Creative Kid College Coach

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Posts in Admissions Requirements
What college admissions officers are really looking for . . .

Students and parents never stop asking for the definitive list of what will "get them in." At Creative Kid College Coach, we believe that the most authentic and thorough explanation of your passion and creativity is what will ultimately help you to be a successful applicant. Read this blog for more thoughts on "getting in."

Now that got your attention, didn’t it? Thought you were finally going to Google that ultimate checklist of what to do to make sure you get in? I am here to give you another sort of checklist.

How about: How to apply to the schools that are right for me? That could also be phrased as: How to be fairly confident they will admit me? Well, here is my list:

1. No one thing will “get you in.” Stop worrying right now about the perfect essay, the most impressive monologue or the most gorgeous portfolio.
2. In everything you submit, stay as true to your personal message as possible. The combination of an honest essay, your work and your stated goals should provide the most complete picture of who you are for the admissions committee to consider.
3. Use your application to paint a broad picture of who you are. One thing like your GPA or your test scores won’t be the deciding factor of whether you are in or out.
4. Bring something extra to the table. Show them, tell them, and make sure they understand what unique quality you possess. This type of information is an important component of helping the school to understand “why them?” “Why their program?” “Why do you belong there?
5. A strong letter of recommendation from a teacher or someone who knows you well can make a difference. The most important thing is not particularly who sent it, but what it says about you and your ability to succeed at their school.
6. Want to be absolutely certain you will get in? Then, apply to the RIGHT schools. What that really means is: do your homework, visit the school, educate yourself and know exactly why this is the right place for you. Nine times out of ten, they will agree with you. Better yet, have several of these “great fit” options ready so that if the whims of the admissions counselor work against you, those same whims are likely to work in your favor somewhere else.

An underlying streak of insubordination and truculence, combined with a desire to take the most difficult possible courses at the most advanced level (which will result in often mediocre grades, or even failure), all leavened with a profound, gentle skepticism and sense of irony, will forge a student’s character far better than conforming to what admissions counselors want, seek, or think.— A.T. Lineower-Jones

Preparing for Your College Tours

Visiting a school is really a 2-way street. It does send a message to a college that you are interested. It also gives you a chance to visualize being a student on that campus. Time and again I am surprised by the visceral responses students have to different school environments. Too big? Too remote? Not urban enough? Not enough places to eat late at night? I have had students make their final decision about a school based on what they ate during their visit! Here is a brief checklist of things to consider:

  1. Do you like the physical environment? How big is the campus? How many students?
  2. Do you like the academic environment?
  3. Do you like the social environment?
  4. Are there financial aid considerations that you should keep in mind when looking out of state or at private school options?
  5. What type of access will I have to studio, performance or production space?
  6. How many students drop out or transfer after their freshman year?
  7. When I visit can I meet someone in a particular department? Is there a current student I can talk to?

Here is how you can be prepared when you tour:

  1. Do your research. Identify courses and professors who are of interest to you.
  2. Plan your questions. Do not ask something you could easily find on their website. Do ask about research opportunities, internships and career counseling.
  3. Make an appointment with a faculty member. Do not just “drop by.” Set up an appointment with a faculty member you have identified.
  4. If Admissions offers “optional” interviews, you should try to schedule an appointment when you are on campus. This will provide an opportunity for you to show your interest in the campus by discussing what you have researched.
  5. If you do not have a scheduled appointment with a faculty member in your department, make sure to either schedule a tour of that specific department or if those are not offered, stop by and introduce yourself to someone in the office.
  6. Inquire as to whether you are able to sit in on a class. Some schools are happy to let you do so.
  7. Pick up a copy of the student newspaper while you’re on campus. It generally offers an uncensored take on the issues facing students and the college as a whole.
  8. Walk around campus and talk to students. Ask them about their experience with registering for classes, the dorms, student support services and anything else they want to talk to you about. Most students who see someone touring the campus on their own are happy to stop and talk about their life on campus.

