Studying Abroad

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

 

The U.C. deadline has passed and the Common App is looming.  While there are many reasons students apply to private schools (smaller class size, specific major, campus location, etc.) one reason that you may have overlooked is their study abroad program.  My biggest regret from my time at UCLA was not studying abroad.  Honestly, I didn’t even consider spending a semester in Europe or Asia because I thought everything I needed was in the city of angels.  I was an aspiring writer working at FOX studios as a production assistant (mostly reading bad scripts and making bad coffee) and thought that L.A. was already more than enough inspiration.  

 

Now that I’m 37 and have fifteen years of teaching under my belt, I covet every vacation so that I can go out and experience something new in this vast and fascinating world.  The inspiration for my writing comes from my interaction with people and traveling to a foreign place is where my best dialogue is born.   Be it hanging out with musicians in a dive bar off Frenchman Street in New Orleans to see some true jazz or surviving a terrifying pedicab ride through the twisting alleys of New Delhi.  No matter the place, if it’s new, it’s inspiring.  

 

But the longest I’ve managed to visit any one place was a three week stint in Japan when I was 25.  And when I came home, all I wanted was one more week.  Studying abroad would have been one of the few times in my life that I would have been fully capable and encouraged to immerse myself in another culture.  As an adult, responsibilities like a mortgage and family and a career prevent most of us from truly living abroad.  A quick visit is all we can manage to fit in without a major life or career change.  

 

So this month I’ve linked to some great articles and lists on the top schools for studying abroad, no matter where you may want to go or study.  I didn’t always want to take advice from adults about my college choices when I was 17 but trust me when I say that opportunities like this don’t come along all that often once you enter the workforce so I hope you will at least make it a consideration as you apply to college.  Good luck and bon voyage!

 

The 50 Best Study Abroad Programs from Best College Reviews

 

http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/best-study-abroad-programs/

 

Best study abroad college rankings by U.S. News and World Report

 

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/study-abroad-programs

 

45 Top Colleges to Study Abroad by Best Choice Schools

 

http://www.bestchoiceschools.com/45-top-colleges-to-study-abroad/

 

A list of programs available for studying abroad though a California Community College

http://calabroad.org/ccc.html

Podcasts for the (Potential) College Student

With the semester wrapping up in many schools next month and the prospect of extended travel to check out college campuses over the upcoming holiday weekends, I wanted to focus on some infotainment for your ears.  These podcasts are some of my personal favorites and just might help you with your classes, could open you up to new majors like architecture and economics, and will keep you sharp while writing those personal statements.  And the best thing…they’re free!

I've used all of these in my own Advanced Placement Language Classes for different supplemental assignments and many students have said that the breadth of knowledge helped them on their AP essays.  

Click on the graphic to link to the podcasts website.

What's the truth behind some common everyday myths? How do pet psychics work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the Stuff You Should Know about everything from psychology to propellant in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com

Stephen Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature—from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. 

Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language.

NPR's weekly current events quiz. Have a laugh and test your news knowledge while figuring out what's real and what we've made up.  

How does an elite group of nine people shape everything from marriage and money, to safety and sex for an entire nation? Radiolab's first ever spin-off series, More Perfect,dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated inside hallowed halls affect lives far away from the bench.

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. With 80 million downloads, 99% Invisible is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

There's a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. Most of the stories are journalism, with an occasional comedy routine or essay.

Join Holly and Tracy as they bring you the greatest and strangest Stuff You Missed In History Class in this podcast by HowStuffWorks.com

Making a Plan to Pay for College

SATs, transcripts, college apps and statements, letters of rec, campus visits. With all of the chaos of applying for college sometimes we try to ignore or put off the idea of the cost of all this until after we do get accepted. Scholarships can help but with tuition on the rise, how much will that four year degree end up costing you?  And with more and more students continuing their education at graduate school and beyond, the potential cost can become daunting.  At times, it may even deter a student from pursuing a degree.  

This month The College Prep Camp will help you start to navigate these turbulent waters by looking at FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  

FAFSA is the place to start calculating how much college is going to cost so you can realistically start to plan for your degree.  First you want to check on the deadline for your state.  At the time I am writing this, October 12, 2016, the deadline for California for state financial aid programs is Marh 2, 2017 for the 2017-2018 school year.  The deadline for federal financial aid is June 30, 2018.  

