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Our president, Jessica Givens, was recently featured as a College Coach on KHOU’s morning program, Great Day Houston. She was there on Monday, February 17th to help them kick off their college week. See the clip in full here:
Thanks so much for having Jessica on the show again – it is always a good time!
We wanted to share some information about a cool opportunity coming up at Episcopal High School on February 24th: the HoustonGap Year Fair. This event is open to anyone in the Houston area and is a great way to get more information about different programs, what to expect, and how to tell who might be a good fit to take a gap year. Some students just aren’t ready to head straight to college and a structured gap year can help them to mature, gain additional experience, and start college on the right foot a year later.
Here’s all the information about the fair:
Houston Gap Year Fair
Monday, February 24, 2014
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
*Speaker at 6 p.m in Anderson Lecture Hall.
Traditional fair to follow in the Underwood Student Center
Episcopal High School
4650 Bissonnet St., Bellaire, TX 77401
A Gap Year is a period of time between completing high school and beginning college when a student steps outside the traditional classroom experience. This is a time to explore the world, reflect on personal values and goals, and prepare to take the next step in life.
Please register at www.usagapyearfairs.org.
It’s already the end of October! If you haven’t submitted your application essays yet, you may want to give them one last look-over with these three tips in mind:
Did you know that UT has set a goal to improve its rate of students who graduate in four years? By 2017, they are aiming to have 70% of students graduate in four years, up from just 53% today. While 53% may sound a little low, it’s actually the highest rate in the state of Texas, followed closely by Texas A&M at 50%. Why do they care about students graduating in four years? According to UT, they say it is cheaper, it decreases dropout rates, students enter the workforce sooner, it creates room for new students, and lessens the chance of loan debt. All good things! For more information about UT’s plan, check out this article: UT Strives to Improve Four-Year Graduation Rates.
So if we know that schools are looking to increase the number of students who graduate in four years… we know that they’ll be looking for prospective students to demonstrate the ability and drive to make that happen. A great way to show that you’ve got what it takes to graduate in four years is to register for concurrent enrollment while still in high school. Here’s a little information about how you can register to take classes at Houston Community College while you’re still in high school. Doing this benefits you in two ways –
1. You demonstrate that you’re capable of college level work
2. You’ve reduced the number of credit hours you will need to graduate making it more likely that you will graduate in four years
Taking a course at HCC is different from your dual enrollment courses in high school because these will be actual college courses that you can take in the evenings or online. In order to enroll, you’ll have to apply to HCC. That starts will submitting their online application and submitting proof of vaccination or immunization. You can also apply for financial aid or scholarships. Next, you’ll take a placement test – you’ll need to pass these tests to enroll and based on your scores, your advisor will be able to help you get into the right classes based on your abilities. After a pre-enrollment session and an orientation – you’ll get a photo ID and a parking permit and you’re good to go!
To read more about the process or to get started, click here.
As we’ve mentioned before, when applying to schools you want to make sure that your application “makes sense,” meaning, if you say you want to major in education, you’ll want to have activities, experiences, and coursework that align with that goal. Keep this in mind as you figure out what classes may be good for you to take concurrently. Also make sure that the courses you select will be transferable to your school of choice and will count toward graduation.
Concurrent enrollment can be challenging but it is a great way to get a head start on your college education while marketing yourself to schools and someone who is capable of graduating in four years.
Tomorrow is October 15th! That means the first wave of Early Action/Early Decision deadlines is upon us… though for some schools, they’ve extended their timelines. Citing issues with the Common Application, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University both pushed back their 10/15 deadlines to 10/21 after students were unable to complete their applications.
In a response, the Common Application made a statement regarding the status of the cite over the busy Columbus Day weekend in a post on a forum sponsored by the National Association of College Admission Counseling.
“The slowness is due to a spike in activity among recommenders, which is having an impact in system performance for all users. The result is a time-out issue, which presents itself to users as an unsuccessful login error. We first observed the issue around 9:00 AM ET. Troubleshooting allowed us to resolve the problem within about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the issue cropped up again about 30 minutes later and continues to persist.”
For more information, check out this post from The Examiner – it has lots of details. The good news here is that it isn’t only the students being inconvenienced, the schools are too – and are dealing with it in a way to minimize stress on applicants. Hopefully the system will be up and running smoothly soon and until then – try to relax!
