For College Admission Success, Mind Your Manners

You may be wondering how college admissions and manners could possibly be related. The connection is surprisingly clear. As you go through the college planning process, you’ll deal with adults who have some influence on your future. How you handle these encounters can make all the difference.

Frequently, the college admissions process seems quite impersonal, but there are many interactions with college representatives, admissions officers, alumni and high school teachers. This is where manners and appropriate behavior play a role.

Read on to find out the five areas of college admissions where manners do matter:

Teacher recommendations

Students usually ask high school teachers for college recommendations. Obviously, if teachers are asked to write a recommendation in the spring of your junior year, they have plenty of time to get this done during the summer. If, on the other hand, you wait until the recommendation is almost due, many teachers resent the rush and pressure to get the job done quickly. Teachers are busy people, and they’re doing you a favor. It’s important to thank them for taking the time to write you a letter. Don’t forget about your counselor, too.

Social media

Students don’t always use the best judgment on their Facebook pages or other networking sites. Before you apply to college, clean up anything that could jeopardize your opportunities for college acceptance. Colleges DO care what you post and show online. If it’s inappropriate, there’s a good possibility it will be noted on your college application. A surprising number of college admissions officers reported social media sites have had a negative impact on a student’s possibilities for college admission. Don’t take that chance. It’s poor manners to say things online that you might regret later.

Email and cellphones

It’s wise for students to have a separate email address for all college correspondence. Your current address might be cute but doesn’t convey the image you want to project to colleges. It’s also smart to review your cellphone message. College representatives will often contact students on their cellphones to set up interviews. Most college reps would like to know that they’ve reached the student for which the call was intended. If the college representative hears blaring music, he or she may not know whether to leave a message. You might miss an important opportunity to connect with someone from a school that interests you. Also, know how to answer a phone. When asked, “Is this Rob?” say, “Yes, this is he,” not “Yeah, this is him.” First impressions count.

College interviews

If you have a chance to interview with someone from a college or university, by all means do it. Dress appropriately, and be prepared with a few questions you would like to ask about the school. Arrive at the interview at least 10 minutes early. College officers are busy and can’t wait if you’re late. It’s important to meet your interviewer with a firm handshake. You should also maintain good eye contact throughout the interview. When you return home, it’s polite to send a thank-you note, not an email. Ask your interviewer for a business card so you know where to send the note. Show interest in the school and listen to what the interviewer has to say.

College visits

College admissions committees like to accept students who show an interest in their school. One of the best ways to do this is through a college visit. Call in advance to set up a tour, information session and possible interview. Avoid using your cellphone or texting while you are visiting a college campus. Pay attention to the guide, and don’t talk with other people during the tour. Colleges realize that you’re a teenager and don’t expect you to act like an adult all the time. However, they do want to know that you can demonstrate appropriate behavior and know how to conduct yourself, so keep in mind that manners are important for college admissions.

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College Students With Learning Disabilities – Critical Survival Skills

Are you a freshman college student with a learning disability? If so, you probably find yourself in need of a new, reliable support system. The general rule is that students with learning disabilities in college need approximately twice the support they received in high school.

In her 1991 study, Dr. Joan M. McGuire, Associate Director of the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability at the University of Connecticut, reports that many college-bound students with learning disabilities fail to understand the demands that they are about to encounter in the postsecondary setting. Thus, they end up overwhelmed by the quantity of material and speed of instruction. Likewise, many college students with LD lack the skills and strategies that are important for managing and monitoring learning in various milieus. In order to survive and succeed in college, students must have a well-devised plan which includes an arsenal of skills and strategies, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Far too many students with learning disabilities think that that if they are interested in college and motivated to learn, they will succeed. Unfortunately, interest and motivation are not enough. According to Robert A. Carman and W. Royce Adams, authors of Study Skills, A Student’s Guide to Survival (1984, 2nd edition), without proper training, a student cannot expect to succeed in college. Thousands of students in this cohort, however, actually think they can navigate college successfully despite their lack of basic skills in like reading, writing, and math.

Choosing appropriate courses and enrolling for classes can be thorns in the side of any student, but they are far more so for students with learning disorders. In order to not only survive, but thrive, in college, students must seek support they find vital. Here are tips that can help:

Within three years of beginning college, undergo the psychoeducational testing that colleges require for documentation of a disability.

