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Unique Admission Factors

“My son took more AP classes and had a perfect GPA and higher SAT. He got into COSMOS this year. How come my coworker’s kid got into Berkeley but my son didn’t?” “Hard to say. But have you read his entire application?” The he-got-in-but-I-didn’t scenario might be one of the biggest myths in college admission. I always tell students and parents do not to harp on the comparison unless you know every single detail of another kid. Factors, other than GPA, tests, and the list of activities, also affect the admission results. For example, at UCB, 23% of their freshmen are first-generation college students. At elite schools, 10-25% are recruited athletes, 10-25% are legacy students, and 1-2% are children of celebrities and politicians. There are many special influences that contribute to the results. But are they fair? My meeting with a boy from East Bay helped me understand why colleges would take socioeconomic/geographic backgrounds into consideration. He went to a public high school where as long as you did the assignments and showed some effort, it was not difficult to maintain a 3.8 GPA. As an A student, he scored 1200+ out of 1600 on SAT. But given what he really learned from the school, getting 1200 was already challenging, and he had to spend extra time learning the materials that were not covered in the class. It was not fair to compare his test score to those students who had a similar GPA but came from schools like Monta Vista or Gunn High. Gladly, colleges did consider the contexts when evaluating the applicants, and he was admitted to UCSB. Some of the characteristics, such as exceptional talents in sports/music/academic subjects, are convincing. I had the chance to talk to a girl who was a synchronized swimmer competing at the national level. She described her life as “swimming pool, classroom, home.” She devoted all her free time to the pool, where after her practice, she was able to earn volunteering hours by teaching entry-level swimmers and helping patients with rehabilitation. To gain the energy she needed for the intense training and keep fit, she had to watch her diet carefully. Meanwhile, she attended a competitive private high school, taking as many AP’s and honor classes as she could and maintaining a 3.9+ GPA (unweighted), and her SAT was almost perfect. People felt she was lucky that she got recruited by one of the top-10 national universities, but few could see how these athletes went the extra miles to be competitive both academically and in their sport. However, I personally have a complex feeling about how legacy works. It might be true that on average, parents who have colleges or higher degrees tend to pay more attention to the education of the next generation. But does it make a student more competitive, in terms of academic performance, personal attributes, and potentials, than other applicants though the parents graduated from this school? If, as argued by some professionals, legacy may help with the yield of the school, then it’s already made the admission unfair. At the end of the day, what really matters? I’ve always got questions like “Does playing football help with college admission?” The answer is no, in general. Whether it be badminton or gymnastics, what colleges are looking for is quality. Depending on how “unique” you are and what it has led to, it may or may not help you during college admission.

Train Your Brain...Like An Olympian

OK, quick question...who do you think would say terrible things about him or herself? A teenager who got a bad grade? Read this: I never feel that I am good enough or do anything well enough. You know, you would think at some level it’s a, it’s a great success and that I would feel, you know, super happy and, and I do, I’m so happy on some level. But, It’s never good enough for me...And that’s just sort of a default lens that I have on a lot of my life. I bet you would never guess it’s the CEO of Pinterest, Evan Sharp. But it is. He said those words as part of an interview with the Science of Greater Happiness podcast when he did the Self-Compassionate Letterexercise - you write a letter to yourself. So I wrote that letter kind of thinking about my friend, but really writing it to myself. And I was just amazed at how differently I relate to friends than to myself. It’s so easy for me to give words of encouragement to a friend, and so hard for me to give words of encouragement to myself. And so that little trick of thinking about, oh, what would you say to a friend who’s going through what you’re going through? And then flipping that on its head and actually saying that to myself, it’s just a really powerful little tool I’ve learned. You know, I wrote this letter to myself, but I’ve even found myself doing it just in my head, you know, in 10 seconds when I’m feeling really, really something critical. You might think that writing to yourself is a bit insane or perhaps not very productive - that it’s equal to just congratulating yourself, and would not, for example, make you want to work harder. But oh! What does the research say? You know, research by Serena Chan and Julia Brian shows that one of the things that it does is, you know, when you write self-compassionate letters to yourself or practice, self-compassion, you start to feel a little sense of motivation, like, wow, I’ve got this good stuff that I can, you know, work harder at my foibles. Did you have a sense of that empowering sense of energy there? What do his words have to do with training your brain or Olympians? You see, people have different ideas about what makes for a champion. Kill and drill! Tough it out! Etc. etc. But what do top performers like Olympians actually do? You might be surprised. They do a lot - A LOT - of self-care. From Sports Psychology Today: ...athletes must learn to develop and maintain a very specific combination of psychological strategies and attributes to enable them to perform at their best and win in the Olympic competition. So...what might those key strategies be? Glad you asked! A positive personality: Olympic champions possess positive personality characteristics including openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, competitiveness, optimism, and proactivity. Motivation: Gold medalists have multiple internal (i.e. passion for the sport) and external (i.e. proving their worth) motives for competing at the highest level. Champions consciously judge external pressures as important and so choose to perform in challenging sports environments. Confidence: Gained from various sources including multifaceted preparation, experience, self-awareness, visualization, coaching, and teammates. Focus: Champions are able to focus on themselves without distraction, and to concentrate on the process rather than the outcome of events. Perceived social support: Olympic gold medalists believe high-quality social support is available to them, including from family, coaches, teammates, and support staff. It’s worth calling out various words above - openness, internal motivation, self-awareness, teammates, process (over result) focus, and social support. These are all things that Olympians leverage to THRIVE and perform at the highest levels of physical feats! Do you see any parallels in your life? Focus is worth calling out - it matters, especially when...it matters most: Being able to block out distractions (i.e. the crowd and the potential consequences of failing) helps athletes do this. This is a hard task at the Games when athletes are all too aware of the consequences of their performance. But this just makes this skill even more valuable. Sports psychology is a field unto itself, but, we can borrow lessons even if we are not professional athletes: A pioneer....noticed that cyclists typically performed better when in the presence of a competitor. Recognizing cues like that has helped psychologists find not just the best ways to enhance athletic performance, but also to understand the distinct pressures faced by elite athletes. Concerns such as not wanting to disappoint a coach or teammates and striving to meet the expectations of fans can be paired against personal issues, stress, and self-doubt. What happens when you are around a rival? Do you work harder because you love your teammates, tablemates, classmates, etc.? What motivates YOU? Top athletes also reflect on what worked, or didn’t: To excel...you’ll need a game plan. For example, when dealing with results, take the time to learn from every poor performance rather than brooding or trying to forget it. After a peak performance, write down specifically what you were thinking, feeling, and doing immediately before, during, and after the event. The next time you need a boost in confidence or motivation, refer back to the list. So being able to engage in deliberate practice helps, of course, a lot. Sometimes (well, always) it is not fun to practice something you are not good “at.” Part of that is how we approach it. UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Center has some tips on approaching deliberate practice: Because deliberate practice is hard, you can offer a few tips to help motivate your children to engage in it: Rethink failure: Teach your children that failure is a normal part of learning by modeling comfort with mistakes. Share your experiences of failure with your children, so they learn that we all fail sometimes—and these failures teach us lessons that help us in the future. Rethink frustration and confusion: Teach your children that frustration and confusion are a natural part of the practice. Encourage them to see these feelings as signs that they are in the “stretch zone,” the space that helps us develop new skills. Enlighteens Education Perspective We hope you have learned something from this post, about what top performers really do to motivate and prepare themselves to perform at the very highest levels. These lessons “translate” to the way students can improve their own performances to make the most of high school.

How Could Fried Rice Impress Admissions Officers?

