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What College Applicants Aren't Learning in High School

Will a core curriculum be the solution?

Hey Nina,

I just want to double check, I have until 11:59 pm tomorrow to submit my [name of college] application correct?

Yes, they have until 11:59 tonight. In this month of falling back and giving thanks, seniors face the first test in their application cycle: getting everything right in their apps and submitting those apps to designated colleges on time. The process, with its thinking critically, communicating and following directions, is a great exercise in life skills.

Identity Crisis

It's back to USC - and we don't mean that university in SoCal. Last week, the University of South Carolina affirmed its identity, stating that going forward it again wants to be known as USC and not UofSC. In an announcement, university president Michael Amiridis stated, “In my short time back at the university, alumni and other stakeholders have told me how important it is to return the USC name back to the institution.”

A new look for the original USC.

New logos aside, Southern colleges are basking in popularity. Recently, Town & Country asked, "Why are More and More Northern Kids Heading South for College?" We know why, of course: a warm climate, tons of fun and more favorable rates of admission compared with colleges up North. But the higher the volume, the lower the admit rate. According to the article, "The result is that schools like SMU, which accepts approximately half of its applicants, are no longer considered safety schools for competitive students but have become 'possible' and even 'reach' choices.”

U Michigan: Wolverine-Size Support for Enterpreneurs I always appreciate new college programs for budding entrepreneurs, especially those that add a twist to a traditional liberal arts curriculum. As discussed in a Forbes article, student favorite University of Michigan "has been formally educating students on entrepreneurship for decades," tapping into its extensive and loyal network of alumni. We would expect dedication to entrepreneurship from U-M's Ross School of Business; however, Michigan's College of Engineering and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts also offer programs. Budding entrepreneurs find the Ann Arbor business community a warm testing ground. There's even a Wolverine Venture Fund run by students! Recently, Michigan hosted its first-ever Michigan Tech Week, a "campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where student teams have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling over $100,000, gain feedback from leaders in the business community, and expand their business network.”

"Ann Arbor has a storied and growing entrepreneurship ecosystem that shows no signs of slowing down.” -Forbes

Too Much Ado About Nothing . . .

Recently, CNBC featured Doing Nothing, an actual course at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and I wondered whether parents were actually paying tuition so that their students could reap the benefits. Fortunately, I got some answers in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The course is only 1.0 credit; no letter grade is awarded. The professor, who specializes in Buddhist Studies, tells the Chronicle that the meditation done in class is "the only quiet time that they get in their entire day.”

. . . Or Too Much Required?

Still, I was more taken aback while reading "What Do Colleges Expect Students To Learn? New Study Provides A Revealing Look," appearing in Forbes. Author Frederick Hess presents a recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni that assigns A and F to colleges based on how many of seven liberal-arts disciplines they require undergraduates to study. After explaining that "only a handful of institutions require students to take courses in all seven subjects and, interestingly, most of them exhibit a faith-based or classical bent," Hess tells readers, "It’s an odd statement but, amidst today’s higher education landscape, those seeking colleges that take liberal education seriously may be well-advised to seek more 'conservative' institutions."

Parents: What do you think? Isn't the whole idea of college to explore and be free of burdensome requirements? Does a college requiring seven of these categories serve its students better than another that does not? Here's another important point that Hess doesn't address: When selecting a college, students need to understand what type of core is required. Columbia, for example, is known for its rigid Core Curriculum, while Brown encourages exploration throughout the college experience. (By the way, we did have required courses across disciplines within our majors!)

College Bowl: Lions Roar No More

Somehow, a trio equipped with knowledge from the Columbia Core didn't successfully defend their institution's College Bowl title. Instead, the Lions fell to the Georgia Dawgs, bringing competitors to tears after the exciting final round of play. Georgia, another Southern public research university that is increasingly popular with students from up North, featured the winners once the segment aired. Each student on the winning team received a total of $125,000 in scholarships.

The Dawgs have their day. (Photo: Steve Swisher, NBC)

Everyday, students mess up highschool?

Over the past several days, I've spend way too much time looking through students' essays, only to constantly flag the worst error of 2022: highschool. That's right: highschool (one word), not high school (two words)! Now I'm used to spotting and changing, where appropriate, everyday (one word) to every day (two words), figuring that the software students rely on just may not catch that mistake. But highschool? Seriously?

With most Early deadlines behind them - at least by midnight tonight - applicants can get back to the business of school for a while. But if you're the parent of an underclassman, this is a great time to set up a meeting! And in the month during which we show our gratitude, I am thankful for the parents and students who make this business so very rewarding.


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