Spark Prep http://sparkprep.com/staging Admissions Coaching, Test Prep and Academic Tutoring Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:10:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 Character http://sparkprep.com/staging/character/ Mon, 30 May 2016 07:21:06 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/staging/?p=1926 What is “character” and why is it so important to the college admissions process?

The post Character appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
What is “character” and why is it so important to the college admissions process?

The post Character appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
College Admissions Strategy http://sparkprep.com/staging/college-admissions-strategy/ Mon, 30 May 2016 07:17:53 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/staging/?p=1924 Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor analyzes a successful college personal statement, and discusses admissions strategy for international applicants.

The post College Admissions Strategy appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor analyzes a successful college personal statement, and discusses admissions strategy for international applicants.

The post College Admissions Strategy appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Craft and Preparation http://sparkprep.com/staging/craft-and-preparation/ Mon, 30 May 2016 07:16:22 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/staging/?p=1920 Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses the importance of beginning your application process early. Writing is a craft that requires time before it can become excellence.

The post Craft and Preparation appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses the importance of beginning your application process early. Writing is a craft that requires time before it can become excellence.

The post Craft and Preparation appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Letters of Recommendation http://sparkprep.com/staging/letters-of-recommendation/ Mon, 30 May 2016 07:15:08 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/staging/?p=1917 Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses the function of letters of recommendation in your college application and how they help illustrate your character to the admissions office.

The post Letters of Recommendation appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses the function of letters of recommendation in your college application and how they help illustrate your character to the admissions office.

The post Letters of Recommendation appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
How to Choose a Topic http://sparkprep.com/staging/how-to-choose-a-topic/ Mon, 30 May 2016 07:09:28 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/staging/?p=1914 Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses some of the common errors we make when thinking about what to write about in a personal statements. He suggests an alternative view for how to think about brainstorming and developing your topic.

The post How to Choose a Topic appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep Director Luke Taylor discusses some of the common errors we make when thinking about what to write about in a personal statements. He suggests an alternative view for how to think about brainstorming and developing your topic.

The post How to Choose a Topic appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Meet Our Students! http://sparkprep.com/staging/who-are-our-undergraduate-applicants/ Sat, 26 Mar 2016 00:57:10 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/?p=857 We’d like to congratulate the new class of 2020! Our students this year came from all over the world and from all walks of life. It was a pleasure and a privilege getting to know you all! “I believe that […]

The post Meet Our Students! appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
We’d like to congratulate the new class of 2020!

Our students this year came from all over the world and from all walks of life. It was a pleasure and a privilege getting to know you all!

Who are our students- 3-26-16

“I believe that the process of fomenting, creating and furnishing the personal statement is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that allowed me to obtain a much deeper insight into my genuine outlook on life. Being a seventeen-year-old teenager, however, I did not possess the sufficient toolkit to classify and organize my overwhelming flow of ideas in a logical and appropriate manner. That was when Luke Taylor showed his masterful skills, offering me support in my essay arrangement and progress. I have to say that with his strategy of determining a trajectory throughout the whole essay, my work was condensed yet still able to manifest what I wanted to say. What impressed me most was his similar approach to the application process generally. He strengthened my belief that the process would actually be a chance for me to discover who I truly am and what I truly represent. Luke is excellent not only in giving essay advice but also in being able to instilling courage.”

Tan Phat, Yale Class of 2020

“In writing this, I consider myself not only a student of Luke’s but also someone who has gradually become his friend. Throughout my application process, Luke was a great mentor. Luke taught me many ways to deliver my authentic voice, specifically dealing with idiomatic expressions or content structures. Yet at the same time, he encouraged me to develop on my own style by clearing out many grey areas. I gradually consolidated many personal beliefs and preferences that are essential in painting a meaningful self-portrait to the colleges without taking away the room for further growth. He has truly been a good friend who supported me in my personal endeavors – sending me a book by Steven Pinker as a present, for instance, right after my acceptance to Stanford.”

Ngoc Minh, Stanford Class of 2020

“Luke was available at every stage of the process, and really took a personal interest in my work. He was always accessible through e-mail, and was quick to respond when I had immediate questions, which was very reassuring during an otherwise extremely stressful process. I would highly recommend Spark Prep to any rising senior about to go through the process; he will help you write amazing essays, keep you calm and informed about the process, and be an overall support system about every step along the way!”

