#097 How Colleges Assess Your Teen’s Fit to Major with Lisa Marker Robbins Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins 

While there are far more private liberal arts, universities and colleges in the United States, the vast majority of students attend a public university, you might be surprised to learn that 71% of students attending college do attend a public university. And it’s these universities that tend to admit students directly to college majors. And options can be limited. We talked about this originally on episode number 57. college admission might major with Andy Borst, who was at the time, the Director of Admissions at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign and now works at the University of Georgia. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. It’s one of my rare solo episodes. So let’s dive right in. See these universities, these public universities that admit directly to major, they are looking for evidence that your student is the right fit for that major. That’s how they’re assessing your team. So what we want to look at in this episode is how can your student while they’re still in high school, take action to get clear on the right major, and that future career, which is one of my many passions that I’ve really dialed into and support students in doing? And so I want to talk about with that, how do you demonstrate it? What do you do so you have something to demonstrate teenagers while you’re in high school? And then when it comes time for application? How do you demonstrate it? See, this is an episode not for seniors who are in the middle of applying to college, or at the time I’m recording this in November of 2023. Many have already submitted those college applications. This, my friends, is an episode for families with freshmen, sophomores and juniors, who still have the time to take action. So they actually have something to demonstrate when it comes to applying to college, particularly if they are going to apply to a public university, which is far less friendly to exploring while you’re in college and figuring it out later, where you can easily do that at most liberal arts colleges. So what do we need to be doing in high school? First of all, take the right classes. I mean, the vast majority of our teens time is spent in the classroom, right? I mean, it’s more time than spent at home and extracurriculars or anything else. So take the right classes. Now what do I mean by that? Oftentimes, yes, this is the right rigor in the classes, the college prep classes that align with your major. So you want to be a math major. Well, you probably are aiming to finish with calculus while you’re still in high school, while somebody who’s an English major may finish with stats or pre calc is our highest math interested in accounting though, then take it as an elective if your high school offers it. architecture or engineering, CAD, computer assisted design can be a fantastic extracurricular. So a lot of these classes are going to be in the extracurriculars. Now you might be listening to this and go Well, Lisa, that would be really fantastic if our high school offered those types of electives, but they don’t. Well, don’t let the options at your high school limit your student’s narrative. Let me tell you about Justin. Justin’s a student that he is now at Virginia Tech. I worked directly with him while he was in high school. Justin was really interested in astronomy, atmospheric science, meteorology, kind of playing around with engineering, and he needed to get clear on what he wanted to do and where he wanted to study. It was One of the things that he did his his high school didn’t offer anything related to meteorology. However, in our work together, I pointed him in the direction of BYU online high school. They have many independent study classes, and some of them kind of interesting. So if your high school doesn’t offer something that might be one resource look for it. At BYU, Justin found astronomy and meteorology were two semester long science electives that he was able to take to help confirm, fit, stand out from the crowd. And actually now he says he’s at the right college in the right major. Now, Justin’s school, he is in Ohio, he went to school in Ohio, his high school, Ohio allows students to have credit flexibility. So that means that if your student your high school, doesn’t have the right classes for your student, then you can go out and find them elsewhere and still earn high school credit through your high school. Ohio is not the only state that offers this. But you have to educate yourself as a good consumer to know what’s available to you. So that was one example of how Justin was able to format what he wanted that aligns with him. Another example, we have talked before on this podcast about AP testing without the AP class. So there are lots of AP courses, rigorous courses that would allow a student to take the test at the end of it. But did you know that you can actually take the test without taking the corresponding class, we discussed this on both episode 69 with Meghan rose, the ins and outs of AP courses, and episode number 93. The homeschoolers guide to standardized testing this topic is talked about in both of those episodes, and I’m going to link to those in the show notes for you. So taking the right classes, while in high school, at your high school, or outside your class high school, or via dual enrollment is a great way to go. Another thing extracurricular so this is where students spend the rest of their time, right. So probably