Guest Post by Carrie Greene
Founder and CEO of CarrieThru
Students, especially ambitious one, are lousy at taking care of themselves.
- They routinely spend long hours studying or committed to extra-curricular activities.
- Ambitious students often beat themselves up for not doing enough or not doing it well enough.
- They feel guilty spending time relaxing when there’s so much work to do.
- They spend their day worrying about what they missed or what they “should have” done.
The problem is that when you don’t take care of yourself you can't take care of the things you have to do.
Let me be very clear here. I’m not saying that you don’t have to work and work hard to reach the ambitious goals you have set for yourself. What I am saying is that when you take care of yourself, your body and brain will work better, and you’ll enjoy what you’re doing.
Here are a few strategies for you to try. You may just find that by nurturing yourself, your energy and ability to do more and do better will grow in return.
1.Schedule mini vacations. Take a random day off once or twice a month. Give yourself permission to walk away from your work. Do something you haven’t done in a while that you’ve been meaning or wanting to do. Ride a bike. Go for a walk in a park. Sit on the beach for a day. Wander through a new store in town. Read a book simply for pleasure. Go to a movie or try a new restaurant. The options are endless.
2.Spend time with friends. There are lots of types of friends. What I’m talking about here are the friends that nurture you, not those that you really “should” get together with but those whom you “want” to get together with.
3.Nourish your body. Get enough sleep, eat foods that nourish you and get exercise. The better you take care of your engine the better it will work. Enough said.
4.Take a one-hour break every day. Step away from your work physically and stop thinking about it. Take the time to laugh with someone or cry if you need to. Make yourself a nice lunch, or go for a walk with a friend. Leave work behind.
And most important…
5.Give yourself permission to play. Playtime is creative time. When you let yourself play and don’t worry about perfectionism the fun will come back. You will find yourself excited and motivated to do the work you want to do.
Carrie Greene is a speaker, author, business coach and mother of three. She is a business strategist and productivity expert for entrepreneurs.
The better you take care of yourself the better you'll be able to reach your goals.
For free resources and to learn more please visit www.CarrieThru.com
by Carol Barash, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO of Story To College
What do Napster, HuffPo and Facebook have to do with higher ed? Technology is radically transforming what we learn and how we learn. What happened to publishing, music and friendship is also happening in education. Technology is changing our fundamental assumptions both the content and structure of higher education. And, as was reported this week in the New York Times, not all universities will survive the tectonic shifts unleashed by digital learning.
How do parents and students assess college choices in the midst of all this change? How can you ensure that the places you are applying--and especially the one to which you commit four or more years of your life and more than a little hard-earned cash--will teach for what matters 10 or 20 or 100 years from now?
1. Pick a college with a sound balance sheet: This statistic gets batted around a lot in education circles: in the next 25 years one third of US colleges (roughly 1,300) will potentially have to close their doors because they do not have sound finances. You are on the soundest footing for the long run if you pick a college that has a strong endowment and sustainable business model and is “best in class” at a few areas of specialization, rather than trying to do everything (which is oh so 20th century).
2. Think of college as part of your portfolio, not the whole solution: College--even the best college--is not a panacea to work or life success. The sooner you begin exploring work options and building skills for workplace success, the more likely you are to be in the position to land great jobs when they become available. That’s why at Story To College we use the college admissions process as an opportunity to teach fundamental storytelling and written communication skills that are essential not only for college admissions essays but also for college and career success.
3. Look for three fundamental parts of college learning: A college education that sets you up for life success includes a balance of three types of learning: skills + experience for the workplace, subject matter expertise in an area of expanding knowledge (take a look at High Noon, for a list of 20 global challenges you need to learn about), and community. Ask yourself about every college you research or visit: How does this community prepare me to thrive in a diverse, globally connected workplace? Is this community built on past or future assumptions?
4. Technology is not optional: You are always connected and you may take technology completely for granted, but many universities still do not. Ask them what is their technology plan? How do they plan to incorporate best in breed digital learning--such as 2U’s semester online--into your overall learning options? Do they teach in a way that is preparing you for a globally connected workplace? Are they combining the best of high tech as well as high touch?
