Questions and Answers with Career Experts Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What is one secret to college admission that you share with students but that may not be widely known?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Many students say that the admission process is a mystery. They send off their applications and several months later receive either the coveted acceptance letter or hated denial letter in the mail. They wonder who the dark figures hiding in the shadows are who read their applications.
The truth is that they are real people. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, former English majors who love to read, alumni who love their colleges, and educators. And perhaps even more surprising is that they are not your critics who take evil pleasure in denying you. Admission officers are actually rooting for you, looking for reasons to admit you.
Of course the reality is that colleges cannot accept all applicants, but for the most part admission officers approach the applications they receive positively. They review all of the pieces of the application, building a complete picture of who you are from your academic record to the passions you describe in your essays to what others say about you in recommendations. While your academic fit with the college is the most important, admission officers also seek to find your personal fit with the college as well. Will you thrive on the campus? Will you be challenged? Will you contribute to the campus community?
The truth is that the great majority of admission officers enjoy the process, especially when they see the new students they have admitted on campus. Help them by giving them reasons to admit you. Don’t be afraid of showing them who you really are and what is important to you.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What are the most important factors in choosing a college?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| One of the best ways to select a college is to ask yourself questions so that you can determine your priorities. While there are a lot of important questions you can ask, we feel three are the most essential:
First, will the college equip you with the knowledge and experience you need for the future? If you have some career direction, will the college provide you with the education you need to enter that field? As an example, students who plan to become journalists will want to attend a college with a strong journalism, communications or English program and that offer support to find internships in the field.
Second, will the college help you to continue growing? Will the class and campus environment challenge you, introduce you to new experiences, and foster the development of your personal ideologies?
Lastly, will the college fit your needs on a social and personal level? It’s important that you find the best match academically, but it’s also important that you fit in the social scene and enjoy yourself. You can only spend so much time in the library. College is a time for living.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||To what extent should students incorporate career planning into their decision about what college or grad school to attend?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Reaching your career goals is like taking a train. It may be a direct route to your goal. You may be a pre-medicine major in college, attend medical school, and become a doctor. Or, as is the case for many students, it may be a less direct route with connections in between. You may gain experience in several careers before selecting the one that fits the best. And your final destination can be very different from what you expected it to be.
Ideally, your career goals should play a role in your college or graduate school choice. You will want to find the college or graduate school that offers the best preparation for your career. The better idea you have of your career goals, the more clearly you can determine how well a school fits them. It’s important to speak with those who are in the field now to get their advice and to speak with students and professors at the school to understand what the college or graduate school offers to help you attain your goals. Know the courses that are offered, the approach to learning, and the support that is provided for finding internships and jobs.
If you are not sure what you want to do, try to select a school that offers strong programs in the subjects in which you excel. In any case, be ready for and even welcome changes to your plan along the way.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What is the biggest “reality check” students face once they are in college? What surprises them most?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||When we were in high school we learned a lot of facts. From American history to biology to geometry, we learned what year the Declaration of Independence was signed, how photosynthesis worked and how to compute the area of a trapezoid. One of the biggest differences between high school and college is that in college you are required not only to know the facts but to apply the facts to support your opinions. You will debate your classmates, write papers that support a particular position, and take final exams that test your interpretation of the big picture. It’s not enough to memorize the facts. You need to interpret, manipulate and draw your own conclusions. This difference is perhaps one of the things that surprises as well as excites students the most when they start college.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most exciting or hopeful trend in college admission?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| When students sit down to take the SAT, many of them think that their scores will make or break their chances of getting into college. And while colleges are primarily concerned that students are able to handle the academic courseload, they are widening their evaluation of students beyond grades and test scores.
This is a recent trend that we view positively. Even some of the largest public institutions in the country that receive tens of thousands of applications are moving to give greater weight to students’ essays, extracurricular activities and achievements, and recommendation letters.
For you this de-emphasis on grades and test scores means that if you don’t have a perfect academic record, your other achievements and the essay that you write will help you to get accepted. Share with the colleges your talents and abilities that are not easily reflected on your academic transcript. Ultimately, this trend is giving you much more control over the admission process.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the award-winning authors of Get Into Any College and Get Free Cash for College: Secrets to Winning Scholarships and the founders of the Web site SuperCollege.com. Together, they were accepted by every school to which they applied and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships. The husband and wife team write the nationally syndicated column, “Ask The SuperCollege.com Experts,” and have served as expert sources for respected publications including USA Today, the New York Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News. Contact them through their Website at <SuperCollege.com.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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