The Ivy Coach was featured in “The New York Times” this weekend in an article about service trips and college admissions. There are many parents out there who believe that it’s important to introduce their children to what the rest of the world looks like. Maybe their children have been raised in privilege. Maybe they’ve never ventured outside of the United States. Maybe the only image of South Africa they have is images of safaris at Kruger National Park from “National Geographic.” Maybe they’ve never seen poverty. Maybe they’ve never seen a developing nation, one where education isn’t a right but, rather, a privilege for the few.
Naturally, many parents with means believe it’s important to show their children the world. At The Ivy Coach, we don’t disagree with these parents at all. It’s important to see the world, to learn about our small part within it. It’s vital to learn about other cultures and religions, other traditions and experiences. That’s all great! See the world. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Explore. Dream. Discover.” But, unfortunately, many parents take their children to developing nations because they think it’ll improve their odds of gaining admission to the college of their choice. They think that if their child can write a college essay about volunteering at an orphanage in Soweto, that college admissions counselors will shed tears and click admit without even a second thought.
These parents couldn’t be more wrong. College admissions counselors are inundated with essays about service trips. We can just hear them cry out, “Oh, no not another essay on how I learned so much on a service trip to Kenya.” And what does it say that a privileged youth from Beverly Hills went to Soweto and thereby “saw what the world was really like.” That privileged Beverly Hills kid saw Soweto for a few days. A few days! Not a few years. He didn’t live like the kids in Soweto did. He didn’t have to scavenge for food as some children in Soweto have to do every day. So don’t write about these experiences because you think doing so will improve your odds of admission. If anything, writing about such things will hurt your chances. You run a major risk — one we at The Ivy Coach discourage our students from taking. Service trips and college admissions just don’t mix very well.
While you’re here, check out this post on Summer Jobs and College Admission.Categories: College Admissions, College Essays, High School Summer Plans Tags: Service Experiences and College Admissions, Service Travel and College Admissions, Service Trips and College Admission, Service Trips and College Admissions, Volunteer Trips and College Admissions
Work and college admissions success (as in employment during high school or over high school summers), contrary to popular belief, are not inversely related. There’s an all-too-common misconception out there that students should attend fancy, expensive summer programs to improve their odds of getting into highly selective colleges. This simply isn’t true. Do you think that Harvard is going to admit your child because he attended a summer program? No. They’ll gladly take your money for the program but that doesn’t mean that it’ll improve his odds of getting into the university when he applies. The fact is that expensive summer programs are entirely overrated and not necessary to gain admission to highly selective colleges.
There are a number of things a high school student can do in lieu of going to a fancy summer program at a prestigious university. For instance, they can work. Maybe this means lifeguarding and saving lives. Maybe it means flipping burgers. Maybe it means starting an entrepreneurial endeavor that the student will continue even after the summer ends. Maybe it means doing science research and conducting experiments. Maybe it means researching the life and times of Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte. There are tons of options!
The point is, parents, stop worrying about financing these expensive summer programs. Will your child learn some good things through these programs? Probably. But they can also learn some good things by reading a book in between shifts at a job over the summer. They can also learn some good things trying to start a business endeavor. They can also learn some good things right in their neighborhood. They don’t have to spend the summer away from home! There are indeed other options.Categories: College Admissions, Extracurricular Activities, High School Summer Plans Tags: Employment and Ivy League Admission, Work and College Admissions, Work and Ivy League Admissions, Working and College Admissions, Working and Ivy League Admissions
For rising seniors, summer is the perfect time to write your college essays. You’re off from school. You’re not studying for tests, you’re not writing papers for AP classes, and you’re not going to school for several hours each weekday. While you shouldn’t allot all of your time this coming summer to writing college essays (as you should have a great activity that further relays your story to admissions officers in order to stand out from the pack of applicants), there is no better time to sit by your computer and get to work writing those essays. After all, you’re going to have to write a personal statement, an activity essay, and a host of other supplemental essays for the many schools to which you’ll be applying in the coming year.
So often, students choose to not start their college essays until the school year begins. That is a major mistake! You simply won’t have the time to devote to making these essays powerful during the school year. You’re too inundated with your schoolwork that you can’t devote the attention to your college essays that they deserve…and that you deserve! College essays are a key component of what is ultimately going to decide your admission fate! It’s difficult to do them well at midnight in between cramming for an AP Physics test and writing a paper on “Don Quixote.”
So start thinking about what you want to write about in your personal statement. Start brainstorming. Don’t start writing your essay right away. Think about exactly what you have to say, what you want to say. And then think about some more things you have to say or want to say. Because the first idea that runs through your head may well not be a good one. It’s one of the college counseling services we provide — we help our students brainstorm essays that will make powerful, memorable statements to college admissions officers. So, don’t forget — start writing your college essays this summer. Get them over with. Give them the time they deserve. Give them alone time — when schoolwork won’t get in the way. It’s the right move.Categories: College Essays, High School Summer Plans Tags: Admissions Essays and Summer, College Essays and Summer, Summer and Admission Essays, Summer and College Essays, Summer and University Essays
Summer is just around the corner and, if you’re a high school freshman, sophomore, or junior, it’s time to start planning out what you’re going to be doing this summer. If you wait too long, you might just end up watching TV all summer long. Not only would that not be fun, but it certainly would not be productive. And it would put you at a serious disadvantage as you seek to earn admission to your dream colleges. So as you finish up your coursework for the year and start preparing for final exams just around the corner, start planning your summer plans!
