Recommendations

College-bound students do their summer reading

College-bound students do their summer reading

I was an AP Lit teacher for nine years, so I have fond memories of summer reading. I always read everything I assigned to my students, every year. So I did the summer reading along with them (or at least a few of them. I'm not naive, most of them didn't do the summer reading). 

You've got, more or less, a month left of summer. If you haven't completed your assigned summer reading yet, now is the time. You must read your summer reading assignments. 

Four things juniors should do before the end of the school year

Four things juniors should do before the end of the school year

It’s been a week since most college-bound seniors made their final decision and commitment about where they will be next year. That means the clock is really ticking for current juniors, who have another 51 weeks to complete their own admissions process. An entire year from now may seem like a long time to get it all done. It may seem like a really short time. Both are true: it’s still plenty of time, but it will go by really quick.

The Glossary: the basics

The Glossary: the basics

I want to go over the basic terminology necessary to understand college applications. So many of us—college consultants, high school counselors, teachers, parents, university admissions departments—take it for granted that our students are completely aware of all the terms and lingo, even though the terms are rarely actually taught. If you’re trying to be a first-generation college student, came to this country recently and are new to the system, and/or go to a high school that doesn’t emphasize college preparedness, then some (or a lot) if this may be understandably new.

More about recommendation letters

More about recommendation letters

joined a Facebook group of college counselors and consultants recently, and this week there was an interesting conversation. Basically, a counselor had realized that some of the teachers at their school were writing student recommendation letters that were badly written, form letters, or both. Lots of others commented that the counselor should do something immediately, perhaps instigate refresher training for teachers on the campus, or maybe even district-wide. And it hit me that I was a high school teacher for 17 years who wrote dozens of rec letters, and I’d never had any sort of training or guidance. Unlike at some other districts, we just had to figure it out. Or not.

Be kind to your counselor

Be kind to your counselor

Most high school students--and their parents--think their own counselor at school is less than great. But most high school counselors are severely overworked. The American School Counselor Association recommends one counselor per 250 students, but in the U.S. the average is almost double that. Even the best counselors have trouble keeping up with twice as much work as is reasonable. There's not much you can do about the quality of your own assigned counselor nor the workload they have, but there are some things you can do to make it easier for your counselor to do a great job for you.

On swastikas and rec letters

On swastikas and rec letters

Can a teacher take back a recommendation letter? Sure. Recommendation letters are personal statements that a teacher chooses to make about a student's character. They are not mandated or regulated by high schools, and they should be thought of as personal favors. So if a teacher speaks to your outstanding character and then sees evidence that maybe it's not so outstanding, then a teacher can take the recommendation back. This is very, very rare.

Saying "Thank you"

Saying "Thank you"

For most high school seniors, the active part of school applications is winding down. Now is the time for waiting. While you're waiting to hear from schools and thinking about how to choose from your acceptances, take some time to write some thank you notes. Write one to everyone who has done something for you along the way: teachers who wrote recommendation letters, counselors who sent off transcripts, college admissions personnel who answered questions, people who took time to interview you. Everybody. They gave some of their time to help you, and you should thank them if you haven't already.