College News: What is New?

College News: What is New?

Education expert Mark Fisher details the latest in college news.

Dr. Mark Fisher
Dr. Mark Fisher

Emails are a common occurrence daily. This writer’s important professional emails certainly focus on the college scene. While the articles are for my knowledge and for me to share with clients, some of the contents are worthwhile to share with AJT readers.

The Common Application Prompts

The Common App has announced that this year’s essays will remain the same for the 2019-2020 school year. What will the seven choices be for present high school juniors in their senior year?

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Should high school juniors and their parents just read the above prompts? No. Start thinking about each of the prompts. Here are some guidelines.

1. Read the first six prompts. Eliminate four of them because you feel that you can’t relate to or write about these topics.

2.  Give good thought to the two remaining questions among the six. What comes to mind that would allow you to write a good essay? Discuss the two prompts with your parents, teachers or counselor. Start thinking about possible ideas for each prompt.

3. Narrow your response down to one of the six prompts. Start writing. What ideas or topics come to mind?

What happened to prompt No. 7?  Think about what you can write. How does your response compare to the one you chose from the first six prompts? Then, choose the winner. Don’t wait for your senior year. You should be finished with the Common App essay during the summer months.

There are many books on writing essays for college as well as strategies to formulate your essay. However, do not pay anyone to write your essay. Do not have a parent be your essay writer. Colleges usually know when an essay is written by someone other than the student.  The admissions office wants to hear your voice.

You are Deferred from a College

If the news was a deferral from an early decision, early action or similar application, this does not mean denied by the college. You are still in the running for admission during the spring. While you might feel down because of being deferred, you need to take action if you still want to be accepted by that particular college. The word on the street is that there were many deferrals from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech this year.

Contact the admissions representative at the college that deferred you and ask for suggestions on how you can update your record and possibly where you need to strengthen your application. For sure, update any course grades, test scores, extra-curricular activities, awards, and community volunteer work or part-time work. Show interest in the college.

You need to start focusing on another college if the deferral doesn’t succeed in the end. Look carefully at your other college applications. Take a real good look at your options. Often, some of the colleges take on a new and exciting life for you. You didn’t realize all the benefits, financial and otherwise that those other colleges possessed.

Buyer Beware

What a shock when students find out that their present college is closing at the end of the semester.  It happens, especially to very small colleges. Around for 185 years, Green Mountain College, known for its environmental programs, will close at the end of the spring semester. Hampshire College is looking for a partner and is not sure if it will admit freshmen for the fall. Newbury College and Mount Ida closed or are closing in Massachusetts.

While all of the above are New England colleges, similar situations can happen elsewhere. The colleges that are closing are helping their students transfer, usually to other colleges that have a special niche among majors. In Boston, Wheelock College merged into Boston University.

Recently, I met with the president and director of admissions at Hollins University, a women’s college, in Virginia. One of my first questions was related to the school’s financial situation. Fortunately, they appear to be safe financially, with a decent endowment. No, they don’t appear to be going coed in order in save themselves. They are doing just fine.

Mark Fisher is a college and career consultant at Fisher Educational Consultants,, and a consultant for the College Planning Institute,

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