Process. Check it out for more advice, support, and quick tips! 

De-stress the College Application Process!

You know how you don’t really remember the pain of childbirth? You won’t remember the stress of the college application process once it’s over, either. Honestly. Though just as we continue to share the blow-by-blow of our delivery room action as we bond with other mothers, we find ourselves trading stories of the trials and triumphs of the college application process, too.

Christine VanDeVelde is guest blogging at UniversityParent with advice about how you can find yourself a year from now with fewer trials and more triumph in the telling. It’s easier than you think. Check out De-Stress The College Application Process and learn more about the "college diet," broccoli talk, and how to win by expecting the best.

What's really important junior year?

Get the lowdown on grades, extracurriculars and more in our conversation with Teen Life, Dealing with Junior Year StressJunior year is important but, more significantly, it feels important because there is so much going on. Students are juggling a lot -- testing, extracurriculars, campus visits, researching colleges.  But, despite what you hear, applying to college is not rocket science. There is no secret. It doesn't require an advanced degree. Colleges aren't asking 17-year-olds to do anything that 17-year-olds aren't capable of doing.  Applying to college is like any large project, you just need to break it down into smaller manageable parts. Keep that in mind as you start this process.