Peabody is the building, Jack is the dog, and I'm Dean J (she/her, btw).

There are fifteen years of posts here. The search box works well, but please consider the age of the posts when you find them. The college admission process changes over time!

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Welcome to the blog and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



During one of my high school visits today, I saw a girl who looked like the stress of senior year was hitting her hard.  I figured a few of you might be in the same boat right about now and you might need a little CavDog intervention.  Hang in there, everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NOVA, part 2

Here we go again!  I went to the Fair Oaks Mall college fair last night to surprise one of our newer staff members who was working that fair.  It's generally a bit of a mad house and I figured she could use the help.  With 3 admission officers and 8 alumni volunteers, we were still swamped for most of the night!  The questions were mostly basic (SAT scores "cut offs", GPA averages, quotas, grading scale changes), but every now and then, someone had a good one.  They were juniors, though.  By next year, they'll have more on their minds.

There was one adorable 8th grader there.  I'm usually quick to send students so young off to have fun, but he was so serious and had such good questions that I couldn't resist talking to him about admission.  Something tells me he'll be just fine when it's his turn to apply.

In case you're curious, here's my schedule for the week:

Monday, October 18
9:30 AM Stone Bridge High School
12:00 PM Broad Run High School
1:30 PM Briar Woods High School
2:30 PM Academy of Science (informal visit)
3:15 PM Dominion High School

Tuesday, October 19
7:30 AM South Lakes High School
9:30 AM Westfield High School
11:00 AM Chantilly High School
1:00 PM Centreville High School

Wednesday, October 20
8:00 AM South County Secondary School
10:00 AM Mount Vernon High School
11:15 AM West Potomac High School
1:45 PM West Springfield High School
7:00 PM Paul VI College Night

Thursday, October 21
9:30 AM Loudoun County High School
11:30 AM Tuscarora High School
1:30 PM Heritage High School
3:15 PM Loudoun Valley High School
6:00 PM STEM Program at Battlefield High School (PDF of the invitation)

Friday, October 22
8:00 AM Falls Church High School
10:00 AM Robinson Secondary School
12:00 PM Langley High School

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The specialist vs. the generalist when it comes to extracurricular activities

When I was in high school, we were obsessed with the concept of the well rounded student.  I thought there was some sort of list that admission officers used when reviewing applications to evaluate well roundedness.  Service?  Check.  Leadership?  Check.  Athletics?  Check.  Creativity?  Check.

I also assumed there was a hierarchy of extracurricular activities at each school.  I don't know where this came from (this was pre-internet), but these little rumors spread pretty quickly.  I didn't join clubs in the name of being well rounded, but a rumor about a certain college looking favorably on Model UN members kept me in the club during an extra year, when my heart wasn't into it.

On the flip side, there were people who said that colleges wanted specialists.  The thinking was that the well rounded student was so ubiquitous that schools wanted people who excelled in one area.  Be narrow!  Focus!  Have a passion!     

In talking with students on the road last week, it seems that the well rounded idea is still be pushed, but the specialist idea is out there too.  It's all so confusing.  What in the world do we want?

I want to see that you're involved in some stuff.

There are people with long activity lists and there are people with short activity lists.  The length of your list is of no interest to me, as depth usually varies.  There are no preferred activities.  We want to see commitment.  That has many forms.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Travel preparations

Today was a preparation day for my week in northern Virginia.  First, I made a trip to the Greek diner that reminds me of where I grew up.  I bet some of you can guess where I'm from knowing that information.

Then came a trip to the office with the rental car to pick up materials to take on the road with me.  I think NOVA will be a three box trip.  I actually hope I'll bring home some materials since so many of the students I'll meet will already know the basics.  This is why I love my NOVA trips so much.  Most students ask questions that are a little pretty sophisticated.

Peabody Hall was very quiet, but I ran into one colleague who just got home from a trip. 

Good-bye Peabody Hall.  Good-bye Alexander Calder statue. 

Next up came a marathon fetch session with CavDog, who was cooped up for a few days because of some rain.  He was a happy dog when we were outside, but as soon as we came in and I started packing my suitcase, he was sulking.  As I wrote before, CavDog isn't a big fan of travel season.

Now it's time to sign off and start the two hour drive to my temporary home for the next week.  In case you missed it, here's my schedule of visits for the week:

Monday, October 4
9:30 AM Freedom High School
11:00 AM Park View High School
12:45 PM Herndon High School
2:30 PM Potomac Falls High School

Tuesday, October 5
8:30 AM Wakefield High School
10:00 AM Stuart High School
1:00 PM Annandale High School
7:00 PM Lake Braddock High School

Wednesday, October 6
8:00 AM James Madison High School
9:30 AM Oakton High School
11:00 AM Fairfax High School
1:30 PM Marshall High School

Thursday, October 7
8:30 AM Langley High School
10:00 AM McLean High School
11:30 AM Yorktown High School
1:30 PM Washington-Lee High School

Friday, October 8
8:15 AM Hayfield Secondary School
9:30 AM Lee High School
11:00 AM Edison High School
12:45 PM WT Woodson High School

I'll be back in the area in two weeks for another five days of visits.