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How Do AP Tests Affect College Admissions?

With the SAT subject tests being cancelled, College Board has stated that it is placing more of its resources in the AP tests, resulting in beliefs that AP tests will be another considerably important factor in admissions (there have been rumblings among many universities about this idea). While we await confirmations of this policy, we can take a look at the past, during which schools had already been using AP tests as an admissions factor, specifically, the accounts of a former Admissions Reader at the University of Chicago (2012-2013) and UC Berkeley’s dual business/engineering program, called Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (2017-2018). At the University of Chicago, a ranking system was used to rate applications (something we’ve known is true from Harvard’s lawsuit). Here, AP scores were not formally included in the rating, but there was a written section available for readers to provide additional context about a student’s academic ability, including high standardized test scores; these sections were sometimes responsible for tiebreakers. Conversely, low standardized test scores could raise eyebrows about a student’s readiness for certain topics and majors. Keep in mind that AP scores are, for the most part on college applications, a self-reporting process. This means that you don’t have to submit all of your scores; it’s a general rule of thumb to submit all passing scores. In terms of receiving credit or advanced placement, be sure to check with each college’s policies. At UC Berkeley, the admissions office looked at the student’s high school to see the percentage of classmates who took 3 or more AP exams; likewise, the office looked at how many AP courses the applicant took compared to how many AP courses were available or offered. However, it’s noted that students were not “punished” if they attended a school that did not offer AP classes. This means that, regardless of your major, it’s wise to challenge yourself by taking honors or AP classes whenever available and possible. Yes, you still need to balance your workload, so don’t take only weighted classes if you can’t keep your GPA high. In that scenario, think about which classes you’ll do best in and which classes will be related to your major. These are the classes whose grades and AP scores matter more. Most importantly, UC Berkeley did consider AP scores during admissions. Typically, low AP scores do not hurt students’ chances, but for certain majors, especially STEM-oriented competitive programs, AP scores could strongly influence a decision. That said, while AP exams were important, they were still and continue to be less important than GPA, academic rigor, SAT/ACT scores, extracurriculars, and college essays. Overall, the takeaway is that although AP exams are not officially a factor in admissions, they can and definitely do affect your chances of admissions. Your plans of how many and which AP exams to take, holistically speaking, matter, along with your major and school. This is where a counselor can help you identify strategies to maximize your odds for certain combinations because every student profile is different.

Best Major for Med School: Two Things to Consider for Healthcare

There are two things for students who are thinking about healthcare to consider. To start, students often focus too much on the first half of this word: healthcare. Yes, academic knowledge and scientific expertise are paramount in the medical world, but if you are interfacing directly with patients, don’t forget the second half of the word: care! Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate non-academic skills such as empathy on top of academic excellence, which can, ironically, be demonstrated through academics! For example, you can show competency in emotional intelligence through psychology, communication through speech and debate, comprehension and analysis through English, and application of conceptual knowledge through math and science. Thus, all classes matter! In fact, most careers that require interaction with a diversity of people (customers, patients, etc.) require flexibility in mindset and approach – a holistic background not unlike that gained through liberal arts education. In addition, don’t overlook opportunities to differentiate yourself from other healthcare majors in areas like extracurriculars and course selection. Aim for activities that garner national, if not international, levels of recognition (USABO and HOSA are examples). Look for courses offered off-campus, whether it be at a local community college or online. Seek out pre-college and research opportunities via internships or shadowing. At the very least, get a job! The workplace, especially retail or food, is a fantastic environment in which students can practice their interpersonal skills. If we’re starting to see a trend here, the takeaway is that everything helps, especially things that help you grow as a member of society. The other major thing to consider is the actual major or program. Yes, it makes sense to apply to undergraduate as a biology major or something related to STEM. However, based on recent studies, the major that is most successful in medical school admissions is anything based in humanities! Furthermore, humanities students also enjoy one of the highest average MCAT scores. So, why does studying humanities translate to such high admissions rates? There are a few hypotheses: Humanities students are simply less common. Colleges are looking to build diversity on their campuses. Many students who apply to medical school are coming from STEM backgrounds. Humanities students read a lot more because of their undergraduate requirements; therefore, they probably are better prepared to score higher on the verbal reasoning section. Humanities students, because they read more, are probably better writers too. This helps immensely in the application process with the many college essays they need to write. Humanities students, let’s face it, probably also have more free time outside of academics that they can devote to doing interesting things. Humanities students did not come from STEM, meaning there was probably something very influential in their life stories that resulted in their choosing a future in the medical field. This leads to compelling essays as well. So, if you’re considering a future in healthcare, it’s equally appropriate to not consider a future in healthcare, yet!

