Junior and Senior grades

Dear College Peas, I’m very worried about my high school transcript. I did very well freshman and junior year but I completely destroyed my GPA sophmore year. I plan to make all A’s senior year. Is it true colleges focus more so on junior and senior year grades? -Alex Dear Alex, Grades are important because they demonstrate your ability to handle academic work. Colleges don’t want students who can’t handle the work. If you plotted your grades on a graph you want them to be consistently high, or consistently trending up after a low point early in your high school career. So, if you bombed sophomore year, make sure your grades increase a little each semester since then and make sure you have a strong ending which is first semester, senior year. Colleges will put more emphasis on your later grades than your earlier if they see an upward trend. If your grades went up and down each semester a college will see you as inconsistent. If your grades trend down each semester they will think you can’t handle harder and harder work. So, if you can’t keep straight A’s throughout high school just make sure you do a little better each semester. -Mike read more

Filling out the ethnicity section

Dear College Peas, I am filling out my common application and I am wondering whether or not I should fill out the ethnicity section.  I have read your book and I know that colleges want to increase diversity so as a white male with European descent would it just be better for me to not fill out this part since it is optional? -Daniel Dear Daniel, Yes. Fill it out. College use this for a number of reasons including analysis of their applicant pool. I always emphasize that colleges want diversity and ethic diversity is one area that is important. If you are an ethnic minority this section could help. If you are not, don’t worry, it won’t hurt. Sincerely, Mike Moyer read more

Growing up in Europe is not an NTA

Dear College Peas, I was wondering if growing up in Europe counted as a NTA? -Paige   Dear Paige, No, growing up in Europe is not an NTA. However, it is does mean your perspective is different than that of an American and colleges love diversity. It’s not an NTA because there are other lots of other teenagers who live in Europe. An NTA is a specific activity or accomplishment that you are doing or did. Living somewhere isn’t really an accomplishment that you had much to do with (I’m assuming it was your parents idea). Sincerely, Mike Moyer read more

Stanford Admissions Essays: What matters to you, and why?

This is the question from the 2011 Stanford application. This is a tough question for anyone to answer without sounding sappy or trite. It is also easy to sound preachy. This is another way of asking what you value. A value can be thought of as an emotional state. For instance, you might value the feeling of being loved or the feeling of being safe or the feeling of being important. You will value things that make you happy. Here is how I might answer this question in 100 words thinking about it for two minutes: Happiness is not always successfully attained by those who pursue it using a traditional path which includes an education, a job, a home, familyand friends. I think many people fail because they believe that happiness is realized only when these things are successfully attained. I believe, however, that happiness can be found in the pursuit of these things and not merely in the attainment of these things. What matters to me, therefore, is my ability to fully engage myself the pursuit of happiness and relish the rewards that are part of the adventure itself. I want to be happy. This could be better because it is generic, but I think the core lesson here is to make sure you connect the answer back to your values. Here is another try with more specific […] read more

College Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is a fantastic Non-Teenage Activity. As a student you have low risk, high reward. Even if you never make a dime you will have a great experience and you will stand out in the eyes of the college admissions counselor. I was quoted in an article about student businesses in the Chicago Tribune a while back.     read more

Jasmine Roberts- The April 2011 Scholarship Winner!

College Peas is all about getting into selective colleges against the odds. A central theme of the strategy I propose is an NTA or Non-Teenager Activity. I hate to say it, but to many adults teenagers tend to look like a homogeneous group of people with similar styles and interests. Sports, music, art, dance and things like that are critically important to teenagers and incredibly important to an individual’s development, but they don’t show true differentiation between people. An NTA, on the other hand, will allow an adult (in this case an admissions counselor) to see one teenager as distinctly different than another teenager. Admissions counselors are dying to find students who differentiate themselves from other students. An NTA does just that. The winner of the April 30th College Peas Standout Student Scholarship is Jasmine Roberts who has a killer NTA- she conducted a study of the safety of ice in fast food restaurants. This study gained her national attention and landed her on Oprah. To understand why this person was chosen take the following quiz: It is typical for a teenager to love and play music (Y/N) It is typical for a teenager to play sports (Y/N) It is […] read more

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The Waiting Game- Time Magazine

This is a great article that describes many of the concepts in the College Peas: The Waiting Game. Note references to rising numbers of Maybes (waiting lists), stuffing the ballot box (sending notes), and NTAs (Jordan Vincent’s work with the IRS.)   read more

Creating a Best-Selling Book- Chicago Tribune, June 16, 2008

Mike Moyer is quoted in this article in the Chicago Tribune about business people who write books.   read more

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