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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A meditating frog

Living With Roommates

Many first year college students are sharing a room with another person for the first time, as well as deliberately establishing their own living space. While intellectually, many understand that they’ll need to find common ground with their new roommates, many are underprepared for the work of negotiating ground rules.  One, now second year college student, Colin, who chose to…

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Stop Guessing About Test Optional Admissions

With continued, widespread test optional admissions policies, where students are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their college applications, inevitably, students, under the misconception that an acceptance letter is THE objective of college admissions, worry about unwittingly harming their admissions evaluation by either adding or excluding test scores from their application.  With test-optional admissions, students…

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JorenWater.CMC2018

Mr. Kipling’s Advice for College Applicants

Prior to the senior year of high school or transfer admissions, students simply matriculate in a pack, taking the same classes, striving for the same grades, clustering in similar out-of-school enrichment activities. Yet, at the moment of applying to college, students need to make their own decision—relate the process, to what Mr. Kipling shares the benefits, yet complexity of walking…

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College Selection: Making College Admissions a Game, a Common Mistake

Selection is defined as “serious attention and vigilant consideration”. Therefore the effective selection of colleges is essential to reduce risks of mis-allocating $150,000 to $200,000. Yet, parents and teens compromise their ability to reason, as they’re often also attempting to counter emotion and expectation, with misconceptions when seeking value in college, only adding complexity to selecting colleges.   Families often mis-perceive…

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A meditating frog

Why Advice for Parents of Kindergarteners Also Helps Parents of New College Students

Parents of college students experience the bittersweet rewards of a job well-done, their “babies” are capable of caring for themselves, but doing so without seemingly “needing” a parent. So, a Kindergarten’s teacher’s advice can be helpful:  ….they [one’s kid] will probably have a hard time separating from you. It’s normal, and it may last a few days, but it gets…

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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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Describing Extracurricular Activities In Digital College Applications Can Be An Exercise in Frustration

Students commit hours of their lives, year after year, in organized activities afterschool and on the weekends. (Their parents, as chauffeurs/Uber drivers, coaches, snack providers, co-chairs of every fundraiser, etc, equally spend years of their lives as their kids’ support team.)  Thus, at the moment of capitalizing on their efforts, as part of the online college application activities & awards…

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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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