Posts Tagged “College Admission”

Being a senior, I am on the seemingly never ending task of selecting the right college to attend in the fall. With all these great universities to choose from, I have found myself wondering about the reasons for which I am selecting a college.

Obviously being seventeen years old, friends and boyfriends have influence over the choices you make whether you realize it or not. I am currently sitting in a Berkeley dorm room wondering if I want to go to Berkeley because my best friend goes here, or if I want to go to Berkeley because I genuinely love the school.

To be completely honest, I have always been more of a city girl. I love to shop, eat at restaurants and surround myself with the sounds of a bustling city. When I picture myself at college, I have always pictured myself at a school like USC or USF. All of the sudden I find myself thinking that it would be best for me to be up in the free-loving town of Berkeley.

What causes this sudden shift? What causes this abrupt change in the thought process that I have had for so many years? I think that those two questions are better suited for a therapist or college counselor but as a young woman, I find them rather interesting. I like to think of myself as a mature, level headed young adult. And all of the sudden, all these plans that I have for myself have been over-ruled by a brief thought of spontaneity.

I guess the ultimate question that I am getting at is whether or not to run with this new found excitement. Do I abandon what I always thought would be the right path for myself and attend a smaller, private university? Or do I see myself fitting into Berkeley, California?

Taking the time to sort out all these thoughts is just one minor process involved with college. Compared to applications, essays, transcripts and interviews, ironically, this seems to be the hardest. There is always the fear that once you make a choice, it will be the wrong one. How do you move past that fear to bigger and greater things?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but through my blogging, I hope to find it!

Alex is a Youth Editor for Guide & Seek and a senior at Santa Margarita High School in Orange County, California. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school to become a sports and entertainment attorney, however, before that can happen she hopes to attend UC Berkeley or the University of Southern California in the fall.


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When I was working in the admissions office at Columbia University, I would often get the question, “Is community service required or recommended for admission?”  It was always a tough one to answer because we didn’t want students scrambling to log hours of community service with last-minute bake sales and car washes, and while we didn’t have an official volunteer requirement, an application with significant community involvement definitely spoke volumes about a person’s character and commitment.

Recently surveyed 25 highly ranked colleges and universities, and here’s what they had to say about the value of community service in a college application:

Passion and consistency valued most–When asked, “Which would you value more: four years volunteering at a local community center or one month helping orphans in Somalia?” 100% surveyed chose four years at a community shelter. This response indicates passion and consistency hold much higher value than a smaller, even more intensive program.

Time spent worth more than money raised–When asked, “Which would you value more: raising $100,000 for the homeless or spending a summer working at a homeless shelter?” 68% surveyed valued time spent over money raised. While raising such funds is admirable and impressive, time spent indicates the universality of volunteerism. Anyone can find a homeless shelter where they can volunteer, but not everyone has the ability to ask for money. Admissions officers “get it.” They are looking for evidence of actual service, not the ability to connect with wealthy people.

Community service ranks rourth amongst valued criteria–When asked to rank GPA, SATs, legacy, reference letters, extra curricular activities, and community service, 37.5% surveyed ranked community service fourth. While GPA and SATs are obviously the most valued criteria, community service ranks higher than legacy and reference letters. Quite simply, hard academic numbers remain the most standard and significant factors of getting into a top college, but community services are noted and valued experiences.

Organizational affiliations don’t matter–When asked, “Does being a member of a service organization like the Boy Scouts have more or less weight than an unaffiliated student volunteering?” 84% surveyed gave no weight to such affiliations. One admissions officer noted, “Service is service, that’s always a good thing.”

Tell your story well–When asked to list the three words admissions officers most like to see when students describe their community service, the most recurring words were commitment,” “passionate,” and “dedication.” When asked to list the three words admissions officers least like to see, most recurring were “required,” “mandatory,” and “tedious.” Therefore, when describing community service, it should include positive and encouraging descriptors, rather than words of obligation.

Have you found a meaningful way to give back to the community? What volunteer activities have you enjoyed the most?


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As the fall college application process gets underway, there’s one more thing you should add to your application checklist:

Clean up your social networking sites!

According to Kaplan’s recent survey of 320 top U. S. colleges, 1 out of 10 admissions officers looked at students’ social networking websites as part of their application review, and 38 percent of those surveyed said what they saw had a negative impact on their admission decisions.  And it’s not just college admissions officers browsing the web, would-be employers also admit to using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to gain insight into job seekers.

So, if you’re applying to college or a job in the near future, here are some tips to ensure your online impression is a good one:

Edit Your Pics–First off, make sure your profile picture doesn’t contain any offensive, illicit, or illegal behavior.  And while you’re at it, go through the rest of your pics and either delete or make private any other photos you wouldn’t want to show off in a job interview. It may seem obvious, but even that hilarious pic at last week’s party could give off a less than responsible image.

Stop Posting About Your College or Job Plans–You may be super excited to tell your friends that USC is your top choice school, but if a college admissions officer reads that on your page it may unwittingly bias their decision to admit you.  So keep the college and career talk limited to IM, chat, or a private message.

Maintain Your Privacy–Of course, the easiest way to make sure you keep tabs on who’s viewing your pages is to change your privacy settings so that your profiles are only visible to friends.  And then if an admissions officer or potential employer friends you, you’ll have the heads-up to either edit your profile or deny the request.

Have your social networking pages ever backfired for you?  What do you think about employers and college officials checking out your profiles?


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