The best place to start to wrap you head around the cost of a four year degree is by using the FAFSA College Scorecard.  

For example I searched for a Four Year English degrees in California and here you can see a sample of three schools.  

UC Davis has a much larger undergraduate population than Azusa or Occidental but costs nearly half as much per year.  On average a UC Davis English degree will cost about $62,000 with an average annual salary of $56,400.  An English degree will cost nearly $120,000 at the other two schools with a comparable annual salary but smaller class size may be worth the cost to you.  

Clicking on “View More Details” will show you a breakdown of costs, average SAT and ACT scores for incoming freshmen, the demographics of the student body, and much more.  

Once you’ve really looked at your financial obligations, it’s time to see just how much aid you can receive.  Interest rates do apply but at an average of 3.6% for undergraduate degrees, the rates are low enough that you can at least start to estimate how much that degree will cost you over the next ten years.  

It’s far too easy to ignore the cost of higher education but with all of the other steps you have taken getting prepared for college, it is best to be realistic and start making a plan now so that you have access to all that FAFSA has to offer you.  

 

College Application Timeline

It's September and deadlines will be here before you know it.  This month we break down College Board's College Application Timeline so that you don't spend your Christmas Break trying to complete the most important application of your life.

September--

Log-on to College Board and sign up for a complete college planning account, use their college search to narrow down your selection (at least four schools are recommended), register for the SAT, SAT subject tests, and ACT, and start talking to your counselor about fee waivers.  

Also, don't hesitate to go over your transcripts with a counselor right now.  Yes it's your senior year but if something has been overlooked or there is a chance to retake a class for a higher grade, get on that today while you still have the time.  Common App colleges will all be different but check out the UC Required 15 classes to get a good baseline.  

UC Required Classes

October--

Create a list that includes applications fees, deadlines, test dates, and your school's application processing deadline.  Download all college applications and forms.  Oftentimes Common App schools will have additional personal insight questions that can be time consuming and will take a considerable amount of thought.  Even if you just read the questions, your brain can start forming responses during the busy days ahead.  

If there are any colleges you still haven't visited, now is the time!  Go back and look at my BLOG post about visiting college campuses.  

November--

Now is the time to finish your applications.  Make a checklist for EACH school.  Applying to multiple schools can be complicated, even if they are all UCs or use the Common App.  Reach out to teachers, employers, and other influential adults NOW for letters of rec.  See my earlier BLOG about requesting letters too.  UCs don't currently require them but most scholarships will ask for two letters of rec.  The more time you give someone the write a letter, the happier they will be while they write it.  

College essays need to be done.  Don't put this off as it is, in my opinion, the most important part of the application because it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear your voice. This is also the time to ask your counselors to send in your transcripts.  They are not final but show the colleges what you intend to complete so make sure you keep your grades up your entire senior year!

December--

Don't wait to apply to Common App Schools!  Many of my students wrap up their UC applications and then lose steam and put off the Common App until after Christmas.  You already are in the zone of applying, don't make it that much harder on yourself by taking a mental break.  Push through and get them all done.

Now focus on financial aide.  Complete the FAFSA and search for scholarships.  Millions go unclaimed every year.  It doesn't matter how small the scholarship may be, it's FREE money and it all adds up.  

Visit College Board and check out the entire College Application Timeline.

College Application Timeline 

Bryan Starchman teaches personal insight writing for THE College Prep Camp.  He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.

Interview with a College Prep Camper

What Campers Have to Say About THE College Prep Camp

 

Eliza attended THE College Prep Camp during the summer of 2015 before her senior year.  I interviewed her after she had been accepted to the top college of her choice. 

Tell us a little about yourself.  Where you are from, what your academic path has been like up to now, what your passions are, what your future goals consist of.

My name is Eliza and I live just outside Yosemite National Park.  I am currently a valedictorian of the class of 2016 at Mariposa County High School.  Next year, I will be attending UCLA to study International Development Studies.  I have enjoyed studying three years of French, AP English Literature, and Drama.  I struggled with, but enjoyed AP Biology and AP AB Calculus.  I am most passionate about working with people, especially in different cultures in different areas around the world.  I am interested in foreign relations, especially in Nepal, India, Tibet, and the Middle East.  

How did you hear about THE College Prep Camp?