comes in second place for the number of hours while they’re in high school. I want to give you some examples of past students I’ve worked with who were seeking to find the right college major and future career. So one of my students fontina. She was really interested in design while she was in high school. She’s now at Georgia Tech, and entered there for architecture. So at the time, she had been volunteering at a local food pantry and she absolutely loved it. Well, while she was in high school, it was COVID. And pretty soon, she wasn’t able to even go in and volunteer any longer. And she was really upset that she was limited in what she could do with her extracurriculars. During COVID. She felt like it was setting our behind. And I always reminded her everybody else was in the same position and and this was for your animal. So one of the things that we came up with was, she liked design, the food pantry where she was volunteering, puts out a newsletter. And they also didn’t have very good social media. So she approached them and kind of designed her own extracurricular experience by volunteering to start designing a newsletter for them, they could come up with a content she could help add to the content, and designing images and posts for social media to bring attention to the great work that the food pantry was doing. So that that was one way that she created her own adventure. Alia is another student of mine, she came to me really focused on business knowing exactly what she was going to do in business. And we noticed that her high school did not have a Future Business Leaders of America chapter. So she spearheaded and it was not easy because she had to get a teacher who would be their their sponsor. She had to get approval from the principal to start the Future Business Leaders of America chapter at her high school, but she did it. And then she got to be the president of that chapter. That chapter then went on to begin competing, and she’s done a great job competing in earning awards there. Now further building on that, she attended a honors accounting camp at the Miami University in Ohio. That further solidified her direction so that when she was ready to apply to college, it was really easy for her to write The why this major essay in demonstrate the things that she’s done. Another example, Grace, she’s now at Boston College. She volunteered at hospice. She was interested in the medical field. And yeah, there’s always a concern with students who think they want to go into health care. Can they be? Are they wired? Can they tolerate the harder sides of what it means to be in healthcare? I have a previous episode on healthcare careers. Louisa Rabee. Join me for episode five advice for students considering medicine and healthcare careers. And actually, my student Grace hat was doing something ahead of time. However, it fits perfectly with the advice that Louisa gives in that episode, which I’m also going to link for you guys. So Grace was volunteering at hospice, talk about really leaning into the hard side of health care and being the future doctor that she thought she wanted to be. But through this grace was able to kill two birds with one stone. She got clarity that she could handle the harder part of Madison, and beyond the academics, of course, and she got her community service hours. So that was absolutely fantastic for grace. And now she’s pre med at Boston College, another area jobs and internships. So you might not think that that’s an extracurricular, but it is remember extracurriculars are defined as anything the student does, out side of the classroom, to how they spend their time. So if they’re not sitting in class, what are you doing after class hours. on episode number 28 of the podcast, I had a solo episode that talked about what extracurriculars your teen should pursue, I’m going to also link to that one in the show notes. I did not intend for this to be an episode where I’m linking back to all these other episodes. But we’ve given so much great advice over the nearly 100 episodes that we’ve had, we might as well link back to them so that you guys can educate yourselves on these. So some examples of this would be jobs and internships that you might be working for free, or they might be paid. This would also include job shadows. So one of my students, Jack, he had a he was interested in computer engineering, he was mostly interested in the hardware side of that, not the computer science or software side of that. So he had a paid summer job at an IT firm. He found that because his high school offers internships and externships. I guess externships probably is a better way to put it. For the students that attend their high school, they help actually place students. So Jack had a paid summer job through his high school. Not everybody’s that lucky. But my student will was also that lucky, will attended Loveland high school outside of Cincinnati, and loved ones got a really great program, I’m going to just give a shout out to someone I’m a huge fan of, and that is Drew’s Mitchell, who is the dedicated career readiness program designer, he’s a counselor, he used to be a school in college counselor. And now he really is dedicated to career readiness, from middle school all the way through high school, he has gone out and gotten really great internships lined up for their students, and my student will get a bank internship through his high school. Now, I’m saying I’m telling you this that high schools, some high schools offer these so that I can encourage you, if these somebody who