Students should consult each college’s campus disability services office and ask what is needed to make them eligible for support services for a learning disability. Provide the necessary documentation – your school needs to know your strengths and weaknesses, so they can assess which accommodations and/or services you are likely to need. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and American Disabilities Act, students with learning disabilities are entitled to accommodations. It is the student’s duty, however to submit proper documentation and then request accommodations.

Take a balanced schedule.

When you are thinking about the classes in which to enroll, be sure to balance your demanding classes with those that are easier for you; this will ease your study burden.

Review the syllabus of each course.

In her book Survival Guide for College Students with ADD or LD, author Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph. D., advises students to review the syllabus for each course after the first day of class to see if they can do the assignments and whether the workload is realistic for them.

Take advantage of the add/drop period.

In the first weeks of the semester, you are allowed to drop classes and pick up others. If, after the first few meetings, you think a class is not suitable for you, drop it and choose another that suits you better.

Inform your professor privately of your disability.

This, of course, is a hurdle, for many students, even the most outgoing. Telling your professor about the accommodations you need makes him aware of your situation. Break the ice with your professor by introducing yourself, explaining your deficits, and explaining the support that you will need to be successful in class.

Attend ALL of your classes

Students who never suffered a setback by an absence in high school find that skipping a college class can quickly put them on a downward spiral. Material that took a year to learn in high school is taught in 15-week semesters in college. The pace is more than twice as fast, so students who do not attend class find that they’re quickly digging themselves a hole

Summing it all up, surviving and thriving in college with a learning disability is possible if you:

1. Develop and practice strategies and study skills that work for you

2. Establish a network of support

3. Attend class and participate in discussions and activities

4. Discuss your need for accommodations with your professors

5. Check your progress and know when things are going poorly

6. Ask for help if you think you’re falling behind

7. Establish a support network with your school’s support services, professors, friends, and family

Remember, your fate, both success or failure, rests completely in your hands! Never be afraid to divulge that you have LD to those you can help you. Exert your best effort, and you’ll likely triumph over the hurdles of college.

College May Be Pricey, But Not Priceless

Amid the seemingly constant news about rising college costs, one recent headline stood out. The colleges profiled did not boost their tuitions at all during the current academic year.

A report from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities profiled 24 private colleges that decided against increasing tuition in 2012-2013. Eight schools actually lowered tuition costs. Overall, net tuition – the amount students actually pay, which can be drastically different from sticker prices – is still projected to rise this school year. However, the projected median increase, 2.6 percent, is lower than the increases of previous years. (1)

Part of the change probably results from a demographic shift. The “echo boom,” during which birth rates temporarily rose as baby boomers had babies of their own, began to fizzle out around 18 years ago. As a result, in upcoming years there will be fewer potential college freshmen for schools to recruit. Nearly half of all universities already anticipate decreases in enrollment, according to a survey by Moody’s Investor Services. Lower demand ought to lead to lower prices.

Until recently, however, the traditional laws of supply and demand seemed to have nothing to do with college pricing. That, it seems, is also changing.

Young people and their parents have long behaved as though, when it comes to college, no spending amount is too large. But if we treat college as a purely financial investment, it’s quite easy to overspend. A 2008 analysis of the expected earnings of college graduates found that pricey, elite colleges rarely paid off compared to their less expensive peers. While private-school graduates did make more, it generally wasn’t enough to justify the additional tuition costs.

That doesn’t mean the extra money for smaller classes, state-of-the-art labs, or access to prominent faculty isn’t worth it; but it does mean students and their parents should look carefully at what they are getting. As parents are squeezed between supporting aging relatives and paying tuition for the next generation, and as college-bound high school seniors contemplate the idea of accumulating debt in the face of uncertain job prospects, both groups are increasingly focused on the bottom line. “Families are paying more attention to the relationship of cost, price and value than they did before,” John M. McCardell Jr., Vice-Chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, told The Washington Post. (1) His university, which is located in Tennessee, cut tuition in 2010.