Everyone’s got an opinion on what makes for good college application personal statements. Why not hear directly from admissions officers? In this post, you will get a high-level view of what various colleges have to say about writing those apps! This blog post takes inspiration from the fact that one of the Johns Hopkins University “essays that worked” is about...fried rice! Read on: The only true fried rice recipe is no recipe at all. There are no measurements, no exact instructions, no timer for how long something should sizzle in the pan. There are only smells and feelings and memories. I learned to cook fried rice on the rickety stool covered in Blues Clues stickers, surrounded by the scents of my nainai’s Minnie Mouse apron, my yéyé’s cashmere sweater, or my mama’s Pantene shampoo; in the comfort of our cozy condo and our sweltering Hángzhou apartment...We used...a combination of anything and everything or nothing sitting in the fridge. You might wonder...why would they be interested in reading about that? Well, they explain! What we learn about Jess from her essay is a willingness to experiment, to take risks and find failure, and to learn from the past—whether it is from her parents and grandparents or just her own experiences. Her essay is clever and well written, but more importantly, it shows us her willingness to try different things, to embrace the different interests and aspects of her own personality, and to approach different things with a positive attitude. Imagine - the admissions officers can glean clues about your cleverness, risk-taking, and positivity - all from an essay about...fried rice? Yes, they can-do! Remember - this is from an essay that “worked” - as in, the person was successfully admitted into JHU. What topics might you overlook, in your zeal to look impressive? The University of California asks you to do a thought experiment when answering the Personal Insight Questions - to think of speaking person to person - on your app: Imagine UC was a person. If we met face-to-face, what would you want us to know about you? These personal insight questions allow you to tell us. You could write about your creative side. Your thoughts on leadership. A challenge you’ve faced. Whatever questions you answer, make sure you show us your personality—just as you would in real life. In their list of writing tips, they recommend that you write persuasively: Making a list of accomplishments, activities, awards or work will lessen the impact of your words. Expand on a topic by using specific, concrete examples to support the points you want to make. In other words - don’t write a resume as a response to the PIQs. Instead, tell carefully chosen STORIES to communicate with your reader. The Yale admissions office’s blog reminds you to consider voice and individuality: I do have favorite essays that I can remember, but they have no particular topic in common. Instead, they are the ones where at the end I have a grasp on what it might be like to have a conversation with the writer, to be in the same room as them. This is what we mean when we talk about voice. Revise and edit, but be sure not to lose the sense of individuality that only you can put into words. The University of Chicago prizes quirkiness so much that it invites you to submit your own prompt: In the spirit of adventurous inquiry (and with the encouragement of one of our current students!) choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). Be original, creative, thought-provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun! This is one the U Chicago office received from 2018: Little pigs, French hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together. The University of Washington’s helpful video reminds us that: “Remember that admissions officers are people too. And people get bored. Don’t let them. Give them something fresh....Steer clear of the theasaurus!” Perhaps best of all is when the host of the video reminds us that punctuation matters - that “Let’s eat Grandma” is not OK (whereas “Let’s eat, Grandma” is very OK! They also remind you: We’ve observed most students write a polished formal essay, yet submit a more casual short response. Give every part of the writing responses to your best effort, presenting yourself in standard, formal English. Don’t be fooled by short word requirements! Putting your best foot forward on all parts of an application is always a good idea. Enlighteens Education Perspective Our deep experience with the college admissions landscape includes not only includes the latest trends that affect your academic plans but also classic, concrete problems that 12th graders must address every year. We hope you enjoyed this short excursion to the perspectives that college admissions personnel apply when reading your application materials - so that you understand a little more about getting to that YES!

Gap Years and Your College List!

Questions to Ask Yourself You are applying to college (perhaps next year). But you are wondering if it would be worth taking a gap year - since college will be online. This of course is not a decision to take lightly. From Newsweek, a Dartmouth admittee explained: I really enjoy and value the in-person connection with professors and students...I just really didn’t want half the experience for the same amount of tuition. That was a deal-breaker for me...With just four college years, she didn’t want to spend one dealing with the coronavirus. ‘What we see with other schools now is kind of a disaster, and it’s kind of validating my decision,’ she says. Can You Afford A Gap Year? The reality is that your current financial aid offerings can of course evaporate if you are not enrolled in college. For many people, a gap year is a terrible idea because of the economic consequences. Bucknell University states it quite plainly: You don't have that kind of cash: Taking a gap year can be expensive. While financial aid can cover your study abroad experiences in college, it won't pay for a pre-college backpacking trip across Europe. Students targeting financial success after college often calculate that it doesn't make financial sense to take a year off. Bloomberg Businessweek notes: Students taking gap years tend to be more affluent, better able to afford a $75,000-a-year private college—and the expense of taking an extended break before enrolling. Are You Going to Benefit? If you were planning to enter college, and don’t, what will you actually do during your gap year? In other years, if you had a job offer, or an opportunity to do some service learning - something hands-on - that could be very tempting and worth delaying college. But during the pandemic, many such opportunities have vanished. Would My College Even Let Me Defer? The reality is that colleges’ policies about gap years differ - a lot. Before you start packing your suitcase for a year-long excursion to the vacation place of your choosing - oh wait, you might not be able to really go anywhere or do anything because of COVID19 - it is important to research how various schools differ. Gap Year Policies Colleges’ gap year policies range in time, and some are only allowing admittees on a case-by-case basis vs. a blanket policy. Example 1: Purdue Take note of Purdue’s policy: You may request a gap year for the following reasons: Military or public service Extraordinary, full-time travel, volunteer service or work opportunity Illness validated by a doctor’s written confirmation Cultural enrichment opportunity It is typical in that they require you to make a formal request, in light of a specific issue or opportunity. For many schools, you usually must 1) provide a deposit for attendance and 2) complete a formal request for deferral. Purdue’s policy is also typical in that they are looking for a tangible, substantial reason the majority of your time would be dedicated to something other than school. Example 2: Emory Emory is quite generous in that it will allow for up to 2 years for a deferral. Example 3: UC Davis Something to consider is that schools do not want you to defer enrollment, only to sign up for classes somewhere else. UC Davis warns: Students are not allowed to enroll in any coursework at another accredited college or university during this time. Do You Simply Need More Time? The Los Angeles Times interviewed a biotech intern who decided to take a gap year, who noted: ‘In the journey into adulthood, there’s so much anxiety and so much worry,’ he says, noting that many of his peers find comfort in the straight-to-college path with their lives a bit more plotted out for them. For him, this is a year, despite the coronavirus, to become more ‘mature, curious, and motivated. What About Semesters Off? One thing to remember is that most colleges will let you take a semester off once you are actually enrolled and attending. So a gap year is not your only opportunity to take a breather. GenTwenty’s blogger has no regrets about taking a semester off: For one, I got the opportunity to figure out my priorities. When you’re in the midst of midterms and group projects with constant deadlines looming in the near future, it can be difficult to remember some things… like what really matters: You and your future. Enlighteens Education Perspective Ultimately, only you can decide how important it would be to take a break before starting college. For example, what if you are worried about bringing infections home to family members who are vulnerable? If a gap year is very important to you, this may even ultimately affect how you build your college list. High school juniors, take note! These policies may very well change, depending on this year’s admission cycle. However, it is worth spending some time to understand the options that various colleges offer for deferrals, in case that is something you wish to pursue in the future.

Let Your K-Drama, Bollywood and Hollywood Heroes Help You Write!