Be creative in how you schedule tours to make the most of your time and cut down on travel expenses. Do not just show up on campus. Registering for an official campus tour is important and will put you in their “system.” Don't miss out on this important opportunity to discover if a particular school and program has what you are looking for!

THE NEW 2016 SAT AND HOW IT AFFECTS VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS STUDENTS

Changes are coming to the SAT in 2016! The redesigned SAT will debut in March 2016 and will affect the class of 2017 and beyond. I have asked my colleague Patrick Hennes to break down the changes so that students can make informed decisions regarding their test prep plans. Patrick serves as Senior Director at AJ Tutoring, a group of professional educators located in the Bay Area. He’s been working with students in support of their SAT and ACTs for over 10 years. Rising seniors (class of 2016) will not need to take the new test. Rising sophomores (class of 2018) will only have the option of taking the new test. Rising juniors (class of 2017) can choose to take either the current SAT or the redesigned SAT, or both.

The 2015 PSAT will be based on the redesigned SAT and will reflect the new format. The last administrations of the current SAT will take place in January 2016.

The current SAT vs. the new 2016 SAT
Score is out of 2400 points total Maximum score is 1600 points
3 sections: critical reading, math, and writing 3 sections: evidence-based reading and writing, math, and the optional essay
25-minute non-optional persuasive essay that requires students to develop their own evidence 50-minute optional essay that asks students to analyze evidence from a source and examine the persuasive abilities of the author
Critical reading includes multiple-choice reading comprehension questions based on passages In the evidence-based reading and writing section, students will have to support answers with evidence drawn directly from the passage
Sentence completion questions include a range of vocabulary, with obscure words in the most difficult questions Vocabulary will be easier and more focused on words students will use outside of the SAT
A calculator is allowed on all math sections Students will not be able to use a calculator on one math section
“Guessing penalty” (-.25 points for wrong answers) No points subtracted for wrong answers
3 hours and 45 minutes long 3 hours long, plus 50 minutes for the optional essay

Which tests should visual and performing arts students in the class of 2017 plan to take?

While there are many testing schedules that could work, most students specializing in in the creative arts should fall into one of three tracks:

  • The “hedge your bets” plan: take the current SAT in fall 2015, the redesigned SAT in March 2016, and the ACT in April 2016.
  • Spring semester testing plan: take the redesigned SAT in March 2016 and the ACT in April 2016.
  • The “SAT only” plan: take the current SAT in fall 2015 and the redesigned SAT in March 2016.

Patrick and everyone at AJ Tutoring are always happy to chat about a particular student's needs, learning style, and goals to help identify the best plan as a student begins his or her standardized testing.  Please feel free to reach out to AJ Tutoring at (650) 331-3251 or (408) 345-5200 for more information or to discuss a great testing plan and visit their website, ajtutoring.com. You can reach Patrick directly at (650) 331-3251 ext. 704 or pat@ajtutoring.com.

The College Waitlist: rational advice on what to do next

I know that there have been many articles written about the limbo of being placed on a waitlist. Trying to figure out who gets admitted off the waitlist, how colleges prioritize those candidates and what if anything can be done to get the attention of admissions is an age-old conundrum. I want to cut through the noise and give very practical advice to any student giving a second thought to their position on a waitlist.

  1. Accept an offer of admission from one of the schools that have admitted you by May 1. Don’t just accept the offer, but fully engage. Wear their sweatshirt, join their Facebook group, put down your housing deposit and fully embrace your status as a member of their incoming class. There is a reason that they accepted you and it just may be that they are the best fit for you. Don’t underestimate how important this is.
  2. If you remain focused on a school that has placed you on their waitlist, please remember that this isn’t personal. There are just too many qualified students who are applying to the same schools. You should, however, take advantage of every opportunity to let them know why you want to be considered for admission. Email them, let them know about accomplishments more recent than the data in your application and above all, respond with a “yes I will attend” to let them know you mean business.
  3. A visit to the school can help. Try to make a connection to the department where you want to study and make sure your admissions counselor knows you are there.
  4. Request that your high school counselor contact the school to reiterate your interest and to determine if they can provide any additional information that could support your desire to attend that school.