Cassidy, Brown University Class of 2017

“Your guidance is exactly what I needed. Thank you Luke, for you’ve helped me so much during the stressful process. You saved the day!”

Minh Khue, Harvard University class of 2018

The post Meet Our Students! appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep College Admissions – Southeast Asia Spring Tour http://sparkprep.com/staging/spark-prep-college-admissions-spring-vietnam-tour/ Sat, 13 Feb 2016 01:55:19 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/?p=834 Loading…

The post Spark Prep College Admissions – Southeast Asia Spring Tour appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>

The post Spark Prep College Admissions – Southeast Asia Spring Tour appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
The Mind and College Admissions http://sparkprep.com/staging/the-mind-and-college-admissions/ Wed, 10 Feb 2016 01:19:10 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/?p=838 “All things are ready, if our minds be so.” – Henry V (IV.iii) I sat with one of my students on Saturday as he remarked that college applications feel like a great behemoth to be defeated. It’s Spring Term, and […]

The post The Mind and College Admissions appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>

“All things are ready, if our minds be so.”

– Henry V (IV.iii)

I sat with one of my students on Saturday as he remarked that college applications feel like a great behemoth to be defeated. It’s Spring Term, and the year looms out before him, an abyss at the end that he must somehow traverse. This very kind, very thoughtful high school junior has spent a lifetime in a pressure cooker of an academic environment. He and many of his peers have been conditioned to see college applications as nearly insurmountable, but something they will be forced to confront if they want to have a future.

The distress in his voice was palpable and rang familiar from meetings like this with students from years passed. As he spoke, I thought of the above line from Shakespeare’s Henry V, which another student is reading for her English Lit class. The line follows King Henry’s famed St. Crispin’s Day speech in which he seeks to remind his meagre army of their capacity, hoping to instill strength and courage as they prepare to face the much greater French legions at the Battle of Agincourt.

Not a terribly uplifting analog for the admissions process.

And yet, many of us feel this way: that applications are a battle to be won, that our very lives depend on the outcome. Here, however, in his final remarks before confronting the French, Henry touches on the ultimate origin of preparation: the mind.

For many, our default orientation to major life transitions is stress, confusion, and anxiety, sometimes echoed by a tepid, “I guess this is a good idea.” We find ourselves inundated by pessimism and pressure from school, relatives, and media, all urging us toward one goal: acceptance. I’ll forego the meta implications of a society obsessed with acceptance, and instead offer a simple but productive way to approach the application process.

Consider applications not as a battle to be won, but as a labor that nourishes you. Writing about your life and the experiences that have shaped you can bring joy, clarification, and inspiration. Rather than shackle yourself with armor and brace for an onslaught, what would it be like if the next year enlivened and enriched your life?

Remember, your decision to pursue a formal higher education is in service to the future you intend to create for yourself.

Many supplementary questions will ask you to reflect on your goals and ambition, but resist the urge to think of your future exclusively through a narrow band of factors like career or professional interests. More important than what you will do is who you will be. While that may sound esoteric, considering what kind of person you intend to be, and revisiting this intention regularly, is one of the foundations of a joyful and fulfilling life — now and throughout your adult life.

Henry delivers his speech on St. Crispin’s Day in response to his men’s near-crippling fear of death. Death is perhaps humanity’s greatest existential concern, one which Shakespeare addresses throughout his work. The English face terrible odds — five to one — and few believe they will live to see another day. Despite how it feels sometimes, college admissions is not so dire a thing as The Hundred Years War. With a healthy mindset it can be the opposite, leading you not into oblivion but a deeper appreciation for yourself, your values, and who you hope to be in the world, regardless of application results.

In war, there is no clean end. The Hundred Years War continues for another forty years after the Battle at Agincourt (though, spoiler alert: the English win), only to give way to another bloody conflict known as the War with Roses.

When your mind is poised for battle, one will inevitably lead to another.

The mindset of peace and confidence is a practice; it may not come naturally at first, but have faith in your determination. Decide that you would rather spend the next year becoming a more compassionate, more self-aware human than developing an ulcer. You might find that your time was well-spent, and that you’re better prepared to enter college — and life — with focus and clarity.

This blogpost was originally published on Medium.