When we start meeting to discuss essay topics, some of my students say, they have “nothing” to write about - Nothing to say about themselves. However, there are usually stories hiding right where you would never expect to see them. The purpose of this blog post is to challenge you to let your favorite movie/tv / etc. heroes to inspire your own choices when you write your college applications. This time around, let them help you! [WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!] Case Study #1: Itaewon Class Business Insider India says “'Itaewon Class' is an addictive revenge drama with a diverse cast” - and that it is! It could also be an entry point for thinking about how to approach your college applications. Specifically, a few days after I binge-watched this show, I was struck by how perfectly some of the main character's choices would be a perfect response to some of the University of California Personal Insight Questions- the short responses for the application. Namely, UC PIQ #5 asks you to: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? Under the prompt, the UC helps you by explaining that challenge is something you can interpret broadly: Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone? If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?” What if you were Park Saero-yi? What would you do, with the cards dealt to you? In his case, he had quite a few significant challenges - the traumatic loss of his father, expulsion from school (because he stood up to a bully - trying to do the right thing), and even ended up in jail. Yet, he made his 15-year plan - and stuck by it. Along the way, he met different people who would become friends and future business partners. Park Saeroyi is like a Pied Piper, attracting people into his long-term plans. Most compelling is that he sticks by his beliefs. Korea Joong Ang Daily notes: ...what’s fresh about this one is that it’s a new style where the protagonist doesn’t perish along with their opponent. He doesn’t do whatever it takes for him to get his revenge. Instead, he plans it thoroughly and realizes his plan step by step, while still being righteous and taking control of his goals. Seung-kwon, his former jail buddy, credits him for letting him see a world beyond criminality - he ultimately follows Saeroyi into the restaurant business when Saeroyi opens the pub in Itaewon. He gave Jang Geun-soo, the second son of his arch-enemy, a safe place to land when he needed a job. Imagine that! By the end of the series, it is not shocking to see them reconcile - because Saeroyi helped Geun-soo change forever. Even when he could treat his arch-enemy Jang Dae-hee with disrespect, etc. he acts with civility and even feeds him inside the Itaewon location, where all the magic started. Throughout the show, you see how he teaches his friends to accept and respect themselves, under his tender care. Who knew? For a guy who is not exactly chatty, he’s a natural nurturer! So for Park Saero-yi, he overcame the problem of being a middle school dropout and ex-convict by having an extremely successful business - with the help of all the steps within his multi-year plan! Case Study #2: Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year [DISCLAIMER: Rocket Singh isn’t standard Bollywood fare - many years on, the film is considered to be “underrated.”] When I was watching “Itaewon Class” it actually reminded me of another Cinderella-ish story, “Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year” which I saw many years ago. This film is also something of a Cinderella tale - of how a young man faces adversity to find great success in the business world while adhering to his principles. The film paints the business world as a desolate atmosphere for a guy like Harpreet Singh. One reviewer notes: “The feel of the corporate world has been captured very realistically. The writing (Jaideep Sahni) is top-notch too, with several scenes making a great impact – the first job interview, conversations between Harpreet and his senior manager Nitin, the scene in the club where Harpreet is insulted by his boss when his boss gets to know about his secret company, his confrontations and many more.” How did he go from being a proverbial zero to a hero? He could very well also answer UC #5 - the one about a significant challenge? Unlike Saeroyi, he didn’t go to prison, and his arch-nemesis doesn’t control everybody - however, he has a powerful villain/villains of his own. Despite being constantly bullied by others in his workplace, he slowly earns the respect of some of his co-workers to the point that he can recruit them into his IT startup! What a challenge indeed! Times of India notes: And there is an alluring everyman quality to this character Harpreet. He never understood numbers in school. He can barely fathom their significance in salesmanship. Since he proverbially never let school interfere with his education, he can still see humans beyond competitors. He also figures that honestly creating and sharing wealth is the finest premise behind startups and successful enterprises. These values, it is evident, serve capitalism well in the long-run. Park Saeroyi’s story of the scrappy bunch of friends making it through a tough time together - that also reminded me of Rocket Singh. TheNew York Times notes: Harpreet starts his own secret business on the side, runs on hard work and honesty. A Sikh, he forms a kind of Indian rainbow coalition when he brings in partners: the beautiful receptionist who has been passed up for promotion; the man who serves tea and is dismissively called Cup-Plate; and even a snaky salesman, who comes to appreciate doing business Harpreet’s way. What a cool guy! Case Study #3: Black Panther Marvel’s film, “Black Panther” among the top ten of the biggest movie blockbusters of all time- in part succeeds because so many of the lead and supporting characters are facing significant challenges! What made this such a global hit? When Your Life is A Piece of Cake...Until Your Villain Shows Up! You would think King T’Challa, would have an easy life. Born into a royal family, life should be a piece of cake, right? Oh but wait...his cousin and fellow Wakandan Erik Killmonger turns out to be his worst enemy!!! It’s not exactly a fun time when Killmonger even takes the crown!!! Yes, that is a significant challenge! When You Are Torn Okoye, the official military commander, struggles when the villain, Erik Killmonger, becomes the king - should she continue to support a regime she does not find honorable? Or should she fight for what she believes is the right thing to do? She experiences a tug-of-war between her duty, and her heart. That could be a significant challenge! Enlighteens Education Perspective We bring you this blog post so that you can see the potential for essay ideas everywhere, even from your favorite TV/movie heroes! We hope you stay inspired and creative in your writing process as you prepare your college applications.

Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block for College Apps!

You, the hero of the story, are stuck, staring at a blank Google Doc / computer screen / phone screen / etc. No words are entering your mind. Your enemy? Your keyboard staring you right back in the face! But you have to write COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS. OMG, what to do!?!?!?! Who will win this standoff??? In case you didn’t know, Merriam-Webster defines writer’s block as: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece Now you’re saying, well, “duh!” And now you are thinking, “Help me!!!” But wait...even professional writers get cold feet. Case in point -Masterclass says: Self-doubt is actually a big part of writer’s block. In the 1970s, Yale researchers Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios studied a group of “blocked” professional writers in a variety of disciplines, from screenwriting to poetry. After several months, the researchers discovered that there are four main triggers of writer’s block: Apathy. These writers felt constrained by the “rules” of writing and struggled to find their creative spark. Anger. These writers were often narcissistic and would get angry if something they created went unnoticed. Anxiety. These writers worried that they weren’t good enough. Issues with others. These writers didn’t want their writing to be compared to others’ work, resulting in a fear of writing anything at all. So how can you overcome this writer’s block? Deadlines are approaching! Your schoolwork is also crying out for attention. What to do??? So many things to do, so little time! Do Something (else) Creative If you paint, draw, play music or do some other creative activities - go for it! Get into your creative flow! Tapping into the creative part of your brain will help you tackle writing with greater confidence. Brainstorm Brainstorming is an important part of pre-writing - preparing to write something. Gather up your ideas and before you eliminate any or start to judge or edit - just keep jotting ideas down! Freewrite by Hand Some of you might be accustomed to writing things on computers or even on your phones. What about trying to write things by hand? Yes, the good old-fashioned pen-to-paper way! Renowned author and writing teacher,Natalie Goldberg, says: keep your hand moving," and she says that continual movement is key to the success of the practice. Don't go back and edit, she says. Don't worry about grammar and punctuation. And, perhaps above all, "lose control." Goldberg argues that freewriting is a way of getting in touch with “first thoughts,” which she says “have tremendous energy. It is the way the mind first flashes on something. The internal censor usually squelches them, so we live in the realm of second and third thoughts, thoughts on thought, twice and three times removed from the direct connection of the first fresh flash.” Exercise Getting your heart rate up with some exercise will get your mind on other things - other than the college applications process. Moving up your energy levels will refresh your mind and soul to help you tackle writing tasks with renewed vigor! Change of Scenery Whether you are exercising outside or just sitting somewhere enjoying a nice view, having a change of scenery will give your brain something new to focus on. Lifehack says: Move to your deck, a coffeeshop, a friend’s back bedroom, a co-working office space…wherever you don’t usually write. See if inspiration hits. Under shelter-in-place conditions, your options may very well vary, but, the concept remains the same. Lower Your Expectations: Accept the “Bad” Writing with the Good Many times when people are trying to write - and when I say people, that includes teens - they get very worried about writing badly. Sometimes that worry is downright paralyzing. But you may need to give yourself permission to write badly before writing anything worth keeping. From ThoughtCo: And so, in order to be a good writer, I have to be willing to be a bad writer. I have to be willing to let my thoughts and images be as contradictory as the evening firing its fireworks outside my window. In other words, let it all in — every little detail that catches your fancy. You can sort it out later — if it needs any sorting. Hope you enjoyed these tips and use them in your writing process!

