college readiness & career exploration
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College Readiness & Career Exploration
The Value of Engaging High School Students in Experiential Learning before College
Moderator: Marie Schwartz CEO, TeenLife Media Nina Hoe Study Director at the Institute for Survey Research, Temple University
Jessica DeSantis - Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Lehigh University Michael Pina Director of College Guidance, Greens Farms Academy
Why This Topic?
Experiential learning is growing in importance:
Employers find digital natives lack soft skills. Students not adequately prepared for college. Colleges like Harvard, Princeton, and Tufts
encouraging gap years.
We want to help you prepare students for a better future through experiential learning.
Gap Year Alumni Research Nina Hoe College Admissions Perspective Jessica
High School Counselor Perspective Michael Pina
Suggestions for Schools Q&A
Gap Year Alumni Research Nina Hoe, Temple University
Definition of a Gap Year
A Gap Year is a structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, challenge comfort zones, and experiment with possible careers. Typically these are achieved by a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working.
Conducted survey among 600+ Americans who took a gap year in order to:
Better understand their experiences. Share findings with prospective gap year
students, parents, alumni, high schools, counselors, colleges, programs, etc.
Why They Took a Gap Year: Top 3 Answers
1. Gain life experience / grow personally 2. Travel / see world 3. Take a break from academic path
My Gap Year
40% 60% 80% Agreed/Strongly Agreed
Helped me develop as a
person. Allowed me time for
maturity. Increased my
Helped me learn to interact with people from backgrounds different from my own.
Helped me develop communication
skills. Increased my interest in knowing people and places
around the world.
Helped me develop a greater understanding and/or respect for cultures and customs oth..
Helped me acquire skills to be successful in my
career. Instilled an appreciation for and belief in the importance of
Made me see myself as a global
citizen. Inspired me to be more active in following global current
events and politics.
Helped me find purpose in my
life. Will or has impacted my career
Helped (or will help) me get a
job Increased my readiness for
Inspired me to be an active volunteer in the global community.
Inspired me to be an active volunteer in my local community.
Increased my interest in attending
college. Helped me determine what I wanted to
study in college.
Influenced me to take foreign language classes.
Increased my chances of completing
college. Allowed me to place out of foreign language
requirement in college.
83% 82% 82%
98% 98% 97% 96%
Self--reported Gap Year Impacts Category Career
Most Important Experiences
Being in a new and different environment Relationships with peers Relationships with others, including local families,
children and community members
Traveling independently Volunteering
College Admissions Perspective Jessica DeSantis
Key Life Skills Needed for College
Willingness to expand horizons Ambition Pursuit of personal passions Genuine interest Resiliency Ability to learn from failure/ask for help Time management Group living skills
Quality over quantity Time involved Skills/talent/knowledge required Accomplishments earned
Most Meaningful Activities
Pursuit of passion Growth potential Leadership development Trying something new/different
High School Counselor Perspective Michael Pina
Address the Age-Old Questions
Can good extracurricular activities get a student into a college?
Do they matter to college admissions officers? How much do they count? How many extracurricular activities should a
student be involved in? What is the role of the extensive resume
addendum to the Common Application list?
Activities Reported on Common App 2012-13
Avg. # of activities reported by 721K applicants: 5.9 Avg. # of activities reported by applicants with known secondary school type:
Home school: 5.5
Religious: 6.7 Avg. # of activities reported by applicants who submitted ED/REA applications: 7.7
Most Common Activities on Common App
1. JV/Varsity Sport 2. Community Service (Volunteer) 3. Other Club/Activity 4. Work (Paid) 5. Academic 6. Music: Instrumental
Use the Four Ps
Experiment with activities or summer programs that are interesting TO YOU!
Meaningful activities include:
Academic, social and international programs Volunteer/paying jobs Study abroad Summer College Classes
The name of the program does not matter!
Students are NOT unique JUST because of
participating in established, selective programs!
Find experiences that stretch your comfort zone!
Keeping notes on thoughts before and after the experience makes a good foundation for
launching authentic and powerful essays!
Character matters to all of the colleges!
Being privileged and being entitled are NOT the same thing!
Suggestions for Schools
Invite alumni to give testimonials/presentations Distribute a custom list of reputable programs
accessible to school community
Offer program AND college info sessions Start educating parents in 9th grade. Provide access to resources like TeenLife.com Ask teachers to encourage students to engage in
Survey students and parents about meaningful summer programs/activities.
Questions? Marie Schwartz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nina Hoe, email@example.com Jessica DeSantis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Pina, email@example.com