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Unhappy with your choices, or rejected everywhere – There are still options

Question: What’s the one thing no high school senior expects at the end of their college application process?

Answer: To have no college options, no place to go. While some students are rejected everywhere, the more common scenario is for a student to be sitting on multiple wait-lists but to have no firm offer in hand. Even more common, is the student who has been accepted, but only at their “safeties”, and they’re no longer of interest.

Thankfully there is a great resource out there.

More than 400 colleges and universities still have openings, financial aid, and housing available to qualified freshmen and/or transfer students for the Fall 2019 semester, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

NACAC’s 32nd annual college openings update (formerly the Space Availability Survey) was recently released and both public and private colleges and universities will continue to update it until July 1. It is an eagerly anticipated tool that allows students and colleges to find potential matches during the spring prior to fall enrollment.

Counselors, parents, and teachers can use NACAC’s College Openings Update to assist students who have not yet completed the college application and admission process. The update provides an opportunity to be accepted by more institutions and to obtain financial aid and housing for the fall.

“The recent college bribery scandal may have given students and families the erroneous impression that colleges and universities are impossible to get into,” said Joyce Smith, NACAC’s CEO. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There will always be a few highly selective schools, but students and families should know that admission is an ongoing process for many institutions.”

Many colleges accept applications well after May 1, National College Decision Day, as a matter of policy, while others will continue to have openings available due to fluctuations that occur each year in the college application process.

“The NACAC College Openings Update is a win-win for students and postsecondary institutions,” Smith said. “For example, some colleges and universities may face challenges in predicting how many students will accept an admission offer. They may find openings in their incoming freshman class for deserving students if their predictions are slightly off. This creates opportunities for students seeking a great match after May 1.

Students interested in attending any of the colleges on the list, which can be searched by state and offers a contact name and telephone number, should get in touch with the colleges directly and as quickly as possible.

Other suggestions, if no acceptances are on the horizon:

  • Talk to your high school guidance counselor to see if he/she can explain the rejections and wait-lists; were you over-shooting? or were all the application components received on time?, etc.
  • Spring semester start dates – a number of colleges are successfully filling spots in their classes with January admits. There are openings because students are either studying abroad, transferring or dropping out. In any case, contact the colleges of greatest interest to see if they offer any program like this.
  • Community colleges and some two-year colleges offer open admissions and can be a great stepping stone to a four-year degree, and they are usually much less expensive.
  • Take a year off and reapply next fall. Make sure your activities are meaningful; either working to earn money for college, volunteering or traveling in a purposeful way.

Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;

Should student debt be canceled?

What’s happening: The rising cost of education and the increasing necessity of a college degree in many professions have led to an explosion in student loan debt in the U.S. Americans now owe $1.56 trillion — a figure some experts have called a “crisis” for the economy.

Many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have proposed measures to alleviate the financial burdens that come with higher education, measures that include free college, more favorable loan agreements and moves to rein in for-profit universities.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has proposed the most radical measure: an aggressive proposal to tackle the problem by canceling $1.25 trillion in student loan debt. The plan would eliminate up to $50,000 in loans for people making less than $100,000 and provide some assistance for anyone with an income under $250,000. Her proposal includes a plan for free tuition at public colleges and a $50 billion fund to benefit historically black institutions. The program would be funded by an “ultra-millionaire tax” on families with $50 million or more in wealth.

Why there’s debate: Despite its trillion-dollar scale, Warren’s proposal would directly help only 42 million people, or roughly 14 percent of Americans. Individuals who chose not to go to college, those who have already paid off their loans and anyone with a household income over $250,000 would be left out.

Although there’s relatively broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that the problem of student loan debt needs to be addressed, Warren’s plan represents a substantial redistribution of wealth that may prove far too ambitious for conservatives and more moderate liberals.

Some progressives have also expressed concern that it would disproportionately benefit people from upper- and middle-class families, since they are more likely to go to college or pursue expensive advanced degrees. Others argue that an investment of that size would have a greater impact if it were spent elsewhere.

What’s next: Polling suggests that a significant majority of Americans believe reducing student debt is important. But support for loan forgiveness is more split along demographic lines like age and race, with young people and people of color largely in favor.

