Today, we welcome August, signaling another month or so of summer. But for college applicants - and their counselors - August 1st is also Common App Day, with its dashboard to manage and supplements to complete. It's going to be a scorcher! Here's how to prevent getting burned . . .
Go Holistic; Supplement the College Supplement
About a week ago, I made my annual stop at Dartmouth, which always includes a stop at Lou's for a shake and sandwich. The campus was just glowing, with many alums attending an event with their families. Maybe some of those students are rising seniors, ready to get their Common App in gear, including the Dartmouth supplement. (See below.) It's time to show Dartmouth - or any other college they prefer - how much they know and love about their target community.
"Dartmouth celebrates the ways in which its profound sense of place informs its profound sense of purpose. As you seek admission to Dartmouth's Class of 2027, what aspects of the College's academic program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? In short, Why Dartmouth? Please respond in 100 words or fewer."
As many of you know, I am a huge fan of supplemental essays, a key way for students to differentiate their candidacies. Your student will find that the theme and length of supplemental essays will vary by college. Importantly, there are still other ways students can show their wares through highly customized supplements. Read more - or tell you student's friends to read more - in my ebook, updated for 2022-23 and available on Apple Books.
APt to Confuse You?
What's the deal with AP scores? The jury is definitely out, resulting in regular discussions about which to take, how many to take and how much credit they might earn in college. Every July, the College Board tweets away, posting charts and comments on students' performance on each exam, and this year was no exception. Just like score reporting, the trends are APt to confuse you. Some of arguably the hardest AP courses (e.g., BC Calc) have the highest concentration of students with 5s! Then there's AP Environmental Science, with only two percent nailing the 5. But that's a function of who takes those tough courses to begin with.
When students apply, it's unlikely that they need to order official score reports from College Board, saving their parents money. Moreover, they can opt to not report their scores at all on the Common App. Also, APs might get your student some placement credit, but that's about it. Elite colleges will likely insist that their experience is much more valuable.
Angling for a Scholarship?
Go fish! It might just pay off. Not into the sport myself, I had no idea until recently that fishing was not only a college sport but also a source of scholarships. Looking at the National Scouting Report, you can see that high schoolers in Alabama and Florida are among the top candidates for a college fishing future. According to Karl's Fishing & Outdoors, some of the best colleges for fishing are also those that are popular with my students, including U Miami and CU Boulder, where "students can head onto the Boulder Creek nature trail to catch some tight lines between classes."
Business is Booming!
Are you thinking that Silicon Valley is still the hotbed of creative thought in Northern CA? Recently, UC Berkeley announced a whopping grant to its Haas School of Business, allowing Cal to expand a two-year curriculum to four years and create some future-focused majors. These include a program awarding undergrads with two bachelor's degrees: business administration and molecular and cell biology; an international choice that includes study abroad, language and courses in global business; and another that brings together sustainable business and policy.
Northeastern: Beyond Beantown Northeastern or bust? We saw it with the Class of 2026, when Northeastern admitted just 7 percent of its applicant pool. This mega-marketer has been basking in popularity. As explained in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. colleges are separating Into winners and losers. Northeastern has opened campuses in San Jose, Charlotte, Portland, Maine, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver - and soon in Miami, home of crypto.
According to Inside Higher Ed, Northeastern is now been recognized as "the first U.S.-based institution of higher learning to be granted 'university title' by England’s higher education regulator, the Office for Students," so its NCH at Northeastern will now be known as Northeastern University-London. Cheerio!
Selecting a Major? Try a Critical Skill Check-In
Do colleges prefer students from undergrad business programs over those with a solid liberal arts background? Thanks to an article by Tara Rose and Terri Flateby, we once again have support for which skills college students will need in the workplace. These two researchers interviewed scores of employers of recent graduates as part of a study of essential learning outcomes (ELOs). The "most valued but weakest of these top skills [are] critical thinking, interrelated problem solving and written communication . . .many new graduates typically communicate as though they are texting, with little awareness of context and audience."
The reported information is completely consistent with what I tell families and students as they navigate college majors and consider the purpose of college. These skills can be delivered in many ways across different college curricula.
Happy Common App to all my wonderful families students! Get in touch to set up your meetings. And don't forget the importance of supplementing the college supplement!