Trying to predict what percentage of students will be admitted off the waitlist at any given school is nearly impossible. Schools will not publish if they rank their waitlist and the truth of the matter is that they have deeply ingrained reasons for using their waitlist. Sometimes it is to placate alumni. Sometimes it is to manage the demographic of their freshman class. If you really want to find out how colleges have used their waitlist to craft their freshman class, you can Google “X College Waitlist 2014” to see if they publish this information. You can also check the Common Data Set to see if your school has published their waitlist data. You can either search “Common Data Set” on the school’s website or Google “Common Data Set” and the institution name. For instance, you can find out how many students were enrolled from Northwestern’s waitlist in 2013: Northwestern University Common Data Set.

What we do know for certain is that schools put large numbers of students on the waitlist with a relatively few number of students ultimately being offered admission. My final advice is that you do not leave your future to the whims of the waitlist. Commit to the top choice school that admitted you and if a waitlist spot is offered to you then make the final decision that meets your needs. You may just find that you don’t want to take off that comfy sweatshirt from your initially admitted school.

 

 

Why should students submit the Arts Supplement?

Musicians, actors, dancers and visual artists who do not plan to major in the arts should consider completing the Arts Supplement.  Students who have devoted multiple years and countless hours to the pursuit of their artistic passion need to communicate their level of commitment. Submitting evidence of this special accomplishment or interest through an Arts Supplement is an opportunity for schools to get to know you better. I fear this opportunity is squandered by many college applicants. There are currently approximately 60 schools on the Common Application that will accept the Arts Supplement.  To find out if your school is one of them, log on to www.commonapp.org.  Select the “Member Colleges and Universities” menu and go to the applications requirements grid.  You can then select the arts supplement column to see a list of the schools that accept this additional information.

Don’t be deterred if your school is not listed as one that accepts the Arts Supplement.  Sometimes, if you contact the admissions department and indicate that you would like to send in a portfolio or other evidence of your talent, they will allow you to do so.  These extra materials are often forwarded to the appropriate department at the school.  Your work will be evaluated and the arts faculty may make a recommendation to the admissions committee based upon their judgment of the work you submitted.

You may have an opportunity to pursue your art form in college even if you are not majoring in the arts, but are not required to do so in order to submit an Arts Supplement.  For example, Stanford states:  “While we would like students with a vested interest in the arts to continue their participation at the collegiate level, an arts submission neither guarantees nor commits a student to participate in the arts.”

When deciding whether or not to submit an arts supplement, you should keep in mind that your work will most likely be judged along with work submitted by students who intend to continue their pursuit of the arts or may even be planning to minor in their particular art form.  You should only submit a supplement if your work is strong and can stand up to such scrutiny.  An impressive arts submission can be a compelling part of your college application.

Portfolio Workshop for High School Sophomores and Juniors

There are many things that high school juniors can do to make the college application process less stressful. Visit colleges, attend a pre-college program and of course, work on their portfolios. I have a created a workshop that will provide helpful information to students who intend to submit a portfolio or an Arts Supplement to the Common Application. Here are the details: Creating a Portfolio for College Admissions with Harriet Katz

Sunday, March 11, 2012 2:30 – 4:30 PM

Greenmeadow Community Center 303 Parkside Drive, Palo Alto CA 94306

The art portfolio is a definitive component to admission to any art program. In this two hour workshop, Harriet teaches you how to prepare your art application or Common Application Arts Supplement by reviewing the following crucial components:

* Elements/Contents of a portfolio: what work to include and exclude, how to find   inspiration and commitment in the work you select to present. *Portfolio Layout and Preparation: how to order and edit your work *Artist Statement: writing *Portfolio review: one-on-one reviews by Harriet

Presentation includes examples of student portfolios that have resulted in admission to such programs as The Rhode Island School of Design, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Maryland Institute College of Art, NYU, USC and UCLA.

