Work on you daily character and you can enter the school of your choice!
What is Character?
A dictionary definition of character is: "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual."
That is exactly what schools are looking for. They want to know you -- your mental and moral qualities. Many students get A+ grades and perfect or almost perfect test scores, but what about their distinctive mental and moral qualities--their character?
Most people accept moral values from people around them and never even think of building their own character. They also absorb mental qualities and habits by osmosis, by mimicking others, or go by whatever works in the moment. There is no technology out there that helps them build it. But that is about to change.
Angela Duckworth, is the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, a New York Times best seller, and Founder & CEO of the Character Lab. According to her, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that character strengths are as important as IQ and socioeconomic status to academic achievement and well-being. Although character strengths are known to be malleable, surprisingly little is known about how to cultivate them intentionally. The key word here is intentionally.
Prof. Duckworth categorizes three distinct clusters of character strengths. They are 'Strengths of Heart', 'Strengths of Mind', and 'Strengths of Will'.
Most people do not focus on working on their character. Yes, it is actually work. You might have heard of the phrase 'character building', but how do you do that?
How to Build your Character?
In order to build and strengthen your character, you have to know what to focus on. We will follow Angela Duckworth's clusters and discuss on how to work on your character.
1. Strengths of Heart
These are the "emotional" strengths. They help you relate in positive ways to events and people. Examples of this strength are expressing gratitude and having purpose.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful to opportunities, abundance, good fortune and kindness of other people.
Those who demonstrate gratitude—and those who don’t—see life differently. Individuals demonstrating gratitude tend to emphasize language related to gifts, blessings, fortune, and abundance. Individuals who don’t demonstrate gratitude, on the other hand, tend to focus on deprivation, deservingness, regrets, lack, need, scarcity, and loss.
How do you cultivate gratitude? According to psychologist Martin Seligman, if you write three good things that happened to you each night before going to bed, it will increase your happiness. It inculcates gratitude about the good things in life you already have. Try the exercise yourself and see what happens.
Parents: Write three good things that happened to you each day and share them with your teen. Sharing good things is a great way of building a bond with your family.
Teens: Try the exercise and share it with your family. I know you want to watch Youtube or be on Instagram/Snapchat, but take some time to share three good things with your family.
2. Strengths of Mind
These are the "intellectual" or “thinking” strengths. They enable a fertile and independent life of the mind.
Curiosity is a strong desire to learn or know something—a search for information for its own sake. It’s also about leaving your mind open to possibilities and being honest about what you do and don’t know. Curiosity is an important aspect of learning because it is a source of motivation.
Most kids are naturally curious. Unfortunately, by the time most children hit their teens, their curiosity diminishes and they become 'I know it all' types. This attitude stunts growth and achievement.
How can you flex your curiosity muscle? Yes, it is a muscle like anything else!
Teachers: Curiosity is contagious. If you are curious so will your students. Ask open ended questions, who, what, how, when and why. Don't just lecture or give facts. Try the following.
Teens: Be curious about things around you and not just Instagram or Snapchat. Ask your family to take a trip to a new place. Learn a new skill.
Zest—also referred to as vitality—is an approach to life that is filled with excitement and energy.
Zest is about exhibiting enthusiasm and feeling energized. But zest doesn’t need to be loud—a quiet, introverted artist can approach her latest project with zest, even if she is alone in her studio.
Most kids have enthusiasm for something. Unfortunately, as kids grow older, the zest for life often gets diminished because of negative feedback, fear of what others think, fear of failure, and pressure from peers and family.
How can you increase or maintain your zest?
Teachers: Did you know that zestful teachers are better at their jobs? Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, be zestful. Try these:
Teens: Actively participate in your classes, do more sport, sleep well, and be curious.
Guest post by Anna Salieva, a Hillview Prep student
If you’re planning on studying some form of an art major, you may be considering going to an art school. But is it really that much better? Both art schools and universities have their own advantages when it comes to studying your art major. Here’s what you need to know.
Many art schools don’t require you to submit your test scores and GPA, and instead evaluate you solely based on your talents. This may give you an advantage in getting in, if you feel like your skills greatly outweigh your academics. However, if you are a strong student all around, but may still want to show that off to your colleges.
Art schools have many more options when it comes to artistic majors. Whether you’re planning on majoring in animation or environmental design, without a doubt a school that specializes in art will give you many more fields of study to choose from, unlike a standard university, which will have a much smaller art department and only a handful of majors.
