Meredith Reynolds - Head Start College Blog

Archive for September, 2007

Students, Don’t Take New Orleans Off Your College Destination List
September 19th, 2007

Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans and others report there incoming class of 2007 increasing in numbers and approaching pre-Katrina levels. In fact, Loyola recently reported that it has increased numbers of students from out-of-state in its freshman class. It  is good news for college applicants that these universities located in such an exciting part of the country are “alive and well”.

Have Fun with Your Senior Despite College Applications
September 18th, 2007

“Did you ask Mrs. Smith if she would write your recommendation? And did you remember to pick up the unofficial transcript in the office today? You should register for SATII’s right now if you want to get a good location.”….

No surprise that your senior is avoiding you.

It’s your last year with your senior at home, dont let college applications spoil it. In order to avoid this stress trap I recommend that you Schedule two ( for some as short as 15 minutes) “meetings” each week to discuss college to do’s or questions. Ideally, one will be on the weekend and one midweek. In return for your senior promising to attend these meetings, you will promise to save all of your college-related questions for the next “meeting”. Setting up a place on the refrigerator where questions can be listed will allow you both to move on without fear of forgetting the question.
Its a great way to get your senior back, and feel that you are driving the college admission process not being driven mad by it.  Though some days it is difficult to believe that the college application process is not the center of your universe, it isn’t. Being there when a test score is disappointing or a funny thing happened at lunch may do more for your senior in the long run than never-ending reminders about his or her college applications.

PS You might wish to ask your senior if they would prefer to not have every extended family gathering include a discussion of where they are applying to college. One senior sent her final list to her family via email and promised to let them know any news as it arrived.

Eight Important Considerations Before You Finalize Your List
September 8th, 2007

Now is the time for seniors to finalize their College List and move on to the applications. I am confident all have evaluated each college’s location, cost, reputation, Greek life, academic program, and extracurricular activities such as NCAA sports, intramurals, and the arts.

But stop! Before that list is finalized, have you considered whether or not the college offers:
1. First-year experiences are first-year seminars/colloquiums or other programs required of freshmen that group 20 students who meet regularly with the faculty member both academically and socially. Often times the students develop lasting friendships with their fellow students and the faculty member –helpful throughout and after college.

2. Internships/Co-ops facilitate student opportunities in the real world through superviesd internships that give students critical insights into potential careers in addition to adding perspective and variety to their studies with off-campus hands-on work.

3. Senior capstone or some culminating experience in which students design a project that integrates what they have learned and requires them to apply it to answer a question important to them. In addition to academic benefit, this experience will create yet another working bond with the professor who is the sponsor.

4. Undergraduate research/Creative projects where undergraduate students working with faculty do research or creative work that results in an original scholarly paper or other product presented on or off campus.

5. Learning communities where students take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors especially well. These are often tied with a student residential choice, also called a theme house.

6. Study abroad are programs that involve substantial academic work with considerable interaction between the student and the culture. Colleges vary significantly in their commitment to study abroad programs. Check to see the resources alloted to the study abroad office and the effort on the part of the college to advise the student to assure he will select the best fit program for his academic interests and still graduate in four years.

7. Service learning programs involve volunteering in the community and are a requirement of a student’s coursework. For example, a psychology major may be required to volunteer at a nearby psychiatric facility.

8. Writing in the disciplines is where colleges make the writing process a priority at all levels of instruction and across the curriculum. This is an expensive proposition for colleges, but critical for graduates in any field to be able to communicate with the written word.

No college has everything, but it certainly should have 80% of your Requirements List. I recommend that you will add some or all of these eight programs to your Requirements List.
The blog is based on a recent article in the US News & World Report Magazine describing the research of Robert Morse, Director of Data Research for US News & World Report Magazine. If you wish to learn more about the methodologies behind America’s Best Colleges visit US News site and search for his blog entitled Morse Code.

Appalachian State Makes Headlines
September 2nd, 2007

If you’re looking for a college that lists music as one of its major programs and now famous for its football…beat No. 5 Univ of Michigan 34-32 (my sympathy to Wolverines). Located in Boone, North Carolina near the famed Blue Ridge Parkway…lots of beautiful country! When you think you’re familiar with most colleges…there’s always another to be discovered. Equally important to remember is that the students at Appalachian State are loving their college experience, even more today. A good day for the lesser-known college that in reality is not a lesser college for its students.

Shopping for College: Time is Your Best Friend
September 1st, 2007

I know it sounds crazy, but Sophomore year is not too early to begin the process of shopping for college. If that’s not possible don’t lose the summer before your student’s Junior year. Let me explain…
Imagine you arrive at a new shopping mall. After circling for a parking spot, you enter the closest door looking for the Information Sign …”You Are Here”. You are looking for art supplies. Will you find those in Accessories, Specialty Stores , Miscellaneous or Other? I’m not sure how this mall works.
Shopping for college will be even more foreign. In all likelihood television’s college bowl games and March Madness are your most current source of college information. Some lucky students have actually attended a tailgate and football game, but most not. In fact many parents haven’t spent more than a weekend at a college in over 20 years.
In addition to this void of information, inertia favors no proactive college exploration, no change. By their sophomore year in high school, most students have found some good friends, a few teachers they like and have busy schedules after school. They’ve got a comfortable life. Its only natural that most high school students don’t want to leave their family, friends, room and high school to attend a college where they have to study something they haven’t a clue what it is, in a different city, while sharing a room with a total stranger.
This is where TIME is your student’s best friend. Going back again to the shopping mall, if you must find your art supplies in one hour before your class you will have to go to the first store you see and settle for whatever they have no matter whether they are precisely what you want or not. Adding to the college search challenge,high school students do not start even knowing what they want in college. Therefore, most high school students are shopping without a list for something they’re not sure they want.
For all of these reasons, TIME is your student’s best friend in the quest to find the perfect match college. Sophomore year is a great time to informally visit colleges and attend games, plays or other events with college students present gradually exposing your student to the “fun” side of college. Summer before Junior year your high school student should take formal tours at 6-8 colleges, each selected to explore different questions such as size, location, academic programs etc. Building on this foundation the college search will continue to narrow until the end of summer before Senior year when your student’s college list is set and your focus can be on creating quality applications.
Time will not only make the process less stressful, but it will make the process more successful at finding the Perfect Match college for your student.

Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.


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