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Your College Applicant Needs to Enjoy the Summer . . . and Nail that Personal Essay!

Happy Fourth! During this month of independence, I tell students to enjoy their jobs and pursue what they genuinely love to do. That sense of comfort with their favorite activities spills over into essay drafts as well, building the case for authenticity. Other than fireworks, what else is in the air this summer? Let's take a look, unCommon style. 



The Cost-Benefit Analysis Continues . . .

Did you know that there are 813 billionaires in the United States? In an report, we learn that some 20 percent of them attended just five colleges! Penn, which has 36 billionaires having a total net worth of $367 billion, topped the list, followed by Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Cornell. According to CNBC, Penn grads also led the (Ivy) league in salaries 10 years after graduation, at nearly $113,000.

Of that group, only Cornell and Yale were included on the College Investor's 30 Most Expensive Colleges in 2024. The leader: liberal arts gem Kenyon College, with annual tuition (i.e., not including housing and expenses) of $71,000. 

That's more than a penny earned!

. . . While Testing Mandates Spill Over to Next Year

Even though policy changes for 2024-25 have been announced, conversations about standardized testing continue to dominate college forums and articles. While still test-optional for the coming cycle, Stanford will return to testing for 2025-26. In an announcement, the university stated, "The renewed testing requirement will allow Stanford to consider the fullest array of information in support of each student’s application."Meanwhile, Rice University joined the test-recommended group, noting that "we have long held that testing – SAT, ACT and APs – provide meaningful insights into how students will perform in a Rice undergraduate curriculum." 

Rice added an ED II for 2024-25.

And just when College Board was basking in the newfound popularity of its digital, adaptive test, look who's poached their top executive: none other than FAFSA, which messed up in a big way in 2023-24. As reported in Inside Higher Ed, CB president Jeremy Singer will take a leave to ensure the roll-out of the new, better FASFA. 


What's in a Name? Hidden Scholarships!

With the skyrocketing cost of higher education, students can use all the scholarship assistance they can get. Who would've thought that some colleges have funds set aside for individuals just because of their last name? Recently, the Wall Street Journal told us that scholarship funds await those with the last names of Gatlin (NC State), Dudley (Harvard), Scarpinato (Texas A&M) or Leavenworth (Yale, Hamilton), among others. You can't make this up! 


Look: Hoos Bound for Paris!

This year's Olympic squad features the highest volume ever from UVA women's swimming. The roster includes sisters Alex and Gretchen Walsh along with Emma Weber, all current students, along with alums Kate Douglass and Paige Madden. Moreover, the women's Olympic coach is their own coach, Todd DeSorbo, who has led UVA to four straight national titles. Mais oui!

Jefferson also enjoyed Paris.


Like Fireworks, AI is Exploding. So What's a College to Do?Earlier this year, you read how Penn is implementing a B.S.E. in AI program for its engineers. So it was interesting to find out more about how a liberal arts college with no engineering school is tackling AI. Recently, Inside Higher Ed profiled Barnard College's "pyramid approach to AI literacy." Barnard is looking at four levels of AI education: Understand AI; Use & Apply AI; Analyze & Evaluate AI; Create AI. The college is focusing on the first two through workshops for both faculty and students, then will move on to the last two, as a director at Barnard states, "being creative on how to use it in liberal arts institutions.” We'll continue to keep you posted on the very different approaches of other institutions as they come to grips with how AI will shape their students, curricula and institutions.


Student Journalism: A Launch Point?

While many of us somehow haven't made it into the Group of 813, we still appreciate the value of our extracurricular experiences. This college counselor and friends will always treasure their journalistic activities, which enhanced our ability to ask the right questions, recap events and present stories in a way that readers can grasp. The Pendulum at Elon and the Indiana Student Daily at IU recently won the Society of Professional Journalists' awards for a small and large university, respectively. as announced by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Communication skills rule! 


Enjoy these long summer days and this holiday week. If you or your student have questions about the college process, be sure to reach out before August and the launch of the Common App and supplements. 


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