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Adding Depth to Student Activities

June 13, 2017   By Jona Jacobson

When rounding-out your choice of activities as a college bound high school student, consider what you might add that brings depth of involvement to your current passions. Do not just add activities that are not as meaningful to you. It is more important to have purpose and passion than to have a long, less meaningful list. The overall point of pursuing your passions and becoming more deeply involved is to enrich your experience and enhance your knowledge and enjoyment. This should not simply be an exercise in resume padding. Your activities should be representative of your actual passions and interests, thus they should be activities you genuinely enjoy.

Make a list of all the activities you have engaged in from the beginning of freshman year (including the summer before freshman year) to the current date. “Activities” includes extracurricular activities in or outside of school, employment, community service, and hobbies. This list could be in the form of a basic resume. Circle the activities that are currently the most meaningful to you. For these circled activities, ask yourself: Are any of these activities related to one another? For example, do you play tennis, teach tennis, and referee tennis matches? Do you have a tennis blog? Do you work at a tennis pro shop? College admission reps tell me that what they are looking for in student activities is passion, depth and leadership—demonstrated by commitment to the activity over time and through depth of involvement. By having connections between the activities of most importance to you, you show such depth of involvement and often times leadership as well (i.e. as an employee, as a teacher, or as a coach). Striving for continuity of involvement does not mean that you can never quit anything. It is fine to try a variety of activities to figure out where your passions lie as you go along through your high school years. However, there should be at least a couple of activities that you continue through most or all high school. Hopefully, these are the activities where your interests are strongest.

Whatever your favorite activities are, try to think of ways to increase your depth of involvement for these as you get older. If possible, start showing more depth of involvement by sophomore year and increase involvement as you continue into junior and senior years, but later timing (even the summer before senior year) is better than never. One way to demonstrate depth is to have your extracurricular activities be connected in some way to your community service activities, to your employment activities, or both.

Summer is an excellent time to review your resume and find new ways to explore ideas and new ways to expand involvement in your interest areas.

What should juniors be doing now for their college search and application process?

March 2, 2016   By Jona Jacobson

Many current juniors in high school are or are becoming energized about their college search and application process. Just what should high school juniors do now to prepare?

  1. Research colleges- read about colleges of interest (or find colleges of interest) by using college search engines, guidebooks, or conferring with a college admissions advisor.
  2. Make a list of potential colleges for your list- put colleges on this “potential” list after you research them and think they may be good fits for you.
  3. Visit colleges if possible- visit some of the colleges you are interested in. If you cannot visit colleges at a long distance, at least visit colleges nearby that are of varying sizes to get good reference points for how different sized colleges feel to you.
  4. Consider standardized testing- decide whether to take the ACT, SAT or SAT Subject Tests this spring, and be sure to prepare. A college admissions advisor can help you determine the ideal timing of these exams.
  5. Keep your grades up- your GPA at the end of junior year will be your GPA for college applications. High schools generally calculate GPAs annually only. Thus even though you will likely send your first semester senior grades and ultimately your senior year grades, your application GPA will be your junior year GPA as it will not be recalculated until after admission decisions are made.
  6. Consider whom you would like ask for recommendations for your college applications. The number of recommendations required and allowed varies by college.

An independent educational consultant who does college application advising can give valuable guidance for this process and for selecting good-fit colleges.

Some juniors will even begin to fill out a portion of the Common Application now because as of this year accounts can be rolled-over starting August 1st. However, be cautious and do not fill out too much of the Common App. For now, just focus on the profile and family portions if anything. Most of the important portions should wait until after August 1—including the Activities and My Colleges sections. The college-specific question sections will not roll over. Compared to the other items listed above, dealing with the Common App before the summer should be a low priority.

This is an exciting time! Get started and get guidance if needed.

jj College Admission Advising 2015 Outcomes

May 1, 2015   By Jona Jacobson

Students of jj College Admission Advising had great outcomes from their college applications this year!

College Admissions Offers for Class of 2019 -
The following colleges and universities accepted one or more students who worked with jj College Admission Advising LLC into their class of 2019:

University of Alabama

California Institute of Technology
University of California Los Angeles
University of California Santa Barbara
Stanford University

Fairfield University
Yale University

University of Delaware

District of Columbia-
American University
Catholic University of America
George Washington University

University of Miami

University of Chicago
Knox College
Illinois Wesleyan University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