In an art school, everyone you know is an artist. Surrounded by like-minded people, it could be extremely easy for you to make friends, and what better place to get advice and inspiration than from the hundreds of other artists surrounding you every day of your life? Exchanging ideas and asking for help on your projects and portfolios is extremely. Not to mention the sense of spirit you feel around people who have the same passions and ideals.
However, there are many more benefits from going to a regular university.
Diversity: not everyone may be an artist, but so what? You are surrounded not just by painters and designers in your regular classes, but by scientists, mathematicians, engineers, writers, critics, historians, athletes. Having such a great diversity around you can help you not only in terms of inspiration, but life skills as well. Communicating and spending time with all kinds of people will fill up your internal reserve of ideas even more. Life is the best place to gain inspiration from, and such a great diversity can inspire you and give you even more ideas.
You get more options in terms of career. If you plan on taking a double major, a university can give you much more options in what you can study. If you’re planning on being an interface designer, computer science is a good major or minor to be interested in. If you want to be a writer and illustrate your own books, a double major or a major and minor combination of illustration and creative writing will definitely interest you. Art schools may have more options in terms of art, but a big university will have more options open for you in general.
Whether you choose an art school or a university to study in is up to you. Just know all the benefits of both and choose wisely.
Guest post by Anna Salieva, a Hillview Prep student
One of the biggest challenges you face in high school is applying for colleges. Yes, it’s exciting. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking to talk to your parents about it. The most important part to remember about this stressful time is to be smart about what colleges you’re applying to, and not simply doing what the people in your life want you to do.
Being smart about your college list means to understand where your chances are in getting into all of them. You should always have one or two backup colleges, just in case the worst case scenario happens, but make sure the colleges you pick for that position are ones you wouldn’t mind going to. If you’re picking backups for the sake of backups, you’re just going to be disappointed if you end up going to one of these schools. If the academic requirements are lower than what you are capable of, find other aspects of the college that you may enjoy. It may be their clubs, or their sports, or their campus, but if there’s something in that college that draws you in despite the low average GPA, apply to that one.
Being smart also means that your list is balanced. Having 90% of your picks be Ivies or other exclusive colleges will only lower your chances of getting into any of them. If you want to apply to an Ivy, do that, but most of your applications should be to schools that are at your level, or “target schools”. If your GPA matches their average, or is slightly below that, what you’re looking at is a target school. These schools will give you a good challenge when it comes to academics, but are less likely to burn you out than an Ivy is.
Visit your colleges. You may thing your first choice is the college of your dreams, but when you get into it, you realize that the dorms have no air conditioning. Now, this may not deter some people, but others will be very disappointed. Researching every aspect of college life is important when it comes to picking your college. And seeing the environment and the people that go there may greatly impact your decisions when it comes to picking it.
Finally, don’t let peer pressure influence your decisions. Talk to your parents about your college list, but don’t be a doormat at apply to only the colleges they want you to. Remember, it is your life you are deciding, not theirs. Do your best to strike a compromise if your idea and their idea of colleges are disagreeing. College applications are a stressful time to everyone, but getting support and encouragement from your family will greatly help you in the process.
How America Pays For College
Students and parents equally share responsibility for paying college costs
While scholarships and grants remained the number one source of funding, the contribution from students was the highest since 2011-12, and nearly equaled the contribution from parents.
Nearly half of families use scholarships for college
Students expect to step up when it's time to pay back
Amounts spent and attitudes vary across the country
Most families expect their child to go to college, but many don’t have a plan for paying
Not all B Students are the same. Some got 'B' grades because they did not have test taking skills and/or lacked precision in their concepts. If you are a bright student and deserve to get into a great school, how do you compensate for your B grades and get into a great school?
Your grades are the most important factor that colleges use when they determine whether or not to admit you. This is even true today when there is grade inflation and close to 50% of students are getting A grades! If you get a few B grades you are going to fall behind and may not get into the school of your choice. If you still have time before you submit your college applications, we recommend you focus on improving your grades and/or taking honor or AP classes. A student who got all B’s in regular classes is going to be a much less qualified applicant than a student who got B’s in honors and AP classes. The difference will be reflected in your weighted GPA, which is what most colleges use to assess your GPA for admission.
