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Competing for Scholarships and College Admission Andrew F. Knight, J.D.

Competing for Scholarships and College Admission Andrew F. Knight, J.D.

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Competing for Scholarships and College Admission Andrew F. Knight, J.D.

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  1. Competing for Scholarships and College AdmissionAndrew F. Knight, J.D. Introductions Student resume Improving grades 80/20 principle The magical hook The positive contributions scholarship competition

  2. Introductions Ms. Christman, Director of Guidance Mr. Van Harssel, Assistant Principal and Judge Ms. Kelly, Counselor and Judge Ms. McIntyre, Social Studies Teacher and Judge Ms. Bridges, English Teacher and Judge Disclaimer: These teachers and administrators have kindly volunteered to help, although they do not necessarily endorse the following views on gaining scholarships and college admission.

  3. Dr. Knight • Discovered these “secrets” at an early age • From 1994 to 2006 I… • Was admitted to MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, UVA, and others, • Won $1.385 MILLION in merit-based scholarships and fellowships, allowing me to graduate with three degrees debt-free, and • Earned more in scholarships in my senior year of college than I CURRENTLY earn as a full-time teacher. • How?

  4. Secrets to Scholarships and College Admissions • What matters: • Whether your scholarship or college application can survive the “first cut” … grades and test scores • Whether you can catch the committee’s attention with some activity, accomplishment, or exceptional talent • Whether your application demonstrates PASSION • Whether your letters of recommendation tout you as an outstanding candidate • Whether you have won other honors, awards, or scholarships • In SOME cases, whether you have financial need

  5. Student Resume • Colleges and scholarship committees will only see a TINY portion of your life. • Grades • Test scores • Recommendations • Extracurricular activities • Accomplishments and awards • NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. • Your grades, test scores, and recommendations should be good enough to make the first cut. • Your activities and accomplishments should make the committees say “Wow!”

  6. Slaying Perfectionism • Winning scholarships and getting admitted to top colleges does NOT require perfection. • You do not need perfect grades, perfect test scores, or any other kind of “perfection.” • Perfectionism is a dangerous addiction. It causes students to be perpetually dissatisfied with themselves and their abilities. • Perfectionism makes their happiness dependent upon the unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. • Perfectionism actually DECREASES a student’s competitiveness by: • Misallocating the student’s limited time and energy • Reducing the student’s satisfaction, which adds stress and reduces performance • Reducing free time, from which a student’s true passions arise

  7. Slaying Perfectionism • Examples of Perfectionism: • You fear Bs and Cs. • You are disappointed with a 93%, wishing you had gotten 100%. • You compare your grades and scores with other students. • You feel like you are in a race against your classmates. • You over-commit yourself to too many clubs, classes, and projects. • You chronically choose work over play. • You feel a NEED to achieve. • You punish yourself, verbally or by forcing yourself to study, when you don’t perform to your expectations. • If you have an addition to perfection, please see a counselor or seek professional help. Seriously.

  8. Improving Grades • You can improve your grades WITHOUT working harder. • Example: • You have a 79 average in math and an 85 average in science. • You feel reasonably prepared for both classes, but you have time to study for one more hour. Which class? • Answer: MATH. You are only ONE point away from a B- in math, but TWO points away from a B+ in science. Studying for math is your best payoff. • Always be aware of… • The class grading structure (e.g., 40% tests, 20% quizzes, 40% homework), and • Your current grade. You can keep a running tab of your current grade based on the grading structure.

  9. 80/20 (Pareto) Principle • What is it? • Don’t work for work’s sake • How do you spend your time and energy? • Which activities have the highest payoff in terms of: • Your happiness and personal satisfaction; or • Your competitiveness for scholarships and college admissions? • If you don’t really enjoy the activity, and it’s not substantially improving your student resume, QUIT! • Shift your time and energy resources to those activities that provide the highest payoff. • Also consider the time commitment of each activity.

  10. 80/20 (Pareto) Principle • Examples: • You spend 5 hours a week on extracurricular activity X. Lots of students do the same activity, so it isn’t that impressive on your resume. Also, you don’t really enjoy activity X. • Quit X and use that time to pursue other interests. • You spend 5 hours a week on extracurricular activity Y, which is very impressive, unique, and unusual. (This is called a “hook.”) • Continue Y. • You spend 5 hours a week on extracurricular activity Z. It’s not very impressive, but you REALLY enjoy it. • Continue Z.

  11. 80/20 (Pareto) Principle • Concept of “Sunk Cost” • Would you spend a year and $50,000 to earn a degree in a field you hate? No? • What if you’ve already spent two years and $100,000 on law school and decide that a law degree is worthless to you. Would you pay another $50,000 to finish your last year of law school? • These are the SAME decision, even though many people would make the economically inefficient decision of finishing law school because $100,000 and two years have already been “invested.”

  12. The Magical Hook • Student A: • 3.9 GPA, 1540 SAT, a few common extracurricular activities • Student B: • 3.4 GPA, 1260 SAT, founder of SADD • Student C: • 2.9 GPA, 1100 SAT, invented the cure for cancer • Which student gets into Stanford? Which student wins more scholarships? • A hook is about making committees say “Wow!”

  13. The Magical Hook • A hook is: • An action (you have to do something!), • That is unique or unusual, • That is interesting and impressive, and • That makes a positive impact or contribution to the community or world. • Develop a hook that centers around your personal passions and interests.

  14. Exceptional Skill Hook • Requires incredible talent or competence • Examples: • You win the National Science Olympiad. • You solve a mathematical puzzle perplexing mathematicians for the past 500 years. • You break the world record for the mile run. • You win the World Debate Championship. • You make it onto the U.S. Olympic Team for gymnastics. • You win the Nobel Prize in Literature. • Two problems: • These are essentially unachievable goals. For every winner, there were thousands of “losers” who fell through the cracks. • You don’t NEED an exceptional skill to stand out from the rest.

  15. Do-Something Hook • Write a book on an unusual or important topic • Not as hard as it seems! • Invent something new and useful • Easy and inexpensive to get an invention patent pending • Start a business • Write and perform music • Produce and sell art • Organize a (legal) protest for a meaningful cause • Start an organization or foundation to help animals, children, or people in need • The sky is the limit. Discover your passions and pursue them in a unique and interesting way.

  16. Positive Contributions Scholarship Competition • Purpose: • Foster personal creativity, • Encourage the pursuit of individual passions, • Promote positive contributions to the world, and • Improve the competitiveness of Potomac Falls High School students in seeking scholarships and college admissions. • Offers prizes of $3000 for first place and $1000 for two runners-up. • Improves student resumes through: • Development of a hook, and • Potential to name the scholarship on future applications

  17. Positive Contributions Scholarship Competition Submission: Students develop and pursue their own hook/project and submit a written description of their progress. Eligibility: All college-bound students, individually or in teams of up to 4. Deadline: April 30, 2010. Projects will be judged, and prizes awarded, by May 31, 2010. Judging: see judging sheet.

  18. Positive Contributions Scholarship Competition Why Participate? Prize money Designation as a winner or honorable mention Development of a unique, interesting hook that will improve your chances of winning scholarships and getting admitted to competitive colleges Pursuit of a project related to your interests and passions Q&A … feel free to ask about specific hook ideas.