Both Republicans and Democrats have proposed more incremental bills to change the student loan system, though it appears unlikely any of them will advance through a divided Congress. The possibility of a broad student loan forgiveness program becoming a reality is almost certainly on hold until after the 2020 election.

In the short term, Warren’s proposal establishes the progressive flank on a subject that is broadly important to voters, especially in the Democratic base. Whether it results in a shift to the left on the issue among her rivals in the 2020 field, or the Democratic Party as a whole, remains to be seen.


Canceling student debt would provide a major economic boost

“Almost no degree guarantees a decent job these days. Yet society still pushes that lie. As a result, our economy will never thrive with so many people under the boot of predatory education lending and collection.” — Esther J. Cepeda, Houston Chronicle

“Indeed, student debt abolition and free college would be a win-win for the entire country. Not only would debtors get relief, academic research shows it would be a significant stimulus that might ‘supercharge’ the economy and help address the racial wealth gap. Money currently used to pay back loans with interest would be redirected to other goods and services.” — Astra Taylor, Guardian

America needs to invest in education. Warren’s policy would help

“The Warren plan is squarely on target for recognizing real threats of student debt and for-profit colleges and proposing sweeping investments in the country’s intellectual armed forces.” — Derek Newton, Forbes

“It is complicated and potentially fraught and has many specifics that will have to be more thoroughly vetted, and some groups will benefit more than others, but as a statement of values, it is clear. It is a vision that says higher education should be accessible to people regardless of race, class, or place of origin.” — John Warner, Inside Higher Ed

People would be unfairly rewarded for failing to pay off their debts

“This pander will not only be incredibly costly, but it will be a slap in the face to those who have already struggled to pay off their student loans without government assistance.” — Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

“A lot of people have sacrificed for years to pay back the money they borrowed — from their fellow citizens — for their education. They’d be justified in asking: If I had to pay it back, why don’t others?” — Editorial, Chicago Tribune

Freeing vulnerable people from debt would reduce inequality

“On the whole [Warren has] offered a range of options for rethinking and reforming America’s access to colleges and universities so that higher education fulfills its responsibility to level the career playing field for American students, whatever their race or family income, instead of perpetuating and even increasing inequality.” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

“I don’t know if I’d personally place a debt-forgiveness plan like she has proposed at the very center of a left-wing agenda (the very poor could use some help first). But there are certainly much more appalling things than a transfer from the ultra-wealthy to the middle class.” — Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“Ms. Warren’s proposal would, by reducing the indebtedness of minority households with student loans, significantly raise the ratio of black/​white wealth…” — Jared Bernstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The plan offers help to those who least need it

“If some politician had suggested canceling my debt, I might have signed on to the movement.

But it would have been a silly movement, one that conflated the real struggles of poor and working-class young adults with the mild discomforts of the professional class.” — David Leonhardt, New York Times

“This proposal is ridiculous. It is ridiculous in a way that should be salient to progressives: People who go to college typically earn higher incomes than those who don’t. So debt forgiveness takes tax revenue — which comes from taxpayers, not from the money tree — and redistributes it to those who are relatively well-off.” — Michael R. Strain, Bloomberg

“People with college degrees in the United States tend to be the most well-off members of our society. But many on the left are insistent on the notion that this group needs a bailout.” — Beth Akers, New York Daily News

The plan is unrealistically expensive

“I think that even though the taxes on the wealthy are probably enough to pay for this one specific thing, you can only tap that wealth this many times. And in the aggregate, what she’s proposing is probably not feasible.” — Policy expert Ben Ritz quoted by Newsweek

This post was published by Yahoo News

Partnerships to Support Teens in Computing: Library Staff and School Counselors Can Team Up

The National Center for Women and Information Technology AspireIt program and ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code are continuing their partnership to connect more young women and girls to computer science (CS) and technology- related opportunities. Library staff can and do play an important role in supporting youth as they explore career paths in and out of school. This month’s post spotlights a potential partner for library staff active in connecting youth interests to CS and tech, the school counselor.

CS educators across the nation are finding that collaborating with their school counselors yields positive results in directing youth to viable education and career opportunities. School counselors are key partners with community libraries as counselors regularly share out information to students about local opportunities, especially those at the library. Many families tap into the library as a hub of information, community-building, and more. Often, counselors are in the role of distributing information about community events on a school-wide level and also individually targeting students and families who would enjoy and benefit from the programs.

NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) provides professional school counselors with information and resources they can use to support ALL students as they explore CS education and careers. Counselors are influencers and gatekeepers. They counsel and encourage students in their education and career aspirations, advise on course selections, and expose students to occupations through career fairs and internships. Working together, school counselors and library staff can provide the encouragement and exposure , young women are need to pursue computing in school ro as a career.

To help you build a partnership with this valuable resource, check out the webinar CS for All Teachers and C4C held discussing key strategies for creating a positive partnership with your counselors for CS advocacy.

For additional valuable NCWIT C4C resources (available to libraries for free), click here to view the collection and how to order. To find out more about the Libraries Ready to Code and AspireIT events and resources check out the 2019 Community Champion Learning Series calendar

This is a guest post by Jennifer Manning, AspireIT Partnerships Program Director and Marijke Visser, Senior Policy Advocate, ALA Washington Office

Your Students’ Voices Will Set Them Apart In their College Essays

At Wow, when we use the term voice, we are referring to the tone, sound and feel of a college application essay. The most successful essays sound like the people who wrote them: your students!

Many students submit essays to us for review that do not sound like them. Your job is to make sure they do, and if not, point it out to them.

Consider the story of Hillary, a delightful, smart young woman who was applying to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Hillary came to us asking for input on a few essays she had written for her application package. Her mom told us up front that the essays didn’t sound like Hillary.

While the prose was grammatically perfect, and the young woman had a knack for writing, her mom was right. The stories read as if Hillary were standing on top of a mountain, talking about someone down below. What was missing? Hillary’s voice — her essence, her personality. She enjoyed writing, but like so many students, she was uncomfortable writing about herself.

We reviewed her essays and noticed she liked Dr. Seuss. The author clearly made an impression on Hillary. In fact, she quoted him liberally in all of her essays. One supplemental essay prompt asked students to write about a favorite book. We asked if she wanted to choose something by Dr. Seuss.

“Can I do that?” Hillary asked. She assumed she should write about something weighty, like great literature, science or social criticism. Her mom had picked the book she had originally written about, but Hillary had no personal connection to it. It wasn’t a favorite, but it felt like an appropriate choice for such an important assignment. We assured her that of course she could write about Dr. Seuss.

This prompt was not a trick question. It asked about a book. Period. As the essay was genuine and was about her, she could write about almost anything. Hillary seemed relieved. She was excited to write about Dr. Seuss because the author inspired her.

We guided her through a process that required several drafts. In the end, her story about why Dr. Seuss’s Oh! The Places You’ll Go was beautiful. Her voice shined through. No one could have written that essay the way she did. She later showed her essay to an admission officer for the University of Michigan. He loved it. Hillary’s dad, who expressed skepticism at first, was proud, too.

Many of our students relate to Hillary’s experience. Her essays evolved, and she became more confident as she immersed herself in the writing process. As soon as she relaxed, she didn’t mind writing about herself. When she was done, Hillary’s essays sounded like her: a bright, interesting 17-year-old girl.

Take a moment to think about voice. Voice can set your students apart, too.

A student’s story, told in their unique voice and words, will show readers something genuine about the writer, something they can’t get from scores and grades or a long list of clubs, sports and other activities. That is one of the first issues we address with the Wow Method, the step-by-step writing process we use with every student.

Just like a speaking voice, a person’s writing voice is distinctive. Yours will not sound the same as a teenage college applicant’s. Theirs should not sound like yours. That doesn’t mean your student can’t sound sophisticated or intelligent. If a student is funny, they should be funny. If a student is serious, they can sound serious. Does that student write in short, concise sentences? That’s how they should write their essays. Does that student write long, complex sentences full of vivid details? Then that style should show up in their essays too. Please don’t let your students get distracted by the thesaurus. And don’t expect them to write like you do. A college essay should be written in the authentic voice of a high school student who has something to say.

