Monthly Archives: March 2012

Love or Hate It, Homework Is Probably Here To Stay

Interesting report from NBC Nightly News on homework. See the video here. One principal’s remark, that homework helps to instill time-management skills, makes a lot of sense, but at what point does too much homework counteract the benefits?

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Only 7 Percent of Teachers Believe in Standardized Tests

Read the article here – what are your thoughts?

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The Power of Today

I spent the morning in a classroom with a group of fifth graders at a local elementary school for their inaugural college day. As I stood in front of boisterous ten and eleven year olds, it was a poignant moment to realize, for some, today marked the first time they realized they could and would go to college. It may seem odd to do a college preparation event for fifth graders, but it’s actually perfect timing. The perfect time to instill a belief that college is possible, the perfect time to nurture special talents and interests, the perfect time to help students recognize that whatever their dream job, be it a professional soccer player, lawyer, marine biologist or motorcycle shop owner, they will need a college degree.

For those members of the class of 2023, today the idea of college became a little less foggy and a little more attainable. On the other hand, for the class of 2016, today was a big day, a day of clarity, as they eagerly awaited admissions decisions from some of the most well known institutions: UC Berkeley, Columbia and NYU among others. And again, there were surprises, lives seemingly changed in an instant, dreams came true, while others faced failure for the first time. Regardless of the decisions, there is relief at finally knowing, finally feeling like they’ve regained a little control over their futures and now in the position to finally decide where they will transition into adulthood.

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How Do You Get In With 70,000 Other Applicants In The Pool?

UCLA recently notified applicants of their admission status: admit, wait-list or reject. For a school that consistently receives more applications than any other in the country (this year, they were said to receive between 72,000-74,000), it’s anyone’s guess who the ideal UCLA candidate is. The UC system at large requires all candidates to have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered and a UCLA admissions officer once told me the vast majority of viable UCLA candidates had close to a 4.0 or higher GPA. Thus, when you eliminate those candidates whose grades and test scores are too low for UCLA consideration, what you’re left with are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of applicants who, in theory, are all worthy of admission.

So, what’s an admissions team to do? Contrary to some rumors, real people do read applications, even at large schools like UCLA, which underlines the value of the college essay (personal statement). Paired with a healthy variety and depth of extra curricular accomplishments, one student can easily stand out from the next. Then add “fit”, in other words is a student an intellectual, academic and social match for the college and it’s personality, and you have one more potential way to stand out. Finally, since a real person is interpreting an application, the final ingredient is completely subjective and simple, does the reader like your application and essay? Can she connect with it? Does she get a good sense of who you are? Did you have typos?

Within the group of students we worked with this year we saw a variety of outcomes for UCLA and at face value, it’s difficult to say why some were admitted and others not. All sported strong grades, curriculum and test scores, as well as impressive extra curricular accomplishments, and their essays were well-written. But, when we take a closer look, what’s consistent between those who were admitted are two things: 1) Their essays were authentically them and readers could probably “hear” the students literally telling their stories as they read. Their writing was dynamic and the reflection was honest, the students expressed vulnerability followed by uncovering of layers leading to a greater awareness. Their stories were neither sob stories nor stories of tragedy, but rather stories of identity development, but from different angles. 2) They had at least one extra curricular interest UCLA can nurture because of the strength of programs with components specific to UCLA.

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Is A Designer Diploma Worth The Investment?

You decide: 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About College

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Charter School Questions

Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey

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The College List

From The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions by J.D. Rothman

The College List

Wesleyan is the new Brown
Northwestern is the new Penn
Vassar is the new Yale
Bard is the new Amherst
U of Wisconsin is the new U of Michgan
Eugene Lang/The New School is the new NYU
UC Davis is the new UC Berkley
Vanderbilt is the new Duke
Tulane is the new Emory
Bowdin is the new Williams
and in a shocking development
Pitzer is the new Stanford

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