Early College Application Deadlines for 2020 and You!

You might have heard people getting excited about early deadlines. Why the excitement? And why are colleges offering two or even three options for applying early in this pandemic year??? Read on! Time Magazine found in 2013: [W]hat most students and parents don’t realize is that schools have ulterior motives for offering early decision, and in many cases, it’s better for students to use nonbinding options like early action or to simply wait to apply at the regular time. Early decision, since it’s binding, allows schools to fill their classes with qualified students; it allows admissions committees to select the students that are in particular demand for their college and know those students will come. It also gives schools a higher yield rate (the percentage of students admitted to attend the school), which is often used as one of the ways to measure college selectivity and popularity. In short, it’s a tremendously useful tool for colleges and universities. Early Decision is Common Among Top Colleges - and Why? Seven years later, much of the above is still true - ED is still a “useful tool” for colleges. Let’s break out the main ideas: Early Decision helps colleges by 1) filling seats early, and also by 2) giving a higher rate of yield. The overwhelming majority of top colleges offer various forms of early admissions which limit student choice by requiring exclusivity or commitment, or both. Indeed, among the top colleges in the United States, CalTech, MIT, and UCLA stand out because they do not require exclusivity when you apply. In other words, they want people who want to be COMMITTED to them. And that is how they fill many of the seats of their freshman classes. Types of Early Application Deadlines Early Decision The one that gets the most attention is Early Decision. This form of admissions requires that you promise to attend if you are accepted and that you are ONLY applying under an Early Decision option to that single school. Basically, it is like a wedding engagement - to a college. You can only make a proposal to one! In return, you receive an early decision from the college. Commonly, this looks like so: you apply ED by November 1st, and receive a decision from the college by mid-December. This is much faster than the normal “regular decision” cycle of applying in January and receiving notification months and months later. Early Decision’s Cousin, Single-Choice Early Action (SCEA) SCEA is non-binding and exclusive (meaning you can only apply to ONE such school) and you'll get your decision earlier; typically this is something a private college will offer, and does not interfere with applications to public colleges/universities as long as those are non-binding. Restricted Early Action (REA) is the same as SCEA; some schools use the term “restricted” instead of “single-choice.” Rankings and “Yield” Rate One of the reasons colleges love ED is that it boosts their yield rates, meaning, the rate at which applicants actually enroll in their institutions. The higher the freshman registration rate, the more attractive the university is to students. It is a core indicator of university admissions. No matter how big the university is, if they do not have a high enough yield rate, they will recruit either too many or not enough. Not having enough students is definitely fatal for the admissions office. The yield rates of UC Berkeley is around 40%, while top schools like Harvard can reach 80%. The ED admission policy to a large extent establishes much of the school’s yield rate. Students admitted at this stage will definitely come to school, which gives the admissions office confidence - because the option is binding - typically they ask you only break the agreement in the event of a medical problem. Therefore, the ED admission rate of almost all schools is higher than the total admission rate. Early Admissions Strategies for You Is it that easy? Should everyone apply early? Of course, from the applicant's perspective, EA/ED is one of the application strategies. If applicants set their goals properly, they can successfully sprint to the previously “impossible” schools to receive offers early. Especially this year, the epidemic has caused financial crises for many universities. The enrollment task of this year's admissions office is more stress-inducing than any previous year! Therefore, the ED policy that guarantees the enrollment rate of new students will play a greater role. But at the same time, everyone should keep in mind that the students applying for ED are often the strongest group. If the overall competitiveness of the applicant does not exceed the average profile that a college is seeking, it is not recommended to apply for ED. Matching yourself to the schools where you will receive the best chances is something you will want to research thoroughly. Fall 2020: One, Two - or even Three Early Deadlines We’re including a handy list of selective schools with early deadlines. It’s worth noting that this year, some schools are increasing the number of early options they are offering. This year, there many selective schools offering Early Decision II options, on top of Early Decision or Early Action - see bolded options below. That means that they know you might be applying somewhere else for Early Decision I, getting a response in mid-December, and are still seeking commitments in January. It is well worth your time to really research your college list well and carefully consider if you want to apply early, and if so, what your options will be. Notable October Deadlines University of Georgia: 10/15 EA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: 10/15 EA Babson College: 11/1 EA and 1/2 ED Boston College: 11/1 for ED I and 1/1 for ED II Brandeis University: 11/1 for ED I and 1/1 for ED II Brown University: 11/1 ED I California Institute of the Arts: 12/2 for Preferred Deadline California Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA Carnegie Mellon University: 11/1 ED Case Western: 11/1 EA, 11/1 ED, and 1/1 ED II Chapman University: 11/1 for EA and 11/1 for ED University of Chicago: 11/2 for EA, 11/2 for ED Clark University: 11/1 EA, 11/1 ED, and 1/15 ED II Colorado College: 11/1 EA, 11/1 ED, and 1/15 ED II Columbia University: 11/1 ED Dartmouth University: 11/1 ED University of Denver: 11/1 for EA and 11/1 for ED Drexel University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED Duke University: 11/16 ED Emory University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II University of Florida: Regular Decision is 11/1 Fordham University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED Georgetown University: 11/1 EA Georgia Institute of Technology: 11/2 for non-Georgia residents Harvard University: 11/1 EA Johns Hopkins University: 11/1 ED I, 1/4 ED II Loyola Marymount University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED University of Massachusetts at Amherst: 11/5 EA Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA Miami University: 12/1 EA and 12/1 ED University of Michigan: 11/15 EA University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: 11/1 EA Northeastern University: 11/1 ED, 1/1 ED II Northwestern University: 11/1 ED University of Notre Dame: 11/1 REA Oregon State University: 11/1 EA University of Oregon: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED New York University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II Pennsylvania State University: 11/1 EA University of Pennsylvania: 11/1 ED Pepperdine University: 11/1 EA [Princeton is suspending its Early Decision deadline, instead of moving to only to a Regular Decision on 1/1] Purdue University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 Priority Deadline for their most competitive programs such as computer science and nursing Reed College: 11/15 for EA, 11/1 for EDI and 12/20 for ED II Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: 11/1 ED, 12/1 EA, 12/15 ED II Rice University: 11/1 ED University of Rochester: 11/1 for ED I, 1/5 for ED II Rose Hulman Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA University of San Francisco: 11/1 EA Santa Clara University: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED [University of Southern California does not offer ED nor EA options] Stanford University: 11/1 REA Tufts University: 11/1 ED I, 1/1 ED II Tulane University: 11/1 ED, 11/15 EA Wake Forest University: 11/15 ED I, 1/1 ED II University of Washington: Regular Decision 11/15 Washington University of Saint Louis: 11/1 ED I, 1/2 ED II College of William & Mary: 11/1 ED I and 1/1 ED II University of Wisconsin at Madison: 11/1 EA Worchester Institute of Technology: 11/1 EA Vanderbilt University: 11/1 ED, 1/1 ED II University of Virginia: 11/1 EA and 11/1 ED Yale University: SCEA 11/1 We offer you this information so that you can make your decisions with open eyes. This pandemic year brings particular challenges for many - that includes families and colleges alike. How you fit into this picture is something you can give serious thought. There will be opportunities for those who can proceed methodically and strategically this application season.

Is Your Smartphone Breaking Your Child’s Heart?

