An important part of understanding college campuses and finding the right fit for our students is actually visiting. Taking a tour gives us a feel for what happens on campus and provides valuable information about admissions trends at that campus. Talking with admissions reps allows us to understand what they are looking for when reviewing applications each year. Check out our most recent visits to Chicago and NYC schools.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Total Undergraduate Population: 2,681
Admission Rate: 59%
Most Popular Majors: Studio Arts, Visual Arts, Art History
Total Undergraduate Population: 11,420
Admission Rate: 72%
Most Popular Majors: Biology, Nursing, Psychology
Loyola operated on a rolling admissions schedule with no ED or EA. There are over 250 student organizations to get involved in and it is a Division I sports school. The L has a Red Line stop right on campus for easy access to public transportation.
Total Undergraduate Population: 13,168
Admission Rate: 69%
Most Popular Majors: Communications, Liberal Arts & Humanities, Finance
Computing and digital media is fastest growing college in the university; partnership with City Space and is the largest film and tv studio outside of Hollywood which is located in Chicago.
University of Chicago
Undergraduate Population: 5,967
Admission Rate: 7%
Most Popular Majors: Economics, Mathematics & Statistics, Biology
University of Chicago offers lots of opportunities to do research with professors. In fact, there are more opportunities than there are students to fill them; research is substantial
New York City
Pratt Institute - Brooklyn, NY
Undergraduate Population: 3,367
Admission Rate: 57%
Most Popular Majors: Architecture, Graphic Design, Illustration
New York University
Undergraduate Population: 24,888
Admission Rate: 31%
Most Popular Majors: Liberal Arts & Humanities, Business, Economics
If you are applying to one of the artistic programs, you can apply test optional because of the importance of the portfolio; if you apply TO, they will focus more on transcript so make sure your senior grades stay strong.
NYU - Tandon Engineering
Many of the professors are doing industry research so reach out to them to get research opportunities and/or TA positions; you can do research starting freshman year, but most don’t do it until 4th year
Undergraduate Population: 2,461
Admission Rate: 16%
Most Popular Majors: Psychology, Economics, English
Barnard is the only all women's college to have Division I sports. Also, Barnard students can take as many classes at Columbia as they want and vice versa which makes most of Barnard's classes actually co-ed.
Undergraduate Population: 7,552
Admission Rate: 6%
Supplemental essays are one of the most important factors that Columbia Admissions uses to determine if an applicant is a good fit.
Written by a guest blogger
Parenting a child is hard work. Early on there are the sleepless nights, the messes, the tantrums.... Your child is completely dependent on you and it is exhausting. You dream of the days when they can take care of themselves - dress themselves, bathe themselves, do their own homework, drive themselves where they need to be..., it sounds gloriously freeing. But along with it comes an independent person with their own identity and own ideas, one who doesn't always (ok, hardly ever) listens to your advice and begins a journey that can be extremely frustrating and mentally exhausting as a parent.
We have a philosophy in our household - "just give your best effort, we will never be disappointed if you just try your hardest." That phrase is easy to say, however, hard to implement. It just isn't possible that this child who has "so much potential" has done his best when he brings home a B-, a C, or worse. He needs to work harder, he is not doing his best, he is LAZY. Or, is there something else going on?
Anxiety? No, you say, that is not possible - my kid is happy, he isn't panic stricken, worrying about every little thing. In fact, he couldn't care less about things going on with his school work - that is not anxiety, that is being lazy. The kids who have anxiety are "super-achieving academic elite - kids who are enrolled in multiple Advanced Placement courses and volunteering at the local soup kitchen while mastering an obscure Chinese classical instrument and holding down spots on several sports teams." These "Harvard or bust" students are the ones under real pressure, the ones suffering from anxiety, not my snap chatting, xbox playing, homework forgetting child.
don't care one bit about academic pressure but that behavior is "a direct response to the stress they are experiencing." These kids aren't lazy - they are faced with pressure and demands and they are fearful that they just can't do it, and their response is the "opt-out" response. Their perfectionism and fear of failure doesn't manifest as doing everything 110% to make sure they don't fail, their coping mechanism is to do just enough not to get into too much trouble but never doing too much to put themselves out there to experience the failure they fear.
