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The College Try

List of 10 news stories.

  • College Admission Deans Tell Students #WhyApply

    Why apply to college? Ideally, it is a question that every high school student will ask, but the reality is much different. For some, attending college is a foregone conclusion—their parents went to college, they have been in a college preparatory curriculum, their friends and neighbors are going to college, the financial resources are available—it is just what is expected. These students often need to be reminded to pause, step off the high school hamster wheel, and examine why they plan to attend college, setting intentions for what they hope to gain from the experience...
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  • A Syllabus For College Transition

    Across the nation, first-year college students are arriving at their new campus homes and are engaged in orientation programs—essentially crash courses on life as a college student. They are settling in, registering for classes, and buying books on engineering, philosophy, foreign languages, and other rich subjects that will challenge them intellectually. Soon, they will begin to attend lectures and read literature that will expand their minds. All of this is the result of the significant time, energy, and resources that they dedicated throughout high school to “getting in” to college...
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  • College Applicants Reflect on Lessons Learned

    College admission is a rite of passage—an occasion for young people to pause and reflect on the first decade or so of their lives. Sadly for many adolescents, the competition, complexity, and anxiety surrounding selective college admission can be a toxin that taints an otherwise exciting time of transition. As high school ramps up and the treadmill spins faster and faster, teenagers soon lose sight of the lessons that their young lives have provided. Reflection is muted by reflex, as they respond to the presumed expectations and demands of applying to college. For many, the admission experience feels like a referendum on their accomplishments, strengths, and interests—a very public process that is layered with hope, fear and forced vulnerability....
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  • The College Admission Blind Taste Test

    I grew up in the 1970s and '80s in what was a war-torn America. Cola wars that is. I was from a Pepsi family and though I had friends from Coke families, that doesn’t mean I understood their misguided preferences. To be honest, I don’t know why we were a Pepsi family, it was just always how it had been. It was what we knew and we were loyal to our brand. Then came the Pepsi Challenge where representatives from the cola company would set up a table in a public location and administer a blind taste test to passers-by. After sampling both brands without the label, one was asked to choose the soda that tasted the best. Convinced that I was uninfluenced by marketing, tradition or peer pressure, I accepted the challenge....
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  • The Perfectionist's Guide to the College Essay

    The glow from the laptop reflects off his forehead as he stares at the screen, paralyzed by panicked perfectionism. The Common Application essay prompts are neatly copied onto the blank document, taunting him with possibility. His young mind races from topic to topic, each of which he dismisses immediately. The championship soccer game…cliché. His meaningful relationship with his deceased grandfather…overdone. The first time he received a grade below an “A” on an English paper...trite....
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  • Education's Opiates: Prescribing Selective Colleges

    Parents, high schools and colleges are feeding an addiction of sorts— abetting an epidemic of perfectionism and expectation while promoting a “high” of status and prestige. After two decades of working with young people in college admission, it is increasingly apparent that driven by fear and uncertainty, we are “overprescribing” achievement and ambition while jeopardizing the health and wellness of our children. The parallels between selective college admission and the drug crisis are frightening and though not as immediate or severe, the impact of resume building—doing more and being more—is serious all the same....
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  • Parenting the College Applicant as an Admission Dean

    How do dentists feel when they are at the dentist? Is it as miserable as it is for the rest of us, or is it easier because they know the routine? I wonder about this phenomenon more generally, including my own profession, college admission counseling. What is it like to relinquish one’s role as the expert—comfortable, or will I squirm like every other parent? Is it enlightening to see one’s profession from another perspective or terrifying?...
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  • A College Admission Revolution

    Independence Day—it is a day on which we celebrate freedom from tyranny and oppression. It is an opportunity to commemorate a successful revolution and recall the importance of self-rule. It has also become a chance to take a mid-summer break and enjoy festive connection, appreciating good food and good friends. Unless of course, you are a rising high school senior, in which case, you now must confront the growing threat of college admission creep....
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  • College Admission Has the Cultural Capital to Drive Suicide Prevention

    I am dying—bit-by-bit, teardrop-by-teardrop, person-by-person, soul-by-soul.  An energetic teacher, a gentle high school student, a soft-spoken police officer, a hilarious counselor, a giving salesman, a conscientious young adult, and an invested coach—united in their pain and divided by their death. As a career educator, a father, a brother, a son, and a human, a part of me dies with every suicide. They are connections lost, friends missing and lives forsaken....
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  • College Summer Reading List

    Each summer, Brennan Barnard compiles a summer reading list of recommendations from college admissions counselors and deans for the Answer Sheet blog in The Washington Post. Here is his 2018 list of nearly 40 fiction and nonfiction books, with some titles that can appeal to just about everybody....
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