Advice for Completing the University of California Activities & Awards Section

For those of you applying to the University of California (UC), completing the Activities & Awards section can require several hours of brainstorming, drafting and editing, over multiple drafts.  Thus, many teens will postpone drafting the detailed descriptions or conversely they may focus on drafting the descriptions, postponing their essay writing.  To balance the work of both drafting the PIQ…

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Do’s & Don’ts of Answering UC Personal Insight Question #7

Serving others, suppressing our innate self-centered human tendency, can be a valuable lesson in generosity, the equanimity of humanity, and even in reverse, a confidence in oneself as a valuable member of society.  In the race for the most elite college admissions, often many students have added (or been compelled by assignment and the chase for grades) volunteer work to…

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GIFF: Spongebob Prepare to Be written

The Patience of a Writer

Teenagers must write their autobiography as a requirement for college applications, which is a complicated task. Writing one’s life story requires reflecting on intricate, existential questions, like “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose in life?” And, most teens quickly recognize they have little self-awareness, just the first in a series of writer’s blocks.  However, as Tim O’Brien in The…

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Metaphorically Speaking

Teenagers are often inexperienced in self-reflection, thus lacking awareness about the meaning of their young lives, as well as confidence to assert what they do know about themselves. Thus, in college essays, many obscure awareness in metaphor, which not only exposes their lack of confidence, but also forces the admissions evaluator to infer (at best), and guess (at worst) what…

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Comic: I'm more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles

Reason #450,897,354 Why Writing College Essays Is Complicated

Every year, especially in mid-October, college and transfer applicants share some version of the following:  “I can’t get all my thoughts to focus on one idea.”  “I’ve written several different paragraphs, but they don’t connect with each other.”  “I have too much to say, how can I incorporate every idea into one essay?!?” Students often attempt to write their autobiography,…

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Adverb Abuse

Teenage authors often punctuate their sentences with “very” and “really”, exaggerating the experience being described, which actually dilutes the meaning of their experience. For example, I really enjoy reading books. Does “really” add value to the student’s enjoyment? Or do you, as the reader, become suspect (even subconsciously) of the writer’s enjoyment of reading, exaggerate the value of reading?  Any…

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The Most Essential Interview

To effectively brainstorm topics for college essays, students must be interviewed by an experienced advisor, who not only knows the college admissions process, but applies their experience within the context of an anxious teenager seeking to define their life’s vision.  When teens query themselves in some me-talking-with-me, thinking exercise, they will unwittingly dismiss ideas, not connect one event to the…

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College essay writing often requires an (re)education in the art of Autobiographical writing

Every year, I remediate high school seniors’ and transfer applicants’ writing process. After elementary school, few teachers explicitly teach the writing process. Instead, teachers assign scripted “Essays”, hemming students into following a rubric (or risk a lower grade), based on a narrow prompt, replete with requirements of specific numbers of quotes or citations, and strict word limits.  Students make few…

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Completing Online College Applications Can Be More Complicated Than Expected

Self-reporting classes and grades on a digitalized college application may seem straightforward, yet the first challenge is families take a crash course in edu-speak.  Block schedules, quarters, semesters, trimesters, one grade, two grades, three grades per class require precise manipulation of the standardized digital format so students accurately report their academic history. However, the actual form where students self-report their…

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Colleges Are Still Accepting Applications for Fall 2022

“Never say never” is as true in college admissions as anywhere else. Despite popular belief, many college admissions officers are still seeking students for Fall 2022 enrollment. So, for recent Class of 2022 high school grads as well as transfer students, still seeking a college for Fall 2022, here’s the most updated list of “College Openings”.  Every year, incoming and…

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calvin.hobbes

Do You

The title should be the guiding principle of every college applicant. The college admissions process is inherently student-centric, driven by the student’s quest to identify the one institution of higher education where each person discovers more about their unique aptitude.  Yet, today, students and parents perceive the admissions process as college-centric, forced to contort into The Ideal Applicant to even…

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Essential Advice for High School Juniors & their Families: Applying to College—Phase 2

The following is the second installment of our blog series for high school juniors turned rising high school seniors in preparing for the college application process. During Spring of a high school junior year, families are conscientiously selecting colleges for application to reduce the risk of educational malinvestment. To guide the selection process, students should embark on a thorough self-reflection,…

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Quote: Ferris Bueller

Choosing a Career is Just That, A Choice

In response to Art’s recent post, To Choose or Have Others Choose for You, a Reed College student who’s finishing her first year, shared the following in a recent text conversation. Since many other students are likely in a similar predicament, I’m passing her message forward:  I’m so glad other students have the opportunity to read this article. I definitely…

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Satisfaction

As the legendary Mick Jagger belted, “I ain’t got no…sa-tis-fac-tion.”  Mick’s words of wisdom can apply to many high school seniors and their families as the college decision making season descends.   Robert Barkley via Rick Clark, seasoned Director of Admissions at Georgia Tech, is confronting the possibility for dissatisfaction regarding outcomes in the expectation laden college admissions process.  For many…

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Emotions + Expectations + Misguided Direction (can) = Malinvestment in College

Spring of senior year is a critical time in the college admissions process, in some sense, more pivotal than the application period, for a strategic blunder can be costly: misallocating 17 years of preparation for higher education, malinvestment of tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and economic malaise that could last a lifetime.  Seniors and their families are selecting—carefully…

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