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When It Comes to College Admissions, Dare to Be Yourself
Applying to college isn't just about your GPA, test scores,
or how many activities you've done. It's about finding colleges that fit you as a student and a person. And the secret is: that's what the colleges want as well.
adMISSIONPOSSIBLE is not your ordinary admission guide-this book is designed to help you be just a little bit different, just a little bit better, than everyone else by focusing on who you are and what you love.
adMISSION POSSIBLE takes the stress out of the admission process by providing you with the most useful hands-on advice on everything you need to know and do to make the application process go smoothly-a step-by-step action plan, filled with worksheets, charts,
resume and essay samples, questions, directions, and timelines. Along the way you'll discover how to make yourself shine with:
• Extracurricular activities that show your passions, know-how, leadership, and/or resourcefulness
• Admissions essays based on insights and unique, down-to-earth personal stories
• High school counselor and teacher recommendations that are "over the top"
• An Activities Résumé that helps colleges and recommenders really know you
"Wonderfully comprehensive...extraordinarily accurate in a field with a million small details that can change abruptly."—Jon Reider, Former Senior Associate Director of Admission, Stanford University (1985-2000), Director of College Counseling, San Francisco University High School
"Majorie makes college admissions a process of discovery for the student and leaves them happy about where they are going instead of unhappy about where they are not going." —Samuel L. Popkin, PhD, Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, Susan L. Shirk, PhD, Director of the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation
|Product dimensions:||7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
Read an Excerpt
Introduction: Who am I to be telling you what to do?
I never intended to be a college admissions coach, develop a website, or write a book about college admissions.
That all these have taken place is one of those delightful, unforeseen eventualities that sometimes occur in life.
I have worked at a number of universities including Stanford University and the East West Center at the
University of Hawaii. Some years ago, I created a Re-entry Program for adults at University of California, San
Diego (UCSD). Over the years, I counseled many adults about going back to school, and often ended up helping their children with college admissions.
Most of my professional life has been spent working as a marriage and family therapist and executive coach with women (and some men), trying to bring some sanity and healthy living practices to their lives. Then a very predictable life event presented itself: my two children entered high school and the buzz about college admissions began leaking into our lives. I wasn't overly concerned about the children's college prospects. They were both very good students and attended a school that had a college counselor who focused on helping students with the admissions process.
However, my sense of calm slowly eroded as I began to see that my children were not getting the information and support they needed. Among other things, the school did not alert my son to sign up for the appropriate subject test after he had completed an AP History class. As it happens, he scored a 5 on the AP test, but by not signing up for the related Subject Test he lost a wonderful opportunity. Another worry was the school outwardly discouraging students from preparing for the SAT I test. Finally, the straw that broke the camel's back occurred when my children, as a sophomore and a junior, began asking questions about college admissions and the college counselor brushed them off by saying that it was much too early to start thinking about such things.
I decided that I was going to cut through all the myths and folklore about college admissions to find out "the truth" about what really happens and what counts. To do so, I read every book written on the subject. I also called many of my admissions friends to get "the skinny" on what was important and not. In the end, I assisted my children in developing college lists that matched their needs and interests, and helped them figure out how to make their applications stand out from those of other applicants. Both were admitted to many different colleges and for their own very different reasons each chose Stanford University for their undergraduate education.
Once they were settled in college, I thought my admissions work was done. However, something very interesting happened. Because of the children's success, my best friend asked me to help her son with his college applications. I couldn't turn her down. Once her son was admitted to Princeton, she then told many of her
other friends to get my help with their children's college admissions. Within a year of my children leaving for college, my phone began to ring off the hook with pleas from parents asking for assistance. Soon those phone calls were not just from San Diego where I live, but also from Los Angeles, San Francisco, the East Coast, Pacific
Northwest, Mexico City, Tel Aviv, London, Stockholm, Tokyo, and even cities in China and India.
I never dreamed that college admissions coaching would become a full-time job; never once have I advertised or marketed the service. To this day, adMISSION POSSIBLE is totally a word-of-mouth business. I can't keep up with the demand. Who would have thought that helping my children with their college applications would someday evolve into a successful global business, including a coaching service, website, and a series of books and other products.