Does this sound familiar?
None of this is to say that your child doesn't have huge potential - he absolutely does. The thing is, everyone gets there on their own timetable. Your child is not destined to be less successful just because he didn't figure it all out in high school. In fact, high school is the place for a child to develop and practice new found independence. Their decisions, both good and bad, made while still under your roof helps to prepare them for when they leave for college; and even then you need to remember that "your son needn't, and really can't, be completely grown up before he leaves for college." He can and will get it and your interactions with him (whether you are a parent, counselor, advisor, or teacher) can make the journey easier or harder.
With teen anxiety rising to epidemic levels we need to recognize and help teens who manifest anxiety in all ways, and that may be by changing your view of what anxiety really looks like.
"Too much emphasis on 'potential,' on a life yet to be fulfilled, keeps us - and our kids - from living and enjoying the lives we actually have. Perhaps, when it comes to our children, the only potential we should be concerned about is the potential to grow and mature."
He's Not Lazy was written by Dr. Adam Price, a clinical psychologist who has worked with children, adolescents and their families for more than 25 years. Find out more about this book HERE
hits that it is not 1991 and kids today don’t spend their summers cruising in their cars without a care in the world. Perhaps we should encourage our kids to have a better balance in their summer. While summer can be a time to pursue interests and passions, it should also be a time to regroup and refresh to get geared up for the upcoming school year.
Here are some Summer Strategies for whether you are just about to enter into your high school career, have just graduated, or are somewhere in between, all in the pursuit of a well-balanced summer. While we have identified some strategies that are grade level specific in the chart below, there are several which are applicable to everyone.
Almost everyone has some type of summer reading and assignment to complete prior to the start of school. While it is tempting to put it off as long as possible, like say to the night before school starts, it really isn’t a great idea as the chances of Amazon Prime being able get it to you in a matter of hours is highly unlikely. Go ahead and take a few minutes to jump on your school’s website to identify which books are required for this summer and go ahead and order them. The entire process should take less than 15 minutes and will save you from unnecessary stress and your parent’s unnecessary grey hair. Plan out when it will be best for you to tackle the reading and assignment-this will require looking at a calendar. You may choose to knock it out in a few days in between trips, or you may choose to spread it out-the choice is yours, so make a plan and commit to it!
Everyone should do some type of volunteering over the summer months-it can be a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, as the opportunities to give back are endless. While some non-profits have age requirements, there are many that will happily accept help of all ages. Most importantly, volunteering should be authentic to whom the student is: Do you like to play tennis? Maybe consider coaching at a neighborhood tennis clinic and work to instill a love of the game to the younger crowd. Love to read? Volunteer at the library or host your own book drive to donate the books to a local children’s hospital or school.
In your travels this summer, find a college or two that are on the way to or from your destination or even in the city where you are visiting. It doesn’t need to be a school that is at the top of your list, or even on your list, as most any school will give you the opportunity to start developing what it is that you hope to have (or not have!) in your college experience. It can be as casual as driving through the campus and surrounding area, or a more formal tour and information session which lasts about two hours. If your schedule allows, the tour and information session is the way to go, and these are typically offered numerous times on the weekdays, and some Saturdays as well.
While there is so much focus on using your summer to advance your cause, whatever that is, remember to spend some quality time (ummm, perhaps without technology?!?!) with your friends and family enjoying the fun and freedom that should come with summer!
After a 2 year collaboration between The College Board and ACT, the new SAT/ACT conversion tables have been released. See the chart below to see the conversions (the delta is the change from prior concordance measurements). Read More
ACT, Inc. released a news brief that will affect many of our students and push some to consider completing their ACT testing in June or July before these changes take effect in September. What are the changes? The end of self-paced timing and and a mandatory experimental section.
