By Chris Teare
August 30, 2015
Excerpted from forbes.com
Parents go to great lengths to help their children make the best college choice; they often rely on rankings, even though they may not be the best way to choose. There is in fact a big difference between college rankings and ratings, as a proponent of the latter explained to me. If Edward “Ted” Fiske didn’t create the college guidebook genre 31 years ago, he may well have perfected it. The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016 started off as The New York Times Selective Guide to Colleges when he was Education Editor of the Times. Because Ted has been looking at this landscape for decades, I asked him some questions. Along the way, he explained why ratings are better than rankings.
Q: Your headmaster urged you to attend a top Ivy League school, but you chose Wesleyan instead. Why did you do that, and which young people would you advise to do the same today?
A: I wanted a really good small liberal arts college in New England because I wanted to be able to do a wide range of things without sacrificing academics. I knew that if I went to a larger school, I would have to focus on one or two activities. As it turned out, I played varsity soccer and squash as well as rugby, edited the newspaper, sang in the glee club and joined a fraternity. Whether or not there were graduate students around never really occurred to me, but I do think there is wisdom in being at a place where what you are (i.e. an undergraduate) is the major focus. That’s certainly the case at liberal arts colleges.
Q: What do you make of the current emphasis on Return On Investment (ROI), especially as it relates to career-oriented majors at the undergraduate level by contrast to the liberal arts?
A: The best return on investment is an education that is going to prepare you for a career, not for the worst job you’ll ever have—which is to say your first job out of college. The best investment is in developing thinking and skills that are going to prepare you for jobs that you cannot even conceive of when you first go to work. Most people are not only going to change jobs but change careers. Preparing for a technical job that won’t continue to exist is not good return on investment. You need the skills to adapt to different situations. I remember conversations comparing liberal arts and technical education with CEOs of major corporations. They want liberal arts graduates with broad general educations, whom they will later train. They will also admit, however, that they sometimes have trouble getting this message through to their people who do their hiring, which they find frustrating.
One young liberal arts graduate I know went for an interview at a top financial services firm, where the interviewer asked why he should be hired when he had no specific financial services training. He responded that he’d looked at the biographies of the senior managers of the firm, seen that everyone at that level had a liberal arts education, and said that if it was good enough for them, he believed it would be good enough for him. He was hired and has done well.
Chris Teare writes about education, most often about the college admissions process. Read his full interview with Ted Fiske, as it was originally published on forbes.com right here.
By Elizabeth Harris
August 25, 2015
Excerpted from nytimes.com
As summer began, Dan Akim, a junior at Manhattan’s ultracompetitive Stuyvesant High School, planned to attend debate camp, to study for the PSATs and to go on some family vacations.
Yet he felt that he could pack more into these months, so he also signed up for three online courses, in precalculus, computer science and public health. While on car rides with his family in Italy, he would sometimes use a mobile hot spot to chip away at one of the courses, while his mother asked why he was not soaking up the view instead.
“Why not multitask!” Mr. Akim said.
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were originally intended as college-level work that would be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. But among the millions of people who have signed up for these classes, there are now an untold number of teenagers looking for courses their high schools do not offer and often, as a bonus, to nab one more exploit that might impress the college of their dreams.
College admissions directors, as well as administrators of the Common Application used by many schools, say that such online classes — for which students are not likely ever to see credit — are popping up on college applications, adding to the list of extracurriculars, like internships and community service projects, that have helped turn summer vacation into a time of character and résumé building.
“We’ve noticed in the past few years, more and more students who apply to us mention they’ve taken online courses of various kinds,” said Marlyn McGrath, director of admissions for Harvard College. Lest anyone think, however, that MOOCs are a magical key to getting into Harvard, she added:
“It falls into the category of very interesting things we’d like to know about you.”