Given the intense competition—from all over the world—you have to treat your academics almost like a sport. Just like in the 100m dash, fractions of seconds matter; the same goes for your grades and test scores, and well, even your essays. Talk to a Hillview Prep advisor on how to select the best honors or AP classes for you to boost your weighted GPA.
Test Scores Matter
Given that close to 50% of students are getting A grades, your test scores are one key way to differentiate yourself. We recommend to take both and SAT and the ACT. This way you will have both bases covered as well as be able to differentiate yourself.
And yes, you can get a great score! Remember, the tests cover material that you have already studied. If you are struggling, it is either you are not strong conceptually or are making silly errors and not pacing yourself. Our Smart Scoring System can help you improve your scores dramatically by pinpointing, very quickly, where you are struggling, and how to use your strengths to conquer your weaknesses.
There is a raging debate in the country about the value of a college education. Partly, the rising cost of education has prompted this debate. The average cost for a public 4-year college degree is over $80,000 and for private ones are $180,000. The burden of paying for a college education, both for rich and for middle class families, has considerably increased over the past 30 years. Some families find themselves too wealthy to qualify for financial aid, but are too strapped to pay out-of-pocket for college education. This is how federal financial aid works since it is needs based. If you are in this situation, check out our blog that addresses this issue and provides a guide for action.
Plus, given globalization and the slow growth economy worldwide, competition for jobs have intensified. The rising cost of a college education increases debt levels for students, and they struggle to pay the debt for a long time.
How can we empower families to deal with the rising cost of college education? Weighing a college's value has been done using soft metrics like reputation, selectivity and alumni networks. This type of evaluation cedes all power to university admissions algorithms, committees and various pressure groups seeking favors. You may be rich enough to send your kid to the top colleges, but you are not the decision maker.
It's time to challenge the way we look at the college admissions process. We want to empower the students and their families with useful information about the value of their college education.
You are an excellent student. You got good grades, but you bombed the SAT. You are disappointed and still want to go to a top school. What do you do now? Here are some tips.
1. Take the ACT!
This is a no-brainer. If you have not taken the ACT, you must. It will enhance your chances of getting into an Ivy league school. Prepare for the ACT with the Hillview Prep's Smart Scoring System and get a great ACT score. The Smart Scoring Systems can quickly diagnose why you failed to obtain a great SAT score and help you pinpoint your weaknesses. Working with one of our tutors, you can use the Smart Scoring System to lean faster, test smarter and score higher.
According to Harvard, prior to the start of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI), fewer than 20,000 students applied for admission. This year, nearly 40,000 students applied to Harvard.
One big reason is the availability of financial aid by the HFAI. According to Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. “The majority of Harvard students receive need-based aid, and their families pay an average of only $12,000. Students are not required to take out loans.”
Since launching HFAI in 2005, Harvard has awarded nearly $1.6 billion in grants to undergraduates. Over that time, Harvard’s annual financial aid award budget has increased more than 114 percent, from $80 million in 2005 to more than $172 million in 2016.
College admission committees want to know who is getting into their college. It is just like anything else. You want to know who is coming to your house. Right?
GPAs and test scores helps them determine how well you are doing academically and the probability of how well you will do in college, but they also want to get to know you beyond that. They want to learn your character, your interests, like, how you spend your time outside of the classroom, how you would deal with a challenge, etc. They are interested in getting to know your personality and the life experiences you may have had up until this point. They also want to learn why you are interested in going to their college. They want to learn from your teachers or counselors their perspective on who you are as a student and human being. They can’t get all that information from numbers: GPA and test scores.
Admission to top colleges is ultra-competitive. They are many, many qualified students who are applying to top colleges—from all around the world. Colleges do not have spots for all of them. Many students have excellent grades and test scores—some perfect grades and test scores. So they have to use qualitative measures such as essays, projects and letters of recommendations to make distinctions among the many excellent candidates.
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
A perfect essay appeals to both systems. Here are two steps to write your perfect college essay.
Responsibility And Timeliness
Clark Brigger, executive director for undergraduate admissions, Penn State University, tells his kids, “Do not wait for the deadline to submit your applications.” Admissions officers see a huge spike in applications when the deadline comes around. That's when the procrastinators send their applications in. It is to your advantage to get ahead of the crowd, according to Brigger.
Think strategically. Thing about the poor admissions officer. She has to read thousands of applications. If you get yours in early, the reader may be more relaxed and in a better mood at that point in the process. You also show that you value their time and are responsible.