Does Your Undergraduate Degree Matter for Business?

When students come to me and tell me that they want to study business, my thought is usually the same: they don’t know what they mean. Let’s look at a different example. What if I told you that I want to study science? Do I mean psychology? Do I mean materials engineering? Do I mean astronomy? Business, like many other disciplines, is a broad term. We need to learn to break this term down in order to find success for collegebound high school students. According to Indeed, here are the ten most popular business majors, of which students might have one in mind (or, more likely, never heard of): Accounting Marketing Sales Finance International business Human resources Health services administration Management information systems Business administration and management Master of Business Administration If we look closely, we’ll see that these majors require a wide variety of skills, ranging from pure mathematical to social management to persuasion. Simply put, there is no single skill that makes someone an ideal business candidate. Instead, it’s important to take a look at where in the business world a student can fit based on their strengths – their skillsets and knowledge domains. This is where a counselor or consultant can be beneficial, someone to assess the student’s potential and capabilities. If you are familiar with the concept of Type A and Type B personalities, you may have heard Type A and business as synonymous. This is often true, to an extent. Type A personalities find themselves as career-driven, motivated, and passionate about their immediate goals. Meanwhile, Type B personalities may find themselves exploring concepts and ideas, thinking outside of the box. However, both personalities types can find a home in the world of business. Furthermore, your undergraduate degree may have less of an impact on your future as you’d think, as is true for every single other major. Case in point, let’s look at popular Fortune 100 CEOs and their academic backgrounds. According to Kimberly Whitler, Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, 53% of F100 CEOs hold a BA degree while 47% hold a BS degree (45% of BS degrees were non-STEM). However, almost all F100 CEOs in tech-related fields hold an engineering-related undergraduate degree, not business. Some F100 CEOs have degrees that aren’t even directly related to their company’s industry. Overall, Whitler concludes that it isn’t clear whether a business-related undergraduate degree even matters. Rather, in this day and age, students should focus on the skills that are easily transferable from industry to industry, and the skills that are useful in business are useful everywhere. Here are the top ten business skills according to US News: Communication Negotiation Leadership Management Critical thinking Data analysis Financial literacy Emotional intelligence Organization Trainability Education is as much mindset as knowledge. Success in these skills, some of which academic while others social, will translate to success in the business world, no matter what career you decide to pursue.

FAFSA FAQ: Money for College!

