Seniors: Get Ahead While Relaxing This Summer

Seniors deserve some downtime during the summer. Relax. Soak up some sun. Eat potato
chips. But if you follow these five tips this summer, you’ll be the envy of your fellow seniors later this fall when
they’re running to meet deadlines and the only running you’re doing is to
work off all those potato chips (we’re speaking from unfortunate personal potato
chip experience here).

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When in. . .San Luis Obispo

My weekend camping trip in Big Sur was interrupted by a voluntary evacuation due to wildfires.  So what was supposed to be a second night in Big Sur became a night in San Luis Obispo, and predictably, an impromptu visit to Cal Poly.

I don’t expect high school students and parents to have the same sick compulsion to visit colleges that we do (medication and therapy don’t help.  It’s completely and totally incurable).  But I’ve visited several hundred colleges, and not many of them are in a town as safe, quaint and college-friendly as San Luis Obsipo.  I think any student or parent, even one who (mistakenly) believes the colleges on the US News Top 10 list are the only ones worth attending, would agree.  So the next time you find yourself in a new town, whether you’re vacationing or visiting or voluntarily evacuating, pay a quick visit to a college in the area.  There’s a good chance you’ll start to see what we mean when we talk about just how many great colleges there are worth (voluntarily) attending.   

We’re giving away a month of free groceries to the person who feeds us the best morsel of college trivia!

ListShare your tastiest tidbit of college trivia for a chance to win free groceries for a month!

What’s this contest all about?

It’s about reminding high school kids that great experiences happen at every college, including at some in Delaware.  It’s about celebrating what the US News college rankings don’t consider, like the math majors who created a remote control that changed the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl, the mascots who wear kilts and play bagpipes as they lead the football team onto the field, and the alumnus of the tiny liberal arts college who went on to create the Simpsons.   It’s about having a little fun, college(wise) style. 

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5 Tips for High School Academic Success

Report_card_2 You don’t need to read our blog to know that getting good grades will help you get into college.  But here are five tips you might not have thought of, tips that anyone from “A” students to “C” students can use to be more successful in high school. 


1.  Get to know your high school counselor (and when you do, be nice).

Your high school counselor is not only a resource for you, but can also be your advocate with teachers and colleges.  So before you pick your classes, meet with your counselor.  If you have a question about college, ask your counselor.  And if you happen to have an extra batch of fresh-baked cookies lying around, bring some to your counselor.  We’re not saying you should schmooze with insincerity; we’re saying that you should acknowledge, appreciate and benefit from your counselor’s willingness to help you. 


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5 New Year’s Resolutions Colleges Want You to Make

Resolutions_01012007 Lose weight?  Stop biting your nails?  Quit selling your little brother’s possessions on Ebay?  Sure, you can make those resolutions (and your little brother will probably thank you).  But they won’t help you get into college.  Here are five resolutions that colleges would love to see all future applicants make. 

1.  Learn what you love.

What’s your favorite subject?  Who’s your favorite teacher?  What subject would you like to know more about?  Students who have answers to those questions are engaged learners.  That’s why colleges love high school students who enjoy learning new things both in and out of school.  They know it is those students who will ultimately thrive in the college community of learning.  So if you have a favorite class, make an effort to participate.  If you have a favorite teacher, make the most of that experience.  And if you want to learn more about anything from calculus to cooking, take a summer school course.  Always be on the lookout for what you would love to learn.

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New Year’s Resolution #1

In_n_out_logo I visited In-N-Out Burger not once, but twice during the recent Collegewise holiday.  And I was struck by two things.  First, their grilled cheese is just delicious.  Second, every single employee at every In-N-Out Burger that I have ever visited seems so happy to be working there.   I don’t know if it’s the type of people they hire, the training they do, or the way they pump that delightful burger smell throughout the restaurant.  But those In-N-Out workers are some of the most friendly, effusive, engaged employees I’ve come across in just about any business.  And I think their pleasant disposition is a sincere one.  They like where they work and they like what they do.  They always make my In-N-Out experience that much more enjoyable.

So what does this have to do with college?

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College Essay Do’s and Don’ts

Even the most stellar applicant is comparatively boring when reduced to just
grades and test scores. That's why admissions officers will use your college
essay to get to know you better. Here are some Collegewise do's and dont's to
make sure they like what they read.

1.  DON'T try to impress admissions officers.
Don't inject deep, philosophical meaning into your tenure as junior class
treasurer, or try to extract life lessons from your time on the wrestling team.
Instead, just tell the truth. If you got the snot beat out of you on the
wrestling mat, but still liked wrestling anyway, say so. It's more important to
be honest than it is to be impressive.

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Five Things Every College Wants You to Be

It’s that time of year when seniors begin sitting down to
fill out college applications.  And when they do, a lot of those seniors
will be wondering, “What do these colleges want to hear?” and “What are they
looking for ?” and “Would winning the presidency of a small but
quickly-developing country improve my chances???”

While colleges aren’t looking for just one type of student,
there are certain things every college would like you to be, especially when
you’re filling out applications.

1.  Be focused.

When you fill out your applications, remember that more
information isn’t always better.  Admissions officers are inundated with
material at this time of year. If you send them a five page resume listing everything
you’ve done since birth, they won’t be able to tell who you are and what you
really care about.  Focus on activities that really matter to you. 
Don’t include extra materials unless the college encourages you to do so. 
And most importantly, remember that you have a limited amount of space to use
to help them get to know you.  It's better to use that space to share a
lot about the most important parts of your life than it is to share a little
about everything.  

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Five Tips for Parents of New College Freshmen

MoveinIf you’re a parent preparing to send your son or daughter off to be a freshman in college, congratulations.  This is one of those things you’ve likely dreamed about doing since you first became a parent, and now it’s about to happen. 

Every year about this time, we send our Collegewise parents a list of 5 things they can do to help their kids make the transition to college.  This year, we thought we’d use our blog to share the list with any parent who might benefit.  We hope you’re excited to watch your kids go from happy and successful high school graduates to happy and successful adults. 

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I am not a tuba player. And I’m OK with that.

When we go to college admissions conferences, we’ll always attend any session in which Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions from Pomona College, is participating.  He’s outspoken, honest, and refreshingly forthright.  With so much mystery surrounding the admissions process, it’s nice to hear from a decision maker who’s comfortable discussing what admissions officers look for–and what drives them crazy–when reading applications. 

His article in Newsweek this week makes the process seem so complex, and with good reason–it is.  A lot of parents and students make themselves crazy trying to decipher exactly what combination of grades and test scores and activities will guarantee admission.  But that magic combination doesn’t exist.  Poch reminds students that while there are no guarantees, you’re always better off just being yourself.