Read a few of our favorite lines from Wow students, and you’ll get the idea:

  • At home, we ate beans, rice and ramen noodles for meals, and I was always hungry.
  • I got my first pair of skates before I could walk.
  • I jumped into an empty Dumpster and scrubbed it with a heavy-duty brush using Pine Sol and Comet cleanser.
  • My body trembled as I heard the words, “If you hear the siren, you have 15 seconds to save your life.”
  • When I was in tenth grade, I waged a campaign to save my district’s middle school French program.
  • Because I am short, I managed to wiggle my way through the crowd to the front to see the list.
  • I wanted to be a normal kid, just like them, not the kid with a sick dad.
  • It was an overwhelming smell that reminded me of a thrift shop filled with unwashed clothing.
  • I love the sound of the boat straining under the pressure of eight perfectly synchronized oars, and the copper taste in my mouth when I pull my absolute hardest.

These examples tell us something about the writer. They are written in different styles and different voices. Your students’ styles and voices should tell you something about the writer, too.

Our Gift to You: A Free Book for You and Every Parent in Your School

We’d like to give you a free electronic copy of our book: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents.  After you click on the link, you’ll find out how to get free books for every parent in your school, too.

How do you approach the college essay? We’d love to hear how you talk to your students when they panic, and what your biggest college essay challenges are. Feel free to email me

Kim Lifton, a 2018 Top Voice in Education, LinkedIn, is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

With continued tuition increases this is what College is expected to cost in 20 years

While student loan debt has been a hot-button issue for many years, the concerns are only piling up ahead of the 2020 presidential race as new statistics reveal the debt has climbed to $1.5 trillion.

Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category — behind home mortgage debt — surpassing both credit cards and auto loans, prompting President Trump’s administration earlier this week to hire a consulting firm to evaluate the issue.

And, according to a new study, if tuition continues to rise in the rate that it has over the last five years, college students and their parents could be facing private tuition fees as high as $400,000, about 20 years from now.

GoBankingRates analyzed college tuition data from all 50 states based on a 5.0 percent annual increase to figure out what the future could hold for students.

Estimated costs for each state include the average in-state and out-of-state tuition at public universities as well as average tuition fees at private universities. Costs, however, do not include room, board, and other living expenses.

Here’s a look at what some states could be facing in 20 years. 


Public in-state tuition: $76,840

Public out-of-state tuition: $147,924

Private tuition: $189,918


Public in-state tuition: $35,270

Public out-of-state tuition: $133,654

Private tuition: $308,739


Public in-state tuition: $77,754

Public out-of-state tuition: $194,001

Private tuition: $234,267


Public in-state tuition: $91,351

Public out-of-state tuition: $231,488

Private tuition: $404,276


Public in-state tuition: $76,873

Public out-of-state tuition: $154,273

Private tuition: $354,379


Public in-state tuition: $95,491

Public out-of-state tuition: $188,192

Private tuition: $438,698

New Jersey

Public in-state tuition: $96,280

Public out-of-state tuition: $158,492

Private tuition: $273,505

New York

Public in-state tuition: $77,629

Public out-of-state tuition: $154,284

Private tuition: $285,261


Public in-state tuition: $130,555

Public out-of-state tuition: $214,861

Private tuition: $327,105

Rhode Island

Public in-state tuition: $105,327

Public out-of-state tuition: $264,676

Private tuition: $446,338


Public in-state tuition: $61,126

Public out-of-state tuition: $123,876

Private tuition: $340,314

This information was published on Fox Business

The State of College Admission Report

NACAC has just released its annual State of College Admission report. In the report you’ll find up-to-date information about the admission process for first-time freshmen, transfer students, and international students in the US. Learn more about factors in the admission decision, acceptance rates for college applicants, common recruitment strategies, and the status of college counseling in secondary schools.

Here are some quick highlights: 4 percent growth in Freshman Undergraduate Applications (2016-2017), 65 percent average acceptance rate at Four-Year institutions in 2016, and 81 percent of Colleges reported that grades were of “considerable importance” in the admission decision.

Here is an Executive Summary of the Report:

Link to the complete report:

Top 25 fastest-disappearing jobs in the US

Since 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. has been projecting the fastest-declining occupations in the U.S. by 2026. Earlier this month, the agency updated its statistics to give job seekers a more recent look at how certain industries are doing — in terms of salary and projected growth.

Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that employment will be up more than 7 percent in 2026. The agency previously said health care, health care support, construction and personal care fields would be amongst the fastest-growing occupations from 2012 to 2022.

