Applying to college can feel like the mix between a sprint and a marathon in the fall. Address one critical part of the process now, to make it easier when you are back in school this fall. Rising high school seniors should use the end of the school year to ask potential recommenders for a letter of recommendation on their behalf in the fall. While it may be too soon to formally request a letter of recommendation from a teacher and provide her with the necessary background information like a resume and your plans for college to write a quality letter, it is still an excellent opportunity to provide recommenders with notice that you would like to ask them to write on your behalf.
At many high schools with large class sizes, teachers may receive dozens of requests to write letters of recommendation. Great letters take time to write. The more notice a teacher has, the more they can plan accordingly and budget their time. If a teacher agrees to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf, ask her what materials she will need to write a strong letter. Many high schools have formal requirements for students to submit information packets to recommenders to help them write a recommendation, but a teacher may rely on specific information from students to write an insightful and compelling letter of recommendation.
The bottom line is, applicants, make the job as easy as possible on those who have agreed to help you, on their own time, get into college!
This Summer, Make Progress With a Foreign Language to Strengthen Your College Applications and Build Valuable Life Skills
There is a reason why colleges ask applicants to list foreign languages that applicants are fluent in, and why admissions officers assess applicants’ foreign language coursework and SAT Subject Test scores: college admissions officers value foreign language skills. Moreover, many colleges have a foreign language requirement for their students and encourage them to study abroad to improve their foreign language abilities.
Colleges recognize that their graduates must be prepared to work in an increasingly global market for talent and ideas. By demonstrating competence in a foreign language before college, an applicant can signal to an admissions officer that she will advance a college’s efforts to prepare its students for the global workplace.
Embarking on the path to becoming fluent in a foreign language may be one of the best things future college students can do in middle and high school. Not only will it strengthen their college applications, becoming fluent also sets students up for success when it comes time to apply to grad school and jobs after college. Many medical schools give preference to applicants who are fluent in Spanish as their hospitals cater to Spanish-speaking populations. Financial services firms, marketing firms, and tech companies also seek applicants able to work in emerging markets like China and Latin America.
Consider foreign languages that will help not just with the college application process, but also with the job market after college. My ability to speak fluent Spanish landed me a coveted Wall Street internship in college that I probably would not have gotten if I did not speak Spanish. Learning Portuguese helped me get a job after college that again, would have been beyond my reach Spanish and Mandarin are particularly useful as Latin America and China are the United States’ two biggest trade partners.
To all of the mothers shuttling their kids to sports practices, finding tutors, and even more importantly, building their children up, reinforcing their confidence, and helping them discover who they are along the way, a very happy Mother’s Day!
As the competition to earn admission to many of the most selective universities in the US skyrockets, we are confronted with the present reality: many students need support to earn admission. Colleges now seek specialists to build a well-rounded class. Student do not need to excel in every field they are involved with. To the parents reading this, remind your children to focus on what matters most in this process: their passions. Not only will this help them stand out, it will provide students a reason for working so hard to earn admission.
As the norm for staying up later and later each night to work on homework becomes more prevalent, remind your children that in college, students take four or five classes a term, and it is not necessary to take six college level classes each semester in high school to get into their dream college.
As students search for some magic bullet and confront the pitfalls of group think, remind them to forge their own path in this process. Admissions officers value unique perspective and want to understand what makes each applicant tick as part of the admissions process. Encourage your child to tailor the college admissions process to their personal growth. This will make the entire process more rewarding and result in more authentic and compelling applications.
Finally, as students are bombarded with homework, sports practices, music lessons, community service commitments, and all the other pressures of being a teenager, help them prioritize what matters the most at each stage in this process. Serve as a sanity check for a stressful process and provide guidance when needed.
Thank you for being your children’s biggest advocates in this process.
For every student that has it all figured out there is one that doesn’t. That is OK. High school is about exploring what inspires our children.
Given how busy our kids are, it may seem challenging to empower them to find their passions. The most important part of helping out kids find them is to give them the time to do so. Be strategic with their time. Before committing to an activity or class that requires a large time commitment, ask why they are signing up for it and if they are genuinely interested in it.
Sometimes identifying a passion requires us to work backwards. Asking where a student sees herself in ten years often yields interesting and unexpected answers. We can work backwards if we have an interest in a destination. Identifying opportunities that are consistent with what a student wants to do later motivates them as it becomes clearer that their efforts are linked to their own unique goal. Often this requires suggestions for something that builds off an existing skill set. A student who loves video games may find coding to make them exciting, while a student that loves playing basketball may see the connection to sports medicine.
Do not be afraid to tie exploring passions to students’ favorite hobbies, even if they are not academic in nature. I work with a student who is a dedicated surfer. Some may ask how surfing can be tied to a college application. That question misses the mark. Successful college applications can be based on any activity that matters to an applicant. In this case we wanted to demonstrate the positive role that surfing plays for him and others. The student tied surfing to fundraising for a cure for a disease. This student created amazing surf calendars to sell and donates the proceeds to a disease research foundation. He was able to tie surfing to his interest in healthcare. While this student is genuinely interested in healthcare, we can motivate our students to explore their interests by creating a link with career paths to the activities that our kids love to participate in.
Be open minded and work together creatively to explore what excites them. This may involve trial and error, but they will become wiser and stronger as they determine who they are and what they want to become.