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On episode 126, Alexis Avila talks toJessica Yeager, CEO & founder of Impress the Ivies. Jessica is a graduate of Harvard and MIT. As a senior in high school, she gained acceptance to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia. Her students have gotten into elite schools, like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.
WATCH our video here!
On Today’s episode Jessica gives us tips on how to craft an application that Harvard will want to see! Jessica’s take on why perfect scores sometimes get rejected? Colleges want to see that you spend hundreds of hours on something more impactful than just on test prep.
Jessica’s X factor for getting into Harvard? Showcase what makes you unique and don’t be a dabbler.
Jessica’s advice to students who get rejected from Harvard? It’s not the college you get into that is most important but rather it’s what you do with your degree that matters. Get involved and make an impact at the school you get into.
Jessica’s advice for teens: Surround yourself with positive people who make an impact in the world, that will help you step up your game!
For Prepped & Polished listeners only, you can access Jessica’s Ultimate Guide to the Commmon App!
For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #90 with Elizabeth Dankoski: How a Perfect SAT Score can Backfire on You
Listen to our interview here!
For more information, visit: Prepped and Polished.com.
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What was your biggest takeaway from this parenting podcast? Do you have any questions for Jessica Yeager and Alexis Avila?
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Alexis Avila talks to Joan Casey, Founder of Educational Advocates College Consulting. Joan has a Masters Degree from Harvard, is a CEP (Certified Educational Planner), and has visited and experienced more than 300 college campuses world wide.
On today’s episode Joan talks about the many kinds of opportunities available in college and what leads to positive outcomes by the end of college.
Advice for college-bound students: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when you first walk on campus, and get involved and join in on activities.
What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast? Do you have any questions for Joan Casey and Alexis Avila?
By Rosie Colosi, Essay Expert, Prepped & Polished, LLC
You brush past the curtain as you walk onstage, the floorboards creaking as your nervous feet propel you forward. You feel the heat of the spotlight as it hits your face. Your throat dries and your palms sweat as you prepare to sing. You open your mouth and…and…
If you are applying to a theater program, this scenario probably strikes excitement instead of fear in your heart. You yearn for a life upon the wicked stage and desperately hope to gain admission to a top-notch program that will equip you for a successful career in NY or LA.
But before you see your name in lights, you need to see your name on an acceptance letter.
You must go through the regular college application process, score well on your tests, and complete a performance audition. And of course, you must write an essay convincing the admissions committee that you are the next Kristin Chenoweth or Norbert Leo Butz.
Hate writing? No problem! Here’s the pot of gold at the end of Finian’s rainbow: The audition skills you have acquired on your theatrical journey will help you in your essay writing process. Read on…
1. Pick the right song
If you’re an alto, you wouldn’t sing “My White Knight” from Music Man for an audition. If you’re a tall leading man, you wouldn’t sing “Make ‘Em Laugh” from Singin’ in the Rain. You would choose a song that suits your voice, personality, and appearance. Do the same thing with your essay. Pick a topic that is important to you, that means something, that tells the reader who you are. You know how voice coaches are always telling you to “sing what you love”? Well, write what you love. It’s that simple.
2. Practice, practice, practice
You would never audition for a lead in the play after listening to your audition song once, right? You’d listen to the song, find the sheet music, sing it in your room, and maybe even rehearse in front of a coach or friend. Incorporate those good habits into your writing process. Don’t submit an essay you typed in a hurry one afternoon. Allow ample time to write, revise, edit, adjust…then share with a writing coach, a trusted friend, or a supportive teacher. Outside perspectives will help perfect your ideas.
3. Hit all the right notes
It’s every performer’s worst nightmare: prepping to sing a glorious, operatic high note…but a clunker comes out of your mouth instead. To prevent that, we aim to sing right in the center of the note, we set specific breathing patterns, count note values—and all of that’s even before we add emotion. Similarly, the mechanics of grammar, spelling, and sentence structure must be on point in your essay. Misspelling a word in your first sentence can be as detrimental as singing that clunker, so do your homework on your writing mechanics—don’t just rely on spell check.
