Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Science of Applying to Art and Music Schools

You think the personal essay is tough? Imagine what it's like to apply to an art school or conservatory. It means providing a portfolio or recordings or possibly auditioning. That sounds pretty scary to me.

Kids involved in the arts can talk to their counselors and arts/music teachers for tips. But if you are at sea about what might be requested, take a look at this collection of tips.

It's basic, but will get you and your teen thinking about college vs. conservatory, or art school vs. a college with a great fine arts department. And here are some additional points to remember about the arts application process, including my favorite: "Parents, take a chill pill."

That means in this gyrating and ugly economy, many parents want their kids to major in something practical, that will lead to a good job. And they fear that will not be the case with the arts. But, arts students are generally skilled at presenting and are accustomed to taking and acting on criticism.

So, applause for the arts!

Karen Horton blogs at Guidance

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting Your Head Around Those Applications

Ah, how to answer some critical questions on college applications.

Our teen isn't at this point yet, but here's Q&A that addresses some issues I hadn't thought of, from whether to indicate a major (yes, if you have one); does the student have to indicate the other schools being applied to (no); some hints on writing the Common App essay; and how to explain to a college that a student has learning disabilities.

So, though it's still summer, it's not too early to start thinking about these questions, and discussing the topic with your teens.

After all, everyone can think more clearly when not under the pressure of a deadline.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How Do They Do It? One School on Merit Scholarships

Here are some insights on how one head of admissions/financial aid gives out merit money.

This example represents just one school, the University of Rochester. But it may give us all a look at the process of apportioning largesse. Imagine this: Just for expressing serious interest through interviews, discussions with financial aid people, etc., can be worth $3000. Every "A" grade nets $62. Coming from outside New York State, well, that's good for $2,000.

So on days when we are all worried about money and portfolios, it's good to know that colleges may be looking out for our kids, and our purses.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Virginia's Struggle with In-State, Out-of-State Balance

Some states have what seems to be an enviable problem: colleges that kids from other states really want to attend. One of the most obvious examples is Virginia -- particularly the University of Virginia and William & Mary. A long time ago William & Mary rejected me. Sounds as if it would be no different today.

These schools are so popular that in-state families complain about the inability of their children to be accepted. And sometimes they blame the out-of-staters, as described here. A state legislator wants to put even greater restrictions on the numbers of accepted students from out of state.

It's a real problem. Here in New Jersey, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get into state colleges because the economy is forcing students who might normally have gone elsewhere to stay in their home state. We don't seem to have the influx that Virginia faces.

As easy as it is to understand the frustration of Virginians who see carpetbaggers coming in and taking their kids' spaces, it's also true that college should be a horizon-expanding experience -- and that would include gaining the viewpoints of students from all over the country, and the world.

What do you think? Should state schools be more restrictive when it comes to who's accepted?