Here are two other schools with October 15 deadlines (that haven’t been changed, at least as of yet):
University of Georgia – Early Action – 10/15
University of South Carolina – Early Answer – 10/15
The next big wave of deadlines is November 1 so if that is a target date for any of your schools, get cranking!
Fall is the time of year where many students and their parents begin planning visits to prospective schools. While there is a wealth of information available online, sometimes there is no substitute for seeing a school in person and getting a feel for the campus and environment first-hand. We’ve pulled together some quick tips to keep in mind as you’re scheduling and making these important visits.
While tempting to visit schools during a vacation, seeing a campus while they’re on break takes away the biggest part of what makes up a school – the students! Whether a big school or small, watching the way the student body carries itself and interacts will give you a good sense of how the school operates and if you see yourself fitting in with all these potential classmates. While you’ll still be able to see the physical campus during a break, you won’t get a full picture of what life is like unless you see the hustle and bustle of a thriving college community in the wild.
Do some research ahead of time to find out what types of official visits are offered at the schools. If there are opportunities to register ahead of time, do it! You want to leave a record of your visit and registration in tours or prospective student events are a great way to do it. At many schools, visit data is recorded and admissions officers are able to access the information to verify that you have demonstrated interest in attending and have put forth the effort to show it.
The official tour is just that – official. Make sure that you’ve penciled in enough time to explore campus on our own – as well as the surrounding town or city. When they’re off campus, where do students go to study, have a snack, or play pickup basketball? While you’re in school, you’ll be on campus quite a bit – but that doesn’t mean you won’t also be living in the city surrounding it – try to picture yourself there and see how it feels.
Eat on campus! And in a dining hall, if that is an option. Read through the student newspaper and take a look at what has been posted on bulletin boards. These are a little window into the inner workings of the school and its students and can give you an honest look at what’s going on.
Even if you’re only visiting a few schools, many experiences can start to blend together. Snap a few pics while on campus and in town and spend a few minutes after each visit to jot down some notes. Even some generic categories like Love It / Hate It / Not Sure will be helpful. All of your notes and pictures will be invaluable when you’re trying to make a big decision down the road.
Of course, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to maximize this experience. You don’t want to waste it, but at the end of the day, you’ll have a “vibe” about each school – sometimes a gut feeling will show you the way!
The beginning of a new school year is always exciting – new teachers, new classes, even a fancy new title. But once you’ve adjusted to your new routine, it’s also a great time to get started with organizing a new club at your school or a service organization in your community. Since the focus of your club or service organization is up to you – it is a chance to help build your resume “up” instead of out. It can be tempting to join fifteen different clubs, do tons of different service projects, and play a different sport each season each year – but at the end of four years, what would anyone know about your interests or passions? The answer is very little – you need a focus!
Brainstorm some ideas that interest you, enlist some friends to help, and you’re off and running! Here are some basic steps to start a grassroots service group – these can be modified to start a club, too.
1. Pick a group in need.
2. Think of something that group might need.
3. Call up four friends and ask them if they would want to get some community service hours.
4. Contact an organization that works with that group.
5. Ask that organization if it would mind letting people know about your new service.
6. Dedicate hours to the project each week for an organizational meeting and some blocks of time to provide the service.
7. See if you can get the local paper to cover your organization!
This may sound overwhelming at first but it can be a great way to demonstrate your passion and capabilities to colleges when it comes time for your applications. There’s more information about this topic in our book – Get Your Summer Strategy On! It is available on Amazon.com or you can download it as an eBook from our website by clicking here and even though it has “summer” in the title, there are plenty of tips that can be enacted at any time of year.
Here’s to a new school year and to starting something new!
Here is episode five of our Weekly Ones series. This video touches on transferring to UT via the Coordinated Admissions Program or UTCAP. We hope you and enjoy it – and please let us know if there is anything you would like us to address in this series by emailing email@example.com.
Here is episode four of our Weekly Ones series. This video is for students (and parents) interested in applying to the College of Education at UT Austin and contains some considerations to take into account before applying. We hope you and enjoy it – and please let us know if there is anything you would like us to address in this series by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.