Friday, May 13, 2011

College Seminar Cycle #4: College Application Hooks and Hotspots Part 2

Page #2: Family

On this page the hot spot involves information regarding the college or lack of a college a student's family has attended. If a student applies to a college where a parent or sibling has graduated from or is attending, then you become a legacy student, a legitimate hook.
In a recent interview, Maria Laskaris, Dean of Admission at Dartmouth College, was asked about legacy applicants. Here is her response:

We give all legacy applicants at least one additional review in this process. The dramatic increase in selectivity that we’ve experienced makes the admissions process more competitive for everyone, but our legacy applicants are admitted at a rate that’s roughly two-and-a-half times greater than the overall rate of admission. It’s never easy to turn away the children of Dartmouth alumni.

(To read the entire interview with Dean Laskaris click here).

In addition, if you are a 1st generation college student, this too can become a hook. Programs like Questbridge, for example, are actively seeking talented, low income, 1st generation students, who they can link to many highly selective schools.

Page #3: Education/Academics

The first arrows above are for information regarding Casady School. Make sure you know what type of school you come from and get the basic information about the college counseling office from your counselor (Casady is an independent school, by the way).

Now on to other hot spots and hooks.

Grades and test scores. We encourage our students not to record their GPA or test scores. We send official transcripts and students must submit official test scores (via ACT or College Board). If, however, the student's test score is big, then it is worth including, because a big test score (i.e. 34 ACT or 1540 SAT) is a possible hook. Colleges like big numbers. It ultimately helps their US News and World Report rankings.

Current Courses. A multiple choice question.

Among the following, the biggest reason that capable students might not get into selective schools is:

A. They don't have the right contacts.
B. The admission committee failed to recognize the strength of their credentials.
C. They made unwise choices regarding classroom performance.
D. Their scores were too low.

If you picked D, you are correct.

What a senior decides to take their senior year does in fact count. It's a myth to believe that a senior can "coast" or let up. Selective colleges want to see that seniors challenges themselves appropriately.

Rule of thumb: Seek to take the next level of rigor in each core academic subject.
(English 3 to English 4, AP US History to AP Government/AP European History, Chemistry to Physics, Spanish III to Spanish 4, etc.)

One caveat: If you apply Early Action or Early Decision, the chances are that the school you apply to will not see your first trimester (or semester) grades, but they will see the courses you took in the first trimester. Now if your application gets deferred, then these schools will see two trimesters of grades. Often the reason that a student gets deferred is because these colleges want to see more grades.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

College Seminar Cycle #4: College Application Hooks and Hot Spots, Part 1

Let's say that a college admission officer at a selective school gives your application 20 minutes.

Obviously there is not enough time to internalize every piece of information.

Reading then is not in the cards for the admission officer.

Scanning however is.

Specifically a college admission officer is taught to scan for what former dean Peter Van Buskirk calls "hooks and hotspots".

What is a hook?

Something that elevates the applicant out of the pack.

What is a hot spot?

The physical space on the application where information regarding a hook can be located.

In our last college seminar I took the juniors through the Common Application.

Page by page.

Section by section.

Hook by hook.

Hot spot by hot spot.

My hope was that my students would actively highlight, circle, draw arrows to, green flag, red flag, and jot marginal notes like an admission officer.

To know then what admission officers are looking for is to help our students know what information they need to provide on the application.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Or something like that.

Here is a quick page-by-page summary of our seminar's content.

I've broken it up into four blog posts.

Page #1: Applicant. Future Plans. Demographics.

First arrow: make sure if you provide the college your cell # to have an appropriate cell message. Your favorite lines from Hangover 2 is probably not a good idea.

Second arrow : make sure your email address is 1) the email address you check most frequently, and 2) appropriate (sexual innuendo email addresses are not advised).

Third arrow: your social security # is "optional". However, if you plan to apply for need-based aid through the FAFSA, then you will be required to provide the college your SS information.

Fourth arrow: Hook #1: Sometimes an applicant from Oklahoma can be a hook, especially if you are applying to a school a long ways away from Oklahoma.

Rule of thumb: Colleges close to the Red Dirt state = unhooked. Schools further away from Oklahoma = possible hook.

Fifth & Sixth arrows: Hook #2/#3: What you plan to study in school could be a hook. Colleges are looking for "underrepresented" academic fields. A female applying to an engineering program, for example, is a shimmering hook. A female applying to a liberal arts program is NOT. In addition, if you circle in the bubble that you "do not need need-based aid" that is a possible hook. To circle that bubble in won't necessarily hurt you in the process, but it won't necessarily help you either. To colleges, if you leave that bubble blank, you suddenly become a FREE STUDENT.

Seventh arrow: Hook #4: If you come from a racially/ethically underrepresented demographic, this could work in your favor as a hook. Remember: a college wants to look like an international airport with lots and lots of diversity.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Class of 2011 College Choices

Below is our new "College Bound Cyclone" US Map.

You can find it hanging between my office and Coach Warden's office.

You'll notice tiny strips of paper on the map.

These paper strips indicate where each student is matriculating to in the fall.

Our hope is to replace these strips of paper with stickers that have each college logo on them.

In the meantime, the paper strips will do.

Roughly 60% of our seniors will matriculate out-of-state.

40% will remain in-state.

Congrats to our seniors and the college adventure ahead of them at the following colleges and universities:

Auburn University
Belmont University
Boston University
Centre College
DePauw University
Denison University
Duke University
Georgetown University
Hendrix College
Louisiana State University
Northeastern University
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma State University
Parsons New School of Design
Point Loma Nazarene University
Pomona College
Philander Smith College
Rhodes College
Rollins College
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Sewanee: The University of the South
Southern Methodist University
St. Olaf College
Texas Christian University
Trinity University
University of Arkansas
University of California at Berkeley
University of Indiana
University of Liverpool
United States Military Academy (West Point)
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri at Columbia
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
University of Oklahoma
University of Texas - Austin
Vanderbilt University
Virginia Tech University
Washington University in St. Louis
William Jewell College
Wittenberg University

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

College Decal Stickers and the End of a Journey

These days I love walking around the senior parking lot with my iPhone in hand.

Ready to take pics of college decal stickers.

It's my way, I guess, of celebrating the end of a journey with my students.

A journey that involves a process of exploring, discovering, narrowing, selecting, applying, waiting, receiving, and deciding on the best college fit for them.

College decals have become a symbol of that shared experience.

That epic adventure.

And taking these pictures always seems to energize me for the journey ahead.

With a new set of juniors.

And working with them closely to find that excellent college fit.

(Excuse the unprofessional quality of my pics. I should have thought about shooting the pics at an angle to avoid my reflection.)