If you think you need to attend a fancy, expensive summer program at a university to gain admission to the college of your dreams, you’d be wrong. Sometimes, the best high school summer plans are right in your neighborhood. It could be taking a job at the local deli or working as a lifeguard at your local beach. Maybe it’s volunteering at something you’re very passionate about. Maybe it’s conducting science research at the local college, research that you’ll later present at science fairs around the country.
Colleges want to see a focused commitment and a depth of commitment in a specific area. Your high school summer plans are a perfect opportunity to really delve into your passion and explore it in a way you simply don’t have time for during the academic year. So capitalize on this distinct opportunity. Don’t let other students gain an advantage that you won’t have. Start planning your summer plans right now.Categories: Extracurricular Activities, High School Summer Plans Tags: College Admissions Summer Plans, College Admissions Summers, College Summer Plans, High School Summer Plans, Summer Plans for High School
We’re nearing summer and many high school sophomore and juniors are figuring out what they plan to do when school’s out. In the past, we’ve written about what you can do to distinguish yourself in the college admissions process through your summer plans. It can be taking a course or multiple courses. It can be developing your skills and unique talents. It can be getting involved in community service. It can be reading books — and lots of them. Or it can be getting a job. In this post, we want to focus on getting a job.
In college admissions, many applicants and their parents think that admissions officers will be impressed by fancy internships. Maybe you just landed an internship at Morgan Stanley on Wall Street or at “Good Morning America” at ABC News. Maybe your dad just got you a sweet gig as the special assistant to a United States senator. And all of this is well and good…but it’s not going to help your college admissions chances. It might just do the opposite.
What do you think a college admissions officer at a highly selective college thinks when she reads that you interned at Morgan Stanley? She thinks daddy got you a cush summer gig. She thinks you’re entitled. She thinks she may not have had such a wonderful opportunity when she was your age. She thinks you’ve had quite an advantaged life, that your SAT scores should be even higher since you probably had a whole lot of private SAT tutoring, and that you’re another wealthy kid who could stand a reality check with a denial!
So don’t take a fancy internship that daddy got you. Take a job for minimum wage. Learn what working is all about. Work at CVS. Make burgers at In ‘N Out. Start a small business. Anything but getting a fancy internship that’s going to lead college admissions officers to dislike you and want to reject you for it!
While you’re here, check out this post on Summers and College Admission.Categories: Extracurricular Activities, High School Summer Plans, Ivy League Tags: Ivy League Admission and Summer, Summer and College Admissions, Summer and Ivy League Admissions, Summer and University Admissions, University Admission and Summer Plans
If you’re a student working this summer in such industries as fast food, contracting, lifeguarding, or gardening among many other options, rest assured that how you’re spending your summer will likely not hurt your college admissions chances and may even help. College admissions counselors understand if students have a financial need to take a summer job. They need to pay their own way or maybe they need to help support their family.
What college admissions counselors are not going to do is think, “Michael built houses all summer. It’s probably what he wants to do. He doesn’t need to go to Yale to do that.” And yet so many students think college admissions counselors will think that. Not at all! Lily Altavena of the “New York Times” ran a piece a couple of days ago on students taking part-time jobs over the summer months. In the article, the director of admissions for Lehigh University said, “‘There are certainly students who feel they need to collect a salary, and they’ll earn that salary any way they see fit…A student is a bit more prone to offer rationale as to why they took a more menial job. I don’t think there should be an absolute need to justify it.’” He’s right. There’s no need to justify a summer job.
College admissions counselors overwhelmingly understand the values learned from a summer job. These are values you may not get backpacking across Europe or attending an academic summer program. In a “New York Times” blog, college professors Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman, wrote, “Travel can be a transformative experience: you’ll be in a much stronger position to study Middle-Eastern relations if you’ve just spent a few weeks touring Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.” Don’t listen to them! While travel may indeed be transformative, wonderful, memorable, and it may well give you a stronger position to study relations in the Middle East if that is your interest, it’s likely not going to help your case for admission as much as potential alternatives could.College Admissions, High School Summer Plans Tags: College Applicants and Summers, Ivy League Admission and Summer Activities, Ivy League Summer Plans, Summer Activities for College Applicants, Summer Jobs and College Admissions
A new study put out by Kaplan points out some interesting statistics about what rising high school seniors will be doing this coming summer. According to the study, 73% will research colleges online this summer. 71% will visit at least one college campus in person. 67% will volunteer this summer while 63% intend to get paying jobs. 45% intend to read at least five books for pleasure (not required school reading) while 18% of students intend to read over 10 books.