The post The Mind and College Admissions appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Preparing for College Admissions as a junior http://sparkprep.com/staging/preparing-for-college-admissions-as-a-junior/ Thu, 21 Jan 2016 08:48:04 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/?p=819 About this time of year, many grade 11 students and parents begin thinking about the upcoming college application process. As a junior, the path ahead may feel daunting, but there are a few things you can do now that will […]

The post Preparing for College Admissions as a junior appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
About this time of year, many grade 11 students and parents begin thinking about the upcoming college application process. As a junior, the path ahead may feel daunting, but there are a few things you can do now that will support you in feeling confident and well-prepared before beginning applications in earnest.

1. Speak with your Senior Friends about Their Experience

Applying to college is itself a learning process; when to take board tests, when you ask teachers for recommendations, how to spend your summer, when to begin your essays and so forth. Talk to your senior peers about what worked for them and what they would have done differently. Often, their feedback will focus on organization and time management. I wish I had started sooner, some will say. Fortunately, a majority of the college application can be completed well in advance of the deadlines; if you plan your timeline now, you’ll be set up to have a comfortable fall semester with little of the stress that college applications seem to promise.

2. Review the Common Application While It’s Open

The Common Application will close after the final application deadlines pass in March and member colleges process their applicant information offline. CA will then take stock of their year and re-evaluate based on the feedback they receive from the colleges and universities who use their service. It won’t open again until August. Before that happens, however, feel free to register and take a look around. Familiarize yourself with the layout and expectations of each section.

You can also download a previous version of the application here.

While the Common Application has received some criticism in previous years (and is likely to be challenged by alternatives like The Universal College Application, The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, and other tech disruptors for this year’s application season), familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of the Common App will give you a good idea of what a standard application looks like.

In general, here’s what you can expect:

  • A Personal Statement of up to 650 words
  • Supplementary essays for member schools
  • Standardized Test Score reporting (ACT, SAT I, SAT II, TOEFL, etc.)
  • Letters of Recommendation from faculty and teachers
  • A list of extracurricular activities
  • Current courses
  • Contact information
  • Extenuating Circumstances (if applicable)

A complete application – either through the Common App or another organization –adds up to quite a bit of work! That work, however, will feel less daunting if you understand the lay of the land well before applications open again in August.

3. Know Why You’re Applying

This one is a bit tricky, but it’s useful to consider why you’re applying to college in the first place. Weird question, right? Of course I’m applying to college! you might well reply. What else would I do?

Many students – and teachers and parents, for that matter – will approach this question pragmatically: go to college to acquire skills for your future profession or the prestige of a college degree will open doors for you. These are refrains I hear all the time from clients, and they represent a completely legitimate train of thought. But it’s only a single piece of the puzzle.

Take a step back for a moment, and consider what motivates you. Since you’re ostensibly making a choice about your future, it’s useful to think about the future you’d like to have. Dream for a moment. What are your values? What kind of life do you want to live? What does it look and feel like? How will college have made a difference in five years or in ten?

It’s an abstract process, to be sure, but working backwards from your long-term goals – both hard (career) and soft (personal) – can help provide a clarifying context for why you’re going through this process called “college applications” at all. First, however, you might have to outline what those long-term goals are before you can find a school or list of school that can help you get there.

Here’s the crux: taking care of the logistical aspects required for college applications is half the battle. The other half – and an equally important half at that – is the subjective material you bring to your application, material that you will elucidate in your personal statement, your supplements, and any portfolio or additional material you might submit.

Begin thinking about your purpose now, and when it comes time to write your essays, you’ll have a wealth of material and topics you can write about.

The post Preparing for College Admissions as a junior appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
How To Raise an Adult – Out Now! http://sparkprep.com/staging/how-to-raise-an-adult-out-now/ Sun, 05 Jul 2015 05:21:59 +0000 http://sparkprep.com/?p=778 Spark Prep Senior Consultant and former Dean of Freshman at Stanford, Julie Lythcots-Haims recently published her first book, How to Raise an Adult, and we couldn’t be more proud! How to Raise an Adult has been met with wide acclaim, […]

The post How To Raise an Adult – Out Now! appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>
Spark Prep Senior Consultant and former Dean of Freshman at Stanford, Julie Lythcots-Haims recently published her first book, How to Raise an Adult, and we couldn’t be more proud!

How to raise an adult photo

How to Raise an Adult has been met with wide acclaim, with reviews from The New York Times Sunday Book Review and interviews on NPR.

How to Raise an Adult is available now on Amazon .

The post How To Raise an Adult – Out Now! appeared first on Spark Prep.

]]>