5. Who else is in their network? Look at the leaders and they are building strategic alliances to expand students’ learning opportunities, their own and students’ global reach. EdX--an online learning platform powered by Harvard, MIT and Stanford--is the most obvious example of leading universities collaborating and sharing resources. You will get the best sense of what a university offers you short and long term by paying attention to the strategic alliances they are building to nurture your college--and lifetime--learning opportunities.
Brand names do not guarantee an education that will prepare you to lead in the 21st century. Make sure you look past the slick brochures and delve deeply into each college’s fundamental assumptions and preparations for the future.
Carol Barash, PhD founded Story To College in 2010 and has taught over 6000 students from around the world how to write powerful and authentic college application essays using the Moments Method™. Her book, Write Out Loud: 12 Tools to Tell Your Story and Get into a Great College is available for preorder on Amazon, and you can get started on stress-free essays now with the Story To College online application essay course.
By Carol Barash, PhD
Founder and CEO, Story To College
Yesterday my daughter left her dissertation notebook at the museum where she’s studying in Italy. She called in tears. “If I don’t find them, I’m f***ed,” she repeated. “Just breathe. They are there. Stay positive,” I pleaded, louder and louder, checking my iPhone for the first plane from JFK to Rome. When the archives opened this morning her notebook was exactly where she had left it, and she was fine!
I was reminded of moments in the college admissions process when one of my kids was completely flustered by the sheer magnitude of the moment—for them it was huge and insurmountable.
Resist the temptation to take over when college admissions require your child to learn new skills, and use discussions of college admissions—and especially the essays, which are the most stressful part of the process for most families—to help your child take charge. When you find yourself with a moment of trust and opportunity, here are three ways you can support your child’s best college admission (and life) outcomes. You can remember them as the Three P’s: Planning, Process and Play:
Planning: One of the big lessons learned from college admissions is how to organize and execute a multi-faceted, long-term. Many students wait until the last minute and then rush their essays, the most important part of the application after grades and standardized tests. Great application essays take time, but not all of that time is spent writing. Instead of organizing everything for them, ask questions that help your child figure out their own management style. Do they prefer a big wall calendar or an iPhone app? Folders for each college or for each essay? Spring of junior year is a great time to start backburner essay work by writing 500 words each day in a journal. If you need a hook, tell them that Yale students who write daily win more writing contests than students who don’t. They can write about anything; just do it every day.
Process: Help your child focus less on outcomes and more on the college admission process. They can learn about themselves by exploring their interests, their skills, the things they know, and the things they want to learn and do in college. When you visit a college, their first question may be “do I want to go here?” If you ask questions that open up discussion, you will lessen the tension and help them learn about themselves: “What did you notice?” “What would you like to know more about?” “What attributes of this college are important to you?” After each visit they should write down some notes about each school—very specific details and dialogue—that can be their 500 words of writing for that day and later their “Why I Want to Attend This College” supplement essay.
Play: This is the most important thing: don’t let yourself get sucked into your child’s moody broody senior year. Do whatever it takes to keep home a light and happy place—which doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong, even seriously wrong; it just means you have a “yes we can” attitude even when everyone else is freaking out in all directions. If you bring that sense of play to the scariest parts of the college process—including the essays—you give your child a chance to have fun and explore what they want to do in college, and who they want to be in their adult life. Essays written with a sense of confident and playful self-knowledge will be sure to connect with admissions officers at the other end of the college admissions process.
Carol founded Story To College in 2010 and has taught over 6000 students from around the world how to write powerful and authentic college application essays using the Moments Method™. Her book, Write Out Loud: 12 Tools to Tell Your Story and Get into a Great College is available for preorder on Amazon, and you can get started on stress-free essays now with the Story To College online application essay course.
Tina, a first generation American and first generation college applicant, emailed us a few questions about how financial aid works. Carol thought that these answers could benefit a lot of juniors (especially considering the problem of undermatching), so we're posting Tina's questions with Carol's answers for all of our readers to use as a resource.