We’ve all heard about how teenagers are addicted to their smartphones. In fact, a whopping majority of U.S. parents are worried about their children's overuse of screen-time. The Pew Research Center’s recent research study indicates that most (61%) are looking for guidance from medical professionals about this very issue. 60% of Teens Say Phones Are A Major Problem for...Teens Study after study proclaims the dangers of children and electronics, to the point that teens themselves admit they are on their phones TOO MUCH, as found by the Pew Research Center: As they look at their own lives and those of their peers, most teens see things that worry them. Roughly nine-in-ten teens view spending too much time online as a problem facing people their age, including 60% who say it is a major problem (emphasis in the original). YouTube is Enjoyable, Everyday YouTube, part of the Alphabet family of companies, is a shining star of the Internet, as Common Sense Media found (but this may be to the detriment of IQ everywhere): Since 2015, the percentage of young people who say they watch online videos "every day" has doubled, to 56% from 24% among 8- to 12-year-olds, and to 69% from 34% among 13- to 18-year-olds. For tweens, it is the media activity they enjoy the most, with 67% saying they enjoy it "a lot," up from 46% in 2015, when it ranked fifth in enjoyment. Time spent watching online videos also increased from 25 to 56 minutes a day among tweens, and from 35 to 59 minutes a day among teens on average. ....because it could also a major contributing factor to encouraging passivity: The majority of young people devote very little time to creating their own content (just 2% of screen use among tweens and 3% among teens). Screen media use continues to be dominated by watching TV and videos, playing games, and using social media; use of digital devices for making art, creating music, coding, or writing remains minimal. How Do Parents Use Smartphones? But, oh, what about their parents!?!?! You, yes YOU. Are you holding your smartphone right now? Well, maybe you are ruining your family time because you are addicted!!! Are you making your kids jealous of your smartphone? Are they lonely without you? Sometimes, children see the phones as a source of competition for a parent’s attention. Some parents confess to having their own smartphone addictions, as found by the Pew Research Center: At the same time, some parents of teens admit they also struggle with the allure of screens: 36% say they themselves spend too much time on their cellphone. And 51% of teens say they often or sometimes find their parent or caregiver to be distracted by their own cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them. Smartphones Cause Family Fights? Do you check your phone DURING family time? Ahem, ahem, are you checking the stock market when your kids are talking about their favorite song, latest quiz, sports match, etc.??? Because that is a cardinal sin!!! You might even be causing your children to misbehave! Young children whose parents interrupt family time by pulling out their smartphones or tablets appear more prone to misbehaviors, such as whining, sulking and tantrums, the research revealed. Or, your neglect may be responsible for kids’ getting more injuries: In addition, some evidence suggests smartphone use may be to blame for a 10 percent uptick in unintentional childhood injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)... According to CDC data, unintentional injuries to children under age 5 rose 10 percent between 2007 and 2012, after falling for much of the prior decade. Interestingly, Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, and today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners, according to the Pew Research Center. One U.K. second grader’s paper went viral when she explained why she hated her mom’s phone. Are you that bad!?!?! Is your child’s broken heart going to lead to something like that!?!?! Is Your Smartphone One More Child? Clinical psychologist and researcher Catherine Steiner-Adair notes, "One of the many things that absolutely knocked my socks off...was the consistency with which children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents' attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology, much like in therapy you hear kids talk about sibling rivalry." Guilty As Charged? What kind of role model are you being for your children? Maybe you already feel super guilty! Guilt can be a useful emotion but the picture is not quite so clear. Before you throw your smartphone into your trash bin, consider if your phone use is “dependent” or “time-limited” in nature - because it makes a difference. What is “Technoference”? Technoference happens when technology becomes an obstacle between people, instead of a support: Study author Brandon McDaniel coined the term "technoference" about five years ago when researching technology's intrusion into face-to-face interactions and relationships. His new findings on kids and parents reinforce established research focusing on technology's effects on child development. "Do you like it when you feel snubbed by someone, when that person isn't validating or listening to you?" asked McDaniel. He's an assistant professor of human development and family science at Illinois State University. Dependent vs. Time-Limited Use Researchers classify use depending upon the levels of attention the parents give to the phones - immersion. Rather, it may prove more fruitful to conceptualize parents’ use of devices in terms of degree of immersion (e.g., Radesky et al., 2016). Illustratively, parents’ responses to children’s behavior can be delayed if most of the interaction is spent scrolling on devices (i.e., divided engagement; Lemish et al., 2019), and phone checking and absorption in social networking sites (SNS) can consume parents’ attention without limits. This near‐constant checking of cell phones has been characterized as ‘dependence’ within certain scholarly spheres. Being able to maintain eye contact and otherwise interact successfully with one’s children is key: In contrast, less immersive uses such as phone calls and texting tend to be time‐limited and allow for maintenance of eye contact with children. These uses can simultaneously provide some freedom yet allow parents to quickly switch away from the phone when needed (Hiniker, Sobel, Suh, Sung, Lee, & Kientz, 2015; Oduor et al., 2016). Given simultaneous benefits of relational upkeep and stress relief (Radesky et al., 2016), such time‐limited use might have positive implications for parenting. Smartphones Are Bad, err, Good for Families? The inspiration for this blog post actually came from “Tuning into the real effect of smartphone use on parenting: a multiverse analysis” - a recent study by of 14,623 teens and adults in Australia. The most stunning finding was that the role of smartphones in families might possibly have a positive role: At low levels of displacing time with family, more smartphone use was associated with better (not worse) parenting. The authors noted that, especially considering diverse family environments, smartphones play multiple roles in family life, and when not heavily impacting on family time, may have a positive role in parenting. Where does this positive role come from? It boils down to whether you are a “warm parent” or not: The take‐home message here is, supposing a causal relation exists, for individuals who would not self‐classify as warm parents, they may be better off displacing family time with their phone as opposed to not, at least for some uses such as time on SNS. The other (noncausal) interpretation is that parents who displace more time with their phones, and also spend a great deal of time on their phones (for some purposes), will be warmer than they otherwise would be. This pattern of effects held for measures of immersive tasks: SNS Intensity constructs, Check Intensity constructs; Text Intensity constructs, SNS, and Daily Checking. In this case, constructs tapping immersion with phone appear to work to connect or entertain parents and/or diffuse stress, concurrently nudging them upwards in warmth. Quick Litmus Tests: How Are You Using Your Phone? Do you get irritable when you get interrupted while using the phone? Occasional parental inattention is not catastrophic (and may even build resilience), but chronic distraction is another story. Smartphone use has been associated with a familiar sign of addiction: Distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but actually misread them. A tuned-out parent may be quicker to anger than an engaged one, assuming that a child is trying to be manipulative when, in reality, she just wants attention. Psychology Today notes: Ultimately, kids thrive when they receive consistent, dependable, focused, loving attention. Using a smartphone when you’re with a child is a form of psychological withdrawal and non-responsiveness. We’re not talking about staying off your phone 100 percent of the time—more like 90 percent. It’s okay to answer an urgent text or make a quick call, especially if it includes your child. So, Are You Warm? Basically, if you are not that warm to begin with, it means you cannot handle being on your phone so you better spend more time with your family! If you are “warm” then it probably means that when you are on your phone, you make a conscious effort to spend quality TIME with your family to offset the time you were not available - and that you might be using the smartphone to take better care of yourself - be less stressed - and therefore more emotionally available for your family. So - it all comes down to how you manage your time with your loved ones, or not!!! Takeaways: Are You Good at Interacting in Real Life? If you as a parent, as a teen, as a family, as a person - are better at spending time on your phone than each other - then, it’s time for you to put down your phone and do something together. Remember, the most valuable thing you can give to someone is your UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. Is Internet Use Making You Passive? Consider whether your internet use, especially that of your children, is passive or active; is your child merely consuming information, or, leveraging the Internet to create art, solve problems, or otherwise use critical thinking skills? If not, time to turn off the WiFi! Are A Good Role Model For Your Kids? Hypocrisy and parenting isn’t usually a successful match - and kids are smart enough to know when you are telling them one thing, and doing another. So however you wish your children to use their phones, be sure to be a good example for them. You are the adult, you can do it!!! Educational Perspective Enlighteens Education brings this topic to your attention so that you can gain a greater understanding of your children and the role of technology in all of our lives. It is important to understand not only what is happening, but also why so that you can make your decisions about it, consciously. You as a family can take charge of how this influences you and everyone in your family. As we explored in a previous blog post about gaming, we may “use” technology in various ways to address certain emotional needs - which may or may not be a successful strategy. If you can understand your own dependence upon your smartphone, the way you develop rules in your family about what is or is not allowed will be more substantial, and you may even have more empathy for the difficulty your children face in putting the phone down.

