Harvard

College Goes to the Movies -- Part 2

We had so much fun with college-going movies -- and TV series -- last week that we had to add a few more. So here for your enjoyment submitted by friends of the blog:

Star Trek This 2009 film presents the origin story of the iconic main characters from the Star Trek television series.  Amidst the alternate reality of time travel and life on other planets, the age-old themes of college admission are a subplot with Kirk trying to gain admittance to Starfleet Academy and Spock turning down the Vulcan Science Academy for Starfleet. If that doesn’t hook you, go for the great characters, good fun, and excellent special effects.

The History Boys A view of university from the other side of the pond, The History Boys follows a group of British school boys with the highest A-level scores at their grammar school as they’re tutored for the exams for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge. (This film should also be prescreened due to sexual situations.)

Waitlisted? Next Steps...

Previously, we discussed factors you may need to consider in deciding whether or not to accept a spot on a waitlist and outlined questions to ask as you try to decide whether or not to remain on a waitlist. Today, we're outlining the steps you should take if you have received a waitlist letter.

Respond

If you have received a waitlist letter from a college, pay close attention to what it says. Usually you aren’t actually placed on the waitlist— the letter is telling you that you can choose to be on it if you want. In order to be placed on a waitlist you will need to respond by submitting a form or emailing the college. Typically, you are asked to respond by a set date. If you don’t respond or if you miss that deadline, you will not be placed on the waitlist. Follow instructions and respond accordingly.

Answers to Your Questions on a Gap Year

Our gap year experts, Bob Clagett and Holly Bull, return with answers to your questions. You can see their previous posts with information on choosing a gap year program and how to apply for a gap year, including resources, here and here.

What tips do you have for students who are hoping to pursue a gap year, but don't necessarily want to do a program? I know there are organizations like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where students can work independently and safely across the globe, but are there other ways to connect with far-away places without traveling with a group of American teens?

Elite Colleges and Independent Counselors

 

For the last couple of weeks, we've been following a lively discussion in the wake of a blog post from Lynn O'Shaughnessy -- Elite Schools Dissing College Consultants. In her words, the blog post shares her take "on why I believe the Ivies and other elite schools routinely dump on independent college counselors. The use of high-priced consultants reminds these schools that the system is rigged and most students need to be rich to get into these institutions." Independent counselors, high school counselors and admission deans have weighed in via a discussion on LinkedIn and in the Comments section of her blog.

Like many issues in the application process, the decision to hire an independent counselor is complex. Students and their families must carefully consider the costs and benefits and the decision should be driven by the student.  In our book -- coauthored by a former dean of Stanford, Swarthmore, and Sarah Lawrence -- we take a very balanced approach, outlining the situations where an independent counselor can be a beneficial addition, with the main focus on how to find and properly evaluate a counselor for those who will go that route.

Charlene Aguilar, Lakeside School

Charlene Aguilar is Director of College Counseling at Lakeside School, an independent day school for grades 5 through 12 in Seattle, Washington.  A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Aguilar has worked both sides of the desk in college admissions during her career.  She began as an admissions counselor at her alma mater in Santa Barbara and served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford and Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Santa Clara University.  For ten years prior to coming to Lakeside, she was Director of College Counseling and Dean of the junior class at Castilleja School, an all-girls independent school in Palo Alto, California.

College Admission in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2012

Should Colleges Be Factories for the 1%?
Obama wants the feds to report what a college's graduates earn. That's no way to judge an educational institution.

By Robin Mamlet and Christine VanDeVelde

In his recently unveiled Blueprint for College Affordability, President Obama calls for "collecting earnings and employment information for colleges and universities, so that students can have an even better sense of the life they'll be able to build once they graduate." In other words, the government wants to publish statistics on what graduates earn after leaving Harvard or Ohio State or Duke.

The results are unlikely to surprise. For all the costs of collecting and collating this information—for the sake of reducing the costs of education, no less—it will show what is intuitively obvious: On average, Ivy League grads earn more. But the information will be worse than useless for college-bound students because it will send them all the wrong signals.