Congratulations, you finally got admitted to the college of your dreams. Then you look at how much it’s gonna cost to actually go and go, uh, that’s a lot of dough for college. How am I going to pay for it? It’s not like I have a quarter of a million dollars lying around doing nothing! That’s where considering the costs of college and financial aid comes in. Even though it’s a lot of work just applying to college, it’s also important to consider where you are going to get the money to attend college. As a first step, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is absolutely critical. Because the FAFSA is a crazy complicated form, there are many myths and misconceptions about the FAFSA. Therefore, it’s important to get a sense of what is FAFSA and how to deal with some of the many potential complications that can arise from trying to correctly fill out the FAFSA. After all, there is the potential to get FREE money for college, and who doesn’t like FREE money? Question: Do I need to fill out the FAFSA? Answer: YES, you should fill out the FAFSA regardless of your family circumstances. Many schools use the FAFSA as the starting point for determining financial aid. Even if you are not eligible for need-based aid, you may qualify for non-need-based aid or merit aid, both of which will help cut down on the cost of paying for your college education! Question: Do I need to fill out the FAFSA every year that I’m in college? Answer: YES, the FAFSA needs to be filled out every year, so that schools can properly determine the financial aid to give you, since your circumstances may change from year to year. Question: Is it FREE? Answer: You DO NOT need money to fill out the FAFSA. It is 100% free to fill out the FAFSA. It is a government application, so make sure to go to the official FAFSA website, which will end in a .gov extension. Anybody asking you to pay to fill out the FAFSA is totally wrong! Question: What do I need to fill out the FAFSA? Answer: Question: Is my family too rich for me to qualify for any financial aid? Answer: Your family’s income only matters for need-based aid. It doesn’t matter at all for non-need-based aid. Some financial aid, such as grants, is literally FREE money for your education! Why not take advantage of said FREE money?!?! Question: When are the deadlines to fill out FAFSA? Answer: The FAFSA officially opens October 1st of every year and closes on June 30th, the following year. However, many colleges and states have deadlines earlier than that to qualify for financial aid. In addition, since some forms of financial aid are released on a first-in, first-out basis, it is critical to apply early to maximize the amount of potential financial aid you might get. Done early enough, you might have the information to be able to price shop the colleges that accepted you! For California students, March 2nd is the major deadline for many state-related financial aid programs. Question: What if I make a mistake? How do I make corrections? Answer: You can make corrections to everything other than Social Security Number and information that is transferred from the IRS via their Data Retrieval Tool. Go to FAFSA.GOV and log in to make corrections to your FAFSA. Question: Does needing financial aid to afford college hurt my chances of getting admitted to college? Answer: No, it doesn’t. Admission to the college is based on a number of factors, but your family’s financial circumstances generally do not have a direct impact on admissions. The info graph below summarizes the major criteria colleges consider for admission and the level of influence a student may have over different areas. Question: What is the Cost of Attendance? Answer: The Cost of Attendance is one of several components in determining how much money you can get in financial aid. It is basically a number that represents the cost for someone to attend college, consisting of the following items: Tuition, Campus Fees, Books and Supplies, Health Insurance, Room and Board, Meal Plan / Food Expenses, Personal Expenses, and Transportation. Colleges will usually provide an estimate of the cost of attendance. However, said the estimate is likely going to underestimate how much it will cost for you to actually attend. Question: What is the Expected Family Contribution? Answer: Expected Family Contribution is a number used to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible for. It is NOT the amount of money a student and their family are expected to pay for college nor is it how much financial aid a student will get. For the nitty-gritty of how this is calculated, see: The EFC Formula Question: If FAFSA Is the Federal Form for Financial Aid, Does it Have Anything to do with Financial Aid from My College? Answer: The FAFSA is the starting point for ANY financial aid. Colleges use the information you provide on the FAFSA to figure out how much aid to give you. If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, colleges would not have the information needed to determine how much financial aid to give you, provided you are eligible for it. Question: How many schools can receive my FAFSA info? Answer: Up to 10 schools can receive your FAFSA information. However, you can change which schools get your information by adding another school, which removes one of the schools that you listed before. Question: Can I use this money to study abroad? Answer: Yes, you can use financial aid to study abroad if you meet the aid eligibility requirements. Question: What types of financial aid are there? Answer: Financial aid comes in a number of different forms: Grants Money that does not generally does not need to be repaid Example: Federal Pell Grant Loans Money that is borrowed and will need to be repaid with interest after college. Example: Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan Need-based Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution = Need-Based Aid Aid is that is based on your family’s financial circumstances. Work-Study The student would work part-time to earn money to cover the costs of their education. Merit-Based Aid that is based on student achievements and is not tied to need Other Scholarship Enlighteens Education Perspective The college application process is a grueling grind and as part of the process, researching how much it will cost to go to college is something some students figure out too late. It’s important to keep in mind the cost of college and the potential for financial aid when coming up with a college list. As such, working with professional and experienced consultants such as those at Enlighteens Education can be extremely beneficial to creating a solid college list and writing essays that will just wow the admission officers. Combined, our consultants have multi-decades of experience working with students to do college admissions right. Some of the myths and misconceptions make it so some students potentially lose out on valuable financial aid that could have opened up opportunities that they might not find at another college. While writing those college application essays, don’t forget about the FAFSA and to actually fill it out. Who knows? You might just score big in keeping your debts lower than expected, making post-college life much easier! References:

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 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’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.

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