College Counselor’s Corner: Juniors Get Ready

Dear Parents,

There are only so many weeks left of school. Aside from preparing for TED talks, SATs, ACTs and finals, juniors must draft their Common App Personal Essay. (It’s due next Wednesday.) For them, the process you’ve been hearing about—or perhaps experienced with another child—is heating up. So read on, and soak up what you can about this business of applying to college, or about higher ed itself.

Transforming the Transcript

Another consortium? The new Mastery Transcript Consortium is not a group of colleges sharing resources but rather a “collective of high schools organized around the development and dissemination of an alternative model of assessment, crediting and transcript generation.” Arguing that the transcript is a “broken tool,” the heavy hitters behind the initiative (e.g, Dalton, Spence) want to base transcripts on competency rather than performance in an academic subject.

As an article in Inside Higher Ed points out, this sounds like the virtual locker fostered by the Coalition for Access & Affordability, a group started by elite colleges as a Common App alternative. Where has that gone? It’s not that the transcript initiative doesn’t have merit, but it’s loaded with complexities and implementation hurdles that may prove insurmountable. I can’t wait to ask reps about it in the fall.

Focusing on Interdisciplinary Curriculum

In “11 Lessons From the History of Higher Ed,” published this week in Inside Higher Ed, writer Steven Mintz claims, “As higher education’s student body has expanded and grown increasingly diverse, any consensus about college’s primary purpose has eroded . . . Yet the reality at most institutions is a fragmented curriculum that pays little attention either to helping students identify a career and a realistic path forward or to their aesthetic, ethical, intellectual, or social development.”

Are these pathways integrated? They’re on the campus of Earlham!

While conducting research, I came across a new initiative at Earlham College called Integrated Pathways. Earlham tells students that the program, which consists of four to six courses along with extracurriculars, “can help you make direct connections between your academic interests and possible career paths.” Pathways for the next academic year include: Anthrozoology; Art, Nature and Conservation; Contemplative Studies; Digital Arts; Medical Humanities; and Sports Management. I was most surprised by the Sports Management and enjoyed the descriptions of the others. @PaulPerkinson: What do you think?

In his article, Mintz underscores “the need for continued innovation, experimentation, and a focus on student development across all dimensions.” I will keep tracking various colleges’ initiatives.

Trading Up

For its Class of 2021, Harvard accepted a mere 5.2 percent of applicants, who numbered nearly 40,000. Harvard, along with Penn and Columbia, sends the most graduates into the field of asset management. So it was with delight that I read “Sorry, Harvard and Yale: The Trading Whiz Kids are at Baruch College,” an article in the Wall Street Journal. Baruch, part of the City University of New York, is known for grooming business students who may not have the means or connections to go elite. According to the Journal, “Members of the Baruch Traders Club, which has about 50 students, attribute their success to practicing simulated trading ahead of competitions—combined with a steady stream of classes in subjects like multivariable calculus, options pricing, corporate finance and linear algebra.”

The yield at Harvard this spring was a record-high 84 percent, up from 2016. (In other words, 84 percent of those admitted to Harvard accepted.) But Baruch is still a winner.

Inside Baruch: Generating Results

By the way, the article mentions that there are student investors who manage real money, notably at Lafayette College and the University of Delaware.

Testing Update

This was a week of news relating to College Board tests:

APs. Over the past two weeks, Hudson AP students spent many hours on the fourth floor exercising their minds. Now they get to wait until July 5 to sign in to their College Board account and get their scores. If you’re wondering about whether APs “count” for college, there’s no universal answer. Some colleges may allow students to place out of courses; others offer credits (which could help propel them to an earlier graduation, saving time and money). Yet other colleges want things taught and done their way. The bottom line for admissions: rigor counts, whether it’s an AP or honors course. When colleges look at your student’s transcript, they know the courses that are available at Hudson.

SATs. I am increasingly recommending the new August 26, 2017, SAT. It allows students to take the test unburdened by high school obligations. For those who are not retaking the SAT and want to try SAT Subject Tests, the August date might also be helpful. A list of SAT Subject Tests appears here along with a schedule.

This week, College Board and Khan Academy announced that their free prep accounted for a 115-point jump on scores if the student devoted at least 20 hours to the program.

Tackling FASFA

What mistakes do families make regarding filing for financial aid? In How to Do the FAFSA Right, the Journal pointed out that the biggest mistake was failure to even file, followed by not filing quickly enough. As expert Mike Brown from Nitro College explains, “Money is often given out on a first-come, first-served basis. So fill out the form as early as possible—it is now available on Oct. 1 instead of January—and repeat the process every year your student is in college.”

For those of you who will be dealing with FAFSA, Brown points out, “Contrary to popular misconception, FAFSA isn’t an entity that gives out student aid. The form itself is used to establish how much your family can afford to pay for your student to go to college. Once you submit the form, colleges will send you a letter detailing aid packages, which can include money from the school itself or from the government.”

Check out the Nitro College site for tips and scholarships!

Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you, moms, for your emails, calls and insights.

Nina Berler
College Counselor
The Hudson School


2017-05-12T12:47:49+00:00 May 12th, 2017|
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