4. Be confident
You might shout to the rooftops that you’re best singer that ever lived. Or you might downplay your talent to strangers. Find some middle ground between these two extremes. Your essay should tell your dream college that you’re pretty awesome, but bragging will rub the panel the wrong way. It’s a fine, fine line between Kate Monster and Lucy T. Slut (I’m not being crude; it’s an Avenue Q reference!), so balance confidence with humility.
5. Keep breathing
You can’t sing unless you breathe. And you certainly can’t write unless you breathe. The college application process can get hugely stressful and overwhelming, but hyperventilating never helped anyone. A little dose of butterflies in your stomach can be a good thing for performers, and you may get similarly excited and scared about college, but channel that energy into your work. Do a few breathing exercises from your voice lessons before you sit down to write. Seriously. Some extra lip trills never hurt anyone…and they might even help you write your way into Carnegie Mellon.
Rosie Colosi, college essay expert and creator of Write With Rosie, earned an M.A. in English Lit from Boston College and a B.A. in English Lit from SUNY Geneseo. She has written 12 nonfiction books for Scholastic Inc., and she has performed on stages from Alaska to Athens. Most recently, she played Mrs. Claus in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes in New York City.
Are you applying to theater schools? How is your theater program essay coming along?
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By Meagan Phelan, Writing Tutoring Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC
Imagine you’ve made your college football team. Years of practice in high school and grueling summer training paid off, and you get the chance to play—even to start. When you step out onto the field though, you listen halfheartedly to the quarterback’s calls, sprint just enough to avoid breaking a sweat, and steer clear of tackles.
This may sound absurd. Who would work so hard to make a team, and then disengage, once on it?
But the truth is, getting accepted to college is much like making a team and it is not uncommon for students to apply the same unenergetic approach to learning, once in the classroom. Perhaps this is because the opposite approach—an intentional, intellectually curious one—also takes hard work and practice.
When you get to college, be it this fall or in a few years, you’ll have a chance to take as much from your experience as your discipline will allow—and to stand out from among your peers in the process.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to think actively about what you’re reading when you’re doing work for a particular class. Read it aloud, if that helps, or break up the reading by tackling half a chapter and then asking yourself, “Why should I care about what I just learned?” Or, “How does this information advance what I knew about the topic?”
Chances are, if you can articulate the importance or novelty of the topic you’re studying, you are grasping the bigger picture. And if you are grasping the bigger picture, all the little details—the anecdotes in the chapters you’re reading, or the ones your professor will bring up in the classroom—will “stick.” You’ll be able to recall them later because they support an idea that’s familiar to you.
This kind of engaged participation is particularly key in the classroom; while your classmates may be tempted to snooze after a late night in the library, or text, if you can be disciplined enough to focus on the professor’s lecture, you’ll make your life much easier—and stand out. (I’ve personally had professors approach me and acknowledge that my attentiveness was noticed and appreciated.)
The more engaged you are in the classroom, the less you’ll have to fret about studying. That’s because staying engaged is a sure way to know what material the professor’s most excited about, including some of the deeper, more nuanced points that are likely to be incorporated on a test.
While your college classmates try to answer questions with filler material when in a pinch, you will be positioned to answer test questions directly, and again, to incorporate the subtleties that attention to the lecture revealed.
It takes effort to sit up straight, to hang onto a professor’s (most) every word, and to avoid distractions, but the benefits are a better relationship with that professor, a better grasp of the material, and more efficient studying. Though it could take time, you will also achieve recognition by your classmates as a leader.
Being engaged doesn’t apply merely to homework, reading, classroom presence and test taking. Students who stand apart also pay special attention to the notes and feedback professors take the time to write on their papers and projects. It might seem like extra effort to keep those materials and to take the time—amid all else you have on the go during college—to “study” those pieces, but adding them to your study repertoire will help you identify your weak spots, to avoid them going forward. In this way, you can make progress without the professor having had to call you out on your repeat errors, a process which can be discouraging.