Of the 818 occupations the bureau tracks, the agency found that locomotive firers, which receive an average annual salary of $63,820, will decline by -78.6 percent by 2026. Respiratory therapy technicians, which earn around $51,000, will also see a rapid dip of about -56.3 percent over seven years. Parking enforcement workers, averaging $39,840 per year, will also flounder — with the agency expecting a -35.3 percent decline in 2026.

Here’s a list of the 25 occupations (in order) that will be hit the hardest by 2026.

  1. Locomotive firers 
  2. Respiratory therapy technicians
  3. Parking enforcement workers
  4. Word processors and typists
  5. Watch repairers
  6. Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles
  7. Foundry mold and coremakers
  8. Pourers and casters, metal
  9. Computer operators
  10. Telephone operators
  11. Mine shuttle car operators
  12. Electromechanical equipment assemblers
  13. Data entry keyers
  14. Postmasters and mail superintendents
  15. Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers
  16. Coil winders, tapers, and finishers
  17. Grinding and polishing workers, hand
  18. Timing device assemblers and adjusters
  19. Switchboard operators, including answering service
  20. Prepress technicians and workers
  21. Drilling and boring machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  22. Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders
  23. Milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  24. Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
  25. Legal secretaries

Here’s how Technology is shaping the Future of Education

What is the role of education in a learner’s life? It’s simple. Education is all about finding optimal ways to provide the learners with the correct information on the right time, in the right way. Over the past few years, we have seen a drastic transformation in the education industry whether through online learning, gamification, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or artificial intelligence. Technology has found its way in the education industry and there is no wonder we will continue experiencing changes in the education industry due to technological advancements. Here we bring you some exciting ways of how technology is shaping the future of Education – spawning new ways of learning and teaching.

Online Tutoring combined with Adaptive Learning

Educationists today are embracing the fact that the learning needs of every student are different. Hence they have started adopting the concept of adaptive learning where teaching is conducted on the basis of the learning needs of the student. Adaptive learning softwares are available today on various online tutoring platforms like Chegg, CrunchGrade, Wyazant, etc. that first measure the knowledge and understanding levels of a student. The lesson plans are then created based on this analysis. Then the students are made to connect with online tutors for English, Math, Science and other tough courses. Therefore, students learn the right concept at the right time thereby bridging their learning gaps.

Teachers have always been using reward systems in classrooms to seize the attention of the students. Taking this incentive-based learning scheme a little forward, adaptive video-based learning methodology is being introduced. For instance, Mangahigh is one such application that teaches students different concepts of mathematics through adaptive video games.  

Augmented Reality

Just imagine how easier it would be for the students to understand a chapter if they do not have to read it but visualize it. Beautiful pictures, colorful diagrams and no boring black and white text. Learning would be no less than a treat to them. Augmented reality has made this transformation possible. If schools will start adopting augmented reality in their courses it will become easier for the students to learn and remember the concepts. 

Virtual Reality

Some concepts can be learned in a better way when students can practically experience them. So why restrict learning through viewing pictures when we can provide 360-degree videos to the students. Virtual reality helps in creating a virtual learning environment for the students that enables them to immerse in the topics. This decreases the chances of getting distracted in the classrooms and provides them with a better learning experience.

Learning with Social Media

Social media platforms enable networking, information sharing, and interaction. Educationists can leverage these features to make learning a fun and interactive process for the students. Social media platforms today enable the students to connect with various subject experts online and discuss their academic queries with them. Institutions today are using YouTube and Facebook to connect with students globally providing them with useful information.

Social media platforms can be used in researching as well. Students can use them to find out what people generally think on an issue. Just like brands build their recognition through social media, students can build the portfolios of their career through the social media platform. Students can establish their credibility and expertise in various disciplines through social media. The learning management systems nowadays are incorporating social media to enhance interaction through chat features, videos, and forums. This makes it easier for the students to find solutions to their academic queries and learn beyond classrooms.

Blockchain and Education    

Blockchain is one of the revolutionary technologies today. This technology is not only meant for crowdfunding, supply chains, file sharing or smart contracts but for education as well. We know that modern education industry is making a shift towards personalized learning. Hence learning is not just restricted to classrooms. Blockchain can be used by students to keep a record of their learning process. Researchers and other academicians can use the management, sharing and protection features of the blockchain technology to control the way intellectual property is used. Hence digital content can be created and protected with blockchain.

