Wednesday, March 23, 2011

College Admissions Season

I’ve recently finished three books on the college admissions process.

• Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins

• Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges and Find Themselves by David Marcus

• The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg

Recommended by friend an all around college info know it all Susan Stewart, these three, along with the just released Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College, by Andrew Ferguson, document the perplexing process of getting a high school student prepared, and then admitted, into the best college for that student.

Here are the ten takeaways I have from this intensive prep class.

For the student:

Take the most rigorous courses your school has to offer, and do exceedingly well in those courses.

Don’t just be active. Be active as a leader in your clubs, teams, and activities.

Don’t screw up.

Write well.

Be witty.

Follow instructions on the application and essays

Get great recommendations from your teachers

SATs and ACTs matter, but they are far from the only part of you that schools evaluate.

Know the schools to which you’re applying, and how they will impact you, and you will impact them.

Apply early, early action or early decision if you can.

Visit your final choices so that you literally get a feel for the place.

For the parent:

Be an alumnus of a fancy school

Come from a geographically underrepresented part of the country for your child’s first choice school.

Prepare to spend a boatload of money on the process of just getting in

Have a spouse who provides your child with diversity, or, better yet, be a person of color yourself

Stay on top of your child’s progress with their applications

Help your child focus on the primary elements involved in selecting schools

Be supportive

Be realistic. Not everyone gets in to Stanford. Even those with 2400 scores.

Don’t be shy about inquiring about financial aid. Just be sure to complete the forms.

Once your child is accepted, selects their school, and ultimately goes off to college, let them grow up and begin to enjoy learning to become the person they are to be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disastrous Coverage

Covering a breaking news story that involves death and despair, following a natural disaster, is painfully difficult work.

But the reporter should never be the story.

The story should be the crisis. The impact on the effected community. The challenge the community faces in restoring itself, to regaining or even just attempting to reclaim what was lost.

In the now five year race by electronic journalists to out Anderson Cooper Anderson Cooper, Diane Sawyer seems to have outdone herself with her work on this evening's World News broadcast.

She was in the right place, on the ground reporting on this terrible situation in northern Japan. But her writing suggested the entire nation was deprived of essentials, the editing of her anchor piece melded days old footage with what a camera captured today, without a single reference to any sense of time, and she injected herself into virtually every frame of her piece, hardly a first for an anchor, but an unnecessary addition to each shot when the visuals for this story already speak with a clear and credible voice.

Let's see some questions of authorities with regard to this horrific impending nuclear power situation, let's document the work being done by relief workers from the range of nations that have responded to the crisis, let's let those involved in the story tell us what they're doing. Just because the language isn't English, and the patterns and practices are not western, does not mean there are simple and earnest stories that can be told, and told for the cameras, sans the anchor prattle.

Perhaps it's just the rush of adrenalin that comes with being on the scene of a situation like this. So let's see how Sawyer follows up during her time on the ground, and let's see if her focus and treatment do not devolve into worn words and hyperbole.