Friday, January 19, 2018

Summer Opportunities Fair

Phillips Academy Andover would like to invite your students and their families to our 28th Annual Summer Opportunities Fair. 
2018 Summer Opportunities Fair
Sunday, January 21, 2018 – Noon to 3 PM
Programs for Middle & High School Students
Representatives from 100 local, national, and international programs.

Focus on academic programs, language study, community service, camps, sports, arts, research, internships, outdoor adventure, international travel, & gap year opportunities.

Are Colleges Pushing Students to Do Too Much in High School?

Counselor issues critique that college admissions demands are pushing high school students to make bad choices

The advice is repeated constantly to high school students: take the most rigorous schedule of courses possible to impress colleges to which you apply.

A short essay circulating last week among college counselors who help high school students is urging colleges to put a halt to that advice, and to stop encouraging high school students to outdo one another with the number of Advanced Placement and other college-level courses they take.

"Who started it? 'We expect applicants to take the most demanding schedule available to them'? That is the source of one of the most cruel, and truly unnecessary, abuses of our children. These words send students, so many students, into depression and despair and hopelessness. The words are meant for those elite students who can do it all. The words have the greatest effect, though, a truly pernicious one, on those who aspire to stay in the ballpark for a ball that is likely to forever be out of reach," wrote Scott White, a college counselor in New Jersey who works both in high schools and in a small private practice.

Added White, "I've been in this business since 1981 and have seen a remarkable increase in the number of kids who are just falling apart, checking out, harming themselves and medicating themselves. There are more suicide attempts, students cutting themselves, more hospitalizations, more cases of anorexia and bulimia, every year. And there is every sign that this will continue to rise, unabated, into the foreseeable future."

White posted his essay to an email list of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and fellow counselors have been praising the piece.

In his essay, White said that there is nothing wrong with encouraging students to take challenging courses. But colleges could alleviate stress and still have plenty of information on which to make their decisions if they would learn from 2013 research [1] published in The Journal of College Admission Counseling, he said

That research examined college performance by first-year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a highly competitive flagship university. The study found a strong correlation between students taking up to five college-level courses in high school and their first-year grade point average. More college-level courses -- up to five -- yielded higher academic performance in college. For students taking six or more college-level courses, gains in first-year GPA were marginal or even negative. The average grades for students who had taken 10 college-level courses in high school were the same as those who had taken only five such courses.

The piece was by Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions at Chapel Hill, and Jen Kretchmar, senior assistant director of research in undergraduate admissions at the university. They wrote that Chapel Hill would start telling applicants that it was wise to take up to five college-level courses in high school, and that that number was enough. Some students may want to take more, but they said they wouldn't favor such students over those who took other courses that reflected their academic strengths and interests.

White said it's time for all colleges to do the same thing.

In an interview, White said he was prompted to issue his call for reform by reflecting on the experience of his daughter, who took nine Advanced Placement courses in high school, earning a score of 4 or 5 on each of the tests. White said her experience was "horrific" in that she lost time she might have spent on other activities. "Those courses consumed her life," he said.

White said that, in his advising of high school students, he feels that the pressures of colleges force him to discourage students from taking electives they find interesting or pursuing important interests in favor of taking more AP courses.

Colleges, he said, including colleges that aren't at the very top of the academic and prestige ladder, pretend that they benefit from reviewing a transcript with 10 college-level courses, and that forces high school students to take the courses.

In his essay, he writes, "I don't believe anything pernicious is going on. There is a tiny, tiny number of colleges who can actually 'expect applicants to take the most demanding schedule available to them.' And many others who aspire to be elite repeat the phrase. What could be the damage? The damage is that students are collapsing on the treadmill trying to keep up."

Will higher education change? Will other admissions leaders follow the lead of those at Chapel Hill? Some college leaders have periodically spoken out on the issue. In 2012, Stuart Schmill wrote an essay [2] for Inside Higher Ed in which he lamented the trend of students dropping out of meaningful activities just to take more AP courses. He was prompted by his experience meeting high school students at a robotics competition and being told students were afraid to continue in the program unless it awarded AP credit.

But to judge from the reaction White has received, it is unclear whether admissions guidance will change. Since he shared the essay, reaction has been strong on the NACAC list and in direct email messages he has received. But White said he has yet to hear from anyone on the college side of admissions.