Question: Is it true that the lower your family's income is, the more colleges will offer for financial aid? Can some colleges even offer as much as a free ride, after putting all aspects into consideration (including the fact that I'm a first-generation student)?
Answer: There are 2 types of financial aid: need-based and merit-based. The lower your family's income, the more need-based aid you will qualify for. There are a number of federal and state programs to support low-income students with the costs of attending college. "Merit" aid is based on other factors--grades, test scores, other programs the college want to fill--and you may qualify for merit aid as well. Every college is different, but yes many do offer a "full ride" (or very close) to students who are academically qualified and who have demonstrated economic need.
Question: Does a "full ride" only cover tuition, or is housing, books, food, and travel all covered as well?
Answer: Each college is different. Some colleges do include housing, books, food and travel costs into your overall financial aid package.
Question: Is it true that private colleges, especially Ivy Leagues, offer the most financial-aid packages due to the fact that they are private? This is something I've assumed, which would make sense that being accepted into privates is more significant and special, and even harder.
Answer: The bigger the college's endowment (in general) the more money they have available for financial aid.
Question: By attending a college/university out of state or even out of country, how does your citizenship work out? Are you labeled as just a student studying in the non-native state/country?
Answer: State universities often have different tuition rates for in-state residents and out-of-state residents. The same is true for some colleges outside the US. If you are not a US citizen, at some colleges you will not qualify for financial aid. You should check each college's web site and also this government site for more details: http://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/non-us-citizens
If you have any questions about the college process, let us know by emailing us at email@example.com!
by Amanda D'Annucci, Director of Sales, Story To College
While reading this Sunday's NY Times article, "Nine High Schools, One Roof," I was reminded of my first day of 7th grade. As I closed the door to my mom's 1992 white station wagon, my heart pounded, my hands tingled, and my pupils widened. In my direct path was a schoolyard filled with hundreds of students, broken concrete, and only two adults manning the door. The shorter of the adults was holding a bullhorn to his mouth while screaming, "GET IN LINE. GET IN LINE. GET IN LINE." I scurried past the students and the screaming adults, and I went up the stairs to my favorite teacher, Ms. Calico.
When I arrived at her room, my science teacher was setting up his desk. I asked, "Where's Ms. Calico? Did she move rooms?" He chuckled and said, "Oh Ms. Calico left, Amanda." I replied, "Why? I really wanted to see her." He said, "She couldn't handle this type of school." I said, "What does that mean?" He looked down, and proceeded to tell me to get to my 7th grade English class.
I spent the rest of my day wondering what type of school I attended. Only years later did I learn what my science teacher meant. I had never thought about my school that way before. As far as I knew, I was a middle school student attending I.S. 192 in the Bronx. As far as the public knew, I was an inner-city, at-risk, underprivileged kid whose teacher quit because the classroom was pure chaos. I had six different Spanish teachers that year. Students were arrested within school walls. Fights were a daily occurrence. Instead of asking why does this happen, I want to pose the question: how do we fix this?
Like myself, these kids are not "the same challenged kids from the Bronx," as Robbins and Myers wrote. We are students. We are students with untapped potential that needs fostering. We are individual students who attend schools with unique communities. We are students who have had so many rich life experiences at such a young age. How do we channel these experiences, these stories into positive outcomes? Let's use these life moments to catapult students into a more cohesive and less chaotic future. Both listening to and telling stories ignite parts of one's brain that respond when actually in the moment. Storytelling not only creates bonds, but it builds confidence in one's community. When the narrative of a community becomes disparate, conflict occurs. When students and teachers are given the chance to tell their story and create common narratives, community will naturally build.
Story To College uses storytelling as a vehicle that both empowers students to take control of their college application essays and provides teachers with the tools to guide their students through the application process. Collaborating with schools Story to College helps teachers create a safe space for students to share their experience and build confidence in their own abilities. Instead of perpetuating the sitigma of generic innter city students, their essays show their unique individual personality and purpose.