Colleges, for their part, need to get used to the idea that they are delivering a product and that, if they want to keep their customers, they need to ensure they are offering a reasonable value. The tuition freezes are a sign that at least some of them are learning this lesson – though they may not be happy about it. In speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Donald Farish, the president of Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., lamented, “If we have become used-car lots, God help us all. But that seems like that is what is happening.” (2) Farish’s school is one of those that did not raise tuition this year.

Besides the question of costs per academic year, there are legitimate questions about how much academic training is actually necessary for particular professions. Pilot programs at New York University and other medical schools are starting to challenge the received wisdom that future doctors need four years in the classroom. By consolidating the curriculum, the programs have shaved a full year from some students’ training with no apparent adverse results. Some law schools have also acknowledged that their students could probably do just as well without so much study. But, because American Bar Association rules mandate that law schools offer three years of classes, law school reform efforts have focused on allowing students to get more out of their time, rather than letting them take away the same amount and leave school sooner.

Over the next decade or so, I expect the pressures for colleges to increase value will only rise. This will be especially true if we start to see much-needed reforms in accreditation standards that would allow for-profit, online and foreign-based schools to compete on an even field with the established players.

Of course, colleges cannot simply lower prices without making corresponding changes to their operations to cut costs. For some schools, consolidating campuses, or even merging currently separate institutions, might provide an answer. For other schools, the solution will lie in ending programs like university presses that cost money without adding to student education in any direct way. At most schools, cutting costs significantly will require changes that faculty and administrators will both find wrenching.

To the extent that colleges are already beginning to respond, at least in small ways, to market forces, it is not a moment too soon for college-bound students and their parents. The experiences of discovery that accompany college education may be priceless, but colleges themselves are not.

Sources:

1) The Washington Post, “More private colleges holding line on tuition”

2) The Wall Street Journal, “Pressure to Rein In Tuition Squeezes Colleges”

The Value of Internships to Recent College Graduates

Internships are an extremely important addition to a college student’s resume-arsenal. An internship can be paid or unpaid and can be a great opportunity to develop industry specific skills, gain real world work experience, test-drive a chosen career path, establish professional network connections and allow a recent college graduate to gain an advantage over their peers by developing character and professional development.

University graduates have spent 4 years learning vast amounts of information across a variety of subjects. They have narrowed their interests to a specific area and been instructed by the top professionals of their field. A veteran college student has learned how to perform certain duties and what will be expected of them as young professionals. An internship allows that same student to put their knowledge into real world application. By spending time in the work environment a student is given the opportunity to develop some quality portfolio additions and participate in events that students without an internship have no access to. College students who are interested in finding a quality internship should evaluate their career goals, and find an internship that can help them achieve those goals. Not all internships are paid, or are with well-known companies, but one should consider the long-term benefits of smaller organizations. At a smaller firm the intern is usually responsible for more duties, but this is an opportunity to DO more. While searching for an internship, a college student should approach employers rather than wait for them to find you. Most organizations have many different prospects for a single internship, but you will have to prove your worth before and after you are given a position.

Completing an internship allows a college student to test drive their chosen career path. Most recent graduates have never actually worked in their field of interest. Internships allow a young professional to experience the everyday life in their future career. The subtle etiquette of a work environment is a big change from campus life and the more experience a person gains the more at ease he or she will be when it comes time to apply for an professional jobs. Applicants that have spent time producing in an office can easily show their value. This value is apparent through quality portfolios, glowing recommendations and the confidence that can be gained through hard work at a paid or unpaid internship.

When planning for an internship it is best to consider the rest of your school load. Many students choose to complete their internships during the summer semesters when their course load is much less. Another method is to plan your internship around classes that are less strenuous on a student schedule. If you still choose to complete your internship during the spring or fall semesters I would suggest informing your professors and internship boss about your full schedule. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse, but instead, a notification that you will have adhere to a strict and regimented work schedule. Another tip, don’t fall behind. Murphy’s Law will ensure that you will inevitably have many deadlines coincide with each other. This problem is compounded to disastrous proportions when you are behind on school and work assignments. This creates a situation of sink or swim. A college student who is taking classes and completing an internship at the same time must reorganize and re-prioritize their life, or fail and waste all the time, money and effort it took to come this far.

