Instead of lying about who you are, become a better applicant. Lying or falsifying your transcript, resume, or applications will eventually catch up and destroy you. It’s never worth it; besides, do you really want to live with the constant fear that your lies will be revealed?
That’s exactly what happened with the dean of admissions at MIT. She falsified her resume to get the job by claiming that she had a doctorate degree when she didn’t. She lost her position and is now advising students about the importance of authenticity in the college admissions process.
We all know how competitive it is to get into top colleges today. This isn’t new information. Instead of fabricating lies on your application forms (or have your parents bribe coaches or pay someone to take your SATS) because you realized in your senior year that you don’t have anything remarkable to write about on your personal statement, rethink how you spend your time now.
If you know you’re college bound, then you know you’ll be asked about your passions and what you’ve done to make a difference when it comes time to apply to college. So pick a project to do throughout high school. Consider issues that bother you and need to be changed. Build a tiny house, develop an app, or engineer a device. Any of these projects will make your essays and interviews exciting because they’ll speak volumes about the real you. Colleges want to see you act on your personal interests.
If you're struggling to get started with a project, I wrote Beat the College Admissions Game with ProjectMerit to help you brainstorm, develop, implement and complete your project!
Colleges are beginning to offer degrees and programs that align with necessary skills that graduates need when entering the workplace. Liberal arts colleges are facing closures because many academic degrees neither prepare students with technical skills nor fundamental critical thinking skills to gain employment upon graduation.
Colleges are merging degrees and programs that can save money and time. The University of Notre Dame in Indiana and College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts now offer a 4-year degree from Holy Cross and an online master’s degree from Notre Dame. The 2 colleges partnered to ensure that students wouldn’t duplicate courses and laid out a tuition plan that allowed a seamless, and affordable, transition. These hybrid programs give students the best of both worlds – brick and mortar undergraduate and online graduate courses that meld liberal arts and advanced degrees in fields.
Glad to see that colleges are coming around to offer innovated higher education to students to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of future employment opportunities.
When students head off to college each year, they leave their homes and move into dorms that are supposed to offer them a safe place to transition from their parents’ protective custody to a little utopia of 16-24 year old students who are monitored by resident assistants and preceptors or faculty who reside in the dorms. So why did Lauren McCluskey die from a gunshot wound on the University of Utah’s campus earlier this year?
McCluskey had dated an abusive and controlling man for a month, and then broke off the relationship when she learned that he had pled guilty of sexual assault of a teenage girl and was out on parole. The 37-year old man harassed her, peeked through her windows, attempted to extort money, and impersonated a police officer. McCluskey had reported all of this to the campus police months before her death but they didn’t recognize the possible dangers. The campus police and the state did not communicate, and there were a series of errors in reporting his parole/probation status.
College women (and some men and same-sex partners) are at high risk of dating violence. They are new to negotiating and experimenting in relationships, and they often don’t know what resources are available to them. Both counseling and police departments need better training so they can set up safe houses and protocol so that all students have safe places to go to when they feel threatened. If your children are heading off to college this fall, check with the counseling and police departments to learn about programs available for students, and share this information with your children.
My hat’s off to Palo Alto High School (aka Paly) for stopping the demeaning “End-of-the-School-Year Map” in their high school paper The Campanile this year. This map pointed out which colleges each senior planned to attend the following year accompanied by a list of students’ names with their respective colleges. Ouch! As if it wasn’t bad enough that all of the seniors knew which colleges you didn’t get into; but to have an official list in the school paper was tortuous to many students.
With Stanford University just up the street, many Paly students are children of professors or Silicon Valley executives. Palo Alto students receive top-notch education in their public schools – better than many private schools in the area. There’s a lot of pressure on these students to take excessive amounts of AP classes and engage in extracurricular activities. When SAT or ACT scores are released, everyone knows who got perfect scores. I remember meeting with one of my clients just 20 minutes after the SAT scores were released. She walked into my office sobbing – so I assumed she bombed the SAT – but was taken aback when she told me she got a 2380 (out of 2400). Apparently everyone shared their scores within minutes and she learned that 7 other students at her school received a perfect 2400. Imagine being upset with a 2380?
I find it disturbing that there is an air of arrogance by both parents and students towards students who choose to go to community college and transfer to a 4-year university. Parents often force students to choose more prestigious schools even though they’re not a perfect fit. One parent told me that her daughter wanted to go to UC Santa Barbara but she insisted that she attend UC Berkeley because it’s more prestigious. Wow. Another student selected UC Santa Barbara only to find out later that it didn’t offer business marketing – and she later dropped out. Choose colleges because they offer great programs in your areas of interest, not based on image.
Just this year, one of my clients got into Columbia University but didn’t receive much by way of scholarships. His mother had just lost her job and there was no way his parents could pay the $275,000 tuition for an undergraduate degree. After many tears and stressful conversations, they decided that the student would go to UC Berkeley instead. Sadly, other parents showed disdain for the parents because they believed that families should do whatever is necessary so their children can get into the best colleges.
Choosing your college path is personal. Many students need to factor in the cost of their entire academic plan so they can stretch their funds to include grad school. They might do 2 years at a community college, 2 years at a state college, and complete their education with a master’s degree at a private university. Others consider programs offered and choose colleges because of the training and exposure they’ll receive. Isn’t this why students go to college?