What will you be doing this summer? Summer plans for college applicants matter a great deal in the game of college admissions. We have some ideas for you. Check out our newsletter featuring ideas on how you can productively spend your summer to increase your chances for admission to the college(s) of your choice: Summer Plans and College Applicants. And have a look at our blog on summer programs for college applicants.
Kaplan Test Prep Survey. “School May be Out for Summer, but Rising High School Seniors Plan to Spend Vacation Months Becoming Stronger College Applicants. 22 June 2011. Web. Accessed 22 June 2011.Categories: Admissions Process, College Admissions, High School Summer Plans Tags: College Admission and Extracurriculars, College Admissions and Summer Plans, Summer Plans for College Applicants, University Admission and Summer Plans, University Applicants and Summer Plans
Teenagers aren’t taking summer jobs like they used to. It’s not necessarily because they don’t want the money. It’s more because they don’t think a summer job can help their case for admission to competitive colleges. They think they need to do a service project in a third world country or work at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. These teens would be wrong. Summer jobs are by no means an anachronism and can certainly help your case for admission to competitive colleges.
Let’s talk about homeless shelters and soup kitchens. If you care deeply about the homeless and want to help to make things right, it’s truly wonderful that you’ve devoted time to working in shelters and soup kitchens. You’re giving back to the world and making it a better place for it. The thing is — a number of students work at homeless shelters and soup kitchens because they think it will help their college application and if that alone is your motivation, you’d be wrong to think so. Admissions counselors can see right through that.
You don’t need to do a service project in a third world country to get into a highly competitive college. You don’t need to save the world — though an expressed and genuine interest in making the world better is indeed a good thing not only for your case for admission but for the world! If you want to lifeguard, take the money and lifeguard. College admissions counselors love to see people who have had real world experience and holding a job is a real world experience! Not to mention as a lifeguard, your responsibility is to save peoples’ lives…not too shabby…College Admissions, Extracurricular Activities, High School Summer Plans Tags: College Admissions and Summer Jobs, Extracurricular Activities and College Admission, Summer Activities and College Admissions, Summer Jobs for College Applicants, Summer Plans and University Admissions
There is an article in “Smart Money” entitled “The New Kids on Campus” by AnnaMaria Andriotis who focuses on colleges that have been expanding summer programs to younger students each year. How young? Kindergartners can now attend college! That is not a typo, you read it right. University summer programs that once were for high school students seeking to further their education over the summer months (or thinking it would help their chances for college admission which isn’t necessarily the case) are now for kids of all ages. In these tough economic times, this is a great way for universities to make more money!
According to the “Smart Money” article on university summer programs, “While colleges and universities have been offering summer programs to high school students for years, dozens have recently expanded their programs – or developed new ones – for students as young as kindergarten. For grammar schoolers interested in science, pre-teen would-be engineers, and third-grade math whizzes, prices can range anywhere from less than $200 to more than $2,200 per week. And while these programs may offer a stimulating environment for the preternaturally academic, they may not fulfill parents’ ultimate expectation: an advantage down the road, when it’s time to apply to college for real.”
While these programs may indeed offer an educational benefit, we at The Ivy Coach find that many parents enroll their children in these programs to improve their chances of college admission. But in actuality, these programs typically do not improve one’s chances for college admission. They say only to a university admissions counselor that a child’s parents can afford to send them to a college program for a summer. But then again, if you’re thinking of sending your children to one of these college summer programs because you think that it can improve their math skills or allow them to explore their love for science, then this is a great idea! But if you’re sending your child to these kinds of programs to improve their chances for college admission, tell your child to read a book under a tree instead.
Andriotis, AnnaMaria. “The New Kids on Campus.” Smart Money. 27 April 2011. Web. 29 April 2011.College Admissions, High School Summer Plans Tags: College Admissions and Summer Programs, College Summer Programs, Expensive College Summer Programs, University Summer Programs
Your parent has been on your case for the last few weeks now, school has just begun, and you’re finding out that many of your friends have already written most of their essays. Your guidance counselor has called a meeting for all seniors and has warned you of last minute applications and implored you to get your essays done ASAP. Reminders have come from all directions and you are now more stressed than ever. You haven’t a clue as to what to write about and every topic you think about you wonder if it has been done before (it usually has).
Your essay is the only part of the application where you have complete control, so take advantage of it and express your individuality. Make the essay come alive and help the admissions counselors who read it understand who you are and what’s important to you. Your essay should help an admissions counselor connect the dots between your grades, test scores, extracurricular involvements, and letters of recommendation. Your essay should tell your story.
The perfect essay may not pop into your head overnight and you will have to write several revisions, but if you think about the things you do, the passions you have and the talents you possess, you too can write a powerful college essay.Categories: College Essays, High School Summer Plans, The Application Tags: Brainstorming College Essays, College Applicants, College Application, College Deadlines, College Essays