How do you determine the popularity of a school? According to US News there is a concept called, 'yield'. The yield is the percentage of students who enroll at the school after being admitted. A higher yield typically indicates a school's popularity and desirability in a student's eyes and is often associated with a "first-choice school," experts say.
“I am absolutely, unequivocally and categorically scared to enter the college admissions process. And chances are that if you are a rising high school senior, you are too. In the increasingly competitive milieu that is college admissions, no college is a “safe school.” Acceptance letters from dream schools couldn’t be more hard found, nor rejection letters more prevalent.”
Following is a list of students' concerns:
You put in the hard work and have the grades and SAT/ACT scores to get into your dream college. So do tens of thousands of students from all over the world! How do you stand out?
The admission committee decisions and their processes are not in your control. You cannot change them. But you can stand out and influence them by using your personal statement to shine and demonstrate the value you will bring to the college.
The key word is 'value'. It is not about your awesome grades and scores. That is a given and is used to filter out candidates. You have to figure out ways to stand out and get in. One way is take the subject SAT and demonstrate your interest in your field (assuming you know that). Another way is to write a great personal statement. We suggest you do both.
How do you communicate your value?
Noticing that nearly 150,000 edX learners (in 2014) were high school students, edX announced its high school initiative addressing the crucial need of college readiness gap.
Studies show that nearly 60 percent of first-year U.S. college students are unprepared for postsecondary studies. This readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness is costly not only to students, but also to families and institutions.
MOOCs are offering courses from top high schools, secondary schools and universities to help students prepare for Advanced Placement (AP®) Exams and CLEP® Exams, as well as introductory-level courses to help you get ahead of the game. Examples are edX specially designed courses and FutureLearn's special collection of courses targeted to help students prepare for university.
How can MOOCs help you?
Whether or not you’ll qualify for need-based aid is pretty much outside of your control. There are many factors, like your parents' income, competition, diversity policies of the college, etc.
You should however definitely file a FAFSA form. Worst case, you will get an 'unsubsidized loan', which means your loan is not interest free during your time in college, but at least you have something.
You have much more control over getting private scholarships and merit-based aid offered by colleges themselves. The real power lies in how you perform on standardized tests and, of course, your GPA. But just how valuable is your GPA and test scores when it comes to winning scholarships?
The early acceptance decisions have been made earlier this year than in previous years. And you got deferred from your first choice. What should you do? You may be disappointed to learn of the deferral, but you also gain time given the early acceptance decision was made earlier. If you were deferred from your “early” choice college and you still want to go there, do the following to increase your chances of admission in regular decision:
Given the escalating cost of college schooling, an increasing number of grandparents are pitching in to pay for college fees for his or her grandchildren. Given their flexibility, 529 plans are the top choice for grandparents. However, they can complicate a child’s chances of qualifying for financial aid.
The problem arises when students receive money from the 529 plan. That will appear as income in the student’s name, which must be reported on the FAFSA, which reduces the amount of financial aid. Note that FAFSA, the financial aid form that most colleges require when a student applies, is also required to be updated every year he or she is in school.
What if you are not a straight-A student? Can you get into a top college?
Following is a list of highly ranked colleges that would accept B students. Check the incoming student GPA and SAT scores. If you do not have a 4.0 GPA, we suggest to work on increasing your ACT and SAT scores. In fact, we suggest you should take both, and take the ACT before the SAT! And if your SAT scores are not you want, work with us to get a high ACT score.
1. The University of Alabama is the fastest-growing flagship in the country.
Enrollment hit 37,665 this fall, nearly a 58 percent increase over 2006. The average G.P.A. of entering freshmen is 3.66, up from 3.4 a decade ago, and the top quarter scored at least a 31 on the ACT, up from 27.
2. Enrollments from California are up 46 percent in six years.
“Stress in California,” said Kent Hopkins, vice president of enrollment management at A.S.U., “is definitely an advantage as we talk to California students and their parents.” One student turned down University of California, Berkeley, and canceled her Columbia University interview!
3. Alabama has invested $100M to lure students who do not qualify for federal financial aid.
The university is spending $100.6 million in merit aid, up from $8.3 million a decade ago and more than twice what it allocates to students with financial need. It also has hired an army of recruiters to put Bama on college lists of full-paying students who, a few years ago, might not have looked its way. The University of Alabama has 45 recruiters — 36 outside of Alabama.