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Are Colleges Pushing Students to Do Too Much in High School?
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Monday, January 15, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Class of 2019 Updates + Summer Programs

Parents of the Class of 2019

On February 7, 2018 during Advisory, the Guidance Department will be presenting "Life After WA" to the students, which describes the entire college research and admissions process.

Parents, you are invited to hear the same presentation at our Junior Parent Seminar on Tuesday, Feburary 13, 2018 at 6:30pm in the PAC.

After February vacation, Guidance Counselors will begin to meet with students and their parents/guardians regarding individual post-secondary plans. There will be specific tasks for the student to complete in Naviance before this meeting can be scheduled.

Upcoming SAT/ACT Test Dates

SAT: March 10, registration deadline February 9 *offered at WA
ACT: April 14, registration deadline March 9 

Attention Sophomores and Juniors:  
Kaplan Test Prep and Acton Boxborough Community Education will be hosting an SAT vs ACT combination practicetest on Saturday, 2/3/18 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Acton-Boxborough High School, 36 Charter Rd, Acton MA. Students should arrive no later than 8:45 to sign in. Students should bring (2) #2 pencils, a calculator, water, and snack as well as a fully charged smart phone or tablet.  
Great news -- students will leave the practice test with their scores. They will need to bring a fully charged smartphone or tablet to use only after the completion of the test for scoring. In order for the scoring to work properly, students MUST be registered for the practice test by Friday January 27th.  If you have more than one student taking the practice test, please use a unique email for each student.
To register, please visit
For questions, please contact Program Manager, Erin McLean at

Boston University Winter Visit Day 
Friday, February 23, 2018
Boston University George Sherman Union
775 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts
Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Program: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

For more information about Winter Visit Day, please visit our website:

Hackathon for High School Students- Whiteboard Hacks the Start
Presented by MIT Enterprise Forum, CIC, and Whiteboard Youth Ventures

Saturday, February 3, 2018
Venture Cafe, 5th Floor
CIC Cambridge, OBW

Why wait to start your entrepreneurial journey? Join us on Saturday, February 3rd for a one-day "Hack the Start" hackathon focused on helping high school students take the first steps to starting their own venture. Co-hosted by CIC, MIT Enterprise Forum, and Whiteboard Youth Ventures. Experts and mentors will be on site to help with ideation, prototpying, and pitching. Cash prizes for winners.

Visit for more information. 

Summer Program Opportunities
2018 Summer Term High Schools Programs at Boston University 
For more information, visit:
Programs offered:
High School Honors is a six-week residential, commuter, or online program in which students take Boston University undergraduate courses and earn up to eight transferable college credits. Students must be entering their junior or senior year of high school in Fall 2018.

RISE Internship/Practicum is a six-week non-credit residential or commuter program in which students conduct scientific research in a university lab under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students must be entering their senior year of high school in Fall 2018.

Academic Immersion (AIM) is a three-week non-credit residential program for students to focus intensively on a single academic topic while enjoying and experiencing life on a college campus. This summer we are offering two AIM tracks: Introduction to Experimental Psychology and Introduction to Medicine. Both tracks combine classroom work in the sciences with experiential learning activities. Students must be entering their junior or senior year of high school in Fall 2018.

Summer Challenge is a two-week residential program in which students take two non-credit seminars of their choice and experience life on a college campus. Students must be entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school in Fall 2018.

Summer Preview is a one-week non-credit commuter or residential program in which students explore one subject of interest while previewing the college experience. Students must be entering their freshman or sophomore year of high school in Fall 2018.
Contact with any questions.

Champlain College Young Writers' Conference
May 25-27
Now in our eighteenth year, our doors are open to high school students who wish to share their passion for story, drama, and song with their writerly brothers and sisters-and with celebrated New England authors. We offer three days of readings, improv theatre, Moth storytelling, poetry slams, literary jazz/blues fusion, and extended friendship on the hillside campus of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
For more information, visit:

New England Center for Investigative Reporting Pre-College Summer Journalism Institute, based at the Boston University College of Communication

Using the city of Boston as our news beat, students are assigned to newsrooms and work with award-winning journalists as their editors to cover different stories in the Boston area. At the end of the two weeks, every student will have two to four articles to add to his or her professional portfolio.

Students have the option of living on campus to have the full Boston University Terrier life experience.

Our three, two-week workshops begin on June 25 and run through August 3. During each session, students will also attend guest lectures from experts and local journalists; visit historic sites and museums such as Fenway Park and the Museum of Fine Arts; participate in group community service; receive unofficial tours of local colleges, and more.