Each school, each administrator, each teacher, and each student is unique. Each school community is different so to lump them all into a "challenged" group is truly unfair. Story To College works to build out the individuality of a school community while preparing students for the college admission process. Let's work together to give each student a distinct voice and a story that distinguishes them from the crowd.
by Carol Barash, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO of Story To College
The top schools in the country assert that they are actively recruiting low-income students, but a recent article from the NYTimes suggests that the effort is failing and low-income students are not applying to top colleges and universities. The story, "Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor,” holds the institutions responsible for lackluster recruiting efforts. But undermatching is a symptom of a much larger problem, and one that colleges alone cannot solve: low-income students just don't have the information and resources they need to fully grasp the opportunities available to them. Students often don't realize that high power schools have need-blind admissions policies and offer loan-free financial aid packages.
The NY Times article uses the example of Bowdoin College: how many low-income students in Bridgeport, CT know about Bowdoin in Maine? According to the US News report, Bowdoin is ranked sixth on the list of National Liberal Arts colleges, but Bowdoin is hardly a household name and its $45,000 a year price tag will discourage most low-income families. But many students don't realize that selective schools like Bowdoin promise to meet all demonstrated need, meaning that the school will use your FAFSA to determine how much you can pay and offer the difference as a financial aid package. Bowdoin is also one of about thirty selective colleges that do not include loans in financial aid. Instead of Federal student loans, these schools (which also include Ivies like Yale, Princeton, and Harvard) will give students a package that includes scholarships, grants, and work-study. This is aid that students do not need to pay back.
But what use is this money to students who don't know about it? Certainly colleges and universities can do a better job of informing students of their policies, but the students need the resources to meet the schools half way. Guidance counselors, particularly those in rural areas that won't receive aggressive recruiting from colleges, should make sure their low-income students know about the aid that's available. And they should be encouraging talented students to apply to schools that will meet their demonstrated need.
The reality, however, is that students can't rely on their guidance counselor to give them all this information and can't wait around for colleges to recruit them. They need the skills and the resources to advocate for themselves in the admissions process. There needs to be a group of educators and experts who are willing to step up and give these students the navigational tools they need for the college admissions process. If the community of educational companies and non-profits committed to educational access pool our resources, imagine what we can construct to bridge the gap between high-powered schools and low-income students. A few non-profits, including The Opportunity Network and I'm First, are doing great work already, but the task is gargantuan and requires a coordinated team effort. To connect and expand this effort--which is vital to our nation’s economic interests--Story To College is putting together an initiative that will bring together thought leaders in higher education to discuss the problem of undermatching and brainstorm possible solutions. Keep an eye on our website for more details!
*For more information on which schools have excluded loans from their financial aid packages, check out http://www.projectonstudentdebt.org/
Carol Barash, PhD, is the Founder and CEO of Story To College (www.storytocollege.com), a company that teaches high school and college students tools to advocate for themselves in college admissions, job interviews, and life in the twenty-first century. She is a graduate of Yale and Princeton and an award-winning professor and admissions reader at Rutgers University. She advises students, parents and schools on how to expand educational access and college writing readiness.
Story to College welcomes a guest post from Yue Ren, a freshman at Harvard College. Yue currently works at Argopoint LLC, a Boston-based management consulting firm.
Photo credit: Getty Images/George Doyle
I have found Carol’s work on Story to College to be amazing in helping prospective college students write great essays. Not only have I found her advice integral to writing great college application essays, but also applications for jobs, internships, and more. I would like to provide my thoughts on college essays to highlight the importance of these elements in the real world.