Eliminating Self-Paced Extended Time
The ACT is rolling back its policy of allowing students to self-pace their extended time testing administrations. Previously, students could apportion the extra time among the four sections as needed. Under the new policy, students will have 50% extra time per section, with a hard stop at the end of each section.
Here is the official announcement:
“Examinees approved for National Extended Time or for Timing Code 6 will have 50 percent extended time for each section of the ACT, with a hard stop after each section. Examinees will no longer have to self-pace through the four multiple-choice sections over the allotted five hours. All examinees in the test room will begin the same section at the same time and have the same amount of time to complete that section.”
This new policy is a major setback for students who are granted an extended timing accommodation. Allowing students to advance to the next section at their own speed has always been a significant benefit to students with attentional deficits. The old policy enabled students to complete the ACT at their own speed without having to wait to move on to the next section. Under the new policy, students who finish a particular section in less than the allotted time will have what amounts to a forced waiting period before starting the next section. This approach increases the attentional demands on students who are receiving an accommodation for ADHD.
Students with extra time are receiving an accommodation for a diagnosed disability. For many of these students, the new policy will make ACT extended time less valuable, and in some cases eliminate the value of the accommodation. We’ve always viewed to the extended timing accommodation on the SAT as a double edged-sword for students with attentional deficits; although the extra time is a benefit, it also forces students to sit and wait until they can move forward. Some students with SAT timing accommodations choose to take the test with standard timing to void these forced waiting periods. ACT extended timing will now also be a double-edged sword for students with ADHD and attentional issues.
This change goes into effect in September: students who require extended time on the ACT are advised to secure their accommodations for the June and July test while the current policy is still in place.
Mandatory Experimental Section
Starting in September the ACT will require all students to take a 20-minute experimental section that will not count towards their score. Here is the official announcement:
“We are expanding the Tryout program, which helps shape the future of the ACT. On National test dates, examinees testing under standard timing conditions, whether testing with or without writing, should expect to take a fifth test after Test 4. The fifth test is 20 minutes long and doesn’t impact the examinee’s ACT Composite score or subject test scores. Examinees testing with extended time will not take the fifth test.”
This is not great news for students. While this will allow the ACT. Inc to test and validate items for future assessments, it will have no immediate benefit to the students sitting for the test. In the prep industry, we were all excited when the SAT scrapped its experimental section with the 2016 redesign, as it decreased the time on a lengthy assessment. That experimental section, however, was indistinguishable from other sections. The ACT will not be able to fool students with this “fifth section.” Knowing the section doesn’t count, many students will blow it off or abstain completely- and who can blame them? If it doesn’t affect their scores, why should they invest time or energy in helping the ACT conduct research? Regardless, the ACT, Inc. will still be able to glean usable data, even if a large portion of students bubble in answers randomly or using a pattern; ACT’s psychometricians will be able to run pattern analysis on the student responses and remove skewed results.
Implications for essay takers
For the roughly 50% of students who take the ACT with the optional ACT essay, extending the test an additional 20 minutes will require greater mental endurance. Adding more time to the test simply increases the attentional challenge. For some students, this will be significant. As this change will not be implemented until September, those students who have yet to complete the essay section and intend to do so for their college applications should attempt it on the June or July test dates.
Throughout the years, my family of four has affectionately coined a phrase that is near and dear to our hearts: F-cubed, F to the third, or in long hand, Forced Family Fun. You know exactly what I mean when I spell it out: the tandem family bike ride at the beach, the Friday night family game night, the family Cupcake Wars competition. Most often, my F-cubed suggestions are greeted with a nervous laugh and a sideways glance between my kids and husband. One of the Garrett Family’s (alright, my) most favorite reiterations of Forced Family Fun is Book Club. It is usually a book that I have been carting around with me on my travels to visit schools and attend conferences which often returns back to Charlotte without a single dog-eared page. This is not because I lost interest in the book, its importance, or its relevance, but because I got wrapped up in the vortex of living in the moment and didn’t find the time to tackle the book.
