The new or redesigned SAT will be coming in the spring of 2016. I'm currently working as a content writer for the Khan Academy, which partners with the College Board. I am creating practice questions to help students familiarize themselves with the new exam.
Good luck to all my students applying for UC schools this week!
A new article in the NY Times discusses updates in implementation of the Common Core, a federal program that pushing student evaluation away from multiple choice toward writing and extended answers. States that are moving ahead include Tennessee and District of Columbia. Both states are introducing tougher teaching standards. To see the full article, click on the link below.
Firstly, you should click here to view the six-minute video where two current Harvard undergraduates, Michael Gribben and Indiana Seresin, talk about their experience of being interviewed. (Their advice has been summarised below by Sheila Averbuch.) Here are links to two further articles by Harvard interviewers. Vicky Leung talks about how to put your best foot forward before, during and after the interview; and veteran interviewer Frank Shields lists the sort of questions he has asked during his 40 years of interviewing.
Harvard students' top tips for admissions interviews
1. Treat the interview as a conversation. Your interviewer knows you're nervous and will look to engage you in conversation about whatever puts you at ease – your travels, your extracurricular activity, your favourite subject or teacher, your passion for attending Harvard. Ask your interviewer questions, too, since this makes it more likely that you will both enjoy a free-flowing conversation. The setting should help: unlike admissions interviews for British universities, Harvard interviews are often conducted in an informal setting, such as a coffee shop.
2. Resolve beforehand that you will mention all of your most outstanding achievements. It's important for you to put modesty to one side - there are thousands of other applicants competing for admissions places, so you really do need to mention your most notable accomplishments. Your interviewer expects this and won't think you are bragging. You don't want to come away from the interview and suddenly realize you forgot to mention something vital.
3. Academic revision isn't necessary. A strong academic record is something you will have in common with all the other applicants, so your interviewer will mostly want to hear about your life and interests outside of school. The non-academic part of your life is valuable in helping the admissions office understand more about you as a person.
4. What challenges have you overcome? If there are any significant obstacles you'd like to mention, do tell your interviewer.
5. Let your enthusiasm shine through. Your interviewer will be interested to know why you're keen to attend Harvard and to pursue a liberal arts undergraduate education in the United States. Speak from the heart.
An admissions interview is never going to be a wholly relaxing experience, but do try to enjoy the experience of chatting with someone who is very much looking forward to meeting you. Most Harvard interviewers find it extremely enjoyable to meet applicants. The ideas, insights and above all the tremendous promise that applicants exude is quite stimulating for interviewers, who have already had their Harvard adventure and wish you the very best in your endeavor to become a fellow Crimson scholar.
Courtesy of Jasmine Zhang (Harvard '06)
This article on the college essay talks about the importance of the college essay in admissions. It appears that the more selective the school is (i.e. Ivy League), the more weight it places on the personal statement.
It seems like high school students should learn how to code during the earlier years in high school.
Classes like AP Computer Science are usually taken later during junior or senior year.
Here is an interesting article about online classes that teach students how to code.
I believe that the Common Core's push from rote memorization to creative thinking is great for California. Michael Kirst, President of the State Board of Education and Stanford Professor, shares some of his ideas:
"The Common Core standards change all that, focusing on key knowledge students need in a logical sequence. Fourth-grade math, for example, becomes a master class in fractions. Why fractions? They're the key to unlocking the language of algebra. Algebra, in turn, is the gateway to probability, statistics and higher mathematics.
The new standards for reading and writing take a similar, staircase approach through the grades, with students asked to gradually understand more and more challenging texts, and compose arguments based on evidence and research. Students will write less about their feelings, and more about what they can prove - better preparation for both college term papers and reports to the boss.
No one is more crucial to this work than teachers, who will need time and training to replace the old emphasis on rote memorization with new lessons that include student ability to analyze, evaluate, derive and model concepts.....
The right tests are vital as well. Multiple-choice assessments were never designed to measure the deeper learning called for by the Common Core, so we must transition to ones that measure learning in new ways. The new, computer-adaptive tests will include performance tasks and questions that require extended responses. No doubt it will take our students time to learn these new skills, so it's important to remember that test results are meant to provide information about student progress, not a measure of their potential."
For the full article, see "New Common Core standards are right for California."
1. Obtaining letter of recommendations from teachers - Students should obtain letter of recommendations from their teachers as early as sophomore year. By doing so, students have an assortment of letters to choose from during senior year's college application. Many students wait until senior year to reach out to their teachers. They realize they have no recommendation letters. I believe the UC schools requires 3 letters. Obtaining letters also encourages students to be proactive and talk to their teachers outside of the class (during office hours, for example). Sometimes, the career counselors do not cover the importance of this.
2. Do not spread yourself too thin in extracurriculars - Many students involve themselves in too many organizations so that they "look good" on their college resume. Students should participate in one extracurricular at a deeper level, rather than several. The college application essay often explores the motivation behind one extracurricular. It should be a story. The story should be authentic and strategic at the same time.
3. Choosing hard and easy classes - During the beginning of the year, students hear about each teacher's reputation (i.e. Ms. Smith is a tough grader but you learn a lot in the class). There is often a trade off between getting a good grade in a class and actually learning in the class. Students should be aware of their comfort level and choose a mix of hard and easy teachers so that they can strike a balance between padding their GPAs and truly learning the material.
Self-awareness is key. I think as long as students are aware of the choices they make, are purposeful in the extracurriculars they choose, and reach out to the right teachers, they will succeed at Uni high.