When admission officers flip through your application, they see your transcript, GPA, SAT scores, the quick descriptions of your extracurricular activities, perhaps a few AP scores and even a couple of awards, but all that seems very quantitative. What part of the application defines you? After writing quite literally over a dozen college essays and supplement essays, I have a couple of observations. Although I do not have all the answers, I believe these tips would have been helpful when I was writing my first college essay as well as subsequent essays for jobs:
- Express yourself with a story: In my experience, the best way to communicate an idea is to tell a quick, concise anecdote. Think about all those lessons you have learned in your extracurricular activities or throughout your life. What do these stories tell about your talents, aspirations, or character? I also believe the manner in which you tell a story, including your tone, mood, and attitude, reflects on how you react to certain challenges or successes. This provides just as much information to the reader about your character as the actual story you write. Therefore, word choice in your expression is crucial.
- Be Human: Why is talking to your friend so much more fun than reading an old biography? Construct your stories with feelings and emotions such that the reader can experience the breadth and depth of your happiness, anger, pain, or excitement. If you are ever wondering why your friend refuses to give any hints about his or her essay, it might be because it is personal; it might reflect intense emotions. A journey in a day in the life of you is filled with crescendos and decrescendos that may ultimately shape your outlooks. Do not be afraid to share them with admissions.
- Write Truthfully: Honestly, lying is hard. In all likeliness, the details of a real story derive much more substance to you that you can elaborate on, unlike in a lie. Save yourself the trouble of trying to write about stuff that you have never done, and just pour your heart and mind into those events you have faced. If you did a thousand extracurricular activities in high school, now is a perfect chance to talk about a few of those thousand topics.
- Seek Peer Critique: Although many people choose to not let anyone see their essay, I found that letting your teachers and maybe a close friend see your essay brings new perspective. Going back to word choice: some words simply rub people the wrong way, and it is probably best not to rub admissions the wrong way. You cannot control what your reader thinks or how your reader interprets your essay; you can control how you express your ideas. Therefore, express them wisely and always be conscious of your audience.
Remember that the essay is just one part of your application, but I would recommend treating it as the part of the application that truly identifies you. It is an opportunity, not another barrier keeping you from clicking that submit button.
Carol’s Story to College blog is truly awesome. I would check “How to get started on my college essay”, “7 Things Admission Counselors Are Looking For”, and more for great advice on college essays and applications. I know I found them abundantly helpful when I was writing my essays. Her advice extends beyond just the scope of college essays. I would like to stress that for courses, jobs, or internships, I found these tips equally as applicable and useful as they are for college essays. In fact, when I wrote my cover letter for Argopoint, I specifically used examples of past experiences and extracurricular activities in anecdote form to highlight my skills and abilities. I also sought help from peers who have experience with applying to jobs, and who helped critique my cover letter. Of course being frank and honest is important. Therefore, I found Story to College to be helpful for college essays as well as for applications in your future.
by Elias Strizower, Bronx High School of Science
Have you ever applied to college? If so, you probably found yourself in the same situation that many of us have, whether or not to take standardized admission tests. Sadly, this isn’t actually a question because the answer is handed to you; you must take standardized tests in order to apply to a competitive college. Because of this monopoly, standardized test companies can charge any price they want. Being a senior in high school who is (almost) done with the college application process, I have spent hundreds of dollars on the College Board. I have been the victim on countless occasions of their unfair prices, and have found my bank account suffering as a result. It is completely wrong that students are the victims of this monopoly, and College Board should be stopped.
In the East coast, the main standardized test company is College Board, the creators of the Standardized Admissions Test (SAT). College Board has a complete monopoly over the test taking process, and because of this can charge any price it wants on. The average student takes 2 SAT’s and 2 SAT Subject Tests. The price for this given scores sent to 5 colleges is $146. Given a situation that a student took 3 subject test (one of them being language), registered late, and rushed score reporting, the price is $227; a situation that is quite normal. This is not fair. A student shouldn’t have to pay so much money to take a test, preparing is hard enough. In contrast ACT registration prices are quite similar. The main difference is sending scores is free, and the ACT encompasses many subjects so separate ACT subject tests don’t exist.
College Board also has many other services such as AP tests, and CSS Profile for financial aid. The prices of these services have a large effect because many students take AP tests, and most if not all send CSS Profiles. The current price for AP tests is $87 per test, and the price to send the CSS Profile is an initial $25 and $15 for each additional school. This is extremely ironic and unfair because it shouldn’t cost money to prove that you can’t afford college.