Register at hekatz@creativekcc.com or by calling Harriet at (650) 302-8053.

Tuition: $100 includes 2-hour presentation, portfolio review and materials. Limit: 15 Students

Junior year is over, now start those college admission essays!

Are you tired of all of the statistics you have been hearing? Average GPA? Average test score? In my mind there is nothing "average" about the college selection process. Part of finding the right fit at a particular school is using all of your resources to literally put yourself on paper. What is the best way to begin drafting your personal statement or admission essay? First of all, stop trying to form a strategy or create the snappiest opening line. This is your chance to honestly state your point of view. Using your own reality to answer the prompts while being thoughtful and clear in presenting your viewpoint will result in the best essay you could possibly write. Now for some nuts and bolts:

1. Be yourself. If you are funny, be funny. But if you lean towards the thoughtful and introspective then let that voice come through. 2. Write about something that they can't find out from any other part of your application. In many cases, the essay takes the place of a personal conversation and as such should reflect what it would be like to talk to you. 3. There are reams of essays online that you can refer to. Take a look at one or two, read them and then write down what you learned about the writer from their essay. When you see what they have revealed about themselves, it will help you to decide what you are interested in talking about. 4. Don't just talk about "what happened." It is far more interesting to discuss the "why it matters to you" when picking a subject to write about. 5. Have a "blemish" on your record? The essay is your chance to meet that topic head on, explain how it affected you and how you met the challenge it represented to your life. No excuses, no whining, just a confident explanation of what happened and how you dealt with it. 6. Your goal is not THE PERFECT ESSAY. Your goal is to give the reader a slice of your life, an idea of what is important to you and a snapshot of your point of view.

I give my students a journal to keep with them before they begin the essay writing process. This is their "point of view" journal. I encourage them to write down observations, reactions to situations and issues that come up in their everyday life. This journal becomes a goldmine of resource material for their essays. I suggest beginning the essay writing process in the summer, long before the stress of the college application process goes into full swing. Just remember, in the end, all they really want to know is who are you, what are you passionate about and why is their school a good fit for you.

What college admissions officers are really looking for . . .

Now that got your attention, didn’t it? Thought you were finally going to Google that ultimate checklist of what to do to make sure you get in? I am here to give you another sort of checklist. How about: How to apply to the schools that are right for me? That could also be phrased as: How to be fairly confident they will admit me? Well, here is my list:

1. No one thing will “get you in.” Stop worrying right now about the perfect essay, the most impressive monologue or the most gorgeous portfolio. 2. In everything you submit, stay as true to your personal message as possible. The combination of an honest essay, your work and your stated goals should provide the most complete picture of who you are for the admissions committee to consider. 3. Use your application to paint a broad picture of who you are. One thing like your GPA or your test scores won’t be the deciding factor of whether you are in or out. 4. Bring something extra to the table. Show them, tell them, and make sure they understand what unique quality you possess. This type of information is an important component of helping the school to understand “why them?” “Why their program?” “Why do you belong there? 5. A strong letter of recommendation from a teacher or someone who knows you well can make a difference. The most important thing is not particularly who sent it, but what it says about you and your ability to succeed at their school. 6. Want to be absolutely certain you will get in? Then, apply to the RIGHT schools. What that really means is: do your homework, visit the school, educate yourself and know exactly why this is the right place for you. Nine times out of ten, they will agree with you. Better yet, have several of these “great fit” options ready so that if the whims of the admissions counselor work against you, those same whims are likely to work in your favor somewhere else.

An underlying streak of insubordination and truculence, combined with a desire to take the most difficult possible courses at the most advanced level (which will result in often mediocre grades, or even failure), all leavened with a profound, gentle skepticism and sense of irony, will forge a student’s character far better than conforming to what admissions counselors want, seek, or think.— A.T. Lineower-Jones