We recently heard a heart-breaking story. The father of a graduating senior came to us seeking guidance and insight after his child graduated and applied, mostly unsuccessfully, to universities. This family was NOT our client. They didn’t understand why, with a 3.9 GPA and 1560 SAT, the student was rejected from over 15 US schools. We explained about how some schools want to see demonstrated interest. Other schools are looking for non-academic activities to round out their incoming class. But it seemed to fall on deaf ears. The parent repeatedly, in a mixture of disbelief and denial, came back to the scattergram which plotted his child’s theoretical admittance to most every school. We want to emphasize that each student is more than a combined GPA and test score, and that those scattergrams show data that is at least one year old.

Equally important, and usually understated, is having passion and showing passion. It is demonstrated in various ways. It’s not enough to focus on summer and holiday classes and competitions. Yes, that math olympiad competition is a passion, but it is only as a participant that a student contributes. And it’s yet another academic endeavor. Not every student is cut out to be the president or captain of various teams and clubs. Therefore, it’s important to find the passion and show potential colleges (and employers) how that passion has been realized. It’s something you do for the sheer joy of it, and the love of what you are doing outweighs any other considerations.

If a student’s  passion is math, then show us the passion. If the student can’t be THE leader of the math olympiad team, then it’s important to find individual ways to show a passion for math. How about tutoring and mentoring younger students either in the community or inner city, or even internationally via zoom? Or organizing math related games for neighboring children over the summer?

Identifying one’s passion is an exercise in emotional growth and maturity. It takes fortitude and a real evaluation of beliefs and perceptions, something generally new to teenagers,  to find out what makes a student truly light up, excitedly coming up with tons of ideas.

Essentially, a passion project is a first-hand experience with the innovation process, of bringing a service or product to life. It should have benefits for and also  impact upon other people. Showing us your passion will help the chances of being admitted to the dream school. And this process is also transformative and transferable to life.

And about the father’s child…the good news is that the student was accepted to one prestigious school – an international school that only looks at the hard numbers rather than the person.

Amy Garbis

Partner-Consultant

Engaging customer experience so that as an end result, we be CMSable. Leverage below the fold and finally gain traction. Generating bleeding edge and creating actionable insights.

Marcus Abbott

Brand Expert | Mantell Design

Generating best in class in order to improve overall outcomes. Inform outside the box thinking and finally target the low hanging fruit. Repurose big data and possibly gain traction.

Lucinda Johnson

Support Staff | Gerwyn Financial

 

Avoid the summer slump With a tutoring package!


What is summer slump? It’s that time of year when there’s no school and students forget much of what they’ve learned in the prior nine months.

Did you know that we offer tutoring packages from A Starting Line to help your student avoid the summer slump? We have a…

New Customer Special: Buy a package of 5 hours and get one extra hour for free.

Loyal Customer Special: Buy a package of 10 hours and get credit for an extra 90 minutes of tutoring for free!

Check out our fabulous tutors here.

Our tutors are experienced (in addition to being carefully vetted) in research/essay writing as well as in creative writing, math, science and foreign languages (French and Spanish). 

 

 

Why volunteer? 

Most schools have a minimum requirement for volunteering in order to graduate. But that should not be the sole reason for volunteering. It’s a way to give back, to help others whether people, land or animals – volunteer for a better world. Volunteering is a great way to help you better understand yourself and what you value. Some people like to work with animals and spend part of a Saturday at an animal shelter; others enjoy serving food or loading trucks with food being distributed to families in need. Each school has its own rules regarding what can be counted for volunteering hours, so be sure to check with your school. And if your school doesn’t have a list of pre-approved volunteer organizations/opportunities, try Youth Service America for some excellent ideas.

Don’t forget, you can also design your own volunteer project, and YSA has advice on how to get started. Ultimately, volunteering should make the volunteer feel good about themselves.

What are your volunteering plans for this summer? How will you help make the world better?

irl girl power…

Happy Women’s History Month! Since the 1970s, Women’s Studies programs have been emerging on many college campuses across the nation. In the most basic of definitions, these programs allow students to study women’s lives and experiences with a cultural and social lens, considering how race, power structures, ideologies, institutions, etc., interact with gender.
When these Women’s Studies programs first began to appear with the advent of the Women’s Liberation movement, many were skeptical. Critics asked, “What can you DO with a Women’s Studies major?”
The answer is–pretty much anything! Interdisciplinary majors like Women’s Studies develop students’ analytical thinking, oral communication, and writing skills, all of which can be flaunted on resumes.

Women’s History Month

(by Emma Sonnenblick)


Top Women’s studies programs:

Where are the best Women’s Studies programs, you may ask? Here are the top 10, as of 2020:
1. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
2. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
3. Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
4. Amherst College (Amherst, MA)
5. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
6. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
7. Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
8. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
9. Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)
10. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
These are only 10 out of the more than 800 programs across the country, so if you are interested, you have plenty of options!
University of Michigan women graduates, 1909

(published by Emma Sonnenblick)

Smith, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley–what do all of these schools have in common? All of these schools are Women’s Colleges! When these schools were founded in the 1800s, many higher education institutions existed on the East Coast for men, and most of those colleges excluded women from admission. These four schools in particular were originally part of the “Seven Sisters,” which acted as counterparts to the male-only Ivy League schools, providing an educational equivalent to women from upper class families. 

 

Some historically all-female schools, like Vassar, went coed in the late 1900s. Others, like Radcliffe, got absorbed into traditionally male schools, with Radcliffe becoming a part of Harvard. Although many schools are now coeducational, some women still choose to attend all-female schools because of the unique environment they offer. 

 

Atessa F. (Smith College, 2020) shared some of the benefits of the all-female college experience, saying, “I loved going to a historically women’s college because it gave me the confidence to not only pursue a major in a traditionally male-dominated discipline [math], but to participate confidently in all aspects of my community.”

 

The all-female schools named above (and others!) continue to offer this special opportunity for women to excel in the academic sphere without intimidation from, or competition with, men.  

 

    • 70% of Georgetonians marry other Georgetonians.
    • Yale students get assigned to one of fourteen houses, which they will remain in for the entirety of their time at Yale. Each year, the residential colleges compete in an intramural competition for the Tyng Cup.
    • At Swarthmore, all grades are pass/fail for the first semester.
    • At Franklin and Marshall, you can find charging outlets in the trees.
    • The campus of American University is an accredited arboretum.
    • Tufts students can apply to Tufts School of Medicine in their sophomore year of college without taking the MCAT and gain admission through the early assurance program, guaranteeing them a spot in the med school after they graduate.
    • Columbia’s student center sells Broadway tickets for only $2.
    • More of Google’s employees come from Stanford than any other school.
    • Oberlin’s art museum rents out paintings by famous artists like Renoir and Picasso for only $5 a semester. What a way to decorate your room!
    • Students at Villanova have the opportunity to apply for the Vatican Internship Program, in which they manage the Pope’s social media accounts.
    • University of California-Los Angeles has the best food of any college campus.
    • Harvard has the highest percentage of students living on campus, with 99% of the undergrad population in the residential system.
    • In New England,  KeeneState_ is the only state college or university with a bachelor’s program specializing in #Holocaust and #Genocide Studies.

 

 

How do I compare colleges if I can’t visit?

Before comparing colleges, look inward to assess your likes and motivations. Critical thinking is more important now than in the past.  What is important for you to have in your college? Do you want football games on the weekends and crowds that have huge school spirit? Do you want small classes where you can ask more questions and have discussions with your professors?

 

Being able to ask the ‘why’ questions is crucial. Why did you make certain academic choices? Why did you choose specific clubs/activities? Why do you want to go to college? What is most important to you in your ideal college?

 

Begin to search for colleges that match your interests, goals, and what’s important to you. You can use average GPA and test scores, potential majors, and other factors to help you narrow it down.

 

Sign up for email from schools to receive information from them. 

Virtual College Tours

Many colleges have canceled their on-campus information sessions and tours, so what can a student do to find deeper info on a college? Go to colleges’ websites and register for their virtual tours to show your interest. 

Also, demonstrate interest by getting on the schools’ mailing lists. Read the emails from the colleges and click on some links in the correspondences to learn more.

Virtual college fairs are a thing. You might check out the following for more info:

NACAC National College Fairs

 

 

Do you have a high school junior? Winter and Spring are very busy times for Juniors wanting to go to college. Let’s focus on the NOW. Here’s a list of some things you should be doing in your prep for college admissions.

Winter is the perfect time to look at free, personalized, SAT test prep at Khan Academy. Students can take eight full-length, real practice tests and content is created in partnership with College Board (the creators of AP). We recommend getting started here before paying for a test prep tutor. 

There is also the ACT test. On their site, they also offer some free prep materials.

Winter is the time to identify challenging classes for the senior year. For some students, this means honors while for others it means AP. And some students will end up taking a class or two that are mid-level courses. This is fine as long as the student also takes a good number of more challenging classes.

If your 11th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.

Also, from the comfort of home, your student can begin attending virtual college fairs to learn more about schools.