As you go through all this, remember the instruction that ties it all together, the glue in the engaged student’s skeleton: Ask questions when you don’t understand. Whether it’s a professor or a teaching assistant, or even an older student pursuing the same major, find someone you can sit with and pepper with questions. And stand ready to do the same for the younger students who will follow you. Not only is this process important for an engaged collegiate experience; it’s one you’ll see over and over again in every aspect—investing, home maintenance, parenthood—of life.
Meagan Phelan holds an M.A. in Science Writing from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and a B.A. in Biology from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. She has freelanced as a science writer and is a Fulbright Scholar. Meagan is the Science Press Package Director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
What other ways can you engage in college? Any other tips you’d like to share?
By Amie Hoff, Certified Fitness Trainer and Consultant, NYC
Summer will be here before you know it and yup, you guessed it – that means shorts and bathing suits too! Are you ready? Is your body ready?
If you were one of the many who shelved your workouts over the winter because it was just too darn cold or already fell off the resolution wagon, no more excuses. I’m here to help you get your body moving and shed the winter body fat just in time to shed the layers. Tone up those legs, arms and abs and get ready to turn some heads on campus! Just by making a few small adjustments and following these exercise and nutrition tips, you’ll blast the winter weight gain and be cruising the campus feeling awesome and looking great.
College workout survival tips to help inspire you to get up and moving:
• Get your roommate or a friend to join you. Enlisting the help of others not only makes it more fun, but gives you quality catch up time as well.
• Schedule your workouts just like you would your classes and stick to it. No blowing it off for another day.
• Walk or bike to class, take the stairs whenever possible and visit your friends rather than email. Hint – move, move, move.
• Keep a workout journal to help chart your progress, understand how you’re feeling, what workouts you like (and don’t) and keep an eye on your weight.
• Dress for success – If you do choose to exercise outside, it’s important to dress for the elements. Layer with wicking and breathable fabrics. Cotton is not a good choice as it traps sweat and dries slowly, not fun. Think of light layers that can be peeled off as your body temperature rises. And if it’s still chilly, wearing a hat is smart. Most of your body heat escapes through the head.
• Check for leagues or teams on campus that play ultimate frisbee, volleyball, baseball, etc. Getting a workout while having fun and meeting new people is a bonus. If your school doesn’t have one, start your own!
• Use the stadium bleachers for an awesome cardio workout. Run up and down them for 10 min working up to 20.
• Or, find the building on campus with the most floors and run up and down the stairwell. Trust me, that will get your heart pumping! For even more of a challenge, try taking two steps at a time on your way up.
• When you get bored with your workout, switch up one of the following: Intensity, duration frequency or activity.
• Stock your dorm room and fill your fridge with plenty of healthy snacks so when the urge to order late night pizza hits, you can fill up on good-for-you foods and have healthy options.
• Try the now “it” workout: HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. Alternating short bursts of intense activity with short slower periods for recovery. A serious calorie burner!
• Keep a food diary to track your calorie intake. When writing everything down, you’ll certainly think twice about what goes in your mouth.
• Download some new up-beat, fun music to get your feet jumping and body moving.
Amie Hoff is a certified personal trainer and fitness consultant in NYC, co-founder of FitKitDORM – Total Fitness in a Kit. www.FitKit.com Enter code DORM at checkout and get a 20% discount!
What was your favorite college workout tip? Do you have any others?
Post your questions/comments below.
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished discusses whether or not you should submit a college application youtube video.
Yes: If you want to fill in a hole or elaborate about something on your application.
Yes: If you want to highlight your personality.
No: If you said everything that needs to be said on your application.
No: If you are a shoe-in for that college.
Would you submit a college application video? What would you feature in a college application YouTube video?
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished suggests healthy ways for parents to stay in touch with their college-bound child.
Do: Schedule a weekly phone call and stick to it.
Don’t: Rely on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you find the phone call the best way to stay in touch? How do you keep in touch with your college-age child?