Is Your Best Freshman Year A Gap Year?

https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Best-Freshman-Year-Is-a/243563

The Best Freshman Year Is a Gap Year

June 03, 2018

It’s that time of year again. High-school seniors across the country are finishing their final exams, cleaning out their lockers, and getting ready to walk up on stage to accept their diplomas. The students know where they’re going to college, and they’ll busy themselves over the coming months by looking into meal plans, registering for classes, and contacting their future roommates. Admissions deans are still analyzing yield targets with their staff and are already looking at what they could do differently next year. It’s a predictable cycle — except for one wrinkle.

An increasing number of students are questioning whether they are ready to dive straight into four more years of classroom lectures, research papers, and cramming for exams. Many are exhausted and burned out, eager to refuel their curiosity about the world through the kind of learning that won’t appear on a transcript.

Record numbers of students are contemplating a gap year before college, and they are looking for guidance on this important decision from the very colleges that admitted them. With a few exceptions, most students who inquire about a gap year will receive a silent nod from their admissions counselor and another form to fill out. Is that really the best we can do?Over the past five years, many college-admissions offices have adopted policies that allow students to defer their admission offer for one year. The gap year has become increasingly popular with admissions leaders, who have witnessed firsthand its positive impact on students and campus culture. Yet most colleges have remained resolutely agnostic as to what students should do on their gap year, and how they might pay for it.

At first glance this might make sense. The undergraduate clock starts ticking only when an incoming freshman sets foot on campus. Or does it? Not if you believe, as we do, that one of the most effective ways to improve college outcomes is to improve the inputs. A gap year designed with purpose and intent is a journey of personal growth that helps students successfully transition to college.

At a time when traditional four-year colleges are struggling to stay relevant and high-school graduates are hungry for real-­world experiences, why wouldn’t educators weigh in on the merits of a gap year? Isn’t it time for higher education to help students figure out what kind of experience will help them succeed in college and in life?

We recently worked with a group of experts to define the following key characteristics of a transformative gap year: It is purposeful and practical, involving some element of service to others; it takes students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to learn new skills and try on new perspectives; it offers the right balance of autonomy and mentoring to help students build self-confidence and a sense of purpose; it is accessible to students from all economic backgrounds.

The idea of integrating an experiential gap year with college may sound radical, but many colleges already routinely grant academic credit for service learning, internships, study abroad, and other forms of engaged learning. Education researchers have proven that these so-called high-impact practices improve student retention and engagement in college. However, many undergrads don’t have access to these formative experiences until their junior or senior year. Imagine how much we could amplify the positive effects if we offered students a megadose of high-impact practices at the beginning of college instead of at the end.

Reinforcing this point, the Gallup- Purdue Index, a large study of college graduates that seeks to track college outcomes, has demonstrated that how students go to college is much more important than where they go to college. Longitudinal data from the study show conclusively that the strongest predictors of future success are experiences that require initiative and agency — such as finding a mentor, having an internship, and doing a project that takes a semester or more to complete.

College leaders are desperate to cultivate a greater sense of civic responsibility among their students. In these turbulent political times, this is one of the most pressing challenges facing higher education. Similarly, educators recognize that the power skills of the 21st century — resilience, empathy, collaboration, initiative — are difficult to teach in the classroom. To build these skills, students need to be out in the world grappling with complex issues of identity, equity, diversity, and power. A purposeful gap year is a powerful way to build those muscles.And a growing number of colleges understand that a purposeful year off before college is the best way to ensure that more students arrive on campus prepared to declare both a major and a mission. Pioneering institutions are taking steps to repurpose gap years as transformative bridge years. Could this be the freshman-year makeover we’ve been hoping for?

Tufts and Princeton Universities have designed (and financed) their own service-oriented gap-year programs for incoming students, and several other institutions are exploring similar models. Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina, Florida State University, and Dickinson College all offer scholarships to make meaningful gap-year opportunities accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

And there are numerous examples of admissions offices — including at Dartmouth College, Brown University, Rice University, Colorado College, and Middlebury College — that have developed useful gap-year resources for all prospective students. This is a perfect moment for other institutions to replicate and adapt these models to their own contexts.

In the next few weeks, admitted students may turn to you for guidance as they contemplate taking a gap year. Will you send them a form, or will you guide them toward a formative experience?

Abigail Falik is founder and chief executive of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit dedicated to reinventing the gap year. Linda Frey is vice president for strategic partnerships at Global Citizen Year, where she leads the organization’s higher-education partnerships.