Internships open the door for many networking opportunities. The old adage, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” applies to many job hunting situations. Take this for example; two recent graduates are looking for a job. Student A has superior grade scores, but has not professionally networked at all. Student B has average grade scores, but has spent countless hours participating in clubs, student organizations and volunteered their time in exchange for hands on experience. Student A has to put in applications everywhere in hope that someone will see the value in his or her resume, and mock portfolio. In the mean time, student B gets a phone call from a former internship colleague who has a position available. Student B has an advantage because he or she has already proven their worth to the prospective employer. This situation can work many number of ways, and the hirer doesn’t need to have actually worked with the applicant to see their value. Including these networked professionals as a reference can gain the same results. Interning students also have access to make quality mentors who are more than willing to share their knowledge with interested and worthy young minds. Mentoring opportunities can be found by being genuinely interested in the work being done, and in those who you are working with. Asking relevant questions and performing on task will earn respect from those you cross paths with while in the office. Then engaging those around you with intelligent conversation, but it is important to do more listening, than talking.

A college internship is a valuable source of work experience and portfolio additions. Including a professional internship on your resume is a good way to set yourself apart from other recent graduates. An employer automatically knows the prospective employee has been “battle tested” and will be able to perform basic office duties with practiced ease. This is more evident, in my opinion, with internships at smaller organizations. These internships allow the college student to take on more responsibilities rather than getting coffee and making copies at a larger, better known organizations. Nonprofits organizations and small companies are happy to employee interns. Their small budget makes them a perfect fit for a cheap or free intern. Another characteristic which helps these organizations match well to an internship program is their ability to allow an intern to experience a variety of working situations. These varied tasks enrich a college interns skill set, and professional portfolio.

There are facets to work experience other than job experience and fattening a portfolio. This opportunity to spend quality time in a professional office environment should not be taken lightly. This is an opportunity for a college student to communicate on a personal level with co-workers and superiors. Observing what these professionals actually do, and how they carry themselves is a great way for an intern to transcend from a learner, to a doer. This personal development is invaluable to a young professional. Confidence is gained when you a challenging task is completed through hard work and perseverance. The fact that an employer has entrusted a job of value to an untried worker should weigh heavily on the mind. Take the pressure and use it as motivation. Resist the urge to panic when the work gets tough and the deadlines become short, because this is distracting and can block professional creativity.

There are many codes of conduct that aren’t taught in a university classroom. Putting yourself in an office environment allows you to learn to coordinate your schedule with others. Things that seem petty, like lunch hours and off days should be scheduled with co-workers and supervisors in mind. Be available for the shifts that no one else wants, because a great impression is made if you make your co-workers and superior’s jobs easier. This keeps you from seeming self-entitled, and shows others in the office that you are here to be a helping hand instead of an obstacle.

College is perfect place to learn self-reliance and independence. An internship is a perfect place to put those qualities to use. During the college years, students mold their intellect. During an internship a student begins molding their characters. A good combination of the two can have a huge impact on the rest of your career. Procrastination during classes may get you through your lessons, but procrastinating in the real world will teach you a lesson! One must find the motivation necessary to focus on the job at hand. If a boss assigns a project then it must be a top priority. Hanging out every night, and then beginning a project one or two days before it’s due will get a passing grade in school, but to an employer, the lack of effort will show. Errors due to lack of preparation, research and proof reading are drastic when it comes to an internship because an honest manager will not give you a letter of recommendation that is undeserved.

Internships can be paid, or unpaid. The vast majority of them are unpaid, and for a reason. Employers see unpaid or low paying internships as a good way to ease the strains on a budget. The term unpaid can be misleading, though. Rewards gleaned while interning can come in the form of money and work experience. Both rewards have value and substance in the real world. Hands on conferences and training sessions can be expensive, and an intern is getting similar results for free. In order to devote the amount of time that is needed to be successful at an internship, sometimes it is necessary to quit all other jobs. Most college students, and recent graduates, are already struggling financially and this is often a sticky situation. If a paid internship can be found, then the previously mentioned burden can be avoided. Paid internships are rare and in a slow economy, highly competitive. Not to worry though, because studies show that unpaid internship tend to be more challenging, and therefore, more enriching.

In conclusion I would like to stress the importance of applying oneself to the tasks given while interning. Good opportunities don’t come along often in life. An internship is a good opportunity that can be very beneficial to one’s future career, but if not taken seriously, can greatly hinder a young professional’s entrance into the work world.