Essential Information for the College Bound -- Spring 2007

Which School?

You will live with the answer
the rest of your life.

Getting into college
is only a small step
to a larger purpose.

Taking The Next Step
12904 Mizner Way
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 790-5462
email: Robin Abedon
web site: TakingThe NextStep

The school year 2006-2007 is almost history. It is time to look back on how my senior students came through the challenging college selection process. I am delighted with the broad array of colleges that welcomed them, including: Amherst; Ball State; Brown; Connecticut College; U of Central Florida; U of Delaware; Elon; U of Florida; Florida Atlantic University; Florida Gulf Coast; Florida State; Georgetown; George Mason; George Washington; James Madison; Lafayette; Marquette; U of Miami; Muhlenberg; U of North Carolina; Notre Dame; U of Pittsburgh; Providence College; Rollins; Shippensburg; Southern Methodist; Stevens Institute; U of Tampa; Trinity (CT); Tufts; Villanova; Wellesley; Wesleyan; William & Mary.

It certainly was another challenging year in college admissions. It is wonderful when students find themselves happily matched at a school of their choice. There are always the inevitable disappointments in this uneven and often inexplicable process. However, when one door closes, another will open to meet student's needs. There are so many fine schools to choose from.

Now it is time to say congratulations for a job well done. I am excited to see the class of 2007 move on with my best wishes for college and beyond. And it is time to get down to the year ahead for the class of 2008. There will be new challenges as the admissions process is not static. Criteria vary from one year to the next.

Leadership and Service

I recently attended an IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) Conference in Boston where over 140 colleges and universities were represented. As at all IECA conferences, my knowledge of the college world was updated. Trends were identified, and new programs were highlighted. There was, indeed, one very recurrent theme: leadership and service.

I place great emphasis on these important characteristics in the students I counsel. There is so much more to each of us than just our grades and our test scores. The person who can contribute the most to his/her school, college, community and the world is the student who, with the benefit of a fine education, reaches out to give something back.

Community service in high school is sometimes a double-edged sword. At its best, students have genuine humanitarian interests that lead to sincere efforts and produce significant accomplishments. Talented students often share those talents with inner- city children, with the abused and the neglected. Some initiatives reach out to the Third World. Others volunteer in the arenas that may be future career- paths, such as health care or the law.

Then there are the résumé builders who seek out service activities to fill the inevitable volunteer service section of college applications. The concept of "giving back" has not yet become an integral facet of persona. These efforts may be forced initially, but might lead to discovering the value of service. In the words of Robert Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government: "If young people acquire the habit of community service (even for less than exalted reasons), there is some evidence that the habit persists into adult life. So even if the initial motive was ignoble, the long-run net effect may create a more caring society."

I am often delighted to see how the initial service crawl leads to giant steps. There was a student who went rather unwillingly to the animal shelter her mother was keeping alive out of determination, calling on friends and family to save desperate animals. The chore became a commitment that has led her to a career in veterinary medicine.

A student committed to a career in law chose to serve as a student lawyer in his county's Youth Court where he worked with first offenders in his peer group in an effort to help them avoid a life of crime. Today, he prepares to go to law school.

A student committed to a career in law chose to serve as a student lawyer in his county's Youth Court where he worked with first offenders in his peer group in an effort to help them avoid a life of crime. Today, he prepares to go to law school.

At the recent Howard University commencement, Oprah Winfrey called on graduates to live their dreams while serving others. She urged graduates to go forth honoring themselves, their families and their history. Most of all, "Honor your privilege." Never forget to look back "to serve the underprivileged you have left behind."

Service is not momentary. It is not a tool to gain admission to college. Indeed, it has become an academic focus at American colleges and universities. Many schools, such as the University of Richmond, Rollins, Miami, Rhodes, Endicott, Rutgers, Occidental, Claremont McKenna, George Washington, Universities of Colorado and Maryland, Hiram College and Tufts University have developed leadership programs that become an integral part of academic studies.

At Tufts, Tisch Scholars are awarded grants to develop service initiatives in the surrounding communities or elsewhere. The university's Vision for Arts and Sciences calls for "the application of scholarship to civic engagement and active citizenship - bringing together the academic and service sides so that students can learn how the academic disciplines can contribute to real-world leadership."

It is a long and challenging road to leadership and service. I have had parents tell me that service to others is not the province of the young. Kids should be allowed to be kids. It is unnatural for kids to be concerned with community service. I disagree. Reaching out beyond ourselves to others is a good habit, and habits form when we are very young.