Another major benefit of Blockchain could be easy accreditation of online courses. Many times students restrict themselves from pursuing an online course just because they are not sure whether it will hold any importance in their professional career. With Blockchain, online courses can solve the issues of authenticity, costs, and scaling.  Hence, it will be possible to verify a student’s skills and knowledge through these accredited online courses.     

With the intervention of technology, learning will become more of an exciting process in the coming days. Where adaptive learning can enable the students to learn at their own pace, as per their learning needs, block-chaining can make it easier for them to find recognition in their careers. Social media can help in solving academic problems of the students while augmented and virtual reality can introduce them to a completely different aspect of learning. Technology without a doubt can enhance the future of education for better.  

Aditya Singhal is the co-founder of CrunchGrade, an online tutoring platform for students. It is his passion and vision to incorporate technology with education to help students not just thrive but excel through e-learning mediums and tools. He had worked with Kurt Salmon Associates, a reputed American Management Consultancy. Reach out to him on Facebook, LinkedIn here!

Help Your Students Get Started on the College Essay

As admission to the nation’s most selective schools becomes increasingly competitive, the college essay has risen in significance as well. There’s a lot of information on the web and in books, and many well-meaning adults are out there trying to help our kids. That can be confusing to the students, and can make your jobs a lot harder!

Why? Much of the information surrounding the essay is confusing, gimmicky or simply inaccurate. And most of it focuses on what the finished product should look like, not how a student should write it. We know that’s not helpful to you or your students. Whether your students are writing personal statements, personal insight questions, supplemental essays or short answer questions, the process should be the same.

What do admissions officers really want to read?

Whenever we ask, admission professionals at top universities across the country tell us exactly what they are looking for in a personal statement. One thing is certain: The personal statement provides an opportunity for students to show people who may never meet them just what kind of person they are.

When he reads a good essay, Calvin Wise, the Director of Recruitment for Johns Hopkins University, gets excited and will share it with colleagues. He doesn’t see any reason to share grades and test scores. Just like admission officers at other highly selective schools, Wise expects 4.0 GPAs and top scores on the ACT, SAT and AP exams.

“We need to dig deeper,” Wise reminds students. “That’s where the essay comes into play. That’s where we find out more about the student. We are looking for your story. Academically, we are glad you’ve done well. We want to know who you are. What did your experience mean to you? How did it shape you?”

Heath Einstein, the dean of admission, Texas Christian University, reminds students that colleges want to know who they are, not who other people expect them to be. “Most 17-year-olds haven’t scaled Kilimanjaro, so don’t worry about finding an angle that hasn’t been tried before,” Enstein advises. “Write about what you know. If the most meaningful experience to you has been serving as a camp counselor, it doesn’t matter that other students have addressed it. People will try to talk you out of certain ideas, but trust your gut. Ultimately, be yourself, and that will be good enough.”
There is No Rubric for a Good Essay

As you know, colleges use the essays in different ways. You can help students understand that there is no rubric for a good essay, but the ones that stand out all share a few common features. Regardless of the prompt, they:

  • Answer the question.
  • Showcase a positive trait or characteristic.
  • Sound like a high school student.
  • Illustrate something meaningful about the student.
  • Demonstrate reflection.

Before they start writing, make sure your students understand that essays do matter, but that they are not the only important part of an application. They can make a difference in helping colleges decide whom to admit, however.

At a moderately selective school (60% admit rate and higher), where more applicants hear yes than no, students who meet certain academic requirements generally get admitted. For students who don’t quite meet the standards but are not so far off, the essay can push a student into the admit pool.

At a selective school (40% admit rate and lower), where more applicants hear no than yes, the essay is even more important. It is used to distinguish one student from the others. A personal narrative helps round out the application.

In any case, there are many moving parts in this process, and nothing is guaranteed. You might never know how many applicants have the same GPA and test scores in any given year, or how close to the cusp a particular student may be.

The Best Advice You Can Offer Your Students

The best advice you can offer your students is to put their greatest effort into every essay. Tell them the essay is an opportunity to make themselves more three-dimensional in the eyes of someone they may never meet.

