Harvard Professor Richard Light has spent a lifetime studying what leads to the most “successful” undergraduate experience. Over 20 years of research enriched by the views of nearly 2500 students led to advice he shared…
According to Dr. Light, successful college students will
- Get to know one faculty member reasonably well each term or semester. Research shows this is the single best way to engage fully in the life of the campus.
- Explore at least one entirely new topic or course every semester. Replicating your high school class roster is not particularly productive or satisfying.
- Develop a strategy for making tradeoffs between “investing” in new classes or activities and “harvesting” the benefits of known skills. Successful students experiment with the new but also continue to build on what they know they’re already good at.
- Focus on time management. Students who make adjustments to and are aware of issues in time management are far more likely to succeed in college.
- Pick classes in the first or second year that will support choosing a major wisely. Knowing something in advance about departments and majors saves time and aggravation in the long run.
- Try to relate what goes on inside the classroom to life outside of class. Forming these kinds of connections gives more meaning and depth to academics.
- Engage in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. There exists a very strong correlation between campus involvement and overall student satisfaction with college.
- Seek out diverse views. Successful students will reach out to people whose views do not necessarily correspond to their own.
Questions? Let’s chat!
Bettina Weil, LMSW, IEC
Test optional, test flexible and test blind refer to admissions policies with reference to the SAT or ACT. There may be slight variations between colleges as to exactly what these terms imply.
‘Test Optional’ means it is not mandatory for students to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of their application. For colleges that have a test-optional admissions policy, the applicant’s high school academic record is the most important assessment criteria. Next in importance are the applicant’s personal essay, recommendation letters, extracurricular activities, and the personal interview. A test-optional college may be a great choice for you if you prefer that colleges assess your application based on another important factor, like your high school grades or accomplishments.
Colleges that have a ‘Test-Flexible’ admissions policy allow applicants to submit various standardized test scores to support their application. Every college has its own list of scores that it will accept. Some may accept International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement exam scores. While others may accept the scores of the ACT Assessment Test or the SAT Reasoning Test. You must find out the details from each school so you know which test scores you are required to submit.
‘Test Blind’ means students are not required to submit any standardized test scores. There are several variations of this admissions policy. Some colleges may exempt applicants who have scored above a certain grade point average. While others may leave it up to the student to decide whether or not they want to submit their scores.
If you are unclear about a school’s admission policy, make sure you check their website or reach out to admissions!
Weil College Advising, LLC
As I finished my 2021 application season I thought… if I could give every family only one piece of advice about college admission and the college application process, what would that be? So here’s my advice. Ready? Be different.
Be different from the beginning. Don’t wait like so many other people until the summer after junior year or, even worse, the fall of senior year to begin the process. Starting early will alleviate much of the stress that you might be witnessing in senior friends who are crunching to create lists, visit schools, write essays, and complete applications.
Be different in how you prepare your college list. Don’t assume a college is a great fit until you’ve done your due diligence. Stretch yourself to consider colleges beyond the “usual suspects.” Colleges read all the applications from each high school together. That means they are comparing students from the same high school with the same measuring stick. the understanding is that you’ve all had the same opportunity to take the same classes over your high school career. If hundreds of students are applying to a college from your high school and the rigor of your coursework and your test scores don’t measure up to the competition, it’s obviously going to be more challenging to be accepted. However, if you are one of a handful of students applying to a certain college, your credentials will still be compared, but your leadership or special talents may carry more weight.
Be different in the activities you choose. Don’t join the Spanish club if the only reason you want to be there is to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Follow your interests, not your friends. Find something, almost anything, that matters to you – something you care about. It could be tutoring, the environment, Boy Scouts, dance, writing a blog, starting your own business, etc, but participate for the right reasons. Your activities should tell a story about who you are and what you care about. Make them meaningful.
Be different in what you choose to write about. Your essay is your best opportunity to self to set yourself apart in the application. It is the one area where you maintain total control. It can be a powerful tool, so use it wisely. Don’t write what you think college admissions officers want to read; write what you want them to know about you. Brainstorming your essay topic is a soul-searching process. Stay away from cliche topics that anyone could write and identify something that is uniquely you!
Questions? Let’s chat!
Weil College Advising, LLC
Many college prep programs for high school students take place on a college campus and focus on various subjects like journalism, entrepreneurship, or computer science to expand students’ understanding of their interests. Most programs range from 1-7 weeks long and students either live on campus for that time period or can commute to and from campus.
Getting into one of these pre-college summer programs can be a great addition to your resume, but be cautious when choosing a program because there are many out there that take advantage of students and will select any student that applies. University admissions faculty know which programs are legitimate and which ones are just cash cows, so be selective and do your research when applying. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 25 recognizable college prep programs for high school students:
1. Bank of America Student Leaders
The Bank of America student leaders program is part of Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to youth employment and economic mobility. 225 juniors and seniors are selected each year to take part in a leadership summit in Washington D.C. and are awarded paid internships with local nonprofits like Boys & Girls Club or Habitat for Humanity where they learn first-hand about the needs of their community.
2. Carnegie Mellon Summer Academy for Math & Science
This is a six week summer program for historically underrepresented minority groups interested in pursuing STEM-related undergraduate majors. Students can choose from two different tracks: science and engineering or computer science. Rising juniors and seniors are encouraged to apply, though a limited number of juniors are accepted.
3. Center for Excellence in Education – Research Science Institute (RSI)
80 students are selected for the cost-free Research Institute at MIT every summer where they participate in a week of STEM intensives followed by a 5 week research internship culminating in written and oral presentations of their research findings.
4. Yale Young Global Scholars
This two week academic and leadership program at Yale combines lectures, seminars, and small-group discussions designed to challenge and inspire students in specialites from applied science and engineering to literature, philosophy, and culture.