The courses are designed by colleges and universities around the world and distributed online by organizations like edX and Coursera, where they can be taken free. No application is required, so anybody can sign up for “The Science of Happiness,” from the University of California at Berkeley, for example, or “American Government” from Harvardx, which is affiliated with Harvard University. More recently, MOOCs have also been employed to supplement high school Advanced Placement classes, including a project called Davidson Next.
Katherine Cohen, founder of an admissions counseling company in New York City called IvyWise, said the number of her clients who had taken MOOCs had been steadily increasing in recent years. Dr. Cohen says they give applicants the chance to take classes not offered at their own schools, like advanced math or a business course, and to “appear more scholarly” in their areas of interest.
These classes also offer high school students the chance to show that they did not just spend the summer playing Xbox and napping.
Elizabeth Harris is an Education Reporter for the New York Times. Read her full article as it was published originally on nytimes.com right here.
SupCo's Decision on Race Considerations in University of California's Admissions Process Could Affect All of Us
By Stacy Finz
August 20, 2015
Excerpted from Cal Alumni Association California Magazine
Almost lost amid the recent flurry of marquee U.S. Supreme Court rulings—including one endorsing same-sex marriage and another upholding Obamacare—was a judicial move that could have a huge impact on who gets into top colleges. The justices, by opting to reconsider a case that challenges the University of Texas’s use of race and ethnicity to select students, signaled that they may be ready to effectively end affirmative action in college admissions nationwide.
To do so would be to follow California’s example: Nearly two decades ago, voter-approved Prop. 209 made it the first of a handful of states to explicitly bar public universities from considering any applicant’s race or ethnicity in admissions.
That clarifies how Texas wound up with a more “progressive” university admissions policy than California. It helps account for the fact that at UC Berkeley, proportional black and Latino enrollment dropped. And it explains why Cal students such as Miguel Mauricio and Cori McGowens—who say they unfortunately know what it’s like to attend a school where their ethnicity is underrepresented—are keeping a wary eye on the pending Texas case.
At first glance, it might seem that California, given its existing affirmative action ban, would be unaffected regardless of what the court decides in Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin. But not so fast.
California continues to wrestle with the fallout from Prop. 209, which prohibits preferential treatment to any applicant on the basis of race, sex, skin color, ethnicity or national origin. Given the toll 209 has taken on diversity, there are regular attempts to repeal it. Last year, a proposed constitutional amendment to do just that sailed through the state Senate. But foes swiftly mobilized to torpedo it in the Assembly, some even labeling it “the most racist bill in California history” for aiming to reintroduce race and ethnicity as factors in admissions. And although the traditional adversaries of affirmative action are white conservatives, the loudest opposition in this case came from Asian Americans, whose representation on UC campuses has flourished since Prop. 209.
If the Supreme Court uses the Texas case to abolish affirmative action nationwide, many experts say it would likely halt such efforts and set Prop. 209 in stone. But a ruling the other way could accelerate efforts to repeal it in favor of an approach similar to that used in Texas, where race and ethnicity are among a variety of factors considered in a holistic evaluation of each UT applicant.
Read Stacy Finz's full article as it was originally published on alumni.berkeley.edu right here.
By Jacqueline Thomsen
August 19, 2015
When students at Indiana University at Bloomington are asked to describe consent, they can often recite the lyrics from a student-written musical.
“Consent is unmistakable … it’s often verbal … it’s uncoerced … it’s freely given … and if you’ve got those things together, that’s consent! Consent … whoa consent!” (The full lyrics of the song are at the bottom of this story.)
And as college campuses across the country adapt to a culture -- and legislation -- calling for affirmative consent and “yes means yes” policies, freshmen orientations are often just one touch point for a larger conversation about sexual misconduct policies across campuses. Many colleges are adding programming or are revising past education on sexual assault prevention to focus on teaching the ideas behind affirmative consent, although some institutions already had relevant programs in place.
The entire Indiana University system revamped its sexual misconduct policy in March, calling for affirmative consent from students participating in sexual acts and clearly outlining resources for students who are seeking to report an incident or find other sources of support. Under affirmative consent, both parties must indicate that they want to participate in a sexual act, either verbally or with specific actions -- and the lack of a no isn't enough to continue.
