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Posts tagged arts
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.

 

 

The Growth of the Creative Economy and a Changing Jobs Landscape

I am speaking this weekend at the Dare 2b Digital Conference here in Silicon Valley. My topic is: The Growth of the Creative Economy and a Changing Jobs Landscape. The growth of interdisciplinary degrees is proof that educators are looking closely at the benefits of a culture of learning where both right and left-brain thinking are encouraged. The happy result of blending a conceptual and technical education is a student ready to fill jobs new to our economy. As I have written previously, I believe that the skills that an arts-based degree develops are extremely valuable attributes in our changing work environment.

Interdisciplinary programs such as those offered through the BXA Program at Carnegie-Mellon, The Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program at UC San Diego and the Computing and the Arts Program at Yale are evidence that colleges are looking to satisfy the demand for integrating a study of the arts with computer science and other diverse fields.

The reason graduates with creative degrees are highly sought after is that hiring managers understand the essential skills that these degrees engender. These attributes are the skills that a valuable employee exhibits:

  • Fearlessness
  • Communication
  • Analytic Skills
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership

The culture of collaboration in these interdisciplinary programs is a predominant characteristic. I am convinced that learning how to solve problems creatively will ultimately play a significant role in our ability to successfully compete in a global economy.  I am not alone in this opinion.  As Thomas Friedman wrote in a recent New York Times column, “Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so in many non-traditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one….”

Advice for high school juniors who want to study the visual arts in college.

As a high school junior, I am sure that the chatter about college has begun.  Are you touring campuses? Have you prepared for the SAT? Where do you plan to apply? I encourage you to remember that it is the informed student who ultimately creates the best college application list. The summer is the best time to do this.  Not everyone can afford the time or money required by most precollege programs.  But, don’t let this stop you.  It is important to consider areas of study that take you outside of your comfort zone.  Perhaps you know you enjoy design, but never considered learning to write code?

I recently attended a presentation by the production crew from the sketch comedy series Portlandia.  The producers, assistant director and production assistants did an excellent job of describing the realities of working on location while trying to solve unpredictable challenges.  At the end of the presentation, the assistant director surprised everyone when his final recommendation to the audience of film students was “If you can, learn to write code.” In his experience, this added ability would open many doors in the film industry.  I think this was unexpected, yet really smart advice.  That is why I urge high school students to research the people whose work they admire. It is often surprising to learn what these professionals studied in college and how their careers took paths that were unpredictable.

Here are some simple suggestions for challenging yourself and in the process perhaps you will discover a new area of interest:

  1. Considering animation?  Look for local life drawing classes.  Most animation programs will want to see life drawing in your portfolio and typically you don’t have the opportunity to sketch nude models in your high school classes. Showing this type of work in your portfolio is proof to schools of your commitment. You don’t have to enroll in a local community college or art school, you might find a resource in your community such as the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto: www.pacificartleague.org .
  2. Consider an online course.  Interested in digital media or design?  Brown University offers several online programs.  Storytelling in the Digital Age is one offering that might be suitable.  Check out the course at: http://onlinecourselearning.com/brown/writing-multimedia/overview/.
  3. Stanford University offers online courses via Coursera, www.coursera.org. Check out Computer Science 101 https://www.coursera.org/course/cs101. This class can be taken as “self study” without any deadline or pressure to work towards a grade.
  4. http://www.lynda.com/ offers online courses in animation, design, software, etc.  It is a monthly subscription service that offers a wide variety of tutorials and courses.

It is your job to research student work, courses and then faculty at the schools you are considering. You will be asked why you are interested in a particular program and your ability to articulate your interest is essential.  Look for connections to work or courses that you might have not known were available.  Be ready to talk about why you are drawn to this aspect of the program and specifically what classes/faculty relate to your ambitions for studying art on a college level.  Your ability to communicate these connections will have an impact on whether admissions can understand why you are a good fit.

Remember that the best fit for a student may not be the biggest “name” school. You might be surprised to find the perfect course of study with student work that is stellar coming out of a smaller lesser-known school.  It is your job to find these “hidden gems” so that you have some true options on your college list.

Happy hunting!

 

 

 

 

BFA, BM, BArch, MFA will these credentials be worth anything?

Time and again I am asked by nervous parents about the career opportunities their students will have if they pursue a major in the visual arts.  "But will they find a job when they graduate?" is a common lament.  I can talk about the students that I have worked with who have gone on to be the happiest group of college students I have known.  I can describe the myriad of creative internships and opportunities for growth that are a direct correlation to the relationships creative students form with their professors.  I can list the places that students I know are now working professionally. But, people like statistics.  And data.  And graphs.  So, I am happy to refer you to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a research effort led by Indiana and Vanderbilt Universities.  SNAAP surveyed over 13,000 graduates from 154 U.S. public and private college arts programs, conservatories and arts high schools.  These graduates have willingly responded to questions about access to jobs, satisfaction with their professions and the all important ability to support themselves doing something that they love.

Steven J. Tepper, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, writes in an article for the Huffington Post, "Arts graduates might not be rich, on average, but the vast majority is gainfully employed, piece together satisfying careers, and would go to art school again if given the choice."

So, for more detailed information about the valuable data that SNAAP has gathered, go to their website:  http://snaap.indiana.edu/snaapshot/ and see for yourself why a degree in the arts just might be the ticket to success and long-term career satisfaction.  Oh yes, and a job when you graduate!

High School Juniors it is time to get organized!

This is a very busy time for most high school juniors.  If you consider what most visual and performing arts students are doing right about now, staying organized and thinking about college probably isn't high on the list.  The thing to remember is, the more time you spend getting ready for the application season, the less stressed you will be at the beginning of your senior year.  So, here is a list of things that every junior interested in the arts should be doing:

  1. Tour colleges.  Make sure to visit the department you are interested in, which may require an additional appointment after the general campus tour.  If you have a portfolio or sketchbook, bring it along and make an appointment to see an admissions officer.  If you are not able to go for a visit, most schools provide online virtual tours.  You need to familiarize yourself with the various programs so that you can have a final list of schools to which you will apply by June.
  2. Keep a journal.  Start writing down your thoughts and ideas that may end up helping you to answer the various essay questions.  Take time to think about who or what has influenced you and why you want to pursue a certain course of study.
  3. Volunteer.  See my blog on volunteerism High School Junior Volunteers – Commit! Create! Contribute!.  I list websites to help you find volunteer opportunities.
  4. Visit galleries and museums.  Go to the movies.  See live performances.  You will be asked what you like and who influences you.  Not having an opinion because you have not been exposed to the creativity of others is no excuse.  Take the time to analyze what you like and what you don't.  This will all have an impact on your portfolio, audition and artist statement.
  5. Think about who you will ask for your letters of recommendation.  Do not let this school year end without having locked in the teachers you want to write your letters.
  6. Keep your resume current.  You will need this information for your applications and it will be much easier if you have everything in one place.  By working on your resume now, you will remember activities that are important to include as well as see areas where you need to focus.  Naviance and online resume templates will help you to get started.
  7. Take a deep breath.  This is an important time to learn that the more relaxed and focused you remain, the better off you will be.  Panic doesn't help and the more you remain true to yourself and your personal goals, the more likely you are to find a program and a school that is the perfect match for you.