works at a high school can go out and ask a company to offer an internship, then you could create your own adventure, and go out and try to get your own job shadows, internships, paid work. And again, it’ll help you get clear and create that story, that narrative that you’re going to demonstrate. So those are some ways through taking the right classes, pursuing the right extracurriculars, and having job experience to create that narrative. But once you’ve done all the right things, freshman, sophomore, junior year, and by the way, no matter when you’re listening to this, it is not too late to dig in and start doing the work now. But once you’ve done the work, it’s now time to demonstrate it when you get to senior year, and you’re ready to apply to college. So there’s two parts of this. Part number one is on the part of the student. It’s the You part is, for the most part, yes, you’re going to list all of the classes that you’ve taken in high school. And yes, that includes dual enrollment courses as well. Or if you are like Justin, and you do credit flex, like I demonstrated earlier, that would be included there as well. You’re also going to list all of your extracurriculars under the Activities section. And you’re going to have to write some essays. So there’s listing things, and then there’s writing with heart behind it in your own voice. And this will be the essays. Some examples of where you can fit this in would be the why this major, so many colleges require students to write why they are applying to the major they have chosen, Andy Borst. At UI you see, he went ahead and talked about this, all the way back on episode number 57 of the podcast that is the Valentine’s Day episode from 2023. So if you want to hear somebody from the college side, talk about how to write this, why this major essay, and he gives really great advice there. But that’s not the only essay where you can weave in the things that you’ve done, that demonstrate who you are, and the choices you’re making with where you’re applying to college, and where you’re headed. In adulthood, you’ll have to write a personal statement. Many colleges ask you to write about your favorite extracurricular, beyond writing about why you’re choosing that major. Others also ask you to write a community essay, they asked you to identify a community that you as a teen belong to, what your places in that community, how you are benefiting from that community, what you’re giving to that community. So that would be another place. I did a deep dive on the steps on how to write the why this major essay back on episode number 84. That was another solo episode. Now, while your teenager will want to listen to that episode, the summer before their senior year or in the fall of their senior year, I encourage you to listen to that episode, while you have a freshman, sophomore or junior because it helps inform the things that you need to be doing while you’re an underclassmen before you’re applying to college. The nuts and bolts of it if you don’t want to listen to that whole episode is you’re going to look backwards first and say What have I done during high school not before high school but during high school. Up until the moment I’m writing this essay that has given me clarity on why I’m choosing this major. And as Andy Barr has talked about as well, you’re also going to look forward into the future. What will you do in college, and then after college career wise, that connects to this major. So look back, look forward, write a fantastic essay, that is the students part. Now, there’s also room in here for others to speak to this, you’re going to likely be choosing teachers to write recommendation letters for you. And some colleges ask allow you to ask others to write recommendation letters who are maybe coaches, employers, non core teachers as well. A good recommendation letter writer will weave in things beyond what you did in their classroom, what you did it their job for you to make it easy on them. I suggest that you give them a copy of your resume or your extracurricular list. For the students who are with me inside my launch Career Clarity course, we provide you with a template in module four of the course that later makes it as easy as copy and paste into your applications. You can share that doc with those who will be writing your recommendation letters. This allows them to also say, and I’ve seen evidence of this too. So colleges, universities, particularly those of the public kind, which 71% of students will apply to are going to be looking for evidence that your student has a fit to the major that they’re applying to. And this, my friends, is how you take the steps to create the narrative to later demonstrate it to the colleges. If you want to learn more about the launch Career Clarity course that I have where we really lean into this piece. Go to flourish coaching co.com forward slash video where I have a free complimentary on demand video to talk about just how to not mess up choosing the right college major. And I share about my program in there. If this was helpful to you, you probably know somebody else is at this same stage, or even before you or after you in college planning and they could benefit to do me a favor, share this episode, take a screenshot of it, post it on social or forward it to a friend. It helps us really resource more families so we can get students out of anxiety and worry about the future so that they feel motivated, clear and confident as they get ready for college. Thank you for listening to College and Career Clarity