I think that College Board should be forced to lower their prices. College Board has an unfair monopoly given that students don’t actually have a choice whether or not to take the test. For this reason, students are forced to pay the absurd fees. Students should be wondering whether or not they want to take a test, not whether or not they can afford it. College Board shouldn’t be able to profit off of students. Although it costs money to run a business, I don’t believe that their prices are a fair reflection of how much it actually costs to do the job. Sending scores online should be free. It doesn’t cost money to send an email does it?
All in all I don’t believe that the practices at College Board are fair. Students have become victims due to College Board’s monopoly, and are forced to pay ridiculous prices.
Elias Strizower is a senior at Bronx High School of Science.
Guest Post by Hiten Samtani
Past the metal detectors and the group of police officers at the entrance of the W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School in East New York lies a cavernous auditorium. Inside it, 24 students were being taken through an exercise.
“How would you describe yourself? ” asked Alyssa Molina, a 17-year-old with an upturned nose and impressively curly hair.
“Opinionated, passionate, and optimistic,” replied 17-year-old Lizeth Navas, adjusting her purple glasses perched on her nose and grinning to reveal her braces.
“Open minded, to an extent,” Alyssa suggested.
The banter was part of ‘Story to College’ a narrative writing and storytelling workshop, conducted for high school seniors from the Scholars’ Academy, a screened middle and high school in Rockaway Park, Queens that was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The school, which is known for its college readiness program and holistic embrace of technology, remains shuttered. Its high school students and staff have been temporarily relocated to W.H. Maxwell, which was removed from the list of turnaround schools in the spring but continues to see low graduation and attendance rates coupled with the effects of being in a relatively high-crime neighborhood.
Carol Barash, the founder of the workshop, said she feared the storm could jeopardize the college prospects of the students, many of whom are applying to selective schools that require supplemental essays. “I don’t want them to be stopped at the five-yard line,” Ms. Barash, whose own home in South Orange, N.J. lost power for a week, said.
Next, students were split into groups of two and three. Taking turns with an audio recorder were Sabrina Borno and Jeanné Gilliard, both 17. They joked, teased, and listened to each other to help uncover what workshop instructor Jack Scotti called “a moment—that single, telling incident that reveals something about you.”
Sabrina, who during the school week lives with her grandmother in Ocean Village in The Rockaways, evacuated to her uncle’s home when Sandy struck. She described the storm’s aftermath as “mindblowing.”
“It resembled a third world country,” she said. “The National Guard was out there. There was no power and people were looting homes.” In her application essays to visual arts programs at the School of Visual Arts and the Pratt Institute, she hopes to reconstruct what she saw.
Sabrina and her classmates talk to CNN about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Though Sabrina is acclimating to her new stomping grounds, she said she misses her campus and especially its gadgets. “We had Smart Boards and iPads in every classroom,” she said. “To go from that to writing down notes on a piece of paper, it gets pretty frustrating.”
Ana Solares, a bespectacled 17-year-old clad in gray, said that her family and others around her underestimated the impact Sandy would have.
“We’re Rockaway people,” Ana said, speaking in the measured tones of the lawyer she aspires to be. “We stayed.”
She wrote her college essays-- she’s applying to Cornell, Vassar and Macaulay Honors College—with the aid of a generator, she said. She described the challenges of switching
“You feel reassured,” she said, her stoic demeanor cracking slightly, “when you see your teachers at the end of the metal detectors.”
Some of the students present said they escaped the brunt of Sandy’s wrath. Others, such as Lizeth, weren’t as fortunate. The storm gutted her home, and she had to cope with seeing floating remnants of her furniture and Christmas ornaments. Though she now lives in a RV, she spent days bouncing around homes of relatives and friends, she said. “They had Netflix, so we watched movies and the news. I saw the damage to the main strip, 116th street. It’s where I take the bus, buy my milk. That’s when I realized that ‘Holy Cow, this is real!”
