One of the things which set me on the path to Palouse Pathways was my desire to share information about college admission testing. When my son was a young high schooler I looked around for resources to help him prepare for the PSAT. I found no local resources, and what was more concerning was that many parents did not really know about the PSAT (in particular about its potential as a merit scholarship source). So I started to learn, and to share what I know. I wanted to put some information out there so that your family can plan ahead for test preparation and administration.
What Tests do I Need to Know About?
PSAT (also known as the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT test. The scores are not reported to colleges, but that doesn’t mean they are not important. The PSAT…
Senior year is an exciting and uncertain time, filled with difficult decisions, heartbreaking endings, a lot of waiting, and, of course, magical new beginnings.
As a senior, it can be stressful waiting to hear back from colleges and, at times, it can seem like that is the focus of all your attention. But if you obsess about the future, you may miss out on all the memories you are making right now.
In order to assist you through this tumultuous and highly exciting time, Palouse Pathways asked a few recent Moscow High School graduates what advice they would offer to current seniors.
Here is what they had to say:
Stop, smell the roses, and enjoy where you are right now. High school is great, and the friends you have currently are great.
Breathe. Being accepted or rejected from colleges does not define your worth as a student or as a person. And do not be afraid to explore back-up plans.
Breathe again- whatever decision you end up making will be the right one, because you made it.
Try and visit the colleges where you have been accepted, if at all possible. It is the vibe of the college and its campus that will convince you.
Breathe one more time. Rejection is ok. It just moves us into new directions and away from others. Additionally, the same can be said for relationships, though this one may be harder to accept.
The students also offered advice on how to succeed in college.
Cultivate moderation in your activities- do not think you have to go to everything and meet everyone, but absolutely get out and do something.
Learn how you study best: quiet spaces, fewer distractions, focusing on one assignment at a time. And don’t think you can multi-task. It is not real.
Be sure and get to know your professors and fellow students, you may need their help at some point. And it’s good to have connections.
It is time you take ownership of your own experiences. College is a personal experience; it is what you make of it. No one else can make memories for you, or learn the material on your behalf. Do not forget to have fun in between all of that coursework. After all, college is said to be the best time of your life. It would be a shame if you missed out on that because you were afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
It’s hard to imagine summer when there are several feet of snow on the ground and falling temperatures.
But this is the right to time to start making summer plans.
You may have received invitations from colleges or organizations encouraging your student to participate in summer classes or programs. You may be wondering about whether those programs are worth the costs, or whether your student would have a more enriching summer staying close to home. This post is designed to answer some of those questions, and also to share some information about some cool national programs out there. The deadlines for some of these programs is coming up quickly, so please read on soon! If you need help with the application process, we’d be happy to help.
The first point is that, with exceptions discussed below, going to a summer program at a selective university probably won’t increase your chance of getting in to a particular college. This article explains that there is range of opinions, but in general admissions folks at selective colleges say that going to their or another on campus program probably won’t help you get in. There are still good reasons to attend. The classes may be great, the fellow students entertaining; it’s fun to be on a cool campus and it might help your student to get excited about college. But the cost is usually very high — up to $10,000 — and you’ll probably need that money for college. Another risk of attending a summer program at a selective college is that your student might fall in love with a school that is not a very realistic possibility for him or her, either because of super competitive admissions, or high cost of attendance. So there are benefits, but definitely costs too.
Some summer programs DO help students with college admissions. These tend to be programs that are highly selective, and they tend to be free or provide ample financial aid to people who are selected to attend. Here’s a list of some of the best of those available throughout the country.
MIT offers STEM summer programs for talented students from across the United States. Applications are due February 1. Three of the programs are open to juniors, and one to students for seventh through tenth grades. These programs seem to give participants a leg up in admissions to MIT (and participation would probably be looked on positively by other schools). They are designed for students with a demonstrated passion for STEM and strong academic credentials. In addition, MIT states:
We strongly encourage students from the following backgrounds to apply:
Underrepresented in science and engineering, defined as being African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native American
Underserved, defined as coming from low socioeconomic means, which may be indicated by qualification for free/reduced lunch
Potentially the first family member to attend college
Absence of science and engineering degrees in family
Coming from a high school with low admittance rates to top-tier colleges, especially rural or predominantly minority high schools
All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Students from Latah and Whitman Counties might have a good shot at these programs if they are from underrepresented groups, low income, first generation or if few of their classmates attend very selective schools.
