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September 2018 VOLUME 26, ISSUE 1
COLLEGE CONNECTION THE
FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
A Publication of Future Focus Educational Services
A Place Where I Can... (Collegewise.com, by Kevin McMullin)
Ask many students what they’re looking for in a college, or many applicants why they’ve decided to apply to a
particular school, and they’ll recite a list of features and benefits. A strong journalism program, small classes,
located in a city, etc. But those expressions miss the importance of connecting your college wish list with your
plans to make the most of those opportunities.
So here’s a subtle change that can make you think critically about what you’re looking for and how you plan to
take advantage of it: Start those descriptions with, “A place where I can...”
A place where I can take my first steps toward a career as a journalist...
A place where I can interact with my professors easily and regularly...
A place where I can experience living in a city rather than just visiting one...
What you do in college will be more important than where you do it. But that will mean finding schools that pair
the right opportunities with your willingness and ability to take advantage of them. Instead of focusing on just
what the college will offer, focus on what you’ll do to make the most of those offerings. “A place where I can”
is a good place to start.
In July, the Trump administration rescinded guidance
issued by the Obama administration on how colleges
can legally consider race and ethnicity in admissions
In all, the Justice Department and Education Depart- ment withdrew seven separate documents — issued
by the agencies between 2011 and 2016 — on the
use of race in decisions by schools and by colleges.
One key document among those rescinded was
Obama administration guidance issued jointly by the
Education and Justice Departments in 2011. The guid- ance states that diversity is an important educational
goal, and that colleges should be able to use a variety
of methods (including the consideration of race and
ethnicity in admissions) to achieve diversity.
In the immediate aftermath of the Trump
administration’s action, many college and university
leaders were quick to say that they would not change
policies on the recruitment and admission of
underrepresented minority applicants. Among the in- stitutions issuing such statements were the Univer- sity of Texas at Austin and the University of Missouri
System. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is- sued an open letter to the chairs of the boards of the
City University of New York and the State University
of New York urging them not to make any changes in
policy because of the Trump administration’s actions.
No college publicly announced a change of policy,
but some experts believe some colleges may face
new legal challenges to their policies in the years
ahead, perhaps with courts less sympathetic than
those in the past to diversity efforts in higher educa- tion. Michele S. Moses, professor of educational foun- dations and policy and associate vice provost for
faculty affairs at the University of Colorado at Boul- der, said she hoped that colleges would not be scared
off diversity strategies by the Trump administration.
“It is high time for courageous leadership in higher
education. Institutions can retain their race-con- scious policies and programs and operate within
current law. And they can work to educate mem- bers of their community about their use of affirma- tive action as a principled policy response to wide- spread inequalities in higher education access and
attainment,” she said. “Campus leaders could
counter the arguments claiming that affirmative ac- tion for underrepresented students is unfair to other
students, as wrong — largely because they rely on
ideas about merit for college admissions based pri- marily on test scores. Fair college admissions prac- tices need to be based on philosophies of college
access, educational opportunity, and holistic reviews
of applicants’ varied qualifications, and not solely or
even primarily on quantitative measures of academic
merit like standardized test scores.”
Will Trump Change the Way Colleges Seek Diversity?
(“Insidehighered.com”, by Scott Jaschik 7/9/18)
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Page 2 September 2018
The College Connection Newsletter
10 Tips to Inspire College Essays
(“USNews.com”, by Ilana Kowarski)
• Brainstorm First
Make a list of your major strengths, key accomplish- ments and dreams for your future. Then jot down per- sonal and educational experiences that are significant
to you, your favorite memories, and people who have
made a difference in your life. By the end of these
exercises, you’ll have several potential topics to
• Give Yourself Options
List as many potential essay topics as you can imag- ine. Choosing the wrong prompt can lead to writer’s
block. If you’re stuck, try a new prompt that gives you
an abundance of material to talk about.
• Think Small
There’s no need to fit your entire life story into your
college essay. A wiser approach is to describe a single
formative experience. It isn’t a movie you’re making,
but a Nike ad. The time it takes to read 500 words is
about the same as it takes to watch a Nike ad.
• Describe Your Goals
Applicants who don’t feel comfortable discussing their
past can instead write about their personal motivation
and their hopes for the future.
• Target Your Audience
Your dream school’s academic niche should inform what
you write in your personal statement for that school.
Visit the school’s website, find the buzzwords it uses
on its admissions site, then try to come up with an es- say that focuses on showcasing your ability to offer
• Avoid Bragging
Bragging can backfire. A behind-the-scenes glimpse
into who you are, how you think, or what you stand for
is far more compelling.
• Tell A Story
Experts say that college essays with anecdotes tend
to be the most engaging. Reminisce about your most
meaningful experiences and consider using one of
those experiences as fodder for an essay.