Carol McCord, the associate dean of students at the Bloomington campus, said little had to be changed in programming for students this year to adapt to the new policy. Students will continue to be required to complete an online module on sexual assault and misconduct before coming to campus, and at orientation will see a musical, written by a student who has since graduated, that ends with a song about consent.
“It sounds cheesy, but let me tell you that many students will tell us that they remember the definition of consent from that song and sing it to us later,” McCord said.
This year, after viewing the musical, the incoming students will take part in discussions led by their student orientation leaders, who have been trained to lead the conversations by administrators and other university officials, including McCord. The doors to the rooms where the conversations are taking place are kept ajar so officials can check and make sure discussions are staying on track.
Jacqueline Thomsen is a junior at George Washington University studying journalism and mass communication currently a reporting intern at Inside Higher Ed. Read her full article as it was originally published right here.
By Ruth Starkman
August 17, 2015
BAM! BOOM! SPLAT! WHOA! GO! NOW!
These flourishes of onomatopoeia fly at me as I read several students' college application drafts. Normally, I enjoy a jaunty hook. But such framing devices, including snippets of conversation in media res, which are often accompanied by dreamy, elliptical description, might be more effective on any other audience than me, a jet-lagged college admissions reader, who just returned home from a summer of teaching and traveling abroad.
In fact, my journeyed state very closely resembles the experience of every college admissions reader during high season between December and March every year, when readers may struggle to get through as many as 15,000 essays.
Surely, every teacher reads with tired eyes. A stack of papers daunts even the strongest, most energetic instructor. Yet, admissions readers are a uniquely energy-challenged group. Aside from the very few permanent admissions employees who make the final decisions, most college admissions readers are seasonal workers with other employment. We read your essays after work and on the weekends, when our attention is already spent. We also only have six to eight minutes maximum per file.
When tackling the difficult and potentially embarrassing task of writing a piece of self-promotion like a college app, students sometimes wax impressionistic, artful and indirect. Or, sometimes they opt for raw, real-time, in your-face reality. All of these techniques can work, if trimmed down to scale, e.g. less than half the essay, and given appropriate context. Wholly impressionistic, poetic, or raw essays are more appropriate for other audiences: A creative writing magazine or student writing contest. Tired college application readers need you to cut to the chase and address this question directly and succinctly:
How will you thrive at our university?
Here are 10 tips to help your reader understand your answer to this question:
1. Be direct. Either at the start or by the end of the first paragraph. Offer a simple, helpful sentence that employs some of the keywords from the prompt so your reader knows which essay question you're answering and the context for it. Don't worry about using keywords that seem artless and too obvious. Tired readers are thankful for this kind of help!
For example, Question 1 on the Common App:
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
This question is especially designed to locate the first-generation student or under-represented minority. If you fit this description, say so unequivocally up front, so your reader doesn't have to strain and head-scratch over your identity. "As a first-generation college applicant...."
2. Be stylish, and differently so. If you wish to deploy one of the snazzy hooks that your high school writing teachers have taught you, including onomatopoeia or conversations in media res, reinvent these common openings by placing them a couple lines in after your first sentences.
3. Be in the spotlight. Avoid long descriptions of others, or lists of heroes. A brief mention is fine, but keep yourself center stage. We are eager to meet you, so don't bring a crowd. We only have enough focus for you.
4. Be concise. The college applications process demands a quick, clear snapshot that shows who you are in your community. Think a Snapchat or Instagram selfie you'd be willing to share with your mom, really, your mom -- most readers are women about your mom's age, though there are an increasing number of younger readers. At private universities these are usually young alums and professionals with other jobs.
5. Be current. Write about an event or experience from your RECENT past, not your distant childhood. Ditch the narrative that reads like real-time, slow-mo video. Since your readers' waning attention and multi-tasking directives need you to get to the point, find a more immediate way to show continuity of character: Rather than "I started my activity when I was four." Start with "On stage, receiving my award, after nearly a dozen years of practice, I...."