Telluride Association offers summer programs for juniors and for sophomores at Cornell and University of Michigan. Applications must be submitted January 24. These programs offer challenging content for bright students (you may have received an invitation because of your PSAT score but you can apply even if you did not). The programs are free and the Association will offer financial assistance for student who need help with travel costs. This would be a GREAT opportunity for the right students. I encourage you to check these programs out, and share information with gifted students you know.
Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers summer programs at universities around the Country. Priority deadline is January 18 but there are rolling admissions after that. There are programs for students from grades 9-12 and even younger. They are open to students who already participate in the CTY program and to other bright students. They are costly, but financial aid is available for low income students. I know several students who have attended these programs and the experiences have been mixed. One public school student from this area felt like she had a transformative experience that prepared her for selective college admission. Another student from a private school background though the program was a bust, boring and not worth the money. So your experiences may vary.
There are a lot of other summer programs out there, and they don’t all cost much or anything to attend. Some are in the nature of scholarship programs: Here’s a youth summit in Washington DC for students interested in public transportation. Apply between by or before February 17, 2017. This Bank America Student Leadership Conference offers a paid internship at home followed by a conference in DC. Applications are due by or before January 27, 2017. This list has a bunch of free summer programs. You’ll have to weed through a bunch which are offered within different states and available to that state’s residents. But there are some cool ones in there. You can also find programs on general scholarship sites.
You may have other programs you are considering and want to find out if they are worth it. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will tell you what I know or help yyou dig for information. I also find that College Confidential is a good place to look. You can go to the page and type in the name of an organization or program and you’re likely to find a discussion within that community about the value of the program. One thing you will learn there (and should consider) is that there are a number of programs which suggest that they are selective and prestigious that really are not. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be great experiences, but it does mean you should go in with your eyes open (especially because there may be a lot of expense involved).
In the next few weeks I’ll post again to talk about local programs, and great options for students
You are a complete stranger to a college until you click the “send” button on your application.
The only thing a college will know about you is what is contained in your application.
I won’t keep you in suspense. The answer is:
College admissions doesn’t have to be a blind date! Your relationship can start as soon as you decide you might be interested. And colleges have ways of finding out with you too. So if you have your heart set on a school, don’t wait until clicking the send button to make an impression! In this post, I’ll talk about ways to make connections that can help you get information you need to decide if a school is right and improve your chances for admission and scholarships.
1. Get Connected
There are a lot of ways to show that you are interested in a school and you can and should do it as soon as you are, well, interested. The most common way to show interest is to request more information. You can do this by going to a school’s admissions page and click on the “request more information link.” Once you sign up you’ll get all kinds of brochures and admissions materials.
You can also show interest and learn about schools through social media. You can like a school’s Facebook page. You can follow a college on Twitter. You can even follow the college’s admissions office on Twitter. In my opinion, the information you get about a school from social media is a little more spontaneous and revealing than what you get from admissions office brochures. Schools often use social media to post important stuff, like applications period deadlines and extensions, upcoming events and the like.
So why should you get connected right away? Because it can help you in the admissions process. One factor many schools take into account in deciding who to admit is demonstrated interest. In addition to your grades, essays, and recommendations, many schools take into account how interested you are in THEM. It sounds weird but it makes sense. Schools want to extend offers to people who will say yes. So if you ARE interested you should make sure you show it.
And the earlier you show you are interested the more convincing you will be when you say
So do it soon! The earlier the school knows about your interest the more interested you seem.
2. Get to know your college admissions representative
Have you seen the movie Admissions with Tina Fey? She plays an admissions officer at a prestigious college. Most colleges have a number of admissions officers, and each one is assigned different states or regions or countries. On the school website you can find a page in the admissions section introducing the reps and listing the states or regions where they are assigned. This means is that, for each college that interests you, there is a representative assigned to your state who serves as your contact person through the admissions process. You should get to know your admissions reps. You might meet them when they that travel to your school for a visit. You might meet them at college fairs or on campus visits. But the important thing is that you should meet them! Send an email if you must! Ask a question about a major that interests you, or tell them you are very interested in their school and want to know if they are coming to your area for a fair or visit. They will be happy to hear from you! They like knowing about students in their assigned areas who are interested in applying.
