Advice for Juniors

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.

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!


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.

College Admission in the Washington Post

College Admission is featured in "A Summer Reading List from College Admission Counselors" in Valerie Strauss' Washington Post Answer Sheet blog. Thank you to Kenyon College Dean Jennifer Delahunty for recommending our book! This is a great list overall, assembled by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling of The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire with suggestions for parents and students, as well as some all-around fun summer reading such as Claude Steele's “Whistling Vivaldi," recommended by: Susan Weingartner, Director of College Counseling at Chicago's Francis W.

Van Gogh's Shoes, Martin Heidegger and My Little Pony: Embracing the Essay

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us again today with some fantastic guidance on the college essay. There is so much good stuff here, we don't even know where to begin to describe how helpful this will be to rising seniors as they begin their essays -- hopefully this summer. Moody's vivid explanations of "Show, Don't Tell,"  the concept of framing and the essay's first words are worth their weight in Common App gold. All we can say is, "Enjoy..." 


Many thousands of young people take on the writing challenge of the college essay each year, making 500 to 650-word personal narrative one of the most popular forms of writing in America. Yet most of the authors of the form have never done it before, and most won’t do it again.