Q. Is a student-submitted resume suggested? How/when/where?
A. Resume Writing is a "Life Skill"
Your college's instructions on the application should always be your first point of reference for whether a college wants you to submit a resume as part of their online application. Having said that, when I work with students I always have them draft an academic resume, (Art students will draft an artistic resume as well) to help organize their information about their experiences, involvement, honors/awards by category. Resume writing is a great exercise because now if applications are requesting this information in a "bulleted" format, limiting the number of comments a student can make, writing the resume as a first step helps prioritize and organize each category to apply this information in the required format.
Resumes evolve over time, so by becoming familiar with the layout and concepts of effective resume development, students learn the skills needed to recreate resumes for various purposes in the future.
READ THE APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY! If the college does not make a statement about NO RESUME, it can be very helpful to supply one by snail mail. When would a student provide a resume if an application does not request one? If the student is a powerhouse and the "other" information on the resume is additive to the application and because of space constraints this information was not included, it could be sent.
Q. Any tips on getting the most out of campus tours and info sessions?
A. Preparation Ahead of Time Help You Make the Most of Your Campus Visit
There’s nothing like being on campus to give you a sense of whether you will get the kind of 24/7 learning experience you are looking for in a college. Visiting as many college and university campuses as you can is the best way to learn which college is right for you. It’s never too early in high school to start. But go when students are there, summer time will only show you the buildings. Here are some questions that you might think about to help you discover which schools are the “best fit” for you.
Do I want to be near a city or in a rural setting?
How far away from home seems comfortable-what do my parents think is comfortable?
Do I want a small or huge campus population?
What university offers the academic programs that I’m interested in?
Now that you’ve decided to explore your options, Campus Visiting does take some organization to maximize your experience.
Make a list of the colleges you think you’d like to explore, then map them.
You can usually see 2-3 colleges in an extended weekend if they are within
5-7 hours of your home, or if flying, each other.Plan to start your travel on a Thursday night, college tours are not available on Sundays. Book your hotel well in advance, many colleges have Open Houses or Parents’ Weekends and you can find that there isn’t a room to be had. The admission’s office can help you locate a place to stay.
Amtrack has discounts for college visitation and some airlines do to.
Call ahead to schedule a student guided tour. Tours are important since you’ll be able to ask questions of your tour guide while seeing most of the campus.
If you’re a senior and this college requires an interview, schedule a tour and interview at the same visit.
Do your research-read everything that is public knowledge about the college and take notes-outstanding programs, faculty-student ratio, educational mission, sports teams, study abroad programs-everything!
If you’re interested in a particular department, ask the admission’s office if they can schedule a meeting with the department chair while you’re there.
When the Weekend Arrives-Here are some TIPS
Arrive early and drive around the town, does it look interesting? Safe?
Make up a standard list of questions to ask the Tour Guide or during the informational session in advance, this will help you compare all of your colleges using the same criteria:
What is the typical class size?
How many of your classes were taught by teaching assistants?
Are the professors accessible to the students, only during office hours or in casual dining room centers?
Are there support centers for assistance with papers, or are tutors available? Is there a charge?
Is housing guaranteed all four years? Deadlines for securing a dorm room?
Are dorms co-ed, by room, floor, wing? What about the bathrooms-are they co-ed?
Are there fraternities and sororities? What percentage of the student body gets involved?
Ask your Tour Guide some specific questions: How challenging are the academics? How safe is the campus? What is the quality of the faculty advising? Do students remain on campus on the weekends? Can freshman have cars on campus? What professors are known as outstanding regardless of a student’s major?
After the Visit-remember to write a thank you note: to the Admissions Counselor who spent time with you, to the tour guide and to that Department Chair who stayed on campus that weekend just to meet with you.
Finally, file your notes in that college’s folder so that when you go to make comparisons and finalize your college list, you’ll be able to relive your college visit accurately.
Q. Are there activities/organizations that impress highly selective colleges?
A. This Is Not About Collecting Actitivies
Involvement should have little to do with impressing highly selective colleges and more to do with defining your interests and expressing your passions. Entering High School really offers so many opportunities to "get involved." Which should you choose?
In the college admissions process, you will sometimes hear the term, "Branding." What the counselor is trying to relay is the concept of "packaging" your application so that the materials you submit clearly display your interests and passions. One of these ways branding works is through your activities and organizations. Students who decide to "collect clubs," especially at the last minute, will not win friends in the admission office.
With all of that said, students who are admitted to highly selective colleges often have very clearly displayed passions, and are highly recognized and acclaimed for their talents. During a visit with the Director of Admissions at Harvard several years ago, he described some of the individuals who were included in that year's Freshmen class: Olympians, internationally reknowned pianists, published authors, nationally awarded science and math students and the list goes on and on. These are very powerful human beings!
My best advice? Be involved, be consistent, be a leader, be yourself!
Q. Do students have to pick a specialty right away or can they wait to see what they’re most interested in?
A. I Need To Learn in a Program that's "Hands-On!"
People learn in different ways, and for some, getting an education in an environment that applies the knowledge learned in a classroom directly into a work situation or "hands-on" laboratory helps them stay engaged and build their knowledge base.
Many high schools today have programs that offer sophisticated career-centered knowledge within a classroom/lab environment that provides the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce or to continue to learn in a apprenticeship program, technology center or college setting.
After graduation from high schools, many local 2-year colleges or "Tech Centers" offer a wide range of training opportunities to gain a skill in a brief period of time-anywhere from 6 month to two years. Some of these programs will provide an "intro" course that will allow you to explore your options, but more often than not, the learner is expected to come with a "focus" in mind.
Students who attend these programs can be "new" high school graduates or people who have reentered the learning environment after discovering that they need additional skills to succeed and advance their careers. Explore the cost and make comparisons between what is offered privately and what you may be able to access at your local community college, some of these educational institutions can be very "pricey." Examine at the beginning where their graduates are placed after graduation to determine which investment of your time and money is best for you.
Q. How can planning increase a student's chance of getting great teacher recommendations?
A. Recommendation writers take your request seriously and deserve the time they need to complete your request with the professionalism they strive to pursue. It also takes time to get to know you as a student performer within their classroom and as a person.
Colleges look for specific anecdotes with highlights of how you performed in their classrooms. They feel this represents how you will contribute on their campuses.
You also need to keep in mind what major you might be declaring or how the rest of your application leans to a particular subject area, then choose to ask the teacher who is representative of that subject matter.
This all takes planning, so get started today!