6. Be simple. Stick to one topic per essay. Most colleges have multiple essays. You can demonstrate your breadth and merit by elaborating one experience in each. Working in a lab? Also like music? Play a sport? Don't try to say all of these in one essay.
7. Be positive. Even when describing a hardship. Your readers are looking for evidence you will succeed at their university and want to know how you met challenges and moved beyond them. Spend most of your essay on your solutions and outcomes.
8. Be deep, but neither dismal nor dismissive. Present your special personal and cultural insight through your work and experiences. At all costs, avoid attempting to demonstrate your critical thinking by criticizing yourself or others. A college app is not the place for remonstration!
9. Be grateful. Take a few sentences to depict yourself as fortunate to know those who have contributed to your success. Gratitude and humility are especially important if you spend a lot of time in your essay describing your technical or scientific success--universities want to know you're good at what you do as well as nice and considerate of others.
10. Be a joiner. Finish with eagerness to participate in the college community you hope to join.
Good luck and enjoy! After all, the college application is a chance to shine!
Dr. Ruth Starkman is a lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. She also blogs for The Huffington Post. Read her piece as it was originally published on huffingtonpost.com right here.
By Heather Long
August 15, 2015
Excerpted from CNN Money
Harold Ekeh scored the home run of college admissions. He was accepted by every Ivy League school this year as well as MIT and Johns Hopkins. The 17-year-old from Long Island, New York starts at Yale University at the end of August with plans to major in molecular, cellular and developmental biology.
These days he's chatting on Facebook with his college roommate, sleeping in and walking around the house in his new hiking boots for a Yale camping trip.
Ekeh also answers lots of queries from people around the country that go something like this:
How did you do it? Can you help me? Can you help my nephew?
So Ekeh published an e-book entitled "Hacking College Admissions" with Victor Agbafe, a teen from North Carolina who also got into all the Ivies. Agbafe will be a freshman at Harvard this fall.
"People ask me all the time: 'how did you do it?' I wanted to be able to provide a more substantial answer," Ekeh told CNNMoney.
They partnered with the Frog Tutoring company. For every book sold, they are donating one to an underprivileged student.
The biggest tip: Start early. Literally. Both men would begin their days by 5 a.m. during their senior year in order to get more work done.
"I have a 'do it now' mindset," says Ekeh.
Heather Long is CNNMoney’s markets and investing editor. Read her full article about
Harold Ekeh here as it appeared on money.cnn.com.
By Alison Burdo
Philadelphia Business Journal
August 14, 2015
Excerpted from bizjournals.com
High school students have upped the college application game over the past decade, submitting YouTube videos and DVDs to admissions officers. Now a startup is targeting Philadelphia colleges for its “LinkedIn for kids” platform, getting two local universities to sign on and finalizing agreements with at least five others.
St. Joseph’s University launched ZeeMee, the product of a 10-month old Silicon Valley-based company, as an optional part of its application on Aug. 1, and Drexel University adopted the program earlier this year.
“We really wanted something to help students create a three-dimensional view of themselves,” said Melissa Calder, associate director of communications and admissions at St. Joe’s. “It allows the admission counselor to get a visual illustration of the applicant.”
High schoolers can create a free ZeeMee page, where they upload photos, videos and documents to supplement their traditional application.
“They didn’t want to just say in a sentence that they played the piano for nine years,” said ZeeMee founder Juan Jaysingh, 34. “Now they get to show that in a 20-second video.”
Calder said prospective students began regularly submitting extra digital components to their applications about six years ago and, last year, a St. Joe’s admissions counselor received, on average, 20 to 25 extras.
“It started as CDs and DVDs a few years ago in the mail, which continues,” she explained, “but we see more and more links to web pages or YouTube clips included into the application by the student every year.”
