How would you like to spend your senior year? Would you like to spend it harried, running around frantically trying to complete your college applications? Or would you rather complete your college applications early so that you can enjoy your senior year without worries of essay prompts and recommendations in the forefront of your mind?
If you chose the latter, then you should start the application process this summer. Getting a head start on the Common Application will not only save you a ton of stress, but will also help you stay organized during the process.
It’s your senior year and you're probably feeling just as excited as you are exhausted. You don’t know what the future holds, but you’re hoping that college is your next big step. After all, you’ve paid your dues: you’ve taken the standardized tests, made good grades, volunteered when needed, and also took on extracurricular activities from sports to band – all to impress a panel of strangers who hold the key to your future in their hands.
Clearly, the college admissions process can be an emotional rollercoaster. And at this point in the process, most students will decide that they’ve done all that they can do to convince admissions to select them over another candidate.
Blaming senioritis, seniors everywhere will convince themselves that their last year of high school doesn’t really matter to colleges. Many students will be tempted to slack off and will make the mistake of cruising through their senior year, hoping to avoid taking anything that could be considered academically rigorous.
But before you write-off your senior year as nothing more than a waiting period until your “real” life starts, consider using your senior year instead as a way to prepare for the academic rigor of college. Furthermore, enrolling in certain types of courses can help you earn credit in high school that you can use later in college.
Below are a few ideas of what courses to take during your senior year and why...
Many years ago, someone coined the term “Public Ivy League School.” The phrase was meant to refer to state universities that have such high academic standards and international stature that they approximate – if not equal – anything the Ivy League has to offer.
Not many public universities can claim this. However, three undoubtedly do.
In fact, one of the most common questions I get from my clients is what are the top state universities in the USA. I think it’s a very good question. Obviously every state in the nation has publically-funded universities. But just like private universities, not all public universities are created equal. There are real differences in the academic rigor, alumni loyalty, endowments, and selectivity between state universities.
Here are my top three institutions:
With almost 3,000 public and private four-year colleges and universities in the United States, there is a bewildering number of higher education options. One school that you probably have never heard of is Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon. Reed is a terrific liberal arts college, and like most small liberal arts colleges it doesn’t have sports teams that you hear about on SportsCenter, or read about in the papers. It’s a school that is often eclipsed by the large state universities in the Pacific Northwest, especially the University of Oregon and the University of Washington. However, this is a wonderful school well worth checking out – for a particular kind student.
Reed creates students who often go on to get PhD’s. It’s a place for people who truly love to study, and love to study oftentimes arcane and esoteric materials. Their motto is “Communism, Atheism, and Free Love” (note: I am not making this up). I often describe Reed those who haven’t been there as a place where thinkers love to think with other creative minds. Most first-time visitors to Reed are shocked by the way the students dress and the interests that students have. This is a student body that comes to master seemingly exotic interests, ranging from Byzantine history to Romanesque architecture to minutiae about Nietzsche. This is absolute not a place to go for students that want to experience a student body that represents the kind of atmosphere that they experienced in high school.
But for students looking to continue their studies after Reed to become PhD’s, and who love being iconoclasts, this is a terrific option. Its academics are top-notch across-the-board, Portland is of course one the most beautiful cities in the United States, and there is something very positive to be said about being surrounded by students who have a deep and abiding love for learning for learning’s sake. If you’re ever in Portland, be sure to contact Reed and visit the school. It’s clearly not a place for everyone but for those who fit into this atmosphere it can be a four-year adventure unlike any other in the United States.
Some of the nation's top colleges also have extension programs, which were originally conceived as a way for working adults and members of the community to take open enrollment courses to develop skills or simply to further their education.
Things are different today, and that is a good thing.
You may have read recently that former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon is suing the NCAA because this so-called nonprofit organization which makes billions of dollars in sales per year doesn’t see fit to share that revenue with the college athletes whose names appear on jerseys, T-shirts, and all sorts of other paraphernalia. O’Bannon seems to have this absolutely crazy notion that maybe the college athletes that generate the billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA should get a small piece of the action.
I came across a very interesting operation called InstaEDU that I think would have immediate value for students. Generally speaking I’m not a huge fan of most tutoring websites. I just don’t feel most outfits do a good job in terms of recruiting their tutors. After all, it is not as if there’s a certification process to be a tutor.
But InstaEDU stands out, and I’m very impressed with their approach. They draw their tutors from the very top universities in the United States, with a disproportionate number coming from the top 25 schools in the country. I like that. What I also really love about this website is that students can (and do) review their experience with the tutor, and those student reviews are public. No matter what you need tutoring in – say math, science, or history – you have a lot of options for who you want to work with. This company is doing a lot of things I look for in academic startups – they place students first, give students plenty of choices, and will do what it takes to make you happy if you are not satisfied with your tutor.
I love competition, and here the tutors are working to be the best because they are rated. To be frank with you, this is the most innovative tutoring website I’ve come across in a long time, and it’s well worth your time checking it out. They’ve also received some very good press lately, and I wish they had been around when I was in college. Check these folks out and let me know what you think!
Just when it seems as though Big Time Athletics cannot yet rear its ugly head again (see: Penn State) here we have Rutgers University President Dr. Barchi refusing to ask for the resignation of his new AD, Julie Hermann. Never mind that Hermann allegedly abused her players, and that every player of her 1996 volleyball team alleges abuses and behavior that are antithetical to any academic institution. For Rutgers, it seems to be par for the course, and with each passing day of this sad saga, we see the value of a Rutgers degree tarnished by the lack of leadership, due diligence, and common sense so lacking in university presidents and chancellors.