According to a survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, grades and academic rigor are the most influential factors in an admission decision. Next are test scores, followed by essays. The essay is just one of multiple selection factors in today’s holistic approach to college admission. Essays won’t get a student who is not qualified into any college, but they can help a qualified applicant get a better shot at admission to that dream school.

Colleges want some insight into the applicant’s character. What did they do? What did they learn about themselves? Why does it matter? A girl who went on a volunteer trip to Central America to teach students to read learned more about herself on that trip when she jumped off a 30-foot cliff into the ocean. She wrote a riveting piece about feeling brave in an attempt to overcome her fear of heights. That experience would have been relevant if it had taken place down the street or around the world. It wasn’t impressive because it happened in Belize. It was impressive because it demonstrated reflection and growth.

Our Gift to You: A Free Book for You and Every Parent in Your School

We’d like to give you a free electronic copy of our book: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents.  After you click on the link, you’ll find out how to get free books for every parent in your school, too.

How do you approach the college essay? We’d love to hear how you talk to your students when they panic, and what your biggest college essay challenges are. Feel free to email me

About the Author

Kim Lifton, a 2018 Top Voice in Education, LinkedIn, is President of Wow. We are a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

How Your Student Should Highlight a Summer Job on Their College Application

College admissions counselors are impressed by students who spend their summers working. They can infer that you are responsible, mature, capable of making a commitment and can manage your time—all skills that will serve you well in college. The specific job(s) you include on your application also showcase your personal attributes, skills and interests. This is the information an admissions counselor needs to determine if you will be a good fit for the college and how you will contribute to the campus community. When filling out your college application, think about what you want admissions counselors to know about you and intentionally describe your summer job to clearly deliver your message.

There are four places on the Common Application where students can highlight their employment experience. Your choice of where to feature a summer job will depend upon how significant the job is in showcasing your skills, interests and personal attributes compared with your other activities.

1. Activities Section of the Common Application

In the Activities section of the Common Application, students can list and briefly describe up to ten activities. If you choose to discuss your summer job here, your description should include specific responsibilities, the hard skills you acquired and/or how soft skills were applied on the job.

2. College Essay/Personal Statement

You may choose your summer job as your college essay topic. The purpose of the essay is to tell admissions counselors something that isn’t reflected in any other part of the application and give the them a sense of your character, personality and interests. Your essay should not simply describe your job. It should show something deeper such as how the job changed you or how it enhanced or expanded your transferable skills. Rather than write the entire essay about a summer employment experience, you might use experiences at the job as examples to support the thesis of your essay.

3. Letter of Recommendation

While many colleges require applicants to send letters of recommendation from only teachers and the school counselor, some will also allow an additional letter. If this is the case, you may choose to ask your employer to write a letter of recommendation that focuses on your skills, positive attitude or a time your contribution to the business or organization went well beyond what is expected.

4. Additional Information Section of the Common Application

The Additional Information section of the Common Application is optional. If listing and briefly describing your summer job in the Activities section of the Common Application does not adequately convey the important role your job has played in your life AND your main college essay is about something other than your summer job, you may want to use the Additional Information section of the Common Application to expand on the impact of your summer job. For example, you may want to explain how your work experience will affect your involvement at your future campus or what you have learned from the job that will influence your decisions regarding future internships, your college major and your career choice. Additionally, it may be helpful for college admissions counselors to know how your summer job has influenced your values and beliefs or has significantly impacted who you are as a person.

How to showcase your summer job on your college application is up to you. If your summer job has little meaning beyond providing you with spending money, then it doesn’t warrant a prominent place on your application. List and briefly describe it in the Activities section and save the main essay or the Additional Information section to talk about an activity or experience that is more significant to you. But if your summer job experience has had a greater impact or demonstrates a core aspect of your character, values or trajectory in life, carefully consider how you can highlight that in your application.

Michelle McAnaney is the founder of  The College Spy, a full service independent educational consulting firm that assists students and families across the US and internationally with the college selection and application process. Prior to founding The College Spy, Michelle was a guidance counselor and educator for more than 15 years, including serving as the Director of Guidance at two high schools, an adjunct college professor and a GED tutor. Michelle holds a master’s degree in school counseling and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She recently completed UC Irvine’s certificate program in educational consulting and is a MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner and a NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Michelle visits over 40 colleges each year so that she has first-hand knowledge of the colleges and universities her clients will be considering. You can find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

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