Alison Burdo writes for the Philadelphia Business Journal. Read Alison's full article here, as originally published on www.bizjournals.com.
By Joe Vardon
Northeast Ohio Media Group
August 13, 2015
Excerpted from cleveland.com
If some 200 Akron seventh graders stick with LeBron James' mentorship program for the next six years, a full scholarship to attend the University of Akron awaits them. Actually, the opportunity to go to college for free extends to any of the approximately 1,000 at-risk children in Akron Public Schools who are currently involved with the LeBron James Family Foundation and the hundreds more who may join.
On Thursday, James announced a partnership between his foundation, the university, and JPMorgan Chase in which any child under James' mentorship who graduates from Akron Public Schools and meets yet-to-be-determined testing, attendance, and community-service criteria would receive receive a free ride to the University of Akron.
The scholarships, paid for by the university, will cover tuition and Akron's general services fee -- currently worth about $9,500 a year.
University of Akron President Scott Scarborough broke the news, with James on hand, at Cedar Point, where James' foundation held a "reunion" for thousands of mostly poor children, their parents, and friends from Akron.
The announcement was met by some cheers, gasps of surprise, and a measure of silence likely brought on by confusion over what just happened.
"We're giving you guys free scholarships," James said on stage, following the announcement. "Do you guys know how much money (that's worth)? This means so much to me, so much to these kids."
Joe Vardon's full article was originally published on www.cleveland.com. Read the full article here.
By Jeremy Allen
April 13, 2015
If you took every high school graduate who applied for admission to the University of Michigan and put them in the Big House, they would fill nearly half of the stadium's 107,000-plus seats.
According to U-M officials, the school's Office of Undergraduate Admissions processed and reviewed 51,760 applications for admission, a 4 percent increase over the previous year's record of 49,731 applications.
This year's total number of applications set a U-M record for the ninth consecutive year.
Of the 51,760 applicants, U-M offered admission to 13,577 prospective students—or 26 percent of the applicants—and 6,242 people—or 46 percent of those offered admission—have paid enrollment deposits.
Because a number of students make enrollment deposits to multiple schools in order to hold their spots while they make their decision, U-M anticipates a fall 2015 freshman class of about 6,000 students on the Ann Arbor campus.
From 2010 to 2011, U-M saw a large boost in applications for the freshman class because the school switched to the Common Application, which allows students to apply to several schools with one application.
The applications are reviewed by roughly 40 to 50 part-time application readers and about 50 admissions counselors who are responsible for reviewing applications from schools within assigned regions.
Number of applicants by year:
Jeremy Allen is the higher education reporter for The Ann Arbor News. Read Jeremy's original article as it appeared on mlive.com here.
By Samantha Olson
August 12, 2015
Excerpted from Medical Daily
Students become stressed as they try to get into some of the most competitive colleges in the country. But at what cost to their health? Researchers from New York University conducted a major four-stage study to explore the stress levels of high school students in competitive settings. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, reveals students’ greatest sources of stress as they prepare for college and work for the grades they need to get there.
"School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat — that’s what it can be for some of these students," said the study’s senior researcher Noelle Leonard, a scientist at the NYU’s College of Nursing, in a press release. "We are concerned that students in these selective, high pressure high schools can get burned out even before they reach college."
The research team launched their study into four different stages to assess student coping skills, academic engagement, family engagement, expectations, mental health symptoms, and alcohol and drug use while discovering what the main cause of chronic stress was for today’s youth. Their ultimate goal was to accurately describe the experiences of high school juniors enrolled in highly competitive private schools.
The study’s lead author Marya Gwadz explained there are "no doubts" students in public schools are experiencing similar or same levels of chronic stress, but the team chose private school settings because they’ve gone largely understudied. Was it the schools, families, culture, or society? Researchers traced the roots of student stress levels to see if it went as far back as high school. And according to Leonard, that’s exactly what they found.
Samantha Olson covers health and wellness for Medical Daily. Read Samantha's full article here on medicaldaily.com.