I heard about the College Prep Camp from a friend who attended the camp two years earlier and loved it.  

Describe two or three non-academic memories from camp that stand out to you.

I loved meeting new friends through my classes, and especially playing soccer and volleyball with them.  I also loved going to the Lake with everyone, swimming there, and watching a movie (“Inside Out”) on the lakeshore.  My favorite memory was the summer camp atmosphere.  

What was most beneficial to you about the Personal Statement or Personal Insight sessions?

Getting advice from an assortment of professionals as well as other campers about the quality of my writing and different ideas to add.  Constructive criticism was helpful.

Everyone was helpful and I had the opportunity for many people to edit my work.  Other campers especially were so nice about my writing and I wish I could have gotten even more criticism to truly make my writing better.  It was really nice to be able to discuss an idea with a staff member and begin to develop and outline my writing before I wrote.  For me, talking with others sparks inspiration and more ideas.  

Describe Pinecrest and the atmosphere of the camp out in nature.

I absolutely loved the atmosphere.  I love the mountains and atmosphere of summer camp.  It seems to make you leave all your troubles at home and be able to focus. I also think the temperature was perfect.  

What would you tell a student who was thinking about maybe coming to our camp?  Why is it beneficial?

I know almost everyone has been victim to procrastination and the camp really gets your brain thinking about college.  It also gives you a support system; e-mails, phone numbers, and other contacts you can use to reach out for help in the process.  In the process of writing on my own, I continually remembered tips I had learned at camp that helped me out.  If you write your essays at the camp, get them edited all you can.

Where have you been accepted and where do you plan to study next year?  What field?

I was accepted to UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, Lewis & Clark College, Penn State, American University - DC, and George Washington College - DC.  I was waitlisted at Princeton, Bowdoin, Boston College, Pitzer, Middlebury, and Wesleyan.  I will be attending UCLA in the fall to study International Development Studies. I hope to minor and/or study Cultural Anthropology, Language, or Epidemics and Public Health, Conservation Biology, in addition to IDS.

 

 

 

Serving Your Community This Summer

As I write this, most of you are still preparing for finals or have just wrapped up your junior year.  Summer is calling and college applications are the last thing on your mind.  But with eight weeks of freedom there is plenty of time to dedicate a few hours a week to helping out your local community.  

The University of California website states that:

“UC does not have a community service requirement. However, experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service, may be considered by the campuses in the comprehensive review of a student's application.”

When working with students who are writing their Personal Insights at THE College Prep Camp, I’ve found that students either have a specific story they want to tell or they are completely at a loss.  With those that are stuck, we start to brainstorm by discussing their transcripts and extra curricular activities.  Usually something jumps out that they can write about but oftentimes a strong academic student does not have very many “off campus” experiences to pull from.  

By volunteering in your community, even during the summer before your senior year, you won’t just be giving back to your community but you’ll also invest in programs that can inspire your Personal Insights and maybe even influence your future career.  Below are ten ideas for getting involved in your community.

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*http://www.operationgratitude.com/

“Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene products,  handmade items, plus personal letters of appreciation to New Recruits, Veterans, First Responders, individually-named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas, Wounded Heroes and their caregivers.”

Located in Chatsworth, CA volunteers can work onsite or visit the website to organize their own collection drive from anywhere in the country.  For specifics on how, visit https://opgrat.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/how-to-organize-a-collection-drive/

*https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns

This website is great for sparking ideas for Community Service campaigns that you can start in your community.  Ideas range from clothes drives to flagging ivory items for sale online to diabetes awareness walks.  With so many ideas, this is a great place to start if you want to find a way to promote a cause that is already important to you.

*http://www.projectlinus.org/

If you enjoy sewing either on your own or with extended family, Project Linus is a great way to use your skill to give back.  

From their website:

“Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers.’”

*http://relay.acsevents.org/

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program has spread across the world raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer.  Chances are, there is a Relay for Life near you that you can get involved with.  Check out their website to see how you can get involved and how you can even organize a Relay for Life if an event is not currently scheduled in your area.

*https://www.covenanthouse.org/Learn-more-about-Sleep-Out

Help raise awareness about homeless youth by staging a Sleep Out.