For more information about our program, visit our website:

GW Pre-College: Summer Programs for High School Students
High school students in the Pre-College Program spend a summer in Washington, D.C., taking advantage of GW's expertise in global development, international relations, public policy and administration, politics, diplomacy, history, biomedical engineering, museum studies and the arts.
Scholarship Application Deadline: March 1, 2018

Summer Pre-College 2018 at UMass Amherst
You will find the application on our pre-college website:
We have worked with faculty across campus to increase greatly the scope of options for this summer. In addition to popular existing programs like Equine Science, Sport Management & Leadership Academy, Summer Engineering Institute, and Summer Design Academy, we have added programs in new topics including:
Summer Portraiture Intensive
Black Lives Matter: Race and Policing in the U.S.
Engaging Communities
We have also added many new lab placements for students who would like to work with faculty on live research in a university setting.

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is excited to announce an opportunity for students interested in engineering. The Rutgers School of Engineering is offering the chance for students to participate in a new Pre-Engineering Summer Academy to develop their knowledge and skills through real-world field experiences.
This intensive one-week certificate program will introduce students to a variety of engineering areas
Eligible students must:
Be between the ages of 16-18

Have completed courses in pre-calculus and physics
Submit an online application
Interested in learning more? Attend an online information session or visit 

You can also email

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Summer Programs 2018

Cornell University Summer College
Various programs, 2, 3, and 6 week
For more information, visit

Holy Cross Women's Institute of Summer Experimental Research
For young women entering 11 & 12 grade
July 16 - August 3
To learn more and apply, visit

Northeastern University Accelerate: Pre-College Programs
Various programs throughout the summer, focus on Engineering, BioE, Health Professions, Experience Design, and Entrepreneurship
Visit for more information.

Pratt Institute Pre-College Programs
Brooklyn Campus
July 2-27
Visit for more information

University of Pennsylvania Engineering Summer Academy
For students entering grades 10, 11 & 12
July 8-28
Priority Application Deadline: February 26, 2018
Visit for more information

RISD Pre-College
For students entering grades 11 & 12
June 23-August 4
Scholarship deadline: February 2, 2018
Final Deadline: April 13, 2018
Visit to apply online.

Summer at Smith College
For young women entering grades 9, 10, 11, & 12
Various programs all throughout the summer, focus on Science, writing, women's studies, sustainability, or college applications
Priority deadline is March 1
Visit for additional information.

Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies
Programs in Sports Business, Humanities, Arts, Artificial Intelligence, Math, and more.
To learn more, visit:

Summer at Tufts University
Programs, such as "Tufts College Experience", "Tufts College Intensives", and "Summer Sesion for High Schoolers" offered July - August
Visit for more information about applications

University of Miami Summer Scholars Program
For students entering grades 11 & 12
July 7 - July 27
Application deadline: March 1, 2018

WPI Frontiers Pre-College Experience
For students entering grades 11 & 12
Session 1: July 8-20
Session 2: July 22-August 3
Apply at by April 1, 2018
For additional programs, visit

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Class of 2019 Update

Juniors and Parents/Guardians,

Happy New Year!  As we begin 2018, we are beginning to shift our focus onto you and "Life after WA". We wanted to share some information to get you started:

1. Most communication from the guidance office is published here, on our blog, which can be found at Please check the blog regularly and/or subscribe for email updates using the “Follow by Email” box on the right side.  Use the labels to filter posts relevant to you (i.e. Class of 2019 updates)

2. Please sign in to your Naviance account and edit your profiles to ensure all email addresses are accurate, as we will also send emails to students and parents through our Naviance program throughout the year.

3. On February 7, 2018 during Advisory, the Guidance Department will be presenting "Life After WA" to the students, which describes the entire college research and admissions process.
Parents, you are invited to hear the same presentation at our Junior Parent Seminar on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 6:30pm in the PAC.

After February vacation, Guidance Counselors will begin to meet with students and their parents/guardians regarding individual post-secondary plans. There will be specific tasks for the student to complete in Naviance before this meeting can be scheduled.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Strategies For Dealing With Early Decision Deferrals

I cover the college admission process and how it affects families. 
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
You had your heart set on that one amazing college, that one stellar university, and you applied Early Decision or Early Action. It's a great chance to get noticed in a smaller pool than the one that'll overflow in Regular Decision. Unfortunately, instead of an acceptance, you received a polite "not now," a deferral until the regular decision round in the spring. You've been thrown back into the pool.