DePauw University
Earlham College
Indiana University

Grinnell College

University of Maine
University of Southern Maine

University of Maryland

Endicott College
Northeastern University
Williams College

Albion College
Kalamazoo College
Michigan State University

Washington University St. Louis

New Hampshire-
Colby- Sawyer College
University of New Hampshire

New Jersey-
Princeton University

New York-
Cornell University
Fashion Institute of Technology
Fordham University
Hartwick College
Marist College
New York University
Niagara University
St Bonaventure University
St John Fisher College
SUNY Albany
SUNY Binghamton
SUNY Plattsburgh
SUNY Pottsdam
SUNY Stony Brook
Syracuse University
The New School

North Carolina-
University of North Carolina Greensboro

Case Western Reserve
University of Dayton
Kent State University
Kenyon College
John Carroll University
Miami University
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Ohio Wesleyan University

Carnegie Mellon University
Drexel University
Duquesne University
Mercyhurst University
Pennsylvania State University
University of Pittsburgh
Susquehanna University
Temple University
Villanova University

Rhode Island-
Providence College
University of Rhode Island
Salve Regina University

South Carolina-
University of South Carolina

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

Beloit College
Marquette University

Making the Most of College Tours and Visits

March 31, 2015   By Jona Jacobson

Spring is a great time for high school juniors and sophomores to visit colleges! Students and families have busy schedules, so the sooner you start, the more colleges you will get to see before application time rolls around. If you are considering going on a college visit, be sure to make the most of your time. If possible, do the usual activities such as taking a formal tour and attending an information session, but also check the list below for a more in-depth look. It is always best to research ahead online to see whether the college requires pre-registration for tours or information sessions; many do.

Before you leave for your visits, make sure you have the address of the admissions office, phone number of the admissions office and parking information. This information can be very helpful on the road, particularly since a GPS doesn’t always lead you to the admissions office of a college.

If for some reason while you are visiting a college you cannot go on a formal tour, take yourself on a tour! In fact, you should consider a self-guided tour even if you also take a formal tour with a college tour guide. Tours cannot include everything, and there are many features and facilities you should check out (or see in more detail) while on campus — many of which are often not part of the “tour.” Here’s a list if things you should plan to do or see:

  • Sign in with the admissions office so they have a record of your visit
  • Pick up a map in the admissions office or get one online ahead of time
  • Inquire about average class sizes for introductory, higher level and typical freshman classes
  • Inquire whether classes are all taught by professors or whether the college uses TAs (“teaching assistants” who are usually graduate students)
  • Look at the gym/athletic facilities that will be available for your use
  • Go into the library — investigate various floors of the library and look at the study spaces
  • Go through the student union building
  • Visit at least one dining hall — sample the food if possible
  • If you cannot see inside the dorms, at least look at the outside (of more than one dorm) and notice the proximity to the rest of campus
  • Go inside the academic buildings — especially those of interest to your possible majors
  • View special facilities of interest such as labs, athletic stadiums and fields, studios, theatres and auditoriums, art rooms or practice rooms

Be sure not to limit your visits and tours to super selective colleges. If anything, it is more important to visit potential target and likely/safety colleges. It is so important to see how many great, not-so-selective colleges might be really good fits for you! Remember: your goal is to create a college list that is entirely made up of good-fit colleges, any one of which you would be happy to attend. Be sure to include financial safety as well as academic safety colleges in your list of colleges to visit.

Occasionally students will meet with an admissions officer in an impromptu fashion during the visit. These unplanned discussions can be very helpful and can demonstrate the student’s interest in the college. Just in case, be prepared and research the college ahead of time. Be able to articulate why you are interested in the college, and have a few specific questions ready to ask. The tour may even bring up some questions you didn’t have before you arrived on campus.

Even if you are a little rushed for time, be sure to take a close look at the surrounding community. Are there places you might like to go? Can you get to any restaurants, stores or coffee shops on foot and conveniently (if that is important to you)?

One more important thing- take notes in a notebook or on your phone and take some pictures at each college. As you visit more colleges it becomes difficult to remember what you saw or heard at which college. There are apps you can use as well to take notes and make comments for your reference (i.e. CampuSeek or My Tour Score). Whatever works best for you! Visiting local colleges can also be helpful (even if you are not interested in applying) because they provide a point of reference and you can see what various size and locations of campuses are like (small medium, large, urban, suburban, rural).

Sometimes you cannot visit all of the colleges you would like to—or maybe any of the colleges you would like to visit — due to expense, time or proximity. In that case, look online for virtual tours and take the time to review them carefully. You may even want to do this prior to taking an actual tour, just in case you see something right off the bat that makes you decide you aren’t really that interested. It can help you narrow down your list before the time and expense of making an actual visit. Other options include college fairs where you can speak to college admission representatives—or virtual college fairs sometimes offered on the website CollegeWeekLive.

Most importantly — enjoy yourself!