• Show Your Personality
Admissions officers say that they understand that most
teenagers have not had dramatic life experiences. The
best college essays are great not because they de- scribe an exciting event but because they convey an
interesting way of looking at the world.
• Consult a Mentor
Think of three personal statement topic ideas, even if
you think they are not that great and then share them
with a teacher, counselor, or a mentor. This will start a
conversation and get ideas flowing.
• Take Needed Breaks
Applicant often struggle with their college admissions
essays due to a lack of confidence and excess stress.
You should take long walks, listen to calming music, or
work out to relax.
What’s New in the 2018-19 Common Application?
This year, they improved Courses & Grades to make
it even easier for those students who need to use it
(and help students know when they don’t need to fill it
out). In the upcoming application, students can’t en- ter the section unless they’re applying to a member
college that requires Courses & Grades.
In the Demographics section of the Profile tab, stu- dents identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native
will be able to select the specific tribe in which they
are enrolled. For those students not enrolled, they’ll
be able to type a short response describing their tribal
When a student chooses to include their social se- curity number in the application, that number will be
masked on screens, in preview, and on PDFs. If a
counselor or advisor has permission to view a PDF
preview of a student’s application, that social secu- rity number will be masked to them.
Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you’re a student,
school representative, recommender, or other indi- vidual located in a European Union country, Iceland,
Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, and you provide
The Common Application with your personal data, you
have new privacy rights under the GDPR.
Mixing and Matching Cal State
Online Courses – Free
(“Insidehighered.com”, by Mark Lieberman)
The California State University System will now offer
full-time students at all of the system’s 23 institutions
the option to enroll for free in one online course per
semester at another Cal State institution. The goal is
for students to have alternatives when required
courses don’t line up with their busy academic sched- ules, or to expand options for courses within a par- ticular discipline.
More than 3,000 online courses, both upper and lower
level, are available on the database. The option is
available to students who have completed at least one
semester and 12 credits; achieved a GPA of at least
2.0; and paid the full-time tuition price.
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September 2018 Page 3
Senior Checklist for September
\ Narrow your list of colleges to 6-8. Consider fall campus
\ Attend college visitation meetings at your school
\ Work hard to keep your grades up. College admissions
counselors will closely review the first semester of your
\ Make a list of test names, dates, fees and registration dead- lines and college application deadlines, financial aid applica- tion deadlines and scholarship deadlines.
\ Prepare your resume and listings of strengths, interests and
goals to give to teachers, counselors and employers for
letters of recommendations.
\ College bound athletes applying to Division I or II schools
need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center for Certifica- tion in order to play college athletics. Use the website
\ Register for the SAT or ACT at www.collegeboard.org and
www.actstudent.org, if you mark code 9999 as one of your
college or scholarship codes, your scores will be sent auto- matically to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Watch out for the
\ Start working on the first draft of your admissions essays
\ Research local, state and national scholarships. Check out
the scholarships and grants section of this newsletter.
\ If you are applying Early Decision, these deadlines begin
November 1st. Know the difference between Early Decision
and Early Action.
\ Register for the Common Application at
www.commonapp.org to see the list of 700+ schools that
now accept the common application.
\ Checkout the newer Coalition Application at
www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org to see the list of 90+
schools that now accept the coalition application.
Colleges Are No Match for American Poverty
(“www.theatlantic.com”, by Marcella Bombardieri)
Russell Lowery-Hart is the president of Amarillo College, a community
college on the Texas Panhandle, strives to provide support to their stu- dents who are at high risk of struggling academically due to financial and
circumstantial hardships. In addition to running a food pantry for its stu- dents, Amarillo College has an emergency fund that can cut a check
within hours to cover the car-repair or water bill that could push a stu- dent to drop a class—or quit school for good.
What separates Amarillo College from most of its peers is not any par- ticular program, but how much it focuses on addressing the effects of
poverty. The school and Lowery-Hart are being watched by college lead- ers all over the country, because finding realistic solutions for student
poverty could be transformative for the U.S. higher-education system.
The College Connection Newsletter
The University of Chicago announced
that it was dropping the requirement that
all undergraduate applicants submit SAT
or ACT scores. The test-optional policy
applies to all students from the United
States. The university also announced
an expansion of financial aid and other
new policies designed to attract more
low-income and first-generation students.
For colleges that use the SAT or ACT, a
major challenge has been study after
study showing that wealthier students
generally fare better than do less wealthy
students. And white and Asian students,
on average, perform much better than do
black and Latino students.
Search for a four-year college on Google,
and you’ll now be presented with data
on admission rates, graduation rates and
tuition costs, in addition to the usual link
to Wikipedia. Google said the addition
of more information to college search
results would make it easier for prospec- tive students to choose the right institu- tion for them.
Columbia University was identified as
the number one U.S. college offering the
largest financial aid packages to students
in need with an average financial aid
package of $55,521. Yale came in a sec- ond with their average financial aid pack- age of $52,894. All 50 U.S. colleges
listed are private colleges or universities,
and all Ivy League Schools made the list.
