The International Student’s Guide to American Colleges

The International Student’s Guide to American Colleges

Up until this point, I’ve kept pretty quiet about my book, but I wanted to let you know that it is well on its way. The International Student’s Guide to American Colleges will be released at the end of February, and I am so excited to share it with you all. This is a book that has been several years in the making. After working with student after student who kept telling me that they didn’t even know how to begin the process of building a college list, I knew there had to be an easier way the conventional advice of “just start visiting a bunch of colleges so you learn what you like.” Of course if you have the chance to visit colleges that is obviously the best way to really get to know a school, but most students don’t have the time or resources to be constantly visiting schools. And for international students especially even visiting just one American college may be an impossibility. I wanted to write a book specifically for international students because not only do international students have fewer opportunities to visit and learn about American colleges, but there is a lack of resources for them to get this kind of information. But I think even if you are an American student, there will be something for you in this book. I wish I had something like this when I was applying to college. When I started figuring out the list of colleges I wanted to apply to, I spent hours scouring the websites of every school I heard of and trying to figure...
11 Killer Resources That Will Help You Master Your College Search

11 Killer Resources That Will Help You Master Your College Search

Want to know your chances? Find out here. Too many students rely on their parents and guidance counselors as their main source of information when putting together their college list and when figuring out how to apply. The students I’ve worked with who have had the most success finding and getting into schools that they love have taken charge of their own college process. They have spent time doing their own research  figuring out what they really want in a school. It can be intimidating to start the process of researching schools because there is so much information out there. I’ve met a lot of students who say they don’t even know where to begin.  I’ve put together a list of my all-time favorite list of college resources. I guarantee you that if you check out everything on this list – or even a quarter of the resources I mention on this list – you will be better off that 99% of your peers. Pick up a book or two on this list over your summer break or spend an afternoon on one of my recommended websites. It might not seem like your first choice activity right now, but I’m willing to bet that once you pick any of these resources up, you’ll have trouble putting them down. They are all filled with fantastic information that will make you see college in a new light. At least they did for me. 1) The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges – Yale Daily News Staff This is one of the most comprehensive guides out there with detailed profiles of colleges. The book is written...
5 Lies You Hear on Every College Tour

5 Lies You Hear on Every College Tour

 Want to know your chances? Find out here.     Over the course of my life, I’ve been on over a hundred college tours. In the process of visiting so many schools, I’ve learned to distinguish between the ordinary and the extraordinary. I’ve learned something interesting about every college I’ve ever visited, however, all too frequently a substantial portion of the tour is devoted to generic topics I hear at almost every single school. On your first couple of tours, you may be believe what you are hearing is unique, but pay attention during the rest of your college visits, and you’ll realize that the things that really stand out are different than what you expected. I’ve talked before about how trying to get a sense of the culture of a school is the most important thing to do in a college visit. Part of that process will likely involve sitting in on classes, eating in the dining hall, and maybe staying overnight. These are the best things you can do. But you will also likely take a tour, and it is important to know some of the most common things you will hear that don’t necessarily reflect on unique qualities about the college you are visiting. Here are the worst offenders: 1) The inside of this building looks like Hogwarts Colleges know that you grew up in the generation that read and watched Harry Potter. Comparing their school to something related to the book is a tactic to get you excited. Yes, it is true many colleges have beautiful campuses. In fact, Harry Potter was filmed largely at...
The Reality of Large Lecture Classes

The Reality of Large Lecture Classes

  When I ask students what they are looking for in a college, one thing I’ve heard said a number of times is that they don’t want to attend schools with large lecture classes. I definitely understand that joy of being in a small and personal seminar. Taking a class with a group so small that people get to know each other and questions can be answered right away is a great way to learn. But I also think a lot of the time, when students make such statements, they are unjustifiably knocking schools off their list that might actually be a really good fit. Large universities are notorious for 1,000+ student lectures in their introductory classes. I know a lot of high school students find that idea intimidating. In my experience, however, the fear is blown out of proportion. First of all, just because there are some courses that are large doesn’t mean that all courses will be huge and anonymous. Most gigantic lecture courses are introductory level courses. By the time you get past the first level of something, upper level courses are so specialized that it is not uncommon to get into small seminars with just a couple of students. This is true even in the largest universities. In fact, even at the biggest schools, there will be more small classes than big ones. Academics tend to focus on very specialized fields so while some will be stuck teaching big introductory classes, many enjoy teaching upper-level courses in their specialized areas which will naturally draw a much smaller crowd. Okay, so maybe you understand that even...
College Will Make You Who You Become

College Will Make You Who You Become

When you choose a college, you will set yourself on a path that will make you who you become. College will affect you ways you cannot even imagine now. Your classes will certainly affect you, but the culture of the school will affect you more. I’ve said it before, but it deserves to emphasized again – before you consider any other factor in your college search, consider the campus culture. The campus culture will affect every aspect of your life from the courses you choose, to the friends you make, to the job you decide to take after college. Pick a school that feels right from the moment you step on the campus. Pick a school where you want to spend every day around the other students. Pick a school where you have room to grow and discover new passions, and where you feel inspired by the opportunities around you. I say this, and yet I know a lot of people stare back and think “whatever” when I deliver this message. But this theme is so critical. And it is much bigger than just picking a good culture for you in terms of going to college. Pick a good culture for you for the rest of your life in every decision you make. Consider culture when choosing a group of friends. Consider culture when choosing a job. Consider culture when choosing a place to live. The culture you surround yourself by will define who you are in profound ways. At least for me it has. Growing up, I lived in four different states, and one thing I learned in...
Harvard’s Newest Video – Anything Can Happen At Harvard

Harvard’s Newest Video – Anything Can Happen At Harvard

Harvard just released a brand new admissions video. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. In 2010, Yale released its most recent admissions video “That’s Why I Chose Yale” which redefined the college admissions video (watch it here). Harvard’s newest video takes a completely different approach but is novel all the same. Besides showing some stunning footage of the Harvard campus, this video does a great job of introducing us to a number of actual students from all over the country and the world.  Not only do we hear about some of the interesting things these students do at Harvard, but in a few cases, we get to see them outside of the university in their hometowns with their families. We meet an immigrant family in southern California and a farming family in Alberta, Canada and a whole bunch of other engaging students. The new video also has some impressive star power. Matt Damon, Nicholas Kristof, and Jeremy Lin (who lived on the floor above me freshman year) all made appearances, and it was fascinating to hear a bit about their reflections on how attending Harvard affected their lives. This video shows Harvard from a global perspective, showing us that it is a place where people from all over the world and with all sorts of interests come together to do incredible things. It also demonstrates that not only is Harvard a place to go to school, but it is a place that alumni feel connected to for the rest of their lives. Watch “Anything Can Happen at Harvard” here: via...