Save Tuition. Take AP?

One big misconception about AP is that passing AP exams helps students earn college credits, save money, and accelerate graduation. However, the reality is that not all college curricula are created equally; the score needed and how many credits students can be granted depend on the college and the major. When it comes to college credits, the more selective the college is, the less generous it is to grant credits. For example, Harvard and MIT only accept score 5 if certain prerequisites are met, and the credits students can earn are extremely limited: Harvard Credit towards graduation is granted for Advanced Placement exams only if a student activates Advanced Standing. Incoming students who have taken AP exams need a total of 32 credits to be eligible for Advanced Standing. Credits are earned by scoring 5 on a minimum of four AP exams. Under the Math/Science category, Harvard doesn’t grant credits to AP ES, AP Physics 1, Physics 2, AP CS P, or AP CS A. MIT MIT’s policy on AP equivalence is tough. A 5 on AP Calc BC doesn’t help students earn any college credits. Students have to take the Math Diagnostic exam upon entering the college, and passing grade (yet to be determined by the faculty) on this exam plus a 5 on the Calculus BC will earn credits. MIT doesn’t accept any AP sciences except for the 5 on AP Physics C: Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism It’s understandable that the elite colleges implement these standards to ensure the quality of their undergraduate education. Compared to these top-10 colleges, other universities, especially public schools, are more generous. Cornell For most STEM subjects, only 5’s are accepted. For example, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science A (AP CS P is not considered). For some humanity majors, such as Roman Studies, a placement test is required to grant college credits in addition to the AP result. Cornell University does NOT accept credit for courses sponsored by colleges but taught in high schools to high school students (aka dual-credit), even if the college provides a transcript of such work. USC No credit is given for projected scores, partial scores or subscores, such as Calculus AB Subscore, Music: Aural Subscore, or Music: Nonaural Subscore. AP scores do not earn USC course equivalence. Only 4 and 5 are accepted by limited subjects: 2nd languages, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Calculus, and Psychology. NYU Only 4 and 5 are accepted. Pre-health students cannot use AP credits to place out of BIOL-UA 11, 12. Students who are not pre-health can apply these credits towards majors and minors in the Department of Biology. Economics majors cannot use AP credit in calculus for any or all of the Mathematics for Economics I, II, III sequence (MATH-UA 211, 212, 213). Potential physics majors may discuss their Physics C credits with that department for possible placement out of PHYS-UA 91 and 93 (but not out of the associated labs PHYS-UA 71 and 72). Physics majors granted this exemption are required to take one or more additional advanced PHYS-UA electives. UC-Berkeley A score of 3 is accepted for many subjects. For instance, a score of 3 or higher satisfies the full American History and Institutions requirement. The College of Engineering has higher expectation on students’ academic performance: A score of 4 or 5 from AP Calculus BC satisfies Mathematics 1A and Mathematics 1B Physics Mechanics C: Score of 5 satisfies Physics 7A A score of 4 or 5 satisfies Biology 1A/1AL and Biology 1B UCLA Similar with Berkeley. But it accepts 3’s from STEM subjects. University of Washington at Seattle Native speakers of a languages other than English cannot earn credits from the AP exam related to those languages. At the UW, scores of 3 or higher are considered for college credit awards or placement into UW courses. A score of 2 with subgrades of 3, 4, and 5 on AP Calc BC will grant college credits as well. Clearly, every school/department has its own rule of accepting AP exams for credits. It’s worth noting that there are two ways to grant college credits based on AP: credits with course equivalence and credits without course equivalence. The difference is that without course equivalence, students will earn credits that may help them fulfill the general requirement, such as “ X units from social sciences.” But if there is a specific course requirement that cannot be satisfied with AP (even though it is the same subject), students still have to take the class in college. Take UC Irvine (UCI) for example. Getting a score of 3 on AP Calculus AB only gives students 8 UCI credits, but with a score of 4, students can use the result to satisfy the requirement for Math 2A. AP’s are essential to show a student’s mastery of knowledge and the rigor of the curriculum. Students should not be affected by one or two colleges’ policies when deciding which courses to take. But for specific causes like saving tuition, we highly recommended to conduct thorough research on the AP equivalence policy.

Myth-busting the Business Major!!!

Beware the business administration major! There are so many ways that those programs run astray. But...but...it’s so...POPULAR? What could be wrong with it? Does business “deserve” to be the major associated with 1 out of every 5 college majors? From the National Center for Educational Statistics we learn that: “Postsecondary institutions conferred 2.0 million bachelor’s degrees in 2017–18....business (19 percent, or 386,000 degrees)...” So...when people graduate with a business major, what might they be getting? A rigorous program that exposes them to the rough-and-tumble realities of the business world? Activities that teach them about how to balance the books and read financial statements? Maybe not. Instead, if their program emphasizes group work - which many do, since collaboration is at the heart of business - they might be doing less learning than normal! The New York Times article about this extremely popular major (within the USA) is quite an unflinching look: ...a business professor at the University of Denver, studied group projects at his institution and found a perverse dynamic: the groups that functioned most smoothly were often the ones where the least learning occurred. That’s because students divided up the tasks in ways they felt comfortable with. The math whiz would do the statistical work, the English minor drafted the analysis. And then there’s the most common complaint about groups: some shoulder all the work, the rest do nothing. How do professors hold their students accountable? Do they even hold them accountable? Or are they apathetic? Although the students at brand-name programs might work hard and learn much, not all programs are of equal value (from the NYT): [G]et much below BusinessWeek’s top 50, and you’ll hear pervasive anxiety about student apathy, especially in “soft” fields like management and marketing, which account for the majority of business majors. For the sake of contrast, consider the way the University of Virginia’s undergraduate business program operates (again, from the NYT article): On a recent morning, a strategy professor led 40 students through a case study of the missteps that led to Arthur Andersen’s debacles...The students in the room know they’ll be grilled on each day’s case study. And when they hand in papers, they’re marked up twice: once for content by a professor with specialized expertise, and once for writing quality by a business-communication professor. What are employers willing to hire a 22-year old to do? And, what are they hoping to find? According to national surveys, they want to hire 22-year-olds who can write coherently, think creatively and analyze quantitative data, and they’re perfectly happy to hire English or biology majors. Most Ivy League universities and elite liberal arts colleges, in fact, don’t even offer undergraduate business majors. But surely, a business major would be good preparation for entering into an MBA program? Not necessarily so. ...when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than students in every other major. And intellectually, surely there are gains? Some people might see college as adding to one’s life experience? Again...no. Jeff Selingo wrote, What’s more, the results of national standardized tests... found that students who major in business made significantly fewer gains in college in critical thinking, writing and communication, and analytical reasoning than those who studied mathematics, science, and engineering, as well as the traditional liberal arts (philosophy, history, and literature). OK but what if you picked this major because you want a steady paycheck after college? Again...no. Selingo cites a Georgetown University study that found: The top quarter earners who majored in humanities or the liberal arts make more than the bottom quarter of engineering majors. When to Choose Business Or Alternative Majors By now you might be wondering, yes, yes, you’ve explained what not to do, what is the constructive direction? When is a good time to major in business? The answer is, it DEPENDS. If you study business with a specific concentration that will result in a concrete “hard” skill, such as accounting, finance, information systems or supply chain management. Understanding concentrations within a business major is important, because, as Selingo notes: Value of Math-Focused Business Majors Not all business majors are created equal in the job market. Research shows that general business and marketing majors are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, meaning they hold jobs that don’t require a college degree. They also earn less than those in more math-focused business majors, such as finance and accounting. Economics Majors Alternatively, you might just major in economics. It’s a humanities major which usually ends up paying more than most business administration majors, since it shows up at the top of salary surveys. The Value of Top Undergraduate Business Programs If you can get admitted into a top undergraduate business program that is very rigorous, that can be a great option. Programs such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton, or the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business offer excellent opportunities and results for admitted students, as Forbes notes: Wharton is a powerhouse of opportunity. Students lucky enough to overcome the school’s high admission hurdles are awarded with one of the best undergraduate teaching experiences in the world. And when they graduate, world-class employers are waiting for the school’s graduates with open arms. Some 95% of the graduates land jobs within three months of commencement at starting base salaries and sign-on bonuses that bring starting pay to a record $92,057 this year. Harnessing Dreams Within Reality Here at Enlighteens Education, we are very mindful of these kinds of minefields affecting business majors and other options when we advise students about potential majors in college and career trajectories. At all times, we rely on what we know about our students along with vetted, objective information to make our recommendations. That is because we believe it is important to plan one’s life with logic and solid information, not hunches or mythologies. It is always important to understand - and even pursue - one’s dreams and aspirations - all within the clear context of reality.