This fall incoming international under- graduate students at Eastern Michigan
University will pay the same tuition rate
as everyone else, including Michigan
residents who enroll at the public univer- sity. Another institution that charges a
flat tuition rate for all students — in-state
and out-of-state domestic and interna- tional — is Minot State University, in
North Dakota, which received approval for
its one-rate tuition policy in 2008.
University of California, Los Angeles
is beta testing their new mobile app,
BruinXperience hopes to provide a more
complete picture of UCLA’s campus cli- mate. The app sends a notification to stu- dents’ smartphones every two weeks to
(Continued on page 4)
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The College Connection Newsletter
Page 4 September 2018
Does AP Still Have Admissions Cachet?
(“Insidehighered.com”, by Scott Jaschik)
Eight elite private high schools in the Washington area announced
that they were dropping out of the Advanced Placement program.
The schools said that they could design advanced courses that would
be better for their students. A statement the schools issued said
that AP has become so popular that it is no longer “noteworthy.”
Further, “we have been assured by admissions officers that this
change will have no adverse impact on our students. The real ques- tion for colleges is not whether applicants have taken AP courses,
but whether they have availed themselves of their high schools’ most
Most admissions deans and other experts agreed that the students
at Sidwell Friends, St. Albans and the other private schools that make
this move don’t need to worry. Their schools are so well-known that
colleges will assume the new advanced courses being created will
have rigor and depth. A lack of AP courses on those students’ tran- scripts probably won’t make a difference. But leave the rarefied en- vironment of elite private high schools, they said, and the situation
may be different.
According to Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions and
financial aid at Pomona College, while AP “is considered rigorous,”
so are many non-AP courses. What matters is students taking some
of the most rigorous courses offered. The advantage of AP, he said,
is that colleges have a sense of what it means. Schools that want to
offer alternatives need to be sure they explain how rigorous the
courses are. “AP still works for many schools where it might be
hard to know how rigorous the curriculum is without the AP desig- nation,” Allen said.
(Continued from page 3)
ask them what they’re thinking, how they’re
feeling and what they’re experiencing on
campus. Assuming a successful rollout in
the fall, BruinX plans to expand the app to
include UCLA faculty and staff.
Navy veteran and U.S. postal worker, Ja- son Washington, was shot and killed by
Portland State University campus police
outside of a campus sports bar. Witnesses
stated that he was attempting to break up
a fight between two other men and was
shot while moving to pick up a handgun
that had fallen from his holster. Washing- ton had a concealed-carry permit for the
weapon. The Portland State officers in- volved in the shooting have been placed on
administrative leave while the Portland
Police Bureau investigates the situation.
The ACT benefits students who can read
rapidly and efficiently – more passages
means more information to review and ana- lyze. Meanwhile, the SAT benefits students
who prefer to work more slowly but also
more analytically. However, it is important
to note that the ACT English section is not
devoid of analysis. Consider what type of
reader you are before deciding on the ACT
or the SAT.
Hendrix College is touting Career Term
as the first initiative in the country that uses
the college winter break to coach students
in job training. It works like this: for a couple
of days during winter break, the college
brought back almost 50 of its second-year
students and gave them workshops on
base-level career-search skills — résumé
writing and job interviewing, dressing pro- fessionally and finding an internship.
While only serving part of its sophomore
class this year, the college intends to offer
the program to the entire class by January
The University of California released new
admissions statistics last week for the
class that will be entering in the fall. The
shift this year is that — reflecting a series
of new initiatives — the system admitted a
record number of transfer students, the vast
majority of them from the state’s commu- nity colleges. While many elite private col- leges admit only a dozen or so transfer
students, the UC system admitted 28,750
transfer applicants for the fall.
Enrollment Boost from Summer Pell
(www.insidehighered.com, by Andrew Kreighbaum)
Colleges are seeing the payoffs of a decision by Congress to restore year- round Pell Grants in a budget deal last year after eliminating the grant aid in
2011. Students attending summer classes previously could only use what- ever grant aid they had not used in the fall and spring semesters. The change
allowed Pell recipients access to the full grant amount for a typical semester.
The additional grant aid isn’t just making summer classes more accessible
It’s also helping them progress more quickly toward their degrees.
Anatomy of a College Application - Things to Avoid
(www.collegechoice.net, by Jeremy Shanealder)
• Don’t miss deadlines.
• Check every application for typos or misspellings.
• Don’t forget to sign your applications, digitally or physically, lest they
sit in admissions labeled “incomplete.”
• Get a professional-sounding email address that includes part of your
name. Don’t apply using “email@example.com.”
• Don’t let your parents or friends write your applications or essays for
• Delete inappropriate social media comments or photos (but remem- ber, they may still be out there).