So why should you meet the admissions rep? Because that person will be an important part of the admissions decision. The way most schools handle applications is by having one or two people on the admissions staff read each applications. Those reps make the initial cut or send the application to committee. Your admissions rep os likely to be one of those important gatekeepers and is also likely to be the one who speaks for you if your application is presented to whole committee. Here’s a video showing the process at Brandeis, a college outside of Boston. Your admissions rep’s job can be stressful
So make it easier by providing good information and expressing interest!
3. Go on a visit, go to a fair
One very good way to interface with colleges is by visiting. That’s of course a great way to learn about schools (here’s a very good article about how to learn the most from your visit). But the schools get some information about you too. They know you care enough to visit. You may also have an opportunity for an interview, or to explore departments that interest you (which will make it easier for you to make an impression when you write your “why us” essay). This article describes the things you can do to make a good impression on a visit. It’s hard to make a bad impression on your tour, but remember to be polite, show appreciation and let the student do the talking. And if you sign in for an information session, don’t leave in the middle. The school will notice.
Hey juniors, happy new year! I have an interesting fact to share with you. This time next year, many of you will have completed all your college applications.
No, really. Between now and then you’ll decide where you’d like to apply, take college admissions test, complete applications, write essays, get recommendations, the whole bit. That’s why second semester junior year is the time that college planning really begins in earnest if it hasn’t already. Now’s the time to get focused. But not the time to panic. In this post from last year, I explain three things juniors can start on to be ready to apply for college next fall:
1. Make a BIG list of colleges that interest them.
2. Prepare for College Admissions Tests.
3. Think about paying for college, and explore financial aid and scholarships.
The good news for juniors on the Palouse is that Palouse Pathways can really help with items 1 and 3. In our free College Exploration Course, which starts January 13th in Moscow and will be offered in Pullman in March, you can explore colleges and come up with a great college list. As part of those sessions we will also have a session for parents and students where we will discuss strategies for finding affordable colleges (something we’ve also talked about on the blog here). If you want to participate in either of those activities, email email@example.com.
But today, I want to talk to juniors about Number Two on the list, because that one is completely up to you.
This Spring you’ll likely be taking the SAT test (this test will be given to juniors at area schools on April 12th) and the ACT test. Those tests are important and you will need to prepare.
The tests are important because they play a roll in a lot of decisions made by colleges, including whether they will let you in, whether they will give you scholarships, and which classes you will take. As this article explains high school grades are more important than test scores at most schools. But unlike your grades, which you spend years working on, college admissions tests boil down to one or two make-or-break days when you need to give it all you’ve got. There are some people who just don’t perform well under those circumstances, and if that’s you you’ll have college options even without great test scores. Here’s a list of great schools that will consider you for admission without test scores. So you’ve got a fallback in case you don’t perform well on the SAT or ACT. But for right now, you owe it to yourself to do your best on the SAT and the ACT so you can get into the schools on the top of your list and qualify for scholarships to help you pay for them.
So how do you prepare? My suggestion is that you make a new year’s resolution to get started NOW. Build time into every week to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT. How about waking up early two or three mornings per week and set aside half an hour for preparation? There are different philosophies about how long you should prepare, but in my book taking the time to get familiar with test formats and questions will really help you in the long run. And it will also help you discover your strengths and weaknesses.
For right now, the “what” of preparing is not so important. What is important now is that you make a commitment to take the time to do it. Now is the time to
And when you do, your future self, your January 1, 2017 self, will thank you. I guarantee it. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Find some seniors, or some college students. Ask them if they wish they had taken SAT and ACT preparation more seriously in thier junior year. I am pretty sure they’ll say
‘Tis the season for holiday gift lists, so I thought I’d throw my santa-hat in the ring with some great gift ideas for families looking ahead to college.
Before I start, I want to acknowledge that for some the prospect of college-planning- themed gifts sounds about as appealing as dental- or tax- themed gifts.
(they actually exist by the way.)
There area lot of opportunities for stress during the college process — essays, college admissions tests, FAFSA — but there is a lot to be excited about too. It’s a time to explore the vast array of wonderful options out there, anticipate the next steps on a journey toward adulthood, and celebrate the accomplishments that got your student this far. If you can get to a happy place about the college process (and I hope you can) read on for some gifts ideas…..
