Graduate School

New Book on the Admissions Process by NYT Columnist Frank Bruni

I'm pre-ordering this book, VERY excited to read it:

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania 

The title alone is a great reminder not to conflate your whole identity with where you do or don't get into college (or grad school for that matter). My immediate reaction is this, and it's something I've been mulling over for some time now:

One of the real downsides to the current "holistic" approach to elite university admissions in the United States is that the schools give the impression that they're evaluating you (judging you) *as a human being*.

How Should I Present My Military Service in My Applications?

Anna, I am an Iraq veteran and I have read that military service is anywhere from "extremely valuable" to law school admissions to something akin to any other job.  What is your take?  Is there anything I should do to highlight its strengths while also countering its possibly negative connotations?

As for another, more specific question: I am struggling with whether to include my platoon's "number of enemy captured/killed" on my resume.

Plagiarism and Your Grad School Apps

Copying and pasting from Wikipedia in your college papers may seem totally normal to many college students, but this NYT article ("Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age") makes clear that (1) there is a casual attitude among many students about what constitutes plagiarism, and (2) copying and pasting and "borrowing" language is still considered plagiarism by any self-respecting university.

MBA or Something Else?

I love hearing from applicants with whom I crossed paths in years past. Here's an update I just received from a soon-to-be JD. It's a great reminder not to tack on graduate degrees willy-nilly, but to think hard about how a more general degree (like an MBA)  stacks up against more specialized ones.

In my last email I told you that I was considering getting a MBA because of my interest in working for the Justice Department or the SEC.

Do You Have Grit?

How much do things like determination and grit correlate with future success? It's a big question, and one that intrigues me as a former admissions officer. After all, the gatekeeping function of admissions is to scour all these imperfect proxies (some might say tea leaves) to try to predict the future success of all those wonderful applicants.

On that subject, a recent article by Amanda Ripley in the Atlantic Monthly caught my eye.

Avoid a Summer of Nothing

Having trouble finding a summer job? It seems as if everyone is, from high schoolers to lawyers-in-training. This Sunday's New York Times has an interesting article on the unemployment issue facing teenagers and college students.

Among the sobering statistics:

  • 24% unemployment for 16- to 19-year olds (up from 16.1% last year)
  • 21% decline in internships available to college students versus last year

A psychologist quoted in the article opined:"[T]here is something to be said about sitting out on a warm evening and looking at the stars  — they need more of this contemplation and self-evaluation.

What's a Master's Degree Worth?

I'm enjoying a fascinating blog posting in the NYT about the value of a master's degree. Highly recommended.

A number of economists and education researchers say that the student debt problem, while real, has been overblown by the press and loan-forgiveness advocates, and that most students do not graduate with too much debt

But the debate presents difficult questions for young people, who face the most difficult economy since the Great Depression.

"We Should Be Ashamed of Ourselves"

A huge thank-you to law professor Paul Caron for shining a public spotlight on a big problem.

Professor Caron has highlighted some astonishing bits of a recent podcast from a meeting of law school admnistrators:

AALS Committee on Research Program (Jan. 9, 2009), Citations, SSRN Downloads, U.S. News, Carnegie, Bar Passage, Careers: Competing Methods of Assessing Law Schools (podcast):

Bill Henderson (Indiana):

  • 25:55: At 50 law schools, 20% of the students are either unemployed, flunked out, or are unknown, yet the ABA and LSAC disavow the use of data to rank law schools.

Gen Y: Too Much Focus on Process vs. Outcome?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine who works (as I do) with lots of twenty-somethings. When we got around to the gratuitous praise to which Gen Y/the "Praise Generation" has become accustomed (phony praise that inflates their sense of achievement and rewards them for process rather than outcomes), he had this observation to share:

On all of this, I'll point out that, having worked with a literally never-ending stream of recent college graduates--half of everyone is 22 in my world--I notice that the people who consistently are the best to work with are ex-elite athletes.

Designing for Gen Y at School: Give Me Your Wishlist

I'm going to be moderating a panel of architects who specialize in designing the next generation of spaces for university students. Please weigh in with your wishlist, as well as any complaints or thoughts about the current state of your school spaces. Some topics to consider:

  • Technology
  • Dorms/Housing
  • Safety
  • Food
  • Fun
  • Fitness
  • Athletics
  • Performing Arts
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Classrooms
  • Study spaces

I realize it doesn't even make sense to break these out into separate categories, because Gen Y likes its spaces to be blended, so thoughts on blending are also welcome, and feel free to make up your own categories.