Getting into college has always required long-range planning and dedication, but according to the cover story in the September 17, 2001 issue of U.S. News & World Report it has become more difficult than ever to get into college. Why? There are several different answers to that question.
First, the number of students that graduate from high school has been steadily increasing. The United States Department of Education has estimated that 3.1 million students will graduate from high school by the end of the decade, which will be an increase of twelve percent. In addition, many more students are moving on directly from high school graduation to college. In fact, today two thirds of high school graduates attend college the next fall. This is a drastic increase considering that twenty years ago only half of high school graduates went to college directly following graduation. Although this is a positive change in our educational system, it will make getting into college even more of a challenge for the large number of students competing for limited spots.
So how can you compete in an educational market that is saturated with good candidates? In a word, preparation. "Students who start preparing early and who look beyond the brand-name schools to find the right match will almost certainly be accepted by fine institutions – and they'll get the most out of their high school education as well" (90). In other words, the competition to get into the school of your choice does not begin when you send in your application; instead, it is a process that should start very early on in your high school years. One reason that the Upward Bound Program can be so valuable for you as a student is that we can help guide and prepare you for that competition so you can realize your educational goals.
U.S. News & World Report spoke to deans of admission on college campuses all over the country and based on their advice compiled a list of eight things to think about during your preparation for college. To paraphrase their thoughts:
Grades Don't Matter the Way You Think
This doesn't mean that you can fail that chem test! But college admissions staff agrees that straight A's are not as impressive as they used to be. You may have a 4.0, but that is not going to impress the admissions committee when the classes you have been taking are less than impressive. It is important to have a high GPA, but it is equally important to take classes that will stretch your academic skills.
Don't Be a Perpetual Joiner; Do What You Love
It can be tempting to join every club and organization and participate in every sport and volunteer activity in the hopes of bolstering your college resume. However, not only can this be detrimental to your grades and raise your stress level, it can also effect the image you present to the admissions committee in a negative way. Admission deans would prefer to see a few activities that you are passionate about and that you have been committed to for several years than a grocery list of all the opportunities that are available at your school.
Use Your Summers
The Upward Bound Summer Program is an excellent way to prepare for the classes that you will be taking in the fall, get some college living experience, and possibly earn some college credit. Use the time you have during the summer to develop your skills and learn about your interests. Be sure to include your summer activities and achievements on your resume and in your applications.
ACT or SAT
These test scores still matter a lot when you are applying to colleges. Many schools even have a minimum score on these tests that must be achieved by the applicant before he/she will be considered for admission. The SAT examines vocabulary, math, and abstract reasoning. The ACT examines grammar, scientific reasoning, and trigonometry and has less math overall. Take the one that suits your skills best.
Look Beyond the Brand-Name Schools
It is erroneous to assume that you must attend Harvard, Yale, or Notre Dame to receive a first rate education. All of the competition among highly qualified students has created a "trickle-down of talent" (92). This means that there are better professors and better students at institutions that are not as well known. You can receive an excellent education, and save a lot of money, by attending a lesser-known school.
Be Realistic – and Sharpen Your "Hook"
Most schools are looking for students with different skills or specialization every year. College admissions committees call these attractive attributes "hooks". An easy way to find out if a school is looking for people with your talents the year that you are applying is to call the coaches, head of the music department, and departmental chairs.
Show Them How Much You Want It
Most colleges and universities are tentative about admitting people who they are not sure will attend their school. By rejecting the applicants who do not seem set on going to their school, admissions has a better change of enrolling more of the candidates that are accepted. This means that if you really want to attend a certain school, you need to let them know it!
Consider Applying Early
Deciding whether to apply for early admission is a difficult choice. Generally, if you apply for early admission you are promising to enroll in that school if they accept you.Therefore, you should only do this if you know that there is one college that is a great fit for you. Even if you decide not to apply for early decision, you should be sure to send your applications in well before the deadline so that the Upward Bound staff, teachers, and counselors will still have time to write a thoughtful recommendation for you.
As a participant in Upward Bound you have already made a move in the right direction in preparing for college. If you keep in mind the preceding hints as you work toward high school graduation, you will save yourself a lot of last minute stress and increase your chances of being accepted to the school of your choice.
U.S. News & World Report. September 17, 2001.
Tips On Memory
Thirty days has September, April, June, and November...
Doe a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun...
A pint's a pound, the world around...
Out of desperation and amusement, the human mind has discovered ingenious ways to remember vital information. Here are some methods that may be useful to you when you are nailing down the causes of the Civil War, trying to remember the steps in a physics problem, or absorbing a mathematical formula for tomorrow's quiz.
Create rhymes, jingles, sayings, or nonsense phrases that repeat or codify information. Setting a rhyme to music is one of the most powerful ways to make words memorable.
"Homes" is a mnemonic word for remembering the five Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
"Spring forward, fall back" tells many Americans how to set their clocks.
Relate the idea to something you already know. Make the association as personal as possible.
If you are reading a chapter on laws regarding free speech, pretend your right to speak out on a subject that is important to you may be affected by those laws.
To remember the spelling difference between through and threw, think of walking through something rough, and that threw comes from throw.
Visualize in order a number of locations of objects in your home. To remember a list of things, associate each item in the list with one of the locations or objects.
To memorize the three classic appeals of advertising (appetite, fear, and sexual attraction) you would peg each of the three appeals like this:
Appetite: The first peg is the corner countertop in your kitchen. Visualize some creature devouring your favorite chocolate cake.
Fear: The second peg is the coat rack. Visualize a menacing coat rack running after you.
Sexual attraction: The third peg is your sofa. Use your imagination.
Make yourself see the things that you have associated with important concepts.
Even after you think you know the material, go over it again to make sure you will retain it for a long time.
Get some index cards. Write the word or information to be learned on one side and the definition or explanation on the other. Carry the cards with you and review them often. Prepare them well in advance of the day of the test and spend more time on the hard ones.
Even if the information seems to lack an inherent organization, try to impose one. Most information can be organized in some way, even if only by the look or sound of the words.
Draw a Mind Map
Some speakers claim that they can prepare an hour-long talk simply by arranging the main topics on a single sheet of paper and connecting the points in logical fashion by arrows, dots, and so forth. Large points are written in large boxes or circles, smaller points in smaller ones. Subgroups are placed under major headings. Drawing relationships on paper - even faces, objects, or stick figures – can help you visualize them later.
Jewler, A. Jerome, John N. Gardner, Mary Jane McCarthy, Eds.Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993. 106.
We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the tragedy of September 11th.
Students & Patience
I'm going through a period of difficult transition.
Life has placed me in a rather difficult position.
My mind and mood are going through a period of stress.
My present and my future I am trying to assess.
Life is not as smooth and even as it's been before.
I've got to find direction, life's alternatives explore.
I've got to straighten out my lifeand struggle to adjust.
I've got to realign my purpose, redefine my thrust.
I can't be captive to the past or slave to moments lost.
I cannot mourn the lessons learned or fret about their cost.
As I approach the future, there is much I can't foresee.
I hope you'll try to understand – I hope you'll bear with me.
- Bruce B. Wilmer, Wilmer Graphics
Thank you to all participants, parents, and staff for a wonderful summer program. All of us at Upward Bound are looking forward to the great things our students will accomplish this school year!
-UNI Classic Upward Bound Program Staff
Editor: Rhonda McRina
Assistant Editor: Amanda Graeber