5. University of Pennsylvania – Leadership in the Business World
A month-long summer program for 80 rising high school seniors who want an introduction to an undergraduate business education and the opportunity to hone their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Students have opportunities to learn about leadership in 21st century organizations through a dynamic and rigorous mix of classes with professors and business leaders, company site visits, and team-building activities.
6. University of Notre Dame – Leadership Seminars
This 10-day program on Notre Dame’s campus is for 90 academically talented students who show impressive leadership within their communities and focuses on topics like global issues, the environment, and the state of race in 21st century America. Students are eligible to receive one college credit upon completion of the program.
7. Texas Tech University – Clark Scholars
For rising juniors and seniors, this 7-week research program guides students through a hands-on practical research experience with experienced faculty and includes fun activities, weekly seminars and field trips.
8. Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)
A cost-free six-week educational experience for high school juniors, TASP centers on an academic seminar that meets every weekday morning for three hours. In addition to the seminar, students participate in a public-speaking program, attend lectures by guest speakers, and hold other social and intellectual activities as a community.
9. Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SuMaC)
SUMac leads participants on a journey in advanced mathematics through lectures, guided research, and group problem solving over three weeks. In a social environment centered on mathematics, participants explore current lines of mathematical research, the historical development of important areas of mathematics, and applications across scientific disciplines.
10. Simons Summer Research Program
Simons summer research program is a 6-week program for rising seniors who will work with distinguished faculty mentors at Stony Brook University, learn laboratory techniques and tools, become part of active research teams, and experience life at a research university.
11. Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)
PROMYS is a six-week summer program at Boston University designed to encourage 80 strongly motivated high school students from around the country to explore in depth the creative world of mathematics in a supportive community of peers, counselors, research mathematicians, and visiting scientists.
12. Princeton University Summer Journalism Program
35-40 rising seniors from low-income backgrounds are selected for this ten day seminar on journalism. The program’s goal is to diversify college and professional newsrooms by encouraging outstanding students from low-income backgrounds to pursue careers in journalism. All expenses, including students’ travel costs to and from Princeton, are paid for by the program.
13. Ohio State University – Ross Mathematics Program
The Ross Mathematics Program is a six week program for students ages 15-18 with interests in mathematics and science. Students take a basic course in number theory and are immersed in a world of mathematical discovery.
14. Monell Center Science Apprenticeship Program
The Monell apprenticeship is a paid internship for high school and undergrad students in philadelphia that provides students with hands-on research training, improves student learning in science, encourages critical thought and communication skills, and increases appreciation of the chemical senses.
15. Michigan State University – High School Honors Science, Math and Engineering Program (HSHSP)
A seven-week, intensive summer research program for rising seniors from across the United States who wish to gain more experience conducting research while living on the campus of a major research-intensive university.
16. Michigan Math and Science Scholars
Open to any rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, this program is designed to introduce high school students to current developments and research in the sciences and to encourage the next generation of researchers to develop and retain a love of mathematics and science.
17. MathILy – Bryn Mawr College
This 5-week program for mathematically-talented high school students introduces them to new ideas to improve their problem-solving skills, learn advanced mathematics, and hone overall thinking skills.
18. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Minority Introduction to Science and Engineering (MITES)
A cost-free, six-week residential academic enrichment program for rising high school seniors – many of whom come from underrepresented or underserved communities – who have a strong academic record and are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering. Students take one calculus course, one life sciences course, one physics course, a humanities course and an elective course.
In this program, students interested in entrepreneurship spend four weeks building and launching an actual start-up, learning from industry experts, and working in a group of peer co-founders to build real products and solve business challenges. LaunchX has programs at Universities around the U.S. and admits students from all over the world.
High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with a strong interest in broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, photojournalism or online media are encouraged to apply. The six-day training camp brings together culturally diverse students from across the nation to learn from veteran journalists and leading media executives. JCamp participants will receive hands-on training and produce multiplatform news packages for the program’s news site.
21. Jackson Laboratory – Summer Student Program
The Summer Student Program is designed for 48 undergraduate and high school students chosen from all over the U.S. who want to immerse themselves in genetics and genomics research. It emphasizes laboratory discovery, communication of knowledge, and professional growth. Students participate in an ongoing research program with the support of an experienced scientific mentor. They develop an independent project, implement their plan, analyze the data, and report the results. At the end of the summer, they present their findings to researchers, other students, and parents. The Summer Student Program is available at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut.
22. Indiana University – Young Women’s Institute
The Young Women’s Institute is open to women finishing their junior year of high school (rising seniors). Students are selected from around the country to spend a week at Indiana University in Bloomington participating in workshops with top Kelley School of Business faculty, interacting with Kelley alumni and current students, preparing a real-world business case project, building leadership and communication skills, and connecting with like-minded women interested in business.
23. Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSIM)
HCSSiM is an intensive six-week encounter with college-level mathematics for talented and highly motivated high school students at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Participants spend a major portion of each day actively engaged in doing mathematics (not simply learning the results of mathematics).
24. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Camp
The Girls Who Code summer immersion program is a 7-week program for 10th-11th grade girls to learn coding and get exposure to tech jobs. Each week of the program covers projects related to computer science, such as art, storytelling, robotics, video games, websites, and apps. You’ll also hear from guest speakers, participate in workshops, connect with female engineers and entrepreneurs, and go on field trips.
25. Foundation for Teaching Economics – Economics for Leaders (EFL)
The goal of economics for leaders is to give promising students the skills to be more effective leaders and to teach them how to employ economic analysis when considering difficult public policy choices. EFL is a selective summer program for high school sophomores and juniors that teaches leaders how to integrate economics into the process of decision-making in a hands-on environment.