From their website:

“...an opportunity for young adults to spend time together immersing themselves in some of the problems that homeless teens face every day and to be part of the solution to these problems. A Sleep Out event can be held anywhere in the world, with just a few kids participating or with hundreds of people sleeping outside for one night in solidarity with homeless youth. The structure of this event is similar to a dance marathon or team relay program with fundraising and awareness at the forefront.”

*http://outreachprogram.org/

Another great program that you can be a part of from anywhere in the world and help end hunger.

From their website:

“The Outreach Program Meal Packaging Events bring people, organizations, and businesses together to package meals and promote the county Hunger Space. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers come away educated, engaged, and empowered.”

*http://www.aspca.org/take-action/volunteer

Volunteer with animals.  Not just limited to ASPCA, there are many opportunities to work with animals in most communities.  Talk to your local veterinarian or your Ag teacher to find out how you can get involved.

*https://bestbuddies.org/

From their website:

“Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities). For individuals within this community, Best Buddies helps them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communications skills, and feel valued by society.”

Best Buddies has volunteer opportunities in all 50 states and also has tips for becoming an advocate for people with IDD through the use of social media.

*http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/signup/aboutmealsonwheels

One of the most widespread nonprofits in America, there is an excellent chance that a local chapter of Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers.

From their website:

“At the core of the Meals on Wheels service is a nutritious meal, companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of our seniors. For those who have trouble getting around, we bring the service to you. For those who can still venture out into their communities, we serve in gathering places, such as senior centers and community facilities.”

*http://www.shareinafrica.org/

A nonprofit started by a fifteen year old girl, Share in Africa provides thousands of girls in Africa with books and school supplies.

From their website:

“SHARE has provided thousands of African girls with books, new desks, desperately needed school supplies, study programs and access to advanced education. These girls are overcoming prejudice, gaining skills, and working toward brighter futures.  Now, our main focus is providing scholarships so girls can attend high school. We know there is no limit to what a girl can do with a quality education. Our motto: ‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.’”

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By getting involved, you won’t just earn community service hours and inspire ideas for your Personal Insights.  I’ve met many students who changed their career goals to medicine, veterinary science, sociology, or teaching after just a few months of volunteering.  By facilitating change in the real world, you may reveal a passion for something new that you’ll want to pursue far beyond this summer.

None of the organizations listed above in anyway affiliated with THE College Prep Camp.
Bryan Starchman teaches personal insight writing for THE College Prep Camp.  He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.

Virtual Campus Tours: The Future is Now

In an earlier blog post, I highly recommended spending time on your chosen college campus before dedicating at least four years of your life to pursuing an undergraduate degree.  Too often I’ve had former students think that a certain college was their “dream school” only to begin the process of transferring by the end of their first semester.  Of course a weekend on campus won’t insure that a college is a perfect fit, but at least it will give you a feel for what that institution has to offer you.  

But what about before you even apply?  Most of my students don’t even know where to begin.  With over 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, I can’t blame them for feeling overwhelmed.  And with the average college application costing $41, most of my students only apply to around five schools. 

There is no way to physically tour more than a few prospective college campuses during your junior year, but recently I explored over a dozen campuses virtually.  This is not science fiction and I didn’t receive an early version of the oculus rift...but it is still pretty cool.  

CampusTours.com allows anyone to search colleges based on name or location and then “walk” around the campus using a variety of applications.  Of course I started with my alma mater UCLA and was offered 13 in-depth videos on everything from “Residential Life” to “The UCLA Undergraduate Experience”.  The virtual tour took me into the quad where I had a 360 degree view featuring Royce Hall and Powell Library.  Clicking on the interactive map I was able to virtually tour the UCLA law school and resident halls.  A quick fact sheet presented the campus demographics, enrollment costs, admission requirements, majors, and even the admission fee ($70).

In ten minutes, I “walked” the entire campus (much faster than I was able to even bike it back in my prime).  And CampusTours.com has thousands of schools to choose from.  Going into the advanced search settings I was able to narrow my search based on undergraduate population, cost, what sports programs they offered, and specific major.  A quick search of colleges offering a bachelor's degree in anthropology in Colorado brought up ten schools I could virtually tour.  Enrollment under 5,000 narrowed my search to three schools.  

I’ve never been to Colorado, but from the comfort of my office I took a walk around the University of Colorado in Denver, and liked what I saw. (Application fee: $50)

So take a half an hour and tour campuses across the country based on what you are specifically looking for in a university or college.  Or, maybe you’ll discover a major that you didn’t even know was offered and go from there.  Either way, this website offers students a free way to virtually  explore campuses as they start to decide where they want to apply.