Again, unfortunately, many colleges are reporting big upsurges in applicants applying early in whatever form, meaning that word has gotten out that it's "easier" to be accepted then. The result, of course, is a significant drop in the percent being accepted and an accompanying rise in competitiveness. The website College Connection keeps track of those numbers, which you can see here.

Here are some ways to cope with the disappointment and keep moving forward.
  1. Take some time to be disappointed, but give it a limit, too. Take a few hours or a day and then get back on the application horse. Hopefully, you've made a list of colleges and universities with applications ready to go in case this happened. Polish them up and send them out pronto.

  2. It's most likely not you, it's the numbers. The more applicants, the more decisions have to be made. Admission offices bump up against the limit of how many students to take ED, too. Some schools are filling more than half their classes this way, but others may not.
  3. It could be you. You may have had a rocky junior year or had a setback in some other area. In that case, you need to demonstrate that you've not only recovered but also significantly exceeded your previous performance.
  4. Don't automatically get into Groucho Marx Mode: "I'd never be a member of a club that would have me." If you loved the school before, don't let this brush-off turn into resentment; you're still in the mix, it's just a setback.
  5. If your ED school became your paradigm for the other schools on your list, you probably have other good options. Revisit them and remind yourself what put them in the plus column. Look more deeply into them and their programs.
  6. Don't call demanding to know why you were deferred. I guarantee you'll only look bad and that the answer will be some variation of, "We just didn't have room enough at this point to take everyone we'd like to take."
  7. Instead, if you're still interested in attending your ED school, write a letter to your admission representative or the dean expressing your disappointment but emphasizing your enthusiasm for the school and, if you're still gung-ho, letting that person know you'll enroll if they take you. A mature response with positive actions you'll take to meet the school's criteria can be very helpful. And when I say write a letter, I mean just that: paper and pen, envelope, and a stamp. Emails are too easy and ubiquitous; a letter stands out.
  8. When your first semester grades come out, be sure to send them for your file. Send anything else that enhances your application as well. But don't inundate the admission office with extra recommendations, portfolios, or weekly contacts. Be judicious: You want to be seen as an applicant, not a stalker.
  9. Another note sent during reading season (February-March, mostly) reiterating your devotion can bring you back to top of mind.
  10. Often, the enthusiasm for your ED school does fade after a deferral, so you can simply keep moving on your other schools, making sure you have a good selection to work with.
I can also tell you that students are often relieved at their deferrals because during the process they've found a school they like even better or because they ended up feeling boxed in by the commitment.
I'll be honest, students deferred in the early rounds have the odds stacked against them in the regular pool. You'll be swimming with bigger, smaller and same-sized fish, so you'll have to take a dispassionate view of the process. But there's no harm in swimming as strongly as you can to reach your ideal school.

See my blog at for essays about the college admission process itself.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dealing with deferral

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Yale University deferred 53% of applicants for the class of 2021 to regular decision out of 5086 students who applied “single-choice” early action this fall.  Duke deferred  671 out of 3516 binding early decision candidates, while MIT deferred 5853 of its 8394 early action applicants.

Notre Dame deferred 893 out of 6020 Restricted Early Action (REA) candidates, while Georgetown deferred all students not accepted to a similar REA program to the spring review. Brown deferred 60% of 3170 early decision candidates to regular decision, at the same time Middlebury deferred about 9% of 673 early decision applicants.

Although each of these schools has its own enrollment management strategy for dealing with deferred students,  it’s clear that way too many who applied early this fall are finding they’ve been neither accepted nor rejected, but deferred to the regular admissions pool.

And if you find yourself in this position, know that you’re not alone.

Because many colleges received record numbers of early applications, it stands to reason that unless acceptances increase, you have considerable company—mostly very disappointed.

But try to put the best face on your disappointment. Think of deferral as a kind of holding pattern. A college may be sending a signal it needs to know a little more about you before making a final decision. The admissions office may want to see your application in the context of the entire applicant pool or may simply want to see how well you’re continuing to do senior year.

You can also interpret the message as an opportunity to regroup or reconsider your application strategy.  For some students, a deferral can be a wake-up call. Make sure you are applying to a solid mix of schools, including a sufficient number of colleges where there is a good or better likelihood you will be admitted.