Because I can't see all the students who want my counsel, and also because there are many people who cannot afford to pay the fees for an independent counselor, I decided that writing a book about college admissions (and developing a website that offers free information and advice) would be a good way to broaden the base of people whom I could help, as well as level the playing field for those who need admissions information, but lack the financial resources to pay for it.
So who am I to be writing a book about college admissions? I bring the following background, experiences,
and biases to this work:
•First, I have worked as an admissions counselor for many, many years now, and have coached thousands of students. I consider myself a student advocate. Rather than feel beaten up by the admissions process,
my clients feel in control, gain major life skills, and develop confidence in themselves. The students with whom I have worked have been very successful in finding colleges that match their academic backgrounds,
as well as their personal needs, wants, and desires. More importantly, they have gained acceptance to the likes of Amherst, Arizona, Babson, Bard, Bowdoin, Brown, Colorado, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke,
Emory, Georgetown, George Washington, Hampshire College, Harvard, Indiana, Loyola Marymount,
MIT, Miami of Ohio, Miami, Michigan, Middlebury, NYU, Northwestern, Penn, Pomona College,
Princeton, Santa Clara, Sarah Lawrence, Scripps College, Smith, SMU, Stanford, USC, University of San
Diego, Vassar, Wake Forest, Washington University, Williams, Yale, the UCs, and many other colleges.
adMISSION POSSIBLE provides readers with examples of what these successful applicants have done,
written, and said. It is also filled with important life-management skills such as decision-making, problem solving, and interviewing techniques, as well as creating an Activities Résumé.
•Second, as a trained marriage and family therapist, I am determined to bring some sanity and calm to this predictably challenging time in a child's and a family's life. It is my hope that in reading this book,
students and parents will become informed about admissions, organized, and strategic, thus avoiding the trauma that many people experience during the college admissions process. Even more, I want to redefine the admissions arena so that rather than having it be such a negative event, college admissions becomes a positive one that helps students figure out who they are and what they want to be and do in life.
• Third, as a frequent buyer and reader of admissions books, I have been struck by how difficult it is to find the information I want. To begin with, while most of the current books have a table of contents, often the chapter headings and sub-headings are so obtuse I don't have a clue as to what is in them. Even more frustrating is the fact that many current books don't have indices. That means I have to read an entire book to see if it contains anything that might answer my questions. Therefore, in writing this book I have tried to be extra-sensitive to the need for readers to find and return to information they deem useful or important.
• Finally, I am a concerned parent who is alarmed about the feeding frenzy that has developed around college admissions. Having successfully gone through the process with my own children, I know what it's like to experience the pressures and frustrations that occur from beginning to end. I have great empathy for anyone involved with applying to colleges. I want to make things easier for you. What this book represents is all the information and material I wish that I had possessed when I was helping my own kids.
Table of Contents
GETTING READY FOR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
1. Courses, Grades, and Intellectual Pursuits: What Colleges Look For in Academic Preparation
• Academic preparation in high school • Required and recommended courses • Honors, AP, and
IB courses • Academic preparation outside your high school • Individual pursuits • Organized offerings (academic competitions; regional and state talent search summer programs; internships;
online courses and tutorials; early college enrollment academies during the school year; preenrichment programs for low income, first generation, or underrepresented students; semester,
year-long, and summer programs abroad; attendance at a local college during the regular school year; summer college programs for high school students)
2. Extracurricular Activities: What You Do with Your Time When You Are Not in Class
• Doing what you love, or at least what you're interested in • Finding extracurricular activities you enjoy, if not love • Guidelines for choosing activities • Maximizing a skill, talent, or interest • Some extracurricular options (in-school versus out-of-school activities; sports; community service;
work experiences; summer experiences; special talents, offbeat hobbies, and interests) • Activities if you want to go to one of the Ivies
3. Teacher and Counselor Relationships: They're More Important Than You Might Think
• What teachers look for in students • Admissions officers pay close attention to counselor recommendations • Independent counselors offer a number of services
4. Tests and Test Preparation: Which Tests to Take, Why, and When
• Overview of the college admissions tests • PSAT • SAT • To get or not to get test preparation • Good enough test scores to get into colleges • Comparing your test scores with successful applicants • Good enough test scores for fifteen major colleges • PLAN • ACT • A comparison of the SAT and ACT tests