The Most Diverse UC Class: Snapshot of Fall 2020

Fall 2020: Most Diverse UC Class The University of California (UC) system made headlines across the country last week for accepting its most diverse class ever for Fall 2020. Let’s dig further into this story, shall we? We will journey into the specifics for Fall 2020 UC admissions, as well as broader population and policy trends. Largest Number of Californians The fall admissions are also remarkable for the largest group of accepted California residents in the history of the UCs. From the Los Angeles Times: Overall, the UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses offered admission to a record number of students: 119,054 freshmen, up from 108,178 last year. The campuses also admitted 28,074 transfer students from the California Community Colleges system. The UC prides itself on retaining a high proportion of Californians, and did so at a rate of 75.8% last year. First Time That Latinos Are Largest Ethnic Group for UCs Systemwide According to U.S. Census data, Latinos are the largest single ethnic group in California, at 39.4%; the next largest group is non-Hispanic Whites, at 36.5% while Asians come in third, making up 15.5%. At a distant fourth is African-Americans at 6.5% while Native Americans clock in at 1.6%. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders represent .5%. However, Fall 2020 is distinct in that it is the first time Latinos constitute the largest ethnic group of accepted UC students, systemwide. This connects to California populations trends overall. From the Los Angeles Times: Audrey Dow, senior vice president for the Campaign for College Opportunity, said demographics are one reason behind the surge in admission offers to Latinos: They made up 51.8% of California high school graduates in 2018-19 compared with 42% in 2009-10, according to state Department of Education data. Equally important, the number of Latino high school graduates who met UC and California State University admission requirements hit 94,297 in 2019, an increase of about 7,000 students over 2017. Asian-Americans: Biggest Ethnic Group at Most UC Campuses Currently, Asian-Americans are the biggest single ethnic group at every UC campus, except for UC Merced. From the Los Angeles Times: Overall, UC campuses — notably Merced, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Berkeley — increased admission offers to California Latino freshman by 4,068 over last year, compared with 2,400 more Asian American students who were accepted. Those numbers pushed Latinos into the largest group of admitted students systemwide, although Asian Americans still lead the student population at all individual campuses except UC Merced. At UC Irvine, Asian-Americans were 51% of the Fall 2020 freshman class. Meanwhile, at UC San Diego, Asian-Americans made up 47%. At UCLA both and UC Berkeley, Asian-Americans were 42%. Educational Role of the UC The UC system is the jewel of the California public education system, possibly the envy of the world for its mixture of research excellence as well as churning out thousands of graduates each year. The Encyclopedia Brittanica observes: California is oriented toward tax-supported public education. The two-year junior or community college was introduced in California in 1907, and there are now more than 100 such colleges. Four-year state colleges and the University of California system complete the public higher-education structure. The University Extension system operates throughout the state. More than one-tenth of California schoolchildren and a slightly higher percentage of college-age students attend private schools. Economic Contributions of the UC From Business Insider: The University of California system, including UCLA and the University of California, contribute more than $46 billion yearly to the state's economy. With 1.7 million living alumni, the University of California system has produced 61 noble laureates. Meanwhile, the California State University system produces $17 billion a year in economic activity and one in every 10 California workers is a graduate, as more than half of alumni stay in the state. As you probably already know, California boasts a lot of economic activity. From Business Insider: If California were its own nation, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world. With a GDP of $2.9 trillion, California would slot between Germany and the United Kingdom in the world's top economies. The Golden State makes up 14% of the US economy Thus, the UC system is a major component of the public education system which creates the conditions that allow such economic activities to flourish. However, the hunger for college graduates is not an easy thing to address. What is it like to be in the shoes of the UC? What is the “job” of the UC system? The UC is part of the public education system, and is responsible for graduating vast numbers of graduates, and is indeed on-track to graduate ever-increasing numbers of students in the coming years. The U.S. Census Data shows that 33% of Californians hold a college degree, close to the national average of 36% overall. First Generation College & Low-Income The UC makes it a priority to secure spots for students who are among the first in their families to attend college and those from low-income households. 45% of Fall 2020 admits were first-generation. And 44% came from low-income families; those earning $52,000 or less. It is worth noting that the UC prides itself on successfully matriculating more first generation students than other selective institutions: UC educates more first-generation students than other institutions of its caliber. Some 42 percent of all UC undergraduate students are first-generation college students, up from 36 percent a decade ago. This fall, an estimated 45 percent of the freshman class will be striving to be the first in their families to earn a four-year university degree. UC enrolls a higher proportion of first-generation undergraduate students than other selective public institutions (27 percent) and selective private institutions (18 percent), and more than the national average for all four-year institutions (36 percent). California is Losing College Graduates There are multiple trends affecting the number of college graduates in California: aging, immigration, people leaving the state for less expensive environments. Over the next twenty years, the supply of college graduates might very well run out as people retire. The University of California Information Center notes: California’s population will grow older as the baby boomers, persons born during the demographic post-World War II “baby boom,” move into retirement. Of all age groups, the baby boomer segment has the highest proportion of college degree attainment. With their retirement, then, the employed population could become less well-educated at the same time that the demand for college-educated workers within occupational categories continues to grow and the number of college-educated workers migrating into California is declining. Out-Migration - People Leaving California The U.S. Census recorded: “California had the most domestic out-movers, with 661,026 people moving to another state within the past year.” Yet the county with the most people leaving, Los Angeles, also had the highest number of people entering: “Los Angeles County, Calif., had the highest in-migration flow, with 214,577 people moving from a different county within the past year." Foreign Immigrants Make California Younger On the upside, foreign immigrants make California a relatively “younger” state when compared to other parts of the U.S. From Thoughtco: Foreign immigrants, in general, tend to be in the age ranges where they are in their prime working years and having families, contributing to the youthfulness of the state's demographics. In fact, California was a bit more youthful than the nation's median age, at 36.2 years and 37.8 years respectively (2016 numbers.) Also, 63% of all the people in the state in 2016 were in the 18–64 age range. That percentage is expected to decline modestly by 2060. Where Do You Fit Into the UC Picture? As you make your college lists, just as you would for any college you would consider applying to, you will need to figure out where the UC sits within your plans. So let’s take a look at some major categories for UC admissions for freshman applicants. California Residents: Statewide and Local Guarantees If you are in the top 9% of all high school students in the state of California, you could be in luck! If you're in the top 9 percent of California high school graduates and aren't admitted to any of the UC campuses you apply to, you'll be offered a spot at another campus if space is available. We use a formula — called an admissions index —to determine if you fall in that group. If you are in the top 9% and your high school participates in the “Eligibility in the Local Context” program: If you are a California resident and rank in the top 9 percent of students in your California high school class — and your high school participates in our ELC program — you may be eligible for ELC designation. Out-of-State Non-residents of California are subject to nearly the same UC requirements except that the minimal GPA is higher at 3.4 and there are no bonus points for honors courses when calculating that GPA. International Students International students are also subject to the 3.4 GPA minimum. They must also furnish proof of English language proficiency, and must satisfy country-specific requirements based upon nation of origin. Enlighteens Education Perspective We bring you this information so that you may make informed choices about your college planning. As you consider the University of California as part of your college list, we hope that this information will give you an objective and grounded basis for setting expectations in terms of acceptances and outcomes. As we have mentioned in other blog posts (we recently covered the UC’s policy changes regarding standardized exams over the next five years), we encourage families to use neutral, factual data when making major decisions regarding their educational journeys.