If you continue committed to the college that deferred you, don’t despair. Although there are no guarantees, you can either respond to the challenge or wait for the next round of decisions to come out in the new year.

I recommend responding. And here’s how:
1. Do not crash—finish those applications. There’s no question this is a setback. It’s normal to feel disappointment, but don’t allow it to be crippling. Most importantly, don’t let this relatively minor bump in the road delay completion of the rest of your applications. Finish remaining essays as soon as possible and try to submit well in advance of due dates.

2.  Understand and follow the rules.  Before doing anything, be sure to review and understand deferral policies. Some colleges are quite clear that deferred applicants should not call, write, or send additional materials. Others will welcome communication.  Know the policy and form a plan of action to appropriately address the deferral.

3. Contact Admissions. Try calling or emailing the admissions representative for your area. He or she most likely read your application and possibly remembers you. It’s a busy time of year for admissions, but if you’re lucky you might get personal feedback and a sense of how your application stacked up against the rest of the early pool. You might also get ideas on how to strengthen your candidacy by clarifying misunderstandings or by submitting additional test results, information, or recommendations. But whatever you do, resist the temptation to complain or badger the staff.

4. Update your application. Although colleges require that official midyear grades be sent directly by your high school, take the initiative to forward a copy of your semester grade report with a cover letter firmly restating your commitment to attend if admitted—only if that’s truly the case of course—along with as succinct statement as to why you think the college is the best fit for you. Include reference to any new and improved standardized test scores, additional leadership positions, new memberships, recent events or community service activities in which you have been involved, and any special awards you received. Consider sending an additional writing sample or essay. And feel free to add relevant supplementary information such as links to videos or newspaper articles. Remember colleges really only want to know what’s happened since you submitted your original application, so don’t rehash the past. And don’t snow them with paper. Be deliberate in what you send.

5. Consider a campus visit. If you haven’t already spoken with the area representative, try to make an appointment to meet sometime in January or February. This can be an opportunity to make your case for admission face-to-face. If the rep is not available, don’t be discouraged—it’s peak reading season and time is limited. Instead, visit a class, have lunch, and take a closer look at the campus. You may find subtle changes in your feelings about the school that open you to other possibilities.

6. Send another recommendation. If permitted, make arrangements to have another recommendation sent on your behalf. Look for someone who can speak to qualities other than those represented in recommendations the college already received. Consider asking a coach, your employer, a faculty sponsor for one of your membership organizations, or a senior year teacher who has gotten a chance to get to know you. Do not flood the admissions office with hundreds of additional recommendations. This won’t help.

7. Try retesting. If test scores appear to be a barrier to admission, try retaking either the SAT (January) or the ACT (February). Who knows? Your scores may improve significantly enough to make a difference in your admissions prospects.

8. Make academics your first priority. Now is the time to reveal your true character by working even harder to improve class standing. Don’t be lured into “senioritis.” Colleges on the fence about your candidacy will be impressed by a continued upward trend in grades.

9. Step-up community or school involvement. This is definitely NOT the time to quit participating in school- or community-based activities. Instead, you should seek out leadership opportunities and have a continued impact on your community. Colleges want to see a commitment to service that doesn’t just end because the paperwork was submitted.

10. Complete scholarship, financial aid and/or honors college applications. Don’t stop now. If the college has supplementary scholarship or honors college applications, make sure they are completed and submitted before deadline. Be aware that completing these documents—especially after a deferral—shows a significant level of continued interest.

11. Talk to your school counselor. Be sure to provide your counselor with the most up-to-date information on additional accomplishments that may be relevant to your application and ask for these accomplishments to be included along with midyear grades. If the college remains your first choice, suggest your counselor make this point somewhere on the form or possibly in a cover letter. In some cases, a call from your counselor to the admissions office will help, particularly if he or she has a strong relationship with the college.

12. Move on. Consider your deferral an opportunity to explore other options, including ED II at another school. It’s hard not to be miserable over a less-than-positive response to all the hard work you’ve put into being the best possible candidate for admission. But once you have done everything possible to persuade the college to admit, turn your attention elsewhere and don’t dwell on the negative. Even with this small detour, remain confident in your prospects.

For a college perspective on deferral, read advice provided by the University of Notre Dame and Tulane University.

This is part one of a two-part series on deferrals. For part two, click here.
Nancy Griesemer is an independent educational consultant and founder of College Explorations LLC. She has written extensively and authoritatively about the college admissions process and related topics since 2009.