Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yale Here We Come

Tom Miller, Dyana So, Matt Lee   6:15 AM departure to SFO then off to Philadelphia

I think we were all a little scared and apprehensive about our 20 days away from home.  I have never been away from my family that long either.  I worried about if I packed the right things, if I brought to much or too little.  But first and foremost I felt greatly honored that my three student’s family would trust me with their students.  While I realize that these three young people will soon be going off to college, as they are high school seniors, this is just the their first taste.
I think we are all excited about what we will learn and bring back to our schools and our communities.  I wish there had been a program like this when I was a student as I truly never thought outside California. I thought why should I?  This question will be a reoccurring theme throughout my stay on the east coast. I will also try and look at this trip not only as a parent and counselor, but also question why Ivy League Universities and Colleges might make sense for your student.  Picking the right school and the right fit is a very important decision that many of us leave up to fate and where a student submits their applications.  Some of you maybe unaware of the Common Application used by Ivy League Universities;  I will also be passing along any tips that I learn along the way. 
Each student must ask their counselor for a letter of recommendation as well as two teachers.  These recommendations will be sent though email.  Your student asked their recommenders for their email address and then places them in their Common Application and then the recommender is sent a online recommendation to fill out.  Please be aware that when your student starts their application each college is aware, as well as when they submit and send the recommendations to the counselors/ teachers.  Waiting to the last minute is not a good idea.  You make think this is a simple form to fill out.  It is not.  Last year I filled out 14, common application recommendations, while there is a part to check, it requires a full letter of rec. to be uploaded, and if I do not have good information about your student then this becomes very difficult.  I also must upload a PDF copy of the transcript.  This is done more than once, at each quarter and at year end for your student. 

While this may appear to be a negative it really is no harder than a UC application.  If just requires your student to do a little more leg work. I also reccomend that your student give a resume or information to each so that they can write a really good letter.  If they are apply for scholarships they will need letters for this as well.  

I have had the pleasure to talk to a number of students that I done these trips in the past and all say that a college education at an Ivy League school is well worth it.

University of Pennsylvania-The Love

Campus tour of the Univeristy of Pennsylvania and Informational Session, 7/22/2011
My wrist and the ground of the UPenn football stadium. 

I found every informational session that I have attended useful on a number of levels.  From being a parents, chaperon, to a high school counselor.  As a parent my concerns are will my child be safe and welcome on the campus that they choose?  I was very impressed with the security measures on the every campus that we have visited.  You can not just walk up to any of the buildings and enter you must have a student ID to enter.  I also am pleased that the Ivy league school's have an amazing way of looking at financial aid.  They help families by significantly reducing what a parent must contribute towards their students education financially. As a parent I worry about how am I going to pay for my childs education.  One of the truly amazing parts is that the people who have the lowest income benifit from the Ivy league school's financial aid  the most.  

We have also spent some time with students from WCCUSD who are attending the University of Penn summer program.  As a parent it has been wonderful to see that they feel comfortable here and that they are enjoying their course work.  I can't believe that these young people have been given this amazing opportunity to blossom and grow at no expense to them or their family.  Pretty amazing that a public school can make this type of program happen.  It shows me people we need more people like Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Gosney, who really believe in the young people of West Contra Costa Unified School district.  They want our students to grow and expand their horzon's beyond the small boundries of West Contra Costa.          
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell