Thursday, February 16, 2012

College Admissions Consulting Articles - One major can complement another


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:--

I read your last column about the stress students are under when they apply to college. I have another other issue: the stress of choosing a major.

I have a general idea that I want to study business or history, but no firm convictions either way. I may even decide on law school, but I want to wait until I am in college before I choose a career.

How important is it to decide on a major early on? My parents are worried that I might make the mistake of choosing a major that is unmarketable.

— Undecided

Dear Undecided:

— What is a marketable degree? The answer is in the eye of the beholder.

To choose history does not mean you are locked out of a business career. To choose business does not mean you must be a business person.

Either major will open doors to a whole range of career options. Law and medicine are attainable with either degree, as are other careers such as financial planner, teacher or the military.

Consider Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court as an example. He was a history major at Harvard College and went on to Harvard Law School. Roberts was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review, so, clearly, the writing skills he learned as a history major helped prepare him for law school.

Roberts graduated from La Lumiere School near LaPorte, a small Catholic boarding college-preparatory high school.

Conor S. Tochilin, the newly selected editor of the Harvard Law Review and a second-year law student, has a similar background. He graduated from Westminster School, a small Christian high school in Atlanta.

Tochilin started as a math and philosophy major, switched to history after reading Adam Smith and Karl Marx, and finally decided to major in economics and philosophy.

These two examples show that students can end up at the same place, but take different approaches to choosing a major. Roberts remained focused on history as an undergraduate; Tochilin needed to experiment with several fields before making a decision.

My professional suggestion is to deviate slightly from Roberts and pick a major that requires some math.

If that approach is not for you, I suggest taking at least a core of applied math classes, including statistics.

Math will sharpen your critical-thinking skills while giving you an edge on the competition if you decide to go to graduate or professional school.

Students excel on the GRE, LSAT and GMAT if they have a strong background in math.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - One major can complement another

Thursday, February 2, 2012

College Common Application Changes Coming

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: --

My older sister just completed her college applications, and had a really stressful time. She applied using the Common Application for most colleges and was in tears over the deadlines and the number of college essays she had to write.

She would have given up if it wasn’t for our parents helping out and keeping track of everything. It was the most stressful time of her life. My question is, what will I have to look forward to when I apply in 2013?

College Common Application Changes Coming

Dear Student: --

Many students say the college application process is the most stressful time in their lives. If you apply to 10 colleges, several dozen essays must be written — almost all having word limits and even some with character and space limits.

Pay close attention to the prompts, and approach each essay with extreme care. Each section of the application receives a score, and your success or failure could hinge on making just one mistake fewer than the other candidates.

Most colleges use the Common Application, which streamlines the process by allowing the 456 member colleges to share basic information about you. Name and address, test scores, extracurricular activities and primary essays have only to be entered once and the Common Application is sent to all the colleges on your list.

Most colleges also require that you fill out a supplemental application to the CA in an effort to individualize the admissions process for their school.

The whole process is demanding and, for many students, confusing. The stress factor goes up because you must complete all of this during the first semester of your senior year. The good news is, in 2013, there will be a big change in the CA. Known by its preliminary name as Common App 4.0, the new application should take some of the stress out of applying.

Applicants long have struggled with the quirks of the current form. The new CA will be easier to complete. For example, the application now displays all the questions in a particular section on a student’s computer screen — as many as several dozen at a time. Only a fraction of these questions may be relevant to the student. The new 4.0 will change the display so only one question at a time (or, at most, a handful) will be visible, and the particular answers to each will determine what subsequent questions will be asked.

Tablets such as iPads may not be supported, at least initially. But, as with the current version, students will be able to check the status of their applications on a cell phone or iPad.

The proposed changes should help make your experience a bit easier than your sister’s.

College Common Application Changes Coming