Saturday, August 25, 2018

Annual Advice from this year’s sophomores to this year’s matriculating freshmen

Every year I query my alumni advisees about their college experiences. What were highs and lows freshmen year. How did they struggle? When and how did they thrive?

 Here’s the advice I gleaned from last year’s 2017 freshmen for this year’s 2018 freshmen:

1) Don't expect to have your life figured out going into college. 
2) College offers a lot of niche clubs that students should take advantage of early on in order to find an outlet outside of classes to figure out what you like to do and connect with people also trying to figure out their interests. 
3) Remember the names of new people you meet: this goes a long way when trying to make new friends and study partners. Even if you don't think you're going be life-long friends with the person, it's always nice to have someone in class to talk with and learn the material with. 
 4) Spread homework and studying throughout the week, which will give you more free time on the weekends to hang out with friends and get off campus. The workload definitely piles up in college, especially if you’re on on the quarter system (the UCs). 
 5) Make sure to go to classes even if they are webcasted. 
 6) Leave enough time for yourself to relax. 
 7) Try new things—classes, activities, social interactions--whether or not you enjoy them at first. 

--Develop strong relationships with faculty members. Go to office hours; take on projects and research. Cultivate mentors. 
--Take on a sustained academic project whether research, a thesis or a capstone experience senior year.
 --Participate actively in at least one campus organization. Seek leadership opportunities. 
--Regulate your time on social media. Don’t spend too much time alone. 
--Develop communication and “storytelling” skills. It’s important to be able to persuade an audience whether on a job interview or another situation. 
--Take risks both academically and personally. Try new classes and/or fields of interest. Don’t be too focused on career outcomes. 

 Also, check out previous blog posts on the same topic—advice for incoming freshmen.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

College Readiness Redux

I’ve written about “soft” or non-cognitive skills on this blog previously and I’m often emphasizing their importance to my advisees as they are challenged by managing their increasingly complex schedules while completing college applications.  Actually, completing the college application process is a good “test” or practice for adolescents in developing responsibility, time management, resilience and self-advocacy, all skills students need to function independently in college.

Recently, the New York Times published another piece, How to Help a Teenager be College-Ready” on helping your child the skills and qualities needed to live independently and function as a successful student.  It focuses on three areas: self-care, academics and administrative tasks.  Among its recommendations are to allow students to manage their own calendar and deadlines.  I echo this encouragement in asking parents to allow students to make their own appointments with me and follow up on tasks without parental reminders.

It’s a lot about our “letting go” as parents, isn’t it?  Good luck!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Babson College: Not just for Business. . .

Last week in Boston I visited Babson College, a school well known for its business and entrepreneurship programs.  Guided by a very articulate and knowledgeable Latina freshman, I learned that Babson has far more to offer than a standard undergraduate business curriculum. Here are a few highlights of what I learned from my tour :

1)   Every freshman enrolls in a two semester Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course that gives them hands-on experience in developing and running an actual business. Fall term students meet in small groups to brainstorm ideas and write business plans and spring term, financed by a $3,000 school grant, they execute and run their businesses.

Offering this course as an introductory rather than as a capstone experience, allows students to recognize and develop their particular aptitudes and choose a focus for their subsequent Babson education.

2)   Babson College participates in a consortium with Franklin Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley College, two esteemed neighboring institutions. Students can take one course a semester at either of the other two schools and collaboration among students of all three schools is encouraged.

3)   Study abroad is very popular at Babson; over 50% of Babson students participate.  The most attractive and original of the study abroad options is BRIC:  a semester long study-travel program led by Babson faculty to Russia, India and China to examine the interaction between culture and business practices.
4)   Babson also offers an accelerated degree program, allowing undergraduates the opportunity to graduate in 3 years by following a streamlined path.

While all Babson students graduate with a B.S. in business, 50% of the curriculum requirements are liberal arts, ensuring a well-rounded education.  Faculty interaction with and mentoring of students is a hallmark and as we toured the campus, I noted many groups of students collaborating on projects.  I was impressed by all the activity on campus and in the libraries/business labs. 
If you’re interested in either business or Boston, Babson is definitely a college to check out!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Why Berkeley Engineering??

Why choose Berkeley Engineering over a private liberal arts college or university?

1)  Berkeley maintains a strong reputation as one of the best engineering programs in the U.S.  A Berkeley B.S. really means something on the job market.
2) With its eight undergraduate departments: Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer Sciences, Engineering Science, Industrial & Operations Research, Materials Science , Mechanical, and Nuclear, the program is comprehensive and well-run.  It’s direct entry, so students don’t have to compete for coveted spots once admitted; it has its own engineering advisors so students don’t have to wait weeks for appointments
3) The engineering school boasts excellent facilities, specialized labs and libraries, up to date lecture halls: lecture halls have rotating stages and web cams for live streaming; the engineering library is a collaborative space for project work. Plus, the campus is beautiful, with many lovely, tucked away places for studying or just enjoying the scenery.
4) Berkeley students are active and involved.  At Sproul Plaza you can browse over 1,000 clubs and organizations to join from academic to service to performing arts; the LEAD Center is dedicated to developing student involvement and leadership, and students can choose living and social options from fraternities and sororities (12% of students) to co-ops (17 houses.)
5) A Berkeley undergraduate education costs roughly half that of a private school (roughly $36,000 cost of attendance).  The value is unbeatable!

Why not?
1) Class sizes are huge—500 or more for the first two years and upper division classes are still around 100 students.  TAs or grad students lead all the sectionals so contact with faculty can be rare.
2) As a result of the large classes and overall enrollment, students may have difficulty establishing close relationships with professors and may lack mentors to support them towards graduate school.
3) Housing can be a hassle.  While over 90% of freshmen live in campus residences, housing is not guaranteed, and after freshman year, finding affordable and safe housing can be tricky.
4) The city of Berkeley can seem overwhelming and “gritty” to students raised in the suburbs.  Not everyone loves Berkeley’s quirky, liberal vibe.
5) Berkeley Engineering is highly selective.  Because direct admission rates are so low (about 8% for the whole school and 4-5% percent for EECs and Bio-Engineering applying to an engineering major at Berkeley may mean a rejection over applying to a less impacted major.  It is very difficult, and not recommended to try to transfer in to engineering after matriculating.

*A final note: Students selected as Regent Scholars can access the best of both public and private educations: faculty mentoring, special research opportunities, 4 years of guaranteed housing, and priority registration.  If selected as a Regent, definitely go for it!