Archive for Making College Count Blog

The College Search Summer

High School graduations are in full swing.  Many of you probably have summer jobs, athletic camps or enrichment programs to participate in, which will keep you busy during the summer down time.  But whatever you do, don’t forget the college search!

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Lifeguard or Law Clerk?

How should you spend your summer break?

There are many factors you’ll need to consider to make the right choice as to how to best utilize your precious summer months. A good decision is critical as it can become a major advantage when you start to interview for your “real job” during your senior year.

Making the assumption that you’re going to attempt to make a few bucks over the break, you should consider your financial need as well as possible work options related to your field of study. You’ll also want to look at each potential job’s rate of pay, schedule requirements, work environment, and the opportunity for future employment it may provide.

Two good rules of thumb are: Read more

Even the Worst Job Can Help With Success After College

What’s the worst possible job? Waiting tables in a smoky dive? Sweeping floors in a loud, dirty factory? Gutting hogs in a slaughterhouse? There are plenty of candidates for this dubious distinction.

Sad but true, summer jobs are notoriously rotten. Unless you’ve had the foresight and good fortune to line up a good paying summer job in your chosen field, you may be dreading the approaching summer job grind. But for many students, a summer job is a financial necessity, even if the job itself is less than perfect.

Like everything else in life, a summer job is what you make of it. You can get much more than a paycheck out of any job, even on the assembly line. Every job provides opportunities to exhibit how driven you are (Effort), how well you along with the customers and co-workers (Group Skills), and how you can solve problems with the initiative and innovative ideas (Entrepreneurship). These three Winning Characteristics are important attributes that future employers will seek and reward. Read more

College Success – The Interview Question

Preparing for Letters of Recommendation

Many graduate schools and jobs require letters of recommendation before they will seriously consider you as a candidate for admission, scholarships or employment. A great letter of recommendation can really make the difference. Conversely, a poor letter can also make a negative difference. So in order to get the best letter possible, you need to do a little work first.

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Appealing to Tired Eyes

Here’s a college tip: If you have the chance to work for a professor during your academic career, go for it. Professors are a great source of knowledge, professional contacts, and career help.

And you’ll also learn a big lesson about test-taking. Read more

Graduate School is a Job

 

If you’re planning to go to grad school, you may get a chuckle at all your friends working so hard to prepare themselves for the job market. Fortunately, you don’t have to be bothered with such trivialities for many years – you’re going to grad school.

 

Well, guess what? Graduate school is a job.

 

While there are many obvious differences (especially financial) between taking a full-time job and attending grad school, the selection process is similar in many ways. It turns out that the same characteristics that would make you a desirable candidate for a job are valued by graduate programs as well.

 

If you are planning to apply to a graduate program, you may want to check out an application well before (like a couple years before) you actually apply. Although you might expect a master’s program in history to be most interested in your academic background, especially in history courses, you’ll see the program’s application also asks about your extracurricular and work experiences. And if an interview is required, the discussion will definitely go well beyond your grades.

 

Keep in mind that graduate programs are often very selective, so they can look not just for strong students, but strong students who are well-rounded and who will add to the character of the program in other ways. Many graduate programs involve teaching assistant responsibilities, favoring candidates who can demonstrate Leadership and Communication skills. And applied programs such as business schools accept very few students who have not worked for two or more years.

 

The bottom like is that whether you’re headed for the job market or on to more education, you will be evaluated against other talented candidates, and while an impressive GPA is a great qualification, it will rarely compensate for a lack of other activities or skills. Think of grad schools as a job, work on achieving college success and building your background accordingly, and you’ll greatly enhance your chances of being accepted.

Avoid the Dreaded Social Section

It’s not your fault, you’re only human. Humans are social creatures, naturally drawn to other humans for comfort, camaraderie, and amusement. So it’s only natural that you’re drawn to the social center of the library.

Every library has one. You know where it is. Everybody knows where it is, and that’s the problem. It’s the section of the library where you go to make sure you don’t miss anything. It’s the dreaded social section. Read more

Meet your Professor Face to Face

Yeah right. You’re going to give up a free hour to walk all the way across campus to talk to Professor Thickglasses during his office hours? Very funny.

If you could get students to be honest on this subject, you’d find that most fall somewhere between intimidated and afraid when it comes to attending office hours. And there are some reasonable explanations for these feelings. For starters, Professor Thickglasses is a national expert o the subject area and you know next to nothing about it.

Sure, it makes sense to be a bit intimidated, but it really makes a lot more sense to tromp across campus and take advantage of the opportunity that office hours presents. There are many good reasons to visit old Thickglasses. First of all, he can help you better understand the class material. Swing by, introduce yourself, and ask a couple questions, before you’re totally lost. Professors teach because they enjoy sharing their knowledge. A sincere question from you shows interest and initiative, not ignorance.

Beyond clearing up academic issues, you can also develop a positive relationship with your instructor. Yes, professors have been scientifically proven to be actual human beings. Even those who are not dynamic in the classroom can be pretty darn interesting on a face-to-face basis. Getting to know a prof can have other significant benefits. First off, you may earn yourself a bit of “benefit of the doubt.” Thickglasses might be more inclined to toss you an extra point or two if your grade is on the border between A and B.

Maybe more importantly, professors have great connections and contacts. Many act as as consultants in their off-time. Thickglasses may be able to steer you to a former student, client or colleague who could help you find a job, internship or research position. If nothing else, you can always use a solid letter of recommendation.

Go ahead. Go see Thickglasses.

Does College Choice Affect College Success?

Senior year of high school is supposed to be fun, and it will be, but you are probably thinking about college too. The decision is not looming yet, but it is on your radar. You know you have to get applications done before winter break, but you wonder if your choice of where to apply (and ultimately attend) will affect your success in college.

Of course, your college choice will affect your college success, but maybe not in the ways you would think. If you want to be a meteorologist and the school that you go to does not have one class in meteorology, then that is a problem. You set a goal as defining college success as setting up yourself for a career in meteorology, but no matter what your grades or extracurricular activities look like, you are hurting yourself in terms of your long-term career goals. But generally, it does not matter where you go, but rather what you do while you are there (and I would even add what you do with your degree when you get out).

I know it is easier said than done, but many who have gone before you have done it and so can you. Take some time to evaluate what you want out of college and make a list of those criteria. Don’t apply to schools that won’t allow you to meet those goals for a college environment, even if that means you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have to go to different schools. You may even have to sit down with your parents and explain that you cannot go to the school they would choose for you because it is your choice and you need to be happy with it.

If you work hard and follow the advice in “Making College Count” you can achieve college success wherever you choose to go. And there are successful graduates from every college in the nation. So the pressure is off—make your list and fill out your applications. No matter where you go, whether a big state school or a small private school, you can achieve college success!