How to Get Into College With Your Art Portfolio!

So, you know that there is such a thing as art school. You’ve heard of Rhode Island Sschool of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design and the like. And you know that you love art. But you aren’t sure about whether you want to choose it as a major. Or maybe you know you want to choose it as your college major, but don’t know what are the options for studying it in college. How To Use Your Art Portfolio!?!?! But you have a great art portfolio, and you are not sure what to do with it! This post will give you some ideas for how you can use your art portfolio in your college application process and beyond! Art Portfolios in the College Application Process For colleges, you know that you have to write some killer essays, right? But you might not have known that some colleges will allow you to show your artistic talents in the admissions process, even if you are not planning to study art in college! They let you submit a collection of your art, a portfolio, in the actual application process. Art Supplement Some colleges will allow you to submit your art portfolio as a SUPPLEMENT to your regular application. They often have special requirements: earlier / special deadlines extra processing fee, on top of the normal application fee does not replace “normal” app extra writing work, typically an artist’s statement, descriptions / captions for your works, etc. options for either physical copies or electronic submission of artworks Sampling of Policies & Processes So let’s take a look at the policies and processes for a bunch of schools to familiarize yourself with what they look like. Brown University’s Visual Art Submission policies include: Upload up to 15 images, up to 5MB each... Portfolios should be a strong supplement to your application, thoughtfully conceived and demonstrating above-average visual art talent. Class assignments, as well as work produced outside the classroom indicating your personal area of interest, are encouraged. If photographs are included, they are expected to go beyond hobbyist photography such as vacation snapshots or casually conceived images, and should include a variety of artistically sound content. A short statement about your interest in art may be included as well. Do you see the burn on “hobbyist photography”? It makes you wonder what exactly are people submitting! So that is surely a strong warning against spamming them with random shots from your Instagram account. MIT also allows students to submit a portfolio of visual art and architecture as one of the categories it allows: We encourage all types of media art, including design, drawing, painting, mixed media, digital media, photography, sculpture, and architectural work. You may submit a portfolio of up to 10 images of your work for review. Include the title, medium, a brief description, date completed, and a brief description of each work’s concept or inspiration. Occidental College allows applicants to send one or two images (that is not very many!) and reminds you that, “Understand, however, that your academic qualifications will matter most in admission.” Columbia University requires anyone submitting an arts portfolio to also name a reference: In addition to creative materials, each portfolio requires you to list the name and contact information of a reference who may be contacted to corroborate your depth of talent in and/or dedication to your creative discipline. Examples of appropriate references may include, but are not limited to: club or activity supervisors, in-school teachers, private instructors, internship or job supervisors, and mentors. Now, how would you know how talented you are? Stanford says: Who should consider submitting an arts portfolio? Any student who wishes to highlight their extraordinary talent in the fine or performing arts is welcome to submit an Arts Portfolio. Arts Portfolio applicants have often received significant awards and honors at a state, national, or international level. How to Choose Your Pieces You definitely want to cherry-pick, as in, choose the best pieces. You may even need to think beyond technical ability. UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture advises you to choose your pieces carefully: We look for students who give evidence of creative thinking, rather than simply conforming to commercial or academic models. We may not be as interested in seeing proof of your technical skills or ability to draw a nude or still life perfectly, as we are in your subject matter, ideas, your composition, use of color, or of form, or materials. Although this advice is intended for people applying to an actual arts program, it is worth considering for anyone submitting a portfolio. Artist’s Statement Colleges accepting a portfolio typically require or at least, suggest, that you create a piece of writing that sets forth your intentions and goals as an artist - an “artist’s statement.” The University of Pennsylvania says: Portfolios should include a minimum of 10 different works. An artist’s statement (approximately 300 words) is strongly encouraged. UCLA requires a personal statement for anyone applying to the School of Art, which is typical for art departments but can serve as guidance for people submitting portfolios for any purpose: Please provide a concise statement describing your interest, experiences, and influences in art, and your goals for studying art at UCLA. You will have 2200 characters (including spaces) / approximately 300 words. We recommend that you write your statement in a separate word processing program, then copy/paste it into the web application. Yale assigns portfolio review to art faculty, not admissions officers, which is an indicator of the level of scrutiny your works may receive: Whether or not you wish to major in art as an undergraduate, if you are an advanced visual artist you may consider submitting an art portfolio as part of your application. Please bear in mind that Yale School of Art faculty members review selected portfolios, not admissions officers. You should only consider submitting work if your artwork is a strong and important part of your application and demonstrates a high level of ability for a high school artist. You should limit the submission to between 5 and 8 pieces and include at least one drawing. Portfolio Evaluation You will want FEEDBACK on your portfolio. It’s worth checking whether your favorite colleges have day for evaluating your portfolio. For example, Washington University at Saint Louis encourages applicants to meet representatives of WUSTL on National Portfolio Days as an option for receiving feedback from the school before submitting an application. So...what is National Portfolio Day? These are FREE opportunities to have your portfolio evaluated by a professional from the college you desire. From the National Portfolio Day Association: National Portfolio Days are annual events held in multiple locations across the United States, Canada and Europe. They are designed to provide a unique opportunity for you to meet individually with professional representatives of accredited colleges and universities and receive valuable feedback and guidance on your portfolio before you submit it as part of your application. Bonus: College Credit for Art Classes Oftentimes, if you are passionate enough to create an art portfolio, you may very well be taking advanced art classes in your high school, such an AP course. CollegeBoard offers AP Studio Art 2D Design, AP Studio Art 3D Design, AP Drawing and AP Art History. In addition to reporting this class in your college applications, colleges may award you credit towards graduation for doing well on art-related AP exams. Harvard awards credit for scoring a 5 on the AP Art History exam. MIT awards credit for a 5 in AP Studio Art whereas Reed will accept a 4 or higher. The UC system awards credit for many AP classes, which includes courses such as AP 2D or 3D Studio Art. We, of Enlighteens Education, are providing this post so that you can understand how important it is to reveal your underrated talents so that they can shine in the college application process. We hope you have learned a little bit about how your art portfolio can be relevant for your college application process. Going beyond the obvious use of an art portfolio, for example to use in applications to art schools, is important for you when choosing strategies for your college application process and maximizing your results!

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