 

Campustours.com is not a sponsor of THE College Prep Camp.

Bryan Starchman teaches personal statement writing for THE College Prep Camp.  He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.

 

The NEW UC Personal Insight Questions: We are here to help!

Just in the past couple of weeks, University of California has announced new prompts for the Personal Insight or Personal Statement section of their college application.  Incoming freshmen had been limited to answering the same two prompts but now you will answer a total of four prompts and have eight to choose from.

 

 

 

****CLICK HERE to see the new prompts***

 

For most of your high school careers, your teachers have focused on academic writing that breaks down the deeper meanings of literature or examines a scientific hypothesis.  For years you’ve been taught NOT to write using the personal “I”.  But then when you are faced with writing what may arguably be the most important essay to date of your academic career, every college wants to hear your voice.   

This may seem daunting, but the personal statement for any college (be it a UC, a college that accepts the common application, or a college with its own prompt) is your chance to really stand out from the thousands of other applicants.  You have unique attributes that will enrich any college campus and instead of feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of having to write a personal statement, the instructors at THE College Prep Camp will show you just how exciting it can be to get to write all about YOU.  

These eight new prompts are more nuanced and specific.  They ask questions about your talents, aspirations, and experiences as a young adult.  They turn your static and flat digital application of official high school transcripts into a multifaceted dynamic insight into who you are as an individual and what you will bring to a college campus.  They help the college admissions officer to picture who you really are and how you will add to the culture of their campus.  

Arguably, the personal statement is the most important part of your college application because it is exactly that: personal.  You are an individual.  Embrace this chance to tell the college all that you have to offer.  And don’t worry, while most students are apprehensive about writing about themselves, THE College Prep Camp has instructors who are actual college admissions officers, award winning AP Language teachers, and highly trained consultants who have helped guide hundreds of students through this process from first drafts to polished final essays over the course of a single five day camp.  

I worked with one young man this year who went from staring at a blank screen back in August, intimidated and panicked by the prospect of writing about himself but in the end he submitted some of the most powerful personal statements I’ve ever read.  Together we worked through the prompts for both public and private schools and as of this BLOG post he has been accepted to Vanderbilt, Clemson, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago.  We have yet to receive a single rejection letter. 


Come join us at THE College Prep Camp and you too will leave with powerful, personal, and polished statements.

Bryan Starchman teaches personal statement writing for THE College Prep Camp.  He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.

Visiting College Campuses

I did not plan on attending UCLA.  I had no interest in living in a large city, surrounded by pollution and crime, lost in a sea of people and traffic.  My parents insisted on taking me to the campus before driving up the coast to check out my chosen school: UC Santa Barbara.  I told them they were wasting their time and while I had friends who had not been accepted to UCLA and couldn’t believe that I was passing up the chance to live in “the city of angels”, I knew that it was not the college for me.  

 

But then we pulled off the freeway and headed into Westwood.  This was not the Los Angeles that I knew from T.V. car chases and blockbuster action movies.  This Los Angeles had trees...and people riding bikes...and the quad looked like the Ivy League Colleges my cousins attended on the East Coast.  We took a campus tour, led by a current English Literature undergrad, and I was hooked.  We never drove up the coast to UC Santa Barbara because I had fallen in love with UCLA.

 

Every year I have students who blindly apply to dozens of schools based on everything from location, to majors offered, to the mascot.  And every year I have former students who contact me for an updated letter of recommendation because they are transferring to a new school because they hate their current college.  It’s not what the expected.  It’s too big.  Too small.  It just isn’t the right “fit”.  But before I’ll agree to write them a new letter of rec, I ask them if they’ve gone and visited their chosen transfer school.  

 

Too often students complain that they either don’t have enough time or it’s too expensive to visit college campuses.  So I encourage students to start to explore colleges during their junior year, before they have been accepted, so that they have the time to visit schools that may be close by.  I advise students to organize trips where they can visit multiple campuses and oftentimes families will travel together, sharing expenses as they travel around the state.