I‘ve had clients take a gap year for a variety of reasons.  Lets talk about what you can gain from spending a year, after high school or mid-college.  There are lots of options and many outcomes.  stephanie@accessguidance.com pr 610-212-6679

Hashtags Job Hunters Need To Know

15 Great Twitter Hashtags to Secure Your Dream Job

by Kate Jones | Aug 17, 2017 | Social Media Job Seeking |Career Enlightenment

Hashtags to find an employer:

  1. #hiring: Unsurprisingly, the number one hashtag hiring managers use.
  2. #joblisting: This one is pretty much guaranteed to take you straight to a role specification.
  3. #tweetmyjobs: This has been tagged nearly a million times so it’s worth including in your search.
  4. #ukjobs: If you’re looking for something UK based this will take you straight to the goods. You can also change it up with #*yourcity*jobs to get super specific.
  5. #graduate: If you’re fresh out of university, use this hashtag to find graduate positions.

Hashtags to let employers know you’re looking:

  1. #hireme: Get straight to the point – you’re on the lookout!
  2. #resume: Twice as popular as #CV, this is the one to use if you’re sharing your resume online.
  3. #MBA: If you have an MBA, let potential employers know about your impressive educational background.
  4. #HR: This hashtag makes your post visible to anyone searching in the HR thread.
  5. #careerchange: Great if you’re looking to take your career in a new direction.

Industry specific hashtags:

  1. #salesjobs: This popular hashtag will take you straight to sales jobs listings.
  2. #accounting: If you’re an accountant you’re in luck – listings in this field come up regularly on Twitter.
  3. #SEO: A popular area for recruitment, this one has been tagged more than a million times by job seekers.
  4. #journojobs: For budding journalists, look no further than this hashtag to find your dream position.
  5. #industry: Use this with another tag like #tech or #marketing and you’ll find listings matched to your area of expertise.

If you have a crystal-clear idea of what you’re after, hashtag the specific job you are looking for. This is perfect for those of us in specialist industries such as web development, HR or professional services.

Another option if you’re looking for something a little more niche is this clever tool from Hashtagify which allows you to search for popular hashtags.

Finally, a great way to grab the attention of a potential employer is by using a picture with your tweet – Twitter posts with images receive 150% more engagement.

Conventional methods for finding a job are slowly fading into the background, and the hashtag is now your best friend for securing the position of your dreams. Twitter should be right up there at the top of your list of ways to find your next role.

 

FAFSA for Financial Aid and Grants

The FAFSA goes live online on October 1, giving you a few weeks to submit the form.  If you are applying ED or EA and submit the FAFSA and/or the CSS  with your application you should get an idea of what your aid package will look like with the college’s decision.  Most colleges have set an absolute deadline for FAFSA as February 1 or February 15 to qualify for aid.

1. FAFSA is a form that allows a computer program to set the EFC, Expected Family Contribution.  The number is based on income and certain assets excluding the primary residence.   I’ve seen EFCs ranging from $125 to $100,000.   The The EFC is what the formula assumes is available to pay for college.  Unless there is a change in family financial circumstances, the EFC is non-negotiable.

2.    The EFC amount is sent to the colleges you designate.  The college decides how to fill the gap between the sticker price and your EFC.    Merit aid in the form of grants or scholarships is one way colleges make up the difference.   The amount of this aid is usually bench-marked by scores and grades and is a rough measure of how much the college wants you to choose them.  When a college is very interested in a particular applicant they will find money to make enrolling attractive.

3. “Financial aid” can be mostly loans.  First year students are eligible for $5500 in federally guaranteed loans; second year students  can take up to $6500, third and fourth years, $7500, fifth years can borrow $4000.  This totals $31,000, the exact amount that many colleges say is the average debt load of their graduates.   Unfortunately, parent loans are in addition to this calculation so we don’t know the total of family debt per student which can be significant.

The Documents you will need include for student and parents: social security numbers, student drivers license number, tax returns for 2017, records of untaxed income, bank and investment records.

4. CSS is another document used by some private colleges to determine how much the family can be expected to pay.  The form is downloaded from the College Board website and has a small fee attached to submitting it.  Both FAFSA and CSS are required by a few colleges so be certain you file carefully and observe deadlines.

If you would like a copy of the documents you will need to complete either of these financial aid forms, I’ll be happy so provide a copy.  I can also give you more information on how financial aid packages are calculated and what you might find included in them. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

 

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/12/15/11-misconceptions-about-paying-for-colleg

Take The Sting Out Of Constructive Criticism

When the boss says, We should talk”  you can feel the hair on your arms stand at attention because you know that you are about to be chastized.  The anticipation can be agonizing.

 

In  that moment of truth, try these 3 things to reduce the sting.

1.  Adopt your boss’s point of view.  You are all on a team with the goal of making the company more efficient and profitable.  Identify the experience as a coaching session from which you can lean how to do those things better.

