College and Life: Is it about the finish line or the road you take to get there?

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, is back with us today with an excellent discussion of "outcomes" -- a meme in the media and a subject on the minds of some students, parents, educators and other interested parties. Read on to see why becoming "dis-oriented" from outcomes may provide the happiest ending. 

 

I’ve noticed the term “outcomes-oriented” being used a lot lately. It’s apparently a desirable quality, describing my LinkedIn contacts on their profiles, applicants I encounter on hiring committees, professional services in marketing emails that land in my inbox. When you consider it, “outcomes-oriented” is an interesting pairing of words. It suggests a constant headlong bearing toward a projected future, radar locked on a defined finish line and a specific expectation of what should await there. It feels antsy and impatient. Let’s get to the outcome, people! Who cares how? Full speed ahead!

Seniors: Please Let ALL the Colleges where You Were Admitted Know Your Plans

Seniors, heads up! It is good form to take yourself out of the running at any college where you have been accepted but know with certainty you will not enroll. That way the college can offer your seat to another student who may want to enroll.

We felt it was worth repeating this plea from Terry Cowdrey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, issued last year:  

A plea to school counselors: please encourage your students to respond to all of the schools where they were offered admission. College admissions offices are scrambling to determine if we can make offers to students on the wait list and dozens--no, hundreds--of admitted students have not confirmed their plans. We can assume they are going elsewhere but it would certainly be nice to know for sure. And it's just good manners.

So, members of the Class of 2014!, please extend this courtesy to the colleges that took the time to admit you. Think, as well, about your friends on wait lists and how happy and relieved they may feel to know sooner rather than later that they have been admitted from a college's wait list. A simple email will do the job. So, please just do it!

 

Juniors: Time to Ask Teachers for Recommendations!

 

Many colleges require letters of recommendation from the people who know students best in an academic setting -- your high school counselor and teachers.  Letters of recommendation from teachers tell admission officers how students contribute to the academic and intellectual life of their high school.

Now is the time to ask those teachers whom you would like to write for you, especially if you are enjoying a class and connecting with the teacher or planning to apply under an early program. You want to ask teachers who know you well and have taught you recently in a challenging class.

When you ask, keep in mind that writing letters of recommendation is not part of a teacher's normal job duties and you should approach your teachers with a polite considerate request. Here are some pointers:

                *             Ask in person. No emails. A personal request is most thoughtful. Here's a sound bite: "I'm thinking ahead to college applications and wonder if you feel writing a recommendation is something you can do for me."

20/20 Hindsight on Parenting through the College Admission Process

 

Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of one of the blogs we love -- Grown and Flown -- looks back on her experiences guiding three teenagers through the college admission process in her most recent post, The Good, The Bad and the OMG of College Admissions. From road trips and the random nature of college admission to the revelations that occur as we accompany our children on this journey, Mary Dell's look back from the finish line has something for everyone -- great advice for those starting out and the comfort of the 20/20 hindsight of a fellow traveler on the cusp of the next great adventure with her child. 

 

April is the Craziest Month for Seniors and their Families

Jane Kulow, aka Dr. StrangeCollege, is back with advice for seniors and their families as application season nears the finish line of decisions. 

 

April is the craziest month.

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but for high school seniors that label might go to March. After the long autumn months of writing college applications and the cold winter months of awaiting a response (and hoping for the best), March delivers the stark reality of college admission decisions:  yes, no, or would you like to wait for a possible yes later (at very low odds)?

Which brings us to the craziness of April and the decisions seniors and their families face. Even when the student is accepted into his or her favorite school, most families will want to look closely at each of the colleges offering admission.

Closely, and quickly: the May 1 deadline for the student’s decision fast approaches.

Here’s what many senior households may wish to do this month:

Visit the campus

If you haven’t yet visited the campus, now’s the time to take a look, before anyone writes a deposit check. Virtual visits may be great, but they cannot convey the smell of the freshman dorm, the path from one end of campus to another, or the typical style of students at the school.

Or visit again

Sample Questions, More Details on the Redesigned 2016 SAT

The College Board today released some 250 pages of specifications for the redesigned 2016 SAT, including sample questions. According to Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, today's information includes "everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised." However, the College Board announcement stressed that all the information about the redesigned test is in draft form, "not a full reflection of what will be tested," and subject to change.

College Admission reported the major changes in the redesign last month -- Big Changes Coming to the SAT in 2016:

·        The essay isn't gone, but it's optional and will be scored separately. Students will be asked to read a passage and analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument. The essay will be scored on the strength of that analysis, as well as writing ability.

Seniors: No second guessing, no keeping score... and stay committed!

This week we have more great advice for seniors from Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy

The most consistent message from our office to students in senior spring is, "Protect your community." Everyone is taking the first steps towards their own journey right now. Next year each of you will be in a place of your choosing, immersed in your own experience. Your opinions of others' choices, and their opinions of yours, aren't really relevant to those decisions. Support each other. Resist the temptation to keep score, or to try to second-guess the complicated, subjective, and unknowable processes by which admission committees arrived at their offers and denials. Don't take disappointment personally, and don't make it personal if someone you know was offered admission to a place you weren't. Enjoy your final weeks of high school, finish strong in the style you're known for, and stay committed to the activities and friendships that have sustained you until now!

Juniors: This one says college, that one says university -- What's in a name?

 

As you research colleges for an initial list of schools to which you may apply, understanding how they "name" or characterize themselves may provide important information. Whether a school is a “college” or a “university” can make a difference.

Most— but not all— colleges and universities offer a liberal education. That doesn’t refer to politics! “Liberal” in this case goes back to the original meaning of the word: “unrestricted.” It’s an educational approach where a student is called on to examine problems and issues from multiple vantage points and learns how to think, communicate, question, and probe. The rationale behind a liberal education is that the world is changing rapidly and training for a specific discipline or job is ultimately less practical than learning how to be ready for a world unknown.

Undergraduate education in the United States is dominated by institutions that hold to the notion that a liberal education is the best way to prepare for a life of significance, meaning, and means. There are, however, also terrificc options that do not insist students be liberally educated.

Be Ready to Listen, Book Parents Weekend and more: Next Steps for Parents

As parents, we know that sometimes the best advice can come from fellow parents who have successfully navigated some developmental step or landmark -- or land mine -- in their children's lives. Here are two of the savviest moms we know -- Lisa Endlich Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington of the excellent blog Grown and Flown -- on next steps for parents of seniors.

 

This is a moment to rejoice.  Your child was accepted to college and all of your effort and his have resulted in this success. There may be some small disappointments, there may euphoria and there may be some big decisions ahead, but this is one of life’s big moments and it should be noted and celebrated. Let your nearly grown child know just how proud you are and acknowledge how much of his effort it took to get to this moment. 

Once your family has taken a time to savor this special moment, there are a few more practical matters that need your 

Book the revisits.

Your child may be making a very real decision between two or more schools they have not seen in a year, or more.  See if the school has official revisit days when pre-frosh return for an organized program.  If such a program exists, make certain to book a place in the program and hotel reservations if needed.  If there is not official program, make plans for your teen to take another