Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tour of Dominican University of California

Last month in the midst of February rainstorms a few colleagues drove to San Rafael for a tour of Dominican University.  This small, Catholic heritage school of only 1800 students nonetheless offers excellent options for students interested in education, health careers, dance or business.

Dominican is well known for its direct entry nursing program that begins either in fall or spring semesters.  It boasts a high pass rate for nursing boards of 84-89% and offers financial aid as well as scholarships to well qualified students.  In addition to nursing, there is a 4 +1 Occupational Therapy program and a new Physician’s Assistant program is opening soon.  The university has invested heavily in labs and facilities for its health programs—these are worth viewing during a campus tour.
Other popular 4 +1 masters programs include business and education.  Elementary education/liberal studies majors can earn a credential within 4 years or stay another year either for a masters or a special education credential.  Secondary education students often take 5 years to complete their degree and credential.
Overall, the dance program is Dominican’s most competitive and specialized.  The school is affiliated with Alonzo Lines and dance majors—only about 15 are admitted each year—take a daily bus to San Francisco for training.
While on campus, we toured the usual buildings—classrooms, the student center, library and ate lunch at the cafeteria.  The students and the atmosphere appeared friendly and approachable.  The Spanish style architecture is appealing.  Our guide did confess that on-campus housing is below par and weekend social life is pretty quiet.  Our guide emphasize, however, that she loved the close knit community at Dominican and felt it was providing great opportunities both for learning and extra-curricular life.  We met with an associate admissions dean who described other “gems” of the school: a robuts study abroad program in which 6-8 faculty members lead programs annually, internships for all students, integrative advising that exposes students both to academic and professional advisors, and a thesis requirement for all majors.

We left campus a little soggy for our tour in the rain but felt we had discovered a local liberal arts school well worth consideration—especially for students interested in the programs highlighted above.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Spring Checklist for High School Juniors

Spring semester junior year in high school is a good time to begin more deliberate preparations for college.  Many checklists are available online from College Board, Peterson's and other sources; here are a few recommendations I would like to make from my experience as a college professor, academic advisor and independent educational consultant:
--Research possible careers, majors and colleges using tools on Naviance or other search
--Schedule a family meeting to discuss college finances, financial aid and scholarships, and an overall timeline for the college application process.
--Meet with your college counselor at school to discuss the college application process and make a preliminary list of schools.  Also make sure you and your counselor discuss your fulfilling A-G requirements for CA universities.
--Make a plan to prepare for and take standardized tests.  It’s a good idea to take the SAT/ACT twice in order to improve your score.  Many counselors recommend taking both tests once, and then repeating the test you score best on.
--Consider hiring an independent advisor, if you attend a large, public school or need extra guidance.  Ask friends for recommendations or check the online directory at Higher Education Consultants Association for a list of local consultants.
--Begin planning summer activities and employment early.  The summer after junior year is a critical time to gain experience in responsibility and autonomy as well as earn money to save for college expenses.
--Focus on a strong academic performance this semester as these are among the most important grades college admissions staff will evaluate.
--Plan to visit college campuses during school breaks or summer vacation.  Sign up for tours online ahead of time.

--Begin keeping a list or journal of possible ideas for application essays.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Summer Science Programs for High School Students

Happy New Year!  
January and February are the months for high school juniors (and sophomores) to apply to summer science and internship programs in the Bay Area and at nearby UC campuses. 
Stanford University offers a number of programs through the Office of Science Research including unpaid internships in laboratories, the Space Weather Monitor Program and the Institute of Medicine Summer Research Program
UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis feature COSMOS, or California State Summer School for Math and Science, with a host of topics or “clusters” students can explore in a four- week residential program.
You can also check out Pathways to ScienceNational Database for programs both in California and across the U.S. for paid internships.   A couple of local possibilities are the Perception Science Internship at UC Berkeley and the Arthritis Foundation Summer Science Internship at either UCSF or Stanford. 

All these programs are selective and require an application consisting of short essay responses, a transcript, standardized test scores and teacher recommendations.  Of course many universities across the country offer pre-collegiate summer school terms—which are less
selective, but also can be quite pricey.  I recommend these only for students who want to dig deeper into a particular subject at a more advanced level—not for enhancing a college application.
All in all the SF Bay Area offers plenty of opportunities for high school students to explore their interests in STEM during the summer. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Value of Work Experience for College Applicants

This application season as I’m helping students prepare their resumes and activities sections on their applications, I’m noticing that probably fewer than half of my advisees (primarily high school students from the middle and upper middle class have paid work experience.  
This is a troubling trend to me for a couple of reasons: first, it may indicate that homework loads and course curricula have become so challenging for many students that they have little time for anything else outside of school work; and second, many students are missing out on a vital opportunity to develop responsibility and self-sufficiency. 
Increasingly, colleges and universities are recognizing the value of paid work experience among their applicants.  An article in the education section of mentions several reasons why admissions committees favor applicants who have held jobs including learning teamwork and collaborative skills and gaining perspective on the labor market.

Several of the new University of California Personal Insight Questions Writing could be answered convincingly by describing one’s leadership development on a summer job or an after school babysitting “gig.”  Personal Statements reflecting on work—whether learning new skills or learning to interact with fellow employees and managers—might also help demonstrate an applicant’s maturing attitude or narrate how the writer learned to deal with a difficult customer or boss.
As your teenager contemplates his or her extra-curricular activities for the next season, checking out part-time work or volunteer positions might be a good idea.  Also, January through March is a good period to secure a summer job such as camp counseling or paid internships.  Another way for teens to gain workplace skills is through volunteering in an after school tutoring program, like Healthy Cities or Project Read or signing up to be a volunteer coach through the PAL Athletic League.  Many short time assignments are also available through Hands On Bay Area.
And this holiday season there will be plenty of short-term retail jobs available for teens with some sales experience.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The LIST is critical: thoughts on 2016 admissions

With admission rates lower this year than last year, and lower last year than the year before, the college application frenzy is at an all time high.  As applications were up at all University of CA campuses, admission rates decreased and the same is true for many elite, highly selective colleges and universities including Stanford and the Ivies.  See this recent post by College Kickstart.  

How does one create a balanced college list given this trend toward more and more selective
admission among the “brand name” colleges?

Here are a few of my recommendations:
  • Keep the college search in perspective—it’s about a four-year period in a young adult’s life, an important launching period, of course, but there is no one correct path or best school.
  • Read Frank Bruni’s book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania  for myriad reasons and examples why going to an elite institution is not a prerequisite for success in career or life.
  • Balance your list realistically—consider selectivity, type of school, location.
  • Look for fit vs. prestige—do the schools on your list offer the academic majors and programs as well as extracurricular opportunities that you seek? 
  • Consider EA (Early Action) and ED (Early Decision) applications but be careful not to apply ED if financial aid is a consideration.  Remember that ED acceptances are binding.
  • Focus on target schools and consider reach and lottery schools as outliers—possibilities not probabilities.
  • Prepare for rejection and waitlist notifications that may arrive in the spring.  It’s good to be positive and hopeful but it’s also important to prepare oneself for at least some disappointment.
  • Make sure every school on the list is one you want to attend.
If your high school junior needs help developing a realistic, balanced college list, feel free to call me (Beth) at Peninsula College Advising to schedule a no-obligation orientation session to my college advising services: 650-743-1959.