 

It is unreasonable to expect a student to travel to multiple out of state colleges, but if I have a student who gets accepted to Princeton and they are convinced that Princeton is their first choice, I would argue that it would be well worth the investment to fly out to New Jersey and spend at least a day on campus.  According to collegecalc.org the annual total cost in 2014/2015 for a freshman at Princeton was $56,490.  The potential investment of over $200,000 and four years of a student’s life is huge, but I have had students choose to go to schools at a similar price point only to find within the first week that they are miserable.  

 

Of course a single day will never reveal all the facets of your chosen school and you may still transfer or change majors as you discover what interests you.  And that is part of  growing and learning.  It’s part of the college experience and while it is terrifying, it is also exhilarating.  We make thousands of choices a day but over the course of your life, how many decisions have you made that will potentially affect you for the next four years?  I’m sure UCSB would have been a good fit too, but I wouldn’t trade my four years at UCLA for anything.   If I’d never set foot on the UCLA campus, who knows where my education, and my life,  would have led.

Bryan Starchman teaches personal statement writing for THE College Prep Camp.  He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.

Requesting a Letter of Rec

Requesting a Letter of Rec

Some schools require them, some may request them, but eventually during your college application process chances are you’re going to need two letters of recommendation.  But where do you begin?  How do you ask your favorite teacher or coach to write all about you?  What do you ask them to write?  What are colleges looking for?

The reason schools ask for letters of recommendation is because they make you more “human”.  When applying for college, so much of your talents and accomplishments are just numbers on a piece of paper.  Combined with the personal statement, a strong letter of recommendation will show college admissions officers what you are like in person, how you interact with others, and will help to humanize you as the letter writers you select describe who you really are.

The most important thing to keep in mind when asking for a letter of recommendation is timing.  No matter how stellar of a student you may have been in your chemistry class, if you ask your teacher to write a letter of recommendation that is due the next day, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Your teacher is either going to be rushed writing the letter or may not be able to complete it at all.  Give your teachers and coaches at least two weeks notice to complete your letters of recommendation.

It’s also important to consider who you choose to write your letters.  Colleges look at all four years of your high school career but the key years they will be looking closest at as you apply for college are your sophomore and junior years.  You may be taking ceramics for the first time as a senior, and while you really enjoy the teacher, a letter from a core subject teacher you had during your sophomore or junior year will probably hold more weight.  Focus on teachers who have known you for more than a few months and also focus on teachers who represent your proposed major.  If you want to major in English and had a great experience in AP Literature your junior year, that would be an ideal teacher to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Make sure that you are choosing a teacher or coach who will give you a positive review.  If you ditched their class, got suspended, had issues with the teacher that remain unresolved, etc., you might not be happy with the recommendation that they write.  If you’re unsure, avoid asking that teacher or coach to write a letter for you.  Most teachers will be upfront if they don’t feel that they can write a favorable review of a student, but don’t take any chances.

Finally, make it as easy as possible for your teacher or coach to write a personal, specific, glowing letter of recommendation all about you.  Most adults don’t know how dynamic their students are because they only interact with them in one setting.  Click below for a complete questionnaire that I always ask students to fill out before they ask me to write a letter of recommendation.  As I write, I’m able to look over the student’s self evaluation and add information that I did not know about my student to help college admissions officers to “see” the student behind the application.

Letter of Recommendation Form

Welcome to THE College Prep Camp

THE College Prep Camp is the leader in getting high school juniors and seniors ready for the college application process.  By focusing on intensive sessions from 3-5 days led by award winning teachers, college admissions officers, and experts in test prep, THE College Prep Camp offers students that extra "edge" to get into their dream college.

Not sure what college you want to attend?  No problem!  Part of the fun of our camps is the college search where alumni, current college students, and instructors share their stories and give you time to find the college that is the best fit for you.

Seniors:  Complete your personal statements in small groups with 1 on 1 guidance from award winning AP English teachers and actual college admissions officers.

Juniors: Prepare for the SATs and ACTs, take a full practice test, and learn the strategies that will ensure your highest score from experts in test preparation.

But it wouldn't be camp without the great outdoors, campfires, skits, movie nights, and sleeping under the stars.  All of our programs include the fun you come to expect from a summer camp and allow you plenty of time to unwind, relax, make new friends, and reflect on the day. 

Take hold of your future and prepare NOW, not during the first semester of your Senior year when you don't have the time, the expertise, and the feedback to truly commit yourself to your college applications.