Gifts for the College Bound Senior
Logo Wear: If your senior already knows the school he or she is attending, a sweat shirt or tee from that institution might be nice. If your senior is still in limbo, as many are, how about a shirt or mug from a local landmark? Those heading out of town are probably already feeling pre-nostalgic.
Rolling Duffle Bag: Regardless of whether your senior will be near or far next year, a rolling duffle bag would be a great gift and would help him or her do a lot, from carting laundry to studying abroad. They come in a wide range of sizes, styles and prices.
A Five Year Diary: Your student is on the threshold of a big journey, and what could be better than a place to capture the end of high school, the college years and next steps beyond? There are a number of five-year diaries out there with space for brief daily entries and reflections…. Gretchen Rubin, creator of the Happiness Project, has a one-sentence journal that might be just right for your student.
Gifts for the College Exploring Junior, Sophomore or Freshman
If your junior, sophomore or freshman is thinking about college, here are some creative books to help explore:
Cool Colleges for the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming and Just Plain Different, by Donald Asher. If you know a student who marches to the beat of a different drummer, it would be great to find a college where he or she can be in sync. This book has some great places to explore. It’s written in an intelligent way that doesn’t talk down to the student. It was written in 2007 so some of the website resources are out of date. But the school descriptions are still pretty spot on.
The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2016 is a big fat catalog of schools all over the country, cross referenced and easy to navigate, with great fact summaries and narrative descriptions of schools. When I was a little kid I used to wait for the Sears catalog to come at Christmas time. It was called“the Wish Book” and I used to pour over it for weeks planning and dreaming about presents. The Fiske Guide reminds me of that. A student with college aspirations and a good imagination could get lost in it, in a good way. The Fiske Guide is also available in an online searchable version.
College Match by Dr. Steven Antonoff is a great handbook to help students and parents through the college exploration process. It is easy to use and upbeat. It helps students determine and prioritize the features they want in a college and shows students how to find great schools that match. Palouse Pathways uses College Match in its College Exploration Classes, and will provide the books to students for a donation. (New classes will be starting in January)
Colleges that Change Lives written by Loren Pope and revised by Hilary Masell Oswald, is a terrific book for students and parents who want to learn about highly-regarded student-centered colleges all over the country. These small liberal arts colleges provide great opportunities for student research, prepare students well for graduate school, and offer terrific need-based and merit aid. And because these schools are not overwhelmed by applicants students have a great chance of securing admission. This book tells the story of each of the schools. You can also learn about them on the CTCL web site. Either way, a good college search should include consideration of CTCL schools, since they can provide a life-changing and affordable education.
Gifts for Parents of Future College Students
The College Solution by Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a book that should be on every parent’s bookshelf. It is subtitled “A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price,” and it really is. As I explainedin this blog post, the book is clearly written and will give you a broad working knowledge of the admissions and financial aid processes, references for further reading, and a game plan. It would definitely be one of those practical Christmas presents, but one that is going to improve the quality of your family’s life over the next several years.
If you’ve gone through the college admissions process with your child (or parent) or you’ve watched from the sideline, you know that it is a complex relationship-straining process with psychological, financial and even cultural dimensions. College Admissions Together by By Steven Roy Goodman and Andrea Leiman explores all these facets. According to the book summary “College Admissions Together is . . . a guide to healthy family relationships during the college admissions process. This invaluable book looks at the often stressful process of finding the right college for your child not as an ordeal but as an opportunity to bond as a family and to give your child safe passage to adulthood as he or she determines which colleges are the best fit.” I haven’t read it yet, but it is on many “best college books” lists and comes highly reommended. I don’t think it’s an easy read, but it looks like a very valuable one.
A Gift for the Whole Family
If you know a family with students dreaming of college, making a financial gift to a college savings plan for the benefit of those students would be a fantastic gift. Studies show that students with money put aside for college — as little as $500 — are far more likely to have college expectations. They are three times more likely to attend college than students without savings and they are four times more likely to graduate. College savings plans even correlate with better middle and high school performance. Making a contribution to the student’s aleady-exisitng college savings account is easy. You can also establish an account on your own, but you’ll need to take care to use a device that will serve your goals and provide the best financial support to the student. Here’s a discussion of some of these issues; and Lynn O’Shaughnessy discusses them here. It’s really worth talking to a professional. But don’t let that stop you, since helping to support a college dream is the best gift money can buy.