As a college advisor, I tell my clients NOT to share their SAT/ACT scores, GPA, or college lists with anyone. Why? It’s nobody’s business, and it’s awkward and painful to hear how well everyone else did and to have to answer relentless questions about scores and admissions decisions from nosy people. I hope other high schools follow in Paly’s footsteps by dropping the End-of-the-School-Year Map and lists of who is going to which college. That way, students (and parents) won’t have to deal with judgmental comments and gossip.
Imagine if the best students got into the best colleges -- and that these entering freshman classes represented the real American population? That’d be in an ideal world. But we know the truth… that highly selective colleges admit white and wealthy students, and these privileged students have access to private college advisors, SAT/ACT prep classes, private schools, and professional opportunities that poor students don’t.
But there may be hope!
New America is proposing an overhaul of the college admissions process by removing the huge wealth gaps so students will NOT be admitted simply because they’re privileged. With this new plan, colleges and universities that give admission preferences to alumni children or offer Early Decision applications will lose federal aid programs (MONEY for students) and federal research grants (MONEY for research). Colleges need these programs and grants, and they tend to pay attention when they’ll lose funding.
New America recommends that all applicants have minimum GPA and SAT/ACT scores to ensure that all applicants will be successful if accepted. Then the applicants would all be placed in a lottery where there would be no preferential treatment for legacies, ethnicities and even athletes. After all, college admissions should be based on meritocracy where everyone has a fair chance of getting into top colleges.
Now that the graduation ceremonies and parties are done (hooraaaay), and your young adult is biding time before heading off to college in the fall, review this list of 6 tasks that will help them close this chapter in their lives and be prepared to start their next one.
One: Clean Your Room!
Okay, this is a great way to get them to get rid of all of their "junk" that they've hung on to for years. Set up 2 large bins: one for trash and the other for Salvation Army or Goodwill. Then, give them a designated area where they can keep their belongings that they'll need when they come home for holidays and breaks. Any remaining items can be stored if they're family heirlooms or mementos, or sold on Craigslist or at a yard sale for cash.
Two: Write Your Autobiography
Before heading off to college, have your teen write an autobiography to give them closure on the first 18 years of their lives. If writing or organizing something like this is not your kids' cup of tea, they can always create a scrap book or photo album and fill it with their favorite memories. Giving them a sense of who they are will instill a strong sense of self-esteem, which will in turn give them a solid foundation on which to build their future.
Three: Create Your 4-Year College Plan
Have them organize their entire 4-year plan for college. By doing the research and thinking about what they hope to learn before the graduate, they'll understand what courses they need to take for their majors (and minors) and general education requirements. They can even add in internships, jobs, and research so they don't have regrets later. Not only will they take advantage of the many programs available to them on campus, they'll graduate in 4 years, which will save you between $12,000-$60,000 (depending on their tuition). I probably don't have to tell you that anything you can do to save yourself tens of thousands of dollars is time well-spent.
Four: Purchase College Items Early
Every college gives students a list of things they should bring with them during orientation and before classes begin. If your kid is like most college-bound students, they'll probably wait until the last minute to buy these things, which means you'll be paying top dollar at the nearest stores when you arrive with their stuff piled high in your minivan. Instead, ask them to make a list of items they want and ask them to find sales. They can even go on Craiglist, Amazon, flea markets, garage sales, and local bargain stores to get great deals. Most colleges provide a twin bed (extra long), desk, chair and closet. PRO TIP: Buy the extra-long sheets online to get lower prices. They might want a mini-fridge or microwave for their dorm, and you can get those used. My daughter got one for free when students were vacating their dorms and didn't have a place to store them. Score!
Five: Indulge in Reading
This will be the first time in over a decade that your kid won't have a list of "summer reading" and stress to study for SATs or ACTs. They actually have no responsibilities and no stress. So, give them a list of classics to read for the summer (reading isn't really a responsibility).
Six: Get a Job
With no homework, stress, or lists of things to do -- well, except these (awesome) lists -- they can go out and earn a buck! With no degrees or seniority, taking that low-paying summer job will be just what they need to realize how important it is to get their college degree! So let them slave away at an ice cream counter or bus tables at a restaurant. Earning those extra nickels will also give them spending money once they get to college because you'll be tapped out just paying their tuition, room and board and MONEY DOESN'T GROW ON TREES, KID!
While the College Board has tried to level the field for college applicants by creating a new Adversity Score on the SATs, leave it up to parents to try to game the system. This Adversity Score gives points to students who don’t have the same privileges as wealthy students by evaluating where they live, family income, neighborhood crime, and other factors. The College Board will neither release the algorithm nor the actual Adversity Scores. Naturally, there’s been a huge outcry from wealthy parents who want to know the algorithm used to determine these adversity points.
So how will parents try to game the system? They’ll use home addresses of friends who live in poor neighborhoods and report lower family incomes. After the infamous college admissions scandal was exposed a few months ago, we now know that wealthy parents will pay their way to get their children into top colleges. As for the Adversity Score, some parents will undoubtedly try to manipulate their way to giving their children a leg up on their peers.