Ms. Barash, who founded Story to College in 2010, said writing had helped her come to terms with her own traumatic childhood experiences, including being raped at the age of 13. “I realized for myself how much liberation happened from writing about it,” she said.
Indeed, Michelle Villa, Scholars’ Academy’s counselor and director of the college office, said that many students wanted to change their essay topics and write about their experiences in the storm’s wake. She added that the workshop would help put students back into college application mode. “The hurricane threw off their priorities,” the visibly pregnant Ms. Villa said. “They had to focus on rebuilding homes and helping out their neighbors.” Many students still didn’t have the Internet at home, she said. “They were doing their apps at night, from Starbucks.”
The transition to Brooklyn had been a challenge, she said, but added that the school had been helped by both public and private sources. The city paid for private busing services to transport students to the temporary location, donated laptops through the iLearnNYC and offered virtual learning programs to displaced students. The teachers’ union also donated supplies, and Ms. Villa said that an elementary school “adopted” Scholars’ Academy and gave them a Thanksgiving feast. Remarkably, even on the first day back after the storm, attendance was at 86 percent, she said.
Though they temporarily share a building, students from Scholars’ Academy and W.H.Maxwell have little interaction. Scholars’ students enter the building from a separate entrance and are sequestered on the fifth floor. Michael Ammirati, the assistant principal in charge of discipline at W.H. Maxwell, said that there was some initial concern about the logistics of shepherding 402 extra students.
“We also wondered if our students would feel infringed upon,” Mr. Ammirati said. “None of that came to fruition; our kids have been very supportive. Sharing the space with Scholars’ Academy, Mr. Ammirati said, was akin to living with “the quiet roommate that doesn’t really bother you.”
But Scholars’ students said they felt out of place in the new building. “We’re kind of not wanted here,” Lizeth said. “We’ve just colonized.”
Still, there were positives to take from the devastation. The students took stock of their situation and adapted, and many gained a fresh perspective on what they hoped to achieve at college. Moreover, being uprooted from the comfortable humdrum of pre-Sandy life in The Rockaways and having to deal with dramatic upheaval did something to the class. “There’s a sense of community,” Sabrina said. “Everyone’s walking together, pulling through, closer than we ever were before.”
What do the New Common App Essay Questions Mean for College Admissions?
By Carol Barash, PhD, Founder and CEO, Story To College
Early yesterday morning in an email to insiders in college admissions The Common Application released the new essay questions for the fourth version of The Common App (CA4), which will be available online August 1, 2013.
The new questions are a significant shift in several ways:
Word limit: The first thing many students will notice is that the word limit is now fixed firmly at 250-650 words. Previously, there was a vague word limit of "approximately 250-500 words" but nothing stopped students from going past 500.
How essays are submitted: Where students previously uploaded their essay as an attachment to the Common App, now they will type their essays directly into CA4.
The questions themselves: The old questions were complex and multi-dimensional. Many students found it hard to parse the questions, much less answer them. The new questions are simply stated. The first question is particularly welcoming: "Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story."
There is no longer the option to ask and answer your own question, and there will be new questions every year.
Behind the new questions is a rededication to the Common Application's mission of simplifying the application process and broadening college access. In his email releasing the new questions, Scott Anderson, Director of Outreach at The Common Application, explained that the committee developing the new questions "worked diligently to ensure that all applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, would have the chance to tell their unique stories."
Clearly, the intent is to cut through the aura of complexity that clings to the Common App, and especially the essays, and to create an essay that is explicitly user friendly and accessible to all.
The Common Application, founded in 1975 and online since 1998, is the industry leader in US college applications, the model that the majority of colleges and universities follow. There is a great deal more the Common App could do to reach its stated mission of broadening college access, simple changes that would level the admissions playing field and truly democratize US college admissions. But this is an important start and a true game-changer for every student applying to US colleges in the Class of 2014.
Want to learn tools to tell your own story in your own voice in the college admissions process? At Story To College that's what we teach. That's all we teach.