2. Ask questions to clarify the issue.  Pause to think before you react.  Its human to become defensive but a quick reaction probably won’t be an advantage.  Ask how you can improve then set goals.

3.  Identify the underlying problem.  If you aren’t meeting deadlines, perhaps it is because you are using a different system of priorities or failing to prioritize at all.  Everyone has time management difficulties from time to time.  Do co-workers frequently drop new assignments on your desk or request your help in a way that makes completing your own tasks difficult?

When you have found the factors underlying problem, define a solution and talk to your boss so she knows that you have heard and are working to resolve the difficulty.

Would it help to talk about your difficulties at work?  An objective outsider can help you identify work-around solutions to underlying problems.   Lets get together! stephanie@accssguidance.com or 6110-212-6679

 

 

Rules For Making A Budget You Can Stick To

Tips from Alan Carniol:
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that budgeting doesn’t top my list of fun things to do. Nonetheless, it’s critical to create a budget.
Why?
Because money is a scarce resource for many of us, and every dollar we spend on something that isn’t really important to us, is a dollar we won’t have to put toward our dreams.
That’s why I was happy to share a unique software tool I found out about recently.
It’s called You Need a Budget, and it’s based on four simple rules. If you follow these four rules, you’ll transform budgeting from a tedious chore into a simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated process.
You’ll also make your next paycheck go MUCH further.
What are these four simple rules?
Here’s a brief summary:Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job
Avoid spending money unintentionally, by first asking yourself, “What should this money do before I’m paid again?”Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses
It’s important to decide what your money should do for you – now and down the road. Understanding, and embracing, your actual expenses is critical to figuring out your budget.Rule Three: Roll With the Punches
If your budget needs to be changed, then you can just go ahead and change it at any time – without guilt or handwringing.

Rule Four: Age Your Money
Instead of trying to precisely time your bills with your paychecks, work toward spending money today that you earned at least a month earlier.

These four simple rules from You Need A Budget make controlling your finances much more manageable.

Alan Carniol
Founder of Interview Success, Inc.
Copyright © 2018, Interview Success, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bard Offers Own Essay Entrance Exam Option

 

Bard University in the Hudson Valley of New York state has opened a new way to gain admission.  Students may take an online essay exam in which they respond to 3 of  20 prompts in 4 categories.

Each essay should be 2500 words and show the ability to read incisively, think critically and communicate effectively.  Each prompt has links to articles or passages to be used in crafting the response.  According to Bard, this format approaches more closely the teaching and learning taking place at Bard.

Before submitting the Entrance Exam, applicants must sign an Honor Statement verifying that the essays are their own work.

Students writing the essays can enter and leave the exam as needed.  The due date is November 1 with notice of passing the exam sent in December to those who achieve a B+ or better.   A transcript and letter of recommendation are then required before admission is granted.

The traditional application and test requirements are still in place and available to all applicants.

Below is the announcement from Bard.

The Bard Entrance Examination offers a way to apply to Bard that takes the place of existing standardized tests and admission procedures, enabling motivated students to gain admission through an essay test. This process more closely mirrors actual college coursework and provides an invigorating educational experience. Our traditional admission options remain unchanged and available to you.

How It Works
Candidates respond to three of 20 essay questions in four categories: Social Studies; Languages and Literature; Arts; and Science and Mathematics. All the information needed to answer the questions is on the examination platform. The exam is not a test of what you already know; rather, it is an opportunity to demonstrate close reading, critical thinking, and the ability to interpret problems. It is an effort to connect testing to learning.

The suggested length for each of the three essays is 2,500 words. Candidates who score B+ or higher will receive notice that they have passed the exam. Upon our receipt of the student’s transcript and a reference letter from a high school counselor, the student will receive a final admission decision.

Deadline 
The deadline for submitting a completed examination is November 1, with notification of the results by the end of December.

Uncommon Answers to Common Interview Questions

Interview questions are asked to elicit particular information.  No matter what the situation,  you can give answers that are positive and highlight something that you want the interviewer to know about you, your experience, your goals, your strengths, how you can help the company solve a problem.

Read the article from The Must that covers 31 typical questions and customized answers that will make you stand out.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-answer-the-31-most-common-interview-questions?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20180126&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20180126&bsft_eid=dfe63d12-32e1-4683-ab88-8a37ff56408b&bsft_clkid=a38135f8-4040-4411-be91-2ff1657d2c24&bsft_uid=be2b7c7a-3fd7-45c5-8bf4-6e7a7b9064ed&bsft_mid=35b3778a-1237-411e-b666-0091d12dbebd

When you’re ready we’ll craft your own answers to interview questions. 610-212-6679, stephanie@accessguidance.com

Where Resumes and Job Ads Don’t Match

One of the most basic parameters for creating a resume that attracts attention and passes the Applicant Tracking System is  a match between the requirements listed in the job posting and those on a resume.