• How ACT scores compare to SAT scores • Subject Tests • AP Courses and tests • How AP courses are different from regular courses • AP Scholar awards • Testing and international students
FINDING COLLEGES YOU LOVE
5. Your College List: Finding and Choosing Colleges That You're Going to Love
• Identifying what you need and want in a college • The seven steps of researching colleges and developing a good college list (begin your college list with a brainstorming session, confer with trusted people to add more colleges to your list, make use of Internet college searches to identify other colleges, research the colleges, determine your chances for acceptance, organize your list into categories, refine and settle on a final college list) • Sample college lists
6. College Visits: The Best Way of Finding Out What You Want in a College
• When and how much time to spend at colleges • Things to see and do when visiting a college
(visit the college admissions office, take a campus tour, sit in on a class, meet a professor in your field of interest, talk with current students, look into extracurricular/athletic interests or special student services, check out housing arrangements, read the campus newspaper, walk or drive through the adjacent town, go back to the "blink" concept)
7. Relationships with Colleges: How to Make College Contacts a "Tip Factor" in Your College Admissions
• Contact with colleges (aka demonstrated interest) • The deal about admissions yield rates
• Who your high school's college admissions reps are and why you should care • What to say and do when you stop by an admissions office • College Fairs
GATHERING APPLICATION AMMUNITION
8. Your Activities Résumé: Helping Colleges "Get" Who You Are
• Advice about the choice of activities • Why and how to use an Activities Résumé • Making the most of your résumé • Sample résumés
9. Collecting Personal Stories and Anecdotes: Secret Weapons in Writing Application Essays
• Brainstorming ideas • Real examples of stories and anecdotes and how students used them
WOWING ADMISSIONS PEOPLE
10. To Do or Not to Do the Earlies: Early Action, Restricted Early Action, And Early Decision
• Why colleges offer early admission • Useful information about early programs • Advantages and disadvantages of early applications • Whether to apply early • The outcome of early applications •
What to do if you get deferred
11. Completing Undergraduate Applications: How to Make Your Best Case to Colleges
• The two major types of applications (the Common Application, a college's own application)
• Organizing a system for dealing with admissions materials from 9th through 12th grades
• Insider advice, common sense, and what matters regarding applications • Summary of college application steps • Section by section advice about filling out applications • Follow up on your applications
12. Writing Admissions Essays: How to Be More Than Your GPA and Test Scores
• Sample essay questions • The taboo subjects for essays • Author's tips on writing • Examples of successful essay titles • Eight steps to writing a great admissions essay • Sample essay • How to recycle an essay • Essay Dos and Don'ts
13. Letters of Recommendation: Getting Others to Sing Your Praises
• High school counselor, secondary school report form, and school profile • What to provide the school counselor • Dos and Don'ts in working with the school counselor • High school teacher evaluation and instructor recommendation forms • What to provide teachers • What to provide other recommenders • Keeping track of forms and letters
14. Admissions Interviews: Knowing Exactly What to Say and Do
• The point of an interview for you • The point of an interview for the admissions office • Setting up an interview • Preparing for an interview • Practicing for an on-campus interview • What to bring to an interview • What happens at an interview • Creating a friendly, conversational atmosphere at an interview • What if you are shy • Dos and Don'ts about college interviews •
Interview follow-up • College Interview Cheat Sheet
MAKING YOUR FINAL CHOICE
15. The End of the Admissions Road: A. Dealing with Deferred Admissions, Wait lists, and Denials B. Choosing Your College
• The end of the admissions road • Curves and roadblocks • Dealing with a wait list • Appealing admissions denials • Final destination • Information needed for decision-making • The actual decision-making process
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
"Shaevitz's suggestions and advice could prove invaluable for students and parents involved in the college-admissions process. " - School Library Journal
"A step-by-step guide to the application process, including worksheets and resume and essay samples." - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Having this book is like having your own private college admissions counselor to walk you through every little step." - The Chicago-Tribune
"The great thing about this resource is that it takes a process that is daunting for all involved and breaks it down, organizing it into manageable chunks... This reference guide will make an excellent purchase for individual students, parents of high school students, school counseling offices, and public and high school libraries. It is highly recommended." - VOYA
Chock-full of user-friendly and student-centered advice on extracurricular activities, admission essays, letters of recommendation, test taking, and everything else students and parents need to know about the admissions process, this is the guide a motivated high school freshman will want to own.
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