In this season of hope and giving, we are hoping that everyone who finds value in Palouse Pathways will consider making a tax-deductible gift if they are able.
Here are FIVE great reasons why.
1. Palouse Pathways is an all-volunteer organization that runs on a shoe-string.
We have no office or staff, not even a dedicated phone line. All of our funds are spent on providing college and career resources to students and families.
2. We are a young organization (only two years old) and at this point we don’t receive support from big donors like corporations or foundations. Some day maybe we will, but right now we depend on individuals and families for the support we need to operate.
3. We accomplish a lot on a small budget. Here are some of the things Palouse Pathways did with a budget of about $4000 in 2015:
Provided essay brainstorming sessions to over 40 students from six area high schools, providing them with tips on how to write good essays, examples of what to do and what not to do, and ideas for how to tell their own great personal stories. Some of the strong, engaging essays we’ve been reading show that the workshops really helped.
Provided workshops for dozens of students and parents on how to find affordable colleges.
Hosted Skype Q & A’s with Steve Antonoff, an internationally-acclaimed expert on college exploration and admissions
4. We want to build on our successes next year, and reach more students with a wider range of resources and opportunities. Here are some of our new ideas and plans:
We’d like to improve SAT prep resources on the Palouse and in the LC Valley by encouraging and supporting local teachers who want to become SAT experts. In return they’ll provide low cost SAT preparation sessions and be available for small group or individual instruction.
We’d like to donate a suite of great college and career books to each library in Latah and Whitman Counties and in the LC Valley.
We’d like to host an information session for students and families who are hoping to play competitive sports in college and obtain sports scholarships, featuring presentations from athletic directors from nearby universities and colleges and other experts in college sports recruiting.
We’d like to improve opportunities for area students to explore nearby universities and colleges, by colloborating with the schools on tours, information sessions, and other hands-on opportunities.
We’d like to provide some resources for students heading to college, so they feel supported by their community and prepared for the challenges.
We’d like to extend our outreach to middle school families, to help them encourage college dreams and explore career interests and get serious about savings.
We’d like to build strong connections with area students who need special help to acheive college dreams, including first generation students, low income students and other students facing barriers and lacking support. We’d like to provide help through the college preparation and planning and to connect them with regional and national organizations that can help them in the process.
5. It’s EASYto Support Palouse Pathways. Here are several ways to do it.
You can support Palouse Pathways through the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse
Palouse Pathways is participating in the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse, a local event that raises fund for local non-profit organizations. You can give to Palouse Pathway through the AGMP in two ways. You can donate online on the AGMP website from now until December 12th. You can also give at one of the live AGMP events. The BIG EVENT takes place at the 1912 Center from 4-8 PM December 3rd. There will be refreshments and carols and you can take time to watch the City of Moscow’s Light Up the Night Holiday Parade on Main street nearby. Palouse Pathways will have a table at the event – you can stop by and say hello and meet representatives from other local non-profits serving the Palouse.
AGMP’s purpose is encourage folks to honor friends and family members with donations to worthy causes rather than store-bought gifts. In keeping with that theme, Palouse Pathways has created five colorful gift cards (four ranging in value from $5 to $20 plus one in an undesignated amount) which you can purchase to honor and share with friends and family members. Once you make your donation, AGMP will present you with the cards, and you can give them as gifts. Do you have a family member who would be tickled to know that you’ve made a gift in their honor to “Support the work of local schools and inspire local students”? Then giving through the AGMP is for you! It’s also a great way to support Palouse Pathways if you’d like to use a credit card. You don’t have to live in the area to make a donation through AGMP!
Make a Donation to Palouse Pathways
You can also make a donation by sending a check to Palouse Pathways at 1120 Kouse Street Moscow, Idaho 83843. Your gift is tax deductible and very much appreciated.
Volunteer, Spread the Word, Get Involved
Since Palouse Pathways is an all-volunteer organization, what we really need is YOU. Volunteers teach workshops, write press releases, work on grant ideas, bake cookies and more. And volunteers spread the word about Palouse Pathways, to friends and neighbors and (perhaps most importantly) to students and families that could really use our help. If you’d like to contribute your time, in big or small ways, or you have ideas for how we can better achieve our mission and serve local families, we would love to hear from you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our budget is small, but our aspirations are big and we need your help to achieve them.
Thanks so much for your support and consideration. And best wishes for the holidays.