LiveCareer analyzed several thousand resumes and job openings in 12 career areas, about one quarter of all job categories, to find where applicants claims don’t match the needs of the employers.  They found several gaps that are easily plugged.

Increasingly, soft skills are important to companies hiring.  Soft skills are communication, customer service and so on. Other gaps between desired  qualities and offered skills found by hiring managers are in multitasking, knowledge of retail industry, teamwork, and a positive attitude.

These asks make up one quarter to one half of those listed as necessary but don’t make it onto most resumes.  Job posting typically ask for over 20 items,  resumes claim, on average, 13.  It is easy to put relevant experience with examples into a resume matching the words used by the hiring party.

If you want to get your resume to the person who will decide to interview you, take time to match the requirements to your skills, 1:1.  Have qualifiers ready to prove your ability to meet expectations.  Don’t bother to include things like budgeting, time management or use of Microsoft Word, or anything else not asked for.  The ATS looks for the words the hiring manager tells it to look for and will skip over anything else.

Bring me your job posting and your experience and we’ll craft a resume that passes the ATS and makes it to the hiring manager.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679/

 

 

Take Foreign Language In High School

American students are at a great disadvantage in the job market because little emphasis is  placed on learning the languages our trading and business partners speak.  In many countries students have opportunities to learn three or four languages in addition to their own.  Yes, many also learn English but that isn’t a good reason for our students to avoid exposure to other cultures and achievements through their literature and language.

Learning a second or third language is brilliant brain training.    Research on the brain shows that learning languages makes us smarter overall. We write more forcefully, read with better comprehension, develop higher math skills, and increase the ability to focus.

Starting in 9th grade I was required to learn Latin.  I was a miserable Latin student but I learned much about structure and organization that I applied to reading and writing in English.  It was a wonderful, if somewhat painful, way to grow in critical thinking.

Travel to far flung parts of the world helps us see people in the the environment they have created for themselves.  Unless one is able to spend months and years settling in, a travel experience is like an Instagram post.  Learning the language allows us to read the literature that will give depth and breadth to their history, passions, angst, joy, aspirations, how they think and make decisions.  To understand, one must dig deep, not just wave while passing through.  We need to be able to answer two questions: What is it like to be a _______________?  What is it like to live in _________________?

Without language we lose the ability to connect to new people and make them partners.  How can we know what we share if we can’t ask or answer?  This is where being monolingual creates our disadvantage.  Sure, our potential partners may speak English.  Isn’t it disrespectful to not make the effort to reciprocate?  Would you continue to invite someone to your home or parties if they came but never invited you back?  If we want to continue to be part of the global feast we must be good guests and good hosts.

Why argue for studying languages in high school?  As you acquire languages, each one becomes easier to learn.

Equally important is the change in college language departments: they are disappearing.  Fewer students take any language and fewer still major in one.  Budget cuts are made by eliminating shrinking departments so at many colleges foreign language may be dropped. Despite increasing globalization and the need to hire people with language skills, we are losing the opportunity to claim a language distinction in the job market.

Looking for colleges with strong language programs that sync with your intended career journey?  Let me help!  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

PS A recent survey of PhDs in languages found that 50% earn $65,000 to $100,000; half of those earn $80,000 or more.

 

 

Curious About MIT?

Daan Mulder
Daan Mulder, studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Several things come to mind:

  • The professor you’ve just casually chatted with and asked about his/her research is actually a Nobel prize winner.
  • Everyone talks in code and it seems to make perfect sense: I’ll see you at E52; I’m taking 780 from course 15.
  • We complain that we should have gone to an easy college, like Harvard.
  • We constantly reference IHTFP (“I hate this f***ing place”) while secretly love every second here.
  • The institute is taken seriously by almost everyone. When we send emails from the MIT domain name (name@mit.edu) answer is almost always guaranteed.
  • You constantly feel inadequate by the level of the people around you (at orientation they even point out that it’s perfectly normal to have the “imposter syndrome”, i.e., feeling like you were admitted by mistake, as clearly you don’t feel like you deserve to be here with these people).
  • Sending an email to a wide distribution list saying “there is food left at [location]” and within seconds a swarm of hungry mouths descend, devour, and leave.
  • Playing with the beaver is totally not a sexual thing.

PS – sorry if this sounds like humblebrag. We’re really not full of ourselves here 🙂

 

ONE More comment from me: the most popular minor at MIT is music!

If MIT isn’t in your future, we can build a list of great colleges where you will thrive. stephanie@accessguidance.com pr 610-212-6679.