Fast forward to Spring Break 2018: both my kids are in college and both have decided that they would like to spend it with me. Seriously?!?! Immediately, my wheels start turning about the fun we’ll have together and my thoughts quickly turn to the stack of books that are teetering on my bedside table. Bingo! Family Book Club: Spring Break Edition. I debated about which route I would go with this one, but it didn’t take long for me to hone in on what I knew would be “the” book. While I provide academic advisement for students and families, it often goes beyond the academics as finding a place where our children can thrive emotionally and socially is equally as important, and I might argue more so.
What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan is a book that addresses the transition from high school to college and the hidden struggle that many young adults are dealing with, but often times can’t identify much less rectify. Although this story is about a college athlete, the emotions and challenges that she faces are the same for many college students everywhere. I will tell you that while I wanted to devour this book in one sitting, I found myself drifting off in thoughts about my own transition to college and most certainly my own children’s transitions to college which have had their fair share of bumps in the road. It has haunted me. I have cried a lot. Do I really know my kids? Would I have seen this coming?
Madison Holleran appears to have everything going her way-she is smart, popular, and has been recruited as an Ivy League scholar athlete to run for the University of Pennsylvania. She struggles with the transition to college and the feeling that she is expected to excel in all areas and be happy doing it, even if, in actuality, they are self imposed expectations. Madison ultimately takes her own life, leaving her family and friends blindsided and devastated. The author, an ESPN anchor, recounts Maddy’s time leading up to her death along with research regarding young adults, depression, anxiety, suicide, and the role of social media on their mental health.
As an adult, I have my own thoughts and opinions about this tragic outcome, but I know that it is the thoughts of our young people that matter most. To that end, the consensus from my young book club crew was this: “Although this book was more on the informative side than the story side, it brings up a lot of valid points regarding the transition to college and mental health. Specifically, it brings to light people saying that this ‘came out of nowhere,’ and upon further reflection you see that there were warning signs along the way. Most importantly, don’t take people’s comments or actions at face value- it makes us realize the need to acknowledge that many actions should not be dismissed without considering the deeper meaning or considering our peers’ motivations. It also made us consider the fact that people’s social media portrayal is often very different that how they see themselves internally. We need to be aware that most people are going through difficult times, even when it is not portrayed on their social media accounts.”
I can tell you that this book and the subject matter will stay with me forever, and unfortunately, I don’t have an immediate solution. However, what I can assure you is that this is something that I will continue to talk about and research while I work towards erasing the stigma around mental illness for these young adults. In the interim, I can educate students and parents about the resources that are available to help all of us through the transition to college: counseling and psychological services, learning resource support and support organizations for both students and parents.
As Kate Fagan eloquently stated, “But there is no one thing. There are rivers that merge and create a powerful current. And we can’t fully know why they all merged, right then, right there, around Maddy. Still, we can try to analyze each one, the way it bends and curves, what it into when it blends with another. We can do this, learn everything we can, how to talk to others about their pain or our own, in the hope that fewer people get caught is this same, fierce swirl.” One of the most effective ways to stop this swirl is to have open and honest communication with each other and with our children. We need to educate our children that life is not what people portray their lives to be on social media, that life is a series of peaks and valleys, and that we need to be aware of our own feelings and emotions as well as those of the people around us. One simple act of kindness could be a game changer for someone in your path.
Whatever it is, I hope you all find your own special version of Forced Family Fun this Spring Break. I would love to hear how you spend your time together or your thoughts on this book should you choose to read it. If you are interested in knowing what other books we have been reading regarding teen mental health and other topics, please click HERE.